The Best Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's best nursing schoolsNursing schools in Pennsylvania provide in-depth education and cutting edge technology to prepare today’s students to be the nurses necessary. With a large number of the best nursing programs in Pennsylvania, interested students are sure to find the opportunities they need to enter into this lucrative career.




10 Best Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania

School NameNCLEX-RN Pass RateProgram Length
Geisinger Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing DPL100%2 to 3-year programs
Jameson Memorial Hospital DPL100%2 to 3-year programs
Alvernia University BSN97.44%4-year program
Bloomsburg University BSN97.37%2 to 4-year programs
Drexel University BSN97.20%2 to 4-year programs
Moravian College BSN96.55%16 hour BSN program
Eastern University

95.24%2 to 4-year programs
Cedar Crest College94.44%120 credit hours
Lock Haven University92.86%124 credit hours
Carlow University92.31%120 credit hours

Nursing Program Options in Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has a need for numerous nursing specializations. Taking a trauma care, anesthesia nurse, a nurse practitioner program in Pennsylvania, or even a LPN program in PA can be ideal as these are fields where significant need is present in the state. Both brick-and-mortar and online nursing programs in Pennsylvania can help students to become RNs or higher ranking nurses. Most programs are two (online associates degree in nursing) to four year educational tracks allowing students to take specialized courses in fields of interest.

Licensing Requirements in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, students need to obtain the necessary education to meet the state’s licensing requirements. About 1500 hours of board-approved nursing education is necessary with no less than a full year of coursework. Students will need to complete the Pennsylvania Exam / TPP application and sit for the NCLEX exam. Additionally, all nurses must have a background check and drug screening before a license is issued by the Board of Nursing.

Employment Outlook and Salary for Nurses

Why enroll in the top nursing schools in Pennsylvania? The simple answer to this is because there is significant demand for well-qualified nurses within the state. The Department of Labor says that registered nurses will grow by 2.2 percent in the next few years. Additionally, the median annual wage in this field is over $66,640 as of 2014. This information can help you see just how valuable a career in this field can be to your future.

Consider these the best nursing schools in Pennsylvania. To find the nursing program in Pennsylvania right for you, take a closer look at each school. The schools are ranked by their NCLEX exam pass rates from the last few years.

Best Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Rank: 1

Geisinger Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing DPL

The Geisinger Lewistown Hospital School of Nursing DPL program is one of the top rated in the state for various reasons. Students will spend two to three years in the program and will graduate to enter the role of RN. The school also offers an LPN to RN track for students interested in enhancing their education. The school’s focus is on providing intense, high-quality education to prep students for fast placement in the area’s hospitals, trauma centers, and doctors’ offices. This program is mostly theory based and evidence based, but students are also given the opportunity to excel in real life scenarios.

The school has a long history of achieving 100 percent pass rates on the NCLEX-RN licensing example, and has done so from 2011 through 2015. The school also continues to offer advancing educational opportunities for students.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 2 to 3-year program
  • Admission Requirements: Students must complete their high school education or obtain an equivalent, must rank in the upper half of their high school graduating class, maintain a GPA or a C level in all coursework, and must meet specific educational requirements in prerequisites.
  • Tuition: $297 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing and Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc.

Rank: 2

Jameson Memorial Hospital DPL

The Jameson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing program is an intense, fast-paced program designed to provide students with the most modern education in the field of nursing. Students will be enrolled in a program that has been in place for more than 100 years. The school provides students with innovative methods of learning, outstanding modern tools, and real-life scenarios to prepare them for work experiences in a hospital setting.

The school is very involved in the community and provides students with numerous opportunities to work in the field. They also offer a significant continuing education and career management service. A key component that helps this school to stay ahead of others is its ability to innovate and change up the curriculum to meet ongoing advances in medical care.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate:  100%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 2 to 3-year program
  • Admission Requirements: Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA throughout their high school career, achieve a 450 or higher on the SAT or an 18 or higher on the ACT, and test into the program through the ATI TEAS program.
  • Tuition: $4,045 for the first semeste
  • Accreditation: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing, Commission for Education in Nursing, approved for Veterans Education, and by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations

Rank: 3

Alvernia University BSN

Alvernia University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is one of the more advanced programs in the state. This pre-licensing course promotes not only knowledgeable students, but also collaborative skills, moral integrity, and professionalism in the world of nursing. Students will work with state of the art equipment in an onsite laboratory. The faculty its exceptional with a number of them having many years of experience. Alvernia University is a diverse school and the nursing program is a key component of its liberal arts program. There is a strong mentorship present here as well.

Additional benefits of this program include the positive learning environment, flexible scheduling to allow students to meet life’s needs while enrolled in school, and experience in small clinical and lab settings. Students can also specialize in a variety of areas to carve out their career path as they see fit. The school also offers blending learning opportunities including online programs and courses.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.44%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 4-year program with options for faster education
  • Admission Requirements: Students must be admitted into the Alvernia University as a start, complete prerequisite courses with a “C” or higher, and apply to the nursing program after passing an entrance exam.
  • Tuition: $500 per credit hour
  • Accreditation:  Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

Rank:  4

Bloomsburg University BSN

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Nursing is a fully accredited school with numerous courses of education options for nursing students. Its main programs include the BSN and MSN programs, but it also offers an RN to BSN, RN to MSN, and other options. Students can learn at their own pace and often come back for continuing education because of the flexibility in the programs provided. Another key reason students do well here is because they can choose from numerous specialization programs including in areas such as adult-gerontology, primary care, nurse anesthesia, nursing administration, and community health, among others. Simulated learning is a big part of education here as well.

The school’s educational programs are diverse but always hands on. The program provides students with access to real work experiences even in undergraduate programs. However, because this school consistently does well in NCLEX-RN rankings and offers such a diverse number of options for students, it tends to be highly competitive.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.37%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 2 to 4-year programs
  • Admission Requirements: Students will need to enroll in the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania college first and then apply for the nursing program after completing prerequisites with at least a 3.0 GPA. However, spots in the program are limited and meeting basic requirements tends not to be enough.
  • Tuition: $470 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank:  5

Drexel University BSN

The Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions is a very modern and advanced program that provides students with exceptional skills for the workforce. It was voted one of the Best of Philly programs and provides students with an ever-changing and growing curriculum in the nursing field. A few key things help the school to stand out including its inter-professional care opportunities, real life experiences in various specialties, and simulation opportunities.

Drexel offers a number of different course options for nursing including both undergraduate and graduate offerings. Doctoral programs are also available as are post-baccalaureate certificates, professional continuing education, and post master’s certificates. The facility itself is nationally renowned for its advanced educational programs and modern, cutting-edge equipment. It’s undergraduate nursing programs include a BSN program, An accelerated career entry BSN, and an RN to BSN program.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.20%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 2 to 4 years
  • Admission Requirements: Students must meet all requirements to be enrolled in the Drexel University. They also must complete three years of math and two years of lab science, meet a “C” average in prerequisites, and successfully apply to the nursing program.
  • Tuition: First semester, full-time student tuition is $15,462
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, PA State Board of Nursing, among others for specialized education

Rank: 6

Moravian College BSN

For students who wish to enter the workforce quickly, Moravian College Department of Nursing may be the ideal fit. This program is outstanding for those who want to learn in a hands-on environment and in real life situations. The 16 month accelerated, pre-licensing course is an excellent way for individuals to begin their nursing education. The school does offer additional course options including an RN to BSN and a master’s program. What’s more, students can specialize their degree in areas that interest their unique needs.

Moravian College also offers a unique opportunity in that it allows for global connections and transformative educational opportunities. This is a very rich liberal arts school that allows students to explore topics of interest in a scientific manner. Students are taught to be compassionate but always learning and growing in their skills and understanding. The school views nursing as an important service within the framework of social justice.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.55%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 16 hour BSN program
  • Admission Requirements: Students must meet specific prerequisites to enroll including having a high school diploma or the equivalent and maintaining a “C” or higher grade. Prerequisite coursework is often a requirement.
  • Tuition: The 2017 16-month course costs $43,000
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing

Rank: 7

Eastern University

xEastern University’s Nursing Department is a fast-paced, intense program that gives students the ability to excel in their undergraduate nursing education. This is a Christian-based educational program that teaches leadership and service and offers its programs to a global school population. The program is in demand because of its continuous improvement and advanced course curriculum. The Nursing Clinical Resource Laboratory is a state of the art facility located at the campus that gives students some of the best hands-on experience they can have in their early years of education.

The lab and its faculty is an award winning program. Students attending can enter the BS in Nursing program as well as a BSN Two Second Degree Nursing and RN to BSN program. Opportunities for accelerated learning are available here as well.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.24%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 2 to 4 years
  • Admission Requirements: Students must apply and meet the qualifications of the Eastern University. Then, students will need to complete prerequisite coursework while maintaining a “C” average in this courses prior to applying for the nursing program.
  • Tuition: $660 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 8

Cedar Crest College

Cedar Crest College has a highly successful nursing program. Students can select one of several courses of study in nursing including the Masters in Nursing, School Nurse Certificate, and BSN program. The school looks specifically for students that are ready for a challenge and who are looking for a role in a growing and diverse medical field. With a consistently high level of NCLEX pass rate over its history, Cedar Crest College is an ideal choice for those entering into the nursing field.

  • A few key things help this school to stand out. Students can enroll on a part-time or full-time basis. There is a strong real world experience level here since students spend a considerable amount of time outside te classroom working and assisting in various community nursing settings. The Nursing Learning Resource Lab is one of the best equipped in the state and offers specialized simulation equipment, a community health lab, and numerous multimedia labs to encourage learning. Students have a number of educational specialization options and can even enter the study abroad programs in Central America, Sweden, and Ghana.
  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.44%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 120 Credit hours
  • Admission Requirements: Students must gain entrance into the university and then apply for the nursing path. Prerequisites in math, science, and other courses are necessary and must be completed with at least a “C” level. Competition can be tough in some instances.
  • Tuition: $15,598 per semester
  • Accreditation:  Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Rank: 9

Lock Haven University

The Lock Haven University Nursing Department is a component of the school’s College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences. This program has been in place for more than 20 years but remains one of the most advanced and diverse nursing programs in the state. It has a strong reputation for producing very in demand nurses not just in the local environment but nationally and internationally as well.

Students can choose between several courses for specialization as well as various nursing programs including ASN, LPN Advanced Placement, RN to BSN programs, and much more. Students will learn about prevention of disease, health promotion and maintenance, and rehabilitation. The programs of study are flexible in that they allow students to enter into a wide range of settings after graduation.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.86%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 124 Credit hours
  • Admission Requirements: Prospective students will need to obtain admission into the university as a first step. Then, the student will complete 40 hours of prerequisite nursing coursework before moving into the nursing program. A high GPA in prerequisites is often necessary.
  • Tuition: In-state residents $7,060 per year
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Rank: 10

Carlow University

Carlow University’s Department of Nursing has the highest ranking NCLEX pass rate for RNs in the Pittsburgh area of the state. Students will find that this stems directly from the school’s intense program of study, advanced curriculum, and a friendly, motivated faculty. Another key component of this school’s success in the field comes from its commitment to innovation. It has had this innovative goal since the nursing department’s founding in 1948.

A few key things that help Carlow University stand out include its cutting edge technology that allows nurses to learn about intense components of study in person. Students also get an incredible amount of hands-on learning in what it calls a high touch and high tech approach. Program offerings are numerous as well and include BSN, RN to BSN, and graduate level programs. The school is committed to helping students to achieve the career of their dreams by providing a large number of specializations.The school’s focus is on an evidence-based nursing care program that teaches students key areas of communication, social justice, integrity, and technical skills.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.31%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 120 Credit hours
  • Admission Requirements: Students must enroll in the Carlow University as a first step and then complete prerequisite education in the nursing field before gaining admission into the nursing program. This is often done in the second or third year of their bachelor’s level education curriculum.
  • Tuition: $13,302 per semester
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 11

DeSales University Department of Nursing and Health

A very diverse school of study, the DeSales University Department of Nursing and Health provides students with numerous nursing educational paths. This includes an accelerated BSN, evening and weekend BSN, RN to BSN, RN to MSN, and graduate level courses such as a MSN, MSN/MBA Dual Degree, Nurse Practitioner program, DNP and DNP with MBA.

The school’s nursing program was developed in 1974 but has changed significantly to continuously provide students with the highest level of education possible. Students will enter a dynamic course of study that meets the needs of area hospitals, doctor’s offices and various other nursing fields. The goal of the university is to ensure students are not only skilled but also leaders in their field. They do this with hands-on learning experiences, top of the line technology, and multimedia labs that provide as much real world experience as is possible.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.86%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 120 credit hours
  • Admission Requirements: Students will gain admission into the nursing program after being admitted to the school. Then, students will need to take nursing prerequisites within their first year. Many can begin taking nursing courses within their sophomore year.
  • Tuition: $515 per credit hour for nursing courses
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission of Education in Nursing

Rank: 12

Luzerne County Community College

A few key things make Luzerne County Community College an excellent choice for their nursing program. First, it is one of the most affordable schools that rank this high on the NCLEX pass rate for the state. Second, the program is diverse, flexible, and offers both online and off-campus learning opportunities for students. The program is intense and can require students to engage a great deal of their education on their own outside of the campus. However, this helps students to become leaders and innovators on their own in the field of nursing.

The school offers several educational paths for students to take. The distance learning programs are some of the best in the state. Students can complete their educational program within just a matter of a few months and can come back for their continuing education or advancing degree needs as well.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.09%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 73 credit hours
  • Admission Requirements: Students must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Additionally, they must meet specific testing levels for math and science placement. Students will need to apply to the nursing program only after they have demonstrated their ability to complete prerequisites.
  • Tuition: $1,800 per semester for county residents
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Rank: 13

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions provides a number of nursing paths for students.One of the key reasons many students choose this particular school is because of the various specializations in BSN programs available to undergraduate students. Options include a BSN, BS in Nursing, Licensed Practical Nurse Track, Certificate of Gerontology, BS in Respiratory Care, BS in Clinical Lab Science, and a BS in Nuclear Medicine Technology. Students can go on to obtain their graduate level education here as well.

The school offers a wide range of advanced curriculum and training. Students learn key communication and leadership skills alongside advanced nursing training and in-depth clinical studies. Many of the students will spend a great deal of time outside the campus in real world situations. Students learn holistic, ethical, caring and legal components of nursing. They also learn to provide more than just physical healing but also spiritual, mental, and social well-being. Continuous professional development, top quality equipment, and training methods, along with a supportive environment make this school a good choice.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88.80%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 120 credit hours
  • Admission Requirements: Students will need to be admitted into the university as a first step. They can apply for the pre-nursing program and complete science and liberal arts studies while maintaining at least a “C” level grade before applying to the nursing program. Students will begin nursing and clinical courses in the first semester of their sophomore year.
  • Tuition: $9,690 for state residents per year
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Rank: 14

Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital School of Nursing

There are various reasons to enroll in the Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. A key component of this is the ability for students to enroll and begin educating themselves to be a nurse right away. There is no required long-term educational track for qualified students. This school offers a fast paced way of getting into the field and yet it provides some of the most intense and high-quality education available today in the area.

Students who enroll in this two-year program will be high job placement opportunities often right after graduation. Among the components of their education is more than 1,000 hours of clinical practice, done right at the hospital. Students also benefit from the low student to faculty ratio, affordable tuition, and advanced program options. The school works alongside many area hospitals and medical centers to encourage students to complete their degrees in the place they hope to work. Also, a benefit is the availability of one of only 64 Level 1 accredited simulation labs in the world. This provides some of the most advanced technology in an interactive lab that’s risk-free. Students also get to work in a Level 1 Regional Resource Trauma Center, Advanced Primary Stroke Center, and a Level 3 Regional Intensive Care Nursery.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88.33%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 24-month program
  • Admission Requirements: Students must provide a full transcript from their high school education that shows their completion of high school and a number of advanced programs. Students also need to submit references. This program can be difficult to gain acceptance into due to the number of low slots available.
  • Tuition: $17,000 for the entire program
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Rank: 15

Butler County Community College

For the student who wishes to enter the nursing field quickly, the Butler County Community College program is an ideal choice. This course provides a wide range of nursing paths for students and does not require students to have a long transcript prior to attending. To help students who are already working to advance their degree, the school also provides a web-based learning environment to speed up the educational process. Students also work in the Learning Studios and Clinical Learning Center which provide simulated clinical environments for an intense immersion into the healthcare industry.

The program is well respected because of the hands on learning that the students often receive. Students can also select from a variety of program options, specializations, and nursing paths that fit their long-term goals. RN to BSN and LPN to RN programs are available here. Among the components of their education, Butler students will learn leadership and communication skills, not only how to care for patients but also how to meet their holistic needs, and aid in preventing not only treating medical needs. Students who graduate from this school are often in high demand.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 87.76%
  • Program Length or Credit Hours: 70 credit hours
  • Admission Requirements: Students must apply to the school with their high school diploma or the equivalent. They then will gain admittance into the nursing path if they maintain a high GPA during their first semester. Students will find there is a significant amount of competition for this program since it is one of the most affordable in the state.
  • Tuition: $100 per credit
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

How We Ranked Our Schools

From the nurse practitioner program in Pennsylvania to the RN to BSN program path, we’ve ranked the top nursing schools in Pennsylvania by their achievement in pass rates in the NCLEX testing. The testing results were obtained from the accreditation board for the year 2014, which is the most recently available information. We also took a closer look at the schools’ ability to provide innovative programs, advanced curriculums, and access to both real life situations and simulation technology.
Are you a nursing program in the state of Pennsylvania? If so, send us a message and allow our team to rank your nursing program among our other top rated programs. We want to hear about your opportunities.a