Top Undergraduate Nursing Schools


There are several key components that make up the top undergraduate nursing schools. The best undergraduate nursing programs have the following characteristics:

  • Accreditation. There are two major accrediting bodies for undergraduate nursing programs, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Top nursing programs for undergraduates are accredited by one of these two nursing bodies.
  • Faculty. It’s important to be trained by top-notch faculty members that are well-prepared to train nursing students. Prior to enrolling in a nursing program, review the faculty qualifications to learn more about their credentials and background.
  • Student Performance. An additional way to evaluate a nursing education program is student performance. It’s important to look at student retention, NCLEX-RN pass rates and overall success in the program.

Here are the top 10 undergraduate nursing schools in the country, in no particular order.

Creighton University

Creighton University is based in Nebraska. The university is a Catholic institution in the Jesuit tradition. The college offers one of a kind educational opportunity for nurses, including the opportunity to specialize in working directly with a specific group of the population or participating in a unique supervised internship with a nurse that is already working in the field. While on campus, students have the opportunity to get involved with the Nursing Senate or The Creighton University Student Nurses Association, both of which offer networking and leadership opportunities for aspiring nurses. Creighton University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Boston College

Boston College was founded in 1863. The school offers comprehensive options for nursing students including study abroad and research opportunities. The preparation for RN licensure is evident as the school boasts a high NCLEX-RN pass rate, which is currently above 90%. In addition to offering undergraduate degrees, the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College also offers masters, doctoral degrees and continuing education courses for nurses. The undergraduate nursing program at Boston College is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Nursing students in the BSN program have the opportunity to take master’s level nursing courses.

University of Florida

In their most recent accreditation visit, all nursing programs at the University of Florida were awarded the maximum accreditation possible, including undergraduate level nursing programs. The nursing program at the University of Florida was founded in 1956 and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Innovative programs on campus, such as the Faculty Practice Association allow students to earn clinical experience as an undergraduate. The university has top-notch research facilities and generates quality research projects that have been picked up by large national outlets including NBC, CNN and The New York Times. The University of Florida prides itself in offering a diverse learning environment for their students.

Johns Hopkins University

For Maryland-based Johns Hopkins University, both the undergraduate and graduate programs are some of the best in the nation. The school ranks first among funding for nursing students provided by the National Institute of Health. The National League for Nursing named the School of Nursing a Center of Excellence, a distinction awarded to select schools throughout the nation who demonstrate quality in nursing education.

The school submits itself to a rigorous evaluation process as the undergraduate nursing program is accredited by both the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The NCLEX pass rate for students is over 99%.

Drexel University

Philadelphia-based Drexel University has offered nursing education for over 125 years. An extensive four library collection and on-campus simulation center are just a few of the resources offered to Drexel University’s nursing students. Among private institutions, Drexel University educates the most future nursing students in Pennsylvania.

The nursing department at Drexel University boasts some of the highest NCLEX-RN success rates as well as highly successful student retention and graduation percentages. A dedicated career center works in collaboration with the nursing department to help students find career opportunities. In 2010, Drexel University was named in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges list. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Accreditation accredits the BSN program at Drexel University.

Michigan State University

Undergraduate Nursing programs at Michigan State University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The university offers several tracks for aspiring nursing students seeking a BSN.

The ACCESS program, unique to Michigan State University, assists underrepresented students in funding their education and succeeding in the nursing profession. In addition to financial support, the program provides educational guidance to nursing students in the form of tutoring and personalized mentoring. The university also has a Nurse Scholars Program for future nurses in their final year of high school. Students in the undergraduate nursing program have the opportunity to explore research opportunities and evidence-based care.

University of Washington

The University of Washington has offered nursing courses since 1918. Most full-time faculty members that hold tenure at the University of Washington hold terminal degrees. The school is second in receiving funding from the National Institute of Health for their nursing programs. Nursing students at the University of Washington have the opportunity to take courses in numerous specialties.

Leadership and networking opportunities are available for student through PONS, the Professional Organization of Nursing Students. Students who pursue undergraduate education in the BSN program are eligible to work as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant upon completing two specific program courses and earning the proper state licensure.

University of Pennsylvania

In addition to practicing in the on-campus simulation lab, students in the Penn School of Nursing will benefit from earning experience at two top hospitals in the country based nearby. The nursing program at the University of Pennsylvania has received awards and accolades from the National Institute of Health as well as U.S. News and World Report. In addition to several BSN track options; there is also a BSN to PhD program for high-achieving students. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits the nursing programs for undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania. Undergaduate Nursing programs at Penn have a strong focus on research, as the department employs nursing researchers.

University of Iowa

The University Of Iowa School Of Nursing has been in operation for over a hundred years since 1898. The six-million dollar Nursing Clinical Education Center serves as a training ground for nurses. Additional nursing centers focus on geriatrics and nursing treatments and patient outcomes. Two undergraduate programs are offered, a BSN and RN-BSN program for the practicing nurse seeking an undergraduate degree. Programs at the undergraduate level at the University of Iowa seek to prepare nurse generalists. Research and interdisciplinary collaboration are key features of the nursing department at the University of Iowa. The nursing program at the University of Iowa is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Columbia University

The Columbia University School of Nursing was established in 1892. In addition to working with the prominent medical hospitals in New York, the university works in collaboration with hundreds of sites to facilitate clinical experience. The school has experienced many firsts in nursing, including being named a Collaborating Center for International Nursing Development in Advanced Practice. This honor, bestowed by the World Health Organization, allows Columbia University to participate in collaboration with international health professionals. Numerous undergraduate nursing programs are available at Columbia University including the combined Bachelor and Master in Nursing program, which is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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