Best Nursing Schools and Colleges

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Rankings won’t tell you everything you need to know about a nursing school, but they will point you in the right direction. They’re an excellent starting point for finding a reputable, competitive nursing program. At a glance they allow you to compare the relative quality of the most reputable nursing schools based on generally accepted indicators of quality such as graduation rates, student retention, and faculty. Rankings may also help to broaden your options. You may be surprised to find some new nursing schools on this Best Nursing Colleges rankings list that you hadn’t previously considered attending.

As we mentioned, rankings are just a starting point in your search for a nursing school or college. As you search for a good nursing program there are many things you should consider. If you work, does the program offer a heavily structured or a more flexible environment? How involved are school faculty in the program? How strong is a nursing school’s affiliation with major hospitals and clinics? How much clinical work is required for graduation? Does the nursing school provide adequate resources including computers, science laboratories and off-campus/clinical work? How large are the class sizes? What type of academic and career counseling services does the school provide? How much one-on-one time can you expect to receive with your professor? What is the school’s student placement rate for graduates of their nursing program?

Below you’ll find the 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Nursing College Rankings. It highlights the best nursing schools and programs across the United States. To get started simply pick a school from the list below – and then start doing your homework!

If you are interested in earning your nursing degree or improving your nursing career and worry about being able to with your already demanding schedule, the University of Phoenix has flexible nursing degree programs that are fully accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Nursing College Rankings

Rank Name
1 Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, MD
2 University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA
3 University of Washington – Seattle, WA
4 University of California–San Francisco – San Francisco, CA
5 University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, NC
6 University of Michigan–Ann Arbor – Ann Arbor, MI
7 Duke University – Durham, NC
8 Oregon Health and Science University – Portland, OR
9 University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, PA
10 Yale University – New Haven, CT
11 University of Iowa – Iowa City, IA
12 University of Maryland–Baltimore – Baltimore, MD
13 Case Western Reserve University – Cleveland, OH
14 Indiana University-Purdue University–Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN
15 Rush University – Chicago, IL
16 University of Colorado–Denver – Denver, CO
17 University of Illinois–Chicago – Chicago, IL
18 University of Virginia – Charlottesville, VA
19 Vanderbilt University – Nashville, TN
20 University of Arizona – Tucson, AZ
21 Boston College – Chestnut Hill, MA
22 Columbia University – New York, NY
23 University of Wisconsin–Madison – Madison, WI
24 Emory University – Atlanta, GA
25 University of California–Los Angeles – Los Angeles, CA
26 University of Texas Health Science Center–Houston – Houston, TX
27 University of Texas–Austin – Austin, TX
28 New York University – New York, NY
29 University of Alabama–Birmingham – Birmingham, AL
30 University of Kentucky – Lexington, KY
31 Ohio State University – Columbus, OH
32 Arizona State University – Phoenix, AZ
33 Georgetown University – Washington, DC
34 University of Florida – Gainesville, FL
35 University of Minnesota–Twin Cities – Minneapolis, MN
36 University of Nebraska Medical Center – Omaha, NE
37 University of Tennessee Health Science Center – Memphis, TN
38 Loyola University Chicago – Chicago, IL
39 University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee – Milwaukee, WI
40 Catholic University of America – Washington, DC
41 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences – Little Rock, AR
42 University of Kansas – Kansas City, KS
43 University of Texas Health Science Center–San Antonio – San Antonio, TX
44 University of Rochester – Rochester, NY
45 Wayne State University – Detroit, MI
46 Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing – Hyden, KY
47 Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI
48 University of Utah – Salt Lake City, UT
49 Virginia Commonwealth University – Richmond, VA
50 University of Missouri – Columbia, MO
51 University of San Diego – San Diego, CA
52 Marquette University – Milwaukee, WI
53 Villanova University – Villanova, PA
54 Medical College of Georgia – Augusta, GA
55 Medical University of South Carolina – Charleston, SC
56 Pennsylvania State University–University Park – University Park, PA
57 St. Louis University – St. Louis, MO
58 Texas Woman’s University – Denton, TX
59 University of Louisville – Louisville, KY
60 University of Massachusetts–Amherst – Amherst, MA
61 University of San Francisco – San Francisco, CA
62 George Mason University – Fairfax, VA
63 George Washington University – Washington, DC
64 Northeastern University – Boston, MA
65 University of Connecticut – Storrs, CT
66 Brigham Young University – Provo, UT
67 University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center – Oklahoma City, OK
68 Pace University – New York, NY
69 University of Texas Medical Branch–Galveston – Galveston, TX
70 University of South Carolina – Columbia, SC
* College rankings based on editor generated composite of major ranking indices.

Below you’ll find a little bit more information that will assist you in your search for the best possible nursing school to meet your needs.

Nursing School Accreditation

One of the first things you should look at when evaluating a nursing school is whether or not it’s accredited, as well as its accreditation status. Accreditation ensures that a nursing program meets the minimum standards that are associated with a quality education. The two types of higher education accreditation are national accreditation and regional accreditation. While national accreditation is acceptable, regional accreditation is preferred, especially if you plan pursuing a graduate nursing degree down the road at an accredited four-year college. Two other organizations that play a role in the accreditation of nursing programs are the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Both of these organizations provide specialized accreditation for schools that offers degree, certificate and diploma programs in nursing.

Online Nursing Programs

Online programs are now available for just about every field of study or academic discipline, nursing is no exception. If you’re a self starter and highly motivated, an online degree in nursing may be a good option to consider. However, nursing is a hands-on discipline that requires the development of skills and knowledge, some of which can only be obtained through hands-on, clinical experience. As such, most online nursing degrees require an element of campus-based study, research, and education. Online nursing programs allow you to complete your classroom courses online, but you’ll still be required to complete lab work and clinical hours at a campus or nearby healthcare facility. Some of the requirements for these programs can be complete through correspondence, if you don’t live near an actual college campus.

Online nursing programs are particularly useful for registered nurses who already have ample experience under their belt and simply want to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree program for registered nurses who already have an associate’s degree is a perfect example. In most cases, a registered nurse can complete this entire degree program online, without ever stepping foot on a campus. If clinical work is required, it usually can be completed at their current job or at a nearby hospital or medical facility.

Graduate degrees in nursing are also growing in popularity. The Internet provides the perfect medium for practicing nurses to augment their knowledge, understanding and skill set in nursing (while earning a degree). There are several master’s degree options in advanced practice nursing for RNs who want to specialize in a particular area of medicine or direct patient care, such as Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Executive, or even Nurse Anesthetist. Other graduate degrees in nursing include the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc), which are also available online. However, some graduate degrees, especially those that focus on clinical skills, may require practicums or clinicals.

When considering online nursing programs, again, the first thing you’ll want to look at is accreditation. Earning a degree on-campus or online from an unaccredited school can make it difficult to obtain a nursing license, pursue higher education opportunities down the road, or get a job in certain states.

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