Few careers these days are practically guaranteed to have employment opportunities that give workers the freedom to choose where they will work, how they will work, and what they will get paid for their work. The medical field is ripe with such careers, though, and you don’t have to spend a decade becoming a doctor to take advantage of the demand.
To help prospective nursing students in Virginia and those who wish to move to the state to find the right learning environment, the following list compiles the best nursing schools in the state. The nursing schools have been divided according to the degree or certificate type that is offered, and the tuition is the annual rate with in-state tuition followed by out-of-state unless otherwise noted.
An LPN works under the supervision of other nurses to manage the hospital environment, provide patients with assistance in routine activities, and recording basic medical measurements like blood pressure and heart rate. This entry-level nursing accreditation takes only a year of school and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for LPNs (NCLEX-PN) to complete, making it an attractive option for those looking to get to work fast or who are paying for their school out of pocket. Admission requirements are typically a high school diploma or GED and a drug and background screening.
For over 40 years, the Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center has been helping students gain skills in fulfilling vocations like nursing. Graduates have the option of taking on an internship from one of the nearby hospitals, including the Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.
VWCC is a public two-year college located just outside of the capital of Roanoke that offers 69 programs including an LPN certificate. Students have numerous nearby hospitals from which to choose for their clinical hours and potential employment after passing their NCLEX-PN.
Wytheville Community College is a branch of Virginia Tech whose mission is to provide Associate-level education geared towards helping people start a career. The school has three locations: the main campus in Wytheville, and two satellite locations at the Crossroads Institute in Galax and the Summit Center for Higher Education in Marion.
Valley Career and Tech Center is a learning facility that helps people of all ages finish their GEDs or enter vocations such as becoming an LPN. Students from any background can go from no education to a successful career as an LPN in as little as 21 months in small classrooms with plenty of instructor focus.
The second tier of nursing education is an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. Once the student completes their degree and passes their National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN), they will be in the midst of the healthcare process. In addition to the duties that an LPN performs, an RN has the responsibility of measuring and administering medications, monitoring and adjusting patient care according to doctor orders, and helping patients and families with medical information. Many RN programs will take off the first year of school for current LPNs.
Students in Floyd, Pulaski, Montgomery, and Giles counties can count on NRCC for an affordable and effective education. Around 10% of their students each year continue their education by transferring to a four-year institution, an important note for those who may wish to advance beyond an RN license but want to attend a community college to stay near home or save money.
Rapppahannock Community College has been serving people on both sides of the Rappahannock River for almost 50 years. The two campuses are not directly across the river from each other, as the Glenns campus sits closer to the mouth of the river while the Warsaw campus is nestled further north and upstream. The school had an astonishing 100% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN in 2017, and scores around 90% in the previous years show that the high marks are no fluke.
VWCC’s nursing program produces spectacular results for its students with 80% passing their NCLEX-RN on the first attempt and an overall pass rate of 96.43% in 2017. The convenient Roanoke location provides numerous nearby hospitals and clinics for aspiring nurses to practice their craft and stay close to home for work after graduating if they don’t want to venture out of Virginia. At an expected $11,601.85 for the degree, the average nurse will make up the cost of their degree with 10 weeks of work.
The Southside Virginia Community College is not confined to just one city on the southern border of Virginia. The school has two campuses in Alberta and Keysville along with five education centers that spread into the surrounding area, covering the largest area of any community college in the state. Both campuses have nearly equal NCLEX-RN pass rates, so choose the one that’s closer or has teachers that you would like to have as guides.
Tidewater Community College is a sprawling workforce education institution with numerous locations around the Hampton Roads area, including campuses in Norfolk, Chesapeake Bay, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. In addition to the convenience of multiple campuses, LPNs can skip half of the process to earn their Associate’s and qualify to take the NCLEX-RN.
Prospective nursing students in Newport News and the surrounding peninsula should take a close look at Thomas Nelson Community College’s Hampton Campus. The school partners with local healthcare facilities such as the Riverside Regional Medical Center and Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center for hands-on training that gives budding RNs degree credit and valuable experiences.
While technically the same school, the Historic Triangle Campus of TNCC is located almost 30-miles away in the city of Williamsburg. The wide spread of campuses means that students can choose the one that is most convenient for them. TNCC also provides distinct NCLEX-RN pass rates for nursing students at either campus, and this one edged out a narrow lead of just over 1% in the last set of results.
The Virginia Appalachian Tri-College Nursing Program combines three schools into one source of education for aspiring nurses. The program is supported by Mountain Empire Community College, Old Dominion University, and Virginia Highlands Community College. Curriculum options include the standard two-year degree path, an LPN-to-RN fast track, and tracks with part-time schedules including nights and weekends for those working their way through school.
While other community colleges may have online courses for other degrees, creating an online program for nursing requires a special touch. The NOVA (Northern Virginia) online RN program is a hybrid track that mixes live lectures, digital tasks like reading and homework, and in-person training. This extra flexibility makes NOVA an excellent choice for any nursing student juggling work and school in the northern part of the state near Washington, DC.
The Saint Michael College of Allied Health has only one purpose: providing an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing to its students. The main campus resides in the city of Alexandria, and a quick trip up the Potomac River into the nation’s capital will put you at the satellite Washington, DC campus. The school is relatively new with a founding year of 2007, but it has proven to be an excellent force for achieving its mission of creating new health workers.
You can get your nursing education straight from the source by enrolling in the nursing program from Southside Regional Medical Center’s College of Health Sciences. In addition to receiving a quality nursing education that sees 90.91% of its graduates pass the NCLEX-RN, you will be in a position to spend more time in a hospital environment and potentially find avenues of interest that you might have missed in a traditional college.
Located in Martinsville, VA, PHCC teaches almost 3,000 minds every semester to succeed in their chosen career with integrity and respect as well as a keen grasp on the fundamentals of their field. Unlike many community colleges, there are multiple extracurricular sports activities for both male and female students who are looking for physical and social activity in addition to their normal learning curriculum.
Finally, there are the four-year institutions that offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. Nurses with a BSN still take the NCLEX-RN that those with an AAS take, but the extra schooling opens more career paths. Admissions typically requires the completion of prerequisite general college courses which are reflected in the total length of the program, and fewer students tend to be accepted by the schools for a lower acceptance rate. These advanced positions typically come with a pay increase, and the degree can earn a raise in typical RN positions as the healthcare facilities expect the BSN to provide more. The downside for students is that a BSN is the most expensive degree path with the longest time to complete.
Heading to the namesake university of the state is a frequent dream of Virginia residents, and nursing students who have that hope will be happy to hear that the UVA Nursing program is worthy of the prestige. It’s the only nursing school in the state to be ranked in the top 20 nursing schools across the country by the US News & World Report. Those who want to go into medical research will be happy to find an active research department within the nursing school. With the combination of those credentials and a stellar NCLEX-RN pass rate, any nurse who can get past the acceptance process should be ecstatic.
Join nearly a thousand students each year who get their nursing degree from the School of Nursing at VCU. The Clinical Learning Center provides students with a simulated caretaking experience that exposes them to a trial run of common issues seen in real-life scenarios. The simulations give the value of learning from a mistake before it has an effect on a patient’s care, and it can help prevent a mistake that may have never been noticed otherwise. If you plan on progressing beyond a Bachelor degree, VCU was ranked in the top 50 nationwide for graduate nursing schools by the US News & World Report.
George Mason University started out as a part of the University of Virginia before separating into its own institution in 1972. The school’s Biomedical Research Lab is one of the thirteen modern laboratories created with the help of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases along with the National Institutes of Health for the purpose of studying biological threats, making the school a prime destination for nurses interested in pursuing research careers.
The College of Virginia Beach is a subsidiary of Hampton University that focuses on nursing and hospitality degrees. An accelerated BS program lets motivated students go from enrollment to graduation in just 3 years. Students have access to a clinical laboratory, computer laboratory, and nursing resource center in addition to their time with instructors in class.
The School of Nursing at JMU has been teaching students and engaging in research for over a century. Students gain practical experience in a mixture of real-world clinical hours and time spent in simulation labs for acute and general care. You can check out the school’s new nursing magazine for information about the program, what students and faculty are accomplishing with their education and nursing news from around the world.
In addition to operating a College of Health Sciences, Sentara is a multi-purpose healthcare organization with hospitals, remote treatment centers, and other facilities around Virginia. Earning your BSN from Sentara gets you priority placement over other applicants to positions within the Sentara network.
Stratford University is a private four-year institution with six locations around Virginia, one in Maryland, and one across the world in New Delhi, India. The Falls Church and Woodbridge locations are particularly excellent for nursing students thanks to a bevy of nearby medical facilities. Many of the core classes and some of the nursing classes can be taken online to give busy students more flexibility in their schedules.
Bon Secours is a private Catholic college that makes its home in Richmond. The small institution makes sure that every student receives the instructor attention that they need to be successful in their NCLEX-RN and beyond. In addition to the traditional BSN degree path, RNs can take part in an online program to upgrade their degree while they work as normal.
If you are looking for a private nursing school that leads into a career as a research nurse, Liberty University delivers exactly what you want. The sister College of Osteopathic Medicine operates a pre-clinical research elective, and faculty from the school perform research like a study of populations who carry MRSA.
GWU’s School of Nursing focuses on taking existing RNs and getting them to a BSN then onwards to their career or graduate education. Licensed RNs can take advantage of the Nursing Scholars Program where they will take online courses, work in the GW Hospital for clinical study, and commit to three years of work at the hospital post-graduation in exchange for not having to pay one penny of tuition.
Now that you have looked through the list of schools, it’s time to parse down the list to the nursing degree type that you want and the school that fits your needs. Once you have your shortlist, check out the school website to find out more information on their admission requirements, application deadlines, and available resources for students.
NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN pass rates are taken from the most recent results available. Schools with less than 80% pass rate were filtered entirely with a preference for schools with pass rates above 90%. Within each degree type, schools were ranked favorably for high pass rates and lower tuitions. Tuition is given as in-state / out-of-state in yearly, full program, or credit hour format according to the school’s methodology.