Best Nursing Programs in New Jersey (NJ): Top Online & Campus Options for 2021

Explore nursing programs in New Jersey and find the one best-suited for your career goals and learning style. Browse this year’s top-ranked programs, learn where to find financial aid, and more in this guide.

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Last Updated: 05/12/2021
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Whether you’re starting your academic journey toward a nursing career or looking to add to a seasoned nursing resume, you’ll find countless nursing programs in New Jersey to fit your needs. Like most states, nursing professionals are in high demand in New Jersey. By getting or upgrading your nursing degree, you’ll be poised to join this field or seek better opportunities and higher salaries.

The key is finding the nursing program in New Jersey that’s right for you. This guide walks you through different types of programs, highlights some of the state’s top-rated schools, examines the difference between on campus and online nursing programs in New Jersey, and answers some of your most pressing questions. Keep scrolling for a helpful look at your nursing school options in New Jersey.

2021’s Best Nursing Schools in New Jersey

When scanning the many nursing programs in New Jersey, the process of narrowing down your options can seem daunting. Some basic must-haves, such as accreditation and high NCLEX-RN pass rates, may eliminate a few schools, but that doesn’t mean the remaining nursing programs will fit your personal, professional, and financial needs. To help jumpstart the process, we’ve highlighted several top nursing schools below.

Monmouth University

Recognizing the high demand for qualified and competent registered nurses, Monmouth University seeks to address this need. Monmouth’s pre-licensure BSN program produces qualified generalists through classroom and clinical work while providing a liberal arts education. Boasting a dynamic learning environment, Monmouth prioritizes personal and intellectual growth through one-on-one mentoring, guiding students toward clinical proficiency.

In addition to general education requirements, students take 42 credits toward pre-licensure and 30 credits toward core nursing topics. Classes include community health nursing, issues and trends in professional nursing, and transcultural health. Along with practicum courses, students also take career-focused courses such as transition to professional licensure and nursing for the future.

Besides the standard application, transcripts, and fees, nursing program applicants must write an essay outlining their commitment to the nursing profession, demonstrate a strong background in the sciences, and highlight prior exposure to a healthcare setting or experience.

Caldwell University

Through a curriculum that highlights professional nursing in a global environment, Caldwell University provides a solid liberal arts education alongside rigorous nursing coursework. Utilizing traditional classroom exercises, simulation activities, and clinical experiences, Caldwell students learn the necessary skills to provide safe and effective care to diverse populations.

Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the BSN curriculum requires 36 credits of general education, 25 credits of nursing prerequisites, and 63 credits of core nursing courses. Core courses include nursing research and evidence-based practice, community and public health, and health care policy in nursing.

Along with a completed application, Caldwell University applicants must submit academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal or graded essay. SAT/ACT scores are optional, but students with high test scores may be eligible for more substantial academic scholarships.

Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University established New Jersey’s first BSN program and boasts an NCLEX-RN pass rates of 93%. A liberal arts education at its core, Seton Hall blends enriching general education requirements with nursing coursework, allowing for a curriculum that highlights service and promotes meaningful classroom and clinical experiences.

Besides core nursing courses like maternal newborn nursing, legal issues in nursing, and community health perspectives, students begin learning and practicing clinical skills their sophomore year. Seton Hall provides patient-care experiences in various clinical settings, including community health agencies, hospitals, and behavioral health settings.

Along with standard university admissions requirements for high school students, College of Nursing applicants must have completed at least one biology and chemistry course. Transfer applicants must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and complete an admissions examination with a satisfactory score. Transferable science courses must be completed at a four-year institution with a grade of B or higher.

Common Qualities of the Best Nursing Schools in New Jersey

The best nursing programs in New Jersey provide students with the skills, knowledge, and experiences to provide outstanding patient care. To achieve that goal, look for these essential attributes when considering your nursing program:

  • Nationally Accredited and State Approved

    Your nursing program must be accredited and state-approved; don’t consider a program that is not. Attending a school that meets these requirements ensures that you’re receiving a quality, peer-endorsed education that leads to RN licensure and provides essential career training. The two accrediting bodies to look for are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The New Jersey Board of Nursing provides a helpful list of state-approved nursing programs.
  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rates

    One of the distinguishing factors of top nursing programs in New Jersey is their ability to effectively prepare students for the NCLEX-RN exam. Required for licensure, this exam is often the last hurdle before working in the field. The best nursing programs in New Jersey boast high exam pass rates, showing that the curriculum, instruction, and institution adequately prepare nursing students.
  • Hands-on Clinical Experience

    While some training during nursing programs in New Jersey occurs in labs or through simulations, that doesn’t diminish the value of real, hands-on experience. The best nursing programs have robust working relationships with medical institutions, allowing students to gain necessary skills, apply classroom knowledge, and build professional relationships. The value of working with seasoned nursing professionals can’t be overstated and connects you with a long history of nurses providing an essential service to their community

Types of Nursing Programs Available in New Jersey

Whether you’re a recent high school graduate or a nursing veteran, you’ll find that New Jersey is home to many online and on-campus nursing programs that could be right for you. From associate degrees to PhD programs, plenty of options are out there to help meet your academic and professional goals. Below are the most common paths for advancing your career and credentials.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in New Jersey

ADN Programs

An associate degree in nursing offers a quick and relatively inexpensive introduction to the nursing profession. Usually lasting two years, ADN programs cover general education and foundational nursing topics. Students also gain hands-on clinical experience. You can register to take the NCLEX-RN exam two months before graduation.

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

RNs with a bachelor’s degree typically earn more and have broader career options compared to RNs with an ADN. Usually requiring four years to complete, BSN degrees use traditional coursework (both on campus and online) and hands-on clinical experience to prepare you for a nursing career. Graduates can pursue RN licensure, and many transition into advanced degree programs.

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Suppose you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated discipline but are interested in a nursing career. In that case, an accelerated BSN program is a practical way to earn your nursing degree and licensure. Having previously completed general education requirements, these programs focus solely on nursing topics and allow you to graduate within 18-24 months.

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in New Jersey for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Bridge Programs

If you’ve spent time working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and know that the nursing profession is for you, earning an RN or BSN is a practical way to enhance your career options and increase your pay. LPN to RN nursing programs in New Jersey typically take 12-24 months; LPN to BSN programs typically take 24-36 months.

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

An RN to BSN program supports working nurses who have ADN degrees. This academic track builds on the knowledge and skills accumulated in previous academic work, allowing you to gain more specialized knowledge and additional clinical experience. Offered as both part-time and full-time options, this degree is often completed in as few as 12 months

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

After earning an ADN degree and RN licensure, an RN to MSN degree is a great way to boost your professional options and increase your pay. This academic track allows you to bypass a BSN degree’s traditional requirements, enabling you to secure an MSN more quickly than if you earned the degrees separately. These programs take 30-36 months to complete.

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in New Jersey

MSN Programs

If you already hold a BSN, an MSN program typically takes around 18 months to complete. Plus, many MSN programs admit students with an unrelated bachelor’s degree and no prior nursing experience. These programs usually take about three years to complete. Common specializations include family practitioner, gerontology, and clinical nursing leadership.

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with this Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

Doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs are designed for professional nurses studying to practice at the top of their field. This track typically takes three to four years to complete. A PhD in nursing is mainly for students focused on research, academia, and policy. A PhD in nursing usually takes four to six years.

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with this Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

For students who completed MSNs, post-graduate certificates allow them to focus on a specific nursing topic. Common post-graduate certificates include nursing leadership, nurse education, health policy, pediatric primary care, and women’s health. Post-graduate certificates are often a helpful tool for students interested in leadership positions.

Examples of New Jersey Nursing Schools with This Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in New Jersey

As online nursing programs in New Jersey become increasingly common, it’s essential to understand the benefits and challenges in these distance learning options. Online programs offer the flexibility to complete coursework while keeping up with personal and professional obligations. Still, some students find the work-at-your-own-pace structure of asynchronous learning a bit challenging. It’s important to be mindful of your needs as a student—some students have no issues with online learning, while others thrive when working alongside other students in a classroom.

Remember, any program with a clinical component requires in-person participation. Hands-on clinical experiences are essential to nursing training and instill the skills necessary to provide competent, compassionate care.

Best Online Nursing Programs in New Jersey

Montclair State University

Montclair State University offers a flexible, hybrid RN to BSN program designed for working nurses who previously completed an ADN program. Recognizing the professional obligations of working RNs, this academic track allows students to complete their coursework online.

In addition to 18 general education requirements, RN to BSN students must complete 3-9 credits of world language and culture classes. Core nursing requirements include genetics and genomics for clinical nursing, nursing care and the aging patient, and evidence-based practice in nursing. Before graduation, students are also required to complete four credits worth of practicum experience in a clinical setting.

Recognizing the value of professional and personal experience, applicants for this BSN bridge program are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In addition to a completed application, prospective students must provide academic transcripts, a resume, and proof of RN licensure.

Rutgers

The premier public institution in New Jersey, Rutgers offers an RN to BSN academic track that students complete primarily online. While the program requires 124 credits to graduate, students can transfer 40 core RN credits, 21 nursing science credits, and 33 general education credits. Clinical credits are not transferable; Rutgers nursing students gain essential supervised clinical knowledge completed onsite in New Jersey.

Core nursing coursework includes evidence-based nursing practice, professional role development, and nursing informatics. Before graduating, students also take theory and practicum credits in community and public health nursing and leadership and management in nursing.

Applicants must have a nursing diploma or ADN from an accredited college. Prospective students must also have at least a 3.2 GPA and a current RN license in New Jersey.

Mercer County Community College

Mercer County Community College (MCCC) offers a hybrid ADN program that students complete in two years. Designed to provide a well-rounded academic experience, MCCC offers nursing training alongside general education requirements that focus on the sciences. Hybrid students complete the lecture portion of their coursework online and complete clinical experiences, lab work, and testing in person.

In addition to 35 credits of general education requirements, students tackle nursing coursework that includes fundamental concepts of nursing, concepts in mental health nursing, and transition into practice.

Prospective students must have a high school diploma or GED and pass an entrance test, earning the national mean or above on the reading and math sections of the Test of Essential Academic Skills. Applicants must also submit official transcripts and provide professional references. Before enrolling, those accepted must provide health and immunization records and documentation of professional liability insurance, plus they must successfully pass a drug screen and background check.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in New Jersey

Can I earn my nursing degree in New Jersey completely online?

With the popularity of online learning, it’s no surprise that you’ll find many hybrid and online nursing programs in New Jersey. Structured to allow working students the chance to earn their degree while keeping up with personal and professional obligations, the best online options mimic an in-person experience wherever possible. Keep in mind that clinicals require hands-on, in-person learning, so not every aspect of your New Jersey online nursing program may actually be completed online.

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

Absolutely not. Diplomas don’t highlight whether a New Jersey nursing program was online, and the most critical factor is that your nursing program is properly accredited. You should also feel confident that completing an online degree means you have the time management skills and self-discipline to effectively manage your work without much instructor oversight.

Are online nursing programs in New Jersey more affordable than campus programs?

While tuition costs for online New Jersey nursing programs are the same as on-campus programs, that doesn’t mean you won’t save money in other ways. As transportation costs and campus-based fees add up, online students often save considerably. The flexibility of online programs also allows students to work their usual schedule while completing program requirements at their own pace.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in New Jersey

Securing financial aid for your nursing degree may seem complicated, but funding is more accessible than you may think with so many nursing scholarships available. Many professional organizations and nonprofits provide generous scholarships and grants to help offset educational costs. Groups like the New Jersey State Nurses Association and the New Jersey League for Nursing both offer annual scholarships for nursing students.

In addition to checking for state and local funding, make sure to reach out to your specific nursing program and inquire about financial assistance options. If scholarships and grants can’t meet your financial needs, all state-approved nursing programs are eligible for federal student loans.

How to Become an RN in New Jersey: Licensing Information and Requirements

While similar from state to state, it’s essential to know the RN licensing requirements specific to New Jersey. Make sure to review the licensing rules outlined by the state’s Board of Nursing. Additionally, familiarize yourself with common roadblocks to licensure. We’ve laid out a step-by-step list detailing the licensing requirements for first-time RNs below.

Step 1

Complete State-Approved Nursing Program

First things first. Completing your state-approved nursing program not only prepares you with the skills needed when entering the field of professional nursing, but the best nursing programs in New Jersey make sure you’re ready to ace your NCLEX-RN exam.

Step 2

Submit Application and Required Documentation

New Jersey students can begin their licensing process two months before graduation. In addition to completing the application, you must submit a color passport-style photo, birth certificate, and documentation that you completed an accredited nursing program. Once you’ve submitted all required materials, along with the test fee of $200, you are granted an Authorization to Test (ATT).

Step 3

Take the NCLEX-RN Exam

Once you received your ATT, schedule a time for the NCLEX-RN exam and review essential testing materials. If you need special ADA accommodations, submit a letter from your physician with the diagnosis and diagnosis code, a letter from your program laying out accommodations offered, and a personal letter describing what assistance is needed during testing.

Step 4

License Renewal

Once you’ve passed the NCLEX and are a licensed nurse in New Jersey, remember that New Jersey RNs must renew their licenses every two years. Continuing education requirements play a significant role in keeping you up-to-date with trends in the field. You must complete 30 continuing education credits throughout your two-year licensure period, including one contact hour of continuing education focusing on alternatives to opioids for treating and managing pain.

Job Outlook for RNs in New Jersey

Like the trend around the country, nurses are in high demand in New Jersey. According to a recent study, 13 of 21 counties in the state report a shortage of primary care providers. That means the demand for advanced practice nurses is high statewide. Additionally, this same study reports that the current home health aide workforce doesn’t adequately meet the needs of the state’s aging population. In short, New Jersey needs nurses of all backgrounds and disciplines.

More specifically, the employment projections for RNs in New Jersey look good. Along with the nearly 6,000 average annual job openings for RNs, it’s estimated that the state’s nursing workforce will grow by almost 10,000 new positions by 2028. Keep reading to learn more about New Jersey’s job outlook for RNs and the salary you can expect.

Employment Projections for RNs in New Jersey

Employment (2018)New Jobs (2018-2028)Job Growth Rate (2018-2028)Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
New Jersey85,4709,62011.3%5,780
United States3,059,800371,50012.1%210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

In addition to the fact that the greater New York City region employs more nurses than any other metropolitan area, the median annual salaries are also $20,000 higher than national estimates. What’s more, most median salaries across the state exceed those national numbers. While salaries reflect New Jersey’s higher-than-average cost of living, nurses are consistently in demand. Whether rooted in academics or experience, additional nursing credentials go a long way in boosting your competitiveness for leadership roles and higher salaries. Keep reading to see what nurses are paid around the state.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in New Jersey

10th PercentileMedian Earnings90th Percentile
New Jersey$62,360$83,920$109,210
United States$52,080$73,300$111,220
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ$52,420$69,230$89,930
Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ$63,260$82,990$102,720
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$65,230$93,090$125,930
Ocean City, NJ$58,200$74,200$92,090
Trenton, NJ$57,420$78,980$100,900
Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ$64,430$81,650$102,740

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019

New Jersey Nursing Resources

New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA)

Representing over 110,000 registered nurses in New Jersey, the NJSNA is dedicated to advocating for all nurses, regardless of specialization. This professional organization offers countless networking opportunities, scholarships, and continuing education classes.

New Jersey Board of Nursing

The central hub for all your nursing license needs, the New Jersey Board of Nursing offers the tools to help you earn and maintain state licensure. Additionally, this arm of the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs keeps an up-to-date list of accredited nursing programs and access to required continuing education contact hours.

Scholarships and Resources for Nursing Students

Take advantage of this comprehensive toolkit as you’re searching for financial or academic resources for your nursing program in New Jersey. Along with a list of nursing-specific scholarships, this page offers tips for securing scholarships and finding academic and professional support by highlighting groups like the National Black Nurses Association and the American Association for Men in Nursing.

New Jersey State Nurses LPN Forum

Created as a helpful resource for LPN-related questions, this private Facebook group offers LPNs advice on topics from academic problems to job searches. Dedicated to providing a valuable and safe space for both students and professionals, this group is guided by rules that keep the focus solely on topics related to the field.

New Jersey Association of Public Health Nurse Administrators

Advocating for both public health nurses and quality of life for all New Jersey residents, this professional organization promotes and supports community action. The group works tirelessly to organize programs focused on preventative health efforts and emergency preparedness.