As the need for adequate and affordable healthcare intensifies, graduates with a bachelor's degree in nursing will be in demand, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The best undergraduate nursing degree programs train students to serve as liaisons between doctors and patients while also providing effective patient care. "U.S. News and World Report" publishes a list of the top nursing schools in the nation for students seeking careers in one of the fastest growing occupations in the country.
Top-Ranked Nursing Schools
The University of Pennsylvania, John Hopkins University and the University of Washington tied for the first place spot on "U.S. News and World Report's" 2011 rankings of the best nursing schools. Each institution offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In 2013, the National League for Nursing named John Hopkins University a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. Students studying nursing at the University of Pennsylvania can participate in clinical experiences at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia or the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The University of Washington is a leader in securing funding for research from the National Institutes of Health, ranking second among all U.S. schools receiving the most grant dollars.
Fourth place on the 2011 "U.S. News and World Report's" best nursing programs list is shared by the University of California-San Francisco and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from either of these institutions. The University of North Carolina has a well-established program recognized as the first school in the state to offer a B.S. degree in nursing. In recent years, 97 percent of students enrolled in the nursing program passed the NCLEX during their first attempt.
Private University Options
Duke University and Case Western University rank among the top 20 best nursing schools in the nation, according to the 2011 version of "U.S.News and World Report." Duke University offers an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Future nurses at Duke can complete their clinical experiences in the Duke University Health System or in Research Triangle Park. Case Western University is home to the country's first flight nursing program and acute care nurse practitioner degree program.
Online Nursing Degree Programs
The 2013 volume of "U.S. News and World Report" ranks Ferris University in Big Rapids, Michigan as the leading online nursing degree program, while Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas follows behind in second place. These RN-to-BSN programs are tailored to meet the needs of working nurses, who can earn the bachelor's degree entirely online. Ferris University also allows nursing students to attend class part-time, full-time, or combine online and traditional formats. The Texas Board of Nursing has consistently praised the quality of Lamar University's graduates by giving the nursing department numerous commendations for outstanding pass rates on the NCLEX.