10 of the top nursing programs in the United States

Written by Peter Jones

So you want to be a nurse? That’s great! You’ll have to study up and get certified as the first few steps on the exciting journey to come. That’s where a nursing program comes in.

We’ve compiled a list of the best places to complete your training. Here’s a list of 10 of the top programs in the United States, in no particular order.

1. Columbia University—New York, NY

Columbia University School of Nursing offers a unique post-graduate program called the Masters Direct Entry (MDE). This program is for prospective nurses who want to go either the caregiver or the researcher route—MDE students complete curriculum with the goal of earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a PhD in nursing research. After the 15-month program, graduates can take the NCLEX exam (the standardized nurse licensing exam), and then go on to Columbia Nursing’s DNP program or to pursue a PhD path of study.

2. Duke University—Durham, NC

Duke’s nursing program is part of Duke University Medical Center in the middle of an area known as the Research Triangle—where there are more PhDs per square foot than most places in the world! The nursing school offers several different programs, including MS in Nursing, ABSN, and post-doctoral fellowships. And nurses are in high demand in North Carolina, where at least an Associate’s degree is required.

3. Azusa Pacific University—Azusa, CA

This is a Christian college in sunny California that offers a diverse, mid-sized student body, and where nursing is the most popular major. Graduates of Azusa who go into nursing earn an average salary of $67,000 per year.

4. UCLA—Los Angeles, CA

The UCLA BA in nursing is one of the most competitive fields on campus, so be sure to have your ducks in a row. Though if you’re lucky enough to graduate, you can expect to earn an average of $65,000 per year. They also offer master’s and PhD programs in nursing.

5. Villanova University—Villanova, PA

Get experience with nursing in the big city, while living and studying in the leafy suburbs. The nursing program’s graduates boast an average annual salary of about $63,000, with an 86% on-time graduation rate.

6. Johns Hopkins University—Baltimore, MD

This university has a very strong reputation where the medical field is concerned. There’s a world-renowned faculty, plus the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees. You’ll have a great boost to start your nursing career, and your starting salary will average between $56,000 and $73,000 per year.

7. George Washington University—Washington, D.C.

George Washington’s School of Medical and Health Sciences is a leader in the fields of medical academia and research. And the GW hospital is a renowned medical center and teaching hospital. Graduating from GW with a BS in nursing will net you an average early career salary of $64,000.

8. New York University—New York, NY

NYU’s College of Nursing is a great choice to prepare you for the battles ahead in your career. You’ll be taught in their hands-on Clinical Simulation Learning Center, making sure you’re well versed in all the latest practices and research. You can either do a 15-month accelerated program or a traditional four-year degree. Almost all of NYU’s students pass their licensing exams for RN work, and usually earn the highest early career average salary, at about $71,000 per year.

9. Molloy College—Rockville Center, NY

If you want a smaller environment with a liberal arts bent and good Catholic values, this might be the place for you. Small class sizes and challenging coursework will help prepare you for your career ahead. The immersive nursing program culminates in a one-on-one practicum. Work towards an LPN or an RN degree. Gain an advanced degree or a specific certification even. And expect to make a highly competitive average salary through your mid-career as a Molloy nursing grad.

10. University of Pennsylvania—Philadelphia, PA

Here’s another Ivy League that’s known for its demanding curricula. You can either pursue a BS in Nursing or enter the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation to pursue a dual degree program culminating in a PhD. You can expect to make an average of $63,0000 in your early career, then about $87,000 mid-career.

About the author

Peter Jones