The Best Nursing Schools in 2024

February 6, 2024
7 min read


Reviewed by:

Akhil Katakam

Third-Year Medical Student, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed: 2/6/24

Interested in becoming a nurse? Read on to learn about the best nursing schools in the U.S.

Nursing is a field that is constantly in demand and is an excellent choice for those looking for stable employment. It’s recognized as the U.S.’s largest medical profession, with nursing employment estimated to increase by 203,000 positions yearly from 2021-2031.

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse and wondering where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve listed the top 11 nursing programs in the U.S. with information on acceptance rates, admission requirements, tuition, and more. Let’s begin!

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List of the Best Nursing Schools

Becoming a nurse starts with choosing a nursing program at a designated college. You may think every nursing school is the same, but they’re not! While fundamentally, students learn all of the core principles needed to become successful nurses, each school we’ve listed below offers something unique, like location, class size, or type of program.

1. Duke University

Duke University

Source: Duke University School of Nursing

Duke University calls Durham, North Carolina, home and is also home to an exceptional nursing school focused on ending healthcare inequities and developing transformational leaders in nursing.

While Duke is more well known for the masters and doctors of nursing practice programs, they still offer an exceptional accelerated bachelor of nursing program for students who have already received an undergraduate degree. By undertaking the ABSN, students will master nursing principles and concepts and be ready to start their nursing career in only 16 months.

Despite Duke’s reputation as a large and prestigious university, The classes within the ABSN are small and intimate, with a 6-7:1 student-to-instructor ratio. Graduates of the ABSN program will have earned 6-9 credits towards a master's degree by the time they complete their studies, making it an exceptional choice for those looking to continue their nursing education.

Since the ABSN program is for students who already have an undergraduate degree, there are no SAT/ACT requirements that you will need to meet. Instead, Duke insists that applicants have a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply; however, you’ll want to aim for as high a GPA as possible to compete with other applicants. Duke has an acceptance rate of 6.3%.

Tuition for the ABSN program will cost $50,516 per year ($25,250 per semester). 

2. University of Pennsylvania


Source: UPenn

As one of the 7 Ivy League schools, UPenn has a strong reputation for academic excellence, and its nursing program is no exception. 

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the nursing program at UPenn has been “built on a bedrock of doing more” for communities through preparing the next generation of healthcare professionals. 

It infuses patient care, nursing fundamentals, and innovation through its curriculum. It was the first nursing school to utilize interactive simulated patients. This practice is now used in many nursing schools across the nation. 

UPenn offers an undergraduate four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program focusing on hands-on learning through community involvement and cultural awareness. Students also have the option to pursue a second major in nutrition alongside the BSN program. 

True to its Ivy League reputation, UPenn is quite selective with its admissions and only accepts 4.6% of applicants yearly. To be considered, you’ll need an average GPA of 3.9, an ACT in the range of 34-46, or an SAT from 1510-1560. 

3. Emory University

Emory University

Source: Emory University

Third on the list of best nursing schools is Emory University, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Emory has a learning environment for everyone. At Emory, students can take classes at Emory College (Atlanta, Georgia) with a larger, more urban feel or take courses in a smaller, more intimate setting at Oxford College for the first two years of their BSN program.

Classes are offered at the Neil Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, which hosts 1215 students, more than half of which are BSN students. The curriculum offers “cutting-edge resources, top clinical experiences, and access to leading healthcare partners.” 

Successful Emory or Oxford College applicants usually have a GPA that ranges from 3.88 to 4.0. The average SAT score is 1470-1560, and the average ACT score ranges from 33-35. The school has an acceptance rate of 16.2%.

Tuition for the BSN program at Emory or Oxford College will cost $59,920 per year to attend.

4. The Ohio State University

Ohio State University

Source: Ohio State University

The Ohio State University College of Nursing has long been recognized as an epicenter of primary care leadership, research, and innovation for nursing education. Located in Columbus, Ohio, the State offers the following undergraduate nursing programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Path2BSN Community College Option
  • Online R.N. to BSN Program

As of August 2023, BSN students at Ohio State University will undertake a new, updated curriculum incorporating new findings and learnings to help nurses succeed in today’s world. 

Ohio State University has an average acceptance rate of 57%. Successful applicants are usually in the top 25% of their high school class and have an SAT score between 1330-1460, or an ACT score between 28 and 33. 

Yearly tuition at Ohio State will differ based on whether you’re a resident or non-resident of Ohio. Residents can expect to pay anywhere between 9,167 and 12,859 (depending on location and campus) per year, whereas non-residents will pay a flat fee of 38,365 per year for their tuition.

5. University of Iowa

University of Iowa

Source: The University of Iowa

Looking for one of the best nursing programs with versatility? Look no further than the University of Iowa College of Nursing. 

Located in Iowa City, Iowa, the school boasts a state-of-the-art nursing curriculum that offers a regular Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and an online RN to B.S. program.

The BSN program at the University of Iowa is offered in two different methods:

  • The direct admission option is intended for students with all the prerequisites for nursing out of high school.
  • The standard admission option is for students who may not have all the prerequisites or have already completed a different degree but still wish to complete a nursing program.

While both programs are competitive, they each have different admission requirements; the direct admission option requires students to have a GPA of 3.8 or above, while the standard admission is more relaxed, with a requirement of 3.0 and above. 

Since there is such an emphasis on GPA and course requirements, the University of Iowa doesn’t require a testing component. The school has an 86% acceptance rate.

Tuition at the University of Iowa College of Nursing will cost $14,377 a year for Iowa residents and $36,490 per year for non-residents.

6. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Source: UNC Chapel Hill

As one of the oldest schools in the nation, UNC-Chapel Hill has had a lot of time to perfect its nursing school. Maybe that’s why their undergraduate and graduate nursing programs make it into the top 10 best nursing school lists each year.

Located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, UNC Chapel Hill is devoted to leading the nursing profession and helping improve healthcare for good. The program offers a suite of on-campus options for undergraduate nursing programs, including:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing Military Pathway

To be competitive at UNC Chapel Hill, you’ll need to be in the top 10-20% of your high school graduating class, and have an ACT score ranging from 29-33 or an SAT score in the range of 1370-1500. UNC Chapel Hill has an acceptance rate of 8.8%.

Tuition will cost 7,019 per school year (3.509.50 per semester) for North Carolina residents and $37,360 per year ($18,680 per semester) for those attending from out of state.

7. University of Alabama at Birmingham

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Source: UAB

For over 70 years, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has been considered a pioneer in educating nurse leaders. Located in - you guessed it- Birmingham, Alabama, it has been recognized as one of the country's best and most affordable nursing schools. 

UAB offers three different undergraduate pathways for those looking to break into the field:

  • Traditional four-year BSN program
  • R.N. to BSN Pathway: for R.N. with an Associate’s degree that would like a BSN
  • The UAB Community College Join Enrollment Pathway for students who want to earn an Associate’s degree and a BSN simultaneously.

To receive an acceptance into the University of Alabama at Birmingham, you will need a GPA of 3.8 or above and aim for an SAT score in the range of 1200-1410 or an ACT score between 23 and 30. The school accepts 87% of applicants, on average.

Tuition at UAB will cost $11,040 per year for Alabama residents and $27,330 for non-state residents. 

8. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Source: UMichigan Ann-Arbor

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor has created a legacy of providing exceptional nursing education for more than 130 years. Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the school offers a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing that combines a leading nursing curriculum with over 1000 hours of clinical hands-on experiences.

Clinical and observational experiences begin during the sophomore year of the program, where students will have an invaluable learning experience. Students also have the option to complete a minor in population health in a global context to help bring a global lens to their nursing education.

Successful applicants at UMichigan Ann-Arbor have a GPA of 3.9-4.0, an average SAT score of 1350-1530, an average ACT score of 31-34, and an average acceptance rate of 18%. 

Tuition at UMichigan Ann Arbor will cost $17,228 per year for Michigan residents and $58,072 per year for students who live out of state. This makes it one of the best value schools for nursing in the country!

9. University of Washington

University of Washington

Source: University of Washington

The ethos of the School of Nursing at the University of Washington can be summarized in one word: community. If you’re passionate about working together to make a difference for those in the healthcare system, the University of Washington, located in Seattle, Washington, is an excellent choice. 

The school offers three undergraduate pathways, including accelerated options for those looking to finish their nursing education as soon as possible:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing with Early Doctor of Nursing Practice-Nurse Midwifery

Those who choose the regular Bachelor of Science in Nursing program will start their nursing education in their junior year. The first two years of their undergraduate will include a solid foundation of science and humanities courses to better prepare them for the technical understanding nursing requires. 

While applications to any nursing program at UWashington are reviewed holistically, successful applicants within the BSN program have a GPA ranging from 2.4-4.0. You can expect an average GPA closer to 4.0 for programs with fewer spots and are more competitive.

The University of Washington prefers to take a more holistic view of its applicants; as a result, they do not consider SAT or ACT scores included within an application. The acceptance rate at UWashington is 48%.

Tuition at the school will cost $12,645 for Washington residents and $41,997 for non-Washington residents.

10. Boston College

Boston College

Source: Boston College

Looking for a top-of-the-line, innovative nursing education with a Liberal Arts lens? Look no further than Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Connell School of Nursing offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing pathway. This four-year program encourages hands-on learning through clinical placements, beginning in sophomore year, in hospitals around the Boston area. 

It also encourages students to develop a global lens of nursing and healthcare by encouraging them to study abroad - in fact, 32% of nursing undergraduate students participate in their junior year. 

Boston College is quite selective, with a 15% acceptance rate. To get accepted, you’ll need to be in the top 10% of your high school graduating class, have an SAT score between 1450-1520, or an ACT score of 33-34.

11. Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University

Source: Case Western Reserve University

For over 100 years, Case Western Reserve University, located in Cleveland, Ohio, has been dedicated to creating dynamic healthcare workers and has long been recognized and celebrated for its leadership in nursing education. It comes as no surprise that it has made the list of top nursing schools!

The school offers a four-year BSN program that allows students to start clinical placements in their first semester of first year. It is the perfect opportunity for those looking to begin their nursing education with hands-on learning. 

By the end of the program, students will have over 1300 hours of clinical experience, giving them a leg up when the time comes to look for a full-time nursing role.

Case Western accepts 27% of students. To get accepted to Case Western, you’ll need to have an SAT score of 1420-1520 or an ACT score of 32-35. Tuition at Case Western will cost $64,100 per year.

FAQs: Best Nursing Schools

If you’re wondering what the best schools for nursing are, we’ve answered that question- and more frequently asked ones - below. 

1. What Is the #1 Nursing School in the U.S.?

According to U.S. News, Duke University is the #1 nursing school in the U.S. 

2. What Program Will I Need to Complete to Become a Registered Nurse?

There are many different pathways that you can take to become a registered nurse. However, the most commonly recommended route is completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at an accredited college or university, like the abovementioned ones.

3. What Course Prerequisites Will I Need for Nursing School?

While course requirements may vary depending on the program, prerequisites will almost always include courses in biology, chemistry, human anatomy, human physiology, English composition, psychology, and sociology. You will need to maintain a high GPA in these courses in order to be competitive. 

4. What Are the Best Schools for Nursing in the U.S.?

The best schools for nursing in the U.S. include Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, The Ohio State University, University of Iowa, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, University of Washington, Boston College, and Case Western Reserve University. 

Final Thoughts

Nursing is a popular career choice and a crucial one for our society. As such, many college programs cater to producing the next generation of exceptional nurses.

While the programs listed above are considered the best nursing schools in the U.S., remember that the best nursing school depends on your wants and needs as a student. Whichever nursing school you apply to - we wish you the best of luck!

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