Cheapest nursing schools

    Jeremy Coppock
    Jeremy Coppock

    Jeremy is an education researcher, journalist, and editor for Degreechoices. He majored in Slavic languages and has a master’s degree in Eastern European studies.

    He has previous experience as a fraud analyst, in-house translator, teacher, and truck driver.

    Cheapest nursing schools

      From an economic standpoint, nursing school can be one of the best career investments you can make, and that’s because nurses earn good salaries without spending decades in school. You can become a registered nurse (RN) with just an associate degree.

      Even better, you don’t need to go to costly or super-selective, “prestigious” colleges to be employable – cheap nursing schools are widely respected on the job market.

      To prove it, we have compiled a list of the cheapest nursing schools in the country at every level of nursing (except Doctor of Nursing Practice) – along with the average earnings of each program’s graduates according to official government data.

      While nursing may not be for everyone, those who can deal with the stress, crazy hours, blood, guts, and uncooperative patients are rewarded with a lucrative career with ample growth opportunities. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

      We now present the cheapest nursing schools in America. The main lists are brick-and-mortar colleges that may offer both online and on-campus degrees. Meanwhile the “bonus” sections have been labeled online-only programs by IPEDS. We have only included accredited programs.

      Cheapest ADN programs – average annual cost

      1. Albany Technical College – $663

      The cheapest place to get an ADN in the U.S., Albany Technical College is a public community college located in Albany, Georgia. It offers an Associate of Science in Nursing that combines classroom learning with lab training and experience in a clinic. The school also has resources to help students secure their first job after graduation. It had an impressive 100% NCLEX pass rate in the Spring of 2023.

      Average earnings: $58,261

      2. College of San Mateo – $1,062

      The College of San Mateo is a public community college located in San Mateo, California, in northern Silicon Valley. Its ADN program has a high-tech skills lab; students also have opportunities to learn in the classroom and at local hospitals. Its NCLEX pass rate in 2022 was 92.45%.

      Average earnings: $120,513

      3. College of the Sequoias – $1,222

      Students at the College of the Sequoias, which is a 2-year public community college in Visalia, California, can obtain a 4-semester Associate of Science in Registered Nursing. An LVN to RN bridge program is also available.

      Average earnings: $89,281

      4. George C Wallace Community College, Dothan – $1,384

      Wallace Community College is a public, 2-year institution in Dothan, southern Alabama. It is one of the largest and oldest community colleges in the state. Its ADN program is competitive (i.e., not open-admissions), but it has two starting dates per year.

      Average earnings: $59,948

      5. Chipola College – $1,428

      Chipola College is a public institution in Marianna, a small town in Florida’s panhandle. Its ADN program is 72 credit hours, which should take the average student 2 or 3 years to complete. The Chipola ADN program admits students twice a year, for fall and spring semesters. The school had a 90% eventual pass rate for the NCLEX-RN exam in 2021.

      Average earnings: $55,901

      6. Georgia Northwestern Technical College – $1,445

      This public technical college has 6 locations in the state of Georgia. Its Associate of Science in Nursing program is competitive, but graduates are well prepared to take the NCLEX exam and become registered nurses: it had a 100% NCLEX pass rate in 2023.

      Average earnings: $59,578

      7. South Texas College – $1,504

      A public community college, South Texas College is located in the town of McAllen, in the Rio Grande Valley. It offers an ADN program that prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN exam, which allows you to become a registered nurse. It had an 81.85% pass rate for this test in 2021.

      Average earnings: $73,848

      8. Ventura College – $1,590

      Ventura College is a public community college in Southern California that offers a degree in nursing science. This highly popular program had a 94% pass rate in the 2022-2023 academic year. It has several ADN-BSN partnerships for those who want to earn a bachelor’s in nursing after they finish the program.

      Average earnings: $101,027

      9. Moorpark College – $1,636

      Another public community college in Ventura County, Southern California, Moorpark has a an Associate of Science in Nursing Science. In 2022 it had a 100% NCLEX pass rate.

      Average earnings: $94,020

      10. Western Georgia Technical College – $1,731

      Western Georgia Technical College is located in Waco Georgia, and it is part of the Technical College System of Georgia. It offers an ADN Associate Degree in Nursing as well as a Nursing LPN to ADN Bridge Program. In 2020, the latest year for which it discloses data, it’s NCLEX pass rate was 85.39%.

      Average earnings: $59,578

      11. Oglala Lakota College – $1,800

      This public, tribal college serves the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; it is situated in Southwestern South Dakota. Its ADN program advertises considerable hands-on experience, with students going on to become ER nurses, geriatric nurses, oncology nurses, and much more.

      Average earnings: $51,074

      Cheapest BSN programs – average annual cost

      1. Chipola College – $1,428

      This public college in Northern Florida has already been mentioned for offering the country’s cheapest ADN program. While it has historically offered mostly associate degrees, Chipola students can choose between several bachelor’s programs – including a bachelor’s of science in nursing. Note that this is an RN to BSN bridge program, meaning it’s intended for people who are already working as registered nurses with an associate degree.

      Average earnings: $56,431

      2. North Florida College – $1,921

      Another public community college in Florida that offers several bachelor’s degrees, you can complete an ADN-RN to BSN bridge program at North Florida College in as little as 1 year, although part-time students may need more time to complete their degree. You will need to already have an ADN to apply to this program.

      Average earnings: Unknown

      3. CUNY Hunter College – $2,158

      This public university is part of the City University of New York system, which provides some of the best-value degrees in the country according to our metrics. Originally a women’s college, Hunter is located in vibrant Manhattan. CUNY Hunter students can choose between either an ADN-BSN bridge program or a BSN. The latter is suitable for traditional college students who don’t have any nursing experience. The Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing is the “flagship” nursing school of the CUNY system.

      Average earnings: $105,224

      4. CUNY Lehman College – $2,614

      Another CUNY school, Lehman was originally founded as the Bronx affiliate of Hunter. It offers a “generic” Bachelor of Science in Nursing (i.e., for students with no prior experience), as well as a fully online RN-BSN bridge program.

      Average earnings: $112,500

      5. St. Petersburg College – $2,668

      St. Petersburg College, which is in Florida’s Tampa area, bills itself as a “top provider of online education in the state.” It offers a an RN to BSN bridge program that can be taken online or face-to-face. Students take a mix of healthcare, leadership, and community health classes.

      Average earnings: $75,584

      6. Florida Gateway College – $2,790

      FGC is a public college in Lake City, Florida, that offers both 2 and 4-year degrees. For registered nurses who want a bachelor’s, it offers an online RN-BSN bridge program. Program participants can choose between different start dates and full or part-time study.

      Average earnings: Unknown

      7. Pensacola State College – $3,062

      Another Florida college on this list, PSC is a public college based in Pensacola – the westernmost city in Florida. At the bachelor’s level, it offers an RN to BSN bridge program for registered nurses who want to improve their qualifications. The program takes 3 or more semesters to complete.

      Average earnings: Unknown

      8. Florida State College at Jacksonville – $3,129

      FSCJ is a public college on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Aspiring nurses can enroll in a generic Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, which is suitable for traditional students with no experience as an RN (although students must obtain an RN license by the second term). BSN students can choose between part time and full time enrollment, completing the the major in 6 or 4 semesters respectively.

      Average earnings: $79,716

      9. Texas A&M University, Central Texas – $3,249

      The Central Texas branch of Texas A&M University, which is situated in Killeen, TX, is mostly targeted towards non-traditional students. The public upper division college has an RN to BSN bridge program. To be eligible, students must have an RN license or be in the last semester of ADN program. The program is flexible, with both online and on-campus options, and it can be completed in as little as 1 year.

      Average earnings: $70,674

      10. California State University, Los Angeles – $3,302

      Cal State LA is a public university in the high-value California State University system. Students can enroll in a traditional BSN program within the Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing. In addition, students can enroll in an accelerated BSN program for students who already have another 4-year degree, or an ADN-BSN Collaborative Program, which involves dual-enrolment with a community college.

      Average earnings: $103,598

      Bonus: Cheapest online RN to BSN programs

      College Yearly net cost Average earnings
      University of Florida, Online $5,577 $68,854
      Lake Sumter State College $5,597 N/A
      Franklin University $7,201 N/A
      Delaware Technical Community College, Terry $8,479 N/A
      University of Arkansas Grantham $9,245 $85,260
      Western Governors University $9,969 $86,143
      American Public University System $10,56 $64,275
      Hallmark University $10,665 N/A
      SUNY Empire State College $11,995 $103,646
      State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota $12,888 $70,141

      Cheapest MSN programs – average annual cost

      1. CUNY Hunter College – $2,158

      CUNY Hunter College, a public college in Manhattan, offers several master’s programs for registered nurses. Applicants must already possess a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

      The Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist MS is for aspiring APRNs, whereas the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist MS and the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner MS prepares nurses to become NPs. There is also a Community/Public Health Nursing MS for nurses aiming for leadership roles, and a Nursing Administration/Urban Policy and Leadership dual-degree MS.

      Average earnings: $129,543

      2. CUNY Lehman College – $2,614

      This public college in the Bronx, New York offers several M.S. nursing programs for RNs who wish to level up to become APRNs: Advanced Nursing, Parent-Child Nursing, Adult Health Nursing, and Nursing of Older Adults. There are also 2 programs for aspiring NPs: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner MS and the Family Nurse Practitioner MS.

      Average earnings: $123,412

      3. California State University, Los Angeles – $3,302

      Cal State LA, a public university, has 5 MSNs on offer for nurses who want to improve their qualifications: an Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner option, an Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner option, a Family Nurse Practitioner option, a Family Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner option, and a Nurse Education option. All programs take 2 years to complete.

      Average earnings: $138,953

      4. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – $3,743

      A public university in South Texas, UTRGV offers several MSN programs. Nurses can choose among MSNs in Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, and a Family Nurse Practitioner program. Several post-master’s certificates are also available. Most programs are designed for nurses who already have a BSN. The nursing administration and nursing education programs are 100% online.

      Average earnings: $126,712

      5. Texas A&M International University – $3,908

      TAMIU is a public university in Laredo, Texas. 3 MSN programs are on offer: a Family Nurse Practitioner program, a Nursing Administration program, and a Nursing Administration RN/BSN – MSN program. The last is offered fully online, and it is available to all RNs, regardless of whether or not they have a bachelor’s.

      Average earnings: $129,066

      6. California State University, Dominguez Hills – $4,026

      Another public university in the California State system, Cal State Dominguez Hills has several MSN options for nurses, all of which are available 100% online. These include: Clinical Nurse Specialist – Adult/Gerontology, Clinical Nurse Specialist – Neonatal, and Clinical Nurse Specialist – Pediatric for aspiring APRNs and Family Nurse Practitioner for those who want to become NPs. There are also Nurse Administrator and Nurse Educator MSNs.

      Average earnings: $135,896

      7. Florida International University – $5,298

      The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences at FIU – a public research university in Miami, offers an MSN in Nurse Education and an MSN for Nurse Practitioners, as well as numerous post-grad certificates. Students can take these courses either online or on-campus. There is no GRE requirement to enroll.

      Average earnings: $170,804

      8. CUNY College of Staten Island – $5,298

      CUNY College of Staten Island is an affordable public college in New York City. Aspiring nurses can choose 2 MSN programs: MS in Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) and MS in Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). While the program is mostly in-person, some online courses are offered. Most students complete the program in about 3 years.

      Average earnings: $122,560

      9. California State University, Stanislaus – $6,566

      As a master’s-level nursing student at CSU Stanislaus, which is situated in the state’s central valley, you can enroll in the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program. Applicants must have a B.S.N., although there are bridge program options for RNs with an ADN. All applicants must have a current RN license and 6 months of nursing experience.

      Average earnings: Unknown

      10. The University of West Florida – $7,089

      UWF is a public university in Pensacola, Florida. The school offers an MSN in nursing leadership and an MSN in nursing education. In addition, it has a Direct Entry MSN program, which is intended for non-nurses with a bachelor’s education in some other field who want to enter the nursing profession with an MSN. Direct entry MSN students take the NCLEX exam at the end of the program to become specialized registered nurses.

      Average earnings: $76,814

      Bonus: Cheap online MSN programs

      College Yearly net cost Average earnings
      Franklin University $7,201 N/A
      University of Arkansas Grantham $9,245 $92,169
      Western Governors University $9,969 $98,444
      American Public University System $10,563 N/A
      Hallmark University $10,665 N/A
      SUNY Empire State College $11,995 $97,614
      United States University $16,260 $123,773
      Capella University $16,545 $101,297
      Davenport University $18,264 $94,335
      National University $20,722 $91,418

      How we made these lists

      Information on the cost of nursing programs comes from IPEDS and College Scorecard, which are official government repositories for data on higher education. Note that we report the average annual net cost to attend – after financial aid is taken into account. It is not the same as the college’s tuition.

      Earnings data comes from the same sources, and it represents the average amount graduates are making 4 years after leaving the program, regardless of whether or not they work as a nurse.

      Besides listing cheap nursing schools, we have also compiled a list of the best nursing programs by value for money using our signature methodology that calculates the return on investment of college degrees. These best-value nursing programs may not all be as cheap as the colleges below, but they potentially lead to higher earnings down the road.

      Does it matter what nursing school you go to?

      No, not really. How much money you earn as a nurse depends more on your qualifications (like whether you have a master’s), work experience, and geographic location than if you went to a “prestigious” nursing school.

      Only 1 Ivy League school even has an undergrad nursing program: the University of Pennsylvania. Conversely, the 20 nursing programs with the best-paid graduates are all relatively unselective schools in California and New York – 2 of the states with the highest salaries in general (as well as a very high cost of living).

      » Also read: Differences between urban and rural nursing

      It’s also worth noting that certain nursing programs within 4-year universities are highly competitive. One implication of the high demand for a BSN is that if you’re a traditional college student, you may be best off choosing your backup school: you’ll have a better chance of getting into the nursing program, and your eventual salary will be pretty similar regardless.

      Alternatively, starting with an ADN, gaining experience, and then enrolling in a “bridge program” to level up your qualifications to the bachelor’s level can be a good way to save money.

      Can I study nursing online to save money?

      Yes, kind of! It depends what level of nursing you’re aiming for.

      You can’t become a registered nurse (RN) entirely from home. Degrees that are billed as “online” will involve hybrid learning, meaning you can listen to lectures from your laptop on your couch, but you’ll still need to get hands-on experience at a local clinic. You may also have to take exams at a proctored location. As a result, most associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs are offered at local community colleges.

      However, many BSN and MSN bridge programs are available 100% online – and they’re often very affordable. These programs are for nurses who have already qualified as RNs – and have some clinical nursing experience – but want to improve their qualifications.

      ADN, BSN, MSN, bridge program…come again? If you need a refresher on what all those acronyms mean, just navigate to the end of this article! is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

      Refresher: types of nursing program

      There are lots of levels and types of nursing that may have slightly different educational requirements. Below, we (re)acquaint you with what these are.

      Certificate in licensed practical nursing – This 1-year certificate program prepares you to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). You will be responsible for the most basic aspects of patient care and work under a registered nurse.

      » Also read: How to become an LPN

      Associate Degree in nursing (ADN) – This 2-year degree is the minimum requirement for becoming a registered nurse (RN). It focuses on fundamental nursing skills and clinical experience, preparing prospective nurses for entry-level positions. They are often available at local community colleges, which sometimes call them an Associate of Science (AS) in Registered Nursing.

      Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) – A 4-year undergraduate degree, BSN students get a more comprehensive overview of nursing. Graduates are eligible to become RNs, and they have access to a wider range of roles and position than nurses with just an ADN.

      » Also read: How to become an RN

      Master of Science in nursing (MSN) – An MSN takes 2 or 3 years to complete, and it is intended for those who want to specialize in a particular branch of nursing. Nurses with an MSN can become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), clinical nurse specialists (CNS), nurse educators, or nurse administrators, among others. An MSN opens the door to yet higher salaries than a BSN.

      » Also read: How to become a nurse practitioner

      Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) – The DNP is the ultimate nursing degree. It focuses on advanced clinical practice, leadership, and healthcare systems management. It’s designed for nurses who want to become NPs or higher-up nursing administrators and educators. In some states, NPs have many similar duties to doctors.

      See our ranking of the best nursing schools.

      In addition, there are nursing “bridge programs” that allow experienced nurses to “level up” their career with a more advanced degree.

      For example, registered nurses with an ADN may enroll in an ADN to BSN bridge program to secure a higher paying job with more responsibilities. An ADN to BSN bridge program would be shorter than a straight-up BSN degree, as it factors in a nurse’s existing job experience and knowledge.

      » Also read: Career options within nursing

      Final thoughts

      As long as you can handle the exhausting workweek that comes with the job, investing in a nursing education is a wise financial decision – even if you go to a cheap nursing school. Nurses earn an average of $81,220 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is almost 59% more than the average American with a bachelor’s degree. And even better, due to the high demand for nurses throughout the country, you don’t need to go to a fancy school to be employable: you’ll be snapped up like a defibrillator during a flatline! is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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