Best Nursing Schools in Wisconsin

Updated on January 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Wisconsin offers over 20 nursing schools with various nursing programs
  • Top nursing schools in Wisconsin include Alverno College, Bellin College, and Carroll University
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison has the top-ranked nursing program in the state
  • Nursing graduates in Wisconsin have high average salaries and excellent career prospects

Wisconsin has over 20 nursing schools that offer various nursing programs, from associate degrees to doctorates. With excellent academics, affordability, and high NCLEX-RN exam pass rates, Wisconsin nursing graduates are well-prepared to launch successful careers. Here are 10 of the top nursing schools in Wisconsin based on national rankings, reputation, affordability, and exam pass rates.

Alverno College

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 82%

Tuition: $32,118 per year

Avg Salary: $71,730


Alverno College has an excellent nursing program focused on developing students’ clinical judgment and hands-on skills. Known for its rigorous curriculum, small class sizes, and high NCLEX pass rate, Alverno prepares nurses for rewarding careers in various healthcare settings.

Bellin College

Location: Green Bay, WI

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 32%

Tuition: $17,580 per year

Avg Salary: $66,030


Bellin College is focused solely on healthcare education and boasts a state-of-the-art simulation lab to provide students with superior clinical training. Bellin has an accelerated BSN program option and offers scholarships and graduate job placement, making it a top choice for nursing students.

Carroll University

Location: Waukesha, WI

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 73%

Avg SAT Score: 1090

Tuition: $40,994 per year

Avg Salary: $69,330


Carroll University is considered one of the best private nursing schools in Wisconsin. Carroll has CCNE accredited programs and high first-time NCLEX pass rates. Small class sizes and personalized education make Carroll nursing graduates highly sought-after.

Concordia University

Location: Mequon, WI

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Tuition: $32,350 per year

Avg Salary: $70,200


Concordia offers BSN, MSN, and DNP nursing programs focused on developing caring, compassionate nurses. Known for faith-based education and clinical opportunities starting freshman year, Concordia has two campus locations and affordable tuition rates compared to other private universities.

Edgewood College

Location: Madison, WI

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 79%

Tuition: $29,535 per year

Avg Salary: $69,660


Edgewood College is located minutes from downtown Madison and UW Hospital, providing excellent clinical rotation sites. Edgewood focuses on community-based learning and has smaller class sizes for individualized education. It’s an affordable option with solid NCLEX pass rates.

Herzing University

Location: Multiple locations

Rating: 6/10

Acceptance Rate: 66%

Tuition: $13,200 per year

Avg Salary: $64,070


Herzing University is a private nonprofit career college with various campus locations statewide. Offering flexible class schedules, accelerated tracks, and affordable tuition, Herzing prepares in-demand nursing grads at all degree levels, including online nursing programs.

Marquette University

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 85%

Avg SAT Score: 1320

Tuition: $46,900 per year

Avg Salary: $73,970


Marquette’s nursing college is one of the best in Wisconsin with a renovated simulation lab and top-tier faculty. Marquette has direct entry options for high school students and lots of experiential learning sites through the medical campus and Children’s Hospital. Graduates boast exceptional pass rates and job placements.

Mount Mary University

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Tuition: $31,206 per year

Avg Salary: $69,890


Mount Mary is an all-women’s university providing excellent personalized nursing education focused on leadership and community engagement. Known for strong academics and clinical training sites, Mount Mary has direct entry admission options for exceptional high school students to lock in a seat.

University of Wisconsin

Location: Madison, WI

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 46%

Avg SAT Score: 1370

In-State Tuition: $10,725 per year

Avg Salary: $75,030


The University of Wisconsin-Madison has the top ranked nursing program in the state and is considered one of the best in the entire country. UW Nursing is extremely competitive to get into but has unparalleled academics, research opportunities, and job/career support which makes graduates very sought-after.

Viterbo University

Location: La Crosse, WI

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 65%

Tuition: $30,400 per year

Avg Salary: $67,550


Viterbo has been educating exceptional nurses for over 40 years. Offering BSN, MSN, DNP, and RN-BSN options, Viterbo has a holistic approach focused on ethics, servant leadership, and community engagement. Graduates benefit from small class sizes and dedicated faculty support.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main nursing degrees?

The most common nursing degrees are the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). While both allow graduates to take the NCLEX exam to become RNs, the BSN opens up greater career advancement options. There are also Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) options.

What is the average salary for a nurse in Wisconsin?

The average salary for a registered nurse in Wisconsin is around $71,000 per year, significantly higher than the national average. This number rises with higher degrees and specializations. For example, nurse practitioners in Wisconsin earn an average salary around $111,000 per year.

What score do you need to get into nursing school in Wisconsin?

Nursing programs look at various factors for admission decisions, but you typically need at least a 3.0 GPA in prerequisite courses. Average SAT scores for accepted nursing students range from 1000 to 1300 depending on the school. The TEAS test is also often required with a score of around 70% considered competitive.

What are the prerequisites to get into nursing school?

Common prerequisites are intro biology, anatomy & physiology, chemistry, statistics, psychology, microbiology, nutrition, and algebra. Specific requirements differ by school, so check each program’s website. Maintaining at least a B average in prerequisites is important for admission.

How long does it take to become an RN in Wisconsin?

If you pursue an ADN, it takes around 2-3 years. A traditional BSN program generally takes 4 years. For those who already have a bachelor’s degree, accelerated BSN (ABSN) programs allow you to finish nursing school in 12-18 months.

Do nurses work 3 12-hour shifts a week?

Many nurses opt to work 12-hour shifts and have an alternating 3 and 4-day work week schedule. However, shift length and schedules vary. Some nurses work 8 or 10-hour shifts, overnights, weekends only, etc. It depends on the healthcare setting and personal preference.

What specialty has the highest paid nurses?

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are among the highest paid nurses with an average salary over $200,000 per year. Nurse practitioners (NPs) also earn very high wages, averaging around $111,000 in Wisconsin. Managers and administrative nurses have high earning potential as well.

What is the hardest nursing program in Wisconsin?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is widely considered the most academically rigorous nursing program in the state. With lots of clinical hours, challenging coursework and an exceptional reputation, getting into and graduating from UW Nursing is very competitive which makes grads highly desirable hires.

What is better, a BSN or MSN?

The BSN is an undergraduate nursing degree while the MSN is a graduate degree for advanced nursing practice. The BSN is the minimum requirement to become an RN while a Master’s degree like an MSN leads to jobs as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, etc.

How many clinical hours are required for BSN in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin does not mandate a minimum number of clinical hours for BSN programs, but quality schools provide 800-1000+ hours of supervised clinical experience. This hands-on training working with real patients is vital preparation before entering the nursing workforce.

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