Exploring the Best Nursing Programs in Connecticut

Start or further your RN career by earning your degree or certificate from one of the top nursing programs in Connecticut.

Search hundreds of schools
for the degree you want ......

I want my
In

Written By

Michael Hoffman

- Bio

A former practicing attorney, Michael Hoffman has years of experience as a freelance journalist specializing in the research and writing of higher education content – from online learning to financial aid, and everything in between. Michael is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael practiced for several years as a civil litigator in Los Angeles and worked in Santa Monica, California as a development executive for a major film producer.

last updated

Last Updated: 01/12/2022
——

With a serious shortage of nurses in Connecticut and across the nation, there’s never been a better time to begin or advance your nursing career. With that shortage comes major increases in salaries and incentives for nurses in all areas of healthcare.

This guide showcases the top accredited nursing schools and programs in Connecticut that can help you achieve your professional nursing goals, whether you’re just beginning your RN journey or you’re looking to move into advanced practitioner, educator, or research roles. You’ll also learn about the different types of nursing programs in Connecticut (including flexible online programs) and find helpful information on ways to get help paying for your nursing degree, the RN licensing process, and income potential after you graduate.

Connecticut’s Best Nursing Programs and Schools in 2022

We’ve surveyed colleges and universities in Connecticut offering nursing degrees and certificates and spotlighted three of the very best for 2022. Featuring elements like accreditation, affordability, curriculum comprehensiveness, access to student support services, and more, the spotlights give you a good idea of what to expect from any quality nursing program in Connecticut. They also give you an idea of what you might pay in tuition costs and how long it might take to finish your degree.

Southern Connecticut State University

Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven offers a full slate of quality nursing degrees and certificates, all featuring the affordable tuition rates expected from a public university. SCSU has three Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) options, starting with a traditional BSN. This program is structured as an upper-division major, meaning students come into the program having completed their lower-division (general education, math, and science) coursework as prerequisites. The curriculum combines nursing theory courses with hospital and community-based clinical practice experiences. Both full-time and part-time study options are available. An accelerated BSN format is offered for students who already have non-nursing bachelor’s degrees. Both BSN programs provide graduates with eligibility to sit for the NCLEX-RN to become licensed RNs.

Current RNs can advance their careers by earning their nursing bachelor’s through SCSU’s fully-online RN to BSN program. Graduate-level options at SCSU include MSNs and post-master’s certificates in Clinical Nurse Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Educator, and a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Nursing Education.

University of Connecticut

A major leader among U.S. research post-secondary institutions, the University of Connecticut has the most extensive array of undergraduate and graduate nursing degree and certificate programs in Connecticut. UCONN’s School of Nursing offers two pre-licensure undergraduate program options. The first is a four-year traditional BSN available on the school’s main campus. The second is a unique Certificate Entry into Nursing (CEIN) accelerated program in which students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees earn their BSNs and qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam with 12 months of full-time study. The CEIN program is offered on UCONN’s Storrs main campus as well as its campuses in Avery Point, Stamford, and Waterbury.

Graduate nursing programs at UCONN include online MSNs and graduate certificates, each available in six specializations. Doctoral degree options include a BSN to DNP with five specialization tracks, an MSN to DNP, and a PhD in Nursing.

Western Connecticut State University

Small class sizes, accessible faculty, and affordable public school tuition rates are among the major features of the nursing degree and certificate programs at Western Connecticut State University. Students seeking initial entry into the nursing profession can opt for the traditional BSN available on WCSU’s Danbury campus. Admission requires applicants to be active students at the university taking classes in both the fall and spring semesters before applying. The BSN program begins in students’ sophomore years and continues through three years of nursing courses and clinical experiences.

Current RNs can earn their nursing bachelor’s in as few as two years through the RN to BSN program that features fully-online courses. Graduate options include an MSN with several nurse practitioner and nurse specialist tracks, a DNP, and a recently-inaugurated and primarily-online EdD in Nursing Education.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Connecticut

The variety of nursing programs in Connecticut is quite extensive and choosing the right one can be confusing. The following descriptions of the most common nursing degree and certificate types you’ll encounter in your program search can help you find the right program for you. We’ve included examples of real nursing programs in Connecticut to help you find the right fit.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Connecticut

ADN Programs

The ADN (ASN, AASN) is for students with little or no previous college experience, and it’s a quick and affordable path to the NCLEX-RN and employment as an RN. ADN programs usually require two years of full-time study and are almost exclusively offered by community colleges in Connecticut. An exception is the ADN program at Goodwin University.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

The traditional BSN is a four-year, full-time program combining general education and lower-division math and science courses with upper-division nursing didactic coursework and in-person clinicals. The BSN degree is for students entering with little or no previous college or nursing experience. It qualifies graduates to take the NCLEX-RN exam.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated (Second Degree) BSN programs allow students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees to apply previously-earned general education and other lower-division credits to their BSN programs. Accelerated BSN students can complete degree requirements in as few as 18 months, and they are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Connecticut for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

LPNs in Connecticut can earn an ADN degree leading to NCLEX-RN exam eligibility through the CT Articulation Model for Nurse Educational Mobility process. Current Connecticut LPNs must first be admitted into one of several participating ADN degree programs and complete required general education courses their first year. After receiving program director approval, students then complete the online LPN to RN Articulation Bridge course at Charter Oak State College followed by a two-credit practicum course and additional coursework at their home schools.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

RN to BSN programs are for current registered nurses with ADNs or nursing diplomas seeking to expand their career opportunities by gaining additional knowledge and skills. Some programs are entirely online and usually take a year of full-time study and two years part-time.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

RN to MSN programs are for current RNs without BSNs who are interested in the quickest route to earning an MSN and advancing into leadership positions. These programs typically allow students to choose a specialization and many are 100% online. Admission requirements sometimes include non-nursing bachelor’s degrees, and some RN to MSN programs award BSN degrees as part of the program.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Connecticut

MSN Programs

MSN programs are for nurses who already have bachelor’s degrees and who want to advance into high-level positions. MSN programs in Connecticut typically require both a current RN license and a BSN for admission. Some programs accept applicants with either BSNs or bachelor’s degrees in related fields.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with This Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

Nursing doctoral degrees are for nurses interested in pursuing the highest leadership roles in the nursing profession. Those seeking top-tier positions in advanced nursing practice and healthcare administration opt for a DNP degree while those interested in careers in advanced research and post-secondary education in nursing will opt for the PhD in Nursing.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with This Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Post-graduate certificates in nursing offer master’s and doctoral degree holders a convenient way to enhance their careers by adding knowledge and skills in a specialized area of nursing practice. Common specializations include Nursing Leadership, Nursing Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner in a range of concentrations. Nursing post-graduate certificate programs are often available 100% online.

Examples of Connecticut Nursing Schools with This Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Connecticut

Most nursing schools in Connecticut now employ online education components of some form in practically all of their programs. These components might include lectures, assignments, reading materials, communications between students and instructors, and even some labs. Many programs require in-person clinical practice hours and/or on-campus visits, though, but there are many nursing schools in Connecticut offering degree and certificate programs completely entirely online with no in-person components. The three nursing schools in Connecticut spotlighted below give you an idea of what to expect as a distance education nursing student.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Connecticut

Central Connecticut State University

Central Connecticut University in New Britain offers two nursing degrees in online formats. The RN to BSN program consists of 25 credits of upper-division courses, all 100% online. Admission requirements include a current unencumbered Connecticut RN license, completion of at least 45 undergraduate credits from an accredited college or university, and completion of the state articulation agreement (35 credits transferred in from a nursing diploma or ADN program). Students can make up the additional 15 credits for a total of 120 by applying previously-earned general education credits or by taking additional courses at CCSU. The program can be completed in a little as one year of full-time study. Part-time study is also available, and students have up to five years to complete their degrees.

CCSU’s 35-credit MSN in Hospice and Palliative Care program combines online coursework with an in-person clinical practicum attended in an acute, residential, long-term, or other community healthcare setting. Admission is open to students with BSNs or non-nursing bachelor’s degrees.

Goodwin University

Located in East Hartford, Goodwin University is a private institution offering career-focused undergraduate and graduate degrees in a range of majors, including two online nursing degree programs. The 100% online RN to BSN requires 120 credits, and students can transfer in up to 62 credits of general education and lower-division nursing courses from their ADN or diploma programs. Students then complete 24 credits of upper-division nursing courses, 27 credits of additional general education courses, and 7 credits of electives. The entire program can be completed in a few as 16 months of part-time study, but students can take longer if needed.

Goodwin’s MSN program also features coursework that is completed fully online. However, the curriculum does include a capstone project requiring 90 practice hours of fieldwork. The entire program can be completed part-time in as few as 20 months.

Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University is a private, Catholic-affiliated school with its main campus in Fairfield. With ten online nursing degree and certificate options, Sacred Heart offers the most extensive distance education nursing program of any college or university in Connecticut. Online programs include an RN to BSN; MSNs in four specializations (Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Management and Executive Leadership, Nurse Education, and Family Nurse Practitioner); a 100% online Post-Master’s DNP; advanced practice graduate certificates in Nursing Management and Executive Leadership and Nursing Education; and a Home Healthcare Management for RNs Certificate for nurses in management positions with home health agencies.

Of special note is Sacred Heart’s Online RN to BSN to MSN that allows current registered nurses with ADNs or nursing diplomas to earn both their bachelor’s and nursing master’s degrees in as little as 3.5 years. In addition to fully-online courses, students complete in-person clinical hours in both the bachelor’s and master’s segments of the program.

Financial Aid for Nursing Students in Connecticut

Given the high cost of a college education, help paying for a nursing degree is usually a necessity. Luckily, there are several financial aid options available, the most common being the student loan. Loans for nursing students may be secured from public or private lenders, but the biggest source by far is the federal government. Other valuable federal government resources include student loan repayment programs sponsored by the Health Resources & Services Administration.

Additional financial aid types include scholarships and grants, including ones awarded by nursing schools themselves; assistantships and fellowships for grad students; the Veterans Administration for active military and veterans; and employer tuition assistance plans. For detailed information and advice on funding your nursing degree in Connecticut, check out EduMed’s financial aid guide, nursing scholarship guide, and guide to graduating from nursing school debt-free.

How to Become an RN in Connecticut: Degree and Licensing Requirements

You can’t work as a registered nurse in Connecticut without first obtaining an RN license issued by the Connecticut State Department of Public Health. There are two methods for doing so. Nurses with current RN licenses from other U.S. states or territories can use the Licensure by Endorsement process. Those seeking RN licensure for the first time should use the Licensure by Examination method. Below is an overview of the steps you’ll take to obtain your RN license by examination in Connecticut.

Step 1

Enroll in and complete your nursing degree program

To obtain your Connecticut RN license, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Qualify to take the exam by first completing a nationally-accredited and state-approved pre-licensure nursing degree or diploma program. For most students, this is either an ADN or BSN degree. You can review a list of Connecticut DPH-approved RN programs here.

Step 2

Register for the NCLEX-RN exam

Register for the RN exam with Pearson VUE, the exam’s administrator. You’ll also need to pay the registration fee at that time. Once registered, you have one year to take the exam.

Step 3

Apply for your Connecticut RN license

Application for RN licensure is made with the Connecticut DPH via the State of Connecticut online portal. Complete the application and submit all required supporting documents, including an official transcript of your nursing degree program. Once your application is approved, the DPH informs Pearson VUE who then emails you an Authorization to Test in 2-3 weeks.

Step 4

Schedule and take your exam

Schedule your exam by signing into your Pearson VUE account that you set up at the time of registration. Your ATT expires approximately 90 days after it is issued, so be sure to schedule your exam ASAP. You’ll sit for the exam at one of Pearson VUE’s test locations. The NCSBN provides helpful information on preparing for the exam.

Step 5

Receive your Connecticut RN license.

Test results are typically forwarded by Pearson VUE to the DPH within hours of completion. You’ll receive your results and, if you passed, license notification by mail from the DPH 4-6 weeks later.

Step 6

Keep your RN license current.

All Connecticut RN licenses must be renewed annually. The DPH mails renewal information approximately 60 days before license expiration. License renewal is done online at the State of Connecticut’s eLicense website and requires a renewal fee of $110. There are no continuing education requirements in Connecticut.

Job Outlook for RNs in Connecticut

The job market for registered nurses in the U.S. is sizzling right now. Connecticut, though lower than the national averages, is still solid and expected to remain that way for at least the next several years with a 7.3% job growth rate and over 2,400 average annual openings for RNs.

Employment Projections for RNs in Connecticut

New Jobs
(2018-2028)
Job Growth Rate
(2018-2028)
Average Annual Openings
(2018-2028)
Connecticut 2,860 7.3% 2,450
United States 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

Nursing Salaries in Connecticut: How Much You Could Make as an RN

Salaries for RNs in Connecticut are similar to those for RNs across the nation. Connecticut is above the median earnings of $75,330 by over $7,400. Many other areas of the state exceed that national numbers as well. Your actual earnings as a Connecticut RN depend on factors like your job title, employer, location, and level of professional experience.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Connecticut


10th Percentile Mehian Earnings 90th Percentile
Connecticut $60,560 $82,770 $113,320
United States $53,410 $75,330 $116,230
Danbury, CT $55,480 $93,770 $122,910
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT $61,020 $82,340 $105,620
New Haven, CT $65,040 $82,590 $117,650
Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI $61,140 $82,990 $118,940
Waterbury, CT $56,880 $78,220 $100,800

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020