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

Find out what the top nursing schools in Michigan offer, learn which program best fits your career goals, and get answers to your most pressing questions.

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Last Updated: 09/22/2021
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Nursing programs in Michigan offer multiple entry points that match wherever you are in your career. New student? There’s a program for that. Already working in the field but ready for new challenges? There’s a program for that, too. Want to become a nurse and already have a bachelor’s in another subject? Yes, there’s even a program for that. No matter your experience, nursing schools in Michigan are ready to deliver the knowledge and skills you need to advance both your career and your salary.

This guide shows you your options and discusses some key characteristics to look for in a quality nursing program in Michigan. Explore top-rated on-campus programs as well as flexible online nursing programs in Michigan, learn the steps to licensure, and get details on salary and job outlook trends in this growing field. You’ll also get answers to FAQs and a list of helpful resources for new and current nurses and nursing students in Michigan.

2021’s Best Nursing Schools in Michigan

Narrowing down the prospects can be daunting, so we’ve vetted some of the best nursing schools in Michiganto help you get started. The schools profiled below offer multiple pathways to program completion and satisfy key criteria including flexible course delivery and cutting-edge curriculum. Find out which programs rise to the top in 2021 and learn more about how they can help you succeed as a nursing professional.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan School of Nursing offers programming that produces highly skilled nurses at every level of practice. The main course of study for this nursing program in Michigan includes classroom-based instruction and over 1,000 hours of hands-on-clinical training, resulting in NCLEX- and licensure-ready BSNs. Students can select a concentration in global health or occupational health and benefit from ten different specialties in areas like gerontology, pediatrics, midwifery, and primary care. Each program holds state approval and accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

The school offers advanced courses of study in addition to its BSN. Designed for experienced nurses looking to further their skills, these offerings include an MSN (with online options) and two doctoral programs. All University of Michigan students receive supervised practicum experiences through clinical placements at 600 healthcare facilities across the state. The school also extends financial aid opportunities to qualified students.

Michigan State University

The University of Michigan School of Nursing offers programming that produces highly skilled nurses at every level of practice. The main course of study for this nursing program in Michigan includes classroom-based instruction and over 1,000 hours of hands-on-clinical training, resulting in NCLEX- and licensure-ready BSNs. Students can select a concentration in global health or occupational health and benefit from ten different specialties in areas like gerontology, pediatrics, midwifery, and primary care. Each program holds state approval and accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

The school offers advanced courses of study in addition to its BSN. Designed for experienced nurses looking to further their skills, these offerings include an MSN (with online options) and two doctoral programs. All University of Michigan students receive supervised practicum experiences through clinical placements at 600 healthcare facilities across the state. The school also extends financial aid opportunities to qualified students.

Madonna University

Madonna University offers traditional, in-person nursing instruction and several online nursing programs in Michigan. The online options include an accelerated BSN for career-changers, a RN-to-BSN program, an MSN in nursing leadership, and a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Each program uses a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning to deliver core coursework.

Students interested in campus-based learning can pursue a traditional BSN or an MSN with a concentration in gerontology or family nurse practitioner. The traditional BSN also accepts students with active practical nursing credentials, ensuring a swift pathway to licensure that recognizes their previous experience. The school offers several postgraduate nursing certificates using online and in-person learning formats. Madonna University further supports students through a nursing students association, financial aid opportunities, and a nursing honor society.

Common Qualities of the Best Nursing Schools in Michigan

With so many options available, how do you know which nursing schools in Michiganoffer the best opportunities for success and advancement? Look for these common qualities in your search.

  • High NCLEX Pass Rates

    All nursing candidates must pass the NCLEX exam before obtaining licensure and authorization to work. Developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the exam assesses knowledge and skills in key areas of competency. Many Michigan nursing schools make their pass rates available to prospective students. High pass rates indicate that the program offers effective training and readiness for assessment.
  • Flexibility in Clinical Placements

    Most nursing programs in Michigan offer some flexibility, but the specifics vary widely. It’s worth considering how a nursing program in Michigan’s flexibility (or lack of flexibility) with clinical placements might impact your other responsibilities and your path to program completion. For example, if you’re an active nurse, the ability to integrate current work experience with program requirements helps you maintain your professional status as you finish your studies.
  • Nationally Accredited and State Approved

    This is the most important indicator of high-quality nursing schools in Michigan, and it has a direct impact on your licensure eligibility. All nurses in the Great Lakes State must complete an education program approved by the Michigan Board of Nursing, which oversees licensing. Similarly, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the CCNE provide accreditation to programs that meet benchmarks for educational quality.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Michigan

This section looks at the range of program options available to you. Whether you’re a new student, a career changer, or a seasoned professional, nursing schools in Michigan offer dedicated pathways to help you succeed. Find out which ones meet your needs.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Michigan

ADN Programs

These programs result in an associate degree in nursing and provide basic healthcare training and education. They offer the fastest and most accessible track to licensure as an RN in Michigan. Community colleges, technical schools, and other institutions administer these programs. Most last around two years and qualify you for entry-level employment.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

These nursing programs in Michigan lead to a four-year degree and provide pathways to advanced study. They cover the same competency areas as an ADN but include additional instruction that prepares you for broader responsibility. Graduates benefit from a wider range of employment opportunities and higher pay.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Designed for second-career professionals or those with a four-year degree in a nonnursing field, these programs provide an expedited path to a BSN. Since these students already have a bachelor’s degree, accelerated BSN programs forgo the general education requirements typical of undergraduate programs and instead focus on core nursing instruction. Most programs call for prerequisites in anatomy and physiology, lab science, and statistics.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Michigan for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Bridge Programs

These nursing programs in Michigan allow you to pursue RN or BSN credentials as an actively licensed practical nurse. The programs recognize previous professional experience and use it to build additional knowledge that broadens your nursing skills. You’ll need to complete hands-on clinical training like in other programs, but that training will build on your existing skills.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

If you have an ADN and an RN license and want to advance your career with a BSN, an RN to BSN bridge program could be the way to go. You’ll get additional training to elevate your professional standing and qualify you for more roles in the field. Most programs last one to two years.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

These programs offer a route from RN licensure to graduate-level nursing education. They include bridge coursework tailored to working nursing professionals, core instruction, and the opportunity to specialize in areas like nurse practitioner, nursing education, informatics, and nursing administration. RN to BSN programs qualify you for leadership and management positions in the industry.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Michigan

MSN Programs

Most nursing schools in Michiganoffer two paths to obtain a master’s degree. Direct-entry programs are designed for non-nursing professionals with a bachelor’s degree in a different field. They provide nursing knowledge foundations and build to graduate-level study and specialization. Traditional MSN programs offer the same degree and are designed for current nurses with a BSN.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with this Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

Nursing schools in Michiganwith these programs offer education at the highest levels in the nursing field. They qualify you for work as a nursing educator or as an advanced practitioner with specialized expertise. Timeframes for completion vary widely and depend on individual circumstances. In most cases you will need to complete a research dissertation or a similar capstone component.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with this Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

These programs help working nurses with an MSN develop additional areas of expertise. Post-graduate certificate nursing programs in Michigan typically last just a few years and focus on specializations like gerontology, pediatrics, nurse midwifery, and family nurse practitioner. Typically these certificates involve a specified sequence of courses and a select number of clinical hours.

Examples of Michigan Nursing Schools with This Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Michigan

Hybrid and online nursing programs in Michigan offer flexibility and convenience, especially if you’re an active nurse or a professional working in another field. Most schools use web-based instruction near the beginning of the program for general education requirements, core coursework, and foundational classes; after that, once students begin clinicals they’ll complete those in person. Most courses combine self-paced study with structured interaction to ensure that students are on track.

Because the format is flexible, many programs also offer intensive courses. At Eastern Michigan University, for example, each course lasts 7 1/2 weeks and students can choose from six start dates a year. By reducing the length of a traditional term and offering multiple start dates, online nursing programs in Michigan expedite your path to completion.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Michigan

Northwestern Michigan College

Northwestern Michigan College offers an online nursing option designed for full-time students that leads to an ADN. It admits new students annually and delivers all nursing courses and academic classes using online formats for optimal flexibility and convenience. These courses cover the same content areas as in-person offerings and are to be completed in a specified sequence. In their final term, students choose an elective that supports their interests and broadens their experience.

In-person requirements for this program include proctored exams, lab experiences, and all clinical courses and supervised placements. Northwestern Michigan College maintains articulation agreements with several institutions in the region, meaning that courses taken at one will count toward degree completion at the other. It also holds state approval and accreditation with the ACEN. Recent courses include advanced pharmacology, nursing fundamentals, acute care, mental health nursing, and care across the lifespan. Graduates are fully prepared to complete the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain state-level licensure.

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University offers an online RN-to-BSN completion program. Designed for incoming undergraduate students, the program requires 120 credits and includes general education coursework, core nursing instruction, specialized study, and electives. Transfer students can bring in up to 90 credits earned at a regionally accredited institution, significantly reducing their time in school. As a result, many students graduate in 12 months or less. Like other programs, Central Michigan’s course of study delivers coursework online and requires in-person attendance for all clinical training and supervised fieldwork.

Core courses in the program look at issues in cultural diversity, nursing leadership in healthcare delivery, health assessment, and research methods (including a required statistics class). Students choose from electives in subjects like nursing finance, informatics, and case management. Applicants to this program need an active, unencumbered Michigan RN license. Those preparing for the NCLEX-RN exam can receive provisional admission in some cases.

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University’s online nursing programs in Michigan include an RN-to-BSN bridge pathway, an MSN, and a DNP. Each program uses hybrid formats to deliver material. For the RN-to-BSN bridge program, students access academic course content using interactive tools in a virtual learning environment. They can then move to hands-on, clinical requirements much faster and, as a result, many finish their studies in just over a year.

The graduate programs use similar hybrid formats and prepare working professionals for advanced practice. Regardless of degree level, all students receive a dedicated advisor to provide help throughout the course of study. Housed within Grand Valley State’s Kirkhof College of Nursing, these programs maintain CCNE accreditation and state approval. They also award over 35 scholarships to new and returning nursing students.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Michigan

Can I earn my nursing degree in Michigan completely online?

You will still need to complete some in-person components, such as clinical training. Since nursing is such a rigorous and hands-on field, these components give you the opportunity to practice your skills in an environment that reflects real-world conditions. Some courses may also involve some in-person attendance.

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

No. Employers generally do not care how you received your degree or how you completed the requirements. They want to hire competent, qualified candidates with valid credentials and high potential. As long as you attend a program that meets state board requirements, your value as a candidate will not be impacted by an online nursing program in Michigan.

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

This depends on individual schools, but overall online nursing programs in Michigan fall within the same price range as traditional offerings. That said, if you consider other factors beyond tuition, online programs can save you money. For example, you’ll cut costs by spending less time and money commuting to campus.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Michigan

Financial aid can offset some of the costs associated with tuition, fees, and other expenses. Fortunately, there are quite a few opportunities available if you know where to look. Many on-campus and online nursing programs in Michigan extend need or merit-based scholarships to new and returning students. Regional organizations like the Michigan Nurses Foundation also provide annual awards. Potential employers and other key stakeholders may offer opportunities as well. For more information on how to find financial aid, see our main financial aid guide and our nursing scholarship resource page.

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

To obtain an RN license after graduation, you’ll need to complete all requirements outlined by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. This section breaks that process down step by step and looks at what you will need to submit a successful licensure application.

Step 1

Finish Your Education

The first step is to complete an education and training program approved by your state board, including all coursework elements and required clinical hours. You’ll probably need to submit official transcripts as proof. Most online nursing programs in Michigan explicitly mention their approval standing. The state board also keeps an updated list of approved programs.

Step 2

Complete a Criminal Background Check and Mandatory Training

Once you graduate, you’ll need to submit to a criminal background check. The state board will provide instructions and may require additional documentation on your professional character. As of January 2022, the board will also require training in identifying victims of human trafficking as a part of this step.

Step 3

Pass the NCLEX Exam

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCBSN) uses this exam to assess candidates’ readiness for practice. Aspiring registered nurses take the NCLEX-RN, and aspiring practical nurses take the NCLEX-PN. You must pass this exam before you submit your licensure application. The state board will receive your score directly from the NCBSN.

Step 4

Submit Your Application and Fees

Once you pass your criminal background check and the NCLEX, you can submit your application for initial licensure. This is a good time to double-check the state board’s requirements, make sure you’re compliant, and gather any additional documentation. You’ll also need to pay any fees, which can vary year to year.

Step 5

Keep up with Continuing Education and Renewal

The first time you apply, you will receive initial licensure. In Michigan these licenses are good for two years, after which you must apply for renewal. The state board requires that you maintain your eligibility for renewal by satisfying continuing education requirements commensurate with your practice level. These requirements must be completed with an approved provider.

Job Outlook for RNs in Michigan

Graduates of nursing schools in Michigan benefit from encouraging job market trends due to nationwide nursing shortages. The Great Lakes State employed just over 100,000 RNs in 2018 and will see at least 6,500 job openings each year through 2028. By that time, nearly 10,000 new RN jobs will have been added to the state as well, and each of those positions will require the credentials gained through high-quality programs—both in-person and online–at nursing schools in Michigan.

Employment Projections for RNs in Michigan

Employment (2018) New Jobs (2018-2028) Job Growth Rate (2018-2028) Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
Michigan 100,580 9,880 9.8% 6,620
United States 3,059,800 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

Becoming an RN will expand your earning power. Below you’ll find the most recent salary data for Michigan RNs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers indicate earning potential relatively consistent with national averages. The median annual wage for RNs is higher than the median for all occupations, both in Michigan and across the U.S.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Michigan

10th Percentile Median Earnings 90th Percentile
Michigan $54,770 $72,260 $96,370
United States $52,080 $73,300 $111,220
Ann Arbor, MI $57,940 $77,050 $106,340
Battle Creek, MI $54,490 $68,850 $91,460
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI $56,090 $75,010 $98,810
Flint, MI $56,560 $74,620 $97,780
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI $53,770 $67,040 $83,300
Lansing-East Lansing, MI $56,530 $74,990 $96,620
Monroe, MI $51,310 $69,120 $79,660
Muskegon, MI $52,640 $69,500 $83,390
Niles-Benton Harbor, MI $54,230 $71,770 $91,930
Saginaw, MI $54,390 $65,840 $81,750

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019

Michigan Nursing Resources

Michigan Nurses Association

This organization supports nursing professionals at every level across the Great Lakes State. It provides educational resources, hosts regional events, and participates in legislative advocacy efforts.

Michigan Board of Nursing

In partnership with state government, this regulatory body oversees all matters related to nursing licensure and continuing education. It provides tools to help you prepare for the examination and includes licensing and renewal instructions.

Scholarships and Online Resources for Registered Nursing Students

This financial aid and resource page provides advice on where to secure funding and how to successfully apply. It also lists helpful professional development tools for new nursing students and recent graduates.

Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners

This group supports nurse practitioners and other advanced nursing professionals through events and strategic sponsorships, community engagement, and continuing education opportunities. It also provides scholarships and awards to its members.

Michigan Nursing Students Association

Since 1951, this organization has offered education, networking, and financial aid opportunities for nursing students. It maintains local chapters across Michigan and hosts an annual conference that recognizes outstanding achievement.