Exploring the Best Nursing Schools in Kansas

Learn about the top nursing schools in Kansas, including those with convenient online programs, and see which one best meets your needs.

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Written By

Kathleen Curtis

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Kathleen Curtis is an American writer currently living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has developed content around education for more than a decade for both domestic and international clients.

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Nursing schools in Kansas cater to every type of nursing student, from first-time students seeking initial credentials to veteran nurses looking to enter the top echelons of the discipline. Whether you want to get started in the field with an associate degree, update your credentials to a BSN, or pursue a graduate nursing degree, you have plenty of options. Keep reading to learn about the top online and campus nursing programs in Kansas, the types of degree and certificates available throughout the state, and more.

2022’s Top Kansas Nursing Schools and Programs

A lot of schools in Kansas offer nursing programs, so it could take a while to determine which one best meets your academic, financial, and professional needs. To help with the process, we’ve highlighted three of the top nursing schools in the state based on low tuition rates, accreditation, and student support services. These best-in-class nursing schools in Kansas are not only great choices in themselves, but they also give you a standard to look for when choosing a school to attend.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University maintains an expansive Department of Nursing that caters to the educational needs of many different students. Undergraduate students can participate in a traditional, campus-based BSN, while those who already possess ADNs and work as RNs can enroll in the fully online RN-to-BSN program. At the graduate level, the fully-online MSN offers concentrations in either nursing administration or nursing education. Students looking for post-graduate nursing certificates can choose from the same topics as the MSN. The department also provides an online DNP. Nursing students at Fort Hays have access to a wealth of student resources, including student organizations, financial assistance, and career information.

Wichita State University

Wichita State University’s School of Nursing offers academic programs to meet the needs of both first-time learners and seasoned professionals. First-time students can enroll in the traditional BSN or accelerated BSN programs, while those who already have associate degrees can complete the online RN-to-BSN program. The school also has a guaranteed placement program for high school seniors and a WSU pathway to the nursing program at Kansas State University.

Graduate programs include an online MSN in nursing education and a campus-based option in nursing leadership and administration. You can also choose from post-baccalaureate and post-master’s DNP pathways and specializations in adult/gerontology acute care, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner.

University of Kansas

The School of Nursing at the University of Kansas in Kansas City, designated as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education, offers both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Undergraduate students can choose from a traditional BSN or an online RN-to-BSN. The department also maintains partnerships with eight community colleges across the state to provide immediate admission to students with 2.5 or higher GPAs.

Graduate students can choose from an MSN with specializations in nursing education, organizational leadership, and public health nursing. The DNP offers entrance points for both bachelor’s and master’s students as does the PhD in nursing. Post-graduate certificate areas include adult-gerontology acute/primary care, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner, and nurse-midwifery.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Kansas

Students in Kansas can choose from a spectrum of nursing programs designed to meet them at various levels of their education and careers. Whether you’re just entering the field or looking to gain specialized knowledge, there’s a program for you. We look at some of the most common types of nursing programs available in Kansas below.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Kansas

ADN Programs

Associate degrees in nursing (ADNs) often serve as the first educational stop for aspiring nurses. These programs require two years of full-time study and allow students to take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for licensure after graduating. You commonly find them at community colleges and vocational schools.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

Traditional BSN programs are designed for first-time college students who know they want to earn a bachelor’s-level education before becoming RNs. While these programs typically take four years, they can lead to higher salaries and make earning an MSN in the future much quicker. You usually find BSNs offered by public and private four-year schools.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated BSN programs work best for students who want to get in and out of school quickly. Schools offering these degrees typically say that learners graduate in three years or fewer by following an accelerated learning path. As with traditional BSNs, you can find them at both public and private schools.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Kansas for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

Licensed practical nurses who want to update their credentials can work towards either associate or bachelor’s degrees in nursing. The LPN-to-RN option takes about 18 months to complete while the LPN-to-BSN takes closer to three years. Community colleges and four-year schools commonly offer these programs.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

If you’re looking to upgrade your ADN to a BSN, you can do so with an RN-to-BSN bridge program. Commonly available both online and in-person, these programs typically take 18-24 months depending on how much time you can devote to your studies while also working.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

ADN-educated RNs can bypass the BSN and go straight to earning an MSN degree. These programs are offered with both campus-based and online options with most taking 30-36 months to complete. These programs also commonly offer specializations to concentrate your studies in niche areas.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Kansas

MSN Programs

MSN programs exist for current BSN-educated nurses looking to update their credentials, but they also support non-nurses with unrelated bachelor’s degrees looking to directly enter the field at the MSN level. Program lengths vary from 2-4 years and often take place online for those with BSNs. Direct-entry students must participate in clinicals.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with This Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

Students looking to earn the highest nursing degrees available pursue these programs. While the DNP is more professional and designed for those wanting to continue working as nurses, the PhD supports those wanting to move into research and/or academic positions. These programs take 3-6 years to complete.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with This Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Post-graduate certificates allow MSN and DNP nurses to build knowledge in specific nursing topics without completing another full degree. Certificate options vary by school, but common options include psychiatric-mental nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and nurse leader.

Examples of Kansas Nursing Schools with This Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Kansas

For students who want to complete their nursing degrees online, it’s important to understand which programs allow for fully-online learning and which require hybrid classes. In general, any program with clinical hours will be hybrid, including LPN and RN programs. Once students hold licensure, their options for fully online learning expand since many RN-to-BSN programs are available online as are MSN programs. When completing clinicals, most nursing schools in Kansas allow students to do so at an approved facility near where they live. If you already work in a health facility, you may be able to complete your clinical there.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Kansas

Pittsburg State University

Pittsburg State University provides several online options for students seeking flexibility in their education. The RN-to-BSN takes place completely online and can be finished in as few as 12 months. The flat-rate program at PSU allows full-time students to take between 10-12 credits and pay the same tuition amount. Students seeking an MSN can complete a program with an education emphasis online and pay just $371 per credit regardless of where they live. The department also offers a 32-credit MSN-to-DNP that costs $521 per credit as well as an MSN-to-DNP with an education emphasis comprising 39 credits. Online students can also take advantage of several scholarships to help reduce costs.

Kansas Wesleyan University

The Department of Nursing Education & Health Science at Kansas Wesleyan University provides an online RN-to-BSN with both part-time and full-time enrollment options. Accepted students can transfer up to nine credits that apply towards the degree as well as up to 35 credits from approved professional experience. Full-time students can graduate in as few as 12 months while part-time students may need 18 months. Regardless of residency, the program costs $11,000. Students who work at Salina Regional Health Center receive a 10% discount, and all students can apply for scholarships and grants to further reduce costs.

Washburn University

ILocated in Topeka, Washburn University’s School of Nursing provides an online RN-to-BSN program for ADN-educated RNs. The program consists of fully online eight-week modules, allowing students to complete the program in just 18 months. It involves 30 credits, and students can take advantage of several departmental scholarships. Students seeking an advanced degree can apply to the online DNP program and choose from tracks in family nurse practitioner or psychiatric nurse practitioner. The department also provides an online post-graduate certificate in psychiatric mental health. Regardless of degree level, WU students can take advantage of a mentorship program, job board, scholarships, and even study abroad opportunities for those seeking international experience before graduating.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Kansas

For students trying to limit their debt, finding alternative sources to cover tuition and fees can make a real difference. Begin by finding scholarships, grants, and other types of awards that don’t require repayment. The Kansas Board of Regents, for example, provides the Kansas Nursing Service Scholarship for students working towards an LPN or RN qualification who agree to work for a licensed sponsor for a set amount of time after graduating. LPN students can receive $3,500 per year while RN students can receive $4,000. Students should also familiarize themselves with other types of financial aid and consider how to graduate from nursing school debt-free.

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

Because licensure requirements vary from state to state, it’s important that you understand the specifics before enrolling in a nursing program. The Kansas Nursing Board lays out the rules and steps, which we detail below, a prospective RN must go through to become licensed in the state.

Step 1

Graduate from a state-approved and accredited program

The Kansas Nursing Board provides a list of schools that meet its requirements for licensure, so make sure any school you attend appears on this list. In addition to state approval, your program should also hold proper accreditation. Within nursing, accreditation names to look for include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Step 2

Register for and Pass the NCLEX-RN

Students must register with PearsonVue to take the NCLEX-RN examination and pay the $200 examination fee. From there, they’ll receive an Authorization to Test that lets them schedule the exam. Students must get a minimum of 60 questions correct to receive a passing score.

Step 3

Submit required documentation to the Kansas Nursing Board

The Kansas Nursing Board requires several documents before it considers you for licensure. In addition to supplying a completed application, you must also ask your alma mater to supply sealed official transcripts. You’ll also need to submit to a fingerprinting and background check and pay $100 for the application and $48 for the background check.

Step 4

Keep up with renewal requirements

The Kansas Nursing Board requires RNs to renew their licenses by the last day of the month they were born on odd or even years depending on their birth years. For instance, someone born in 1990 would renew on even-numbered years, while someone born in 1991 would renew on odd-numbered years. They must also supply documentation showing they completed 30 hours of continuing nursing education credits.

Job Outlook for RNs in Kansas

The job market for RNs remains strong both in the United States generally and in Kansas specifically. Data from Projections Central shows that jobs for RNs in Kansas are projected to grow by 8.1% between 2018-2028 and result in nearly 2,500 new positions. Additionally, the state will see an average of 1,970 job openings per year between 2018-2028. Many of these openings are from RNs either retiring from their jobs or transitioning into other positions.

Employment Projections for RNs in Kansas

New Jobs
Job Growth Rate
Average Annual Openings
Kansas 2,490 8.1% 1,970
United States 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

Nursing Pay in Kansas: How Much You Could Make as an RN

Nurses working in Kansas earn median annual wages above the national average for all occupations, making this a well-paying career. While Kansas-based RNs may earn less than the U.S. average for the occupation, it’s also important to remember that the state’s average cost of living is far lower than larger, more expensive metropolitan areas. As the table below demonstrates, the median wage rises and falls based on location.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Kansas

10th Percentile Median Earnings 90th Percentile
Kansas $46,400 $62,550 $83,450
United States $53,410 $75,330 $116,230
Lawrence, KS $45,700 $61,780 $78,930
Manhattan, KS $44,890 $59,270 $78,210
Topeka, KS $53,280 $65,080 $83,400
Wichita, KS $43,490 $58,470 $79,140

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020