Top 25 Best Colleges For Nursing In 2024

Picture of female nursing school graduate wearing white lab coat and mortar board throwing confetti
June 10, 2024
5 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 6/10/24

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

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

School US News Ranking
Duke University #1 in Nursing
University of Pennsylvania #1 in Nursing
Emory University #3 in Nursing
Ohio State University #4 in Nursing
University of Iowa #4 in Nursing
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill #4 in Nursing
University of Alabama at Birmingham #7 in Nursing
University of Michigan- Ann Arbour #7 in Nursing
University of Washington #7 in Nursing
Boston College #10 in Nursing
Case Western Reserve University #10 in Nursing
New York University #10 in Nursing
Oregon Health and Science University #10 in Nursing
University of Maryland, Baltimore #10 in Nursing
University of Pittsburgh #10 in Nursing
University of California, Los Angeles #16 in Nursing
University of Illinois--Chicago #16 in Nursing
University of Kentucky #16 in Nursing
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities #16 in Nursing
University of Texas Health Science Center--Houston #16 in Nursing
University of Virginia #16 in Nursing
University of Wisconsin--Madison #16 in Nursing
Indiana University-Purdue University--Indianapolis #23 in Nursing
Medical University of South Carolina #23 in Nursing
University of Colorado Denver #23 in Nursing

We will examine each school in more detail to get a better idea of what makes them the best for nursing. 

1. Duke University

  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • Number of students: 6,640
  • College acceptance rate: 5.1%
  • SAT score range: 1520-1570
  • Graduation rate: 91%

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

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

2. University of Pennsylvania

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Number of students: 10,610
  • College acceptance rate: 5.8%
  • SAT score range: 1510-1570
  • Graduation rate: 97%

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. 

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 undergraduate students or as an accelerated program for those who already have a degree in a different discipline. They also offer Master’s 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. 

3. Emory University

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Number of students: 5,783
  • College acceptance rate: 14.5%
  • SAT score range: 1420–1540
  • Graduation rate: 83%

Emory is dedicated to providing outstanding education to its students, which is why it has become one of the top colleges for nursing. 

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. 

4. Ohio State University

  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Number of students: 65,405
  • College acceptance rate: 51%
  • SAT score range: 1250–1440
  • Graduation rate: 69%

Ohio State University encompasses a vast academic landscape, offering top-tier education across numerous disciplines.

The College of Nursing stands as a beacon of excellence within the university, renowned nationwide for its exceptional programs. Columbus, being a hub for medical innovation, provides an unparalleled environment for nursing students to thrive, with access to world-class healthcare facilities and renowned medical professionals.

Diversity thrives within the university's student body, fostering a dynamic and inclusive learning environment. In addition to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, Ohio State University offers accelerated pathways, as well as Master’s and doctoral programs, providing students with a comprehensive educational journey towards nursing excellence.

Wondering if you’d be able to get into Ohio State University? Take our Will I Get Into Ohio State University? Quiz, to find out your odds of getting in. 

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5. University of Iowa

  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa
  • Number of students: 31,452
  • College acceptance rate: 85%
  • SAT score range: 1130–1350
  • Graduation rate: 55%

The University of Iowa stands as a beacon of academic excellence in the heart of the Midwest. The College of Nursing, founded in 1898, has continually upheld the university's commitment to excellence. It boasts a comprehensive range of programs designed to prepare nursing students for success in a rapidly evolving healthcare landscape. 

At the University of Iowa, students are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary studies, allowing them to complement their nursing education with coursework in fields such as psychology, public health, or even business administration. 

Additionally, the university offers opportunities for students to engage in global health initiatives through programs like the Global Health Studies minor, providing invaluable experiences that broaden perspectives and deepen understanding of healthcare on a global scale.

6. University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Number of students: 19,743
  • College acceptance rate: 18.4%
  • SAT score range: 1370-1500
  • Graduation rate: 85%

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.

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. 

7. University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • Location: Birmingham, Alabama
  • Number of students: 21,160
  • College acceptance rate: 87%
  • SAT score range: 1173–1388
  • Graduation rate: 44%

The University of Alabama at Birmingham embodies a dedication to accessible education and community service. Founded on the principle of inclusivity, UAB continues to uphold its mission of providing exceptional educational opportunities to all who seek them.

Renowned for excellence in nursing education, UAB maintains rigorous standards for its students. Its Bachelor of Science in Nursing pathway begins with a foundational curriculum in general sciences, laying the groundwork for specialized study in nursing. 

Beyond the undergraduate level, UAB provides a diverse array of graduate nursing programs, enabling students to further specialize and advance their careers in the field of healthcare.

8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Number of students: 33,488
  • College acceptance rate: 18%
  • SAT score range: 1440-1540
  • Graduation rate: 81%

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

The School of Nursing opened in 1891 and has grown into one of the top colleges for nursing students. It offers a wide variety of programs that offer both in-class learning and hands-on experience. 

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, social science, or biology.

They also offer a minor in Global Health, which means you can gain experience abroad as part of your learning. 

9. University of Washington

  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Number of students: 33,973
  • College acceptance rate: 10%
  • Average SAT score: 1340
  • Graduation rate: 71%

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 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.

10. Boston College

  • Location: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 
  • Number of students: 9,575
  • College acceptance rate: 14.7%
  • SAT score range: 1420–1530
  • Graduation rate: 88%

Boston College’s four-year bachelor's nursing program trains students to work in settings like hospitals and clinics. Students also have the opportunity to experience studying abroad, joining student organizations, and participating in faculty research. 

The nursing program curriculum includes classroom learning, clinical practice, nursing essentials, and sciences. Nursing students may take graduate-level electives in their junior and senior years. Through the Undergraduate Research Fellows (UGRF) program, students can collaborate on research projects and get paid for their work, often contributing to scientific publications.

11. Case Western Reserve University

  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Number of students: 6,186
  • College acceptance rate: 28.6%
  • SAT score range: 1410–1530
  • Graduation rate: 68%

Case Western Reserve University is made up of two higher education facilities: Western Reserve College and Case School of Applied Science.

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. 

12. New York University

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Number of students: 29,760
  • College acceptance rate: 8%
  • SAT score range: 1470 to 1570
  • Graduation rate: 78%

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

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:

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, a state-of-the-art facility where nursing students can practice some of the skills they will need when 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.

13. Oregon Health and Science University

  • Location: Portland, Oregon 
  • Number of students: 2,160 students 
  • College acceptance rate: 7%
  • SAT score range: N/A
  • Graduation rate: N/A

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. 

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.

14. University of Maryland, Baltimore

  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Number of students: 6,441
  • College acceptance rate: 44.8%
  • SAT score range: 1220–1410
  • Graduation rate: N/A

With a rich history dating back to 1807, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) has continuously led the charge in shaping the future of healthcare. It established its esteemed medical school over two centuries ago and pioneered its renowned nursing program in 1889.

Driven by a steadfast commitment to integrity, compassion, and leadership, UMB has remained at the forefront of healthcare education, continually striving to set the standard for excellence in patient care and medical innovation.

At the University of Maryland, prospective nursing students are welcomed into a rigorous yet rewarding BSN program designed to be completed in three years. Admission to the program is competitive, with applicants expected to meet a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 and demonstrate a passion for advancing the field of nursing.

Once admitted, students are afforded unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in hands-on learning experiences within some of the nation's leading healthcare facilities. This immersive approach not only equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in their careers but also solidifies UMB's standing as a premier destination for aspiring healthcare professionals.

15. University of Pittsburgh

  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Number of students: 24,503
  • College acceptance rate: 49%
  • SAT score range: 1250–1470
  • Graduation rate: 69%

At the University of Pittsburgh, nursing students are welcomed into a dynamic learning environment where they are empowered to explore the complexities of patient care, research, and leadership. 

From immersive clinical experiences in renowned healthcare facilities to engaging classroom discussions led by expert faculty, students at the University of Pittsburgh are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience needed to excel in their careers.

Beyond the classroom, the nursing program offers students a wealth of opportunities to engage with the broader healthcare community. Through collaborative research initiatives, community outreach programs, and interdisciplinary partnerships, students have the chance to apply their learning in real-world settings and make a tangible difference in the lives of others.

With a focus on innovation and excellence, the University of Pittsburgh's nursing program is committed to shaping the future of healthcare through education, research, and compassionate patient care. 

16. University of California, Los Angeles

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Number of students: 6,587
  • College acceptance rate: 9%
  • Average SAT score: 1405
  • Graduation rate: 84%

UCLA's School of Nursing emphasizes equity, diversity, and inclusion, attracting a diverse student body and faculty. Faculty members are highly acclaimed, fifteen Fellows of the American Academy of Nursing, and many receiving significant grants and awards.

The school offers the following nursing programs: 

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): A four-year program that prepares students to become registered nurses (RNs) after passing the licensing exam or pursuing graduate studies.
  • Master of Science in Nursing-Entry: A two-year program for non-nursing undergraduate degrees, preparing them for careers as RNs, Clinical Nurse Leaders, or Public Health Nurses.
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (MSN): A two-year program for registered nurses with a bachelor's degree in nursing, specializing in Adult/Gerontology, Family, or Pediatric nursing.
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD): A four-year research-focused program that trains graduate-level nurses to conduct scientific research, educate future nurses, and improve healthcare delivery and policy.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): A two-year hybrid program for professional nurses aimed at developing leadership and administrative skills. DNPs use evidence-based practice to enhance health outcomes at the systems level.

This school offers many diverse nursing programs for anyone interested in nursing. 

17. University of Illinois--Chicago

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Number of students: 33,522 
  • College acceptance rate: 79%
  • SAT score range: 1080–1310
  • Graduation rate: 40%

The UIC College of Nursing has six campuses in Northern and Central Illinois, so there's likely one near you. Here are the nursing programs that the school offers:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing for Non-RNs
  • Master of Science in Nursing for RNs
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

This is a great school to attend if you want to pursue a career in nursing!

18. University of Kentucky

  • Location: Lexington, Kentucky
  • Number of students: 33,885
  • College acceptance rate: 95%
  • SAT score range: 1083–1330
  • Graduation rate: 52%

Since 1964, the University of Kentucky College of Nursing has led in nursing education, producing skilled nurses who excel as caregivers, leaders, and innovators. Their programs prepare the next generation to enhance healthcare and promote wellness through a cutting-edge curriculum, expert faculty, and modern facilities.

Here are the programs they offer:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Online RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • PhD in Nursing

The school values diversity and inclusion and is committed to creating a supportive and empowering environment for everyone.

19. University of Minnesota

  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Number of students: 39,248
  • College acceptance rate: 77%
  • SAT score range: 1310–1490
  • Graduation rate: 73%

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing offers students a top-notch education in a dynamic learning and research environment. The faculty are highly respected for their leadership, expertise, and research. The school is committed to becoming more inclusive, equitable, and diverse, advocating for justice and sustainable change. These are the programs they offer:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Nursing
  • PhD in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

The University of Minnesota is ranked 14th in NIH research funding, and their faculty leads innovative projects on health issues like Alzheimer’s, childhood obesity, and diabetes.

20. University of Texas Health Science Center--Houston

  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Number of students: 680
  • College acceptance rate: N/A
  • SAT score range: N/A
  • Graduation rate: N/A

Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston offers the top-ranked BSN program in Texas and is 16th in the country. Its excellent faculty, many of whom are practicing nurses, provides personalized instruction and mentorship. 

Students can form valuable connections with classmates and gain real-world experience through over 2,000 clinical sites, including the Texas Medical Center. The school is committed to accessible, high-quality nursing education with affordable tuition and financial aid.

21. University of Virginia

  • Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Number of students: 6,928
  • College acceptance rate: 19%
  • SAT score range: 1380–1500
  • Graduation rate: 91%

The University of Virginia School of Nursing offers many nursing programs for applicants. Here are the programs they offer: 

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • RN to BSN Hybrid Program
  • Clinical Nurse Leader (direct entry)
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Master's Certificate
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

The Mary Morton Parsons Clinical Simulation Learning Center offers students and healthcare professionals safe, realistic environments to practice and improve clinical skills with immediate feedback and minimal risk.

22. University of Wisconsin--Madison

  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Number of students: 34,212
  • College acceptance rate: 43%
  • SAT score range: 1320–1500
  • Graduation rate: 72%

Founded in 1924 as Wisconsin's first collegiate nursing program, the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing supports nurses statewide. The school features advanced simulation labs, research suites, and active learning classrooms located in Cooper Hall. As the state's leading nursing research institution, it collaborates with top scientists and researchers. 

The school's practical research benefits Wisconsin communities, hospitals, clinics, and schools. The school offers BSN, DNP, and PhD degrees, continuing education, and certificate programs.

23. Indiana University-Purdue University

  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Number of students: 17,727 
  • College acceptance rate: 83%
  • SAT score range: 1050-1250
  • Graduation rate: 39%

Established in 1914 as the Indiana University Training School for Nurses, the IU School of Nursing has expanded across Indiana. The largest campus, IU Indianapolis, offers diverse opportunities, including study abroad, research, and advanced degrees. 

It also offers top-notch distance-accessible options, and in-person learning includes clinical partnerships and simulation labs from the start. Surrounded by hospitals, the IU School of Nursing at Indianapolis provides numerous program and degree track combinations.

24. Medical University of South Carolina

  • Location: Charleston, South Carolina
  • Number of students: 334
  • College acceptance rate: N/A
  • SAT score range: N/A
  • Graduation rate: N/A

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) offers baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in nursing, with nearly half studying entirely online. It also offers the nation's first DNP degree with a palliative care concentration. 

The Medical University of South Carolina has a strong nursing research program, is competitive in NIH funding, and collaborates across MUSC, which secured over $298 million in research funding in 2022.

25. University of Colorado Denver

  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Number of students: 14,055
  • College acceptance rate: 74.6%
  • SAT score range: 1070 and 1260
  • Graduation rate: 23%

Students learn in a historic yet forward-thinking environment at the University of Colorado College of Nursing. CU Nursing offers four programs (BS, MS, DNP, PhD) and various specialties. With online, traditional classroom, and hybrid pathways, you can find the right option for you.

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.

6. What Is the Top Nursing School in the US?

The best nursing school in the US is Duke University. Followed by UPenn, Emory University, and Ohio State University. If you want to attend these schools, you should be aware that these colleges are not the easiest nursing schools in the country.

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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