Best Nursing Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Nursing is a fulfilling and in-demand career field. For those interested in becoming nurses, choosing the right nursing school is an important decision. The nursing program and school you choose can impact your education, clinical training, job prospects, and more after graduation. This article profiles 10 top nursing schools across the United States based on factors like admissions selectivity, affordability, reputation, and graduate outcomes.

Johns Hopkins University

Location: Baltimore, MD

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Avg SAT Score: 1500

Tuition: $55,350 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $75,000


The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is world-renowned for excellence in nursing education, research, and practice. Its highly competitive BSN and MSN programs provide robust clinical experiences at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Graduates routinely secure competitive nursing jobs and leadership roles.

University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Rating: 9.3/10

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Avg SAT Score: 1480

Tuition: $59,914 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $72,500


UPenn’s School of Nursing is an Ivy League program consistently ranked #1 or #2 by U.S. News & World Report. Its accelerated BSN degree trains nurse leaders through an intellectually rigorous, research-focused curriculum integrating liberal arts and sciences. Graduates have their pick of nursing jobs nationwide.

Duke University

Location: Durham, NC

Rating: 9.1/10

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Avg SAT Score: 1490

Tuition: $58,198 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $70,000


Duke School of Nursing combines academic excellence with evidence-based clinical training centered on health equity and care innovation. Its small class sizes, renowned faculty, and state-of-the-art simulation labs give BSN graduates an edge in advancing nursing practice. Many alumni take top nursing jobs at Duke Health.

University of California – Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Rating: 8.9/10

Acceptance Rate: 12%

Avg SAT Score: 1325

Tuition: $44,276 for California residents; $57,032 for non-residents

Avg Salary After Graduation: $85,000


UCLA School of Nursing offers high-quality BSN, MSN, PhD, and DNP programs emphasizing evidence-based care, leadership skills, and healthcare technology training. Undergraduate students benefit from UCLA Medical Center’s cutting-edge facilities. Many graduates secure competitive nursing jobs in California.

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Rating: 8.7/10

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Avg SAT Score: 1400

Tuition: $52,226 for Michigan residents; $59,388 for non-residents

Avg Salary After Graduation: $70,000


The University of Michigan School of Nursing is known for academic rigor and innovative teaching methods like simulation labs with standardized patients. Undergraduate students train across UMich’s top-ranked hospitals. Graduates often take coveted nursing jobs within Michigan’s prestigious health systems.

Rush University

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 75%

Avg SAT Score: 1150

Tuition: $37,104 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $65,500


Rush University College of Nursing prepares nurses at the BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD levels to lead change and advance healthcare in Chicago communities. Undergraduates complete 800+ clinical hours across Rush University Medical Center and other Chicagoland facilities. Many graduates attain nursing jobs within Illinois.

Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, OH

Rating: 8.3/10

Acceptance Rate: 55%

Avg SAT Score: 1310

Tuition: $33,747 for Ohio residents; $46,316 for non-residents

Avg Salary After Graduation: $61,000


Ohio State’s large, acclaimed nursing school emphasizes interprofessional education and evidence-based practice across its BSN, MSN, and DNP programs. Undergraduates receive robust clinical training at OSU Medical Center among OhioHealth hospitals. Many graduates attain nursing jobs with competitive salaries at OhioHealth and nationwide.

New York University

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 8.1/10

Acceptance Rate: 28%

Avg SAT Score: 1410

Tuition: $55,772 per year

Avg Salary After Graduation: $80,000


NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is globally-ranked for excellence in research and academics. Its direct-entry MSN program fast-tracks high performers without nursing backgrounds into advanced roles. The robust clinical network across NYU Langone hospitals ensures graduates are prepared for diverse nursing jobs regionally and beyond.

University of Pittsburgh

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Rating: 7.9/10

Acceptance Rate: 60%

Avg SAT Score: 1300

Tuition: $32,742 for Pennsylvania residents; $38,058 for non-residents

Avg Salary After Graduation: $63,500


Pitt Nursing emphasizes interdisciplinary education, research, and community service across its highly ranked BSN, MSN, DNP, PhD, and certificate programs. Undergraduates receive 900+ hours of clinical experience across UPMC, the largest nonprofit health system in Pennsylvania. Graduates have exceptional inroads to nursing jobs with UPMC.

University of Washington

Location: Seattle, WA

Rating: 7.7/10

Acceptance Rate: 59%

Avg SAT Score: 1300

Tuition: $40,473 for Washington residents; $60,551 for non-residents

Avg Salary After Graduation: $77,000


The top nursing school in the Pacific Northwest, UW’s nursing programs are recognized nationally for research, academics, and practice innovations centered on community health equity. Robust clinical placements across UW Medical Center and Providence Health provide BSN graduates pathways to sought-after regional nursing jobs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What factors make a nursing school “top-ranked”?

Factors like admissions selectivity, affordability, academic quality, research contributions, clinical training resources, and graduate outcomes contribute to nursing school rankings. Highly ranked schools produce successful nurse leaders.

What type of degree do I need to become an RN?

To become a registered nurse (RN), students typically need either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). However, a BSN is required for certain nursing jobs and provides more opportunities for leadership roles.

What is a direct-entry MSN nursing program?

A direct-entry MSN program enables candidates with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to pursue an MSN degree and become an advanced nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse leader in roughly three years. These competitive programs apply nursing class credits from the graduate level.

Do I need work experience before applying to nursing school?

Most undergraduate nursing programs do not require applicants to have healthcare experience. However, directly relevant experience – like a nurse externship or job as a nursing assistant – can strengthen applications and preparation for nursing school.

Should I attend nursing school out-of-state?

Out-of-state nursing programs can provide valuable experiences. However, tuition is usually considerably higher for non-resident students. Attending an in-state public school often costs less. Privately funded schools may offer competitive merit scholarships regardless of residency status.

What scores do I need on nursing school prerequisite classes?

Nursing programs have high academic standards, particularly in science classes critical to nursing foundations. Minimum GPA requirements range from 3.0 to 3.75. Maintaining high grades in biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology demonstrates potential to succeed.

Should I earn another degree along with my BSN?

Dual degree options like RN/MPH (public health) and RN/MBA (business) combine nursing with complementary fields for broader career opportunities. These programs lengthen studies by a year but benefit nurses seeking leadership, research, policy, or entrepreneurial roles.

What type of clinical hours are required in nursing programs?

BSN programs require roughly 800-1,000 supervised clinical hours across hospitals, clinics, and community health settings. Clinical hours differ by state regulations but give invaluable real-world experience. Direct patient care teaches clinical judgment and reinforces nursing skills.

How competitive are nursing school admissions?

The average nursing program acceptance rate is around 50-75%. However, top-ranked nursing schools typically have lower acceptance rates, often under 20%. Amidst nursing shortages, competition continues rising with thousands of applicants per available seat. High stats and experiences boost chances.

What percentage of nursing students are male?

Only around 15% of nursing students are male. However, the number of men pursuing nursing is progressively growing as gender diversity initiatives help reposition nursing as the broad, advanced STEM field it is. All qualified candidates have fantastic nursing career prospects regardless of gender identity.

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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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