Best BSN Nursing Schools

Updated on January 9, 2024

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) opens up greater career opportunities and earning potential for nurses. Here are 10 of the top BSN programs in the United States based on factors like graduation rate, reputation, and return on investment.

At a Glance

  • Earning a BSN opens up greater career opportunities and earning potential for nurses.
  • Top BSN programs in the United States based on factors like graduation rate, reputation, and return on investment.
  • BSN programs emphasize nursing research, leadership, critical thinking, and community health roles.
  • Accelerated and online BSN options are available for those with prior degrees or flexibility needs.

1. Johns Hopkins University

Location: Baltimore, MD

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Avg SAT Score: 1510

Tuition: $53,400 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $75,000

Website: https://nursing.jhu.edu/

The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is world-renowned for excellence in nursing education, research, and practice. Its BSN program focuses on developing nurses to be leaders in the field through rigorous academics and clinical placements at top healthcare facilities.

2. University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 9.3/10

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Avg SAT Score: 1480

Tuition: $57,360 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $72,500

Website: https://www.nursing.upenn.edu/

UPenn’s BSN program provides lots of hands-on clinical experience and interprofessional education so students are prepared to provide exceptional, compassionate care. The program focuses on research, innovation, and leadership development.

3. Duke University

Location: Durham, NC

Rating: 9.2/10

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Avg SAT Score: 1500

Tuition: $59,950 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $70,800

Website: https://nursing.duke.edu/

Duke School of Nursing is known for its rigorous academics, innovative approaches, and research leadership. Its BSN graduates consistently score very high on the NCLEX national licensing exam.

4. University of Michigan

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 23%

Avg SAT Score: 1440

Tuition: $49,350 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $67,900

Website: https://nursing.umich.edu/

Michigan Nursing offers lots of global health and community health focused clinical opportunities to help students translate knowledge into practice. Small class sizes and mentorship help students thrive.

5. Rush University

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 8.9/10

Acceptance Rate: 67%

Tuition: $44,000 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $68,500

Website: https://www.rushu.rush.edu/nursing

Rush University College of Nursing pioneered the concept of advanced practice nursing. Its BSN program provides early and sustained hands-on learning focused on developing exceptional patient care abilities.

6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Rating: 8.8/10

Acceptance Rate: 24%

Avg SAT Score: 1370

Tuition: $36,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $65,500

Website: https://nursing.unc.edu/

UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing is known for innovative teaching methods utilizing advanced technologies. Students benefit from interprofessional, simulation-based education to build clinical skills.

7. Samuel Merritt University

Location: Oakland, CA

Rating: 8.7/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Tuition: $49,704 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $120,000

Website: https://www.samuelmerritt.edu/

Samuel Merritt University’s accelerated BSN program intensely prepares students for success on the NCLEX exam and transitioning rapidly into nursing practice. The school has one of the highest NCLEX pass rates in California.

8. Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions

Location: Boston, MA

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 17%

Tuition: $54,500 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $75,000

Website: https://www.mghihp.edu/

Mass General’s BSN program provides unparalleled opportunities to train for nursing practice in the top-ranked hospital in the state. Students benefit from strong nursing mentorship and challenging academics.

9. Pacific Lutheran University

Location: Tacoma, WA

Rating: 8.2/10

Acceptance Rate: 70%

Avg SAT Score: 1170

Tuition: $42,420 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $65,000

Website: https://www.plu.edu/nursing/

Pacific Lutheran University’s BSN program focuses on developing nurses ready to work in community health care settings. It has a competitive admissions process ensuring students can thrive in the academically rigorous program.

10. Quincy College

Location: Quincy, MA

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Tuition: $18,000 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $68,000

Website: https://quincycollege.edu/nursing-bsn/

Quincy College’s affordable BSN program includes hands-on learning at top Boston hospitals to help students succeed. It has flexible 4 year, 15 month, and online BSN pathways.

Learn More

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree do I need to become an RN?

You need either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to become a registered nurse. Many hospitals now require new nurses to have a BSN though or to earn it within 5 years. Getting a BSN initially provides greater advancement opportunities.

What do BSN nurses learn?

Beyond hands-on clinical skills, BSN programs emphasize nursing research, leadership, critical thinking, evidence based practice, patient advocacy, information management, emergency preparedness, and community and public health roles for nurses.

Why get a BSN instead of an ADN?

A BSN allows nurses to command higher salaries, transition more easily into leadership positions, teaches a broader range of skills for population health and community care, and provides a better educational foundation for advanced nursing degrees including the MSN or DNP.

Do all BSN programs take 4 years?

Many universities offer accelerated “ABSN” programs for those who have a prior bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing. These intensive programs allow students to complete the BSN in 12-18 months. There are also online and hybrid online/in-person BSN options.

Are all BSN programs the same?

There is some variation in terms of focus areas, clinical opportunities, use of simulation technology, etc between different schools’ BSN programs. Competitive and more expensive private schools also tend to provide additional advantages.

What are the admission requirements for BSN programs?

BSN programs generally require certain prerequisite college courses, a minimum 3.0 GPA, acceptable SAT/ACT scores, letters of recommendation, experience/observation hours in the field, and an essay. Experience as a CNA or EMT can help with admission.

How hard is it to get admitted to BSN programs?

As nursing has become an increasingly popular major, admissions have gotten more competitive. Exceptional grades, test scores, and demonstrated passion for nursing are needed to get into top programs. Less competitive public universities have easier admissions.

Is a BSN worth it if I already have healthcare experience?

Yes, even experienced nurses, EMTs, paramedics, etc gain significant additional knowledge and opportunities from completing their BSN. It opens up specialities besides just bedside hospital nursing. Leadership roles almost universally expect a BSN or higher.

What’s the job outlook for BSN nurses?

Registered nursing is projected to grow 7% through 2029, much faster than average job growth. The BLS projects 175,900 annual openings for RNs requiring a bachelor’s degree for reasons like retirement and quitting. BSN nurses have their choice of jobs anywhere.

What types of financial aid are available for nursing school?

Options include nursing scholarships, student loans, loan repayment programs for working at certain facilities post-graduation, university grants/ fellowships, Graduate PLUS loans, employer tuition reimbursement for those in healthcare roles, and FAFSA programs like work study.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.