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2021 Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools

255 Schools Ranked
$45,165 Avg Student Debt

Today's nursing students have lots of options to pick from when considering higher education opportunities. You're no longer limited to schools in your local area, either, since online programs are becoming more prevalent. Also there are many trade schools and bpptcamp that offer short-term programs that open up more career options.

To assist you in seeing some of the education options that are available to you, Nursing Degree Search has created its Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools ranking. This report analyzed 255 schools in the United States to see which ones offered the best graduate certificate programs for nursing students. Factors related to overall quality of the school, post-graduation earnings, average student debt, and more accumulated were considered when coming up with this list.

View our full ranking methodology.

Top Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools in the United States

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Samuel Merritt University

Oakland, California
8 Total Awards
$51,885 Average Tuition & Fees

Our 2021 rankings named Samuel Merritt University the best school in the United States for nursing students working on their graduate certificate. Samuel Merritt University is a private not-for-profit institution located in Oakland, California. The school has a small population, and it awarded 8 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at Samuel Merritt University. During the 2017-2018 year, about 23% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

Full Samuel Merritt University Report

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71 Total Awards
$9,401 Average Tuition & Fees

A rank of #2 on this year’s list means Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is a great place for nursing students working on their graduate certificate. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is a medium-sized public school located in Lubbock, Texas that handed out 71 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. During the 2017-2018 year, about 49% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#3

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland
902 Total Awards
$57,556 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,566 Avg Student Debt

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Johns Hopkins University. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools list. This large private not-for-profit school is located in Baltimore, Maryland, and it awarded 902 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Graduate Certificate recipients from Johns Hopkins accumulate an average of $33,566 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since Johns Hopkins does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. In 2017-2018 about 54% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#4

Villanova University

Villanova, Pennsylvania
195 Total Awards
$20,606 Average Tuition & Fees

The excellent graduate certificate programs at Villanova University helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best nursing schools in the United States. Villanova University is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in Villanova, Pennsylvania that handed out 195 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Villanova does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. In 2017-2018 about 42% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#5

Mayo Clinic School of Medicine

Rochester, Minnesota
25 Total Awards
$18,789 Average Tuition & Fees
$7,963 Avg Student Debt

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around you if you attend Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. The school came in at #5 on this year’s Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools list. Mayo Clinic School of Medicine is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Rochester, Minnesota. It awarded 25 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Graduate Certificate recipients from Mayo Clinic School of Medicine accumulate an average of $7,963 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

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#6

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee
39 Total Awards
$49,124 Average Tuition & Fees

Vanderbilt University ranked #6 on this year’s Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools list. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, the fairly large private not-for-profit school awarded 39 diplomas to qualifed graduate certificate students in 2018-2019.

One thing to take note of is that Vanderbilt does offer online graduate classes in some areas. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 14% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#7

Mount Marty College

Yankton, South Dakota
1 Total Awards
$8,100 Average Tuition & Fees

Mount Marty College came in at #7 in this year’s edition of the Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools ranking. Yankton, South Dakota is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out graduate certificates to 1 students in 2018-2019.

Mount Marty does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 74% took at least some of their classes online.

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70 Total Awards
$9,546 Average Tuition & Fees

University of Nebraska Medical Center landed the #8 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate nursing programs. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, the small public school handed out 70 graduate certificate awards in 2018-2019.

Online graduate courses are available at UNMC, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. In 2017-2018 about 19% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#9

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut
111 Total Awards
$43,300 Average Tuition & Fees

Yale University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for nursing students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #9 on the list. Yale is a fairly large private not-for-profit school situated in New Haven, Connecticut. It awarded 111 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

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#10

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina
85 Total Awards
$56,888 Average Tuition & Fees
$65,134 Avg Student Debt

Duke University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for nursing students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #10 on the list. Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 85 graduate certificates to qualified students.

By the time they get their graduate certificate, students from this school have racked up an average of $65,134 in student loans.

Online graduate courses are available at Duke, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 10% took at least some of their classes online.

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#11

Frontier Nursing University

Hyden, Kentucky
93 Total Awards
$19,675 Average Tuition & Fees
$61,150 Avg Student Debt

Frontier Nursing University landed the #11 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate nursing programs. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Hyden, Kentucky, and it awarded 93 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their graduate certificate, students from this school have racked up an average of $61,150 in student loans.

Since the graduate programs at Frontier Nursing University are primarily online school, so it is a great choice for returning adults and students who work full time.

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#12

University of Connecticut

Storrs, Connecticut
423 Total Awards
$19,056 Average Tuition & Fees
$30,552 Avg Student Debt

University of Connecticut ranked #12 on this year’s Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools list. UCONN is located in Storrs, Connecticut and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 423 graduate certificates to qualified students.

Graduate Certificate recipients from UCONN accumulate an average of $30,552 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since UCONN does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. In fact, around 14% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#13

Texas A&M University - College Station

College Station, Texas
422 Total Awards
$10,173 Average Tuition & Fees
$43,334 Avg Student Debt

Texas A&M University - College Station did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for nursing students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #13 on the list. Texas A&M University - College Station is a large public school located in College Station, Texas that handed out 422 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Graduate Certificate recipients from Texas A&M accumulate an average of $43,334 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Texas A&M does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 8% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#14

George Washington University

Washington, District of Columbia
718 Total Awards
$31,824 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,080 Avg Student Debt

George Washington University came in at #14 in this year’s edition of the Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools ranking. George Washington University is a large private not-for-profit school located in Washington, District of Columbia that handed out 718 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their graduate certificate, students from this school have racked up an average of $33,080 in student loans.

GWU does have options available for those who want to take online graduate classes. You will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your specific major. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 36% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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4 Total Awards
$10,521 Average Tuition & Fees

West Coast University - Orange County ranked #15 on this year’s Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools list. West Coast University - Orange County is a small private for-profit school located in Anaheim, California that handed out 4 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Interested in an online degree? Then you definitely want to check out West Coast University - Orange County. Every graduate student at the school took at least one class online.

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#16

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, California
244 Total Awards
$17,842 Average Tuition & Fees

Azusa Pacific University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for nursing students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #16 on the list. Azusa Pacific is a private not-for-profit institution located in Azusa, California. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 244 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at Azusa Pacific. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 54% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#17

Texas Christian University

Fort Worth, Texas
29 Total Awards
$30,828 Average Tuition & Fees

Texas Christian University came in at #17 in this year’s edition of the Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools ranking. Fort Worth, Texas is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out graduate certificates to 29 students in 2018-2019.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at TCU. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 19% took at least some of their classes online.

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2 Total Awards
$15,523 Average Tuition & Fees

Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions landed the #18 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate nursing programs. RMUoHP is located in Provo, Utah and has a very small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 2 graduate certificates to qualified students.

One thing to take note of is that RMUoHP does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In fact, around 48% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#19

Duquesne University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
31 Total Awards
$23,580 Average Tuition & Fees

With a ranking of #19, Duquesne University did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students working on their graduate certificate. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school handed out 31 graduate certificate awards in 2018-2019.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since Duquesne does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. In fact, around 26% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#20

SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Brooklyn, New York
20 Total Awards
$11,960 Average Tuition & Fees

SUNY Downstate Medical Center landed the #20 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate nursing programs. This small public school is located in Brooklyn, New York, and it awarded 20 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

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#21

Winona State University

Winona, Minnesota
55 Total Awards
$8,232 Average Tuition & Fees
$37,534 Avg Student Debt

Winona State University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best places for nursing students to get a graduate certificate. It came in at #21 on the list. Winona State is a public institution located in Winona, Minnesota. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 55 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

On average, graduate certificate students take out $37,534 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Winona State does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. In 2017-2018 about 50% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#22

Drexel University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
273 Total Awards
$36,021 Average Tuition & Fees
$39,813 Avg Student Debt

Drexel University landed the #22 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate nursing programs. Drexel is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 273 graduate certificates to qualified students.

By the time they get their graduate certificate, students from this school have racked up an average of $39,813 in student loans.

One thing to take note of is that Drexel does offer online graduate classes in some areas. During the 2017-2018 year, about 12% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#23

Thomas Jefferson University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
88 Total Awards
$21,978 Average Tuition & Fees

Thomas Jefferson University landed the #23 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate nursing programs. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out graduate certificates to 88 students in 2018-2019.

One thing to take note of is that Thomas Jefferson University does offer online graduate classes in some areas. During the 2017-2018 year, about 34% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

Full Thomas Jefferson University Report

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#24

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis, Missouri
56 Total Awards
$21,534 Average Tuition & Fees
$45,505 Avg Student Debt

Saint Louis University landed the #24 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best graduate certificate nursing programs. Located in Saint Louis, Missouri, the fairly large private not-for-profit school awarded 56 diplomas to qualifed graduate certificate students in 2018-2019.

On average, graduate certificate students take out $45,505 in loans while pursuing their degree.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since SLU does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. In fact, around 20% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#25

Clarkson College

Omaha, Nebraska
20 Total Awards
$11,658 Average Tuition & Fees
$42,711 Avg Student Debt

Clarkson College came in at #25 in this year’s edition of the Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools ranking. Clarkson College is a private not-for-profit institution located in Omaha, Nebraska. The school has a small population, and it awarded 20 graduate certificates in 2018-2019.

Graduate Certificate recipients from Clarkson College accumulate an average of $42,711 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Clarkson College does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 99% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full Clarkson College Report

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Rest of the Top 15% Best Nursing Graduate Certificate Schools in the United States

Not only did these schools make the top 39 list, but they also landed in the top 15% of this year’s ranking:

#26

Maryville University of Saint Louis

Saint Louis, Missouri
#28

Chamberlain University - Illinois

Addison, Illinois
#29

Bradley University

Peoria, Illinois
#30

Rutgers University - New Brunswick

New Brunswick, New Jersey
#31

University of Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas
#32

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, New York
#34

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Amherst, Massachusetts
#35

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, North Dakota
#36

Gannon University

Erie, Pennsylvania
#37

Molloy College

Rockville Centre, New York
#38

University of St Francis

Joliet, Illinois
#39

University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Campus

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our best nursing schools ranking:

Rank School Location
40 The College of New Jersey Ewing, NJ
41 Pennsylvania State University - World Campus University Park, PA
42 University of Scranton Scranton, PA
43 Wagner College Staten Island, NY
44 New York University New York, NY
45 Emory University Atlanta, GA
46 The University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, TX
47 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
48 Towson University Towson, MD
49 Bethel University Minnesota Saint Paul, MN
50 University of South Carolina - Columbia Columbia, SC
51 Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus, OH
52 Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA

Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • Read more about our ranking methodology.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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