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Best Nursing Schools in Wisconsin in 2018 (On-Campus & Online)

Best Nursing Schools in Wisconsin in 2018 (On-Campus & Online)

Want to be a nurse or advance your nursing career? You’re part of a unique slice of the population—nurturers with intelligence, solid decision-makers with healing hands, collaborators, constant self-educators. You’re one with big dreams and ambitions. And nursing can take you some incredible places, depending on what career path in the nursing field you choose to take.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, experts project that the job opportunities for nurses are going to increase by 15% between 2016 and 2026. That’s huge–a much higher rate of growth than most industries. For Wisconsin in particular, the need for more nurses is reaching critical levels–particularly nurses in specialized fields. So if you’re exploring options for nursing schools in Wisconsin, rest assured that your job outlook is excellent, and opportunities to advance grow each year.

But finding the best nursing school for you can be a bit of a headache. That’s why we’ve compiled some crucial information on some of the best nursing schools Wisconsin has to offer. Use this guide jas a jumping-off point for your school search, and you might just find your perfect fit–and an incredible future–at one of these highly-acclaimed schools.

Best All-Around Nursing Schools in Wisconsin

These nursing schools offer a variety of program options and combine great NCLEX pass rates with a good value for your time and money. If you’re looking for a BSN program, this is the plays to start.

1. Maranatha Baptist University

A Christian university with small class sizes and a 100% NCLEX pass rate last year, Maranatha Baptist University has a lot to offer. MBU is located in Watertown, Wisconsin, a charming little town on the Rock River. The 4-year BSN program consistently turns out well-rounded nurses who go on to serve in some of the state’s best hospitals and clinics.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 4 Years
  • Tuition: ~$18,000 per year

2. Carroll University

It’s impossible to beat Carroll University’s perfect NCLEX pass rate, and even harder to argue with their beautiful campus, nestled in the heart of small-town Waukesha, WI. The star of Carroll University’s nursing program is the traditional BSN, a four-year model requiring 57 credit hours to complete. Carroll boasts one of the most highly-rated nursing programs in the country, so even though it’s not the least expensive on our list, it’s worth a look.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Tuition: ~$23,000 after financial aid

3. University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a few nursing programs, including the traditional BSN track that’s perfect for those brand new to the field. The official nursing program is two years long, but entrance into that program requires two years of prerequisites (pre-nursing classes). If you’ve already taken relevant prerequisite classes, you can transfer them in to shorten your total amount of time in the program.

  • NLEX Pass Rate: 93%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 2 years of pre-nursing prerequisites; 2 years in the BSN program
  • Tuition: ~$19,000/year after financial aid

4. Columbia College of Nursing

The Columbia College of Nursing is located in Glendale, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee. Because their only focus is on training excellent nurses, you can expect the best from CCON, including a high NCLEX pass rate and versatile options to obtain your BSN. Columbia refers to their BSN program as a “Two plus two” option, meaning that students are expected to complete their first two years of general classes and prerequisites at the college or university of their choice, then apply to CCON to complete their two-year BSN program. Although they’re affiliated with Lakeland University, CCON accepts transfers from most colleges and universities.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 93%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 2 years (plus 2 years of prerequisites transferred in)
  • Tuition: $28,000 per year

5. Marquette University

Marquette University is a private Catholic university with an emphasis on caring for the whole person. Their small but successful nursing program has earned a high NCLEX pass rate and the respect of the Wisconsin nursing community–and students love the small class sizes and dedicated faculty. Marquette’s nursing options include a traditional BSN that takes about four years to complete as well as a Masters of Science in Nursing and an MSN with a specialty in midwifery care.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 92%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Tuition: ~$31,000 after financial aid

Most Affordable Wisconsin Nursing Programs

If you’re looking for the best value possible as you get started on your way to a nursing career, these schools are a great place to start. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes more expensive schools might have the perfect financial aid options for you–so don’t limit yourself to the options below this heading!

1. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

UW Green Bay has several options for aspiring nurses, including a Nurse 1-2-1 track for those with no nursing experience, RN to BSN tracks with fully online, fully on-site, and hybrid course options, and a masters-level option, as well. Conveniently located in Green Bay, the Nursing and Health Studies division of UW Green Bay is one of the larger programs on our list, but they have a solid track record of preparing students well. They’re also an incredible value compared to many other public and private universities.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 80%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 4 years for the traditional BSN; 2-3 for RN-BSN candidates, depending on prerequisite courses already taken
  • Tuition: ~$14,000 after financial aid

2. University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

UW Oshkosh offers one of the largest and most diverse nursing programs in the state. Whether you’re looking for a traditional BSN, an accelerated online BSN completion program, or a master- or doctorate-level program, you’ll find it here, along with state-of-the-art facilities and one of the state’s highest NCLEX pass rates. UW Oshkosh’s College of Nursing was the first in the state to offer a doctorate-level nurse anesthetist program, and they’re the leader of the pack when it comes to an incredible education at a great value.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 97%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: varies
  • Tuition: ~$15,000 per year

3. University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

The University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire offers an incredible nursing program at one of the best values in the state. Here you’ll find a traditional on-campus BSN, a remote BSN option, a BSN completion program, and master’s degree options. Most nursing students at UW-Eau Claire participate in some type of study abroad or cultural immersion experience as part of their nursing studies, and students say that aspect is one of their favorite parts about studying here.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 87%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 4 years for the traditional BSN
  • Tuition: ~$15,000 after financial aid

4. Viterbo University

Viterbo University’s nursing program is often overlooked in the ratings and reports, but it has a high rate of success at turning out well-prepared nurses, and it’s among the more affordable options on our list! Viterbo is a Roman Catholic/Franciscan university located in Lacrosse. Students often talk about how much they love the small class sizes, welcoming community, and professors who really invest in students’ lives. Viterbo offers a BSN either via direct admission (a shorter program for those who meet minimum test score and GPA requirements) or via the traditional pre-nursing route, which covers a full spectrum of liberal arts and nursing courses.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 87%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 4-5 years
  • Tuition: ~$18,000 after financial aid

5. Alverno College

Alverno is a Roman Catholic women’s college located in Milwaukee, WI. Their small but mighty nursing program is a great value for many students, and a solid NCLEX pass rate above the national average speaks highly of their ability to prepare future nurses for a successful career. Alverno offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a BSN completion program for existing RN’s, and several graduate programs in nursing.

NCLEX Pass Rate: 87%

Beyond the RN—Best Masters- and Doctorate-Level Nursing Programs

Ready to take your career to the next level–or looking to the future and thinking about what you’ll do after you earn your BSN? These are Wisconsin’s top masters-level nursing programs.

1. University of Wisconsin-Madison

UW-Madison’s leading nursing program offers a doctorate in nursing practice and a PhD in nursing in addition to their undergraduate programs. Both degrees are perfect for nurses looking toward a future in nursing administration, teaching, or other high-level nursing positions. The doctorate-level program is a hybrid of online and in-person classes and can be completed in 3 or 4 years for those who already have a BSN, or in 2 years for those who already have a master’s degree in nursing.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 93%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: 2-4 years
  • Tuition: contact UW-Madison’s financial aid office for details

2. Edgewood College

The Henry Predolin School of Nursing at Edgewood College has one of the highest NCLEX pass rates in the state for good reason: their faculty and staff are passionate about their profession, they’re talented teachers, and they’re excited to share their wisdom and insight with a new generation of nursing students. Their traditional BSN takes 5 years to complete; other programs, like the 12-month post-baccalaureate BSN, can be completed much more quickly depending on the courses you’ve already taken for another degree. Edgewood also offers well-rounded RN to MSN programs and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice; both of these higher-level degrees also offer remarkably flexible scheduling, because they’re designed for busy professionals already in the nursing profession.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 97%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: varies
  • Tuition: ~$23,000 per year for undergraduate students; contact the business office for details on graduate program pricing

3. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh offers a few options for professional nurses who wish to advance their career with a master’s or doctorate in nursing. The RN to BSN to MSN program allows students enrolled in the traditional BSN program to take a fast track to a master’s degree. The traditional MSN was designed for practicing nurses who already have a BSN, and its online nature allows students the versatility to complete their degree while working. And the Doctor of Nursing Practice is the highest degree available for nurses who wish to take on more leadership and administrative roles as their career advances.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 97%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: varies
  • Tuition: varies by program; contact this office for more information.

4. Cardinal Stritch University

A Catholic university in Milwaukee, Cardinal Stritch University is associated with the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assissi. Their nursing program offers two MSN degree options, including an MSN Educator Concentration for those who feel called to teach and an MSN Leader Concentration, which equips nurses with the administrative and leadership skills to level up their nursing career and pursue a wider variety of career options. Both programs are highly rated and feature small class sizes and a family-like atmosphere that students say they love.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 88%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: approx. 2 years
  • Tuition: ~$19,000 after financial aid

5. Concordia University

Concordia is a Christian university located in Mequon, WI, and they offer a wide variety of postbaccalaureate programs in nursing. An RN to BSN to MSN track gives BSN students a leg up toward a quicker-than-average MSN; a more traditional MSN track is designed for working nurses who already have a BSN; a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree allows professional nurses the flexibility to attain that terminal degree while continuing to work; and two graduate certificate options allow nurses who already have a BSN or MSN to beef up their resume.

  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 84%
  • Accreditation: Yes
  • Program Length: about 2 years for the traditional MSN; other program lengths vary
  • Tuition: ~$24,000 per year

These aren’t the only great nursing programs in Wisconsin, but they’re solid favorites among students and they offer some of the highest NCLEX pass rates as well as some of the best values in the state. Even if you’re just starting out, looking ahead to the postbaccalaureate options your prospective schools offer makes sense in case you decide to pursue a higher degree right away (or to enroll in a fast-track RN to MSN program, which some of the above schools offer). If you live near the state line, make sure to explore the best nursing schools in Illinois, Minnesota, or Iowa, as well.

Where We Get Our Information

All NCLEX pass rates listed here came from the Department of Safety and Professional Services’ annual NCLEX pass rates report for 2017 or from the individual school’s webpage. All other information comes from each school’s webpage itself or, where information was scarce, from Google’s school search estimates. The tuition rates listed here may vary greatly by program and could be much more or less depending on the amount of financial aid you receive; check with your prospective schools’ financial aid offices for details.

How We Ranked The Schools

Each of the schools on this list is ranked in terms of their NCLEX pass rates (even the master’s and doctorate level programs) and their estimated yearly tuition. Obviously there’s more to a school than these numbers, though, so don’t automatically rule out schools with lower NCLEX pass rates (all the schools on here have pass rates at or above the national average) or schools with a higher price tag (you might actually be eligible for more financial aid at some of these schools, which would make them a better value for you). We’ve ranked the schools in this way so you have a solid starting place as you look at furthering your career.

Note to Schools:

We work hard to make sure the information we provide here is as accurate as possible. If you see something amiss about your school’s information, please don’t hesitate to let us know so we can update the information we provide about your program.

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