Best Nursing Schools in Illinois

Updated on January 9, 2024

At a Glance

  • Illinois has over 50 nursing schools offering various nursing programs and specializations.
  • Top-rated nursing schools in Illinois include the University of Illinois at Chicago, North Park University, Millikin University, and more.
  • Nursing programs in Illinois can be competitive, and the difference between a BSN and an ADN is explained.
  • To work as a nurse in Illinois, you need to be licensed and nursing schools with the best NCLEX pass rates are highlighted.

Illinois has over 50 nursing schools that offer various nursing programs and specializations. With so many options to choose from, finding the right nursing program can be overwhelming. Here are 10 of the top-rated nursing schools in Illinois based on factors like NCLEX pass rates, affordability, rankings, and more.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Tuition: $13,664 (in-state), $26,954 (out-of-state)

Average Salary: $75,330


The University of Illinois Chicago College of Nursing is one of the top nursing schools in the state and country. They offer a traditional BSN, an online RN to BSN, a Master’s program, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. With over 900 students and excellent NCLEX pass rates, UIC produces highly competent nurses.

North Park University

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 57%

Average SAT: 1090-1310

Tuition: $32,948

Average Salary: $70,500


North Park University’s nursing school provides a Christian perspective on nursing education. The BSN pass rates on the NCLEX exam are excellent, averaging over 90% first-time pass rates over the past decade. Clinical opportunities are ample with over 50 healthcare organization partners.

Millikin University

Location: Decatur, IL

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Average SAT: 1050-1260

Tuition: $35,500

Average Salary: $65,800


Millikin University’s nursing program is small, competitive, and boasts NCLEX first-time pass rates consistently above 95%. Students get real-world experience at St. Mary’s Hospital and Decatur Memorial Hospital starting their first year.

Olivet Nazarene University

Location: Bourbonnais, IL

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Average SAT: 1020-1260

Tuition: $36,070

Average Salary: $63,500


Olivet Nazarene University’s School of Nursing offers CCNE-accredited BSN, MSN, and RN to BSN programs centered around faith, compassion, and excellence. The small public university provides individualized attention and clinical experience at world-class hospitals in Chicago.

Lewis University

Location: Romeoville, IL

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 58%

Average SAT: 1030-1210

Tuition: $40,130

Average Salary: $70,200


Lewis University’s nursing school is focused on providing quality, compassionate care grounded in the university’s Catholic and Lasallian heritage. Nursing students get abundant hands-on experience at healthcare organizations across the Chicago area.

Trinity Christian College

Location: Palos Heights, IL

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 59%

Average SAT: 1040-1260

Tuition: $34,664

Average Salary: $65,500


Trinity Christian College offers a BSN program centered around Christian values like compassion and human dignity. Excellent NCLEX pass rates (over 90%) and abundant clinical experience make this faith-based program stand out.

Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing

Location: Peoria, IL

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Tuition: $25,500

Average Salary: $69,300


With roots tracing back to 1889, the Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing offers an NLNAC-accredited BSN designed around personalized, compassionate care. Clinical experience starts early on and small class sizes facilitate personal faculty attention.

Saint Anthony College of Nursing

Location: Rockford, IL

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 69%

Tuition: $26,130

Average Salary: $68,400


Saint Anthony College of Nursing provides real-world, patient-centered experiences in advanced healthcare facilities starting students’ first year. NCLEX pass rates are excellent and graduates consistently find nursing jobs soon after finishing the BSN program.

Lakeview College of Nursing

Location: Danville, IL

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 74%

Tuition: $30,150

Average Salary: $65,500


Lakeview College of Nursing is a small, private, single-purpose college dedicated exclusively to nursing education. Students get hands-on training across various healthcare settings in the Champaign-Urbana and Danville regions. The focus is on delivering community-centered care.

MacMurray College

Location: Jacksonville, IL

Rating: 6.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 54%

Average SAT: 940-1160

Tuition: $29,550

Average Salary: $60,800


MacMurrary College provides a personalized nursing education focused on creativity, ethics, and leadership. Despite being a small program, MacMurray nursing graduates still have no trouble finding nursing jobs across Illinois after completing their BSN.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How competitive are nursing programs in Illinois?

Nursing programs in Illinois range from moderately to very competitive depending on factors like admissions test scores, GPA, clinical experience, volunteer work, and interviews. More prestigious schools like UIC and North Park tend to be quite competitive.

What’s the difference between a BSN and an ADN?

A BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) is a 4-year undergraduate degree, while an ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) typically takes 2-3 years. BSN grads have more advanced coursework in areas like research, leadership, and public health.

Do I need to get licensed in Illinois to work as a nurse?

Yes. After completing an accredited nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam, you need to apply for licensure through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to legally work as an RN in the state.

Which Illinois nursing schools have the best NCLEX pass rates?

Schools like Millikin University, Trinity Christian College, and North Park University boast excellent first-time NCLEX pass rates consistently above 90% for their BSN graduates. This demonstrates the quality of nursing education.

How much do nurses make in Illinois?

The average registered nurse salary in Illinois is roughly $75,000 per year. This varies by location, experience level, specialty, and highest nursing degree earned. Nurse practitioners in Illinois earn well over six figures on average.

What types of nursing degrees can I earn in Illinois?

You can earn various nursing degrees in Illinois including an ADN, BSN, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and PhD in Nursing. Accelerated BSN options are also available for those with a prior bachelor’s degree.

Should I do an ABSN or regular BSN program?

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, an Accelerated BSN (ABSN) allows you to finish your BSN coursework full-time in just 12-18 months. However, they move at an intense pace, so a traditional BSN may better suit those without healthcare experience.

How much does it cost to get a BSN in Illinois?

BSN tuition varies greatly, but averages around $25,000-45,000 total for a 4-year program at public and private schools in Illinois. Costs are less for community colleges and more for prestigious universities. Many scholarships are available.

Where in Illinois has the most job opportunities for nurses?

The Chicago metropolitan area provides the most abundant job opportunities for nurses in a range of specialties and healthcare settings like large academic hospitals, community clinics, long term care facilities, home health agencies, and more. Central/Southern Illinois tend to have fewer openings.

Can I work while completing an Illinois nursing program?

Many students work at least part-time while enrolled in nursing school, though it can be quite demanding balancing clinical rotations and coursework. Finding a healthcare job as a nursing assistant is ideal for gaining experience while limiting additional commitments.

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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.

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