Feature report

Your Guide to the Best Nursing Programs

Complete Family Nurse Practitioner Guide

Welcome to TopRNtoBSN.com!

You’ve come to the right place if you are a registered nurse looking for expert information on the best nursing programs. Our editors have researched all the top nursing schools with accredited nursing programs to help guide you to the RN to BSN or other accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that is right for YOU.

Whether you’re seeking to go the traditional BSN degree route at a nursing college or to earn your BSN degree online, we’ve got the rankings and reviews to help you find the best RN to BSN programs and nursing schools to fit your needs. If you’re interested in learning more about nursing careers, nursing scholarships, or nursing internships, we have that too.

Find the Best Nursing Schools for RN to BSN Programs

Due to the ongoing demand for trained, professional nurses, nursing degree programs have surged in size and number at nursing schools. So individuals who want to serve others take advantage of the high number of nursing jobs and nursing careers available today have lots of options. There are hundreds of nursing schools for you to choose from. That is why it is more important than ever to thoroughly research your options to find the best nursing programs for your time, money, and effort.

Earning a Bachelor of Nursing degree is not easy (or cheap!). You want to be sure that the degree you get from it has the quality, reputation, and accreditation you need to advance your nursing career. As a helpful starting point, we’ve compiled rankings of the top accredited nursing schools offering the best traditional and online RN to BSN programs. We’ll also help you figure out how to pay for it with our overview of nursing scholarships.

Discover What You Can Do with a BSN Degree

Undergraduate nurses can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, a four-year program providing hands-on clinical experience. BSN graduates are well-prepared to pursue a career in nursing and are ready to work in various healthcare settings. In addition to the traditional four-year BSN program, several accelerated programs allow students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to earn a BSN in a shorter amount of time. These accelerated programs allow nursing students to earn a BSN degree in 12-18 months.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing could be your ticket to a more satisfying, higher-paying nursing career. Many nursing jobs require four year BSN program or higher. Find out more about the opportunities available for top RN to BSN program graduates. One way to find out what the right nursing career is for you is through nursing internships, which are also a common requirement for the best Bachelor of Nursing programs. Check out our article on nursing The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University internships to learn more about them.

Overview of Nursing Degrees

Nursing majors are in high demand for prospective students who wish to pursue a career in professional nursing. No matter which type of program students choose, they can rest assured that the education and experience gained in a degree program will prepare them for the demands of a nursing career. So, if you are interested in an undergraduate nursing program or a graduate nursing program, we have you covered!

Practical Nursing (PN) Diploma

Nurses with one year of education often have a practical nursing diploma. In most states, they are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), but some states call them Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs). LPNs must complete an accredited program and obtain licensure in the state where they practice.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) 

The most common type of nursing degree is typically a 2-year ADN program. It prepares nursing students to become registered nurses (RNs) and work in various settings, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home healthcare agencies. 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) 

This four-year degree program prepares BSN students to become RNs and gives them a more in-depth understanding of nursing. In addition, a BSN undergraduate program is ideal for those interested in pursuing higher-level nursing positions or leadership roles. The traditional BSN program is usually campus-based, but some are hybrid and online. Then there are other paths to earn this degree.

Working nurses can enroll in an RN to BSN program with advanced standing. And non-nurses with a bachelor’s degree in a non nursing field can enroll in an accelerated BSN program. The second degree program and the RN-BSN both offer credit for previous education and work experience to shorten the time to degree completion. Additionally, all BSN students must work in a supervised clinical setting.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) 

An MSN degree is for experienced RNs who want to specialize in a particular area. Graduate degrees prepare professional nurses for advanced practice roles, such as nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist. Nurses can earn a master’s degree with nurse practitioner specialty tracks in pediatrics, oncology, or gerontology. These graduate programs also require graduate students to earn professional experience in clinical settings.

Post Master’s Certificate

Also called a Graduate Certificate for Nursing is a type of advanced nursing program that allows students to pursue specialized knowledge and skills in a particular area of nursing practice. The certificate program can typically be completed in 12 to 24 months and is intended to build on the knowledge and skills acquired in a Master’s degree in nursing.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Terminal degrees are the highest level of education in a particular field. And the DNP is one of two terminal degree paths for nurses. Doctoral degree programs prepare students for the most advanced clinical nursing roles. These roles include nurse administrator, nurse educator, and nurse researcher.

PhD in Nursing

A PhD in Nursing is a doctorate program focusing on advanced nursing research, theory, and practice. These graduate nursing programs prepare students for academic roles in education and research.

Overview of Nursing Specializations

Nursing is one of the most important and diverse professions in the healthcare industry. Nursing is a profession that provides care for individuals, families, and communities so they can attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life. Nurses work in various settings and specialize in many different areas of care.

Acute Care Nursing

Acute care nursing is the care of patients in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings with sudden illness or injury. These Acute Care Nurses provide medical care, monitoring, and support to patients who are critically ill or injured. They are skilled in assessing, diagnosing, and managing acute medical conditions and supporting individuals and families.  

Community Health Nursing

Public Health Nursing or Community health nursing is the care of individuals, families, and communities. Community health nurses assess, diagnose, and manage the health needs of individuals and communities. In addition, they provide health education and resources to help promote and maintain the health of individuals and communities.

Geriatric Nursing

Gerontological Nursing or Geriatric nursing is the care of older adults in various settings. Geriatric nurses care for older adults’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being. In addition, they assess and evaluate the health needs of older adults, develop care plans, and provide education and resources to help them maintain the highest level of health and independence. Advanced practice RNs work as Adult Gerontology Acute Care NPs.

Neonatal Nursing

Neonatal nursing is a subspecialty that works with newborn infants born with various conditions, ranging from prematurity, birth defects, infection, cardiac malformations, and surgical problems. The neonatal period is defined as the first four weeks of life. Neonatal nurses care for newborns in hospitals, birthing centers, and private homes. A Neonatal Nurse Practitioner holds a master’s degree or higher.

Nurse Midwifery

A Nurse midwife is a specialty of professional nursing that focuses on caring for pregnant women, new mothers, and their newborns. Nurse midwives provide prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum, newborn, gynecological, and family planning services. They also educate and counsel women and their families on nutrition, exercise, birth control, and family planning. In addition, nurse midwives often collaborate with physicians to provide comprehensive patient care.

Oncology Nursing

Oncology Nurses provide physical and emotional care to patients undergoing cancer treatments. In addition, they assess, diagnose, and manage cancer-related conditions and provide support and education to patients and families.  

Pediatric Nursing

Pediatric Nurses care for children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They assess, diagnose, and manage illnesses, injuries, and developmental delays. They also provide support and education to families to help them understand and care for their children.

Psychiatric Nursing  

Psychiatric Nurses care for individuals with mental health conditions. They assess, diagnose, and manage mental health conditions and provide support and education to individuals and families.  

Overview of Nursing Licensure

In the United States, nursing licenses are typically issued by the state board of nursing for the state where the nurse is practicing. Before nurses can apply for a license, they must complete an approved education program and pass a licensure exam.

NCLEX PN Examination

The NCLEX-PN exam is the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses. Most states refer to these nurses as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), but a few states call them Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs). An LPN has completed a recognized educational program in nursing and has been licensed by the state to provide basic nursing care.

NCLEX RN Examination

The NCLEX-RN exam is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. A registered nurse typically has an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Nurse Licensure Compact

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is an agreement between states that allows nurses to have a multistate license, enabling them to practice in other states that participate in the agreement while being subject to the regulations of the nurse’s home state. The NLC is designed to increase access to care and improve the mobility of nurses. It allows nurses to practice in other states without the need to obtain additional licenses, as long as they meet the requirements of the NLC.

Overview of Career Opportunities

In the United States, nursing licenses are typically issued by the state board of nursing for the state where the nurse is practicing. Before nurses can apply for a license, they must complete an approved education program and pass a licensure exam.

Entry-Level Nursing Career Opportunities

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): An LPN works under the supervision of registered nurses and physicians, providing basic nursing care and helping with medical procedures.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): CNAs provide basic patient care such as bathing, grooming, and dressing under the supervision of registered nurses and physicians.

Home Health Aide (HHA): HHAs provide basic home care services such as light housekeeping, meal preparation, and assistance with personal care activities to people in their homes.

BSW Career Opportunities

BSN-prepared nurses have access to a variety of career opportunities, both within and outside of the traditional hospital setting. These include roles in clinical nursing, nursing research, education, and administration, as well as opportunities in the community, industry, and government. With a BSN, nurses may also pursue advanced practice roles, such as becoming a nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or nurse anesthetist. In addition, some nurses choose to specialize in a certain area of practice, such as gerontology, mental health, or pediatrics.

In the clinical setting, BSN nurses typically provide care for patients in acute, chronic, and rehabilitative care settings. They may work with patients in the hospital or in a clinic or doctor’s office. Depending on their specialty, BSN nurses may also provide care in long-term care facilities, home health settings, and hospice care. BSN nurses can also pursue roles in nursing research, working in both clinical and academic settings. Here, they study the effectiveness of different treatments, interventions, and medications, as well as the overall quality of healthcare.

MSN Career Opportunities

Nurse Educator: Nurse educators work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, universities, and community health organizations. They are responsible for providing educational programs and resources to nursing staff, students, and other healthcare professionals.

Clinical Nurse Leader: Clinical nurse leaders coordinate care for patients in acute and long-term care settings. They provide leadership and management in the design, implementation, and evaluation of nursing care plans.

Nurse Practitioner: Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who can diagnose and treat patients in the primary care setting. They can diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, write prescriptions, and provide health education.

Nurse Manager: Nurse managers are responsible for the overall management of nursing units within a hospital or healthcare organization. They develop policies and procedures, budget, manage staff, and ensure that quality care is provided to patients.

Nursing Informatics: Nursing informaticists analyze and manage healthcare data to improve patient care. They develop and implement computer systems to track patient data, maintain electronic medical records, and coordinate healthcare information.

DNP Career Opportunities

Doctoral nursing careers offer a wide range of opportunities for nurses who have achieved a doctoral degree. These careers generally involve research, education, and clinical roles.

Nurse Educator: Nurse educators develop and deliver educational programs to nurses and other health care professionals. They may also serve as clinical instructors or mentors. Nursing professors teach students in a university setting nursing courses, conduct research, and provide guidance to nursing students.

Research Nurse: Research nurses specialize in the research, design, and implementation of clinical studies. They are responsible for collecting and analyzing data and helping to develop new treatment protocols.

Clinical Nurse Specialist: Clinical nurse specialists are advanced practice nurses who provide specialized care to patients with complex medical needs. They work closely with physicians to develop patient treatment plans and coordinate care.

Nursing Administrator: Nursing administrators are responsible for the overall management of a nursing department, including budgeting, staffing, and quality assurance. They must possess strong organizational and leadership skills.

Health Policy Analyst: Health policy analysts study health care policies and regulations and develop strategies to improve health care delivery. They may work in government, private industry, or nonprofit organizations.

Top Universities and Best Nursing Schools in the Nation

In the United States, top nursing colleges are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These organizations evaluate a nursing school, its quality of nursing programs, faculty, and also resources to ensure nursing students receive a comprehensive education.

As part of the accreditation process, a nursing school must demonstrate its ability to provide quality instruction, educational experiences, and the resources and environment necessary for nursing students to succeed. A top nursing school and college in the United States offers a variety of programs for nursing students. Many of these highly regarded nursing colleges are established institutions. 

Top Nursing Schools

  • Georgetown University
  • Purdue University
  • Villanova University
  • The University of Michigan Ann Arbor – University of Michigan School of Nursing


  • George Fox University
  • Concordia University- Oregon


  • Emory University – Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
  • Mercer University
  • Georgia Southern University


  • Texas Christian University
  • UT Austin School of Nursing
  • Baylor University
  • Texas Christian University
  • University of Texas- Tyler
  • University of Texas- Arlington
  • Midwestern State University
  • Abilene Christian University

North Carolina

  • Duke University School
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill


  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON)


  • Case Western Reserve University – Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Xavier University
  • Walsh University
  • Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Cedarville University
  • Ohio University
  • Otterbein University


  • University of Pennsylvania – Penn Nursing


  • University of California Los Angeles UCLA School of Nursing
  • Azusa Pacific University
  • Biola University


  • University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS)
  • Florida State University
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Florida


  • University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Boston College
  • Northeastern University
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Simmons College
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst

New York

  • University of Rochester
  • Columbia University
  • New York University, the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing


  • University of Colorado Denver
  • Colorado Christian University
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Regis University
  • University of Colorado in Colorado Springs


  • Washington State University
  • Pacific Lutheran University
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Northwest University
  • University of Washington Seattle
  • Gonzaga University
  • Western Washington University
  • Whitworth University
  • The University of Washington Bothell

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