7 Best Nursing Schools in Minnesota – 2024 Rankings

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

Minnesota doesn’t have a nursing shortage as such. It’s true that hospital nursing jobs can go unfilled for periods of time, but this is due to the fact that employers prefer to hire RNs who have experience. So even if they’ve set their sights on a job in the Twin Cities, new graduates of accredited nursing schools in Minnesota may want to take their first jobs in one of the more rural parts of the Land of 10,000 Lakes so that they can acquire experience. Other factors that impact the nursing profession in Minnesota are the relatively low nursing salaries throughout the state and the fact that more than half of the current job vacancies are for part-time work.



(After closely assessing all nursing schools approved by the Minnesota State Board of Nursing, based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the best accredited nursing schools in Minnesota offering BSN programs.)

1. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

About the University of Minnesota School of Nursing: The School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota is very aware of the role nursing will play in health efforts that are related to climate change and other sweeping global phenomena. If you see yourself as a nurse activist, this is one of the nursing colleges in MN, you’ll want to learn more about. This school is consistently ranked among the top nursing programs in the nation, and it receives approximately $6 million in nursing research grants every year. Research initiatives at this school include the Center for Adolescent Nursing, the Center for Aging Science and Care Innovation, and the Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

The nursing school is headquartered in the 11,000-square-foot Bentson Center. In addition to classrooms, study spaces, and workstations, this building also contains simulation labs that span the full continuum of nursing care, providing virtual acute, critical, surgical, skilled, ambulatory and home care environments. Students go on to participate in nursing rotations at the University of Minnesota Health, Fairview Health Services and other hospitals, clinics, and community agencies throughout the greater Twin Cities metropolitan region. The school also has a highly regarded partnership with Fairview Health Services and the University of Minnesota Health called the Nursing Collaboratory.

Financial Aid: Every year, the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing awards more than $2 million in scholarship funds to its students. The school administers 47 undergraduate scholarships and 18 graduate scholarships. Filling out and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form may also qualify you for financial aid from federal and state sources.

2. Winona State University, Winona

About Winona State University Department of Nursing: When it was founded as a teachers’ training school in 1858, Winona State University was the first school west of the Mississippi River to be supported by public taxes. Along with the Departments of Social Work, Recreational Tourism and Health, and Exercise and Rehabilitative Science, WSU’s Department of Nursing operates under the umbrella of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The nursing department has two main campuses: one in Winona and one in Rochester. Both campuses offer identical courses and experiential learning opportunities. Certain nursing degree tracks at WSU can be pursued either on a part-time basis or through a combination of campus-based and online classes.

Both campuses are equipped with simulation centers, and simulation is embedded into the nursing curriculum so that students get to understand the practical applications of their classroom learning. Once students are comfortable performing bedside skills, they go on to real-life experiences through clinical rotations at Winona Health; Gundersen Health System; Mayo Clinic Health System—Franciscan Healthcare; Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus; Rochester, Mayo Clinic Hospital and St. Mary’s Campus as well as other public health departments, schools, after-school programs and community agencies throughout western Minnesota.

Financial Aid: Winona State doesn’t offer any endowed scholarships specifically for aspiring nurses, but all incoming WSU students are automatically considered for other institutional scholarship opportunities. Filling out and submitting a FAFSA form may also put you on the list to receive Title IV federal and state financial aid.

3. College of St. Scholastica, Duluth

About School of Nursing @ The College of St. Scholastica: U.S. News & World Report calls St. Scholastica one of the top regional universities in the Midwest. The School is affiliated with the Catholic Order of St. Benedict, but it accepts students from all religious backgrounds. Its School of Nursing is particularly well known for educating professionals who can rise to the challenge of rural practice. The college receives funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration’s Rural Academic Practice Partnership for Northeastern Minnesota grant project; this grant provides financial support for the education of nurses who plan to work in underserved rural communities throughout northeastern Minnesota.

The renovated Nursing Skills and Procedures Laboratory reopened in the spring of 2018. Here, nursing students have the opportunity to learn and practice hands-on skills before they step foot in a hospital. The school has two campuses—one in Duluth and the other in St. Cloud. Students pursue clinical rotations throughout hospitals, clinics, and community agencies in both the Duluth and the St. Cloud areas. Several semesters of each student’s clinical rotation schedule take place in rural practice areas near the campus he or she is enrolled at.

Financial Aid: Though all entering students are automatically considered for any institutional scholarships for which they may qualify, St. Scholastica doesn’t offer nursing-specific scholarships as such. Students may also be able to finance their education at this college through federal and state grants and loans awarded on the basis of information submitted in their FAFSA forms.

4. St. Catherine University, St Paul

About Department of Nursing @ St. Catherine University: St. Catherine University is another Catholic institution that offers nursing degrees in MN. It was founded in 1905 as a girls’ school, and its undergraduate programs are still all female. St Kate’s, as the school is nicknamed, began offering nursing baccalaureates during World War II in order to address a critical shortage of nurses. The nursing department focuses on values like engagement, social justice, and spiritual development.

Students share the Nursing Applied Learning Lab on the Minneapolis campus with colleagues from the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. The lab is equipped with hospital equipment, and other medical devices that practicing nurses use on a daily basis as well as with lifelike computerized manikins upon which students hone skills like IV insertion, medication administration and laboratory blood draws. St. Kate’s partners with health care facilities like Allina Health Systems, Fairview Health Services, HealthEast Care System, HealthPartners, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and North Memorial Health Care for clinical rotations.

Financial Aid: While St. Kate’s offers institutional merit scholarships and needs-based awards, it doesn’t provide any scholarships that are specifically earmarked for nursing students. The school vets all incoming students to see if they’re eligible for merit awards. Needs-based awards are determined on the basis of information contained in each student’s FAFSA submission.

5. Bethel University, St Paul

About Department of Nursing @ Bethel University: Bethel University was founded in 1871 as a Baptist seminary. Today, it’s an evangelical Christian university, and all students are expected to abide by its Covenant for Life Together, which explicitly forbids extramarital sex, homosexuality, gambling, illegal drugs, and tobacco. The nursing education imparted to students at this nursing school in MN is strongly rooted in Judeo-Christian principles.

Students work with manikins in the department’s five state-of-the-art skills and simulation labs to learn essential nursing skills like how to practice injections and change wound dressings. These clinical environments also give aspiring nurses the opportunity to participate in clinical scenarios that range from common nursing challenges to complex multiple practice situations. Once they’re competent at bedside basics, students go on to pursue clinical rotation opportunities with more than 30 health care partners in the Twin Cities region, including all major hospital systems and seven public health departments.

Financial Aid: Nursing students at Bethel University may qualify for more than 30 scholarships that are specifically designated to meet the needs of nursing students. Needs-based financial aid may also be available for nursing students whose FAFSA forms indicate eligibility.

6. Minnesota State University Mankato, Mankato

About School of Nursing @ Minnesota State Mankato: If you’re interested in learning how to care for families in underserved communities, check out the School of Nursing at Minnesota State University in Mankato. The nursing school partners closely with the Glen Taylor Nursing Institute for Family and Society to address the interconnectedness of families and the communities they live in. The nursing school operates under the aegis of the College of Allied Health and Nursing, and nursing students share learning experiences with colleagues studying dental hygiene, health science and speech, hearing, and rehabilitative services.

The 16,000-square-foot Maverick Family Simulation Center in the Clinical Sciences Building is equipped with more than a dozen computerized manikins that are programmed to respond in realistic ways to physiological stressors. The manikins are used to create scenarios that give students opportunities to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Once they’ve completed classroom learning objectives and honed their nursing fundamentals, students participate in clinical rotations scheduled at hospitals, clinics, and community agencies throughout Blue Earth, Nicollet, and Le Sueur counties. The nursing school also helps to administer a nurse-led clinic called Health Commons at Ponds, which provides health care services to preschoolers and students affiliated with the Bloomington school community.

Financial Aid: MSU Mankato doesn’t offer any nursing-specific scholarships, but they do encourage nursing students to apply for scholarships from external sources and include a list of external nursing scholarships on their website. Nursing students may also be eligible for other institutional scholarships. MSU Mankato participates in the Title IV program, so filling out a FAFSA form may qualify you for needs-based state and federal funding.

7. Metropolitan State University, St Paul

About College of Nursing and Health Science: Metropolitan State University was founded in 1971 to serve the needs of non-traditional students in the Twin Cities region. Metropolitan focuses on educating nursing professionals who want to work with underserved communities. The university partners with many community colleges throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul in a consortium called the Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education; the aim of this consortium is to increase the quality of health care in the North Star State by helping students at associate-degree nursing colleges in Minnesota obtain baccalaureate degrees. This nursing college accepts practically all applicants, but once you’re enrolled, you’ll have to master a rigorous curriculum. Many of the college’s graduates go on to become public health nurses.

Students learn nursing fundamentals and specialized skills like critical thinking through the Nursing Simulation/Learning Lab. Clinical rotations include stints in health care settings such as acute care hospitals, community clinics, rural health centers, urgent care settings, home-based primary care, correctional health facilities and private specialty clinics throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Financial Aid: Metropolitan State offers a limited number of academic achievement and Metropolitan State University Foundation-sponsored scholarships, but no funds are specifically designated for the education of nursing students. The university is quite proactive in helping students seek out sources of state and federal funding, however. In order to qualify for this funding, you’ll have to fill out and submit a FAFSA form


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.

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