Best Nursing Schools, Universities and Colleges

Oct 20, 2021

Read about the best nursing schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S., through which students train to become registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners, or nurse specialists. Learn about the program options at four universities, and find a list of other postsecondary institutions that provide training for aspiring nurses.

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School Information

Individual and combined degree programs can lead to a Bachelor of Science and/or a Master of Science in Nursing. Each of the four schools also offers doctoral programs in nursing. Some of the best nursing schools in the United States can be found at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan. All four universities have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for the quality of their master's nursing programs.

Johns Hopkins University

According to U.S. News & World Report, the School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, ranked as the best graduate nursing school in the nation in 2016. The university also made The Princeton Review's 'Best Northeastern College' and Green Colleges surveys for the same year. The School of Nursing offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing with a specialty track. A combined Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing is also available. Students may also pursue an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing, after which they can participate in a paid residency in a nursing clinic while enrolled in a part-time Master of Science program.

Joint degree programs allow students to combine their nursing program with an additional course of study in one of 13 areas. These include adult primary or family care, public or women's health, business, or a clinical specialty. Combined programs may lead to a nursing degree and a Master of Business Administration or Master of Public Health. Advanced programs culminate in a Doctor of Nursing Practice or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is a private research institution that ranked as the second best graduate nursing school in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report. The School of Nursing offers a number of undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a combined Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing. A second-degree program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is also available. Among the school's 18 different master's degree programs are studies in family, mental, or women's health; gerontology; pediatrics; and nurse midwifery. Additional programs include a Ph.D. in Nursing and post-doctoral studies. Students in these programs can participate in the Student Mentorship Program with nursing professionals.

University of Washington

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Washington's School of Nursing as one of the top five in the nation in 2016. The School of Nursing is composed of three departments, including Behavioral Nursing and Health Systems, Family and Child Nursing, and Psychosocial and Community Health. Students in the School of Nursing can pursue a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Master of Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice, or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science. The undergraduate program is designed for students looking to become registered nurses, while the graduate program focuses on nursing research and theoretical applications.

Graduate certificates are offered for adult nurse practitioners and midwives, as well in adult psychiatric patient care, leadership, and nursing education. Nursing students can also earn a graduate certificate in environmental or infant mental health, infectious diseases, and control or alternative medicine.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan in Anne Arbor offers multiple degree programs for aspiring nurses. At the undergraduate level, students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The school also offers two Doctor of Nursing Practice tracks: a Master of Science in Nursing and post-baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing Practice with an advanced clinical path and a Master of Science in Nursing and post-master's Doctor of Nursing Practice with a systems, populations, and leadership path. There is also a Doctor of Philosophy program for nurses who want to focus on research. Students get training at the school's Clinical Learning Center, which includes a nursing skills lab, physical assessment lab, simulation rooms, debriefing rooms, patient rooms, and an anatomy lab. The school also has a North Campus Research Complex. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked the graduate nursing program #7 in the country.

Top Nursing Schools

These are some of the other top nursing schools in the United States.

School Name Distinction Location
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Offers a Master of Science in Nursing program for registered nurses Chapel Hill, NC
University of Pittsburgh Has a Center for Innovation in Clinical Learning (CICL) Pittsburgh, PA
Duke University Has a Translational Nursing Institute Durham, NC
Yale University Founded the first educational nursing program at a university New Haven, CT
University of California - San Francisco Ranked third in both primary care and research for U.S News & World Report's 2017 listing of best medical schools San Francisco, CA
Oregon Health and Science University The School of Nursing has a virtual campus Portland, OR

Aspiring and experienced nurses can find undergraduate- and graduate-level education in the field at many universities. U.S. News & World Report has recognized some of the best programs in the country.

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