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The Best Nursing Schools in the Nation for an Associate Degree Program – 2020


An associate degree program in nursing is the quickest route to prepare for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam and earn the title of a registered nurse. Registered nurses are preferred at entry-level nursing positions across the country. There are several colleges offering these programs that usually take two years to complete. While mainly ADN programs are offered face to face, some colleges allow you to take some courses online. Along with the didactic coursework, an associate degree also includes simulation learning and clinical experiences. Some courses that form a part of the curriculum include nursing fundamentals, nursing care of individuals and families across the lifespan and nursing leadership and management. Upon successful completion of an associate program, students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN and practice as a registered nurse in clinical facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and medical clinics. If you are interested in this field it is recommended that you take preparatory courses in algebra, biology, and chemistry during your high school, which lay the foundation for concepts that are covered in this coursework. On this page, you will find the nation’s best nursing schools offering an associate degree program. To simplify your search, we have listed these schools region-wise (Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, Southwest, and Western).

How did we Rank the Best Nursing Schools?

To compile a list of the best nursing schools in the nation for an associate degree program, we looked at more than 2726 nursing schools across the country and ranked them region-wise based on four factors - academic quality, NCLEX-RN pass rates, the nursing school’s reputation, and affordability.

• Academic Quality (25%):

To measure a nursing school's academic quality, we have taken-into-account the acceptance rate, enrollment rate, graduation rate, and retention rate.

• NCLEX-RN First Time Pass Rates for the Recent Four Years (25%):

The licensure exam tests your professional knowledge as a nurse. Passing this exam is crucial to a successful nursing career. A school with consistently high first-time pass rates over the past four years indicates excellent program delivery and successful teaching pedagogy.

• The Nursing School's Reputation (25%):

We looked into both, inside and outside factors that tell us about a school’s reputation. While inside factors include faculty credentials, use of technology to enhance student learning, and student support services, an outside perspective was obtained by assessing college rankings & ratings and student reviews from well-known online publications such as US News, Niche, Grad Reports and Rate My Professors.

• Affordability (25%):

This factor can greatly influence a student’s decision when considering a program as it helps you recover the cost of your education sooner and equates to a higher value on investment. To gauge the affordability of a program, average tuition costs and financial aid opportunities were looked into.

The data required for our evaluation was gathered from reliable sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, respective State Board of Nursing websites, and official school websites.

Has your school made it to our list? If you would like to edit your school’s information, you can let us know here.

The table below lists the four factors and the weightage assigned to each one of them.

FactorWeightage
Academic Quality25%
Acceptance Rate25%
Enrollment Rate25%
Graduation Rate25%
Retention Rate25%
NCLEX-RN First Time Pass Rates (Recent Four Years)25%
The Nursing School's Reputation25%
Affordability25%


5 Best Nursing Schools in The Northeast Region

After thoroughly analyzing 536 Nursing schools in the Northeast Region (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont), we have come up with the following list of the 5 Best Schools to pursue an Associate Degree Program in Nursing.

1. Anne Arundel Community College - Arnold, MD    Visit Program Page

Anne Arundel Community College’s ADN program prepares you for a promising career as a registered nurse. The 70-credit curriculum integrates classroom learning with extensive clinical experiences at the college’s state-of-the-art simulation lab and in a variety of clinical sites in the region, including hospitals, pediatric, surgical, critical care units, and emergency rooms. This hands-on practice hones professional skills and makes for a smoother transition when you start work. LPNs, paramedics and veterans are eligible for an advanced placement directly into the second year of the program. If you are interested in further studies, the college has transfer agreements with many in-state and out-of-state colleges that allow a seamless transfer of credits towards a BSN degree.

2. Northampton Community College - Bethlehem, PA    Visit Program Page

Pursuing a nursing degree from Northampton Community College makes you adept in the art and science of nursing by going through 71-credit coursework that combines general education and nursing courses. You can take the general education courses either face to face or online and it is preferable that you complete them before starting the nursing courses. Nursing courses are complemented by experiential learning in the lab and at acute and long-term patient care settings. By the end of the program, you will be prepared to collaborate with members of a healthcare care team to provide competent patient care. The program is also open to LPNs who are keen on advancing their nursing education.

3. Manchester Community College - Manchester, NH    Visit Program Page

If you find a calling in serving the community, then completing an associate degree in nursing at Manchester Community College will help you embark on a career as a registered nurse. The program focuses on teaching you evidence-based nursing practice that helps you acquire the knowledge and skills to offer culturally relevant nursing care. You will graduate with enhanced critical thinking, clinical reasoning and communication skills and become proficient in the implementation of the laws and ethics of professional nursing and the use of healthcare informatics. Admission into this program is competitive; however, you can enhance your chances by completing courses in Human Anatomy and Physiology with a minimum grade “C”.

4. Hagerstown Community College - Hagerstown, MD    Visit Program Page

Hagerstown Community College’s nursing degree comes with a traditional and an advancement placement track. While the former is meant for students with no prior healthcare experience, the latter is open to LPNs, paramedics, and veterans, keen on taking their career further. You also have the option of enrolling for a dual degree of ADN and BSN in collaboration with Frostburg State and Towson University. The traditional ADN track takes two years to complete and requires you to take 16 credits per semester. You can shorten this period further by completing general education courses prior to beginning the nursing coursework. The curriculum, a fine blend of theory, lab learning and clinical experiences centers on nursing care of individuals, families and the community.

5. Community College of Beaver County - Monaca, PA    Visit Program Page

A registered nurse plays a vital role in healthcare and completing your ADN training is the quickest way to make an entry into this field. Community College of Beaver County trains you to function as an efficient member of the interdisciplinary healthcare team with its well-designed curriculum that focuses on nursing skills development. The simulation lab is meant to replicate patient scenarios, allowing you to sharpen your skills after which you apply them in clinical settings that include hospitals and healthcare agencies in Beaver, Allegheny, and Lawrence counties. Upon graduation, you will eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam and earn the title of a registered nurse.

5 Best Nursing Schools in The Midwest Region

After thoroughly analyzing 674 Nursing schools in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin), we have come up with the following list of the 5 Best Schools to pursue an Associate Degree Program in Nursing.

1. Washington State Community College - Marietta, OH    Visit Program Page

Washington State Community College’s ADN education is highly regarded in Ohio for its quality and affordability. The college focuses on developing vital traits required for a successful nursing career such as compassion, critical thinking ability, and professional competence. The program takes two years to complete, however, you can stretch it up to three years if need be. The coursework is a well-balanced blend of general education, natural science, and nursing courses. It is recommended that you complete non-nursing courses prior to starting the nursing coursework so that you focus better on the technical part of the curriculum. If you are an LPN graduate with an active license, then you can enter directly into the second year of the program as it builds up on your past nursing knowledge.

2. State Fair Community College - Sedalia, MO    Visit Program Page

Completing State Fair Community College’s nursing program prepares you to work as a registered nurse in a variety of clinical settings. Graduates of the associate degree in nursing demonstrate the ability to practice evidence-based and culturally relevant nursing care. The program is offered as a bi-level course, wherein the first-year entails completing the LPN coursework, followed by the RN courses. You can either exit the program with an LPN credential or continue to become a registered nurse. Regardless of the degree level you choose, the college supports your career goals with its excellent faculty and state-of-the-art-simulation learning that allows you to thoroughly practice nursing skills in a non-threatening environment.

3. Century College - White Bear Lake, MN    Visit Program Page

If you aspire to enter the field of healthcare by becoming an RN, then you can consider Century College’s nursing program that comes with a rather affordable tuition cost. The 75-credit RN curriculum combines courses in humanities, social & behavioral sciences, logical reasoning, and nursing and aims at training you to provide culturally relevant patient care in diverse clinical settings. This is achieved through rigorous didactic coursework that is well supplemented by experiential learning at private and community, acute and long-term care clinics. Should you plan to complete your BSN education, the college’s statewide alliance with partner schools allows you to complete it with just an additional three semesters of upper-division courses, thereby saving you a considerable amount of time and money.

4. Manhattan Area Technical College - Manhattan, KS    Visit Program Page

Manhattan Area Technical College’s ADN degree is meant for LPNs seeking to advance their nursing career. This bridge program expands your knowledge as a working nurse and prepares you to take the NCLEX-RN. As an LPN graduate with an active PN license, you earn 10 credits and complete the program in just two semesters. You start the coursework with an RN transition course, followed by nursing care across the lifespan and management of patient care. Out of the total program credits of 62, you require to complete only 24 credits in nursing courses, provided you have previously completed the pre-requisite courses in anatomy & physiology, microbiology, communication, math, and psychology.

5. Oakton Community College - Des Plaines, IL    Visit Program Page

To address the increasing demand for quality patient care providers, Oakton Community College offers an RN program that comes with an LPN exit pathway. The curriculum is offered in a sequential manner and requires you to take semester specific courses. This applies more so if you have not completed general education and science courses before starting with the nursing coursework. The 66-credit coursework requires you to complete courses in human development, microbiology, nursing concept, and nursing pharmacology. Upon completion of the program, you will be proficient at collaborating with members of a healthcare team and use healthcare informatics to offer safe and competent patient care.

5 Best Nursing Schools in The Southeast Region

After thoroughly analyzing 733 Nursing Schools in the Southeast Region (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia), we have come up with the following list of the 5 Best Schools to pursue an Associate Degree Program in Nursing.

1. Northwest Florida State College - Niceville, FL    Visit Program Page

If you are keen on joining the nursing workforce and provide care for the sick, then completing your RN training at Northwest Florida State College can be a prudent career move. The coursework is delivered through on-campus didactic sessions and extensive clinical experiences at healthcare facilities. Additionally, you will practice nursing skills at the college’s simulation lab throughout the program. Starting twice a year, in fall and spring, the program prepares you for entry-level nursing, adept with soft skills and clinical expertise. You learn about holistic patient care, promotion of health, evidence-based nursing, management of patients, and effective communication with patients and other healthcare professionals.

2. Hopkinsville Community College - Hopkinsville, KY    Visit Program Page

Hopkinsville Community College is a two-year public college that offers student-centric nursing education. For those keen on serving the community as a registered nurse, the college offers a traditional ADN track and an LPN to RN bridge program. While the former takes four semesters, the latter can be completed in three semesters. To be eligible for the traditional track, you must be holding a CNA certificate. The curriculum takes you through courses in nursing practice, medical surgical nursing, behavioral health nursing, maternal newborn nursing, and pediatric nursing. Scoring a minimum grade “C” is required in all the courses to earn your associate in nursing degree.

3. Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College - Orangeburg, SC    Visit Program Page

Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College has consistently delivered outstanding results and the 100% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate of its graduates is testimony of the college’s commitment towards its student’s success. The RN program is delivered through well-designed didactic courses, lab learning, and clinical training. You can enter this program either as a non-nursing student or an LPN graduate, both ways you will be trained to take the licensure exam and offer competent nursing care as an RN. You will learn about nursing fundamentals, clinical skills application, common health problems, pharmacology, pediatric nursing care, complex health problems, mental health nursing, nursing care of the childbearing family and management of patient care.

4. Chattahoochee Technical College - Paulding, GA    Visit Program Page

If you have what it takes to become a compassionate caregiver, then completing Chattahoochee Technical College’s Associate of Science in Nursing program prepares you with requisite skills and knowledge to pursue a career as a registered nurse. The program is also open to LPN’s seeking career advancement. While the nursing courses are offered on-campus and can be completed in four semesters, pre-requisite courses can be taken either on-campus or online. The program focuses on enhancing your communication, critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills. To earn your degree, you will complete 67 credits in a curriculum that includes courses in social and behavioral sciences, math, humanities, and occupational courses. The nursing courses cover nursing pharmacology, foundations of nursing practice, adult and family health nursing.

5. Arkansas Northeastern College - Blytheville, AR    Visit Program Page

Arkansas Northeastern College’s associate degree in nursing prepares you to take the NCLEX-RN and work as a registered nurse in diverse clinical settings. The college’s didactic coursework and clinical experiences in hospitals and various healthcare facilities provide students with multiple opportunities to apply theoretical nursing knowledge to practice. You can either enter the traditional or the LPN to RN bridge track to reach your career goals. Nursing courses are taken in a sequence and require earning a minimum grade “C” to earn your degree. The 37-credit nursing coursework includes courses in fundamentals of nursing, medical surgical nursing, psychiatric nursing, maternal and pediatric nursing, and advanced medical surgical nursing. You will also complete a course in nursing leadership and NCLEX-RN exam review.

5 Best Nursing Schools in The Southwest Region

After thoroughly analyzing 275 Nursing Schools in the Southwest Region (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas), we have come up with the following list of the 5 Best Schools to pursue an Associate Degree Program in Nursing.

1. Mesa Community College - Mesa, AZ    Visit Program Page

Nursing is a rewarding career and to help you enter this field, Mesa Community College offers a traditional RN track for non-nursing students and a bridge program for licensed LPNs and paramedics. Focusing on hands-on learning, the college provides for varied clinical learning experiences in acute and long-term care healthcare settings. You will acquire the competence to offer nursing care to individuals and families across the lifespan. The program is offered on a full-time basis and requires completion of 62 to 75 credits, depending on the pre-requisite courses previously completed. If you are considering a BSN degree in the future, the college has articulation agreements with four-year colleges in the region, helping you transfer seamlessly.

2. Laredo Community College - Laredo, TX    Visit Program Page

Laredo Community College’s nursing program prepares you for the NCLEX-RN through a curriculum that is rooted in evidence-based nursing practice. The coursework is well-rounded and covers every aspect of entry-level nursing, starting with nursing fundamentals and progressing to complex courses in adult health, mental health, pediatric and maternal nursing. In the last semester, you will complete three capstone courses, each course helping you synthesize the nursing knowledge you have newly acquired. The capstone experience is carried on under the direct supervision of a nursing professional. This experience helps you learn the professional and ethical behavior required of you as a nurse and enhances your communication and interpersonal skills.

3. Eastern New Mexico University - Roswell, NM    Visit Program Page

Eastern New Mexico University’s RN degree prepares you to become a registered nurse, a career that is much in demand across the country. To be eligible for this program you must have completed a nurse assisting or medical assisting program. The program takes a total of three years to complete; one year of pre-requisites and two years in nursing courses. Nursing courses aim at preparing you to work as a nurse generalist, covering medical surgical nursing, nursing pharmacology, psychiatric nursing, pediatric nursing, maternal-newborn and women’s health nursing. Towards the end of the curriculum, you complete a nursing seminar and capstone experience that help you consolidate the nursing knowledge with patient bedside scenarios.

4. Austin Community College - Austin, TX    Visit Program Page

Completing your nursing education from Austin Community College comes with a learning experience that combines online and classroom didactic courses with lab sessions and clinicals. The program is offered as a traditional track for students coming from a non-nursing background and as a mobility track if you are a healthcare professional seeking a career switch over to nursing. The coursework spans through nursing fundamentals, adult health nursing, mental health nursing and nursing care of a new-born and the childbearing family. You will also complete a course that is aimed towards enhancing your clinical decision-making skills and teaching you evidence-based nursing practice.

5. Blinn College - Brenham, TX    Visit Program Page

The two-year nursing degree at Blinn College offers a quality education at an affordable tuition cost. The faculty is committed towards student success and the well-designed curriculum is supplemented by experiential learning at the college’s state-of-art simulation lab and in a variety of clinical sites. The program is offered as a traditional and an LVN to RN bridge program. The full-time program offers a few courses online, allowing working students some flexibility, however working during this program is not recommended, more so for the traditional track. You will take courses in health assessment, foundations of nursing, nursing pharmacology, adult health, mental health nursing, nursing care of the childbearing family and nursing leadership and management.

5 Best Nursing Schools in The Western Region

After thoroughly analyzing 426 Nursing schools in the Western Region (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming), we have come up with the following list of the 5 Best Schools to pursue an Associate Degree Program in Nursing.

1. Western Nevada College - Carson City, NV    Visit Program Page

Entering the field of nursing with an RN credential can be a rewarding career move. Western Nevada College’s two-year nursing degree prepares you with the professional skills and knowledge required to offer competent patient care. The program focuses on the use of evidence-based nursing practice that is rooted in ethical values and compassion. The curriculum includes courses in foundations of nursing, health assessment, nursing pharmacology, mental health nursing, medical surgical nursing, nursing care of individuals across the lifespan and management of patient care. Eligibility into this program requires an active CNA certification. Once accepted into the program, you require attending an orientation session before starting the coursework.

2. Chemeketa Community College - Salem, OR    Visit Program Page

Chemeketa Community College prepares you to work a nurse generalist at a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, public health departments, community clinics, and private clinics. You can enter this program either as a non-nursing student or as an LPN graduate. Upon completion of this program, you will demonstrate the ability to apply clinical judgment, effectively communicate and use healthcare informatics to offer patient-centric nursing care. Furthermore, the college also offers specialized courses for registered nurses that you can take later, to stay updated with the latest trends in nursing. Admission into this program is selective; however, you can up your odds by completing the general education and science courses before applying.

3. Sierra College - Rocklin, CA    Visit Program Page

If you are keen on entering the in-demand field of nursing, then you can consider Sierra College’s RN program that can be completed in two years, on a full-time basis. If you enter this program as an LVN, you will receive an advanced placement and start directly with the second-year coursework. The curriculum supplements didactic coursework with clinical experience at local health agencies to help hone practical skills. The 44-credit nursing coursework aims at teaching you nursing fundamentals, medical-surgical nursing, and advanced nursing skills to care for the newborn and mother. This well-planned curriculum that also includes high risk obstetrical and newborn nursing prepares you to manage nursing care of complicated birth and post-delivery patients.

4. Pierce College - Puyallup, WA    Visit Program Page

Pierce College offers its ADN program in a traditional as well as an LPN to RN track option. While on a full-time basis, the traditional track takes six quarters to complete, with the LPN to RN option, you can earn your degree in three quarters. On the other hand, you can choose to complete the LPN to RN track, part-time in five semesters. The coursework aims at teaching you patient-centric care, collaborating with members of a healthcare team, evidence-based nursing practice, and using healthcare informatics to improve health by providing safe and culturally relevant nursing care. Upon graduation, if you wish to seek a BSN, the college has transfer agreements with the University of Washington-Tacoma and Saint Martin's University that allow a seamless transfer of credits.

5. Saddleback College - Mission Viejo, CA    Visit Program Page

To become an RN, you must first pass the NCLEX-RN and Saddleback College’s consistently high first-time pass rates make its ADN program a great choice. This program has been an offering since 1971 and today, its graduates are offering competent nursing care in diverse clinical settings. The curriculum comprises of pre-requisites, general education and nursing courses that aim towards strengthening communication and clinical reasoning skills. Nursing fundamentals, medical surgical nursing, mental health, nursing care of children & women and advanced nursing skills are some of the courses you will take. The college accepts applications for this program twice a year and reviews students on a holistic basis for admissions.




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