In Pennsylvania, various 2- and 4-year schools and universities offer nursing programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. These nurse education programs allow aspiring nurses to prepare to become a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). They award certificates, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctoral degrees. Transition or bridging programs are also available, and currently certified nurses can take advantage of these courses to advance their careers, change titles, or develop a specialization. Graduate degree programs typically offer specializations.
Nursing programs in Pennsylvania may be offered full-time, part-time, in the evenings, on weekends or online. Students are typically required to complete practicums and clinicals to gain hands-on knowledge and skills. Nursing students may also need to complete a project, research or a thesis.
The state of Pennsylvania requires that aspiring nurses obtain a license to work as an RN, practical nurse or public health nurse. Individuals must complete a state-approved nurse education program and complete the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN.
There are over 115 nursing schools in Pennsylvania. Read on to learn about the top ten best schools in the state, their program offerings and tuition information.
1. University of Pennsylvania
The School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania (which is a private school) offers the traditional, 4-year BSN, accelerated BSN Second Degree, BSN-to-MSN Second Degree Program for aspiring nurses with a bachelor’s degree in another field, BSN-to-PhD in nursing program for aspiring nurses with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing as well as exceptional upper-level nursing students in the traditional BSN program, RN-to-BSN, MSN, post-master’s certificates, PhD in nursing, and post-doctoral programs. The school works along with leading, local hospitals, including the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to provide the best in nursing education and hands-on training. All programs are accredited by the CCNE and approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. The school had 160 BSN students during the 2012-13 period, and a NCLEX-RN pass rate of 90.00% (October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013). Penn Nursing has 41 full-time faculty (both tenured and tenure-track), and its master’s students/full-time faculty ratio is 8:1.
tuition and fees for Fall 2015 – Spring 2016 were $49,536, while the full-time tuition for the master’s programs at the school is $36,620 per year.
2. University of Pittsburg
The University of Pittsburg, which is a public school, is ranked No. 6 in the nation by the National Institutes of Health regarding research funding for nurse education programs. Pitt Nursing offers highly innovative and world-class nursing programs characterized by the highest levels of research and clinical, hands-on training. These include: traditional BSN, accelerated second degree BSN, RN to BSN, early admission to MSN, post-baccalaureate certificates, MSN, post-master’s certificates, BSN to DNP, post-master’s to DNP, MSN to PhD in nursing, BSN to PhD in nursing, and continuing education programs. Students have the option of studying full-time or part-time, and many of these courses can be completed either on-campus or online. Pitt Nursing had 222 BSN students who posted an NCLEX-RN pass rate of 80.18% during the period October 1, 2012 – September 30, 2013. The University of Pittsburg School of Nursing has 41 full-time faculty members (both tenured and tenure-track), and a master’s students/full-time faculty ratio of 3:1.
Full-time tuition for undergraduate programs at the school is $10,620 per term (in-state) and $17,392 per term (out-of-state), while that of master’s programs is $36,480 (in-state) and $42,072 (out-of-state) per year.
3. Pennsylvania State University
The Penn State College of Nursing is a public school that offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs to over 2,500 students each year. It is actually the largest nursing program in Pennsylvania, preparing more students each year for successful nursing careers than any other program. Some of the programs offered in its 13 campuses include: Associate of Science (A.S.) Program in Nursing, BSN traditional program, BSN Second Degree program, RN to BS Degree program, accelerated RN to BS Degree program, MSN, interdisciplinary PhD program, and a BSN to PhD degree program. All these programs are fully approved and accredited. Programs are available in an online format as well as part-time. The online RN to BS program offered through Penn State World Campus was ranked No. 1 in the 2015 US News & World Report’s best online bachelor’s degree programs. Penn State College of Nursing graduate program is ranked among the top 40 nursing graduate programs on the 2015 US News & World Report’s Best Nursing Graduate Programs. The school had 168 BSN students who posted an NCLEX-RN pass rate of 87.50% during the period October 1, 2012 – September 30, 2013. It posted an impressive 96% overall NCLEX pass rate during the 2013-14 period (including general BS and second degree programs).
Full-time undergraduate tuition is $21,394 (in-state) and 35,998 (out-of-state) per academic year. Full-time tuition for the master’s programs is $18,816 per year (residents) and $32,180 per year (non-residents).
4. Villanova University
The Villanova University College of Nursing is one of the top rated nursing schools in the state, with a focus on providing intense, high-quality education to prepare both aspiring and current nurses for a successful career in the fast-paced healthcare industry. It offers a variety of well-designed programs, including: traditional 4-year BSN, BSN transfer, accelerated BSN 14-month (second degree), alternate sequence 2-year BSN, BSN completion for registered nurses, MSN, post-master’s certificates, DNP, PhD in nursing and continuing education programs. Some courses are available online and many have a flexible schedule and may be offered in the evening as well as on a part-time basis. The school has 49 full-time faculty and 40-part-time faculty. The number of graduate faculty members (both tenured and tenure-track) is 33. About 297 students are currently enrolled in the graduate program of which 56% are full-time and 44% are part-time. The master’s/full-time faculty ratio is 5:1. There are about 716 students currently enrolled in the undergraduate program, with 26% being part of the minority enrollment program. During the 2012-13, the school had 197 BSN students who posted a noteworthy 89.14% NCLEX-RN pass rate.
Full-time undergraduate tuition for 2015-2016 was $23,483 per semester, while that of the master’s programs is $812 per credit.
5. Duquesne University
Duquesne University School of Nursing has been noted as one of the best of Pennsylvania nursing programs, providing students with an innovative curriculum, inter-professional care opportunities, simulation opportunities and real life experiences in various specialties. The school offers a traditional, 4-year degree program, an innovative 5-year BME/BSN – dual degree program in both biomedical engineering (BME) and nursing (BSN), second-degree BSN program, RN to BSN, MSN, PhD, DNP, and post-master’s certificates. These programs are accredited by the CCNE and approved by the PA State Board of Nursing. On the US News & World Report Rankings, the Duquesne University School of Nursing was ranked 75th best graduate nursing programs 2016, 9th best online graduate nursing programs 2015, and 9th best online graduate nursing programs for veterans 2015. Currently, there are 735 undergraduate students and 295 graduate students enrolled in various programs. The number of full-time faculty members at the school is 37, while that of part-time faculty members is 88. This includes 25 full-time graduate faculty members who are either tenured or tenure-track. The master’s students/full-time faculty ratio is 5:1. In 2012-13, the school had 130 BSN students who posted an excellent 80.77% NCLEX pass rate (first-time exam takers).
The tuition and fees for the BSN program (2015-16) was $33,778.00. The full-time tuition for the master’s programs at the Duquesne University School of Nursing is $1,077 per credit.
6. Thomas Jefferson University
The Jefferson College of Nursing is a very modern and advanced program that provides students with exceptional skills for today’s workforce. It has been named as an NLN (National League for Nursing) Center of Excellence in Nursing Education for the period 2015-19. Its record of excellence in health care education has earned it recognition from US News & World Report’s annual listing of the best graduate schools. The Jefferson College of Nursing offers a variety of course options for both undergraduate- and graduate-level nursing education, including: BSN – Pre-licensure, BSN PACE (Plan A College Education) Advanced Admission Program, BSN and MSN – Facilitated Academic Coursework Track (FACT) for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field, an accelerated MSN, RN to BSN, RN to BSN/MSN, MSN, MSN/MPH dual degree in nursing and public health, post-master’s certificates and DNP programs. In 2012-13, there were 905 students enrolled at the Jefferson College of Nursing. 85% of students were female, with male students accounting for the rest. Faculty members totaled 206 (43 full-time and 163 part-time). Currently, there is 1 full-time graduate faculty members (tenured or tenure-track) , constituting a master’s/full-time faculty ratio of 139:1. The school had 258 BSN students during the period October 1, 2012 – September 30, 2013 who posted an 84.88% NCLEX pass rate.
Full-time tuition for the master’s programs at the Jefferson College of Nursing is 1,054 per credit.
7. University of Scranton
The Department of Nursing at the University of Scranton stands out because of its high ranking NCLEX pass rate for RNs, well-designed and innovative nursing programs, advanced curriculum, and a friendly, motivated faculty that is very active in research and practice. It offers BSN, LPN to BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, accelerated MSN, and DNP. Part-time options are available on some of the programs. The school has 11 graduate full-time faculty members who are either tenured or tenure-track. These faculty members have been published in both nursing and interdisciplinary healthcare journals and have been presented at national and international conferences. Its small master’s students/full-time faculty ratio of 4:1 ensures high-quality of teaching, learning and assessment for both theoretical knowledge and practice. In 2012-13, the University of Scranton Department of Nursing had 69 BSN students who posted a notable 86.96% NCLEX pass rate.
Full-time undergraduate tuition is $40,644 (2015-16), while that for the master’s programs stands at $940 per credit.
8. Drexel University
Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions is another highly rated school that consistently posts outstanding NCLEX pass rates. It offers RN to BSN, BSN Co-op program, BSN – accelerated career entry, MSN degree tracks for BSN graduates wishing to enhance their education and careers, DNP degree, and post-graduate certificate programs. Applicants to specific programs at the school are expected to have completed the admission prerequisites or be in the process of doing so at time of application. Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions has 8 full-time graduate faculty members (tenured or tenure-track), and a master’s/full-time faculty ratio of 57:1. During the 2012-2013 period, the school had 372 BSN students who posted a remarkable 96.24% NCLEX pass rate.
Undergraduate tuition for full-time, 4-year programs is $46, 386 per year, while that for master’s programs is $861 per credit.
9. La Salle University
Established by the teaching order of the Christian Brothers in the late 1800s, La Salle University (LSU) is a private, faith based school that strives to offer education programs that blend spiritual, intellectual and personal development to produce well-rounded, world-changing professionals. Its nursing programs are geared toward achieving this goal. They include: BSN program, RN to BSN accelerated program, RN-BSN to MSN program, RN to MSN Bridge program, and the Achieve program that allows working adults to pursue a BSN. The school registered 167 BSN students for the 2012-13 NCLEX exams who went on to post a 71.26% pass rate. For graduate programs, LSU School of Nursing and Health Sciences had 19 full-time faculty members (tenured or tenure-track) and a master’s students/full-time faculty ratio of 6:1.
The basic full-time tuition for all undergraduate programs at La Salle University is $20,200 per semester. Full-time tuition for master’s programs, on the other hand, is $845 per credit.
10. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
The IUP Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions has been around for many years but still remains one of the most advanced and diverse nursing programs in Pennsylvania. It has a solid reputation for producing very in demand nurses not just in the local environment but nationally as well. The school offers BSN, Bachelor of Science in Nursing LPN track, Bachelor of Science in Nursing RN track, MSN, and PhD in nursing. These programs are not only fully approved and accredited, but they are also very affordable. Prospective students are required to obtain admission into IUP as a first step. Then, students will need to complete 40 hours of prerequisite nursing coursework before progressing into the nursing program. In 2012-13, the school had 129 BSN students who posted an NCLEX pass rate of 95.35%. The IUP Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions has 21 full-time faculty members (tenured or tenure-track), and a small master’s students/full-time faculty of 1:1.
Full-time tuition for the master’s programs at the school is $478 per credit (for residents) and $717 per credit (for non-residents).
List of Accredited Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania
According to U.S. Department of Education
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
3109 McCormick Center for Human Services
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
Call : 570-389-4316
Type : Public
1145 King Road
Immaculata, PA 19345
Call : 610-647-4400
Type : Private
La Roche College
9000 Babcock Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 15237
Email : N/A
Type : Private
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania
G24 South Hall
Mansfield, PA 16933
Call : 412-367-9300
Type : Public
301 Lake Street
Dallas, PA 18612
Call : (570) 674-6400
Type : Private
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
222 Sturzebecker Health Sciences Center
West Chester, PA 19383
Call : 610-436-1000
Type : Public
109 S. Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766
Email : N/A
Type : Private
Reference and Other Sources
- Pennsylvania NCLEX pass rates
- Accreditted schools : http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation
- Schools, Colleges Statistic : https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/