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    Nursing Schools in St. Louis: Top Online & Campus Programs

    Find top-rated, accredited nursing schools in St. Louis that can help you take advantage of the high demand for registered nurses and APRNs in the area.

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    Find top-rated, accredited nursing schools in St. Louis that can help you take advantage of the high demand for registered nurses and APRNs in the area.

    If you live in the St. Louis area and are thinking about starting or advancing your career in nursing, the time to act is now. There’s a critical shortage of trained nursing professionals in and around St. Louis and across the entire nation. That shortage has led to sharp increases in salaries and signing bonuses by employers trying to fill an ever-increasing number of job vacancies.

    Take advantage of the situation by earning your nursing degree from an accredited nursing school in St. Louis. This guide gives you information on the top schools and programs, paying for college, and more. Read on to find the St. Louis nursing school that best meets your needs.

    Best Nursing Schools and Programs in St. Louis for 2024

    The following section details the best nursing schools and programs in St. Louis for 2024. Our picks are based on several important program elements, including accreditation, affordability, curriculum quality, study flexibility, and availability of student support services. They’re not only the top schools offering quality in-person, hybrid, and/or online nursing programs in St. Louis, but they also give a good idea of what to look for in a program.

    Best Overall Nursing Schools in St. Louis

    Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College

    The Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College is a private school offering a full slate of undergraduate and graduate nursing programs on the campuses of the Washington University Medical Center and the Missouri Baptist Medical Center. Undergraduates choose from among three BSN degrees. The three-semester (12 months) full-time Accelerated Option is for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees, and the five-semester (20 months) full-time Upper Division Option is for students who have completed their required general education and lower-division nursing prerequisite coursework elsewhere. The nine-semester (36 months) part-time Weekend and Evening Option is an entry-level program for students who have completed 54 credits of general education and other prerequisite classes. All three programs include the nursing didactic coursework, labs, and clinical practice hours needed to qualify to take the NCLEX-RN.

    Goldfarb graduate programs include MSN degrees and post-graduate nursing certificates in three specialties. The school also offers a PhD in Nursing Science and DNPs with Post-MSN, Nurse Anesthesia, Education Leadership, and Health Systems and Population Health Leadership track options.

    St. Louis Community College

    An excellent choice for ADN seekers in the St. Louis area is St. Louis Community College with its two pathways to earning an AAS in Nursing degree. The standard program is for new college students with no nursing background. The two-year, full-time curriculum combines foundational nursing and general education coursework with hands-on clinical experiences. Some prerequisite courses must be completed before enrollment. The LPN Bridge program allows current LPNs to forego the standard program’s first year of coursework by completing a single bridge course and then joining standard AAS students in their second year of studies.

    ADN programs are offered at four SLCC locations: Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec, and Wildwood. Clinical experiences are attended at St. Louis area healthcare facilities, including St. Luke’s Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

    University of Missouri – St. Louis

    The public university option for nursing students in the St. Louis area is the University of Missouri – St. Louis. The School of Nursing at UMSL offers several quality nursing degrees and certificates, starting with two pre-RN licensure options. The Traditional BSN is a two-year degree consisting of the upper-division nursing coursework and clinical practice hours needed for NCLEX-RN eligibility. Students enter the program having completed all general education and other nursing prerequisite classes, which can be completed at UMSL or transferred in from another accredited college or university. Students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees can complete all nursing courses and clinical hour requirements for their nursing bachelor’s through the 12-month Accelerated BSN program.

    Other nursing programs at UMSL include a 100% online RN to BSN and a PhD in Nursing. There’s also a DNP with both BSN and MSN entry points and post-graduate certificates in six nurse practitioner concentrations.

    Best Online Nursing Programs in St. Louis

    Maryville University

    Maryville University is a private Catholic-affiliated institution whose online nursing offerings start with its RN to BSN program. The curriculum consists of general education and upper-division nursing courses, all of which can be completed 100% online. Admission requirements include an ADN or nursing diploma and a current, unencumbered RN license. Program-approved transfer credits are accepted, and there are six start dates available annually.

    In addition to its RN to BSN, Maryville offers several online graduate options, including MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate programs with five nurse practitioner tracks. There are also three online Doctor of Nursing Practice options. The 20-month DNP and the 36-month DNP to NP are for MSN holders interested in becoming nurse practitioners while working on their doctorate, and the BSN to DNP is for students without an MSN seeking a nursing doctorate.

    Saint Louis University

    Private, Jesuit-affiliated Saint Louis University, easily considered one of the best overall nursing schools in St. Louis, is included here because it features the most extensive lineup of quality online degree and certificate programs in the Greater St. Louis area. Current RNs can expand their career opportunities by earning their BSNs through the RN to BSN program. Admission requires either a nursing diploma or an ADN degree from a regionally-accredited institution. Credits are awarded for previous coursework and for passing the NCLEX-RN. The remaining program credits are earned through 100% online coursework that can be completed in as few as two semesters.

    Online master’s-level programs at SLU include five MSN Nurse Practitioner specializations and a Clinical Nurse Leader MSN that feature 100% online coursework. Online doctorate programs include a BSN to DNP that requires four campus visits, an MSN to DNP, and a PhD in Nursing with both online/on-campus and full-time/part-time options. Graduate students can also choose among five post-graduate nurse practitioner certificates.

    Webster University

    Webster University, a private, Catholic-affiliated institution, offers an RN to BSN program for registered nurses seeking to move to a new career level by earning their BSNs online. Designed to accommodate working RNs, the program features fully-online coursework, a part-time format, and eight-week terms.

    The RN to BSN curriculum consists of 27 credits of upper-division nursing coursework. Students can transfer up to 90 credit hours of lower-division coursework and earn credit by examination. A minimum of 30 credits hours must be earned through Webster University. Students begin their RN to BSN studies in January or August.

    Webster also offers an MSN program for RNs with BSNs. The program takes two and a half years and 36 credit hours and is offered in an educator or leader track.

    Types of Nursing Programs Available in or Near St. Louis

    As the school spotlights above indicate, there are many different types of nursing programs in St. Louis to choose from. To help decide which one is right for you, below are explanations of the most popular types of nursing programs available in St. Louis along with links to program examples for each.

    Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in St. Louis

    Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

    Individuals seeking a quick and affordable path to a career as a registered nurse can opt for an AND program. These nursing programs in St. Louis are available exclusively on community college campuses and typically require two years of full-time study. Curriculums consist of general education and lower-division coursework along with the clinical practice hours needed to qualify for the NCLEX-RN.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

    Traditional BSN programs provide all the nursing courses and clinical practice hours required to sit for the NCLEX-RN. They may be offered as four-year, full-time programs for students with little or no previous college coursework or as two-year completion programs that require students to complete their first two years of general education and lower-division nursing courses as prerequisites.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    Accelerated BSN Programs

    Students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees can apply the general education and other credits earned in those degree programs to an accelerated (second-degree) BSN program, thus saving time and money as they work toward NCLEX-RN eligibility and becoming RNs. Completion times vary, but many students finish in as little as one year.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    Direct-Entry MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

    The direct-entry (accelerated) MSN is designed for individuals with no prior nursing education who are looking for the quickest and most affordable path to advanced practice and nurse leadership careers. Admission requires a non-nursing bachelor’s or higher degree and completion of certain healthcare courses. Graduates of direct-entry MSN programs are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    Nursing Bridge Programs in St. Louis for Current Nurses

    LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

    LPNs seeking professional advancement often do so by earning an ADN or BSN through LPN to RN or LPN to BSN programs. LPN to RN programs, sometimes called ADN bridge programs, are a staple of community college nursing programs in St. Louis and typically require three to four semesters to complete. LPN to BSN programs are available from four-year colleges and universities and can be completed in as little as three years.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    RN to BSN Programs

    RN to BSN programs provide current RNs with ADNs a convenient and affordable way to expand their nursing skills and increase their value in the job market. RN to BSN programs often feature 100% online coursework and can be completed in as few as 12 months depending primarily on the student’s previous college coursework and chosen study pace.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    RN to MSN Programs

    RN to MSN programs are for current RNs with nursing diplomas or ADNs interested in the most direct route to obtaining a nursing master’s degree. Some programs offer both full-time and part-time study formats as well as the option of earning a BSN degree on the way to earning the MSN. Most RN to MSN programs feature fully-online coursework.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    Advanced Nursing Programs in St. Louis

    Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

    Traditional MSN programs are for nurses with BSNs who want to advance their careers into leadership and advanced nurse practitioner positions. Traditional MSN programs often feature fully-online coursework, but students are still required to complete substantial clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities. Program lengths are typically 18 to 24 months.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

    DNP and PhD in Nursing degrees are exclusively for those seeking the highest positions in the nursing profession. PhD programs prepare students for careers in advanced research and post-secondary education while DNP programs prepare graduates for senior administration and advanced practice roles. Completion times vary substantially depending on credential type and chosen study pace.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

    Post-graduate certificates allow nurses with master’s or doctoral degrees the ability to add new specialized areas of practice without completing an additional full degree program. Specializations commonly include any of several nurse practitioner fields as well as areas like nurse educator and nursing administration. Some nursing schools in St. Louis feature post-grad certificates that can be completed entirely online.

    Examples of St. Louis Nursing Schools with this Program

    Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in St. Louis

    Financial aid is an absolute must for almost all nursing students. Fortunately, there are plenty of financial aid resources to tap into, many exclusive to nursing students. The most popular financial aid resource is the student loan. Student loans are available from many lenders, but the most common source is the federal student loan. The federal government also sponsors several loan repayment opportunities for nurses through the Health Resources & Services Administration.

    Other funding sources for nursing students include scholarships and grants, assistantships and fellowships, work study programs, and employer tuition reimbursement programs. For active military and veterans, there are GI Bill and other VA educational benefits. Nursing students in the St. Louis area can also take advantage of financial aid opportunities sponsored by the Missouri and Illinois state governments as well.

    For more on financial aid for students in nursing programs in St. Louis, check out EduMed’s guides to financial aid, nursing scholarships, and graduating from nursing school debt-free.

    How to Become an RN in St. Louis: Licensing Requirements

    Whether you’re in St. Louis, Missouri or Metro East in Illinois, you’ll need an RN license to work as a registered nurse in the Greater St. Louis metro area. If you currently hold a valid RN license from a state or territory member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) and intend to work in Missouri, you can use your current RN license.

    If your license is from a non-NLC state or territory and you plan to work in Missouri, or if you plan to work in Illinois and your license is from any other state, you’ll need to obtain an RN license through Missouri’s or Illinois’s license by endorsement process. If you’re seeking RN licensure for the first time, however, you’ll use your state’s license by examination process, which includes taking and passing the NCLEX-RN.

    For detailed RN licensure information, visit the Missouri State Board of Nursing and Illinois Nursing Workforce Center websites.

    Job Market and Earnings for RNs in St. Louis

    The St. Louis area offers healthy wages and strong job demand for registered and advanced practice nurses. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) projects a 16.8% increase in the employment of RNs in the St. Louis area through 2028, substantially better than the already positive projection of 12.1% growth for RNs in the U.S. In addition, MERIC projects an especially hearty 26.1% job growth rate for nurse practitioners in St. Louis through 2028.

    How Much You Could Make as an RN or Advanced Practice Nurse in St. Louis

    Median Hourly WageAvg. Hourly WageAvg. Annual Wage
    Registered Nurses$32$33$68,230
    Nurse Practitioners$49$51$105,360
    Nurse Midwives$53$55$115,200
    Nurse Anesthetists$82$82$170,870

    Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020