Qualifying as a nurse in the United States is possible via multiple options, starting with an Associate Degree, which can pave the path for an entry-level position. Other options include studying for a Bachelor of Nursing Science, or the more popular, which includes finishing an undergraduate degree and following up with a Master’s in Nursing in a nursing school.

The top schools for nursing in the US include the same ones as you would expect for medical studies in general. They are highly selective and offer great facilities and opportunities for research as well as practical learning.

Here is a guide to the top nursing schools in the United States.

Top Schools Offering Nursing Programs in the USA

1. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is overwhelmingly the best nursing school in the United States, with its research centers and expert medical researchers and professors being amongst the most respected in the country and worldwide.

The JHUSON was established in 1889, which also makes it one of the oldest schools of nursing in the country. Its mission is to improve the health of individuals and diverse communities locally and globally, through leadership and excellence in nursing education, research, practice, and service.

Admission at JHUSON is highly selective, with thousands of applicants from around the world competing for a spot. If you are registering as an international student, you will need to provide proof of your English language level by submitting TOEFL scores.

The program for the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) offers three options depending on your existing experience and knowledge: an Entry to Nursing option for those who have a Bachelor degree in another discipline, or for those who have an undergraduate degree in nursing, there are the options of an MSN in Healthcare Organizational Leadership or coupled with an MBA.

2. Duke University

Located in Durham, NC, Duke University is another one of the top universities in the United States. It offers several types of programs, among which the most popular is an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

The 16-month program for BSN is aimed at students who already have an undergraduate degree but have decided to pursue nursing as a career.

Duke focus heavily on a mix of educational excellence, diversity, contributions to community health, global impact, clinical practice and engagement with the university after graduation. This combination makes them the second most popular and second best nursing and medical school in the United States, with a unique program allowing students to become highly-skilled nurses quickly.

Beyond the classroom and clinical practice environment, expect to take full advantage of additional research and performance centers at Duke University. These include focused research such as the Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence, or the Institute for Educational Excellence.

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing offers the entire range of nursing programs, allowing students to take their first steps towards a nursing career or return to education after acquiring relevant experience and looking to improve on particular aspects. Carolina Nursing boasts many top rankings among US medical institutions, with the most important one being the best nursing schools in the United States.

The School of Nursing is also strongly dedicated to research and they are well-known for studies in prevention of chronic illness. They are one of the few schools in the US to house a Biobehavioral Laboratory, which studies biobehavioral measures and physiological parameters.

4. University of Pennsylvania

Penn Nursing is located in Philadelphia and forms part of the University of Pennsylvania network. It is a well-regarded and well-funded nursing school offering undergraduate programs as well as various Master’s and PhD opportunities for further study.

Prospective nurses can study for their BSN either on a regular track or as an accelerated program. There are also 15 master’s programs and students can earn joint degrees across the University of Pennsylvania. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the proximity of other world-class universities such as the Wharton School, in conjunction with which you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

5. Emory University

Named after Nell Hodgson Woodruff, wife of the president of the Coca-Cola Company Robert W. Woodruff, the School of Nursing at Emory University celebrates her having studied there and her support for nursing causes which followed throughout her life.

This top nursing school in USA is based in Atlanta, GA, and is renowned for specializations in pediatrics and midwifery. It grants all levels of degrees from BSN through to doctoral degrees.

The BSN program is run over a full four years as an undergraduate program aimed at high school students looking to train for a nursing career. For the BSN program, you also have the option to enroll at Oxford College under the Emory umbrella – a more intimate college with opportunity to develop leadership skills in a smaller setting, while Emory is better suited for more independent students.

Emory also offers a suite of accelerated learning programs to suit various career backgrounds. You can study for a distance accelerated BSN lasting only 52 weeks, or pursue a Master of Nursing in 15 months, leading to pre-licensure stage.

Finally, Emory offers lots of options for research and specialization in its various centers of excellence.


We hope that this article on the best nursing schools in the United States was helpful. If you are interested in knowing more information like this, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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