10 Best Nursing Schools in Wisconsin – 2024 Rankings

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

As Wisconsin’s population ages and its incidence of chronic diseases increases, the "Badger State" is going to experience a tremendous nursing shortage. By 2040, the number of individuals in the Badger State who are 65 or older is going to increase by 3.92 percent; these people are going to need more medical services, which means more nurses. By 2024, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development anticipates the need for more than 5,000 nurses, which is good news for graduates of accredited nursing schools in Wisconsin. The highest needs will be in specialty areas like critical care and operating rooms, according to experts.



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

1. University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison

About UW–Madison School of Nursing: If you want to be a leader in the nursing field, the Madison School of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin will give you the tools you need. After all, Madison was one of the first college-based schools of nursing when it was founded in 1924. As a student here, you’ll share learning experiences with aspiring professionals at the School of Medicine and Public Health, and the School of Pharmacy, which are both located near Signe Skott Copper Hall, the nursing school building. This nursing school in WI is also a leading nursing research center that’s received funding from the National Institute of Health, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the National Institute on Aging among other agencies.

Nursing students learn the basics of patient care by practicing taking vitals, drawing blood and inserting IVs into realistic-looking manikins in the Center for Technology-Enhanced Nursing. This state-of-the-art facility, which is located in Copper Hall, is equipped with a four-bed hospital suite, a nursing station, a medical room and an apartment area for simulated home visits. Students go on to complete their skills in hospitals, ambulatory care clinics and community clinics throughout the greater Madison metropolitan area where they have the chance to work with medical, surgical and critical care patient populations.

Financial Aid: The Madison School of Nursing supports its students by awarding scholarships that total more than $400,000 every year. Candidates must fill out and submit a scholarship application between mid-January and late March for scholarships awarded the following fall. Needs-based federal and state aid may also be awarded to eligible students upon completion and submission of a FAFSA form.

2. University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Eau Claire

About College of Nursing and Health Sciences @ UW-Eau Claire: If providing health services, interventions and preventative care to communities is your inspiration for becoming a nurse, you should definitely learn more about the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin’s Eau Claire campus. Of all the nursing colleges in Wisconsin, this is probably the one that emphasizes public health the most. Social justice, accountability, and sustainability are important values at this school. In addition to the Eau Claire site, the nursing college also maintains a site in Marshfield in conjunction with the Marshfield Clinic Health System; this site is used for distance learners.

The nursing college maintains clinical learning centers at each of its two sites: The Eau Claire site has a facility with four simulated hospital rooms that contain 20-bed spaces while the Marshfield site has three clinical rooms and six-bed spaces. Once you’ve perfected your bedside skills, you’ll go on to participate in clinical rotations at hospitals, schools, nursing homes, public health agencies, child day-care centers, and other community health agencies throughout the Chippewa Valley and nearby parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Financial Aid: Nursing students may be eligible for scholarships awarded through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. To qualify, you’ll need to submit an application by the March before the fall semester you plan to start taking classes. Since many of these scholarships also have a needs component, you’ll also need to submit a FAFSA form as well as letters of recommendation. Your FAFSA form may also make you eligible for state and local grants and loans.

3. Marquette University, Milwaukee

About Marquette University College of Nursing: Value Colleges, a respected higher education rating service, ranks Marquette University’s College of Nursing as one of the top nursing programs in Wisconsin and the nation. This nursing college has a solid reputation for nursing innovation, so if you want an education that will help prepare you to take a leadership role in a rapidly evolving health care system, this is a program you’ll want to learn more about.

The college got its start around the turn of the 20th century as the Trinity Hospital Training School. Marquette University acquired Trinity in 1912 and began offering four-year baccalaureate nursing degrees in 1936. Marquette’s nursing school occupies the 46,000-square-foot Emory T. Clark Hall on the west side of campus. Clark Hall contains classrooms, clinical laboratories and a state-of-the-art simulation facility called the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Center for Clinical Simulation where nursing students can perfect clinical competencies in a safe environment. Clinical rotations take place at hospitals, clinics and community agencies throughout the greater metropolitan Milwaukee area. Marquette also partners with international nursing programs to provide nursing students with opportunities to study in Ireland, Peru, South Africa, and Brazil.

Financial Aid: Marquette University sponsors the four-year Nancy Long Pesiri Scholarship for outstanding students who are entering its nursing school. The university also maintains a comprehensive list of private nursing scholarships. Nursing students may also qualify for federal and state aid upon submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

4. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh

About University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Nursing: In 2018, UW Oshkosh’s College of Nursing was awarded a prestigious Jonas Scholars grant in recognition of its efforts to target Wisconsin’s ongoing nursing shortage. If you think Wisconsin is where you want to spend your professional career, this could be the nursing program for you. The college supports evidence-based investigations through its innovative Center for Nursing Research. Students also have the opportunity to learn more about how different communities tackle critical health care challenges by participating in study abroad programs in Ireland, India, and South America.

The College’s Nursing Simulation Center offers realistic scenario-based training in every situation nurses are likely to encounter on the job from birth to trauma. Students also learn hands-on skills like suctioning, IV insertion and medication administration at the Elmer Leach Learning Laboratory, which is located in the Clow Social Sciences Building. Students complete clinical rotations at hospitals, clinics and community agencies that are located throughout Oshkosh and nearby communities.

Financial Aid: UW’s Oshkosh campus reserves 55 scholarships for nurses. Your eligibility will be determined after you fill out a conditional application, which must be submitted between September 12 and February 1. Some students may also qualify for funding through state and local sources depending upon the information submitted with their FAFSA forms.

5. University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Milwaukee

About College of Nursing @ UWM: The College of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is home to the largest group of aspiring nurses in the Badger State. The college’s main campus is in Milwaukee, but the college also maintains satellite campuses at UW-Parkside and UW-Washington County. Education at this school focuses not only upon preparing students to be excellent clinicians but also upon training students to be first-rate researchers and community health advocates. U.S. News & World Report has recognized the UWM as one of the top nursing programs in the nation.

The Nursing Learning Resource Center gives students the opportunity to experience patient care without the risk of liability issues by practicing real-life scenarios using computerized manikins. The college partners with more than 160 hospitals, clinics, and community health agencies throughout the area to provide students with high-quality clinical rotations. UWM’s College of Nursing is also known for its research into areas like geriatric health, health care delivery and self-management and is affiliated with a number of cutting-edge initiatives like the Center for Global Health Equity, the Center for Nursing History and the Institute for Urban Health Partnerships.

Financial Aid: Twenty-three nursing-specific scholarships are offered through the UWM College of Nursing. To qualify, you will need to fill out an online application through the UWM Panther Scholarship Portal. You may also be a candidate for state and local loans and grants if the information you submit on your FAFSA form indicates sufficient financial need.

6. Edgewood College, Madison

About Henry Predolin School of Nursing: Are you looking at nursing schools in Wisconsin that maintain small classes so that students can develop personalized relationships with instructors and classmates? If yes, then Henry Predolin School of Nursing at Edgewood College with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 can be the answer. Predolin is another one of the nursing colleges in the state of Wisconsin that was founded by Catholic nuns; it got its start in 1881 as the St. Regina Academy, a private boarding school for girls and is still committed to the Dominican tradition of truth and service. Though Edgewood admits students of all denominations, Catholic teachings are incorporated into the college’s policies and procedures.

Students benefit from hands-on training at the Center for Healthcare Education and Simulation, which is furnished with hospital equipment, high-tech manikins, and 3D Anatomage table. Clinical placements utilize more than 70 hospitals, community agencies, and school sites throughout south-central Wisconsin, including the University of Wisconsin system of hospitals and clinics, American Family Children’s Hospital, UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospitals, and Clinics, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, and Agrace Hospice.

Financial Aid: Edgewood College offers the Predolin Scholarship to high-achieving nursing students who demonstrate financial need. Entering students are also automatically considered for awards based upon academic excellence. Students may receive state and federal support if their FAFSA forms indicate eligibility.

7. Viterbo University, Lacrosse

About Viterbo University School of Nursing: Viterbo University is a Roman Catholic institution of higher learning though it’s open to students of all faiths. The university was founded in 1890 to prepare Franciscan nuns for careers as elementary school teachers, and its nursing school still has deep roots in the Franciscan tradition of service to others. The nursing school is part of the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Behavior. The very first Ph.D. the university offered in 2013 was a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Students learn how to provide high-quality patient care in a high-tech clinical simulation learning lab that occupies the third floor of the School of Nursing building. Clinical rotations take place at long-term care facilities, hospitals, and community agencies throughout western Wisconsin. The school maintains close relationships with community clinics in Belize, and students can elect to perform clinical rotations at those clinics, too. Viterbo participates in the Nursing for Underserved Rural Students Seeking Educational Success (NURSES) program funded by the federal government, which aims to tackle the nursing shortage in the Badger State’s more rural areas.

Financial Aid: This nursing school in Wisconsin offers 15 scholarships specifically for nursing students. Each has its own set of criteria and requires a separate application. Depending upon your family’s income, you may also be eligible for state and federal grants and loans; to qualify for these, you’ll have to submit a FAFSA form.

8. Alverno College, Milwaukee

About JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing and Health Professions: Alverno College is a Roman Catholic institution, and most of its students are female. The college is a proponent of an ability-based curriculum in which there are no grades as such, so learning is demonstrated through experiential metrics rather than by testing. Nursing students at the JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing and Health Professions learn side by side with aspiring physician assistants. The student-to-faculty ratio is kept at 10:1 to ensure that instructors will have the opportunity to develop mentoring relationships with their students.

The school is headquartered in Alexia Hall; in addition to classrooms and lecture halls, this building also contains a clinical learning center and five nursing simulation suites where students master the fundamentals of the profession they’re about to enter. Clinical rotations take place at more than 25 hospitals, clinics, home healthcare, long-term care, mental health facilities and other community health organizations throughout Milwaukee.

Financial Aid: While Alverno doesn’t designate any of its institutional scholarships solely for the support of nursing students, the college is committed to making sure that students get the financial support they need. More than 90 percent of incoming students receive scholarships or grants from Alverno. Students may also receive state and local support depending upon the information contained in their FAFSA forms.

9. Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon

About CUW School of Nursing: Concordia University in Mequon is part of a system of eight schools that are run by the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Mequon is the largest Lutheran university in the U.S. It is one of the few nursing schools in Wisconsin that offers a Christ-centered education, emphasizing service, caring, and vocation. Interprofessional education is one of the touchstones of this program: Nursing students have the opportunity to work closely with students in other health and human services fields with whom they’ll be interacting in the future such as aspiring physical therapists, social workers, and pharmacists. In addition to traditional courses, the school also offers an evening track for students whose busy lives make attending daytime classes untenable.

A sophisticated nursing simulation lab lets students experience realistic settings that are very similar to the ones they’ll be encountering once they enter the nursing profession. Students participate in clinical rotations at health care facilities throughout Milwaukee and Ozaukee County. CUW also sponsors a number of study abroad opportunities that will permit you to tour hospitals and clinics in places like Costa Rica, Mexico, Kenya, and Nicaragua.

Financial Aid: Concordia University in Mequon designates four scholarship opportunities expressly for nursing students. Nursing students with demonstrated financial need as determined by the information they submit on their FAFSA forms may also qualify for state and local grants and loans through Title IV funding.

10. Milwaukee School of Engineering, Milwaukee

About MSOE School of Nursing: The MSOE School of Nursing understands that health care is a complex and continuously evolving system and that the best way to prepare aspiring nurses to give excellent, patient-centered care is through providing those students with experiential learning opportunities. MSOE was founded in 1903 as an engineering school. Apart from nursing, the university’s emphasis is on business and technical degrees. The nursing curriculum here integrates a strong technology base with a wide variety of clinical field experiences so that new graduates can hit the ground running when they enter the nursing profession.

Classrooms and clinical labs are located in the Ruehlow Nursing Complex, which is a $3-million, 25,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2013. The Ruehlow Nursing Complex contains a simulation hospital complete with adult and pediatric patient wards and a mock intensive care unit. Students learn critical thinking skills by participating in scenario-based training that substitutes high-tech manikins for patients. Once they develop aptitude with clinical skills, students go on to clinical rotations throughout the greater Milwaukee area. Since MSOE uses a trimester system, aspiring nurses actually perform clinical rotations at a greater number of health care facilities than they might if they were pursuing a nursing degree in WI at a school on the semester system.

Financial Aid: In addition to academic and diversity scholarships that all entering students are eligible to apply for, MSOE also offers a Certified Nursing Assistant scholarship to incoming nursing students who are CNAs. State and local grants and loans may also be available to students who demonstrate need on their FAFSA forms.


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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