8 Best ADN Programs in Wisconsin – (2-Year RN Programs)

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

ADN programs in Wisconsin can help you fast-track the registered nursing career you’ve always dreamed about. In two years or less, you’ll have all the clinical training and nursing education you need to tackle the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you attain your registered nursing license in the Badger State, you can look forward to an average salary of $81,000 and numerous job prospects as demand for ADN-educated nurses is expected to rise by 4 percent over the next decade. If you want to return to school for an advanced degree, you can do that easily because most ADN credits are transferable. This guide to the 8 best ADN programs in Wisconsin will help get you started.


Based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the 8 best nursing schools for ADN programs in Wisconsin. You can complete most of these programs in 2 years.

1. Western Technical College - La Crosse

Program Details: You’ll have to petition for entrance into Western Technical College’s ADN program in Wisconsin after you’ve been admitted into the college itself. The program admits new cohorts in the summer and fall semesters and classes take place at the La Crosse, Black River Falls, and Mauston campuses.

The 66-credit program consists of general education courses, prerequisites, and core nursing classes such as “Nursing Fundamentals,” “Nursing Health Alterations,” and “Nursing Health Promotion.” Separately scheduled clinical courses allow you to apply nursing concepts to the direct care of patients across the lifespan. This nursing curriculum is standard across the entire Wisconsin Technical College system.

Students in this two-year nursing program in Wisconsin participate in simulation exercises that not only teach and reinforce essential nursing skills but also replicate social situations (such as poverty) that patients may be affected by. Clinical experiences begin the very first term and are scheduled at Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, and other healthcare facilities in the Western Wisconsin region.

Why Choose This Program

• Want to continue your nursing education? Western Technical College has agreements with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Winona State University, University of Phoenix, and 15 other colleges and universities that will allow you to transfer your ADN credits toward a BSN degree seamlessly.
• Upon completion of your first two semesters of core nursing classes, you’ll be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam and attain your Wisconsin LPN license.
• Western Technical College’s three-year average NCLEX-RN pass rate is above 90 percent.

2. Fox Valley Technical College - Appleton

Program Details: Fox Valley Technical College’s 65-credit, 2-year RN program in Wisconsin offers a comprehensive curriculum that instructs you in health assessment, medication administration, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Core nursing courses like “Nursing Fundamentals,” “Nursing Complex Health Alterations,” and “Mental Health and Community Concepts” introduce you to critical thinking and team-building skills. This program is only open to applicants who’ve completed at least one Department of Healthcare and Family Services-approved Nursing Assistant course.

You’ll learn and develop your patient care skills in FVTC’s Human Patient Simulation Lab, which is fully equipped with high-tech medical equipment and high-fidelity manikins. You’ll pursue supervised clinical practicums at medical facilities throughout Appleton and other communities in Outagamie, Calumet, and Winnebago Counties.

Why Choose This Program

• Fox Valley Technical College’s associate degree may be one of the best ADN programs in Wisconsin for students who must work while they’re in school because it includes a part-time option that allows you to take classes during the evening.
• LPNs can apply 19 credits from their licensed practical nursing program toward advanced placement in Fox Valley Technical College’s ADN program.
• 96 percent of this program’s graduates found employment as registered nurses within six months of graduating and attaining their RN license.

3. Milwaukee Area Technical College - Milwaukee & Mequon

Program Details: Milwaukee Area Technical College’s ADN program in Wisconsin accepts new students in August and January. The program is only open to applicants who’ve completed Nursing Assistant training and who score 120 or above on the prequalifying PAX NLN exam.

The 65-credit curriculum includes foundational nursing courses like “Introduction to Nursing Practice,” “Clinical Care Across the Lifespan,” and “Mental Health Community Concepts.” Clinical courses are scheduled separately from lecture courses, though they are meant to reinforce concepts you learn in lecture courses. The downtown Milwaukee campus has a simulation lab equipped with high-tech manikins capable of replicating a variety of acute and chronic illnesses, where you will be introduced to hands-on nursing skills. You’ll be able to hone these skills during clinical rotations at medical facilities throughout the Greater Milwaukee Metropolitan Area.

Why Choose This Program

• Milwaukee Area Technical College partners with the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin on the 3 + 1 Program, designed to enable you to earn your associate nursing degree and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree concurrently.
• This is another one of the 2-year RN programs in Wisconsin that offers both full-time and part-time (evening classes) options, making it a solid choice for students who need to work while they’re pursuing their education.
• Are you an LPN who’s interested in moving up the nursing ladder? Milwaukee Area Technical College’s LPN to ADN Progression program will give you advanced placement toward your associate degree based on your work experience.

4. Waukesha County Technical College - Pewaukee

Program Details: Waukesha County Technical College’s nursing curriculum is one of the ADN programs in Wisconsin that’s designed like a ladder: After completing your first two semesters of core nursing coursework, you’ll be eligible to earn a certificate of completion that will qualify you to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam so that you can work as a licensed practical nurse if you wish while you complete your nursing education. All applicants must complete a Nursing Assistant course before they apply. The program accepts new students in the spring and fall semesters.

The 65-credit curriculum includes foundational nursing classes such as “Nursing Pharmacology,” “Nursing Complex Health Alterations I & II,” and “Nursing Management & Professional Concepts.” Your skills labs and clinical experiences will be scheduled as separate class tracks but will reflect what you’re being taught in lecture classes as closely as possible. Each class is taught over eight weeks.

WCTC’s high-tech Human Patient Simulator Lab closely replicates the patient care environment and is a safe, effective setting for learning bedside skills. You’ll complete clinical rotations in med-surg, pediatrics, mental health, and other nursing specialties at medical facilities in Pewaukee and other communities in Waukesha County.

Why Choose This Program

• Waukesha County Technical College’s ADN program graduates have some of the highest NCLEX-RN pass rates in the Badger State, averaging more than 95 percent.
• WCTC has joined forces with Mount Mary University on a Nursing 1-2-1 program that allows high school and transfer students to complete their BSN by pursuing coursework sequentially at both campuses.
• WCTC offers accelerated tracks for LPNs and paramedics who want to earn an associate nursing degree.

5. Mid-State Technical College - Wisconsin Rapids

Program Details: Like most other ADN programs in Wisconsin, Mid-State Technical College requires all applicants to complete a nursing assistant training course. The college’s 66-credit ADN program is taught at the college’s campuses in Marshfield, Stevens Point, and Wisconsin Rapids. A hybrid option is also available for students who find it more convenient to access lecture courses online. Courses are taught over 16-week terms and begin in the spring and fall semesters. Though the college accepts out-of-state students into this program, coursework instruction is only designed to meet the requirements of Wisconsin RN licensure.

What will your curriculum include? General education courses, prerequisites, and core nursing courses like “Nursing Health Alterations,” “Nursing Advanced Skills,” and “Nursing: Clinical Transition.” Mid-State Technical College has a sophisticated 12,000-square-foot healthcare simulation center that it operates in partnership with Aspirus Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids. Clinical experiences are scheduled at Aspirus Riverview Hospital and other healthcare facilities throughout the Marshfield-Wisconsin Rapids area.

Why Choose This Program

• At a three-year average of above 95 percent, MSTC’s ADN graduates’ NCLEX-RN pass rates are 15 percent higher than the national average.
• If you need to work while you’re in school, Mid-State Technical College gives you the option of completing core nursing courses in six instead of four semesters.
• High school students may be able to fast-track their professional careers by enrolling in this program (provided they meet all admission requirements.)

6. Madison Area Technical College - Madison

Program Details: Madison Area Technical College’s ADN program in Wisconsin is a 65-credit curriculum delivered partly online and partly in person, designed to be completed in two years. After you've been admitted to the college, you must petition for admission into the associate nursing degree program. Before petitioning, you must be a nursing assistant or have completed a nursing assistant class. The program is taught at the college’s Reedsburg, Truax, and Watertown campuses. Classes begin each spring and fall.

The curriculum includes general education courses and foundational nursing coursework, such as “Nursing: Introduction to Clinical Practice,” “Nursing Skills,” and “Introduction to Clinical Care Management.” You can access some of your lecture coursework online. The Health Simulation Center at the Truax campus has a variety of simulated healthcare settings, including a fully-equipped trauma room and a replica of a patient home where you can begin acquiring hands-on skills. You’ll participate in supervised patient care experiences at a variety of healthcare facilities throughout the Greater Madison Metro Area.

Why Choose This Program

• Program graduates have a 93 percent employment rate within six months of earning their ADN degree and attaining Wisconsin RN licensure.
• Madison Area Technical College maintains articulation agreements with Marquette University, Franklin University, the University of Wisconsin, and other higher learning institutions, making it easy to transfer your ADN credits toward a BSN degree.
• Madison Area Technical College offers an LPN-to-RN track with full-time and part-time options.

7. Northcentral Technical College - Wausau

Program Details: Wausau is the main campus where Northcentral Technical College’s associate nursing degree program is taught. But once you’re admitted into the program, you can take classes at a number of campus locations, including Antigo, Medford, and Phillips. You can also take a few courses online! You’ll need to complete a Certified Nursing Assistant course before you’ll be considered for acceptance into this 2-year RN program in Wisconsin.

While general education requirements may vary slightly between Wisconsin technical colleges that grant associate degrees in nursing, the core nursing curriculum remains identical. You’ll take courses like “Nursing Health Promotion,” “Mental Health & Community Concepts,” and “Nursing Management & Professional Concepts.” Though the Wausau Metropolitan Region has a sizeable population, central Wisconsin is a rural area, so your clinical rotations will include both urban and rural healthcare facilities. The college’s high-tech Center for Simulation and Innovation has 10 simulation rooms where you can practice your nursing skills before you begin working with patients.

Why Choose This Program

• Northcentral Technical College has a concurrent enrollment agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, which allows you to work toward your ADN and BSN degrees simultaneously.
• Are you an LPN looking to advance professionally or a paramedic who wants to enter nursing? Northcentral Technical College offers LPN-to-RN and paramedic-to-RN programs.
• Students enrolled in this ADN program in Wisconsin are eligible to apply for Collaboration of Wisconsin Rural Investment in Community Healthcare (COW RICH) grants that can offset tuition costs.

8. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College - Green Bay

Program Details: Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s 2-year nursing program in Wisconsin has five tracks: full-time options at Green Bay, Marinette, and Sturgeon Bay that begin in the spring or fall, a part-time option at Green Bay that begins in the spring, and a part-time option at Green Bay that begins in the fall. The part-time track involves evening classes and includes summers. The full-time options take two years to complete, while the part-time options take three years.

All applicants to this program must complete a nursing assistant class approved by Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services. The 69-credit curriculum includes core nursing classes like “Complex Health Alterations I & II,” “Nursing Management & Professional Concepts,” and “Advanced Clinical Practice.” The culminating course, “Nursing Clinical Transitions,” is a capstone course during which students will have the opportunity to spend 90 hours with an RN preceptor at a clinical agency. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s brand-new virtual reality lab allows students to participate in patient care experiences that may not be available during clinical rotations.

Why Choose This Program

• Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has articulation agreements with 23 colleges and universities that facilitate the transfer of your NWTC ADN credits toward a BSN degree. These schools include Marian University, Upper Iowa University, and seven University of Wisconsin campuses.
• Qualified licensed practical nurses can get advanced placement into the fifth semester of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s traditional ADN program.
• Students pursuing ADN degrees at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College may qualify for EARN (Educating Aspiring Registered Nurses) grants to offset academic expenses. The EARN grant program is designed to increase diversity among Northeast Wisconsin’s nursing workforce.


Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.

ADN Programs in Other States