10 Best Nursing Schools in Missouri – 2024 Rankings

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

The nursing shortage in Missouri is at an all-time high. More than 15 percent of staff nursing positions in Missouri hospitals are vacant, leaving plenty of employment opportunities for newly licensed RNs who’ve just graduated from accredited nursing schools in Missouri. Many hospitals have begun implementing incentive programs offering perks like signing bonuses and tuition forgiveness in an effort to fill those vacancies. The nursing shortage in the Show-Me State will probably get worse before it gets better, though, since more than one-third of all nurses working in Missouri are over the age of 55 and nearing retirement. Rural communities are particularly hard hit by the nursing shortage, which severely limits health care access for people living in these communities.



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

1. Saint Louis University, St Louis

About SLU School of Nursing: In lists put out by U.S. News & World Report, the SLU School of Nursing consistently ranks among the top nursing colleges in the nation. Social justice is a huge focus at this school. If you’re interested in improving access to quality health care for all, this may be the school for you. This nursing school is a leader in nursing research, too. The school’s Center for Risk Reduction conducts ground-breaking investigations with the potential to limit complications from routine medical procedures. Researchers at the nursing school collaborate with the university’s Center for Health Care Ethics as well as with other universities, government and community agencies, and health care institutions across the nation.

The nursing school is housed in a building located within SLU’s medical center. The Clarke Learning Laboratory features simulated hospital environments that are designed to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Here, students participate in clinical scenarios using high-fidelity manikins that have been programmed to mimic the symptoms and chronic conditions that students will encounter when they begin practicing. Clinical rotations take place at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Mercy Hospital St. Lewis, the John Cochran VA Medical Center, and other health care facilities throughout the greater St. Louis area.

Financial Aid: Saint Louis University is one of only two nursing schools in MO that receives federal funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program. The total amount of this funding comes to more than $2 million. SLU students may also be eligible for additional nursing scholarship opportunities from external sources. Completing and submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form can establish eligibility for federal and state grants and loans.

2. University of Missouri - Columbia, Columbia

About Sinclair School of Nursing: The Sinclair School of Nursing’s precursor was the Parker Memorial Hospital Training School, established in 1901; Parker Memorial Hospital was the University of Missouri’s first medical facility. Today, Sinclair is known not only for the high quality of its nursing education but also for the excellence of its nursing research. Sinclair’s Office of Research secured the funding that helped subsidize a number of innovative projects, including TigerPlace, an initiative allowing local seniors to age in place, and Senior Care, a home health agency managed in part by the nursing school.

The third floor of the nursing school building is dedicated to environments where experiential learning takes place. The Essig Clinical Simulation Learning Center is a seven-bed virtual hospital environment, containing wall equipment such as oxygen outlets and suctioning apparatus, and beds occupied by computerized manikins. Students learn safe practices in basic nursing procedures as well as critical thinking skills by participating in planned clinical scenarios that are staged in the Essig facility. Students follow these learning experiences up with clinical rotations at health care facilities throughout Columbia and other parts of central Missouri.

Financial Aid: Generous endowments have enabled Sinclair to offer its nursing students a number of scholarships. You’ll have to log on to the MyZou site to review these opportunities and to fill out the applications. The University of Missouri is a Title IV participant, so you may be eligible for state and local grants and loans if your FAFSA form indicates sufficient need.

3. Missouri State University, Springfield

About Missouri State University School of Nursing: No matter what your professional goals are, the School of Nursing at Missouri State University will offer you a solid education, but it’s a particular standout in the field of community nursing. The school teaches nursing students to view patients’ symptoms holistically as phenomena associated not just with illness but also with a patient’s relationship to his or her environment. In collaboration with Mercy Hospital, the school sponsors an affiliate clinic called the O’Reilly Clinical Health Sciences Center that offers primary care to uninsured, low-income adults between the ages of 18 and 64.

The nursing school shares space in the O’Reilly Clinical Health Building with the Physician Assistant Studies Department and the Department of Occupational Therapy. A cutting-edge simulation lab featuring high-tech manikins that embody every stage of life enables students to participate in the types of clinical scenarios they’ll be encountering when they begin their professional practice. Once they’re confident in their bedside skills, students pursue clinical rotations at medical facilities and community agencies throughout Springfield and other southwest Missouri communities. One of their clinical rotations will be a weeklong stint at Camp Barnabas, a summer camp for special needs adults and children.

Financial Aid: Missouri State University administers 13 scholarships expressly for nursing students. The university maintains a roster of external nursing award opportunities, too. Students may also qualify for state and local financial aid as determined by the information they enter on their FAFSA forms.

4. Graceland University, Independence

About Graceland University School of Nursing: Graceland University was founded in 1895 by members of the Community of Christ, which has roots in the Latter Day Saints movement. Its School of Nursing is located on its campus in Independence, Missouri. (The university has another campus in Iowa.) In addition to its campus nursing programs, the school also offers a well-regarded distance learning nursing program. Some of its graduate nursing specialties are only offered online.

Graceland includes clinical simulations as part of its curriculum in order to provide students with interactive, practice-based instruction that will help them perfect their critical thinking skills. Clinical labs also give Graceland students the opportunity to practice basic techniques like starting IVs and performing blood draws. Clinical rotations are scheduled at medical facilities throughout Independence and the nearby Kansas City region. Online nursing students participate in practicums with Graceland clinical associates in their own communities.

Financial Aid: Graceland’s nursing school doesn’t offer any scholarships specifically for nursing students. The university does offer a number of competitive scholarships as well as faith-based aid, which nursing students are welcome to apply for. The university also disburses Title IV aid from federal and state sources; to apply for these, you’ll have to fill out a FAFSA form.

5. Maryville University of St. Louis, St Louis

About Catherine McAuley School of Nursing: U.S. News & World Report called Maryville University the number one “over-performing” school in the nation, and it’s true that Maryville is absolutely serious when it comes to going above and beyond to support its students. For example: The Catherine McAuley School of Nursing is one of the few nursing colleges in Missouri that offers a curriculum specially designed for working adults who can only attend classes during the weekend and evenings. Maryville gets top marks from Forbes and Kiplinger’s, too. The university was founded as a girls’ academy in 1872 by the Society of the Sacred Heart, but it welcomes students from all religious backgrounds, and Catholicism does not play a large role in its educational philosophy.

Nursing undergraduates are assigned life coaches with whom they work closely in order to learn how to leverage strengths and overcome challenges. Nursing classes are rigorous, but the average class size is small so that students have the opportunity to form close relationships with their instructors. A 70,000-square-foot clinical teaching environment in Walker Hall, the nursing school’s headquarters, offers virtual hospital environments as well as lifelike adult and child manikins that can be programmed to simulate a number of physiological symptoms and chronic conditions. Clinical rotations are a key part of the McAuley nursing experience, and they take place at St. Louis Children's Hospital and other leading health care facilities throughout the St. Louis area.

Financial Aid: Maryville University provides a number of scholarship opportunities for incoming students, and all applications are reviewed for eligibility. None of these scholarships are earmarked specifically for nursing students, however. Completing and submitting a FAFSA form may qualify you for federal and state financial aid.

6. University of Missouri - St Louis, St Louis

About UMSL College of Nursing: When you enroll at UMSL’s College of Nursing, you’ll become part of a community of nurse scholars. Learning how to deliver competent, compassionate nursing care is important here, but so is the quest for evidence-based nursing solutions to practice challenges. As a student at UMSL, you’ll be invited to help shape the future of nursing.

The Nursing Administration Building is located on the South Campus. The 8,500-square-foot Nursing Learning Resource and Simulation Lab occupies the ground floor of Seton Hall. The center is equipped with innovative technology that replicates actual health care settings with a high degree of verisimilitude, offering fully operational hospital beds, suction, oxygen, ventilators, and wheeled workstations for electronic health records. Students acquire basic nursing skills here by practicing on computerized manikins that are programmed to mimic a variety of acute and chronic illnesses. Once they’re confident in their clinical abilities, students participate in clinical rotations at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the Missouri Baptist Medical Center, the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, the Shriners Hospital for Children and other hospitals, clinics, and community health agencies throughout the metropolitan St. Louis area.

Financial Aid: In order to qualify for one of UMSL’s endowed nursing scholarships, you’ll need to fill out an application and submit it to the Office of Financial Aid by April 1. Filling out a FAFSA form may also establish eligibility for state and federal Title IV aid.

7. University of Missouri - Kansas City, Kansas City

About UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies: Are you interested in assuming a leadership role in the nursing profession or the health care industry? An education at UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Studies will make sure you’re ready to assume that responsibility. U.S. News & World report gives this set of nursing programs in Missouri high marks. You’ll share educational experiences that will enhance your ability to function as part of an interdisciplinary team with colleagues studying public health, health sciences, and medicine. As a nursing school in the heart of Missouri’s most densely populated city, UMKC is particularly interested in health issues that are likely to affect urban populations. The school manages national centers for workforce development in family planning, the treatment of substance abuse and HIV prevention.

The school occupies the Health Science Building on the Health Sciences campus. Simulated hospital environments give students practical experience in critical decision making without risking patient safety. As students gain confidence in their nursing skills, they go on to pursue clinical rotation opportunities at Truman Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital, Children’s Mercy Hospital and Health System, VA of Kansas City and other medical facilities and community agencies throughout the greater Kansas City region.

Financial Aid: UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Studies offers 19 scholarships specifically for nursing students. Some nursing students may also be eligible for federal and state needs-based aid as determined by the information they submit on their FAFSA forms.

8. Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau

About Department of Nursing @ Southeast Missouri State University: Southeast Missouri State University’s nursing program aims to help address the Show-Me State’s chronic nursing shortage. When you graduate from this program, you’ll be a nursing generalist with technical skills that will allow you to function competently in every area of nursing practice. Students are encouraged to be proactive about their own learning needs: In 2019, a team of nursing students designed and developed a curriculum on organ and tissue donor education for undergraduate nursing students that was the first of its kind in the nation.

The nursing department is housed in the Rosemary Berkel Crisp Hall of Nursing. Students learn bedside techniques in a simulation lab that’s equipped with lifelike manikins. Southeast Missouri State maintains clinical rotation partnerships with leading medical facilities and community agencies throughout Cape Girardeau and other parts of southeast Missouri such as Washington County Memorial Hospital, the Cape Girardeau Public Health Center, the Cape Girardeau public school system and the Gibson Recovery Center.

Financial Aid: Missouri State University has more than 25 scholarships that nursing students may qualify to receive. Nursing students may also be eligible for state and federal grants and loans if the information submitted on their FAFSA forms demonstrates sufficient need.

9. Barnes-Jewish College, St Louis

About Goldfarb School of Nursing: The Goldfarb School of Nursing was the first nursing school in the nation to be accredited by the National League of Nursing. The school was founded in 1902 as the Jewish Hospital School of Nursing, and it’s still affiliated with Barnes-Jewish Hospital, which is the largest hospital in Missouri and one of the top medical centers in the nation.

Barnes-Jewish College and the Goldfarb School share the Washington University Medical Center campus with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the Washington University School of Medicine and the St. Louis College of Pharmacy. The school also operates a second campus on the grounds of the Missouri Baptist Medical Center. Goldfarb’s main Clinical Simulation Institute is a 10,500-square-foot facility that features two 10-bed med/surg unit replicas, a virtual operating room suite and more than 30 computerized manikins that can be programmed to mimic realistic physiological responses and symptoms. A second, smaller simulation lab is on the grounds of the Missouri Baptist campus. Clinical rotations take place at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Financial Aid: The Goldfarb School of Nursing makes some institutional scholarships available to students. In order to apply, you’ll need to fill out a FAFSA form and speak to a counselor at the Financial Aid Office. The information you submit on your FAFSA form may also qualify you for state and federal funding.

10. Research College of Nursing, Kansas City

About Research College of Nursing: The Research College of Nursing began its existence in 1905 as the German Hospital Training School for Nurses. Both its name and the name of German Hospital were changed at the start of World War I to obscure any connection with a nation that was then a U.S. enemy. Research College is one of only two programs granting nursing degrees in MO to be associated with a medical center. Nursing students benefit from this arrangement because right from the start, they’re exposed to a greater number of clinical experiences than they might otherwise be.

Students learn hands-on skills and practice critical decision-making participating in clinical scenarios at the Seelos Simulation Center. Once they’re competent at nursing fundamentals, students participate in clinical rotations at a variety of health-related setting throughout the greater Kansas City area, including Research Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Centerpoint, Belton Regional Medical Center, Lee’s Summit Medical Center, and Overland Park Regional Medical Center.

Financial Aid: Research College offers nearly 20 institutional scholarships to nursing students. The college also maintains an extensive database of external nursing awards. By filling out and submitting FAFSA forms, students may qualify for various types of federal and state financial aid.


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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