Exploring the Best Nursing Schools in Minnesota

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

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James Mielke

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James Mielke is a freelance writer currently based in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to higher education topics, other areas of research and writing include food history, cooking, dining, and golf. James has a history degree from Belmont University and is an unapologetic fan of the Grateful Dead.

last updated

09/15/2022

Whether you’re a high school graduate interested in starting your RN career or an experienced nurse looking to move up the ranks for more pay and responsibilities, Minnesota has many quality nursing programs to meet your needs. This guide breaks down the various nursing degrees Minnesota has to offer and highlights schools that stand out in terms of affordability, flexibility, academics, student support, and other criteria. It also reviews the process for securing your RN license and provides a list of essential resources for Minnesota-based nurses. Keep reading to learn more about top schools in Minnesota and find the one that best fits your individual needs.

Minnesota’s Best Overall Nursing Schools and Programs for 2023

These best-in-class nursing schools in Minnesota are CCNE accredited and provide an affordable nursing program with the support you need to start a nursing career or build upon existing skills for career advancement. The three standout nursing programs in Minnesota highlighted below can not only jumpstart your college search but also provide a standard for evaluating other schools. Continue reading to see who stands out for 2023.

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota hosts one of the state’s premier Bachelor of Nursing programs that boasts a 2019 NCLEX-RN pass rate of 97%. Utilizing a collaborative environment, this undergraduate track offers traditional classroom experiences bolstered by research opportunities and hands-on simulations. Students also gain vital clinical experiences through the school’s professional healthcare network. During this four-year program, students complete core nursing classes that include topics like taking ethical action in healthcare, nursing care across the lifespan, and public health nursing. Students also complete a specialty-focused practicum and a degree-culminating senior project.

Before gaining admission into UMN’s BSN program, students must complete 17-19 credits of foundational coursework in chemistry, psychology, biology, anatomy, and physiology.

Rochester Community and Technical College

Rochester Community and Technical College offers an Associate Degree in Nursing that full-time students can complete in two years. The program supplies students with the theoretical and clinical skills they need to begin their professional nursing careers. By highlighting professionalism, critical thinking, and essential nursing skills in a collaborative environment, students are prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Throughout this 64-credit ASN, students complete 30 credits of general education requirements and 34 credits of nursing coursework. Core nursing requirements include fundamentals of nursing, maternal newborn nursing, and leadership and management in nursing.

Prospective students need high school diplomas or GEDs. Applicants must also complete the ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) with a score of 58.7% or higherSouthwest Minnesota State University

Southwest Minnesota State University

Designed for students holding RN licensure and ASNs, Southwest Minnesota State University offers an RN to BSN nursing program that students can complete in 12-18 months. The curriculum supports a working understanding of the healthcare issues facing underserved rural populations and places a strong emphasis on the practical application of clinical knowledge in complex environments. RN to BSN students complete core nursing classes like chronic illness in rural settings, transcultural nursing, and healthcare policy and informatics in addition to a community health clinical experience.

Applicants must hold current and unencumbered RN licenses with minimum 2.75 GPAs for all prior nursing coursework.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Minnesota

Nursing schools in Minnesota provide academic and technical training at every level, from ADN to graduate programs. We’ve highlighted the most popular nursing options currently available in the state below and given examples of quality schools offering them.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Minnesota

ADN Programs

Designed for individuals seeking nursing licensure, these programs are traditionally offered at community and technical colleges. They are popular options for students not wanting a four-year undergraduate commitment. Full-time students usually complete ADN programs in about two years.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

A traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing leads to nursing licensure and takes full-time students four years to complete. Offering expanded career options and earning potential, a BSN is often prized by employers because of its rigorous and in-depth curriculum.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

An accelerated BSN is a practical option for individuals with unrelated bachelor’s degrees who want to pursue nursing careers. Having already completed general education requirements, accelerated BSN students focus entirely on nursing-related requirements to finish their degrees in just 18 months.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Minnesota for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN programs offer a clear academic path towards RN licensure. An LPN to RN program usually takes 18-24 months to complete while an LPN to BSN track typically takes 3-4 years.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

Accelerated RN to BSN programs offer working RNs a convenient path to complete their bachelor’s degrees. These programs build upon prior coursework and focus on augmenting nursing knowledge and clinical skills. These degrees traditionally take about two years to complete and are often offered online.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

An RN to MSN bridge program offers working RNs with ADNs the opportunity to earn master’s degrees in a shorter amount of time. Bridge programs are both online and in-person and usually take between 30-36 months.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Minnesota

MSN Programs

MSN programs are available for both working nurses with BSNs and students holding unrelated bachelor’s degrees. Students complete various core requirements and often specialize in areas like nursing leadership, informatics, and other areas of clinical practice. Depending on prior academic experience, this degree takes between two and three years.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with This Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

A DNP degree further hones clinical skills and leads to various nursing leadership positions. For students interested in research and teaching at the collegiate level, a PhD focuses on the skills needed to transition into an academic setting. Depending on previous academic experience, these degrees take three to six years to complete.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with This Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

For working RNs holding MSN degrees, post-graduate certificates give expert knowledge in specific areas of the nursing field. Students access post-graduate certificate programs both online and on-campus, tackling specialization areas like nursing management, gerontology, and nurse education.

Examples of Minnesota Nursing Schools with This Program

2023’s Best Online Nursing Programs in Minnesota

Online nursing programs in Minnesota have become popular in recent years, especially for working students. Keep in mind, however, that while certain programs offer online components, you’ll still meet any clinical requirements in person. At the same time, there are many programs fully online with clinical requirements met through your current nursing job. Online programs boast flexibility, but the coursework requires self-discipline, commitment, and time management. Some students struggle with these on their own and thrive better within in-person settings.

To help you find a quality program that has the flexibility and affordability you’re looking for, we’ve listed this year’s best online nursing programs in Minnesota below. See which schools rose above the rest for 2023.

or
About the ranking

X

Base Methodology for EduMed’s 2023 Online College Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Winona State UniversityWinona, MN Public $$ 13

Winona State University provides nursing students with a host of online nursing programs to advance their professional careers as conveniently as possible. Many of these programs are designed for students who already have a nursing degree and license. For example, the school offers an RN to BSN program for nurses who have an associate degree in nursing, which combines online classroom learning with in-person practical experiences.

At the graduate level, there are several MSN and DNP concentrations to choose from including adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner. Like the RN to BSN programs, much of the classwork for these graduate programs is available online, but students must complete their experiential learning in-person at approved clinical or practicum locations.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 57
  • Cost: $4,193.75/semester (in-state); $7,559.85/semester (out-of-state)
  • Length: 1-4 years
  • Mode: partially online

MSN – Nurse Educator

  • Credits: 48
  • Cost: $38,000.00/total program cost
  • Length: 2-3 years
  • Mode: partially online

DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 73
  • Cost: $64,000/total program cost
  • Length: 3 years
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
AccreditationHLC
2 Minnesota State University MoorheadMoorhead, MN Public $$ 2

The RN to BSN program from Minnesota State University Moorhead provides an academic pathway for registered nurses to earn their Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. Even though students must have 120 credits to graduate, the core nursing requirements only consists of about 31 credits. The majority of these can be completed online, although there are several experiential learning requirements that students can arrange close to where they live or work. Prospective nursing students seeking a master’s degree can choose from two MSN programs – nurse educator or nurse administration and organizational systems leadership. These have almost the same credit requirements and offer most classwork online, but students must complete their experiential learning requirements in-person.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 31
  • Cost: $415.06/credit (in-state); $709.65/credit (out-of-state, non-resident, non-reciprocity)
  • Length: 1-5 years
  • Mode: online

Master of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 41-42
  • Cost: $601.88/credit
  • Length: 2 years
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
AccreditationHLC
3 Minnesota State University-MankatoMankato, MN Public $$ 3

The RN to BSN completion program from Minnesota State University – Mankato has a few special characteristics that make it an important option for registered nurses seeking a bachelor’s degree. Students can self-pace their learning, taking as few as one course but as many four courses each semester. To make it easier to fit classes into their busy schedule, those classes last either eight or 16 weeks and can all be completed online, with no campus visits needed, not even for the program’s orientation. Additionally, the online classes are offered asynchronously, meaning students can not only learn from anywhere, but at any time.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Cost: $355.45/credit
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
22/1
AccreditationHLC
4 Bemidji State UniversityBemidji, MN Public $$ 1

Current registered nurses who want flexibility in earning their bachelor’s-level nursing degree will appreciate the convenience of the RN to BSN program at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. The program has fall, spring, and summer start dates, and students can take just one class each semester or take as many as they need to become a full-time student. All of the classes are available online with no visits to campus necessary. The nursing core curriculum consists of about 32 credits, so students can earn their other requirement general education credits from almost any accredited college or university in Minnesota. Besides completing the online coursework, students also need to complete a community health practicum.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 32
  • Cost: $313.55/credit (in-state)
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
AccreditationHLC
5 Rasmussen University-MinnesotaSt. Cloud, MN Private for-profit $$$ 3

Rasmussen University-Minnesota is a leader in distance education and its various online nursing programs reflects that by offering multiple ways for students to earn their degree. For instance, in the RN to BSN program, the majority of classwork is completed online, and 75% of the required credits can be met by transferring classes. Rasmussen University-Minnesota also offers Empowered Learning, which lets students adjust the pace of their learning and take online classes either synchronously or asynchronously. To meet the professional needs of its students, there are various specializations to choose from including nursing education, nursing leadership and administration, and public health and policy.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 70
  • Cost: $335.00/credit
  • Length: 12 to 18 months
  • Mode: partially online

Master of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 48
  • Cost: $155.00/credit
  • Length: 18 to 36 months
  • Mode: partially online

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 48 to 63
  • Cost: $695.00/credit
  • Length: 2-4 years
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
AccreditationHLC
or
About the ranking

X

Base Methodology for EduMed’s 2023 Online College Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Northwest Technical CollegeBemidji, MN Public $$ 3

Northwest Technical College offers several online nursing programs for future registered and practical nurses. There’s the Associate of Science in nursing which offers most classes online, although students must meet the clinical requirements in-person at approved healthcare locations. The LPN to RN track is similar to the Associate of Science in nursing track, although incoming students must already be licensed practical nurses (LPNs). Finally, there’s the practical nursing diploma program. This is the fastest way for students to enter the nursing profession by becoming licensed practical nurses. The practical nursing diploma program also follows a hybrid model with both online and in-person curriculum components.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 64
  • Cost: $211.55/credit
  • Length: 2 years
  • Mode: partially online

LPN to RN

  • Credits: 64
  • Cost: $211.55/credit
  • Length: 2 years
  • Mode: partially online

Practical Nursing Diploma

  • Credits: 39
  • Cost: $211.55/credit
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
AccreditationHLC
2 Minnesota West Community and Technical CollegeGranite Falls, MN Public $$ 2

Minnesota West Community and Technical College offers two online nursing programs. For students looking to earn their registered nursing credentials, the Associate of Science in nursing program is offered. The curriculum follows a hybrid model where much of the classroom instruction is provided online, but when it comes to experiential learning through clinicals, students must complete them in-person. Those interested in becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) instead of a registered nurse can consider the practical nursing diploma. The hybrid curriculum follows the Associate of Science in nursing format with online coursework and in-person clinical experiences. An important note about the clinicals for both programs is that they must be completed at predetermined medical facilities located in southwest Minnesota.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 64
  • Cost: $207.44/credit
  • Length: 2 years
  • Mode: partially online

Practical Nursing Diploma

  • Credits: 39
  • Cost: $207.44/credit
  • Length: 2 years or less
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
20/1
AccreditationHLC

Minnesota State University-Moorhead

The online RN to BSN program at Minnesota State University-Moorhead offers a flexible online delivery convenient for working RNs. This program allows students to complete work at their own pace while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. In addition to online coursework, students also complete experiential learning opportunities in their geographic areas.

Core requirements for this 31-credit bridge program include holistic family health nursing, gerontological nursing to promote successful aging, and interdisciplinary care for diverse populations. Prospective students must hold active RN licenses and complete online applications. MSU Moorehead reviews applications holistically, and applicants traditionally need minimum 2.75 GPAs for college-level coursework.

St. Catherine University

St. Catherine University offers an online Master of Science in Nursing Nurse Educator program comprised of 32 credits students typically take fewer than two years to complete. In addition to developing critical thinking and leadership skills, students tackle emerging issues in the nursing field while studying healthcare trends. They also assess various learning styles and instructional techniques in a nurse education setting. Coursework in this master’s degree covers topics like foundations of nurse educator practice, basic graduate nursing informatics, advanced pharmacology across the lifespan, and physiology and pathophysiology across the lifespan.

Prospective students need BSNs from regionally accredited institutions and active nursing licenses. They also must have minimum cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Minnesota

While nursing programs in Minnesota offer a variety of flexible and affordable academic options, securing a degree can get expensive at any level. Fortunately, loans, scholarships, grants, and tuition reimbursement programs can lighten your financial burden and allow you to graduate from nursing school debt free.

When searching for financial aid resources, start with your school’s financial aid department. Additionally, professional organizations like the Minnesota Nurses Association Foundation offer various annual scholarships. Other funding sources include private foundations, school nursing programs, and various healthcare organizations.

For more resources and advice on funding your nursing degree in Minnesota, review our scholarships and resources page for online RN students and our guide to paying less for education.

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

You must attend a program approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing to become an RN in Minnesota. Approved programs offer you the academic and clinical skills needed to secure your nursing license and provide competent and compassionate care. RN licensing information and requirements vary among states, so we’ve highlighted the steps you’ll need to take to secure your RN license in Minnesota.

Step 1

Complete Your Degree

Whether you’re attending an ADN or BSN program, it needs to be a board-approved nursing program. During your last semester, you can begin the process of securing your RN licensure through Minnesota’s Board of Nursing.

Step 2

Submit Application and Fees

Your application needs to be complete and correct since any omissions or mistakes can delay the licensure process. Submit your application before you sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. This process also includes a criminal background check.

Step 3

Register and Schedule Your Exam

Pearson Vue administers NCLEX-RN exams nationwide, and you’ll need to register and pay all associated fees to schedule your exam. Upon receipt of payment, Pearson Vue will send you an Authorization to Test (ATT). Once received, you can schedule your test. Your ATT is valid for 90 days. If the test isn’t taken during that time, you’ll need to restart the process from Step 2.

Step 4

Prepare and Take Your Exam

While many programs assist with NCLEX test prep, taking the time to study independently can help ensure you pass on the first attempt. Various test prep options are available online, and studying with your cohort may also be beneficial. Once you pass the NCELX-RN exam, expect to receive your RN license in the mail in approximately ten business days.

Step 5

Renew Your License

Once you receive your Minnesota RN license, you’ll need to renew it every two years. In addition to completing a renewal application, RNs in Minnesota must complete at least 24 contact hours of continuing education.

Job Outlook for RNs in Minnesota

Similar to national metrics, RN jobs in Minnesota are projected to grow 12.4% by 2028. That translates to nearly 9,000 new jobs for RNs. These long-term employment numbers also project an average of 4,900 annual job openings for RNs in Minnesota.

While the RN employment forecast is positive, these statistics alone can undersell the value of a nursing degree. Along with a growing job market, nursing provides a stable and in-demand career that’s underscored by an above-average annual salary.

Employment Projections for RNs in Minnesota

New Jobs
(2018-2028)
Job Growth Rate
(2018-2028)
Average Annual Openings
(2018-2028)
Minnesota 8,790 12.4% 4,900
United States 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

Not only are Minnesota nurses in demand, but they also earn an annual salary that exceeds the national average by more than $4,000. Additionally, RNs in more populated areas like Minneapolis and St. Cloud make around $10,000 more per year than national median earnings.

When considering your academic path in nursing, look at what top earners make in Minnesota. With the 90th percentile of RNs making over $100,000 annually, experienced nurses with advanced degrees and those in leadership roles tend to make the most.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Minnesota


10th Percentile Median Earnings 90th Percentile
Minnesota $57,730 $79,540 $107,000
United States $53,410 $75,330 $116,230
Duluth, MN-WI $52,710 $69,630 $91,650
Mankato-North Mankato, MN $60,040 $84,100 $108,790
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI $61,900 $86,290 $111,500
Rochester, MN $56,770 $71,870 $89,720
St. Cloud, MN $64,280 $86,750 $110,090
Duluth, MN-WI $52,710 $69,630 $91,650
Mankato-North Mankato, MN $60,040 $84,100 $108,790
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI $61,900 $86,290 $111,500
Rochester, MN $56,770 $71,870 $89,720
St. Cloud, MN $64,280 $86,750 $110,090

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020