20 Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts – 2024 Rankings
Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Although the demand for graduates of accredited nursing schools in Massachusetts has not yet outstripped supply, that’s expected to change within the next few years. Vacancy rates for the overall number of RN positions have continued to climb, and those shortages are considerably more acute in specialty units like pediatric critical care, emergency rooms, and home health. Aging Baby Boomers who use a disproportionately large amount of medical services comprise more than 16 percent of the Bay State’s population, and that cohort is continuing to grow. Many members of the nursing workforce are Boomers themselves, and they’re looking forward to retirement in the next few years. If you want to be a nurse in Massachusetts, you should find plenty of employment opportunities.
RECOMMENDED ONLINE NURSING SCHOOLS
WHAT ARE THE BEST ACCREDITED NURSING SCHOOLS IN MASSACHUSETTS FOR BSN PROGRAMS?
(After closely assessing all nursing schools approved by the Massachusetts State Board of Nursing, based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the best accredited nursing schools in Massachusetts offering BSN programs.)
1. Northeastern University, Boston
About School of Nursing @ Northeastern University:
The School of Nursing at Northeastern University is ranked among the top tier of American health care educational offerings by “U.S. News & World Report.” If you’re interested in making cities healthier places to live and improving health disparities among the urban poor, this may be the nursing school in Massachusetts you’ve been looking for. You’ll learn the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration because the school is part of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, so you’ll have many opportunities to interact with colleagues who are studying to be pharmacists, physical therapists and physician assistants. Bouvé College is also an important center for nursing research: The National Institutes of Health just awarded the college a $15 million grant to build a new facility for nurse research scholars.
The School of Nursing’s home is the seven-story Behrakis Health Sciences Center. The center contains classrooms, conference rooms and the Arnold S. Goldstein Simulations Laboratories Suite, which is a place where students can practice basic nursing procedures on computerized manikins housed in virtual hospital bays. Once they’re comfortable with the fundamentals, nursing students go on to clinical rotations at teaching hospitals, community-based clinics, visiting nurse programs and other placements throughout Charlotte and the Greater Boston region.
Though Northeastern University doesn’t offer scholarships specifically for students who are studying nursing, nursing students are encouraged to apply for any other institutional or external scholarships
for which they may be eligible. In order to qualify for state and federal financial aid, you’ll have to complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form.
2. Simmons University, Boston
About School of Nursing @ Simmons University:
Simmons University is a women’s school located in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area. Proximity to leading teaching hospital and research facilities has fostered close relationships between these institutions and Simmons, which the university’s nursing students are encouraged to take full advantage of. The student to faculty ratio is low, which allows students to form collaborative relationships with their instructors. Learning is more likely to take place through intimate group tutorials, case study analyses, seminars and team research than it is in enormous lecture halls. The school offers part-time study options, too, for students who are juggling work and family obligations.
Students master fundamental assessment and bedside skills in a state-of-the-arts simulation lab that’s set up with fully equipped hospital beds and high-fidelity manikins that can be programmed to respond in physiologically realistic ways. Simmons nursing students perform clinical rotations at some of the finest health care facilities in the nation, including Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Though Simmons offers no nursing-specific scholarships, the university administers a number of competitive, merit-based awards
. Simmons also maintains an extensive database of external funding opportunities. Eligibility for need-based state and federal grants and loans is determined by the information that students submit on their FAFSA forms.
3. Boston College, Chestnut Hill
About William F. Connell School of Nursing:
Though Boston College welcomes students of all religious backgrounds, it’s a Jesuit university, and its Jesuit philosophy is reflected in the Connell School of Nursing’s dedication to compassion and social justice. When the school first opened in 1947, Boston College was still an all-male school, so the nursing school was the first of Boston College’s undergraduate program to accept women. Connell is one of the best nursing colleges in Massachusetts for anyone who wants to be a leader in improving health outcomes across diverse global populations. It’s is one of the top-ranked nursing schools in the nation, according to “U.S. News & World Report.” Eleven faculty members have been inducted into the American Academy of Nursing Fellows, and nearly two-thirds of the faculty members are still clinical practitioners in their fields of specialty.
The nursing school is headquartered in Cushing Hall on the Chestnut Hill campus. The school’s experiential learning labs are located at nearby Maloney Hall. Nursing students have the opportunity to practice and learn fundamental nursing skills in three sophisticated facilities: the Brown Family Clinical Learning Laboratory, the Simulation Lab and the Student Learning Commons. Once these skills become second nature, students pursue proctored clinical experiences at a variety of teaching hospitals, ambulatory clinics and community agencies throughout the metropolitan Boston region, including Boston Children’s Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, the VA Boston Healthcare Center, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Boston Public School system.
The Connell School offers 11 endowed scholarships
to nursing students as well as scholarships from the Robert Wood Johnson/AACN New Careers in Nursing Program, the HRSA National Health Service Corps, and the Helene Fuld Health Trust. Boston College participates in Title IV funding, so students may also be eligible for state and federal financial aid depending upon the information they submit with their FAFSA form.
4. MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston
About School of Nursing @ MGH Institute of Health Professions:
When the MGH Institute of Health Professions was first launched in 1873, it was the nursing academy associated with Massachusetts General Hospital. Apart from an accelerated nursing baccalaureate degree, the institute only offers graduate education in specialty areas like physical therapy, occupational therapy, communication sciences and disorders, physician assistant training and—of course—nursing. The MGH Institute is the only degree-granting affiliate of Partners HealthCare, Boston’s prestigious nonprofit hospital and physician network.
A high-tech simulation lab is housed in the Catherine Filene Shouse Building along with a skills lab and a physical assessment lab. The simulation lab is set up to resemble two acute-care inpatient units and is equipped with high-fidelity manikins, which respond realistically to stressful stimuli, so that students can hone core competencies before they participate in clinical rotations. Clinical rotations take place at hospitals associated with Partners HealthCare, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
In 2017, MGH Institute of Health Professions provided students with more than $5 million in scholarships and grants
to offset the costs of tuition. True, none of these scholarships are nursing-specific, but the institute does maintain a database of external nursing scholarships
. Most nursing students at the institute will not be eligible for Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants or Massachusetts grant and scholarship programs since these types of financial aid are only awarded to undergraduates.
5. University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Amherst
About College of Nursing @ UMass Amherst:
Nursing School Hub, which is one of the nation’s most comprehensive sources of information about nursing programs, recognizes UMass Amherst’s College of Nursing as one of the finest in the U.S. The college sees nurses as leaders amidst the great changes that are currently revolutionizing health care delivery, and it’s committed to making sure those leaders learn clinical proficiency and cultural sensitivity. The nursing school in Massachusetts is also a noted center of evidence-based nursing research; current faculty research projects include investigations into hope theory, nurse decision-making and the identification of medication errors and other adverse medical events in clinical environments.
The Nursing Clinical Simulation Laboratory is located in Skinner Hall, a three-story, Georgian Revival building that’s one of UMass’s historic legacy buildings. Each of its five rooms is fitted with monitors, oxygen canisters and other hospital equipment so that nursing students can learn what it feels like to work in a clinical setting before they begin their clinical rotations. Clinical rotations are scheduled in a variety of health care facilities throughout central Massachusetts, including the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, Mercy Medical Center in Springfield and Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.
The university has a number of scholarships
underwritten by alumni members and other donors that are specifically earmarked for nursing students. Students may also be able to take advantage of federal and state financial aid opportunities as determined by the information they submit in their FAFSA forms.
6. University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth, North Dartmouth
About College of Nursing @ UMass Dartmouth:
UMass Dartmouth’s predecessor school, Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute, started its nursing school in 1969 in response to the commonwealth’s chronic nursing shortage. If you’re interested in personalized learning options that permit you to develop close mentoring relationships with your instructors, this is the nursing school in Massachusetts you should look into. Faculty is engaged in groundbreaking research funded by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and private foundations. Nursing students have the opportunity to pursue international learning experiences in Portugal and Haiti.
The Dion Building is where UMass Dartmouth’s College of Nursing is headquartered and where the Elisabeth Pennington Simulation Center is located. The center has six separate areas, set-up with hospital equipment and computerized SIM manikins where nursing students can practice clinical skills before they begin to work with actual patients. Students go on to participate in clinical rotations throughout Massachusetts and other parts of New England, including the UMass Medical Center University Campus in Worcester, Tufts Medical Center in Boston and Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.
Nursing students at UMass Dartmouth may be able to qualify for one of the 24 nursing-specific awards
the university offers. Additionally, students may be eligible for state and federal funding through Title IV as determined by the information they include in their FAFSA forms.
7. University of Massachusetts - Lowell, Lowell
About Solomont School of Nursing:
Are you looking for a way to change the world? Is health care your passion? Then the Solomont School of Nursing at UMass Lowell has much to offer you. This nursing school in Massachusetts is a leader in the innovative co-op model of education, a three-phase experiential program that lets students learn by doing, and nursing students have many opportunities for health-oriented community service. Solomont is affiliated with UMass Lowell’s Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, which gives future nurses the chance to work collaboratively with future pharmacists, future physical therapists and future public health professionals.
The Donna Manning Nursing Simulation and Skills Laboratories occupy space in the Health & Social Sciences Building, which is also where the nursing school’s classrooms are located. The lab provides a virtual hospital environment where nursing students can learn fundamental skills by practicing on high-fidelity manikins that simulate the symptoms and health conditions that nurses are likely to encounter in their professional careers. Once aspiring nurses are confident in their skills, they’ll go on to experiential learning experiences at teaching hospitals, clinics and community health agencies throughout the metropolitan Boston area.
Financial Aid: Fifteen scholarships
at UMass Lowell have been set aside specifically for nursing students. Students may also qualify for state and federal grants and loans if the information contained in their FAFSA forms indicates sufficient need.
8. Regis College, Weston
About Richard and Sheila Young School of Nursing:
Regis is a Roman Catholic college, but the college welcomes students from every background. In 2008, its Richard and Sheila Young School of Nursing became the first nursing school in all of New England to be honored as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education, and it continues to hold that designation to this day. The Young School of Nursing is one of the sponsors of the Regis Haiti Project, which is working to enhance nursing education across Haiti. At Young, you’ll get the education you need to transition successfully into a great career as a professional RN.
Every nursing course you take will be supplemented by experiential learning sessions in the Clinical Resource and Simulation Center. The center is equipped with hospital-like settings and sophisticated manikins that can be programmed to present the complete range of symptoms you’re likely to encounter when you begin working professionally. You’ll also have the opportunity to rotate through an assortment of medical sites throughout the Greater Boston region under close supervision so you can further develop your clinical skills.
Regis College offers several institutional scholarships
; while none of them are specifically designated for the needs of nursing students, nursing students are welcome to apply for them. Some nursing students may also be eligible for federal or state financial aid depending upon the information they share on their FAFSA form.
9. Curry College, Milton
About School of Nursing @ Curry College:
Curry College’s School of Nursing is one of several schools granting nursing degrees in Massachusetts that got its start as a hospital diploma program. In this case, the hospital was Boston Children’s Hospital, which merged with Curry College in 1977. The school models its curriculum after the national Quality and Safety in Nursing Education (QSEN) core competencies, which emphasize evidence-based practice, collaboration and patient-centered care. Experiential learning is particularly important at Curry, and students have many opportunities to interact with community members outside the classroom through placements with local school districts and county health agencies.
Curry nursing students have the opportunity to engage in simulated patient care scenarios in the nursing school’s clinical labs. When it comes time for clinical rotations, students benefit from Curry’s close relationships with many of the best medical teaching facilities in the Greater Boston area. Nursing students who are particularly interested in health policy may have the opportunity to travel to France or Ireland to learn about how the health care system is structured in those countries.
The Carroll Nursing Scholarship is awarded annually to a Curry nursing student who resides in Massachusetts and needs financial support. Curry also offers a number of other institutional scholarships
, which nursing students are free to apply for. Nursing students may also qualify for federal and state loans and grants if the information contained in the FAFSA forms they submit determines eligibility.
10. Salem State University, Salem
About Salem State University School of Nursing:
The School of Nursing at Salem State University is part of the Maguire Meservey College of Health and Human Services, which also administers the university’s social work, criminal justice, occupational therapy and ancillary health professional programs. From early on in their student lives, Salem’s aspiring nurses understand the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and of delivering care within a humanistic context that’s mindful of social issues.
The Kevin B. Harrington Building on South Campus serves as the School of Nursing’s headquarters. Student nurses develop essential competencies in a simulation lab that can be set up to resemble a variety of health care settings both in and out of the hospital. Once they’re comfortable performing clinical assessments and bedside tasks such as drawing blood, administering medications and starting IVs, students move on to clinical rotations at a number of sites throughout Essex County and the Greater Boston area, including Edith N. Rogers Veteran's Memorial Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Salem Public Schools and the Salem Department of Public Health.
In order to qualify for an institutional scholarship from Salem State University, nursing students will have to fill out a FAFSA form in addition to a Salem State endowed scholarships
application. The university doesn’t offer any scholarships specifically for nursing students, but undergraduate and graduate nursing students are encouraged to apply for any endowed scholarships whose eligibility criteria they meet. Nursing students may also be eligible for state and federal aid upon submission of a FAFSA form.
VIEW OUR RANKING METHODOLOGY
WHAT ARE THE BEST ACCREDITED NURSING SCHOOLS IN MASSACHUSETTS FOR ADN PROGRAMS?
(After closely assessing all nursing schools approved by the Massachusetts State Board of Nursing, based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the best accredited nursing schools in Massachusetts offering ADN programs.)
1) Becker College - Worcester
As an entry-level nurse, if providing safe and competent nursing care is your goal, then pursuing a two-year associate degree in nursing can be considered. Becker College’s ASN program prepares you to provide compassionate patient-centered care, demonstrate professionalism and leadership qualities, collaborate as a team, practice patient safety, and effectively use informatics. To hone practical skills, didactic classes are well complemented by clinical experiences and simulation sessions at the college’s lab, which was redesigned and expanded in 2011. As a preparation for this 69-credit curriculum, it is required for you to complete a three-credit college course in Algebra and Statistics.
Middlesex Community College offers two tracks for aspiring registered nurses. You can enter this RN program in Massachusetts, either as an LPN graduate or as a new student with no prior nursing experience. The program is designed to integrate courses in sciences, technical skills, and general education. The 69-credit coursework requires attending classes and lab sessions three days a week, while clinical experiences are usually conducted on the other two days. With this intensive schedule throughout the week, it is strongly advised that you complete the non-nursing courses before entering the nursing program. This way, you can focus better on the nursing courses.
A career as a registered nurse can be rewarding in terms of fulfillment, as well as the paycheck you take back home. In just two years, you can set foot as a nurse with Massachusetts Bay Community College’s ADN program. The coursework starts in fall each year and is offered full-time during the day. Throughout the program, you will go through classroom lectures, simulations, and clinical rotations at various clinical facilities in the MetroWest area. Upon graduation, you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, and in this regard, the college boasts of an impressive pass rate.
Bristol Community College aims to produce competent registered nurses with two RN options, one in the traditional format and the other, a bridge program for licensed LPNs. If you enter the program as an LPN graduate, you earn credits for your previous education and move directly into the second year of the program. The highlight of the program is that you can opt to take either on-campus classes or decide on the hybrid mode of delivery. If you plan to further your education, the college has transfer agreements with some of the major colleges and universities across the state.
Holyoke Community College’s nursing education is based on the art and science of caring. When you graduate with a two-year associate from this college, you will be well prepared with the professional skills and knowledge to offer competent patient care. The curriculum requires completing 72 credits, out of which 30 are in general education courses while the remaining 42 are nursing-specific courses. The nursing courses start with fundamentals and progress to complex courses. To earn your degree, you must earn a minimum "C" grade in human anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and all nursing courses.
To become an RN in Massachusetts, North Shore Community College offers two options; a traditional ASN program and an LPN to RN bridge program. While the bridge takes one year to complete, the traditional usually spans across four semesters. However, if you choose to take classes in the winter and summer break, you can complete the program faster. Each nursing course is complemented by a clinical learning experience. This combined experience helps you develop clinical judgment as you get an opportunity to immediately apply newly acquired theoretical skills in a variety of patient care settings. Furthermore, should you plan to move to a four-year college, North Shore’s transfer agreements with major universities across the state help facilitate a smooth transition.
Entry-level nurses play an important role in the promotion of health and prevention of diseases. You can enter this promising field or advance your nursing career by pursuing Mt Wachusett Community College’s traditional RN program or the LPN to RN pathway. The curriculum is rigorous, and it is highly recommended that you complete the general education courses before starting the nursing courses. Nursing courses include nursing fundamentals, nursing care of children and family, medical-surgical nursing, psychiatric nursing, and trends in nursing. To earn your degree, you must complete all these courses with a minimum grade "C."
Springfield Tech Community College trains students to take the NCLEX-RN and provide competent patient care. This two-year nursing program in Massachusetts is meant for those interested in making an entry into healthcare as a registered nurse. Although the program is open to non-nursing students; any prior experience in healthcare will strengthen your application. The program starts in fall each year and is offered only on a full-time basis with all courses offered on-campus except for the course in pharmacology for nurses that can be taken in a hybrid format. To perfect practical skills, the college offers extensive experiential learning at its medical center and clinical sites that include hospitals and healthcare centers in the Springfield and Pioneer Valley region.
Greenfield Community College holds the distinction of being the first community college in MA to offer an associate degree in nursing way back in 1963. It prepares you to enter the nursing workforce with two ADN tracks; the traditional for new-nursing students and the bridge program for LPN graduates. While traditional students usually complete the program in two years, LPNs enter directly into the second year of the coursework. Admission into this program is highly selective, and to increase your odds, high grades in biology courses and the number of non-nursing courses completed will matter. Also, a previous degree and any health-related experience or licensure will further boost your application. Upon graduation, some students prefer to continue their education, and GCC’s agreements with major colleges across the state allow an easy transfer of credits.
With its first batch of RNs graduating way back in 1970, Massasoit Community College has since then produced a competent workforce of nurses who are working in various healthcare facilities across the state. With part-time and full-time options, this associate degree is available as a traditional and bridge program. The flexibility that comes with the part-time evening schedule allows students to continue with their current professional and personal commitments and complete this program at a comfortable pace of three years. Licensed LPNs receive credit for their previous coursework and complete the part-time bridge track in 1.5 years. For traditional ASN students who are ready to commit full-time, it will take two years to earn their degree, whereas LPN’s can complete it in a year’s time. Upon completion of the program, you will demonstrate core nursing competencies that are required to deliver nursing care to a diverse patient population.
Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
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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.