Nursing school ranking lists won’t tell you everything you need to know about a nursing school, but they can help to point you in the right direction. At a glance, ranking lists will allow you to compare the relative quality of the most reputable nursing schools based on generally accepted indicators of quality such as acceptance rate, tuition, student retention, graduation rates, NCLEX pass rates, post-graduation employment rates, and nursing school faculty credentials and reputation.
Rankings are an excellent starting point for finding a reputable, competitive nursing program. They may also help to broaden and increase your program options as some of the nursing schools on these national Best Nursing Schools rankings lists may be ones that you had not previously considered or even heard about.
To view the Best Nursing School Rankings nationally, by specialty, or by state, simply click on a ranking segment below.
As mentioned, nursing rankings are just a starting point in your search for the best nursing school or college. There are many things you should consider as you search for a nursing program. These things can and should include:
- If you need to work during nursing school, does the program offer a heavily structured environment or a more flexible one?
- How involved is the school’s faculty and administration in the program and the curriculum?
- How strong is a nursing school’s affiliation with local or national hospitals and clinics?
- How much clinical and internship work is required for graduation?
- What are the nursing school’s most recent NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) pass rates?
- Does the nursing school provide adequate resources including computers, science laboratories, and off-campus clinical work?
- How large are the class and lab sizes?
- If you want to specialize, does the school offer the curriculum that helps you to do that?
- 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 professors and instructors?
- What is the school’s job placement rate for graduates of their nursing program?
Best Nursing School Rankings: 2016-2017, 2015-2016, and 2014-2015
Below you will find the 2016-2017, 2015-2016, and 2014-2015 editions of the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Nursing School Rankings. These lists highlight the best nursing schools and programs across the United States according to the U.S. News & World Report. To get started on your nursing school selection process, simply pick a school from the list below and start doing your research. As always, we caution future nursing students to evaluate nursing schools and programs based on a holistic view of national and regional nursing school rankings, regional and national accreditation, state licensing board approval (deals with your ability to sit for licensing tests), NCLEX pass rates, employment rates, and more. CollegeAtlas.org also has a top nursing school rankings list that you can reference as you’re researching top nursing schools. View the Top Nursing Schools: The A-List ranking list.
If you are interested in earning your nursing degree or improving your nursing career opportunities and worry about being able to with your already demanding schedule, there are many online nursing degree programs that are available to you. Whether you are interested in an online nursing school, a traditional nursing school, or a hybrid program, learn more about your nursing degree, school, and career options by checking out the Online Nursing Degrees, Schools, and Careers Guide.
2016-2017 U.S. News & World Report’s Nursing School Rankings
2015-2016 U.S. News & World Report’s Nursing School Rankings
2014-2015 U.S. News & World Report’s Nursing School Rankings
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.
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 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 completed 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.
Explore Careers Search for schools
Nursing School Rankings by Specialty
- Clinical Nurse Specialist: Adult / Medical-Surgical
- Clinical Nurse Specialist: Community / Public Health
- Clinical Nurse Specialist: Psychiatric / Mental Health
- Nurse Practitioner: Adult
- Nurse Practitioner: Family
- Nurse Practitioner: Gerontological/Geriatric
- Nurse Practitioner: Pediatric
- Nursing Service Administration
Featured Nursing Programs
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