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Top Nursing Schools in Illinois 2016

best nursing schools in illonoisNumerous nursing schools in Illinois are available though not all offer the same level and type of education. For those who wish to become a Registered Nurse, or obtain additional education beyond this level, these are the best nursing colleges in Illinois for you to consider. The demand for high-quality, well-trained nurses is growing in the state. A statewide shortage of licensed nurses is impacting hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and most medical facilities in the state. Key opportunities are available for long, lucrative careers in this field.

Recommended Nursing Schools in Illinois

Top 10 Nursing Schools In Illinois

School NameNCLEX-RN Pass Rate
Blessing Rieman College of Nursing98%
Bradley University97%
St. John's College of Nursing96%
Trinity Christian College95%
St. Anthony College of Nursing95%
Lewis University95%
Illinois Wesleyan University94%
MacMurray College94%
Mennonite Nursing at Illinois State University 94%
University of St. Francis Leach College of Nursing93%

Nursing School Demand and Licensing in Illinois

The demand for nurses is likely to grow significantly over the next decade. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses at the RN level or higher will grow by 19 percent over the period of 2012 to 2022, which is significantly faster than the average occupations in the country. With numerous nursing programs in Illinois available to students, there is no doubt that those who wish to enter this field can obtain the necessary education to do so. Students wishing to work as an RN or higher are required under state law to obtain education from an accredited program and then sit, and pass, the NCLEX-RN test. Students also must complete full background checks before being granted an Illinois nurse license.

Finding the Best Nursing Schools in Illinois

From RN schools to the top rated nurse practitioner program in Illinois, numerous educational opportunities exist for today’s students. Schools in the area have become more flexible and versatile to meet the needs of nurses as well. Online nursing programs in Illinois are now more readily available, as are options for online associates degree in nursing, bachelors, and masters programs through distance learning. Community colleges, state schools, and universities are some of the options in nursing programs in Illinois. Prior to being accepted into any program, students should take the time to learn more about available nursing programs in the state to meet their unique needs.

Below are the best nursing schools in Illinois as rated by NCLEX-RN pass scores.

The Top 13 Nursing Schools in Illinois

Rank: 1

Blessing Rieman College of Nursing

Blessing Rieman College of Nursing & Health Sciences offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, BSN program as well as a variety of other programs in partnership with several area schools including Culver-Stockton College and Quincy University. Students can enroll in the program at the school and then take general education courses at one of these two schools.

A diverse population, outstanding teacher selection, and modern, fully equipped learning labs are some of the benefits provided to students at Blessing Rieman College of Nursing. The school also offers a Masters of Nursing program as well as an RN to BSN degree program and an Associates of Science in Respiratory Care degree. The school has a long history of providing some of the best best nursing education in the region. In fact, it is just one of 34 schools to have been registered with the state since its founding in 1909.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 4 year BSN program, 2-year masters program
  • Admission Requirements: Students must enroll in the school’s partner programs to gain general education requirements and then apply to the nursing program. Prerequisites in science and math are necessary as is maintaining a “C” or higher in those courses.
  • Tuition: $21810.00 per year
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 2

Bradley University

An outstanding program designed using the most advanced educational curriculum and simulation labs, the Bradley University Department of Nursing is one of the most complex and diverse options available to students. Along with providing traditional four-year programs, the school also offers an Accelerated Program, which is a 15-month long program of intensive preparation to allow the student to becoming a licensed, registered nurse. The school also has a General Program designed for nurses to further their education in advanced nursing practice opportunities.

The school does much more to prepare students as well. First, the school offers distance learning and online educational opportunities. Also, it offers state-of-the-art technology including skill labs and computer labs to create hands-on learning opportunities. Students also get clinical experiences beginning in their sophomore year including working in area hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities, and other locations.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 15-month program is available
  • Admission Requirements: A key difference in this school is its easy admissions process. Students can gain entrance into the program with basic educational qualifications and be maintaining a high GPA throughout the program.
  • Tuition: $29,664.00 per year
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc.

Rank: 3

St. John’s College of Nursing

St. John’s College of Nursing has an RN to BSN online program that is one of the most sought after in the area. It also offers an accelerated BSN program and numerous continuing education programs. The state of the art simulation is another key reason to choose this school over others. This program is meant for those students who already have completed their liberal arts and science courses at an accredited university or school and who wish to complete their nursing degree at an accredited, well-established program.

Established by the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, the program has more than 125 years of experience. While it is one of the older programs in the state, it is still one of the most modern due to continuous upgrades made to the curriculum to ensure students receive advanced education.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion:
  • Admission Requirements: Students must take and complete all required liberal arts and science courses at an accredited university and college prior to applying.
  • Tuition: $13761.00 per semester
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Rank: 4

Trinity Christian College

Trinity Christian College is a faith-based program designed to teach students how to be caring leaders in the nursing field. The programs focus on the beginning education of nursing students to prepare them for taking the NCLEX-RN tests to become registered nurses. The programs are designed to be intense, fast paced, and advanced regarding their overall curriculum. Additionally, students will work in Chicago-area hospitals, medical facilities, rehabilitation facilities, community health agencies and schools to gain clinical skills. The school’s Cynthia Sander Nursing Lab is one of the best options in the area for its high-tech simulation features and high-fidelity manikins.

Choose options include a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, with numerous specialization options available. Courses are taught on campus and distance learning opportunities exist.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 120 credit hours for BSN program
  • Admission Requirements: Admission can be limited. The program requires students to meet the Clinical Nursing Program Standards, maintain a B-/C+ GPA in required prerequisite courses, and be admitted into the general studies school to complete freshman education.
  • Tuition: $26,190.00 per year
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 5

St. Anthony College of Nursing

Saint Anthony College of Nursing has more than 90 years of experience in preparing students for the world of nursing. The school is smaller and those intimate class sizes provide a key benefit to students as a result. The private college has an excellent reputation in the local community and, as such, many of its nursing students gain clinical experience working in the area’s top-rated hospitals, doctor’s offices, and schools.

The school offers students a wide range of undergraduate and graduate education in the nursing field. Some key programs include the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, MSN Clinical Nurse Leader, DNP courses, programs for nurse educators, parish nurse, current RN programs, and nurse practitioner programs. It’s highly trained, well-respected faculty are some of the most diverse in the area.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion:
  • Admission Requirements: Admission into the program can be competitive. Students need to maintain a “B” or higher GPA during the completion of prerequisite courses. Additionally, students must gain admission into the school after completing liberal arts and science courses.
  • Tuition: $500.00 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 6

Lewis University

Lewis University College of Nursing and Health Professions is a leader in the Illinois nursing school education programs for many reasons. The programs are geared towards providing students with the ability to provide compassionate, holistic care to patients. There is a strong sense of innovation at this school to create leaders in nursing.

Lewis University offers a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing program, graduate, and doctoral programs, as well as post-master’s certificates. One of the key reasons to enroll in nursing programs here is because of the simulation labs available. The school recently renovated to add incredible technology to provide real-world experience for students. Additionally, the school has been developing leaders in nursing for more than 40 years through diverse programs, excellent staffing, and the most advanced curriculum possible.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 4 year BSN
  • Admission Requirements: Appliances must apply with their high school GPA, class rank, ACT or SAT scores, and having completed at least 15 units of college prep courses. After gaining admission to the school, students will also need to complete prerequisites and take the Kaplan Admission Test before gaining access to the nursing program.
  • Tuition: $14,470.00 per semester
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 7

Illinois Wesleyan University

The Illinois Wesleyan University School of Nursing is a comprehensive program preparing students for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The goal of the liberal arts program is to teach skills, but also to develop compassionate nurses who are exceptional thinkers and leaders in the global healthcare industry. Students are encouraged to select a minor alongside their nursing program in fields such as Hispanic studies, human service management, or health.

A few key factors make this school a stand out including the small class sizes which ensure students receive personal attention and the state-of-the-art technology implemented into the program. Students have many opportunities to complete clinical hours in local hospitals and medical centers for hands-on experience. The program encourages students to develop a lifelong love of learning and to continue their nursing education at the graduate level.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 4 year BSN program
  • Admission Requirements: Students must gain admission into the college and complete at least one year of academics before applying to the College of Nursing. Students will need to complete some prerequisites in sciences, math, and basic nursing before gaining admittance into the nursing program.
  • Tuition: $42,290.00 per year
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 8

MacMurray College

Founded in 1846, the MacMurray College Nursing program is one of the most diverse. The school stands out from others because it offers baccalaureate nursing education in the liberal arts institution, providing unique experiences and developing compassionate, well-rounded nurses. This type of focus also encourages a lifelong learning process, interdisciplinary connections, and clear articulation of thoughts. It provides for students to learn how to manage stresses and to make key decisions on the go.

MacMurray College offers a standard Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Students will learn in classrooms as well as in the field at various hospitals and medical facilities. Additionally, students have access to high-tech simulation labs, computer labs, and ongoing improvement in curriculum.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 28 hours of natural and social sciences, 59 hours at minimum in nursing, plus electives for a total of at least 120 credit hours.
  • Admission Requirements: Freshman can enter the nursing program if they gain admittance into the college, have a minimum 2.75 GPA in high school, have a 20 ACT or a 940 SAT or higher, take chemistry in the last five years with a C grade, and meet other key requirements.
  • Tuition: $24,390.00 per year
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 9

Mennonite Nursing at Illinois State University

The Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University provides innovative nursing programs for students coming from all backgrounds. These programs are very much hands-on. The school offers a traditional and accelerated BSN program, an RN to BSN online program, as well as MSN, Post-masters certificates, PhDs and DNPs.

The school has a long-standing history of excellence and continues to innovate, which is why many of the students here are well respected in the field. The MCN Nursing Simulation Lab is impressive with over 10,000 square feet of space with real life situations using high fidelity patient simulators. Class sizes are small, often at a 1 to 8 ratio. And, the program encourages students to complete clinical education in some of the area’s best hospitals.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 4 year BSN program
  • Admission Requirements: Gain access to the Illinois State University by meeting qualifications. Then, students will need to maintain a “C” or higher in math and science prerequisites to enroll in the nursing college.
  • Tuition: $438.93 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 10

University of St. Francis Leach College of Nursing

The University of St. Francis Leach College of Nursing offers bachelor and master degree programs for students entering the nursing field. Students have access to state of the art technology and are taught to be competent clinicians and advocates for the patient. Students benefit from the small classroom size and get personal attention from instructors. It’s quite the small school environment.

Courses offered at this school include the traditional BSN program, an online RN to BSN Fast Track Program (as well as a Bright program with Joliet Junior College) and DNP, MSN and Teaching graduate programs. Each program is designed to offer the most up-to-date nursing education.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 4 year BSN, fast-track program of 15 months
  • Admission Requirements: Students will gain admission into the nursing program after completing at least one year as a freshman and meeting prerequisites in health and science.
  • Tuition: $29,630.00 per year
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 11

Trinity College

The Trinity College nursing program focuses on providing students with a high-quality education with a focus on best practices, clinical reasoning and cultural competency in healthcare. Among the programs are offered are a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a Master of Science. An accelerated BSN program is available and can be completed in 15 months.

Aside from learning traditional academics, students also learn therapeutic nursing, system interventions, leadership and management skills, and legal-ethical matters. Hands-on learning in simulation labs is a component of the course of study here as well.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 4 year BSN, fast paced 15 month option available
  • Admission Requirements: Students must apply to Trinity College as an undergraduate and complete at least one year as a freshman before enrolling into the nursing program. Students begin clinicals in their junior year, though fast-paced programs are available.
  • Tuition: $687.00 per semester hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 12

Olivet Nazarene University

The Olivet Nazarene University nursing program has a few extra benefits to enrollment. The school has one of the most up-to-date technology labs available to ensure students have the very best access to learning. These “smart” mannequins provide excellent skill prep. Students also learn professional writing skills, documentation, care plans, prioritizing care, and much more before completing their education in clinical scenarios throughout the area.

Olivet Nazarene University offers a traditional undergraduate BSN program, as well as several graduate programs including an RN, BSN, MSN , MSN F,  FNP, C and accelerated BSN program. Students can enter a variety of fields with the completion of these programs. Specialization in areas such as US military health, charge and admissions nursing, special procedure nursing, and nurse administrator are some of those fields.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 4 year BSN, accelerated options may be available
  • Admission Requirements:  Admission into the nursing program is possible in the sophomore year for students who complete prerequisites and test into the program.
  • Tuition: $32,790.00 per year
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 13

Loyola University

Loyola University Chicago – Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing is a well-rounded, intense program that offers a variety of nursing options. Undergraduate degree programs including the BSN, Accelerated BSN, RN to BSN degree, Exercise Science Focus, and others, while also offer graduate courses.

Students who enroll in the program gain outstanding access to academics, but also to state-of-the-art technology. This also includes the Clinical Simulation Learning Laboratory, which provides students the ability to gain clinical skills in a non-threatening environment. Clinical rotations occur at many of the area’s hospitals and medical centers, providing even more in-depth education and training.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 89%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours to Completion: 4 year BSN program
  • Admission Requirements: Students will apply directly to Loyola University as an undergraduate and complete up to two years of studies before applying to the nursing program. Students must maintain a high GPA, pass an exam, and complete science and math prerequisites.
  • Tuition: $20,005.00 per semester
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

To rank the top nursing schools in Illinois, we factored in NCLEX-RN pass rates as well as access to technology and resources, faculty education and qualifications, course offerings including specializations, and overall features and benefits that allow these schools to stand out.

Do you have a nursing program in Illinois you want to see on this list? Contact us to have your school ranked!