Best Nursing Schools in the Midwest

Updated on January 12, 2024

At a Glance

  • The Midwest is home to some of the top nursing schools in the United States.
  • These schools offer high-quality programs at affordable tuition rates.
  • Nursing students can expect job security and high earning potential after graduation.
  • The article profiles the 10 best nursing schools across 12 Midwestern states.

The Midwest is home to some of the top nursing schools in the United States. With a mix of public and private universities, nursing students can find high-quality programs at affordable tuition rates. The nursing field also offers job security and high earning potential after graduation. This article profiles the 10 best nursing schools across 12 Midwestern states based on factors like graduation rates, reputation, and career outcomes.

University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Avg SAT Score: 1190

Tuition: $9,000 (in-state)

Avg Salary: $59,100


The University of Iowa College of Nursing is ranked #1 in online graduate nursing programs by U.S. News and World Report. It’s also ranked among the top 20 nursing schools overall nationwide. Nursing students benefit from UIowa’s close partnerships with neighboring medical schools and hospitals.

University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 23%

Avg SAT Score: 1325

Tuition: $15,500 (in-state)

Avg Salary: $67,300


The University of Michigan offers world-class nursing education with a 7:1 student-faculty ratio. Small class sizes combined with endless clinical, volunteering, and research opportunities make Michigan one of the most prestigious programs in the country. Alumni also land top nursing jobs after graduation.

Rush University (Chicago, IL)

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 3.8%

Avg SAT Score: 1250

Tuition: $42,000

Avg Salary: $74,100


Rush University marry nursing education and medical training to create highly skilled nurses. But getting into their Nursing College is very competitive with a less than 4% acceptance rate. Graduates from Rush readily find work across Chicago’s elite hospital systems.

University of Illinois- Chicago (Chicago, IL)

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 61%

Avg SAT Score: 1160

Tuition: $13,500 (in-state)

Avg Salary: $59,800


As Chicago’s largest university, UIC maintains strong partnerships with healthcare employers in the region. Perks like clinical rotations on campus and 5 nursing specialization tracks attract plenty of nursing talent to this public school. UIC is considered one of the best values for nursing education nationwide.

Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI)

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Avg SAT Score: 1260

Tuition: $41,000

Avg Salary: $70,500


Marquette uniquely centers ethics and leadership principles into its nursing curriculum. This Jesuit university also operates its own Children’s Hospital where students get pediatric experience. Marquette nursing grads report high job satisfaction and earn salaries 13% above the national average.

University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI)

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 57%

Avg SAT Score: 1355

Tuition: $11,500 (in-state)

Avg Salary: $63,200


U Wisconsin Madison’s nursing school ties for #16 nationally with its powerhouse graduate nursing program. Their traditional BSN still maintains stellar 91% NCLEX pass rates for the licensure exam. Madison nursing students also praise the curriculum for striking the perfect balance between hands-on clinical work and nursing theory.

Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 60%

Avg SAT Score: 1355

Tuition: $10,000 (in-state)

Avg Salary: $58,700


Purdue University doles out over $1 million in nursing scholarships every year to lessen tuition costs. Their College of Health & Human Sciences offers three types of nursing training: traditional BSN, accelerated 2nd degree BSN, and RN-to-BSN. With so many options, Purdue made this list as one of the top and most flexible Midwest nursing schools.

Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Avg SAT Score: 1310

Tuition: $11,000 (in-state)

Avg Salary: $63,500


The Ohio State University College of Nursing launches nursing careers all across the state and region. OSU maintains one of the top online graduate nursing programs in addition to their traditional BSN degrees. Strong academics combined with plenty of student support makes OSU an affordable and reputable choice.

University of Missouri (Columbia, MO)

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 77%

Avg SAT Score: 1210

Tuition: $9,500 (in-state)

Avg Salary: $58,200


Mizzou holds the reputation as the top nursing school across the state of Missouri. It’s located alongside the University of Missouri Health medical system for cross-disciplinary training opportunities. Mizzou also prepares nursing students for advanced healthcare roles beyond bedside care.

Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance rate: 80%

Avg SAT score: 1250

Tuition: $11,000 (in-state)

Avg salary: $63,700


Indiana University houses one of U.S. News’s top nursing graduate schools. But even their traditional BSN still garners attention for small class sizes (10:1 student-faculty ratio). Nursing students praise IU’s holistic approach and focus on practical skills over just book theories. Over 85% of grads pass the NCLEX licensure exam on their first try.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How competitive is it to get into nursing school?

Getting into nursing school can be moderately to highly competitive depending on the program. The most elite schools have acceptance rates under 10%. But state schools and less known programs can accept over three-quarters of applicants. Scoring well on entrance exams like the TEAS or HESI A2 helps.

What’s the difference between an ADN and BSN nursing degree?

While both degrees lead towards RN licensure, the ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing) is a 2 year community or technical college program. A BSN (Bachelors of Science in Nursing) takes 4 years to complete at a university. Many employers prefer hiring BSN nurses, especially for leadership roles.

Do you need good grades to get into nursing school?

Yes, getting mostly A’s and B’s on your high school or college transcript is important for admission. Nursing schools also want to see you’ve taken essential prerequisite courses like biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology and psychology. Maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA should make you competitive.

How important is the entrance exam for nursing school?

Nursing school entrance exams like the HESI A2, Kaplan, or TEAS test your understanding of key science, math, and verbal concepts. While every school weighs these tests differently, scoring above average can significantly help your chances compared to those with lower scores.

Should I get a MSN master’s degree in nursing?

Pursuing an MSN opens up leadership and advanced clinical roles with higher earning potential. Many employers even reimburse some or all tuition costs if pursuing an MSN while working. Areas like nursing informatics, education, or healthcare administration benefit from MSN-prepared nurses.

What is the hardest part about nursing school?

Most nursing students report the immense amount of material and fast pace make nursing school so challenging. Additionally, preparing for clinical rotations in hospitals requires lots of focus and time management. Maintaining a healthy work-school-life balance gets difficult for many while going through rigorous training.

Is an online nursing degree respected?

Yes, online RN-to-BSN degrees and MSN graduate programs are well-respected. Many top nursing schools now offer distance options with the same curriculum rigor and faculty as their on-campus counterparts. Online studying offers great flexibility for working nurses too.

What jobs can you get with an MSN nursing degree?

The MSN opens up career paths like Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administrator, Clinical Educator, Healthcare Policy Advocate, Quality Assurance Manager, and Informatics Nurse. Experienced bedside nurses often pursue their MSN for career advancement.

How much do nurses make with a BSN vs. MSN degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average national salary for RNs with a BSN is $75,330 compared to $98,080 for MSN-educated nurses in advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) roles. Earning an MSN leads to at least a 30% bump in pay on average.

Should I become a nurse practitioner or go to medical school?

This choice depends if you want to fully lead healthcare delivery or work alongside physicians. Nurse practitioners can provide complete care with their own patient loads. But becoming a doctor enables you to have the ultimate responsibility directing patient care, including oversight of NPs. Weigh the long and intense training before medical school against the faster and cheaper NP route.

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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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