Nursing is a rewarding career that pays well—the best of both worlds. You get to help people on a daily basis and earn a respectable salary at the same time. If you’re thinking about starting a career in nursing, you’ll need to find a nursing school that will help you reach your goal. There are many nursing schools in Minnesota, and we’ve made a list of the top 20 for your convenience. But first, let’s talk about what kind of degree you should be looking for.
ADN vs BSN
The first thing to consider is whether to pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Either degree will prepare you to become a Registered Nurse. You can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam after completing your ADN or BSN degree. You must pass the test to become a Registered Nurse.
Registered Nurses make quite a bit more money than LPNs or CNAs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an RN is $73,300 per year, while the median salary for an LPN is $47,480.
The advantage of the ADN degree is that it only takes two years to complete, so you can start working as a Registered Nurse faster. However, the ADN degree may not be enough. There has been a push lately for healthcare organizations to hire only BSN-educated nurses. This means that the BSN degree provides more job opportunities. It also makes you more qualified for higher-level, supervisory roles.
The Top 20 Nursing Schools in Minnesota
For the purposes of this article, we included only schools that offer a bachelor’s level nursing program that has been approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing. The list of approved programs is here, in case you want to see what schools are approved for associate level programs as well.
We evaluated the schools based on tuition cost (lowest is best) and enrollment (highest is best) to determine our rankings. Here are the 20 best nursing schools in Minnesota.
1. Metropolitan State University – St. Paul, MN (96 points)
The College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Metropolitan State University is dedicated to scholarly and academic excellence. The school has many partnerships in the community and offers graduate and undergraduate programs that prepare nurses for successful lifelong careers.
Metropolitan offers flexible options such as online courses and hybrid programs to make the curriculum accessible to working RNs. The school prepares nurses to meet the needs of diverse and underserved populations within the community.
The Minnesota Alliance for Nursing Education (MANE) BSN program is a national model for nursing education. The program was created in 2013. It is approved by the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation and graduates are eligible to take the holistic nurse certification exam.
In addition to the MANE BSN and an RN to BSN program, Metropolitan State University also offers two MSN degrees and two DNP degrees.
- Tuition: $3,651.48 per semester
- Enrollment: 11,506
2. Minnesota State University-Mankato – Mankato, MN (95 points)
The College of Allied Health and Nursing at Minnesota State University-Mankato offers graduate and undergraduate nursing programs that prepare students for fulfilling careers and get them ready to pursue advanced nursing degrees. Whether you want to be an RN or a Family Nurse Practitioner, Minnesota State Mankato can help you reach your goals.
Minnesota State Mankato has a 16,000 square foot simulation center with 13 high-tech mannequins that students can use to practice their skills. Nursing students spend a lot of time in the simulation center starting from their first semester of study.
The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, an RN baccalaureate completion program, a Master of Science in Nursing in Family Nurse Practitioner, a Nursing Practice DNP, and a post-nursing masters Primary Care FNP graduate certificate.
- Tuition: $3,807.80 per semester
- Enrollment: 15,000
3. Rasmussen College – Bloomington, MN (94 points)
Rasmussen College offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Nursing that train students to become the best nurses they can be. The school is the nationwide leader in producing ADN/RN graduates in the nation and produces more practical nursing grads than any other school in Minnesota.
Rasmussen offers nursing degrees at every level, starting with nursing assistant training and a diploma in practical nursing. They have an associate degree (ADN/RN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, an RN to BSN program, a Master of Science in Nursing, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
The school has a network of more than 7,500 nursing students and 16,000 alumni. There are more than 750 faculty members. Rasmussen understands the dedication and hard work it takes to become a nurse. The school provides the education you need to succeed in the nursing field.
- Tuition: $3,900 per semester
- Enrollment: 15,254
3. Winona State University – Winona, MN (94 points)
The College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Winona State University has the nursing program you need whether you are interested in becoming a Registered Nurse or you’re looking to advance your education to the graduate level.
Winona’s nursing graduates are in demand with employers. In fact, the school has a 96% job placement rate. The school also has NCLEX pass rates above the national average. WSU has many partnerships with local healthcare providers to ensure that students get the clinical experience they need.
At the undergraduate level, Winona has a traditional 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as an RN to BSN completion program. Master of Science in Nursing students can choose a concentration in nurse educator or nursing leadership. The DNP program has six specializations to choose from.
- Tuition: $3,799.16 per semester
- Enrollment: 8,856
5. St. Cloud State University – St. Paul, MN (93 points)
The Department of Nursing at St. Cloud State University offers a 21st century education for a 21st century profession. The school teaches culturally appropriate care, alternative healing methods, health advocacy, ethics, communication, and critical thinking.
The school’s emphasis is on addressing the needs of patients and communities while using basic nursing skills and concepts. St. Cloud partners with many healthcare agencies all over the state to provide hands-on learning experiences for its students’ final capstone experience.
In addition to preparing students to take the NCLEX-RN exam, St. Cloud’s nursing graduates can earn public health nurse certifications. The school has a partnership with a nursing program in Chile that provides students with the opportunity to travel and study abroad. There is a simulation lab with high-tech equipment where students can practice their nursing skills.
- Tuition: $4,445 per semester
- Enrollment: 15,461
6. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities – Minneapolis, MN (92 points)
The University of Minnesota School of Nursing has been training nurses for more than 110 years. The school was the first to offer a DNP degree in health innovation, nursing informatics, and nurse anesthesia and the second in the country to have a full-time DNP. Its midwifery and informatics programs are both ranked #2 in the US by US News & World Report.
The School of Nursing provides a dynamic environment in which to research and learn. Its faculty members are known for their research discoveries, practice expertise, and leadership. They are at the front line of today’s healthcare challenges.
The school is ranked #12 among all the nursing schools in the country by US News & World Report. Its research benefits from collaboration with other departments in the university’s Academic Health Center, including public health, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and medicine.
- Tuition: $6,659 per semester
- Enrollment: 51,147
7. Minnesota State University-Moorhead – Moorhead, MN (91 points)
The School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership at Minnesota State University-Moorhead prepares graduate and undergraduate nursing students for global citizenship, leadership, caring service, and lifelong learning. The school has a 92% employment rate and a 100% internship placement rate. It is transfer-friendly and focused on adult learning.
Minnesota State University-Moorhead offers a MANE BSN for non-RN students, an RN to BSN for RNs with an associate degree or diploma in Registered Nursing, and an MS in Nursing.
The school’s faculty works with each student to create a plan so they can work at their own pace. Students can choose to take one to three courses per term based on how much they think they can handle. The curriculum includes hands-on learning through clinical courses and internships.
- Tuition: $3,816 per semester
- Enrollment: 7,534
8. Bemidji State University – Bemidji, MN (87 points)
The Nursing Department at Bemidji State University offers a supportive learning environment that features technical and academic excellence. The school’s faculty is committed to mentoring students and providing the resources and support they need to achieve their career goals.
Bemidji State offers clinical settings that give students the hands-on experience they need to become clinical experts. The school has a four-year BSN track as well as an RN to BSN track. The four-year track was created to serve traditional students. Faculty members help students create an educational plan, choose an area of specialization, and analyze career options.
Students at Bemidji are inspired to lead fulfilling lives as professional nurses. The school teaches students to care for patients with a high degree of professionalism. It’s mission includes developing innovative leaders, creative problem solvers, and critical thinkers.
- Tuition: $3,988 per semester
- Enrollment: 5,120
9. Concordia University St. Paul – St. Paul, MN (81 points)
Concordia University St. Paul offers a pre-licensures Bachelor of Science in Nursing that is designed to prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become Registered Nurses. Graduates are prepared to enter a dynamic healthcare environment as nursing generalists.
Students take part in supervised clinical practice, simulation labs, and classroom experiences to gain the skills and knowledge they need to serve a variety of clients as nurses. They learn evidence-based practice concepts and improve their collaboration, advocacy, and leadership skills. The program requires 60 credit hours and is held on campus.
Concordia also has an online RN to BSN program. Although the coursework is online, students also participate in practice experiences in their own communities. This program is meant for Registered Nurses who want to advance their education as well as their careers.
- Tuition: $11,700 per semester
- Enrollment: 4,380
10. Bethel University – St. Paul, MN (78 points)
At Bethel University, nursing is a way to improve the world through compassion and care. Students are prepared to serve an ever-changing, diverse society through nursing education and practice. They gain leadership skills as well as clinical nursing skills.
Bethel’s Department of Nursing provides access to cross-cultural service activities and state-of-the-art labs. In addition to its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, the school offers master’s degrees in nurse educator and nurse-midwifery.
The BSN program is for students who care deeply about the health of others and want to work closely with communities, families, and individuals to promote health. The program gives students opportunities to apply evidence-based practice concepts and gain an understanding of nursing theory. Students develop their critical thinking skills and master the technical knowledge they need to succeed as nurses. Graduates work in hospitals, public health agencies, clinics, schools, and more.
- Tuition: $19,435 per semester
- Enrollment: 6,500
11. St. Catherine University – St. Paul, MN (75 points)
The Henrietta Schmoll School of Health at St. Catherine University has been training nurses for more than 80 years. The school gives students the experience and technical skills they need to succeed in the field of nursing. The faculty is made up of caring individuals who are professionals in their field.
St. Catherine has partnerships with many healthcare providers in the area, which gives its students plenty of opportunities to participate in clinical experiences. The nursing program is highly respected and prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN exam. It can be completed in four years by taking 32 credits per year.
Nursing students at St. Catherine complete coursework in research methods, biomedical ethics, healthcare teams, sociology, biology, chemistry, anatomy, nursing care for families, pathophysiology, and psychology. The program is rigorous and highly competitive.
- Tuition: $22,240 per semester
- Enrollment: 4,724
11. College of Saint Scholastica – Duluth, MN (75 points)
The School of Nursing at the College of Saint Scholastica has more than 100 years of experience giving nursing students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in nursing. The school’s programs address the needs of urban and rural areas, paying special attention to underserved populations.
There are three tracks in the school’s nursing program. There is a traditional undergraduate nursing program, a post-baccalaureate program, and an online RN to BSN program. The undergraduate nursing program prepares students to take on entry-level nursing jobs and to be licensed as RNs. The program emphasizes collaboration, communication, caring, and critical thinking. Students gain clinical competency as well as core nursing knowledge.
St. Scholastica also offers a hybrid nursing assistant training program as well as a Bachelor’s to DNP program and a post-graduate APRN certificate program.
- Tuition: $19,375 per semester
- Enrollment: 3,906
11. University of Northwestern-St. Paul – St. Paul, MN (75 points)
The School of Nursing at the University of Northwestern-St. Paul offers a Bachelor of Science of Nursing that focuses on service, ministry, and the nursing paradigm. Students gain a strong foundation in the sciences, liberal arts, and biblical studies as well as nursing. The program centers around finding the answers to nine questions that students need to be able to answer.
The University of Northwestern-St. Paul has a 98.36% NCLEX-RN pass rate and 100% of its graduates are employed within six months. Students develop a ministry mindset toward nursing while preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam.
In addition to the traditional BSN program, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul also offers an accelerated program. Both pathways provide the same content, engaged faculty-student community, and outstanding support for students. The school has small classes and faculty members encourage students to engage with their patients.
- Tuition: $16,245 per semester
- Enrollment: 3,427
14. University of Minnesota-Rochester – Rochester, MN (74 points)
The University of Minnesota-Rochester offers an Early Assurance Nursing program for students who want to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Students take the first year of classes in the BSHS program and then start the BSN program at the Rochester campus during their sophomore year. Early Assurance Nursing students complete all four years of their program on the Rochester campus. Their practicum experience takes place at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Through the Early Decision program, juniors at the Rochester campus can apply for an early admission decision to the Master of Nursing program offered by the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Students who are accepted through the early decision program will start their master’s program the fall after they complete their bachelor’s degrees.
- Tuition: $5,628 per semester
- Enrollment: 488
15. Concordia College – Moorhead, MN (73 points)
The School of Health Professions at Concordia College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Nursing that is based on a liberal arts foundation. Through partnerships with healthcare facilities throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area, students complete more than 700 hours of clinical nursing experience. There are also internship and employment opportunities available.
Concordia offers two BA Nursing tracks. There is a traditional program and an accelerated program. The accelerated program is for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. The accelerated nursing program starts in July and finishes in December, for a total of 16 months.
Required courses for the traditional nursing program include childhood and adolescent health nursing, nursing management, transition to professional nursing, nursing care of adults, population health in a global society, health assessment across the lifespan, and maternal and newborn nursing.
- Tuition: $13,750 per semester
- Enrollment: 1,466
15. Crown College – St. Bonifacius, MN (73 points)
Crown College offers a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing on its Minnesota campus. The school strives to prepare nursing students for a wide variety of positions in many different healthcare settings. Students gain the knowledge, skills, and attitude they need to succeed in the field of nursing. They are encouraged to care for the community as well as the patient.
The BSN program demonstrates the school’s dedication to academic excellence through highly-qualified faculty and a rigorous curriculum. The school has a high pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam for first-time test takers and its graduates are in a good position to be able to take advantage of a variety of job opportunities.
Crown College offers clinical nursing opportunities in many settings, from mental health nursing to pediatric to medical-surgical-clinical. The variety of clinical settings allows students a chance to find out what setting they would like to work in.
- Tuition: $13,635 per semester
- Enrollment: 1,011
17. Bethany Lutheran College – Mankato, MN (70 points)
The Nursing Department at Bethany Lutheran College offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing that prepares students to apply an inter-professional approach to providing healthcare to patients from diverse populations. Students gain the skills, knowledge, and values they need to provide safe and compassionate patient care.
The BSN program prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN exam in order to become Registered Nurses. Students gain practical, hands-on learning experiences in clinical settings and in the nursing applied learning laboratory. Students have access to mannequins to practice their nursing skills.
Students complete their clinical practicums in a variety of settings, including Waseca County, Blue Earth County, Ecumen Adult Day Services, Open Door Health Center, St. Peter Regional Treatment Center, and the Children’s Health Care Center.
- Tuition: $13,990 per semester
- Enrollment: 612
18. Gustavus Adolphus College – St. Peter, MN (69 points)
The Department of Nursing at Gustavus Adolphus College equips nursing students with the skills and knowledge they need to promote health and wellbeing to communities, families, and individuals. The curriculum gives students a solid foundation in the field of nursing.
Students learn to recognize patients’ human needs that go beyond the condition to the person’s values and beliefs. They develop critical thinking and reasoning skills and learn to evaluate various factors in the health of their patients. Students have the opportunity to learn to advocate for their patients, engage in research, and practice professional communication skills.
Nursing is an in-demand career field due to the increase in chronic conditions and the aging population. Gustavus Adolphus College prepares nurses for the many job opportunities available to them.
- Tuition: $24,125 per semester
- Enrollment: 2,450
19. St. Olaf College – Northfield, MN (68 points)
The Department of Nursing at St. Olaf College takes a holistic approach to nursing education. Its nursing education includes instilling a love of lifelong learning and a desire to provide service to others. Students are prepared to pursue advanced degree or to practice as nurses.
Nursing students at St. Olaf are exposed to case management, obtain experience in many different rural and urban healthcare settings, and work with diverse healthcare populations, including public health, geriatrics, adults, and pediatrics. Students develop leadership, collaboration, and communication skills. They learn to apply concepts from other disciplines to nursing and healthcare. They develop ethical reasoning skills and learn to think philosophically and critically about healthcare and life in general.
When students complete the four-year nursing program, they are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam in order to become Registered Nurses.
- Tuition: $25,725 per semester
- Enrollment: 3,179
20. College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University – St. Joseph, MN (67 points)
The College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and will soon be offering graduate nursing programs as well. There will be a Master of Science in Nursing Education, a Doctor of Nursing Practice – leadership track, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice – Family Nurse Practitioner track. The graduate programs will be offered in a hybrid format.
CSB/SJU has been training leaders in nursing for 40 years. The school has a liberal arts foundation and the faculty is dedicated to scholarship, service, teaching, and helping students learn. The bachelor’s nursing program is designed to meet the requirements of the AACN Essentials for Baccalaureate Nursing Education.
Students take prerequisites for the first year and then complete six semesters of nursing coursework. There is an Early Admission Program for high school students with high ACT scores.
- Tuition: $24,222 per semester
- Enrollment: 1,748
Still not sure which Minnesota nursing school is best for you? Use our Degree Finder to help you decide.
Our Ranking Methodology
We gathered undergraduate tuition rates from each school’s website and enrollment data from Google. We used the in-state per semester tuition rates where available. Where tuition was listed per credit, we multiplied by 12 credits to get a semester cost. For annual costs, we assumed that the school year is made up of two semesters.
After sorting first by tuition then by enrollment, we assigned points to each school, with a maximum of 50 points for tuition cost and 50 points for enrollment. We added these two scores to get a final score for ranking.
Problems with Your Ranking?
If you work for one of the schools we ranked and you notice an error in the information we used to rank you, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can make a correction.