25 Best Undergraduate Nursing Schools 2020

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These are the best 25 colleges that offer a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing, based on median salary one year after graduation. The school with the highest median salary for this degree is Sonoma State University, at $110,300. The lowest median debt for the top 25 Nursing Degrees is $11,226, at CUNY Medgar Evers College. The schools on the list boast median starting salaries in the $89,400-$110,300 range.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Sonoma State University $19,678 $12,500 $110,300
#2 #2 California State University-East Bay $18,863 $16,771 $109,500
#3 #3 California State University-Sacramento $19,190 $16,973 $106,600
#4 #4 Samuel Merritt University $50,037 $18,750 $102,400
#5 #5 Mercy College $19,042 $23,750 $98,600
#6 #6 $26,900 $12,500 $98,400
#7 #7 $25,168 $12,500 $97,000
#8 #8 $18,952 $22,188 $96,800
#9 #9 $23,261 $12,500 $94,800
#10 #10 $19,140 $17,894 $94,700
#11 #11 $19,488 $18,700 $93,500
#12 #12 $26,188 $25,000 $93,300
#13 #13 $25,000 $92,900
#14 #14 $51,828 $20,104 $91,800
#15 #15 $45,850 $30,991 $91,600
#16 #16 $14,852 $15,000 $91,100
#17 #17 $18,086 $19,371 $90,900
#18 #18 $37,763 $25,292 $90,900
#19 #19 $47,090 $25,000 $90,700
#20 #20 $14,822 $11,226 $89,900
#21 #21 $36,890 $31,167 $89,800
#22 #22 $30,060 $31,000 $89,700
#23 #23 $14,960 $17,594 $89,500
#24 #24 $19,676 $13,750 $89,400
#25 #25 $18,822 $16,806 $89,400

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top five colleges for a Bachelor's in Nursing degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

Median Debt
$12,500
Median Salary
$110,300

Sonoma State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This is a 4-year pre-licensure on-campus degree, intended for people with no previous nursing background. The first two years of the degree consists of fulfilling general education and pre-nursing requirements. The last two years are an intensive study in all areas of nursing, including significant healthcare experiences. Students will focus on preparation for community health agencies, advanced practice and acute care. The program emphasis includes a broad cultural perspective, leadership, and flexibility. The BSN requires 120 credits.

Courses offered include Nursing Care of Adults, Community Health Nursing, and Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. Graduates will be prepared for appropriate RN licensing exams.

Sonoma State is located in Rohnert Park, north of San Francisco.

View Sonoma State University's website.

Median Debt
$16,771
Median Salary
$109,500

California State University-East Bay offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The program has both a pre-licensure and a post-licensure concentration.

The pre-licensure option is a four to five-year on-campus program. The first two years fulfill general education and pre-nursing requirements, with eight to nine additional quarters of intensive nursing courses. Students will learn how to be a nurse generalist who applies nursing skills in a culturally sensitive manner in any healthcare setting, The degree requires 180 credits, 141 of which are related to nursing. Program courses include Professional Nursing, Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing, and Pharmacology for Nursing Practice. Extensive community engagement is part of the curriculum. Graduates will be prepared for the RN licensure exam. 

The post-licensure option is for students with a California RN license and an Associate Nursing Degree. Depending on experience and previous college work, it may be completed in one or two years, with most courses available online. Graduates are eligible to apply for a California Public Health Nursing Certificate.

CSU-East Bay is located in Hayward, south of Oakland.

View California State University-East Bay's website.

Median Debt
$16,973
Median Salary
$106,600

Through its College of Health and Human Services, California State University-Sacramento offers a pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The first two years of the four-year on-campus degree covers general education and pre-nursing requirements.  Students are then admitted into the program, where they will experience intensive clinical nursing courses. 120 credits are required for the BSN, 61 of which are in the major. There are also options for RN to BSN and ADN to BSN.

Students will learn how to apply nursing skills to individuals, families and diverse communities. There is an emphasis on advocacy and collaborative practice. Courses offered include Human Anatomy and Physiology, Nutrition and Wellness, and Clinical Leadership and Professional ole Development. Graduates are eligible to apply for licensure to the California Board of Registered Nursing.

The RN to BSN program can be completed in 12 to 15 months full-time, depending on credits and experience. The RN to BSN may also be taken part-time. Many courses are available online. The Associate Degree in Nursing to BSN program is limited to regional community colleges. It may also be completed in 12 to 15 months.

CSU-Sacramento is located in Sacramento, the state capital, in California's Imperial Valley.

View California State University-Sacramento's website.

Median Debt
$18,750
Median Salary
$102,400

Samuel Merritt University offers two nursing degree options. One is a two-year on-campus degree completion Bachelor of Science in Nursing for students who have completed general education and pre-nursing requirements at another institution. The degree, offered at the Oakland campus, consists of two years of a clinical nursing curriculum, 67 credits in all. In this program, students will learn relevant observational and communication skills so as to more effectively deliver nursing health care.

The second option is a fast-track BSN, which can be completed in 12 months. This option is for people who already have a degree in some other field. The option is available on the Oakland and Sacramento campuses.

Available courses include Pathopharmacology, Healthy Aging, Community Health, and Care of Infants, Children and Youth.

Samuel Merritt University has campuses in Oakland, Sacramento and Fresno. The school has been educating nurses since 1909. An impressive 91% of graduates pass licensure tests on their first try. The most recent data shows that the employment rate within one year of graduation is 100%.

View Samuel Merritt University's website.

Median Debt
$23,750
Median Salary
$98,600

Mercy College features three paths to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. These include the 4-year pre-licensure BSN offered on the Dobbs Ferry (New York) campus, the Accelerated Second Degree in Nursing, available on the Bronx (New York City) campus, and an RN to BSN available both on the Dobbs Ferry campus and online.

The 4 year program requires 122 credits overall. A few transfer students are accepted, but must complete three years at Mercy regardless of the number of credits. Student learning concentrates on leadership, collaborative practice, research and preparation for advanced study. Proximity to New York City facilitates practical experience in a very wide range of healthcare facilities. Courses in the program include Pharmacology for Nurses, Nursing Informatics, and Leadership and Management. Graduates are eligible to take the RN licensure exam.

The Accelerated Second Degree in Nursing is for people who already have a degree. The BSN degree can be completed in 12 to 15 months full time. The RN to BSN, on the Dobbs Ferry campus, can be completed in one to two years, depending on the number of credits transferred. Up to 90 credits may be transferred from a 4 year institution.

Mercy College's home campus is in Dobbs Ferry, just north of New York City. Mercy also has campuses in the Bronx, Manhattan and Yorktown Heights in New York City.

View Mercy College's website.

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