Best Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Updated on April 8, 2024

At a Glance

  • Pennsylvania has over 150 nursing programs
  • Top nursing schools offer high-quality education
  • Key factors to consider include pass rates, faculty credentials, clinical placement opportunities, and career outcomes

Pennsylvania has over 150 nursing programs across the state that prepare students for licensure as registered nurses. The top nursing schools in Pennsylvania offer high-quality education, hands-on clinical experience, and strong career support to set graduates up for success. When researching the top nursing programs, key factors to consider include NCLEX-RN exam pass rates, faculty credentials, clinical placement opportunities, and graduate career outcomes.

The nursing schools highlighted below represent the top 10 options in Pennsylvania based on national rankings, student outcomes, and academic prestige.

University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Tuition: $59,914 per year

Avg Salary: $80,000


The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing offers world-class nursing education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Widely considered one of the best nursing schools in the nation, UPenn’s programs equip students with advanced knowledge and clinical skills through rigorous coursework and access to state-of-the-art simulation labs and healthcare facilities in Philadelphia.

Johns Hopkins University

Location: Baltimore, MD

Rating: 9.3/10

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Avg SAT Score: 1510

Tuition: $55,350 per year

Avg Salary: $75,000


Though located just outside of Pennsylvania in Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Nursing is easily one of the top programs in the region. Johns Hopkins is renowned as one of the best medical institutions in the world, and its nursing school follows suit with highly competitive admissions, excellent faculty, and unmatched clinical opportunities.

University of Pittsburgh

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Rating: 9.1/10

Acceptance Rate: 65%

Avg SAT Score: 1310

Tuition: $19,080 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary: $65,000


The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing is ranked among the top nursing schools nationwide and offers acclaimed undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Pitt Nursing students benefit from the school’s urban location through clinical placements at top Pittsburgh hospitals and community health organizations.

Pennsylvania State University

Location: University Park, PA

Rating: 8.8/10

Acceptance Rate: 50%

Avg SAT Score: 1250

Tuition: $18,450 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary: $60,000


Penn State offers highly ranked nursing programs on multiple campuses, including its flagship location in University Park. Undergraduates pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) focusing on evidence-based care, research principles, and leadership skills. Penn State Nursing graduates have strong licensure and certification pass rates.

Drexel University

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 8.7/10

Acceptance Rate: 75%

Avg SAT Score: 1260

Tuition: $54,516 per year

Avg Salary: $70,000


Drexel University’s nursing school is recognized for its emphasis on clinical experience and simulations. Undergraduate students complete over 1,000 hours in clinical and community settings through Drexel’s academic partnerships. Drexel also operates its own hospital and primary care facilities for on-campus training.

Thomas Jefferson University

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 62%

Avg SAT Score: 1220

Tuition: $44,280 per year

Avg Salary: $68,000


Thomas Jefferson University educates nurses through immersive classroom and clinical experiences focused on interdisciplinary collaboration and patient-centered care. Undergraduates can pursue direct entry into advanced practice nursing programs. Graduates achieve strong certification pass rates and job placement.

Villanova University

Location: Villanova, PA

Rating: 8.3/10

Acceptance Rate: 29%

Avg SAT Score: 1380

Tuition: $56,532 per year

Avg Salary: $70,000


Villanova’s Nursing program aims to develop nurses focused on compassionate care, advocacy, and community service. Students gain valuable experience through the school’s simulation lab, neighborhood partnerships, and connections to healthcare employers across the Philadelphia region.

Duquesne University

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Rating: 8.2/10

Acceptance Rate: 85%

Avg SAT Score: 1110

Tuition: $40,726 per year

Avg Salary: $60,000


Duquesne University’s five-semester nursing program allows students to enter the field quickly through an intensive blend of coursework and clinical training. Small class sizes, an experienced faculty, and state-of-the-art labs prepare exceptional nursing graduates.

Temple University

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 8.0/10

Acceptance Rate: 60%

Avg SAT Score: 1260

Tuition: $16,956 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary: $65,000


Temple University’s nursing school strives to advance urban healthcare through community partnerships across Philadelphia. Undergraduate and accelerated BSN students complete over 1,000 hours of clinical rotations through the program’s relationships with top regional medical centers.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main nursing credentials?

The most common nursing credentials are the Registered Nurse (RN) and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). RNs hold either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). APRNs have a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) and can become nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, or certified registered nurse anesthetists.

How long does it take to become a registered nurse?

A traditional BSN program takes 4 years to complete. However, there are accelerated options for those who already hold a Bachelor’s degree in another field, which usually take 12-18 months. Associate degree in Nursing (ADN) programs at community colleges take 2-3 years.

What is the average salary for a registered nurse in Pennsylvania?

The average registered nursing salary in Pennsylvania is approximately $73,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those working in Pennsylvania’s major cities may earn upward of $80,000 annually.

What prereqs are required for admission to nursing school?

Typical prerequisites include courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, statistics, and psychology. Strong academic performance in prerequisite courses can improve prospective students’ chances of admission.

Can I get financial aid for nursing school?

Yes, those admitted into accredited nursing school programs are eligible to apply for federal student loans and nursing scholarships. Many hospitals and healthcare organizations also offer tuition reimbursement programs for employees pursuing nursing degrees.

Can I work while in nursing school?

Many nursing students do work during school, often in healthcare roles like nursing assistants or techs. However, nursing curriculums are demanding, so working too many hours can negatively impact academic performance. Most programs recommend limiting work hours.

Are all nursing programs BSN programs?

No, there are also associate degree (ADN) and diploma nursing programs, which take 2-3 years to complete. However, a BSN degree is often required for advanced nursing positions and provides the most career flexibility. Many schools offer RN-to-BSN programs for those with an ADN.

Is a Master’s degree required to become an advanced practice registered nurse?

Yes, all advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs)—including nurse practitioners (NPs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs)—must complete an accredited Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.

What is the admission process like for nursing school?

Nursing programs often require applicants to complete prerequisite courses, take an entrance exam like the TEAS or HESI, meet minimum GPA requirements, obtain healthcare experience, and go through a competitive interview process.

What type of certification is required for RNs and APRNs?

To receive an RN license, nursing graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN national licensing exam for registered nurses. Advanced practice nurses must pass additional certification exams related to their specialty. APRNs must also be certified in their state.

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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.

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