12 of the Best Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

    August 11, 2023 | Admin

    Making the decision to become a nurse can be the first step toward a rewarding career. To get started, you may be looking for the best nursing schools in Pennsylvania, programs that can meet your needs and prepare you to serve your community. The following are some of the best nursing programs in the state.

    The Best Nursing Schools in PA

    The following are the top-ranked nursing schools in Pennsylvania. Consider looking at these opportunities to determine if they fit your specific educational goals.

    University of Pennsylvania

    Tuition: $58,620 per year

    Credits required: A minimum of 32 course credits

    Penn Nursing offers Ivy League-level education that supports not just skill building, but also a wide range of resources to help students compete in a diverse and challenging environment. They offer innovative programs, including specialization, research-focused programs, and renowned faculty. Their programs are dedicated to creating exceptional nursing students who become leaders in their field.

    York College of PA

    Tuition: $11,060 per semester

    Credits required: A minimum of 121 credits

    The York College of Pennsylvania nursing program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree through hands-on skill training, clinical research-focused studies, and regional internships. Students have the opportunity to intern in leading hospitals and nursing centers in specific environments such as mental health, surgical, or family practice. They also provide a strong mentorship program to support students in advancing their education.

    University of Pittsburgh

    Tuition: $8,412 per semester

    Credits required: At least 124 credits

    The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing offers several educational paths toward earning a nursing degree, including traditional undergraduate BSN programs and online programs. The goal is to prepare students to be nurses in a fast-paced environment. Students work through a series of courses, complete internships, and gain experience through externships with local hospitals and medical centers.

    Pennsylvania State University

    Tuition: Starts at $19,286 per year

    Credits required: A minimum of 120 credits

    Pennsylvania State University offers a four-year nursing program through the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, providing hands-on studies, clinical experiences in area hospitals and medical centers, and innovative research projects. Students can choose from a range of advanced practice areas, including nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or leadership roles.

    LaSalle University

    Tuition: Starts at $34,270 per year

    Credits required: A minimum of 120 credits

    The LaSalle University nursing program utilizes an evidence-based educational model. It is experiential and interprofessional, helping to develop highly skilled nurses who are culturally educated and ready for a fast-paced environment. Students learn in Neighborhood Nursing Centers, which are nurse-managed public health facilities and teaching hospitals throughout the Philadelphia area.

    Duquesne University

    Tuition: $47,146 per year to start

    Credits required: A minimum of 120 credits

    Duquesne University offers a direct admit BSN program designed to create highly skilled nurses who provide exceptional care to patients in intense, fast-paced environments. The program uses the latest technology and hands-on learning to build valuable skills. Students also get support as they sit for their exam, receive internship guidance, and receive job placement assistance throughout the state.

    Conemaugh School of Nursing Hospital

    Tuition: Starts at $391 per credit

    Credits required: The school requires 990 clinical hours and a total of 75 credits

    Conemaugh Health System School of Nursing offers hands-on training for those who wish to work in the field. It has a 990-hour clinical practicum that can be completed within two years. With lower tuition and a low student-to-faculty ratio, it is an excellent choice for those who want to enter the field. Students gain clinical experience at Level 1 Regional Resource Trauma Centers or intensive care facilities in the region.

    Cedar Crest College

    Tuition: Starts at $18,746 per semester

    Credits required: A minimum of 120 credits

    Cedar Crest College is known for its smaller class sizes and innovative educational programs. Students receive more hands-on support here, with free access to 20 hours a day of tech in a simulation lab to improve their skills. The college also offers numerous specialization options, a modern, innovative-based nursing education program, and connections to local employers in various fields, from birth to end-of-life nursing positions.

    Wilkes University

    Tuition: Starts at $19,567 per semester

    Credits required: A minimum of 120 credits

    Wilkes University offers a comprehensive nursing program to prepare students to work as an RN in any of the PA hospitals and medical facilities in the region. The school is known for its innovative programs and research-based educational paths. They also offer online graduate programs for nurses to continue their education and take on leadership roles.

    Reading Hospital School of Health Science

    Tuition: Starts at $41,060 per year

    Credits required: A minimum of 125 credits

    Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences offers a comprehensive nursing program for those interested in an RN to BSN path. Students gain access to a modern nursing program with a clinical-based education process. Students typically take four years to earn their degree, but accelerated learning programs may be available to complete the program in a shorter amount of time.

    Pittsburgh Technical College

    Tuition: Starts at $21,090 per year for the program

    Credits required: Completion of a minimum of 80 credits

    Pittsburgh Technical College offers several nursing tracks, including an Associate of Science in Nursing, an LPN to ASN track, and a Practical Nursing Certificate. Each program offers hands-on opportunities to learn core nursing skills. The college has a simulation center that creates a hospital-like environment, numerous student support pillars, and career services to help graduates find jobs that align with their goals.

    PA College of Health Sciences

    Tuition: Starts at $16,080 per year

    Credits required: A minimum of 120 credits

    The nursing program at Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences provides intimate learning from a long-proven school. The program has been in place since 1903 and boasts a 100% job placement record. Their three-year BSN program concept allows students to complete their education and enter the field sooner.

    What Is the Average Nursing Salary in Pennsylvania?

    Salaries for nurses vary due to a number of factors, including experience, education level, and location. Opportunities to work overtime can also affect a nurse’s salary significantly. 


    According to Indeed, the average RN salary in Pennsylvania exceeded $44.00 per hour, or more than $94,000 annually, as of mid 2023. 

    BSN Graduates

    While a BSN isn’t required to become an RN, some employers require their registered nurses to have a bachelor’s degree, and many RNs are BSN degree holders. That being the case, the salary guidance for RNs is applicable to BSN graduates. 

    MSN Graduates

    Nurses with master’s degrees are qualified for advanced roles with greater earning potential. For example, the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania exceeded $118,000 in 2023, according to Indeed

    DNP Graduates

    Individuals who earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree can serve in a wide range of roles. While a DNP isn’t required to become an NP, some advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) choose to earn a DNP to qualify for particular clinical roles. DNP holders also work as educators and healthcare executives, so DNP salaries vary significantly. 

    What to Consider When Evaluating Nursing Schools in PA

    As you search for the best nursing schools in Pennsylvania, keep in mind that not all programs are the same. Many of these programs offer outstanding access to exceptional amenities, innovative educational plans, online education, and cost. Consider the following factors when choosing a nursing school.

    Degree Level

    Explore the degree level offered by the program. They should offer the type and level of education that best suits your future, depending on your needs. If you already have a related bachelor’s degree, you may be on a different educational path than those considering a DNP or BSN.

    Local Healthcare Partnerships

    Research the partnerships the school has with hospitals, medical providers, or research centers. This is important because a component of your education will likely involve spending time in an internship or working in the field. Ensure that the organizations involved are ones you want to work with.

    Pennsylvania Job Market

    The nursing field in PA is extensive, with several large hospital systems and many local practices, research centers, and labs. Some professionals may wish to work in a specific field or provide very specialized services. Choose a school that aligns with your desired field.


    Choose an accredited nursing program, which has been verified to offer the educational level and insight required by the accrediting body. This gives you confidence in the program. In PA, the main accreditation to look for in any program is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

    Nursing Salary and Job Outlook in Pennsylvania

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that in 2021, the median pay for an RN was $77,600 per year or $37.31 per hour. In Pennsylvania, the annual mean wage in 2021 was $80,630, according to the BLS. Nurse practitioners in Pennsylvania earned an annual mean wage of $120,550.

    The BLS projects that registered nursing jobs will grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031, which is about as fast as the national average for all occupations. Jobs for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are expected to increase by 40% over the same period, according to the BLS.

    Where Do Nurses Work in Pennsylvania?

    Nurses are in demand in a wide range of employment areas in the state. RNs work in hospitals, private practice doctor’s offices, urgent cares, surgical centers, labs, and research centers. Some of the largest organizations in the state employing nurses are:

    • Pennsylvania Department of Health
    • Temple University Hospital
    • Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
    • Reading Hospital
    • Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest
    • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
    • UPMC Presbyterian Hospital

    What Are Nursing Licensure Requirements for PA?

    The Pennsylvania Department of State indicates several key requirements for obtaining a nursing license in the state. They include:

    • Completion of an approved nursing program through an accredited program
    • Passing the licensing examination (the NCLEX-RN)
    • Payment of a licensing fee
    • Completion of ongoing continuing education

    The state does not have formal experience requirements for working as a nurse, but students must meet all requirements of the educational program they select, which typically include internships.

    What Types of Accreditation Options Are There for Nursing Schools in PA?

    Accreditation of nursing programs in PA depends on the specific area of study. There are two national accrediting organizations:

    • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
    • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

    Additionally, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education offers regional accreditation for nursing schools in Pennsylvania.

    Nursing Scholarships and Financial Aid in Pennsylvania

    Students ready to enroll in nursing school may wish to pursue scholarships, grants, and financial aid to help pay for their education. The first step is to complete the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). This allows colleges to offer scholarship aid. After completing the FAFSA, consider the following available scholarships for nursing students:

    Education is critical, and finding the best nursing schools in Pennsylvania takes careful consideration of how well a program aligns with your needs. The availability of scholarships can also be an important factor to consider when choosing a school.

    Find the program that’s right for you

    Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

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