Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts: Find Top Online & Campus Programs for 2021

Choose one of this year’s best nursing schools in Massachusetts to launch or advance your RN career with confidence..

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

I want my
In

Written By
Edumed Staff

last updated

Last Updated: 09/22/2021
——

The demand for licensed RNs throughout the U.S. is strong and expected to stay that way for years to come. The demand for highly educated nurses in Massachusetts is solid, too, making now a great time to earn your nursing degree or upgrade your current credential at one of the state’s many accredited nursing schools. With all the different options available, how do you find the program that’s right for you?

To help you on your search, we’ve compiled a list of this year’s best traditional and campus nursing programs in Massachusetts, along with information on financial aid, licensing, income potential, and job outlook. You’ll also discover what to look for in a quality nursing school and get answers to other questions you may have.

Find Massachusetts Nursing Schools in a City Near You

2021’s Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts

Three of the best nursing schools in Massachusetts are spotlighted below to give you an idea of what you should look for in a top program. These stand-out programs are based on factors like accreditation, affordability, program offerings, and student support services. See who stands out for 2021.

Elms College

The College of Our Lady of the Elms is a Catholic-affiliated private school in Chicopee near Springfield. Undergrad programs at Elms College include a standard BSN (four-year, full-time), an Accelerated Second Degree BSN (20 months, full-time), and an accelerated RN to BSN Degree completion (12-15 months, available on-campus and fully online).

MSN programs at Elms include a traditional MSN with three specialization track options, an MSN/MBA, an RN-BSN-MSN, and an RN-MSN program. MSN certificate programs are also available in three specializations along with three DNP degree and two post-graduate certificate programs.

As with most private institutions, tuition costs are higher than with public school programs. However, 95% of Elms undergraduate nursing students receive financial aid to help pay for their degrees. Financial aid is available to master’s students also.

Salem State University

Salem State University is a public university located in the northeast Massachusetts coastal city of Salem. BSN program options leading to eligibility for RN licensure include a four-year, full-time traditional BSN; a 15-month, full-time Accelerated Second Degree BSN for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree; and a three-year, part-time LPN to BSN program for LPNs seeking to earn their BSN degree and RN licensure. Current RNs can complete the fully-online RN to BSN program part-time in as little as two years.

Graduate-level nursing programs at Salem State include three MSN degree options: a general MSN, Adult Gerontology Primary Care NP MSN, and a Nursing Education MSN. All three feature part-time, hybrid formats designed for working RNs. Current RNs with an MSN degree can opt for the 12-credit hour hybrid Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education to qualify for the NLN’s Certified Nurse Educator and Certified Clinical Nurse CNE-cl Educator exams.

University of Massachusetts Amherst

The University of Massachusetts, the state’s flagship system of public universities, offers nursing degree and certificate programs on several of its campuses, including those available through UMass Amherst’s College of Nursing. Undergraduate nursing includes a four-year, full-time traditional BSN program, an Accelerated BSN program for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, and an RN to BS program that is 100% online. UMass Amherst’s primarily online MSN program has three specializations: Clinical Nurse Leader, Nursing Education, and Nursing Studies. UMass also has a Phd in Nursing and an online DNP as well as online Graduate Nursing Education and Psychiatric Mental Health NP certificates.

UMass Amherst tuition rates are competitive, especially when compared to similar programs offered by private colleges and universities. Financial aid is available, including a variety of scholarships exclusively for College of Nursing students. UMass Amherst nursing students also have access to a full package of support services through the College of Nursing Student Support Center.

Common Qualities of the Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts

Quality nursing degree and certificate programs share several characteristics. Below are three of the most important characteristics to look for when considering nursing schools in Massachusetts.

  • High NCLEX Exam Pass Rates

    Look for a program that prepares you to take the NCLEX-RN exam to receive your RN license. To increase your odds for success, consider those programs with high exam pass rates. Current pass rate percentages can often be found on program websites. If you can’t find them there, be sure to contact individual programs and ask.
  • Quality Student Support Services

    Often overlooked when students search for a degree program is access to important student support services, like academic and career counseling, financial aid services, employment counseling and job search assistance, etc. Be sure to speak with your enrollment advisor about the availability of these and other student support services. If possible, contact current and former nursing students to get their take on support services quality.
  • Nationally Accredited and State Approved

    Accreditation is the process that assures colleges and universities – and the programs they offer – meet minimum standards for academic quality. Any nursing program in Massachusetts should be accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education and Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Check a program’s current accreditation status by visiting the program website or through the ACEN and CCNE search engines. In addition, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing approves all pre-licensure nursing programs. You can check the Board’s current list of approved programs here.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Massachusetts

There are many degree and certificate options available from nursing schools in Massachusetts, each designed to provide specific nursing knowledge and skills. To help you decide the best program for you, here’s a look at the most common nursing programs available in Massachusetts for 2021.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Massachusetts

Associate Degrees in Nursing

The associate degree in nursing (ADN), associate of science in nursing degree (ASN), and associate in applied science in nursing (AASN) provide students with the training required, usually two years of full-time study, to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed RNs. ADN programs are commonly offered by community colleges and vocational schools but sometimes by four-year colleges and universities.

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

Traditional BSN programs are for students with little or no previous college or nursing experience who want to become RNs and earn bachelor’s degrees. Curriculums usually take four years and require approximately 120 credits of general education, foundational nursing coursework, practice simulation labs, and in-person clinical practice hours completed at area nursing facilities.

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated BSN (i.e., second degree) programs give those with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees the nursing coursework and clinical practice hours required to take the NCLEX-RN. Accelerated BSN programs are usually through four-year colleges and universities. Completion times vary from 15 months to two years depending on full-time or part-time study.

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Massachusetts for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Bridge Programs

LPN to RN programs qualify licensed practical nurses to take the NCLEX-RN exam to receive RN licensure. Graduates are typically awarded an ADN, ASN, or AASN degree. LPN to BSN programs allow LPNs to obtain eligibility for the NCLEX-RN exam while earning a four-year BSN degree.

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

RN to BSN programs are for licensed RNs interested in advancing their careers by expanding their nursing knowledge and skills. They require around 120 credits, including about 30 credits of nursing coursework. Students typically receive credits for their RN license and can transfer in a substantial number of credits. RN to BSN programs are available from most four-year colleges and universities with nursing departments, and many are 100% online.

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree helps nursing professionals seeking to advance their careers into advanced nursing practice and teaching positions. MSN programs typically offer specialization options, many of which prepare graduates for nurse practitioner (NP) certification. MSN curriculums include nursing coursework, often presented online, and in-person clinical requirements normally completed through the student’s current place of employment.

The RN to MSN option provides current RNs without a BSN degree an efficient path for obtaining their MSN. They’re typically offered in part-time formats designed to accommodate working RNs. Program lengths are 3 ½ to 4 years, and many award BSN credentials once undergraduate coursework is completed.

.

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Massachusetts

MSN Programs

Nurses with BSN degrees interested in obtaining their nursing masters can opt for a standard MSN program. Students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees can also obtain NCLEX-RN eligibility and an MSN. Direct entry MSN programs are available in both three-year full-time and four-year part-time options..

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with this Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

A DNP is for students interested in top leadership positions in healthcare administration and advanced nursing practice. The PhD in Nursing is for nursing professionals interested in research and academics. DNP programs feature specialization options like AGPC-NP, Family NP, and Critical Care. Both degrees also have options like BSN to PhD and MSN to DNP programs. Program lengths vary depending on factors like degree type, specialization, and study pace, and some allow seven years or more for completion.

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with this Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Post-graduate nursing certificates allow nursing doctoral degree and master’s degree holders to expand their professional practice through specialization. Nurse practitioner specializations include FNP and Neonatal Care NP. Other specializations include nurse anesthesia, primary care, public health nursing, and more. Completion times vary depending on specialization.

Examples of Massachusetts Nursing Schools with This Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Massachusetts

Most nursing programs in Massachusetts have some online component, and fully online nursing programs in Massachusetts are becoming increasingly common. We spotlight three nursing schools in Massachusetts below that feature comprehensive online programs. We also answer common questions related to distance learning nursing programs.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts Boston

UMass Boston Online offers an extensive selection of online nursing programs starting with its 30-credit RN to BSN program that can be completed in as few as three semesters. The program features 100% online coursework with optional synchronized classes for connecting with instructors and peers. Online students can take some courses in-person at Cape Cod Community College. UMass Boston also offers a hybrid-format Accelerated BSN that can be completed in as few as 12 months.

UMass Boston Online additionally offers two graduate-level programs. The hybrid Nursing MS program prepares graduates for certification and licensure as APNs in either adult-gerontology or family nursing. The program can be completed in as little as two years. The online Nursing DNP is offered in both BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP options. Online post-master’s certificates preparing students for certification as FNPs and AGNPs are also available. Completion times vary depending on previous nursing degrees.

Northeastern University

Northeastern University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science degree program offers current non-bachelors holders the opportunity to complete nursing coursework and clinical hour requirements necessary to qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam while earning their BSN. The curriculum consists of online didactic coursework, hands-on learning and testing attended at the university’s facility in Burlington, nursing simulation labs on the Boston campus, and clinical experiences at practice sites near the Boston Metro Area. The entire program is completed with 16 months of full-time study.

Northeastern also offers four graduate-level online options for licensed RNs. They include an MSN Neonatal NP and Post-MSN Neonatal Certificate of Advanced Study (CAGS), both of which combine online coursework with in-person clinical experiences. Northeastern’s MSN Family Nurse Practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs feature hybrid formats and in-person clinical hour experiences. All graduate programs are offered in both full-time and part-time formats.

Regis College

Regis College is a private, Catholic university home to four graduate-level online nursing programs. The Online Master of Science in Nursing is offered with several entry point options (ADN to MSN, BSN to MSN, Bachelor’s to MSN) and nurse practitioner specialization options (Family NP, Psychiatric Mental Health NP, Women’s Health NP, Pediatric NP, and three others). Students with previously MSNs can opt for post-masters certificates in one of five NP specializations.

Regis also offers two online programs for nurses seeking a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The Online BSN to DNP program provides RNs with a BSN a direct path for earning their doctorate that can be completed in as few as 40 months. Regis’s Online MSN to DNP program can be completed in 24 to 36 months depending on specialization. Students in both the BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP programs choose from the same five nurse practitioner specializations as students in the online MSN program.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Massachusetts

Can I earn my nursing degree in Massachusetts completely online?

That depends on the specific degree you’re seeking and the program offering it. Programs like RN to BSN and some certificates for licensed RNs are available 100% online. Almost all nursing programs, undergraduate and graduate alike, offer some coursework online. All pre-licensure programs, however, include substantial clinical requirements that must be in-person, and some also include on-campus simulated practice labs.

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

Most employers know that many nursing programs in Massachusetts include online components and that the quality of those programs is equal to their on-campus counterparts. It’s unlikely any employer would think less of an applicant with a degree obtained fully or partially as long as the program is accredited and state-approved. .

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

Not usually with regard to direct program costs like tuition and program fees. Some programs actually charge an additional fee for online study. Even then it’s likely the overall cost of an online nursing program will be less than an on-campus one once travel savings are factored in.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Massachusetts

Financial aid includes student loans, scholarships and grants, fellowships and assistantships (primarily for grad students), the GI Bill (for active military and veterans), employer tuition assistance, and student loan repayment programs. The federal government is the biggest source for student loans and loan repayment opportunities for nursing students. Student loan repayment opportunities for nurses in some specialized practice areas are also available through the Massachusetts Loan Repayment Program for Health Professionals. For detailed information on paying for your nursing program, contact your school’s financial aid office. Also check out EduMed’s nursing scholarship guide and main financial aid guide for more information and advice on funding.

How to Become an RN in Massachusetts: Licensing Information and Requirements

Completing an accredited and state-approved pre-RN licensure program qualifies you to take the NCLEX-RN examination, the main requirement for RN licensure in Massachusetts. Then, to work as a registered nurse in Massachusetts, obtain your RN license through the Massachusetts State Board of Registration in Nursing. The NCLEX isn’t the only requirement, though, as there are several steps for obtaining your Massachusetts RN license.

Step 1

Complete your accredited and state-approved nursing degree program.

Completing an accredited pre-licensure education program is a requirement for NCLEX-RN exam eligibility. State-approved nursing programs in Massachusetts leading to Massachusetts RN licensure include nursing diplomas and nursing associates (ADN, ASN, and AASN), LPN to RN, and BSN programs.

Step 2

Register for and take the NCLEX RN exam.

Start by registering to take the exam with Pearson VUE, the national NCLEX testing service. You must pay the exam fee at the time of registration. Next, schedule and take the exam at a Person VUE testing location. Visit this NCLEX website to find out more about preparing for, taking, and passing the exam.

Step 3

Apply for your RN license with the State Board of Registration in Nursing and meet all RN licensure requirements.

You can apply for licensure here. Applicants must prove they graduated from a state-approved nursing program, passed the NCLEX-RN exam, and are of good moral character as defined by Massachusetts state law. You’ll also have to pay the application fee (currently $230).

Step 4

Receive your Massachusetts RN license.

Once you’ve taken the NCLEX-RN exam, your results are automatically forwarded to the Board of Registration in Nursing. Check to see if you passed the exam at the Board’s License Verification Site. Once your license number appears on the site, print a copy of your new RN license and start working as an RN in Massachusetts.

Step 5

Renew your license every two years.

Your Massachusetts RN license expires on your birthday every even-numbered year. You must meet all state license renewal requirements, including 15 contact hours of approved continuing education, and apply for renewal within the 90-days before the expiration date. Application for renewal can be done by mail or online.

Job Outlook for RNs in Massachusetts

The job outlook nationally for registered nurses is excellent. Though the demand for qualified RNs in Massachusetts is not as strong as nationally, it is still quite healthy when compared to the demand in the nation for all occupations combined. That means you’ll likely find job security working as an RN in Massachusetts now and into the foreseeable future.

Employment Projections for RNs in Massachusetts

Employment (2018) New Jobs (2018-2028) Job Growth Rate (2018-2028) Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
Massachusetts 89,590 7,350 8.2% 5,720
United States 3,059,800 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

While job demand for RNs in Massachusetts may lag compared with the nation overall, salaries for RNs in the state tend to run above national averages. What you’ll earn as an RN depends on several factors, including your geographic location, specific employer and job title, and level of professional experience.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Massachusetts

10th Percentile Median Earnings 90th Percentile
Massachusetts $60,180 $87,540 $141,800
United States $52,080 $73,300 $111,220
Barnstable Town, MA $56,040 $82,880 $124,650
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH $61,470$90,480 $148,580
Leominster-Gardner, MA $59,300 $85,720 $124,080
New Bedford, MA $55,940 $76,740 $114,280
Springfield, MA-CT $58,330 $80,830 $109,210
Worcester, MA-CT $58,220 $82,850 $106,600

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019

Massachusetts Nursing Resources

American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) – Massachusetts

The Massachusetts AANP, an association of 118,000 professional nurse practitioners and organizations, provides a range of support services for NPs and advocates for NPs and their patients. A variety of specialized membership options, including student memberships, are available.

American Nurses Association Massachusetts

The ANA in Massachusetts bills itself as the largest voluntary nursing organization and the “premier organization” representing the professional interests of more than 130,000 registered nurses and their patients.

Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA)

Not to be confused with ANA Massachusetts, the MNA is a labor union and professional organization representing RN members employed in 85 healthcare facilities throughout Massachusetts. Association goals include promoting the health and safety of nurses and improving healthcare services for everyone.

Massachusetts State Board of Registration in Nursing

The Massachusetts BON enforces state nursing laws and regulations, approves pre-RN licensure education programs, and oversees the licensing process for nurses working in the state.

Scholarships and Resources for Nursing Students

This EduMed resource guides you toward finding, applying to, and winning nursing education scholarships and grants. Included are profiles of scholarship and grant programs and information and links to a variety of online professional and academic support services for nursing students.