It’s a tough job market out there, even now. Most employment sectors have contracted, and even all these years after the recession, few have really bounced back. One area that is booming, and shows no signs of stopping, though, is health care. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one is obvious: the biggest generation, the Baby Boomers, are heading into their retirement years and beyond, and with their long life expectancy and commitment to active lifestyles, there’s going to be a lot of need for health care workers to care for them. The “nursing shortage” may be a little overblown in the media, but there’s no doubt that there’s an increasing demand for nurses.
Nursing is also one of the most diverse careers. Women and men from all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and nationalities find a place in the nursing profession, and for good reason: patients come from all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and nationalities too, and a diverse workforce makes patients more comfortable. Bilingualism is a definite plus on the job market, so if you don’t speak another language, it’s time to learn one.
Of course, you can get an associate degree and your Registered Nurse license and begin working within two years, but if you’re serious about a career in nursing, it would be wise to look into going further and getting your Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The American Nurses Association has long advocated for the BSN as the minimum standard for nurses, and employers are beginning to listen. It’s still possible to get a well-paying, secure job with an RN, but as more hospitals, clinics, and health care facilities begin requiring a BSN for their nurses, it’s going to get harder for those with only an RN.
There are a lot of choices out there to get your BSN; almost every area will have a college or professional school with a nursing program. But some of those degrees, frankly, are only worth the paper they’re printed on, or else their tuition is outrageously high for the low quality of education they provide. That’s why Value Colleges has created our Best Value BSN ranking: to point you toward the schools that offer the best combination of cost and return on investment so you can know you’re getting a degree that is worth your time and tuition.
All of the schools on our list are accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), the standards for accomplished nursing program. From that basic requirement, we consider three financial factors:
- Payscale’s 2015 College ROI Report by Healthcare Career criteria
- U.S. News & World Report’s national rankings
- credit per hour tuition rate as reported by each individual college.
With the schools on this list, you can trust that you will get a BSN experience that does everything a college education should do: build a network of supportive classmates and colleagues; help you find mentors who can inspire and guide you; and help you make connections through clinical practice, professional networks, and academic organizations that can make your job search painless and successful. And they’ll all prove themselves worthy of the title of Best Value College.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Our top choice for a Best Value in nursing is the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing. UM has two options for students: the Traditional BSN, and the Accelerated Second Career BSN. The Traditional BSN, as the name suggests, is a conventional four-year program for the full spectrum of knowledge. The Traditional BSN includes an honors program for exceptional students. With intensive clinical training, nurses in the Traditional program will be prepared for anything they encounter on the job, and a low student to faculty ratio means students can get ample guidance from their instructors and mentors. For students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, but want to switch to nursing, the Accelerated Second Career BSN is a 16-month program that allows students to gain their BSN in a short period of time, with preparation for licensing exams and a fast track to MSN training with graduate credits. This rigorous education, recognized by U.S. News & World Report for excellence, along with reasonable tuition and high ROI – not to mention its location in Ann Arbor, a much-loved college town – means the University of Michigan is a perfect combination of factors to be your best value in a nursing degree.
South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University offers two options for residential students, which combine high-quality instruction with affordable tuition to come in second on our Best Values ranking. The Standard option is a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree; for those transferring core courses from elsewhere, the nursing coursework can be completed in two and a half years. The Standard program can be taken at any of SDSU’s locations – Brookings, Sioux Falls, or Aberdeen. For students who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to begin a new career in nursing, the Accelerated program can get students through in 12 months, but only at the Sioux Falls and Aberdeen campuses. SDSU’s education is top-notch, including state-of-the-art Simulation Labs where students can practice realistic procedures on the innovative SimMan, and career fairs and guidance help the school of nursing achieve a 99% job placement rate for undergraduates. That kind of assurance makes South Dakota State a great investment.
University of Oklahoma
Students have a number of bachelor’s options, depending on what level of education they’re coming from, at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center’s College of Nursing, available on a number of campuses and in classroom and hybrid formats for flexibility and variety. For the traditional BSN, students who have finished core courses (67 credit hours) complete 60 credit hours in the classroom and online. Students who already have a bachelor degree in another field can be eligible for the Accelerated program, a 14-month course of study to complete the BSN. U of O also offers bridge programs, the Licensed Practical Nurse to BSN and RN to BSN, also offered in a combination of classroom and online instruction. That’s four different ways to get the BSN, tailored to students’ circumstances, needs, and desires. With so many options available, there is a program for everyone, and U of O’s affordability and quality give students a great advantage when they go out on the job market, making the University of Oklahoma’s College of Nursing a top value for a BSN.
Stony Brook University
The State University of New York at Stony Brook – better known as Stony Brook University, or just Stony Brook – offers three different BSN programs from the Stony Brook Medicine School of Nursing. Always highly ranked nationally, Stony Brook has a reputation for excellence that extends to its nursing program, a top tier public institution. Students can begin at the beginning with the Basic Baccalaureate program, finishing two years of basic courses at either Stony Brook or some other college, before concentrating on the upper-level nursing courses. Students who already have a bachelor degree in some other area can choose to enter the Accelerated Baccalaureate, a 12-month course of study focused on connecting nursing to the students’ existing body of knowledge. Finally, students who already have an RN can enter the RN Baccalaureate program for a head start. With a degree from Stony Brook, in an area with no shortage of job opportunities and some of the best health care facilities in the US, there should be no trouble finding rewarding work, making Stony Brook a great investment in your future.
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Unlike many nursing programs, where students complete most or all of their basic courses before applying for the school of nursing, the University of Minnesota offers a Freshman Nursing Guarantee program – high school students apply to both the university and the nursing program simultaneously, and, if accepted, begin their freshman year with a guaranteed slot in the competitive BSN program. This jump start gives students the chance to get to know their instructors and fellow students earlier, creating valuable bonds once the demands of the BSN courses kick in. Students who have already completed foundational courses, from UM or elsewhere, can apply to the program on the Twin Cities or Rochester campus (a smaller, more familial atmosphere that is especially comfortable to transfer students). As a major public research university, Minnesota offers students many opportunities to take part in cutting-edge research, while partnerships with area hospitals and care centers helps students find internships and make connections that will be valuable for job-seeking after graduation. All of these advantages, plus reasonable public-institution tuition costs, mean a superb return on investment for Minnesota students.
San Diego State University
San Diego State University’s School of Nursing has an advantage that is hard to put a price tag on – its location in beautiful San Diego, with mild, sunny weather almost all year long. Do your studying outdoors, and you can earn a BSN that prepares you for work anywhere. Like the University of Minnesota, SDSU has redesigned their nursing program so that incoming freshmen can apply directly to the School of Nursing as nursing majors, getting a jump on their nursing courses with a carefully-scheduled 4-year plan. Students may also transfer from another institution, or take the second baccalaureate route if they already have a bachelor’s in another field. SDSU has an RN to BSN program as well, for students who are already working as registered nurses, though it must be a California RN. With four lab centers, including a high-tech human simulation lab (including adults, children, and infants), students have ample experiential education, and student organizations will help you find colleagues and make connections for future job prospects. San Diego has all you need to invest in yourself with a BSN degree.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University’s School of Nursing, part of the Health Sciences Center, offers a traditional BSN program. Students who have completed most of their prerequisite courses (40 out of 57 credit hours) are eligible to apply for the School of Nursing, where they will learn through a combination of classroom, simulation, and hospital experience. Special consideration is given to applicants who have worked in the medical field, to military veterans with medical training, and to bilingual students (as a second language is a highly valuable skill in nursing). Texas Tech’s students and career services are well developed, with the SON Success Program to connect students with Retention Counselors who help them navigate the rigorous challenges of student life, and the Career Services Center, which helps students make contacts and prepare for employment through institutional and professional partnerships. With a sizable ROI for graduates, Texas Tech’s School of Nursing is distinguished as a top value college.
Ohio University’s School of Nursing, part of the College of Health Sciences and Professions, offers a traditional BSN program on the Athens, OH campus. (OU’s RN to BSN and Accelerated BSN programs, held on satellite campuses, are currently on hold.) Prospective nursing majors are accepted to the university as pre-BSN majors, being officially accepted into the nursing school after a successful first year of foundational courses. Once admitted to the BSN major, students will learn through classroom, clinicals at area hospitals and clinics, and a nursing simulation lab, a variety of methods to help students. While tuition and fees at Ohio are already reasonable, there are several scholarships and grants available to nursing students, including the Ohio First scholarship, the Nurse Education and Re-Training for Success program, and others. Ohio is committed to rising to the top in STEM and medical fields, and students will ultimately find this drive makes their education and degree more valuable as time goes on, making Ohio University a smart investment.
University of Wyoming
The University of Wyoming’s Whitney School of Nursing offers the Basic BSN and the BRAND (Bachelor’s Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree). The Basic BSN program includes coursework in UW’s home campus of Laramie, along with clinicals in Laramie or Cheyenne. Resident students should be aware that, for the senior-year capstone project, it may be necessary to live and/or work in a more remote area of the state for a clinical placement, but keep in mind that this will be invaluable experience. With an intentionally small program, UW is able to provide close, hands-on instruction, which makes for an exceptionally in-depth education to prepare students for the real-life work of nursing. The BRAND accelerated program is a hybrid of online courses and residential clinicals in Wyoming, intended for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field to get a nursing degree faster. In both cases, Wyoming emphasizes diversity of experience and service, with students working in rural areas to experience a variety of challenges nurses face day-to-day. That combination of exceptional educational quality with real-life experiences makes a BSN from Wyoming a unique value.
University of New Mexico
The University of New Mexico’s College of Nursing offers a traditional BSN option called the Basic Entry Option (their RN to BSN program is only available online, not residential). As part of the UNM Health Sciences Center, the College of Nursing has a wealth of resources to draw upon for their students, including participation in the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium; clinicals and experience in the New Mexico Hospital, Cancer Research and Treatment Center, New Mexico Children’s Hospital; and more. As one of the nation’s leading Hispanic-serving institutions, UNM emphasizes diversity, community, and service to underserved populations. UNM’s location in sunny Albuquerque, with access to national and state parks, plenty of hiking and camping, and all the accouterments of an active lifestyle, means you can stay healthy while caring for others. Plus, UNM is committed to providing education to everyone, meaning they keep their tuition affordable and offer ample financial aid, making UNM a supreme value and a great investment, closing out the top 10 on our best value ranking.
West Virginia University
The West Virginia University School of Nursing offers several routes to the BSN, including the traditional BSN program, the BS/BA to BSN program (for students with a bachelor’s in another field), and the RN to BSN program. With three campuses, in Morgantown, Charleston, and Montgomery, WV, students have a choice in residential programs, as well as numerous opportunities for clinical training, workshops, and events. The traditional BSN program is a four-year program, though students can take freshmen courses at Potomac State College or Glennville State College, and, like Wyoming or New Mexico above, West Virginia University’s commitment to caring for underserved communities means every student completes a rural clinical practice. With offerings for students who already have a bachelor’s, or who are already Registered Nurses, WV has created a great all-around program, and a solid investment.
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
The Rutgers School of Nursing, at Rutgers University, is acclaimed as one of the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and is the largest and most comprehensive in New Jersey. Because of Rutgers’ reputation and reach, Rutgers’ graduates have no shortage of opportunity throughout New Jersey and the mid-Atlantic region, from hospitals to local clinics and other care facilities. Like the University of Minnesota, Rutgers allows incoming freshmen to apply directly to the School of Nursing, giving students the benefit of situating themselves in the nursing program from the beginning of their college career to develop relationships and connections. With numerous centers and clinics, and opportunities for career development and research, students in Rutgers’ School of Nursing come out exceptionally well-prepared and knowledgeable. High salaries in the region give Rutgers’ graduates a solid ROI, making the Rutgers School of Nursing a best value.
New York University
In some cases, location is everything. For nursing students who want access to a plethora of job opportunities, higher than average pay, and challenge, New York University’s College of Nursing offers New York City. With the third-highest research funding in the US, according to the National Institutes of Health, the NYU College of Nursing affords students a world-class education, with some of the greatest professors and most advanced facilities in the world. NYU offers a 15-month accelerated BSN, and a traditional 4-year program, depending on the level you’re starting from (RN, bachelor’s in another field, or freshman), and the quality of education is attested by the fact that more than 90% of graduates pass their licensing exams on the first try – an impressive stat to be sure. A top-notch Clinical Simulation Learning Center and a wide network of hospitals, clinics, and facilities means students learn from every possible angle, and an NYU degree has a unique value on the job market, making NYU an investment like no other.
University of Washington
The University of Washington School of Nursing offers a traditional BSN (two years of upper-division courses after completing foundational classes) or an accelerated (15 month) program for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. Students may qualify for the Honors Program, in which students take on a year-long project with a faculty mentor, specializing in some area of nursing they would like to pursue in their career and earning a degree with honors. Students learn through coursework, simulation, and direct care in the field, an all-around education that prepares students for any eventuality in their profession. A strong education and an affordable price means a degree from Washington will keep paying off for a graduate’s whole career.
Florida State University
The Florida State University College of Nursing offers a Traditional BSN and an Accelerated BSN program. Located in sunny Tallahassee, FL, FSU’s College of Nursing has acclaim from U.S. News & World Report, and sits in one of the best market for nurses, thanks to retirees and tourism. Traditional BSN students apply to the College of Nursing after completing required courses (a recent change, as students previously applied to the college as freshmen), and complete two years of coursework, simulations, and clinical laboratory work. The Accelerated BSN packs the program into 12 months, which of course requires full-time commitment, but gets students out and on the job market much more quickly. FSU of course has state university prices, a benefit, and quick access to a thriving job market is a good investment in itself.
University of Connecticut
Named a Center of Excellence by the National League of Nursing, UConn’s School of Nursing is part of one of the most highly-regarded public research institutions in New England and boasts one of the best research libraries for nursing and science anywhere. UConn offers a Bachelor of Science in nursing that promises a top-flight education. Students may apply for freshman acceptance into the School of Nursing, or wait until they have passed some foundational courses, and the program includes coursework (taught only by faculty, not teaching assistants, who assist in labs), laboratory work, and clinicals in several locations, thanks to UConn’s partnerships with nearly 70 health centers and hospitals. Tuition is higher for out-of-state residents than for Connecticut residents or New Englanders, but a high ROI and excellent job prospects make UConn a great value for any student.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Nursing is acclaimed by U.S. News & World Report, and with state-of-the-art clinical simulations, innovative use of online courses, and a challenging, contemporary program of study, UAB offers students an excellent quality education for a very affordable price. The School of Nursing accepts traditional and transfer students for the BSN after completing basic coursework, as well as students who have completed a bachelor degree in another field. Under the UAB Dean’s Nursing Scholar Program, high school students with excellent records may apply directly to the School of Nursing as incoming freshmen, guaranteeing them a slot in the School and the possibility of completing the program in 3.5 years. The Honors program is just another advantage for a BSN that is already a great value and a solid investment.
Kent State University
Often students searching for a residential nursing program are looking for the camaraderie and support that a cohort of classmates bring, and Kent State has that in aces. While Kent State’s College is one of the largest program in the US (providing more than 40% of nurses in northern Ohio), they also keep student to faculty ratios low, so students still get individual attention and develop strong relationships with faculty and classmates. Kent, OH is known as a close-knit college town, where students can settle in and feel at home for their four years of coursework. With simulation labs and over 200 clinical partners (everything from major hospitals to small rural clinics), students get the full range of education from one of the best public universities in the US, an excellence that results in a 94% first-time passing rate for the NCLEX exam. Kent State has a BSN for new students and transfers, as well as an Accelerated BSN for students who already have a bachelor’s degree. The RN to BSN program is also available to students who already have their RN; courses are on-campus, online, or a combination of the two. With any option, students are making a smart choice for their future career.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Located in Charlotte, NC, one of the fastest-growing metropolitan cities in the US, UNC-Charlotte provides nursing students with several options for earning the BSN. Freshmen may be admitted as Pre-Nursing majors, with an opportunity to apply for entry to the School of Nursing later if not accepted as freshmen. Students who already have an RN can take the RN to BSN program, which can be completed in a little as a year (if all prerequisites have been met). The Centralia RIBN is an innovative, competitive program that allows students to complete a BSN through dual admission to UNCC and a partnering associate’s degree program, saving students money (with the associate’s degree institution’s tuition rates) and letting them begin working as an RN in the last year of the BSN. All of these options, plus excellent education and access to work in a thriving metropolitan area make the UNCC BSN a top college value.
University at Buffalo
SUNY’s University at Buffalo is one of the best-regarded public universities around, and the School of Nursing is committed that to history of excellence and innovation. The School of Nursing’s newly renovated facilities include technologically forward classrooms, simulation centers, and labs, all dedicated to giving students the best possible educational opportunities. Students for the traditional BSN program apply to the School of Nursing after completing most prerequisites, entering an education that prepares nurses for practice and leadership. Students who already have a bachelor or master degree in another field can apply for the Accelerated BSN, completing the degree in a full-time, 12-month program. The School of Nursing also offers an international opportunity with a service-learning trip to Belize during the winter session, a rarity in nursing programs. Buffalo offers students some unique advantages in reputation, opportunities, and access, making them a significant value.
Northern Illinois University
The Northern Illinois University School of Nursing and Health Studies offers a traditional BSN for freshman and transfer students, as well as an RN to BSN program for students who already hold an RN. With nursing organizations, simulation labs, and clinical opportunities, the education the School of Nursing and Health studies provides is solid, but NIU’s best advertisement is its location. DeKalb, IL is not a large city, but its proximity to the Chicago-metro area makes it a great location for job opportunities, and for attracting excellent educators who can provide an excellent education. Copious job opportunities mean a better chance of paying off any debts you incur in school, increasing your degree’s ROI and making NIU look like a better investment than ever.
University of Central Florida
As with Florida State (above), the University of Central Florida’s location – Orlando, FL – makes it a top choice for its job opportunities. Designed as an upper-division program (students start after completing prerequisites), the Traditional BSN is built on a lock-step schedule, so students take the same courses in the same order to maximize the connections and motivation that comes from students working through the same challenges together, as nurses do in their real-life jobs. Available on the Orlando, Cocoa, and Daytona campuses, the traditional BSN is a challenging, comprehensive program. UCF also offers a Second Degree BSN for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field, and the unique Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP) for active-duty military personnel. With higher than average pass rates for the NCLEX and recognition from the Princeton Review and Kiplinger’s as a best value, and the job opportunities in health care that Florida provides, it’s easy to see why UCF is a value college.
University of Utah
The University of Utah’s College of Nursing has redesigned their traditional and accelerated BSN programs into one streamlined, intensive 16-month program. Students in the BSN program are engaged in real-world learning and research throughout their work, with over 1,000 hours in clinical practice, preparing them for wherever their careers may take them. Located in the mountains of Salt Lake City, one of the University of Utah’s incalculable advantages is the access to outdoor activities and scenic beauty – hard to put a price on, but invaluable for relieving the stresses of an intensive nursing education, and maintaining your mental and physical health. An excellent education in an awe-inspiring environment give the University of Utah a value that is hard to match.
University of Mississippi
Ole Miss’ School of Nursing is located at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS, the only academic medical center in Mississippi and one of the largest employers in the state. This major medical complex offers students a wealth of educational opportunities, with its children’s hospital, women and infants’ hospital, and critical care hospital. Students can choose a traditional BSN program, or an Accelerated BSN for students who already have a non-nursing bachelor’s. With intensive, interdisciplinary learning and recognition from U.S. News & World Report, Ole Miss promises students an exceptional education and a strong return on their time and money, a great value in a BSN degree.
Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions offers high-quality, rather unique options for earning a BSN degree. Drexel is renowned for its excellent cooperative education program, a model program that combines classroom learning with work experience to create a richer, more realistic education that prepares students for life after school. In that framework, students can choose between 4-year or 5-year co-op programs; the difference is that the 4-year plan has only one cooperative education experience, with 6 months of work experience, while the 5-year plan has three, adding up to 18 months of practical experience graduates can put on their resume. This real-world experience goes way beyond clinicals and helps account not only for Drexel’s high (96-100%) first-time pass rate on licensure exams, but also means a better shot at a better job after graduation. Transfer students who are ready to go straight into clinicals can apply for a shortened version of the 4-year plan, and students who already have a bachelor degree in another field can take an accelerated program. In any capacity, Drexel is not only a top-quality nursing education, but a great value for the BSN.
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
If you like the idea of living in New Orleans, one of the world’s most culturally rich and vibrant cities, and earning a BSN, then the LSU Health Sciences Center School of Nursing is waiting for you. The traditional BSN program is a 3-year set of courses (after prerequisites, which can be fulfilled at any accredited institution), with clinicals focused on community health and outreach. With a significant nursing shortage in the state of Louisiana, and community health concerns remaining from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a BSN from LSU is an opportunity to do an uncommon amount of good while building your own future. With low tuition rates and the kind of education that can only come from challenging, real-world experience, an LSU BSN is an investment not only in your own education, but in the future of one of the greatest cities in the world.
University of Florida
A Gator Nurse is not a highly specialized veterinarian – it’s a graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Nursing, a distinction that can mean a long, successful career in health care. The College of Nursing, part of UF’s Health Science Center, is consistently ranked as a top school, just as UF itself is regarded as one of the best large public universities in the US, and a BSN from the University of Florida is a recognizable value. Resident students (and let’s not forget the benefits of sunny Gainesville, FL, where it’s summer all year long) can choose between the generic BSN, a traditional program starting in the upper division (after prerequisites) or the Accelerated BSN, for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. State university prices, a high demand for nursing jobs after graduation, and a proven record of excellence make a Gator Nursing degree a great value.
Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences, in Boston, MA, offers students a traditional BSN beginning in the sophomore year. As with Drexel, Northeastern’s nursing program is designed as a cooperative system, with students gaining real work experience beyond just supervised clinicals. Students can choose from a 4-year or 5-year plan, depending on how many experience co-ops they want to take: two 6-month co-ops, or three for the 5-year plan. Either way, students will gain invaluable work experience. The greatest advantage Northeastern offers its students is, of course, its location: Boston, MA, a city with some of the greatest educational and health care institutions in the world. From world-class teaching hospitals to neighborhood clinics, students will get a variety of experience that will increase not only their knowledge, but their marketability after graduation, making Northeastern a top investment.
Texas A&M University
The Texas A&M Health Science Center, with campuses located in the cities of Bryan and Round Rock, offer residential students several options for earning a BSN. The Traditional BSN, as at many schools, is available after completing prerequisites, and is available on several different campuses for extra flexibility. The Second Degree BSN is a 15-month program for students who already have a bachelor degree in another field. Students may also choose the BSN Select Track, in which students complete the BSN, then immediately enter a Family Nurse Practitioner program; of course, this requires students to be ready to go straight into a graduate program, and therefore isn’t for everybody. With a critical nursing shortage in Texas, Texas A&M is committed to educating only the best nurses, with an emphasis on balancing the art of care with the science of medicine. It’s a smart investment into an in-demand field.
University of Wisconsin, Madison
The University of Wisconsin School of Nursing – in beautiful Madison, WI, one of the most beloved college towns in America – offers a traditional BSN program. Students begin the nursing track in their junior year, after completing prerequisites, and work through a carefully structured, progressive 2-year course of study. With hands-on clinicals in each semester, as well as coursework and simulation, students get a well-rounded education in all aspects of patient care. Experiential learning opportunities include the Rural Community Health Immersion Clinical program, as well as numerous research projects led by faculty and students. Excellent education and opportunity make the University of Wisconsin a top value college.
Ohio State University
The Ohio State University College of Nursing offers a traditional BSN program that begins in the sophomore year for students who have completed prerequisites. The College of Nursing offers numerous community outreach projects, as well as research opportunities giving students experiential learning. OSU’s College of Nursing has not only been recognized for quality by U.S. News & World Report, but has made major steps toward becoming the healthiest campus in America by launching the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities and other similar initiatives. For students looking for a BSN program, that means OSU is a place that practices what it teaches, and that’s an asset that is hard to beat.
Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville/Carbondale
The Southern Illinois University BSN is a collaboration between the SIU Edwardsville School of Nursing and the SIU Carbondale College of Science, a partnership intended to widen the range of options for nursing students in the southern Illinois region. Students may take prerequisites and nursing courses on the Carbondale or Edwardsville campuses, through a mixture of in-person, teleconferencing, and online courses, while the degree comes from SIU-Edwardsville. Students begin the nursing program in their sophomore year and complete a rigorous 6 semester sequence of classroom and clinicals. Clinical work takes place in urban and rural health centers, guaranteeing students a variety of experience, and SIU is committed to bringing diversity to nursing and nursing education.
University of Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island College of Nursing offers a traditional BSN, and an accelerated RN to BSN program for students who are already registered nurses. The URI College of Nursing prides themselves on balancing the close professor/student relationships of a small college with the many opportunities available at a larger research institution, including clinical placements in virtually every type of health care setting. A four-year program of carefully-sequenced courses and clinicals provide an excellent basis in patient care, including deep learning in ethics, legal issues, and technology. URI’s BSN is an excellent investment and a top value college.
Western Michigan University
Western Michigan University’s Bronson School of Nursing offers a traditional BSN program, as well as a hybrid (classroom and online) RN-BSN program for students who are already registered nurses. Students interested in the traditional BSN may apply for direct admission to the School of Nursing from high school, provided they demonstrate excellence in their high school education and strong test scores; all other students apply to the university as pre-nursing students and apply to the School of Nursing when they have completed prerequisites. The RN-BSN program is available on two campuses (Benton Harbor/St. Joseph’s and Kalamazoo/Battle Creek), with the Kalamazoo campus program designed as a cohort, so students can support one another through the process. WMU provides a proven education for a solid value.
Virginia Commonwealth University
The VCU School of Nursing offers a traditional BSN for undergraduates and an accelerated BSN program for students who already have a bachelor degree in another field. Students begin the traditional program in their sophomore year, after showing high performance in prerequisites, and work through a challenging mix of classroom instruction and clinicals. Gaining clinical experience at VCU Medical Center, one of the best medical centers in the region, as well as other clinical settings, students also provide community service in the public housing of Richmond, VA. Students also receive educational experience at the Clinical Learning Center, one of the most technologically advanced simulation labs in the nation. Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a top nursing school, you’ll also find VCU a top value.
George Mason University
The GMU School of Nursing, part of George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services, offers three BSN programs for students at different levels of education: the traditional BSN, the Accelerated Second Degree Pathway, and the RN to BSN Pathway. The Second Degree and RN to BSN programs are both one-year accelerated programs, for students who already have a bachelor degree or an RN, respectively, while the traditional BSN is a conventional 2-year course of study (following satisfactory completion of prerequisites). As the largest public research university in Virginia, George Mason provides students with a wealth of opportunities for research and experience, and their excellence has been acknowledged by U.S. News & World Report.
Illinois State University
The Mennonite College of Nursing, at Illinois State University, is proud of its 94% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX RN exam, and a student:faculty ratio they keep intentionally small. Those are just a couple of piece of evidence that point to the Mennonite College of Nursing’s quality. Students choose from the traditional BSN or the Accelerated BSN (for students who already have a bachelor degree). For the Traditional BSN, students may apply directly to the College of Nursing in high school, enrolling (if accepted) as Nursing-Pre-Licensure Majors; most nursing students go through this process, with a few students accepted to the nursing program after prerequisites. Students take four semesters of clinicals in the Bloomington-Normal area.
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
The University of North Carolina, Greensboro is a well-regarded producer of nurses in North Carolina, offering a traditional BSN and a Second Degree BSN for students with a bachelor degree. The traditional BSN is expected to take four years, plus one summer session, from freshman year to graduation; pre-nursing majors must still apply and be accepted to the School of Nursing, to officially begin the nursing program in their junior year. UNCG also has a unique Veterans Access Program for military veterans with military medical training, including RNs, medics, and other personnel. This program will prepare veterans to enter the civilian medical field with an accelerated BSN tailored to them, with GI Bill funding and courses designed to help veterans transfer their knowledge of military medicine to the civilian sector. Such programs demonstrate UNCG’s commitment to innovation, as well as their service to the community, making UNCG not only a top value, but a responsible choice for civically-minded students.
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University offers its BSN Pre-Licensure program as a collaboration between BGSU and their sister institution, the University of Toledo College of Nursing. As with Southern Illinois University above, BGSU students complete their prerequisites at BGSU, then take nursing courses through the University of Toledo, receiving a diploma from BGSU. This long-standing partnership, over thirty years old, allows BGSU students to benefit from the strengths of each institution and gain a superior education. Based on Orem’s Self-Care theory, the BGSU curriculum emphasizes decision making and critical thinking alongside technical knowledge, with clinical experience spread across a variety of centers in northern Ohio. It’s a great education at a reasonable price, a smart investment by any measure.
University of Pittsburgh
At the top of U.S. News & World Report, the Princeton Review, and Kiplinger’s, the quality of Pitt’s School of Nursing is unquestionable. Part of that reputation may be the fact that students start from the freshman year learning basic concepts in nursing, with clinical study beginning in the sophomore year with simulations, as opposed to many programs in which students do not begin nursing coursework until junior year. Starting early has an educational advantage. Part may be owed to the school’s location in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, an urban campus defined by diversity and ambition. Tuition rates are a little higher than many of the schools on this list, but that cost is easily offset by an excellent education and the doors it can open, keeping Pitt on the radar as a best value.
University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing has a history of innovation, including creating the first Doctor of Nursing Practice for the US and the first nursing Ph.D. in Kentucky. That spirit of offering the best possible education for nurses – even if it means creating it themselves – extends to the BSN. UK offers three residential options: the traditional BSN, the accelerated Second Degree BSN, and the MedVet to BSN for military veterans with medical training. A long list of clinical sites means a variety of available experiences, while advanced simulation labs and technological training allows students to prepare for the future of the profession. With an average of 97% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX, and a high of 100%, the quality of education shows. Take all those advantages and add a reasonable tuition rate, and UK looks like a solid choice.
Arizona State University
With high marks from U.S. News & World Report, Arizona State’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation has a strong reputation. ASU offers two residential programs for the BSN – the Traditional Pre-licensure program, and the post-baccalaureate BSN. Students in the Traditional program may finish their clinical work (after prerequisites, of course) in 16 months (including summer sessions) or a less-demanding two-year schedule, while students in the post-baccalaureate, having already earned a bachelor degree in another field, can complete nursing courses in an accelerated 12-month schedule. With a full, diverse set of instruction, including coursework, simulation, and clinical placement, ASU nursing students are well prepared for their career in patient care, making the ASU CNHI a best value.
University of Missouri
The Sinclair School of Nursing, at the University of Missouri, offers a traditional BSN for undergraduate students, with clinical coursework beginning in the junior year, after completing prerequisites. As a part of the three-school University of Missouri Health System, the Sinclair School is deeply integrated into a wide, comprehensive institution, with a wealth of opportunity for students. With a commitment to becoming a nursing school that others look to for leadership, the Sinclair School offers students innovative teaching methods, a wide variety of experience, interdisciplinary project centers, and technological preparation for the future of nursing. One day, Mizzou would like to be the first name people think of when they think of nursing education, so an investment in the University of Missouri is an investment in the future of the nursing field.
Indiana University, Bloomington
Located on the Bloomington, IN, campus of Indiana University – a well-loved, traditional college town and one of the most beautiful campuses in the US – the Indiana University School of Nursing offers a traditional Pre-Licensure BSN track for undergraduates. Students begin the nursing program in their sophomore year, after completing general education requirements, and this competitive program accepts only sixty students per year. That small number, and the familial atmosphere of the Bloomington campus, provides students with an invaluable support network and strong mentoring relationships with faculty, resulting in a deep immersion in an excellent education, a definitive college value.
University of Kansas
As part of the University of Kansas Medical Center, the KU School of Nursing has been named a Center of Excellence by the National League of Nursing and provides students with a top-flight education. The KU School of Nursing offers a traditional BSN for undergraduates, beginning in the junior year after completing prerequisites. Students who are accepted into the School of Nursing get a technologically-advanced, care-centered education that prepares them for jobs at every level of nursing. Recognized by the National Institutes of Health and by U.S. News & World Report, the KU School of Nursing is a great investment.
University of Texas, Austin
As the major center for nursing in Texas, the University of Texas, Austin School of Nursing has been acclaimed by U.S. News & World Report, the National Institutes for Health, and others for its research, community engagement, and educational quality. With a diverse faculty and student body, BSN students learn more than just the technical requirements of nursing – they actively learn about the social responsibilities and impact that nurses can have. Students can be admitted directly to the School of Nursing as incoming freshmen, or transferring after completing prerequisites. Once accepted, students receive excellent classroom instruction from recognized scholars, experiential clinical learning in a variety of health care settings, and, of course, the added benefit of Austin, TX, a thriving, cultural center.
University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing offers a traditional BSN program. As with most BSN programs, student apply to the College of Nursing after completing prerequisites. What is not like other BSN programs is the UIC reputation. With the second-highest rate of federal funding in the nation, according to the National Institutes of Health, and accolades from U.S. News & World Report, UIC is an international leader, and students benefit from this reputation for excellence not only in the quality of education they attain, but in the value a degree from UIC holds on the job market. That’s an investment that pays back supremely.
Purdue University, in West Lafayette, IN, is well-known nationally for its quality. The Purdue School of Nursing, part of the College of Health and Human Sciences, continues this reputation. Purdue offers a traditional BSN, with applications accepted for incoming freshmen. With over 100 partnerships, students can get a wide range of clinical experience in West Lafayette and the surrounding region, as well as reservation service through the Indian Health Service and study-abroad opportunities. A degree from Purdue has name recognition, proven value, and a bright future for your career.
University of Iowa
With well over 100 years of nursing education, the University of Iowa’s College of Nursing has built a reputation for greatness that makes it one of the highest-regarded public nursing programs in the nation. BSN students may be admitted to the College of Nursing as Early Decision Admissions (from high school) or a Competitive Admissions (for transfer students, students getting a second degree, and Iowa students who were not admitted early). Early admission students begin receiving instruction in nursing from the freshman year, giving them a leg up on other students and most other programs, which begin in upper division. That advantage helps account for why University of Iowa graduates are regarded as nursing professionals, with a strong grounding in not only academic knowledge, but practical care.
Pennsylvania State University
Penn State offers three BSN programs for undergraduates: a General 4-year program, a Second Degree option, and an RN to BSN option (increasingly rare in residential programs, as many RN to BSN programs are moving online). All of these options are available at multiple campuses, so students should consider which Penn State campus is best for them. Penn State, of course, is a highly ranked and internationally-recognized institution, with all the resources of a major public research university, so students who choose Penn State for their BSN are guaranteed the means to achieve excellence in their field and make their investment one for a lifetime.