Nursing Schools in Atlanta, GA: Online + Campus Programs

Learn about top nursing schools and programs in Atlanta, from associate degrees to PhD programs, and find the one that’s right for you.

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Last Updated: 09/22/2021
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If you’re looking for a stable, solid-paying career that offers growth opportunities and the ability to make a positive difference every day, pursuing a nursing degree in Atlanta is a great choice. Whether you’re just starting out on your nursing journey or you’re already working as a nurse and want qualify for more advanced roles, nursing schools in Atlanta, GA have degree programs that can help you achieve your career goals and take advantage of Georgia’s high demand for nurses in the coming years.

This guide has everything you need to take the first step. Keep reading to learn about top campus-based and online nursing programs in Atlanta, explore the job and salary outlook for nurses in Georgia, find ways to get help paying for your nursing degree, and much more.

Best Nursing Schools in Atlanta, GA for 2021

The following list of nursing schools in Atlanta are among the best available due to their accreditation, affordability, and strong student support. As you read about each of these schools, picture how it fits your wants and needs in a nursing degree to see if one of them may be right for you.

Mercer University

Consistently ranked as one of Georgia’s best nursing programs, Mercer University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and offers BSN, MSN, PhD, and DNP programs. Mercer also offers an online RN-to-BSN completion track and various certificate programs in addition to traditional academic paths.

Located at Mercer’s Atlanta campus, the traditional BSN program prepares students for the NCLEX-RN exam. It also offers the essential skills and concepts required for effective practice in environments such as hospitals and community agencies. The core curriculum includes topics such as the discipline of professional nursing, foundations of health assessment, and adults with high acuity needs. Students also receive extensive hands-on experience through a leadership and role practicum.

Applicants should plan to submit a completed application along with official transcripts, TEAS scores, and a resume outlining healthcare and volunteer experiences. Undergraduate nursing applicants must also submit a personal essay highlighting reasons for pursuing a career in nursing.

Emory University

Through nursing degrees ranging from undergraduate to doctoral, Emory University provides academic opportunities whether you’re an RN looking to secure a BSN degree or a working nurse interested in continuing education certificates. All of Emory’s nursing degrees are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Prior to beginning nursing coursework, Emory students complete at least 60 credits of general education coursework. Prerequisite courses include topics such as human anatomy, human growth and development, and foundations of modern biology. Prerequisite courses must be completed with at least a 3.0 GPA. Once you begin nursing coursework, common classes include topics such as introduction to professional nursing, pharmacology for nurses, and pediatric nursing.

Undergraduate applicants must complete an online application and submit transcripts, a resume, and a personal essay. While SAT/ACT scores are not required, if you submit test scores, they will be considered alongside required admissions materials.

Georgia State University

Offering degree programs ranging from ADN to PhD, Georgia State University strives to champion diversity while nurturing student success through rigorous coursework aimed at producing a new generation of nursing leaders. In addition to traditional ADN, BSN, and MSN tracks, Georgia State is also home to online bridge programs, post-master’s certificates, and various flexible options for working nurses.

Designed to prepare you for a nursing career defined by competent, socially conscious healthcare, GSU’s curriculum covers topics such as caring for families and communities, caring for childbearing families, and complex healthcare problems across the lifespan. Students also tackle coursework focused on cultural diversity and human services policy.

GSU applicants must complete an online application and provide transcripts, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. Prospective students also submit a two-page position paper focusing on a healthcare or social issue. The TEAS test is also required for admission.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Atlanta, GA

Nursing programs in Atlanta, GA exist at every academic level, making it easy for you to find a program that meets your educational and professional needs. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for an advanced degree, you can check out some of the most common options currently available below.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Atlanta

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An associate degree in nursing can help Atlanta students to earn their RN license after graduating and successfully passing the NCLEX-RN exam. These programs often serve as a great first step for students since they take only two years to complete and allow you to work as an RN. If you choose to pursue a BSN, the work you complete in your associate program will help you complete your BSN in less time than BSN students who don’t have previous nursing education.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Gwinnett Technical College
Perimeter College

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

Students who know they want to work as registered nurses often move straight into a traditional, four-year BSN since it often produces higher salaries and more leadership opportunities. Comprising both classroom and clinical learning, these degrees usually consist of 120 credits.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Georgia State University
Chamberlain University

Accelerated BSN Programs

Designed for career changers, accelerated BSNs allow students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject to make the jump to nursing. Building on general education coursework previously completed, some students may complete an accelerated BSN program in 18–24 months.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Mercer University
Brenau University

Direct-Entry MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

Direct-entry MSN programs function similarly to an accelerated BSN, allowing students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees to enter the nursing field. If you want to work as a nurse practitioner or other type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), these three-year programs provide a truncated schedule.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Emory University
Georgia State University

Nursing Bridge Programs in Atlanta for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

If you’ve worked as a licensed vocational nurse for a time but feel ready to take your career to the next level, an LPN-to-RN or LPN-to-BSN bridge program can help you do so. To achieve your ADN, plan to spend at least 12 months enrolled in a nursing program. If you want to go for your BSN, these programs usually last about two years.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Chattahoochee Technical College
Georgia Southwestern State University

RN to BSN Programs

If you already possess your ADN but want to elevate your career to the next level, an RN-to-BSN can help you do so. Existing as both online and in-person programs, these degrees usually last between 18–24 months. They do not require any additional exams but can lead to higher salaries.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Georgia Southern University
University of West Georgia

RN to MSN Programs

If you have an associate registered nursing degree with at least one year of RN work experience and want to bypass BSN requirements to move straight into an MSN, find a school that offers an RN-to-MSN bridge program. Typically lasting about three years, these degrees introduce advanced topics and help you become a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or other type of APRN.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Emory University
Brenau University

Advanced Nursing Programs in Atlanta

Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

There are two types of traditional MSN programs. BSN-educated nurses can attend traditional MSN programs that lead to APRN roles and take between 15–24 months to finish. For non-nursing professionals with bachelor’s degrees looking to enter nursing, direct-entry MSN programs are available as well, taking 18–24 months of full-time study to complete.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools with This Program

Augusta University
Mercer University

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

These terminal degrees help nurses enter the highest echelons of the profession. A DNP focuses on professional practice and usually takes between three and five years to finish. Meanwhile, a PhD in nursing leads to roles in academia, research, and/or policy and typically takes 4–6 years to complete.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Georgia State University
Mercer University

Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

Post-graduate certificates help MSN-educated nurses specialize their skills and knowledge in a particular area of the discipline. Some of the more popular options include family nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse leader, and nurse-midwifery. You can do these programs both online and in person.

Examples of Atlanta Nursing Schools With This Program

Georgia State University
Augusta University

Inside Look at Online Nursing Schools in Atlanta, GA

Online nursing schools in Atlanta provide fully digital and hybrid degrees to help busy students find balance between school, work, and life. Many programs that don’t require a clinical component, such as an RN-to-BSN bridge degree, can be completed without ever setting foot on campus. You’ll complete your academic coursework online and any required clinical hours in a medical setting. Programs that require a practicum necessitate face-to-face experiences.

Many online classes take place asynchronously, meaning you can watch a prerecorded lecture whenever your schedule allows. While online nursing programs in Atlanta, GA allow for more flexible learning, earning a degree outside the confines of a traditional classroom can feel challenging for students who need structure. Creating a dedicated workspace and treating your degree as a second job will help you stay focused and successful.

Best Online Nursing Schools in Atlanta, GA

Mercer University

Operating as a private institution, Mercer University provides a bevy of campus-based nursing programs as well as an online RN-to-BSN bridge degree and a Ph.D. in nursing.

Requiring as few as 12 months to meet all program requirements, students can finish this program with just $12,000 in tuition. Applicants must possess an accredited associate degree or nursing diploma along with an unencumbered nursing license. Other application requirements include a completed application, two recommendation letters, official transcripts, admissions essay, resume, evidence of completing prerequisites, and an interview with the program coordinator. Aside from a two-day orientation process, all classes are taught asynchronously and online.

The PhD consists of 58 credits and takes three years to complete on a full-time basis. Admissions requirements include completion of an accredited MSN, minimum 3.2 GPA, completion of prerequisite classes, official transcripts, curriculum vitae, unencumbered nursing license, references, official transcripts, interview, and a writing sample.

Georgia State University

If you’re looking for a school that offers plenty of options when it comes to online nursing degrees, Georgia State University may be a great fit. Current online offerings include an RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN, traditional MSN, a post-graduate certificate, a PhD in nursing, and a DNP.

After meeting all other requirements, the RN-to-BSN comprises 30 hours taken fully online and requires three semesters to graduate. The program only accepts new students for the summer term and holds accreditation from both the Georgia Board of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Admission requirements include evidence of graduating from an accredited degree or diploma in nursing program, evidence of nursing practice, two reference letters, 2.5 or higher GPA, and completion of all prerequisites.

The RN-to-MSN program consists of 54 credits and takes between two and four years to complete, depending on whether you enroll on a full- or part-time basis. Candidates must possess at least one year of work experience as a registered nurse, though two years is preferred.

Herzing University

Herzing University’s online campus offers online nursing programs in Atlanta at the bachelor’s and graduate levels, making it easy to find the program best suited to your needs. In addition to an RN-to-BSN, you can also choose from these programs:

  • RN-to-MSN with concentrations in adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nursing education, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
  • MSN with concentrations in adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and administration, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
  • Post-graduate certificates with specializations in family nurse practitioner, nursing education, nursing leadership and administration, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

You can complete the RN-to-BSN in as few as 12 months by taking advantage of rolling admissions and accelerated, eight-week classes. Herzing’s offering holds CCNE accreditation and credits can be used towards an MSN at a later date.

FAQs About Online Nursing Schools in Atlanta

Can I earn my nursing degree in Atlanta completely online?

It depends on the nursing degree you’re working towards. An RN-to-BSN, for example, can be done completely online since it doesn’t require any clinical components. If you want to earn a nursing degree with a practicum, you may be able to complete your classes online, but the practicum must take place in person.

Will my online Atlanta nursing degree be considered less valuable by employers?

Absolutely not. Employers care most about you attending a properly accredited and state-approved nursing program in Atlanta. Whether or not you completed all or a portion of the degree online has no bearing on your abilities or likelihood of employment. In fact, your degree won’t even differentiate between learning methods.

Are online nursing programs in Atlanta more affordable than campus programs?

While tuition for in-person and online programs may be the same or similar, distance learners can save significantly on things like campus-based facilities fees, parking passes, student housing, and meal plans. In addition to finding a cheaper area of the city to live, students can save money on transportation.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Atlanta

Whether you attend a public or private college, it’s no secret that nursing programs in Atlanta, GA can be expensive. Finding scholarships and grants to help offset costs can save you thousands of dollars and make the difference in terms of how much debt you carry at graduation. Plenty of Atlanta and Georgia-specific scholarships exist, including those offered by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Georgia Association for Nursing Education, and the Georgia Health Care Association. Understanding financial aid and finding funding for your nursing degree doesn’t have to be stressful; check out our nursing scholarship guide to learn more.

How to Become an RN in Atlanta: Licensing Requirements

Becoming a registered nurse in Atlanta requires you to follow rules set forth by the Georgia Board of Nursing. After earning your degree from an accredited and state-approved program, you’ll need to pass a background and fingerprint check before passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you receive a passing score, you can apply for licensure through the board by submitting an application and paying the $75 fee. Licenses renew every two years, so keep up with your continuing education requirements. The guide to nursing schools in Georgia is a valuable resource where you can find more information on licensing requirements.

Job Opportunities for RNs in Atlanta

If you’re looking for job security and opportunities for growth, becoming a registered nurse in Atlanta is a smart choice. Data from the Georgia Labor Market Explorer shows that jobs for RNs will grow by an astonishing 23% between 2016–2026, leading to the creation of more than 3,200 new roles.

After graduating from your nursing program in Atlanta, GA and earning your license, you may find yourself working at some of the city’s largest and most distinguished medical systems. Some options may include Wellstar Health System, Emory University Hospital, the Shepherd Center, or St. Joseph’s Hospital.

How Much You Could Make as an RN in Atlanta

Registered nurses working in Atlanta may not earn as much as the average national mean wage, but they do earn more than the state average. As of 2020, registered nurses in the metropolitan Atlanta area brought home annual mean wages totaling $75,980, compared to $71,510 for nurses living in other parts of the state. As you assess this number, remember that Atlanta also maintains a higher cost of living than Georgia’s smaller cities or rural areas.

Earnings for Registered Nurses in Atlanta, GA

Median Hourly Wage Mean Hourly Wage Annual Mean Wage
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA $35.88 $36.53 $75,980
Georgia $33.48 $34.38 $71,510
United States $36.22 $38.47 $80,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020

Additional Atlanta Nursing Resources

Atlanta Black Nurses Association

ABNA supports Black nurses working in the greater Atlanta area, regardless of title. The group organizes events and meetings, elects officers, sends out a regular newsletter, and provides announcements on activities and opportunities in the area.

Atlanta Chapter United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

This organizing group works to advocate and address issues APRNs in Atlanta face around legislation, politics, and practice. The group provides regular coffee talks and other events for members.

Atlanta Nurse Practitioners

This active private Facebook group maintains more than 3,200 members and provides a digital space where NPs can talk about their careers, network, and find support from others who intimately understand the role.

Georgia Association of Nursing Students

GASN maintains several campus-based chapters on Atlanta university campuses, including the Emory Student Nurses Association. Check to see if your school has a chapter. If not, consider starting one.

Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Georgia Nurses Association

GNA’s Atlanta chapter maintains an active roster of nurse members at every level of the field. The group regularly provides networking opportunities and events alongside continuing education programming.