Best Nursing Schools in Iowa in 2023 (On-Campus & Online)

Best Nursing Schools in Iowa in 2023 (On-Campus & Online)

Best Nursing Schools in Iowa in 2020 (On-Campus & Online)Looking for nursing program options in Iowa? You’re in luck. The best nursing schools in Iowa allow students to complete their first nursing degree program, or to expand their career opportunities by earning an advanced nursing degree. The dream of working in nursing, the demand for new nurses, the good starting salaries, and the potential for career advancement are some reasons that individuals decide on a nursing career. Choosing one of the best nursing programs gives you the knowledge and skills for an excellent career in nursing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the projected job growth for nurses is ‘much faster than average,’ compared to other professions. Start working on your degree now and obtain your dream of becoming a nurse. These top nursing programs in Iowa help prepare you for success as a highly-qualified nurse. Whether you’re looking for a nursing degree program in Des Moines or another area in Iowa, you’ll be sure to find an option below.

Are Nurses Really Needed in Iowa?

There is a shortage of nurses in the United States, which is expected to continue. One reason for the nursing shortage includes the fact that many nurses are reaching retirement age. Another reason for the shortage of nurses is the aging population, which means that the number of people with chronic illnesses is expected to increase.

Iowa has a nursing shortage that has led to several sources reporting about the state-wide shortage.  A headline in the Washington Times, for example, stated that the nurse shortage in Iowa reached ‘critical stages.’ School nurse jobs in Iowa and other specialties are needed.

Several colleges and universities offer incentives to some students in their nursing programs. The shortage of nurses means that nurses that graduate from an accredited nursing program likely have little to no waiting time for obtaining a great nursing job at their choice of healthcare setting.

Whether you’re looking for nursing schools in Iowa city or nursing schools in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this list will help you find the best accredited nursing schools in Iowa.

Learn more about the best nursing schools and programs in Iowa, and start preparing for your nursing career today.

1. North Iowa Area Community College

Do you currently hold an LPN and want to advance your career opportunities? The North Area Community College offers the Licensed Practical Nurse to Associate Degree in nursing (LPN-ADN) degree program. The school accepts transfer students that meet qualifications, in addition to new students.

Students engage in clinical experiences in addition to the classroom curriculum and participate in required web-enhanced course assignments. Graduates receive an Associate in Applied Science degree.

  • Tuition: $159.75 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 100%
  • Accreditation: ACEN

2. University of Iowa

Enroll in the RN-BSN program at the University of Iowa and potentially receive free tuition on your first nursing course. This online program prepares nurses that have current RN licensure for advancing roles in nursing. Students that reside in the state of Iowa complete their community health practicum at a healthcare facility close to their home. Nurses that reside outside the state of Iowa have the option of completing the practicum at an Iowa location or to complete it in Swaziland, Africa.

Another program offered is the Master of Science to Clinical Nurse Leader (MSN–CNL) degree program for MSN-level nurses that want to become a leader in their field. The school explains that the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) developed the evolving nurse role, which focuses on preparing clinical experts in nursing.

Complete your MSN-CNL at the University of Iowa and prepare for one of several functions, which includes the educator, advocate, clinician, outcomes manager, information manager, and other important roles.

The University of Iowa supports the national goal of having 80 percent of employed nurses be BSN-prepared by the end of 2020.

  • Tuition: $454-$967 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 100%
  • Accreditation: CCNE

3. Des Moines Area Community College

Start your nursing education by enrolling in the Associate in Applied Science degree (AAS) program at Des Moines Area Community College. Graduates of this program have a 100 percent employment rate after graduation.

Sit for the NCLEX exam upon completing degree requirements, and earn your AAS degree and RN licensure, preparing you for your desired nursing career.

  • Tuition: $160 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 91%
  • Accreditation: ACEN

4. Mount Mercy University

The Mount Mercy University Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program offers students their choice of five concentrations while working on their MSN degree. Choose from forensic nursing, nurse administration, nurse education, health advocacy, or nurse informatics as your specific emphasis.

This program allows students to focus on their studies while maintaining their outside responsibilities. Students enjoy a flexible schedule that offers five-week accelerated courses and have an option of two start times each year. The school accepts applications year-round.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP) at Mount Mercy University prepares current nurses to work as nurse practitioners and become leaders in their field. Students take classes in five-week blocks, one class at a time. Graduates of the face-to-face DNP program enter into advanced nursing with skills that prepare them to implement innovative approaches in advanced nursing practice, evaluate and communicate health care system performance outcomes, critically translate best evidence nursing from nursing, and influence the development and implementation of health care policies.

  • Tuition: $638-$890 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 100%
  • Accreditation: CCNE

5. Allen College

Enroll in the Allen College RN to BSN program and potentially receive free tuition on your first course. The college, which is one of the best nursing schools in Iowa and is located in Waterloo, offers current registered nurses the opportunity to earn their Bachelor of Science degree. One outstanding benefit of the Allen College RN to BSN program is the fact that students are automatically eligible to receive a scholarship for 25 percent off the cost of their tuition.

Nursing students complete courses in an online format, with the exception of the clinical experience requirement. Students that reside outside the area possibly receive permission to complete this requirement in their area, pending approval from their preceptor.

  • Tuition: $629 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 99%
  • Accreditation: CCNE

6. University of Dubuque

The traditional Bachelor of Science degree (BSN) at the University of Dubuque is designed around a curriculum that focuses on meeting demands of 21st-century healthcare. The program guides students through the core competencies of nursing through classroom, lab, and clinical experiences. Students explore the variety of healthcare settings where nurses typically work, including inpatient and outpatient care settings. Students gain knowledge about working in public schools, long-term care, and a respite care camp for both disabled children and adults.

  • Tuition: approx. $757.11 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 100%
  • Accreditation: CCNE

7. St. Ambrose University

St. Ambrose University invites you to gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary for successful nurses by completing the Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree at the school. The small class sizes and the ability to learn while using state-of-the-art facilities are just two reasons that nursing students come to this university. The curriculum focuses on evidence-based practices, innovation, holistic or whole-person caring, professional trends, and social justice.

Students have the opportunity to study abroad in several countries.

  • Tuition: approx. $700.71 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 88%
  • Accreditation: CCNE

8. Luther College

The Bachelor of Science degree (BSN) program at Luther College has a long-standing relationship with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Students learn to demonstrate critical thinking skills, leadership, quality improvement, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals. Students at the school, located in Decorah, also utilize current patient care technologies, along with advances in nursing sciences.

  • Tuition: $1554 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 97%
  • Accreditation: CCNE

9. Coe College

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program at Coe College helps students prepare for working in their choice of healthcare settings. The highly interactive format of the courses, and the program itself, is specifically designed to allow for a smooth transition if you want to enter into an RN position, residency, or a graduate program. Students engage in their clinical experience in clinics, intensive care, prisons, home care, or while studying abroad.

  • Tuition: approx. $976.45 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 90%
  • Accreditation: CCNE

10. Morningside College

Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at Morningside College which is located in Sioux City and is one of the best nursing schools in Iowa. The program empowers nurses with the knowledge and skills to work in a variety of settings. Gain extensive knowledge of all aspects of nursing, while participating in exciting research opportunities, and learning in the simulation center.

  • Tuition: approx. $1951.25 per credit hour
  • NCLEX first time pass rate: 88%
  • Accreditation: CCNE


We select each school and nursing program by assigning a score for selected criteria, including tuition costs, the first time NCLEX pass rates, and accreditation. We try to do our best to be honest, fair, and accurate in our representation of each school by gathering information directly from each school, or from the NCES.

No school can pay us for higher ratings. Any supported school is listed separately and listed as SPONSORED.

Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee current tuition rates or other information as these things occasionally change. It is ultimately the responsibility of the student to know current tuition costs, additional fees, and other program information.

If you would like to have your school included in our rankings, or listed as a supported school, please contact us.


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