So you want to become a nurse? That’s wonderful. The first step is finding the right nursing program for you. With over 700 accredited nursing schools in USA the options can seem overwhelming.
Choosing the Right Nursing School in USA
Here are some tips to help you narrow down your choices:
- Decide on the nursing degree or certification you want to pursue. The most common are the Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or accelerated BSN program if you already have a bachelor’s in another field.
- Determine if you have any location preferences for schools. Do you want to stay close to home or are you open to attending school in another state? Consider costs of living as well as job opportunities for nurses in each location.
- Explore the different program types. Traditional, online, hybrid, part-time or full-time. Choose what fits your lifestyle and learning needs. On-campus programs typically require a fixed course schedule while online programs offer more flexibility.
- Compare schools’ accreditation, costs, admissions requirements, and post-grad career support. Top ranked nursing schools will have strong accreditation, affordable tuition, reasonable admissions criteria and actively help students find nursing jobs after graduation.
- Visit some of your top choices if possible. There’s no better way to determine if a school is the right fit than by touring the campus, sitting in on classes and speaking to current students. If visiting isn’t feasible, schedule phone calls with admissions counselors and nursing program directors.
- Apply to your selected schools. Most have fall and spring start dates. Apply 9-12 months before your intended start date to allow time for admission decisions and any appeals.
Top Accredited Nursing Programs in the United States
Here are 5 of the top accredited nursing schools according to U.S. News & World Report:
1. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, located in Baltimore, Maryland, offers renowned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs.
They focus on training students to become leaders in nursing practice, education, and research.
2. University of Washington
The University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle is one of the top nursing schools in the US. They offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate nursing programs with a focus on training students for careers as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists.
3. University of Michigan
The University of Michigan School of Nursing is an innovative nursing school that offers bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD nursing programs. They focus on interdisciplinary education, translational research, and community partnerships. Students learn skills in critical thinking, leadership, and cultural sensitivity.
4. Duke University
The Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, North Carolina offers some of the top master’s and doctoral nursing programs in the US with concentrations in areas like adult-gerontology, family, pediatrics, anesthesia, and midwifery. Duke aims to develop transformational leaders in nursing through interdisciplinary education and high-impact research.
5. Emory University
Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia has nationally ranked nursing programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Their programs focus on community health, acute and chronic care, and research. Clinical experiences are integrated to help students gain valuable experience.
How to Get Accepted to Nursing Schools in U.S: Application Tips and Requirements
Here are some tips to help strengthen your application:
1. Meet the Requirements
First, make sure you meet the basic requirements to apply. This typically includes having a high school diploma, a minimum GPA (often 2.5-3.0), and completing any prerequisite courses like anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, etc.
Some schools may require additional tests like the SAT, ACT, or TEAS exam. Review the requirements for your target schools and plan ahead to fulfill them.
2. Apply Early
Applying early, often 9-12 months before the start of the program, increases your chances of getting a spot. This is especially important for competitive or impacted programs.
Meet with an admissions advisor to discuss deadlines and make sure you submit all required paperwork, forms, transcripts, and test scores on time.
3. Build Experience
Gaining practical experience in a healthcare setting can strengthen your application. Options include volunteering at a hospital or nursing home, becoming a nurse’s aide or technician, or job shadowing a nurse.
Be sure to highlight any experience you have in your application materials.
4. Get Strong References
Secure two to three references from people familiar with your work or character, such as teachers, professors, employers, or mentors. Ask them if they feel comfortable providing a positive recommendation for your nursing school application.
5. Prepare for the Interview
If invited for an interview, be ready to speak confidently about your motivation for becoming a nurse, relevant experience, strengths, and career goals. Review common interview questions and prepare your answers ahead of time.
Dress professionally, make eye contact, smile, and convey your passion for the field. With the right preparation and enthusiasm, your interview can be another opportunity to shine.
Following these tips will put you in the best position to earn a spot in nursing school.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Nursing Schools in U.S
Here are some of the most common questions and answers to help guide you.
1. How long does it take to become a registered nurse?
It typically takes 2 to 4 years to become a registered nurse (RN). You’ll need to complete either an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program at an accredited nursing school.
ADN programs usually take 2-3 years, while BSN programs typically take 4 years to complete.
2. What are the admission requirements?
Most nursing schools require at least a high school diploma or GED to apply. Other requirements may include having a minimum GPA from high school (often a 3.0), completing prerequisite courses in biology, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry.
Some schools may require SAT or ACT scores as well. Be sure to check the admission requirements of the specific schools you’re interested in.
3. How much does nursing school cost?
The cost of nursing school can vary significantly depending on the school and program. Average tuition at a public school for an ADN ranges from $3,000 to $10,000 per year as an in-state student. Tuition at a private school for a BSN can be $30,000-$50,000 or more per year.
Additional costs include fees, books, supplies, transportation, and living expenses if attending school away from home. Many students take out student loans, apply for scholarships, or use savings to help pay for nursing school.
4. What is the exam to become an RN?
To become an RN, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses or NCLEX-RN exam. This comprehensive exam tests your knowledge and skills to ensure you meet minimum competency to practice safely as an entry-level nurse.