Best Nursing Schools in Louisiana: Top Online & Campus Programs

Whether online or on-campus, associate degree or doctorate, Louisiana’s top nursing schools offer quality, affordable programs to help you reach your goals.

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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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Last Updated: 01/12/2022
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A career in nursing offers both career and financial stability that’s underscored by a dedication to helping others. Like the rest of the country, RNs are in demand in Louisiana, and the state is expected to have over 2,800 annual openings through 2028.

If you’re ready to take the first or next step in your RN career in Louisiana, this guide is for you. It showcases the best on-campus and online nursing programs in Louisiana to help you find the one that’s right for you – whether you’re looking into your first RN degree program or want to move up in your RN career by earning your bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate. You’ll also find other helpful information on the types of nursing programs available, financial aid opportunities, salary potential, and licensing requirements for Louisiana student nurses.

2022’s Best-in-Class Nursing Schools in Louisiana

Not all nursing programs are the same. The following section highlights three nursing programs in Louisiana that stand out because of their strong NCLEX-RN pass rates and hands-on, experiential learning. It looks at each school’s nursing curriculum and details what to expect in the program. Keep reading to see which nursing schools in Louisiana are considered the best-in-class for 2022.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers a four-year, pre-licensure BSN. During this program, students gain the theoretical, practical, and clinical expertise they need to deliver competent and compassionate medical care. They complete 120 credits that include both general education and major requirements.

Upper-division major requirements include clinical pharmacology, healthcare and diverse populations, and contemporary approaches to nursing leadership and management. Alongside traditional classroom work, degree-seekers also gain extensive hands-on experience in clinical settings. Before graduation, students also complete a bridge to professional practice class that prepares them to enter the nursing workforce. Students must maintain minimum 2.8 GPAs and receive a minimum grade of “C” in all prerequisite and major coursework.

McNeese State University

McNeese State University hosts a four-year, CCNE-accredited BSN degree where students tackle a nursing curriculum that exposes them to various hospital settings and covers areas spanning mental health to surgical units. Students also gain vital hands-on experience through a six-week preceptorship and mentorship with an experienced nursing professional. During this 120-credit bachelor’s program, students complete general education and core nursing requirements that include critical thinking in nursing, wellness promotion across the lifespan, and pharmacology for health professionals.

McNeese is also home to an active Student Nurses Association where students hear from guest speakers and participate in an annual academic and professional conference.

Baton Rouge Community College

Baton Rouge Community College offers an affordable pathway towards a nursing career. Its associate degree in nursing highlights the essential knowledge and competencies needed for effective nursing care and takes a holistic approach while emphasizing evidence-based best practices. Full-time students typically complete this program in five semesters through a mix of classroom and clinical-based classes.

Before enrolling in nursing coursework, students must complete six prerequisite courses that include college algebra, English composition, and introduction to psychology. As students progress through this curriculum, they encounter core nursing classes like adult nursing, maternal child nursing, and mental health nursing. Students also complete a degree-culminating senior capstone project.

Prospective students can apply to this program each spring and must complete criminal background checks, drug screens, and submit personal health histories and immunization documents.

Types of Nursing Programs in Louisiana

Whether you’re fresh out of high school or an experienced nurse pursuing expanded career options, Louisiana offers a sizeable list of online, on-campus, and hybrid nursing programs. Various academic paths exist if you’re interested in a nursing career, and you can enter this professional field in just a couple of years. Below we highlight the various academic options available to nursing students in Louisiana.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Louisiana

ADN Programs

An ADN is an accessible option for individuals interested in beginning a nursing career. Often completed via community colleges, an ADN provides a path towards RN licensure and highlights the theoretical, practical, and clinical skills needed for success in the field. It also situates you to move toward a bachelor’s degree.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

A BSN offers a path towards RN licensure in addition to an extensive curriculum of both general education, elective, and nursing requirements. Usually completed in four years, BSN students tackle a rigorous list of nursing classes and hands-on clinical experiences. Compared to an ADN degree, BSN graduates have expanded career options and earning potential.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Whether you’re a working RN with an associate degree or a graduate from an unrelated bachelor’s program, an accelerated BSN program offers a practical and relatively swift path to earning a nursing degree and licensure. These programs are accelerated because students typically begin with a host of general education and elective courses under their belts and can graduate in 18-24 months.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Louisiana for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

An LPN is a typical entry into the nursing field but lacks the academic and clinical training required for RN licensure. LPNs can expand their career options and earning potential by securing RN licensure and/or earning BSNs through LPN to RN and LPN to BSN programs they can complete in 12 to 36 months.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

For working RNs with ADN degrees, RN to BSN bridge programs supply a relatively quick path to a bachelor’s degree. These bridge programs give working nurses the flexibility needed to enhance their academic and clinical knowledge while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. Full-time students can complete RN to BSN programs in just one year.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

For dedicated RNs interested in expanding career opportunities and tackling leadership roles, an RN to MSN track offers a clear academic path towards earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Typically taking full-time students 30-36 months to graduate, RN to MSN graduates gain a working knowledge of healthcare leadership and nursing administration. Students can also select academic specializations in areas like nursing administration and family nurse practitioner.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Louisiana

MSN Programs

For working RNs with bachelor’s degrees, earning an MSN takes only 18 months. Many MSN programs are also available to students with unrelated undergraduate degrees and take about three years to complete. MSN students have access to various certifications and can tackle academic and clinical concentrations in nursing education and nursing administration.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with This Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

A doctor of DNP offers the highest level of academic training for working nurses. DNP students develop a deep knowledge of the organizational, clinical, and economic issues facing professional nursing and healthcare. For individuals interested in high-level nursing research, PhD graduates tackle careers in teaching, administration, and healthcare leadership.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with This Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Post-graduate certificates allow for targeted professional development in health policy, nursing leadership, and women’s health. Often a practical way to enhance leadership and clinical skills, post-graduate certificates typically require 20-30 credits.

Examples of Louisiana Nursing Schools with This Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Louisiana

From bridge programs to online graduate degrees, online nursing programs help students complete coursework while managing personal and professional obligations. With didactic coursework online, many nursing tracks still require in-person clinical components.

Distance learning isn’t for everyone, though. Completing online coursework requires significant self-discipline. Time management skills are equally vital for students balancing the responsibilities of work and home.

Continue reading as we highlight some of the best online nursing programs in Louisiana.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Louisiana

Louisiana State University of Alexandria

LSU-Alexandria offers an online RN to BSN bridge program that students can complete in 12-18 months. Utilizing a flexible online delivery and an affordable price tag, this program underscores the value of information management and analytical skills that push graduates towards leadership roles in healthcare. Alongside traditional coursework, students also work in collaborative groups to address various nursing issues.

This 45-credit degree has a 30-credit nursing core that emphasizes competent care and case management of vulnerable populations. Courses include topics like ethical dilemmas in nursing, complex management of the older adult, and introduction to nursing research. Alongside a leadership and management class, students also complete a clinical practicum in leadership and management.

Applicants must hold ADNs or equivalent from an ACEN-accredited program and have active and unencumbered RN licenses. They must also submit official transcripts with minimum 2.25 GPAs.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers a 100% online MSN for working nurses. Students pursuing this online MSN choose either a nursing education or family nurse practitioner concentration. During this 42-credit graduate program, students tackle core coursework like theoretical foundations of advanced nursing, applied statistics for the health sciences, and generating evidence for nursing practice. Students also either complete a focused scholarly project or a formal thesis project before graduation. This master’s track usually takes five semesters.

Applicants need bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges or universities with minimum undergraduate GPAs of 2.75. Prospective students should also have completed an undergraduate class in introductory statistics and hold an unencumbered Louisiana nursing license.

Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola University New Orleans offers an entirely online DNP both as a BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP program. Students choose from three, career-focused specializations in family nurse practitioner, nurse practitioner, or executive leadership. This program is 39 credits of coursework plus a 540-hour supervised practicum.

Regardless of concentration, core academic requirements include classes in philosophy of science, epidemiology, and ethics and social justice. Students also complete DNP scholarly projects as a degree-culminating experience.

Prospective DNP students need BSNs from accredited nursing schools with cumulative GPAs of at least 3.0. Applicants must also submit copies of their active nursing licenses, three letters of recommendation, and two-page essays outlining goals for their doctoral study and career objectives.

Financial Aid for Nursing Students in Louisiana

Whether you’re tackling an ADN or a PhD, higher education comes with a significant price tag. While tuition costs and academic fees can pile up, financial aid is widely available for nursing students. From scholarships and loans to work-study programs and tuition reimbursement initiatives, it’s not impossible to graduate with your nursing degree debt-free.

When beginning your search for financial aid opportunities, reach out to your school’s financial aid department and consider state-based professional organizations as a scholarship resource. In addition, the Louisiana State Loan Repayment Program offers tuition reimbursement for students interested in providing healthcare services to areas in Louisiana with inadequate medical services.

How to Become an RN in Louisiana: Licensing and Education Requirements

While the steps to become a nurse are similar from state to state, understanding Louisiana’s unique licensing requirements is vital for a smooth path to licensure. Review the licensing guidelines set by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing and develop a clear plan to mitigate any unforeseen challenges. We’ve highlighted some of the standard requirements you can expect when becoming a first-time RN in Louisiana.

Step 1

Complete a State-Approved Nursing Program

Whether you’re completing an ADN or BSN program, be sure it is approved by Louisiana’s Board of Nursing. These programs include the major nursing requirements that provide essential, foundational knowledge. They also give hands-on experience through clinical coursework and ensure you’re ready for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Step 2

Submit an Application and Corresponding Materials

As your nursing program winds down, you’ll want to prep your licensure application. This critical step comes before taking the NCLEX-RN exam since taking the exam before submitting your application can lead to delays. Be sure to complete the application fully and completely since omissions can delay securing your RN license.

Step 3

Prepare and Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

Many nursing programs include test prep for the NCLEX-RN exam. Having to retake the exam is both costly and time-consuming, and, in Louisiana, you only get four attempts to pass in the four years following graduation. Be sure to set aside ample time to study, review tips to hone your test-taking skills, and take time to fully understand the format of the exam.

Step 4

Complete a Background Check

Every individual applying for a Louisiana nursing license must complete a criminal background check successfully. After you’ve submitted your licensure application, your criminal background check packet must be submitted by mail or in-person and includes authorization forms and two FBI fingerprint cards.

Step 5

Renew Your License

Once you’ve obtained your Louisiana nursing license, you’ll need to undergo the renewal process every two years. The state’s board of nursing renews licenses every year from October 1st to January 31st. Renewal requirements include at least 300 hours in advanced practice nursing. You must also complete at least two colleges credits per year or a minimum of 30 continuing education credit hours.

Employment Outlook for RNs in Louisiana

Workforce statistics reveal that nursing jobs in Louisiana are on the rise and projected to grow by 12% by 2028. This translates to nearly 5,000 jobs added in the state. These statistics place Louisiana nursing jobs squarely alongside national averages.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) gives registered nursing jobs in the state a five-star rating. The LWC currently also shows over 7,500 job openings related to registered nursing.

You can review both state and national employment statistics for registered nurses below.

Employment Projections for RNs in Louisiana

New Jobs
(2018-2028)
Job Growth Rate
(2018-2028)
Average Annual Openings
(2018-2028)
Louisiana 4,980 12% 2,876
United States 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

While median salaries for RNs working in Louisiana fall below national numbers, wages are influenced by various factors like housing and general cost of living. Not surprisingly, the top median earners in the state work in the state’s largest metropolitan area of New Orleans. When seeking to boost career options and earning potential, enhancing experience, earning additional degrees, and adding various nursing credentials to your toolbox can significantly impact competitiveness. Review the graphic below to see how much RNs make in various areas throughout the state.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Louisiana


10th Percentile Mehian Earnings 90th Percentile
Louisiana $50,510 $66,240 $87,420
United States $53,410 $75,330 $116,230
Alexandria, LA $52,860 $65,860 $85,520
Baton Rouge, LA $47,840 $63,900 $83,070
Hammond, LA $53,620 $65,480 $92,860
Houma-Thibodaux, LA $46,370 $63,990 $91,170
Lake Charles, LA $46,690 $60,930 $80,250
Monroe, LA $49,710 $65,130 $82,570
New Orleans-Metairie, LA $53,550 $69,870 $93,890

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020