Making the decision to pursue nursing is exciting. You are about to enter a career that helps save lives each and every day. This field is also near constantly in demand, so you’re likely to find a job anywhere you look for one.
But that all comes after you get your degree.
Before you can skip to practicing medicine, you need to study first. We’ve compiled a few of the best colleges for nursing in the country. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone in these programs, so you can be sure that you’ll find the perfect program for you on this list.
So let’s dive into the world of nursing.
What should you look for in a nursing school?
Not all nursing is created equal, and you’re going to want to be sure of the discipline that you’re interested in before you commit to a school. Some schools have specific training to help students become a nurse in a specific specialty, while others train students to fit in nicely in a more general specialty.
While it’s true that you can always change your mind if you really feel like it, it’s best to decide what specialty you’re interested in early on. It will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run.
What can I do as a nurse?
If you’ve researched nursing school, you might be aware that there are many types of nursing specialties. What you choose as your specialty will greatly shape the type of study you pursue, so try your best to select something that will interest you in the long run.
Seems like a lot of pressure?
Maybe. But one of the great things about nursing (in addition to saving lives each day), is the diversity in the field. There is so much to do within the nursing field, so if you ever get bored, you can always go back to school and retrain in a different discipline.
Check out some of the most popular nursing specialties below to help you get an idea of which area you might want to pursue.
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Cardiac Nurse
- Critical Care Nurse
- ER Nurse
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Geriatric Nursing
- Nurse Practitioner
These disciples are only a few of the many choices that nursing students can choose to study. But what is the process like to get there?
What it takes to become a nurse
Nursing may not be as long of an academic commitment as becoming a doctor, but it’s no walk in the park. This field requires as little as a year of study, or as long as four years. Most nursing programs can be completed in four years, with students receiving their BSN degree at the completion of their studies.
But don’t think you’ll only be in the classroom when studying to become a nurse. This field demands a lot, and we mean a lot of hands-on activity. When you’re in school training, you’ll be expected to complete labs or residencies that will require you to be in a hospital or working environment.
For many, this is a great option to get direct experience before being thrust into the actual field. But it can be an added cost on top of tuition: many nursing programs do not provide transportation to hospitals where lab work must be completed. So if you live in a more rural area, you might want to think twice about attending your local university for nursing knowing you’ll probably have to travel far to get to the nearest hospital for training.
Now that you know the basics about nursing, let’s dive in and see which schools have the best programs.
The University of Pennsylvania
If you’re interested in studying nursing, you might have heard of the Penn Nursing program at the University of Pennsylvania. This program has been ranked number one in the nation for eight consecutive years.
And it’s not hard to see why. The school prioritizes community involvement, hands-on experience, and internship roles for its undergraduate students studying to join the next generation of nurses.
One great thing about this school is that they have a simulation lab that is one of the best in the country. This lab is suitable for students of all ages and abilities in the program, so make sure you take advantage of it if you choose to attend the University of Pennsylvania.
The University of Michigan
One of the best colleges for nursing that you can attend is the University of Michigan. This university gives students the nice price of tuition from an instate school with all the benefits of a private institution.
Students can earn a BSN or MSN here, and during their time at Michigan, there is so much to do, including studying abroad! Not many nursing schools give their students the chance to study abroad, but the University of Michigan does, which makes it a great place to broaden your nursing knowledge.
Add that to the hundreds of hours of experience you can receive as a nursing student, and the University of Michigan should definitely make your top list of colleges for nursing.
Nursing gives you the opportunity to connect with patients from all around the world in need. Some programs, like Case Western University’s, let students begin their clinicals in the first month of their first year of school. It doesn’t get much more hands-on than that.
Case Western University
Many schools prioritize hands-on education, but none do it quite like Case Western University. At this school, students start their clinical work in the first month of their first year of study.
So this is definitely the college for students who want to learn on the job.
But that’s not all that Case Western University boasts about its nursing program. Nurses here also get to experience over 1300 hours of total clinical work during their degree. And all within a small school environment with a great student-to-teacher ratio.
The Ohio State University
At The Ohio State University, students are encouraged to dream big in healthcare. The school not only offers degrees, certificates, and training programs to foster the next generation of healthcare workers, but it supports innovation in the field as well.
One of the best aspects of The Ohio State’s nursing program is its commitment to looking at different ways of doing things in the healthcare profession. The school offers many ways for students to grow their creativity within healthcare including an innovation and entrepreneurship fellowship, a master’s degree in healthcare innovation, and even a physical studio for students to bring their ideas to life.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a great option for students who want variety in their nursing education.
This college offers students just about everything they could ask for: from clinicals in urban and rural environments to study abroad programs, the University of Wisconsin-Madison fits neatly into the standard for other great nursing schools.
But they don’t just meet the standard for undergraduate education. The University of Wisconsin-Madison also excels in postgraduate education — and students currently studying for their BSN can take advantage of those post-grad opportunities.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers students an early-career PhD which is designed to help funnel interested undergraduate nursing majors into a research-focused PhD program. This program is very unique and one of its kind in the nursing world.
So if you’re interested in pursuing higher education in nursing, the University of Wisconsin-Madison might just be the place to do it.
The University of Wyoming
This university in the nation’s least populated state may not make a lot of noise, but it sure does pack a punch when it comes to nursing. The University of Wyoming is a great school for those who are coming into the nursing field from another area. If you’re a student who holds a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you might be eligible for the school's “BRAND” program, which is an accelerated nursing program for students with previous higher education experience.
It can be hard to make a career switch into a field like nursing that typically requires years of schooling to get to the professional level, but at the University of Wyoming, you can get a fantastic education no matter where you come from.
The field of nursing offers the chance for hands-on work that is both fulfilling and engaging. Getting a BSN degree in this field can set you up for a great and high-paying career in the healthcare sector where you can expect stability and engagement for the long term.
And if you get your degree from one of the best colleges for nursing on this list, you’ll be one step closer to making those career goals a reality.