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2021 Best Nursing Master's Degree Schools

581 Schools Ranked
$42,682 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 help you arm yourself with the information you need to make your decision, Nursing Degree Search has developed this Best Nursing Master's Degree Schools ranking. This report analyzed 581 schools in the United States to see which ones offered the best master's degree 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 Master's Degree Schools in the United States

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

70 Total Awards
$90,000 Average Tuition & Fees
$107,795 Avg Student Debt

Our analysis found Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia Inc to be the best school for nursing students who want to pursue a master’s degree in the United States. This very small private not-for-profit school is located in Madison, Tennessee, and it awarded 70 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $107,795 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at MTSA. In 2017-2018 about 11% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#2

Samuel Merritt University

Oakland, California
305 Total Awards
$51,885 Average Tuition & Fees
$138,536 Avg Student Debt

Out of the 581 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, Samuel Merritt University landed the # 2 spot on the list. Located in Oakland, California, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 305 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $138,536 in student loans.

Online graduate courses are available at Samuel Merritt University, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. In fact, around 23% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#3

Bryan College of Health Sciences

Lincoln, Nebraska
9 Total Awards
$23,476 Average Tuition & Fees
$71,134 Avg Student Debt

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around you if you attend Bryan College of Health Sciences. The school came in at #3 on this year’s Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Bryan College of Health Sciences is a private not-for-profit institution located in Lincoln, Nebraska. The school has a very small population, and it awarded 9 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $71,134 in student loans.

Bryan College of Health Sciences does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 21% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full Bryan College of Health Sciences Report

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#4

Villanova University

Villanova, Pennsylvania
1,305 Total Awards
$20,606 Average Tuition & Fees
$40,281 Avg Student Debt

The excellent master’s degree 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 1,305 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from Villanova accumulate an average of $40,281 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Online graduate courses are available at Villanova, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. During the 2017-2018 year, about 42% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#5

Saint Vincent College

Latrobe, Pennsylvania
95 Total Awards
$13,890 Average Tuition & Fees
$74,718 Avg Student Debt

Out of the 581 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, Saint Vincent College landed the # 5 spot on the list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and it awarded 95 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from Saint Vincent accumulate an average of $74,718 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at Saint Vincent. 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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#6

Albany Medical College

Albany, New York
72 Total Awards
$28,001 Average Tuition & Fees
$98,904 Avg Student Debt

Albany Medical College came in at #6 in this year’s edition of the Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools ranking. This very small private not-for-profit school is located in Albany, New York, and it awarded 72 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $98,904 in loans while pursuing their degree.

You may have the opportunity to take online graduate classes at AMC Albany. In fact, around 4% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#7

Mount Marty College

Yankton, South Dakota
53 Total Awards
$8,100 Average Tuition & Fees
$100,628 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #7, Mount Marty College did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Mount Marty is a private not-for-profit institution located in Yankton, South Dakota. The school has a small population, and it awarded 53 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from Mount Marty accumulate an average of $100,628 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Online graduate courses are available at Mount Marty, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. In 2017-2018 about 74% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#8

Midwestern University - Glendale

Glendale, Arizona
386 Total Awards
$47,512 Average Tuition & Fees
$91,880 Avg Student Debt

Midwestern University - Glendale came in at #8 in this year’s edition of the Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools ranking. Midwestern University - Glendale is a small private not-for-profit school located in Glendale, Arizona that handed out 386 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $91,880 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at Midwestern University - Glendale. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 1% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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#9

Medical University of South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
322 Total Awards
$17,718 Average Tuition & Fees
$83,344 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #9, Medical University of South Carolina did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Charleston, South Carolina is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The public school handed out master’s degrees to 322 students in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $83,344 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at MUSC. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 16% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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723 Total Awards
$9,535 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,746 Avg Student Debt

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston landed the #10 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree nursing programs. Houston, Texas is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The public school handed out master’s degrees to 723 students in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $33,746 in student loans.

One thing to take note of is that UTHealth does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In 2017-2018 about 21% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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#11

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California
9,216 Total Awards
$47,107 Average Tuition & Fees
$81,204 Avg Student Debt

University of Southern California landed the #11 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree nursing programs. USC is a large private not-for-profit school situated in Los Angeles, California. It awarded 9,216 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $81,204 in student loans.

USC does offer online graduate classes for certain degree levels. Of all the graduate students enrolled at the school during the 2017-2018 academic year, around 29% took at least some of their classes online.

Full University of Southern California Report

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#12

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
4,771 Total Awards
$40,182 Average Tuition & Fees
$70,872 Avg Student Debt

University of Pennsylvania ranked #12 on this year’s Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the large private not-for-profit school awarded 4,771 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $70,872 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Depending on your major, you may be able to take online graduate classes at UPenn. In fact, around 3% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#13

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
937 Total Awards
$39,200 Average Tuition & Fees
$58,622 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #13, Wake Forest University did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Wake Forest University is a private not-for-profit institution located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 937 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $58,622 in student loans.

Online graduate courses are available at Wake Forest University, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. 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.

Full Wake Forest University Report

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#14

Texas Wesleyan University

Fort Worth, Texas
216 Total Awards
$16,586 Average Tuition & Fees
$67,458 Avg Student Debt

Texas Wesleyan University landed the #14 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree nursing programs. Texas Wesleyan is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Fort Worth, Texas. It awarded 216 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from Texas Wesleyan accumulate an average of $67,458 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

One thing to take note of is that Texas Wesleyan does offer online graduate classes in some areas. During the 2017-2018 year, about 36% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

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#15

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina
3,222 Total Awards
$56,888 Average Tuition & Fees
$75,057 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #15, Duke University did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Located in Durham, North Carolina, the fairly large private not-for-profit school awarded 3,222 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $75,057 in loans while pursuing their degree.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at Duke. In fact, around 10% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#16

Emmanuel College Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts
58 Total Awards
$14,319 Average Tuition & Fees
$24,114 Avg Student Debt

Emmanuel College Massachusetts ranked #16 on this year’s Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 58 master’s degree awards in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $24,114 in student loans.

Online graduate courses are available at Emmanuel Boston, but you will need to check with the school to see if they are available for your field of interest. In fact, around 22% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#16

Quinnipiac University

Hamden, Connecticut
844 Total Awards
$19,730 Average Tuition & Fees
$49,148 Avg Student Debt

Quinnipiac University landed the #16 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree nursing programs. Located in Hamden, Connecticut, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school awarded 844 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $49,148 in student loans.

Quinnipiac 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 43% took at least some of their classes online.

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1,300 Total Awards
$9,180 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,169 Avg Student Debt

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota ranked #17 on this year’s Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. This medium-sized private not-for-profit school is located in Winona, Minnesota, and it awarded 1,300 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $33,169 in loans while pursuing their degree.

SMU MN 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, 40% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

Full Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Report

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#18

Central Connecticut State University

New Britain, Connecticut
614 Total Awards
$12,356 Average Tuition & Fees
$33,066 Avg Student Debt

Central Connecticut State University ranked #18 on this year’s Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. CCSU is a fairly large public school situated in New Britain, Connecticut. It awarded 614 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $33,066 in student loans.

One thing to take note of is that CCSU does offer online graduate classes in some areas. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 15% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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554 Total Awards
$9,401 Average Tuition & Fees
$50,271 Avg Student Debt

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center came in at #19 in this year’s edition of the Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools ranking. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is a medium-sized public school located in Lubbock, Texas that handed out 554 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Master’s Degree recipients from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center accumulate an average of $50,271 in student debt by the time they complete their degree.

Some students may be able to take online graduate classes at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. In fact, around 49% of the graduate population registered for at least one online class in 2017-2018.

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#20

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut
2,568 Total Awards
$43,300 Average Tuition & Fees
$47,239 Avg Student Debt

Yale University ranked #20 on this year’s Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools list. Yale University is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in New Haven, Connecticut that handed out 2,568 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $47,239 in student loans.

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#21

Touro University California

Vallejo, California
290 Total Awards
$30,540 Average Tuition & Fees
$71,234 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #21, Touro University California did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. TUC is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Vallejo, California. It awarded 290 master’s degrees in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $71,234 in loans while pursuing their degree.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since TUC does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. During the 2017-2018 year, about 2% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

Full Touro University California Report

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#22

Fairfield University

Fairfield, Connecticut
389 Total Awards
$18,890 Average Tuition & Fees
$39,186 Avg Student Debt

Fairfield University landed the #22 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best master’s degree nursing programs. Located in Fairfield, Connecticut, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school handed out 389 master’s degree awards in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $39,186 in loans while pursuing their degree.

One thing to take note of is that Fairfield U does offer online graduate classes in some areas. In 2017-2018 about 26% of the graduate students at the school chose to take one or more online courses.

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239 Total Awards
$9,546 Average Tuition & Fees
$46,720 Avg Student Debt

With a ranking of #23, University of Nebraska Medical Center did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students working on their master’s degree. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, the small public school awarded 239 diplomas to qualifed master’s degree students in 2018-2019.

By the time they get their master’s degree, students from this school have racked up an average of $46,720 in student loans.

One thing to take note of is that UNMC does offer online graduate classes in some areas. During the 2017-2018 year, about 19% of the graduate students at the school took at least one online course.

Full University of Nebraska Medical Center Report

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#24

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda, California
439 Total Awards
$30,380 Average Tuition & Fees
$97,323 Avg Student Debt

Loma Linda University came in at #24 in this year’s edition of the Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools ranking. Loma Linda, California is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out master’s degrees to 439 students in 2018-2019.

On average, master’s degree students take out $97,323 in loans while pursuing their degree.

If you are interested in distance education, be sure to check with the school since Loma Linda University does offer online graduate classes for certain majors. To give an idea of how popular online courses are at the school, 9% of graduates took at least one course online in 2017-2018.

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Rest of the Top 50 Best Nursing Master's Degree Schools in the United States

Not only did these schools make the top 50 list, but they also landed in the top 15% of this year’s ranking:

#26

University of California - San Francisco

San Francisco, California
#27

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland
#28

University of Scranton

Scranton, Pennsylvania
#30

University of New England

Biddeford, Maine
#31

Culver - Stockton College

Canton, Missouri
#31

Le Moyne College

Syracuse, New York
#32

Gannon University

Erie, Pennsylvania
#33

SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Brooklyn, New York
#34

University of Maryland - Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland
#36

Mount Saint Mary's University

Los Angeles, California
#37

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, Virginia
#38

Clarkson College

Omaha, Nebraska
#39

Gonzaga University

Spokane, Washington
#41

Emory University

Atlanta, Georgia
#42

Newman University

Wichita, Kansas
#44

Wagner College

Staten Island, New York
#45

The College of New Jersey

Ewing, New Jersey
#47

Chamberlain University - Illinois

Addison, Illinois
#48

Nebraska Wesleyan University

Lincoln, Nebraska
#49

University of California - Davis

Davis, California

Rest of the Top 15% Best Nursing Master's Degree Schools in the United States

To learn more about the schools below, just click on their names:

Rank School Location
51 University of Delaware Newark, DE
52 Holy Names University Oakland, CA
53 Texas Christian University Fort Worth, TX
54 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
55 Georgetown University Washington, DC
56 Endicott College Beverly, MA
57 Molloy College Rockville Centre, NY
58 California State University - Stanislaus Turlock, CA
59 West Coast University - Dallas Dallas, TX
60 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock, AR
61 Augsburg University Minneapolis, MN
62 Florida International University Miami, FL
63 Frontier Nursing University Hyden, KY
64 University of South Carolina - Columbia Columbia, SC
65 Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Boston, MA
66 Touro University Nevada Henderson, NV
66 Framingham State University Framingham, MA
67 George Washington University Washington, DC
68 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
69 University of Connecticut Storrs, CT
70 University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA
71 Marquette University Milwaukee, WI
72 Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, PA
73 Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX
74 California State University - Chico Chico, CA
75 Otterbein University Westerville, OH
76 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
77 University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
78 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
79 New York University New York, NY
80 St. John Fisher College Rochester, NY
81 Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA
82 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
83 Creighton University Omaha, NE
84 Northeastern University Boston, MA
85 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
86 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH
87 William Paterson University of New Jersey Wayne, NJ
88 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT

Honorable Mentions

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

Rank School Location
89 Ramapo College of New Jersey Mahwah, NJ
90 Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Bloomsburg, PA
91 Bellin College Green Bay, WI
92 Winona State University Winona, MN
93 Simmons University Boston, MA
94 Moravian College Bethlehem, PA
95 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
96 University of Mary Bismarck, ND
97 Adelphi University Garden City, NY
98 Oregon Health & Science University Portland, OR
99 Towson University Towson, MD
100 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA
101 Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO
102 Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
103 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
104 Misericordia University Dallas, PA
105 San Jose State University San Jose, CA
106 University of Miami Coral Gables, FL
107 Immaculata University Immaculata, PA
108 Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego, CA
109 Bethel University Minnesota Saint Paul, MN
110 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
111 Franklin Pierce University Rindge, NH
112 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY
113 Missouri State University - Springfield Springfield, MO
114 Purdue University - Main Campus West Lafayette, IN
115 Minnesota State University - Mankato Mankato, MN
116 Upstate Medical University Syracuse, NY
117 DeSales University Center Valley, PA

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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