Top 10 Best Colleges for Nursing in 2024

Picture of female nursing school graduate wearing white lab coat and mortar board throwing confetti
January 3, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 1/3/24

There is a wide variety of nursing schools out there. If you are looking for the best colleges for nursing, keep reading. 

Nursing is one of the most important professions in our society; we rely on nurses to keep our health care systems running. When looking into nursing programs, it can be difficult to figure out where to turn. There are a lot of schools that offer nursing programs, but which ones are the best colleges for nurses?

In this article, we will rank the top colleges for nursing and go through what to look for in a nursing program. By the end of the article, you will have a better idea of what school you might want to apply to and how to narrow down your choices. 

Ranked: Best Colleges for Nursing in 2024

Top colleges for nursing

According to US News, the following are the best nursing schools in 2024:

  1. University of Pennsylvania
  2. Duke University
  3. University of Washington
  4. Emory University
  5. University of Michigan- Ann Arbour
  6. University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
  7. New York University
  8. Oregon Health and Science University
  9. University of Pittsburgh
  10. Case Western Reserve University

To get a better idea of what makes these schools the best for nursing, we will look at each school in a bit more detail. 

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia and was founded by Benjamin Franklin. It is considered the first American university, dating back to 1740. 

It is the only Ivy League school to make the top 10 colleges for nursing, meaning competition to get into the school is very high. Successful applicants typically between a 1500 and 1570 SAT score and between a 34 and 35 ACT in order to be considered for acceptance.

PennNursing is ranked the best college for nursing in the world. They are always striving to “make a significant impact on health by advancing science, promoting equity, demonstrating practice excellence, and preparing leaders in the discipline of nursing.”

PennNursing offers a BSN to students at the undergraduate level or as an accelerated program for those who already have a degree in a different discipline. They also offer Master’s programs and doctoral programs for those who already have a BSN. 

Students can participate in campus life through a variety of clubs and events or the many athletic teams. 

Duke University

Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University first opened its doors in 1859 as Trinity College. It was later bought by James Buchanan Duke and turned into Duke University in 1924. 

Duke University strives to prepare students for a lifetime of learning. They have a diverse student population with a variety of student-led organizations and some of the best college athletic teams in the country. Duke’s median SAT score ranges from 1490 to 1570, and their ACT ranges from 34-35.

In 1931, Duke opened their school of nursing, offering a BSN program until 1984. After a year of reorganization, Duke started offering their graduate nursing degrees again. With their emphasis on research and customizable learning opportunities Duke became well known as one of the best colleges for nurses to seek further education in their field.

Today, Duke offers an accelerated program (ABSN) as well as many Masters and Ph.D. programs in nursing. 

University of Washington

The University of Washington is a public institution located in the beautiful city of Seattle. The university’s founders established the institution based on  the idea that education should be accessible to all, and they continue to serve their community with an outstanding education.

The University of Washington says: “our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism” is what sets them apart from their counterparts. If you want to attend the University of Washington, you need an SAT score between 1300 and 1520 or an ACT score between 29 and 34.

The University of Washington has high standards for their students because of their reputation of being one of the best nursing schools in the U.S. Their Bsc in Nursing program starts as a general science degree where you will take some prerequisite courses.

They also offer an accelerated program for those who already have a degree, which you can take in four back-to-back quarters, meaning you would finish in a year and a half. They also have a variety of graduate programs that you can choose from once you have finished your BSN.

Emory University

Established in 1836, Emory University is located in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. It has a diverse population that can participate in everything from arts and cultural events to varsity and intramural sports.

Emory is dedicated to providing outstanding education to its students, which is why it has become one of the top colleges for nursing. Students who are applying to Emory University will need SAT scores of 1380-1530 and ACT scores of 31-34. 

The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing has a robust nursing program that allows its students to practice their skills in some of the best hospitals in the country. 

They also have specialty nursing programs such as:

  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Family and Emergency nurse practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care nurse practitioner

These advanced degrees are highly sought after and make Emory one of the top colleges for nursing programs. 

University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

As the name suggests, the University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor Michigan. It is a beautiful city full of cultural events, entertainment, and great restaurants.

The University of Michigan is a public university that opened its doors in 1817. Its mission is to “serve the people of Michigan and the world.”

The school of nursing opened in 1891 and has grown into one of the top colleges for nursing students to attend. There is a wide variety of programs that offer both in class learning as well as hands-on experience. If you want to attend the school you have to get between 1350 and 1530 on your SATs as well as between 31 and 34 on your ACTs.

The University of Michigan encourages its students to have a balance between their nursing courses and other disciplines. You are able to have a dual degree in the humanities or social science or biology.

They also offer a minor in Global Health, meaning you can have experiences abroad as part of your learning. 

University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina is a public institution that opened in 1789. It is the oldest public university in the country, providing high-quality education to its community and the world.

University of North Carolina’s mission is to “serve as a center of research, scholarship, and creativity” in order to help educate the next generation of leaders. For people who want to attend UNC, you will need between 1350 and 1530 on your SATs and between 30 and 34 on your ACTs.

The nursing school started in 1950 and soon became one of the most selective colleges for nursing. Their program offers a lot of hands-on work, allowing students to practice their skills. 

Along with the usual BSN program that would be similar to the other schools we’ve covered, they also have a program called BSN Military Pathway. This program is for veterans or active duty who are looking to become a nurse either within the military or after their duty is finished.

UNC also has an accelerated program for students who are returning to school after their first degree. They also offer Master's and Ph.D. programs for nurses looking to advance their careers. 

New York University

New York University was founded in 1831 and is located in Greenwich Village, a popular neighborhood in New York City.

New York University aims at producing lifelong learners. To attend NYU, you must have an SAT score of 1450-1570 and an ACT score of 32-35.

The New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing was founded in 1932. Take a look at these facts that demonstrate why NYU Meyers is one of the top colleges for nursing:

Image outlining facts that demonstrate why NYU Meyers is one of the top nursing colleges

Source: NYU Meyers

The school is surrounded by some of the best hospitals, meaning students have some of the best facilities to learn in.

For example, the school has a Clinical Simulation Learning Center which is a state-of-the-art facility where nursing students can practice some of the skills they will need once working. This is vital for nursing students as it allows them to be prepared for real world experiences once they graduate.

Rory Meyers College also offers special programs such as:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatrics Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse-Midwifery
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

These programs help make NYU one of the top colleges for nursing.

Oregon Health and Science University

Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) is located in Portland and is home to one of the best health facilities and academic healthcare facilities in the country. It is also highly ranked for its medical programs, coming in at #4 in the US News list of Best Medical Schools: Primary Care.

Soon after opening in 1887, the University of Oregon established several healthcare-related schools, such as its medical school in 1915 and the nursing school in 1932.

In 1974 the various health care academic facilities amalgamated and became Oregon Health and Science University. OHSU had the goal of “setting the example for integrity, compassion, and leadership.”

OHSU only offers a three-year BSN program, meaning you would have to do your prerequisite courses before applying. For students going into nursing, you have to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in order to get into the program.

Once in the program, students have the advantage of studying in some of the best healthcare facilities in the country, easily making OHSU one of the top colleges for nursing.

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh is a public institution that was formed in 1787. According to the University's motto, it was “forged in progress.”

The University of Pittsburgh is a lively campus with over 600 student organizations. For those who want to attend the school, you need a 1280-1470 SAT score and 29-33 ACT. 

The nursing school’s mission is to “care for and to develop the science underlying care for individuals, families, and communities across populations.” 

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is located in Cleveland, Ohio, and was formed in 1967. The university is made up of two higher education facilities: Western Reserve College and Case School of Applied Science.

To attend Case Western Reserve University you need an SAT score between 1410 and 1540 and an ACT score between 32 and 35.

The Frances Payne Bolton School is one of the premier colleges for nursing in the country. Cleveland has some of the best medical facilities in the world and when studying at CASE you will be able to learn from the best.

The school has a diverse student population with a wide variety of student organizations. Along with the BSN they offer an accelerated program as well as Master’s and doctorate programs in nursing. 

What to Look for in a College for Nursing

What to Look for in a Nursing College

Below we’ll point out a few factors to keep in mind before applying to some of the best colleges for nursing: 

  • Location
  • Class size
  • Degree type
  • Licencing exams pass rate
  • Accreditation


Make sure that you pick a college that is in a location that is convenient and where you will be happy to live for four years.

Class Size

If you want more one-on-one learning time with your teachers, make sure that there is a good student-to-professor ratio.

Degree Type

Make sure that the school has the type of degree you are looking for. There are a lot of different types of nursing degrees so make sure you know exactly what you’ll be signing up for.

Licencing Exams Pass Rate

You want to attend a school that will prepare you to pass the licensing exams that you need in order to be a nurse. The higher the pass rate, the better.


The school you attend must be accredited by a nursing authority.

FAQs: For Best Colleges for Nursing 

Still, have questions about the best colleges for nursing? Here are a few answers to the most frequently asked questions.

1. How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse? 

If you are coming straight out of high school it will take you four years to complete your degree and then write your licensing exams. If you qualify for an accelerated course it will take you between 1.5 and 2 years depending on the program. Becoming a CNA, on the other hand, can take between 1-4 months.

2. How Do I Choose Between Two Nursing Schools? 

Make sure the school you choose is one you will feel comfortable in. You will be attending nursing school for about four years, so you want to pick a school based on your comfort level.

3. When Do You Start Working in a Hospital? 

Most programs will have students in clinics in their third year. Every school is a bit different so you should check with the individual school before you begin.

4. Should I Pick a School That Is Associated With a Hospital? 

This really depends on what type of career you are looking for. Some nurses prefer to work in clinics or even abroad. That being said, nursing schools will be associated with a local hospital so that you can get the appropriate training.

5. Does Each State Have Its Own Licensing Exams? 

Yes, but schools will make sure that you are well prepared no matter the location.

Final Thoughts

Applying to the best colleges for nursing is a big decision, so take your time when thinking over your options. Try to find a school where you will feel comfortable as this will help you find success. We hope this guide to the best nursing schools in 2024 has been helpful for your decision process.

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