The best bachelor’s degrees in nursing
Nursing is a highly demanding profession with significant responsibility in high-pressure circumstances. It requires an individual who is patient, compassionate, dedicated, and always willing to learn. Nursing is a stable industry, with the number of registered nurses (RNs) predicted to grow 7% faster than average occupations between 2019 and 2029. Moreover, nurses can earn high salaries, interact with interesting people, and often save lives.
Nurses have several career options within the healthcare industry. These include working in critical care, case management, public health, trauma, pediatrics, psychiatry, and the Emergency Department at a hospital. Depending on the skill level, you may have to earn extra certifications or diplomas, but it all starts with obtaining a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree.
A BSN is a 4-year degree that combines coursework with clinical training. Students learn about anatomy, biology, chemistry, laboratory testing, patient care, treatment plan design, and assisting in surgeries. Once the BSN is completed, prospective nurses need to pass the National Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to practice.
Applicant requirements for the BSN are subject to the nursing school, but they typically ask for:
- cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher
- GPA of 2.5 for all science subjects
- SAT or ACT scores
- personal essay
- volunteer experience
Read further as we explore the 10 best bachelor degree programs in nursing and all they have to offer.
The best bachelor’s in nursing programs
University of PennsylvaniaUniversity of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is considered as one of the top nursing schools in the world. Their undergraduate nursing program is the most selective of all academic programs.
The BSN program is a combination of science, liberal arts, and nursing courses. It consists of core coursework and clinical hours. The BSN has an optional feeder program where juniors can begin to take courses that will count toward their undergraduate and master’s degree.
Another option is the dual degree in nursing and health management. Students study at both Wharton School and the School of Nursing and graduate with a B.S. in economics along with a BSN. Many graduates from the BSN program will also apply for the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
Penn Nursing accepts transfer students who meet the stipulated requirements.
Program name Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Name of school (dept) Penn Nursing Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Cost
Tuition in-state: $53,166
Tuition out of state: $53,166
Teaching approach On-campus Course length 4 years, 40 course units
Emory UniversityEmory University Atlanta, Georgia
The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing offers a distance-accelerated BSN (DABSN). This is an intensive program that uses active learning to promote critical thinking and sound clinical judgment. It has a 7-course prerequisite. You may apply if you are still in the process of completing the courses, but it has to be completed with a C or higher before the program begins. The courses are:
general Chemistry I with lab
- human anatomy and physiology I with lab
- human anatomy and physiology II with lab
- microbiology with lab
- introductory statistics
- human growth and development, or, lifespan development
Coursework and learning occur online, and students have 2 onsite sessions for clinical hours and a one-week capstone session. When the program requires students to be on campus, the school provides support for accommodations and travel costs.
The School of Nursing accepts transfers who have completed the prerequisite of 60 semester hours of college course credit. Transfer students need to pass with a C or higher to be considered. For more information on transfers, visit BSN Transfer Option.
Program name Distance Accelerated BSN Name of school (dept) Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Location Atlanta, Georgia Cost
Tuition: $78,000 (in-state and out-of-state)
Teaching approach Hybrid, asynchronous and synchronous Course length 1.5 years, 48 credit hours
University of WashingtonUniversity of Washington Seattle, Washington
The mission of the University of Washington School of Nursing is to cater to the healthcare needs of Washington communities through education, research, and service.
The BSN is a professional program that begins at the junior level of an undergraduate degree. Applicants must have already completed 60 college-level credits or hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field.
Prerequisites for applicants include:
- minimum college cumulative GPA of 2.0
- 3 completed natural world (general chemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition) courses with a 3.0 GPA, or
- 4 natural world courses with a 2.8 GPA
The BSN program includes coursework, clinical simulation exercises, and supervised patient care in the field. The School of Nursing accepts transfer students. The requirements are the same as for first-time applicants; however, transfers are paired with an academic adviser to do a credit evaluation. Nursing students have the option to apply for a fee exemption; find out more here.
Program name Bachelor of Science in Nursing Name of school (dept) School of Nursing Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Location Seattle, Washington Cost
Tuition in-state: $3,915
Tuition out of state: $13,038
Teaching approach On-campus Course length 2 years, 42 credit hours
Villanova UniversityVillanova University Villanova, Pennsylvania
Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing has a 98.8% successful undergraduate placement rate. The College of Nursing strives to innovate, educate, and prepare nurses for care, research, advocacy, and discovery. The undergraduate program consists of the following program options:
- Traditional 4-year BSN – a combination of coursework, training simulations, and clinical experience. Prerequisites include an activities resume, class rank (if available), and a minimum of 16 completed academic units of high school work.
- BSNExpress – a 14-month program for bachelor’s degree graduates of another discipline. Students are required to complete 15 courses worth 61 credits before admission to the accelerated program. Credits for courses from other colleges may be transferred if the grade is a C or above. BSNExpress students are eligible for federal financial assistance.
- BSN Transfer – this program is specifically crafted for transfer students. This is a 5-semester program with a prerequisite of 14 courses worth 55 credits. Students can transfer credits from a previous degree up to 64 credits with a grade of C or above.
Program name Bachelor of Science in Nursing Name of school (dept) M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing Accreditation State Board of Nursing of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Location Villanova, Pennsylvania Cost
Tuition: $58,290 (in-state and out-of-state)
Teaching approach On-campus Course length Four years, 136 credit hours
University of Illinois, ChicagoUniversity of Illinois, Chicago Chicago, Illinois
The UIC College of Nursing has 6 campuses in northern and central Illinois, making it accessible for students from all parts of the city. The traditional BSN combines face-to-face learning and hands-on practice from the moment you begin the program. BSN applicants must have completed 57 credit hours of college coursework to be eligible for admission.
Due to the coursework prerequisite, all applicants are considered to be transfer applicants. For consideration for admission, students must have:
- Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75
- Minimum GPA of 2.5 for natural science
The BSN does not admit first-year students; however, first-time applicants are encouraged to apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as an undeclared major. If you indicate on the application that your educational goal is nursing, pre-health advisors will guide you on the completion of prerequisite coursework.
Saint Louis UniversitySaint Louis University St. Louis, Missouri
The Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing at St Louis University has been a leader in nursing education since 1928. It was the first to create an accelerated BSN program, making it a pioneer in education. The BSN provides state-of-the-art education with resources and opportunities created for student success.
Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.2 to be considered for admission. A strong applicant will have:
- 4 years of mathematics (with algebra or advanced algebra)
- 4 years of science (with one year of chemistry and one year of biology)
- SAT or ACT scores are preferable but not compulsory
The program consists of coursework, simulation lab, and clinical experience. The number of accepted transfers is low due to the limited space availability of the BSN and its selective and competitive nature. The School of Nursing has an accelerated BSN program for students who have obtained a bachelor’s in a different field.
The junior-level accelerated BSN is also available for undergraduates who have earned at least 77 credits. The program is an intensive 3 semesters and 12 months.
Program name Nursing, B.S. Name of school (dept) Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing Accreditation Missouri State Board of Nursing; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Location St.Louis, Missouri Cost
Tuition: $23,562 (in-state and out-of-state)
Teaching approach On-campus Course length 4years, 125 credit hours
University of KentuckyUniversity of Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky
The University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing is a nationally ranked college providing nursing education, practice, and research for over 50 years. The College of Nursing trains students for excellence and success, with about 75% of BSN graduates offered jobs before graduating.
Admission to the BSN requires applicants to apply to UK as a pre-nursing major with a minimum GPA of 3.4. During the first year of admission, students have to complete 6 prerequisite courses prior to applying for the major. All courses must be completed before applying for the program.
The program consists of coursework, laboratory work, and clinical experience. The BSN accepts transfer students with a GPA of no less than 3.6. Transfers also need to complete courses determined by the Transfer Center and achieve a grade C or higher. The College of Nursing offers 3 types of accelerated BSN programs:
- Second-degree BSN (for those with a bachelor’s in a different field)
- Med-Vet BSN (for medically trained veterans)
- LPN-BSN (for a licensed practical nurse with a diploma)
University of North CarolinaUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The University of North Carolina School of Nursing is the No. 10 in the world according to QS World University Rankings 2020. The BSN is designed for students who do not have an undergraduate degree but have college-level coursework credit and knowledge.
Students must meet the following qualifications for consideration:
- minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8
- completed 3 out of the 5 science courses when applying
- must have obtained 60 credits prior to applying
- minimum B- grade in BIOL 252/BIOL 252L, BIO 253/253L, and MCRO 251
- minimum C grade in PSYC 101 and STOR 151/155
The BSN consists of coursework, laboratory work, clinical experience, and a capstone project. BSN transfers must meet the same requirements as first-degree applicants, as well as an unofficial transcript evaluation. The School of Nursing also offers:
- A 4-year Accelerated BSN for students holding a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0
- A Military Pathway BSN for armed forces veterans and active duty service members with a minimum GPA of 2.8
The School of Nursing has an extensive list of scholarships and grants exclusively for BSN students.
Program name BSN Name of school (dept) UNC School of Nursing Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE); North Carolina Board of Nursing; American Nurses Credentialing Center Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina Cost
Tuition in-state: $18,711 (year 1); $13,544 (year 2)
Tuition out of state: $50,397 (year 1); $40,723 (year 2)
Teaching approach On-campus Course length 2 years, 60 credits
University of VirginiaUniversity of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia
The University of Virginia BSN program is designed for high school students seeking to earn a nursing degree. Application requirements for the BSN are the same as institutional admission requirements. The program consists of coursework, laboratory work, and clinical experience.
Transfers applying for the BSN must have completed 30 credits, which are obtained by completing the prerequisite courses:
- college composition
- lifespan development/developmental psychology
- human anatomy and physiology 1&2
The School of Nursing has several nursing scholarships for undergraduate students.
Program name Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Name of school (dept) School of Nursing Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Location Charlottesville, Virginia Cost
Tuition in-state: $18,260 (year1); $16,260 (years 2+3); $14,188 (year 4)
Tuition out of state: $52,218 (year1); $51,218 (year 2); $50,218 (year 3), $48,036 (year 4)
Teaching approach On-campus Course length 4 years, 120 credits
New York UniversityNew York University New York City, New York
The NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is the second-largest private college of nursing in the U.S. The BSN program combines liberal arts and nursing with courses in the Meyers College, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. The program consists of coursework, laboratory work, and clinical experience.
Applicants must pass a criminal background check and are encouraged to have completed the following for a stronger application:
- 4 years of English
- 3-4 years of mathematics
- 3-4 years of laboratory sciences
- 3-4 years of social studies
- 3-4 years of foreign language
Meyers College also offers an accelerated 15-month BSN for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field. Applicants must have completed courses in nutrition, chemistry (with lab), statistics, microbiology, developmental psychology, and anatomy and physiology I&II.
Meyers College allows transfer students from 2-year programs, 4-year programs, or within NYU with 32 credits at the time of matriculation.
Program name Traditional 4-year BSN Name of school (dept) Rory Meyers College of Nursing Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Location New York City, New York Cost
Tuition: $2,044 per credit/128 credit hours (in-state and out-of-state)
Teaching approach On-campus Course length 4 years, 128 credits
Because of the demand for professionals in the nursing industry, financial support is extensive. Begin your search on the Federal Student Aid website, where you can complete the FAFSA form to check your eligibility for aid. The following scholarships are examples of what is available to nursing students.
- The Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship
- DAR Nursing Scholarships
- Foundation of the National Student Nurses Association General Scholarship
- Hurst Review Services AACN Scholarship
- HRSA Nurse Corps Scholarship
There are many specializations within the nursing industry that open a wide range of job opportunities.