Guide to Nursing Schools in New York City

Launch or advance your professional nursing career with a degree from one of the top nursing programs in NYC. This guide highlights top programs and gives information on degree types, income potential, and more.

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Last Updated: 05/27/2021
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The recent pandemic increased the need for nurses everywhere, particularly in New York. In fact, job postings for temporary nurse positions in the state increased by eight times with pay for those positions nearly doubling. Though a temporary increase, staff nursing shortages in New York could continue into the next decade, making now the perfect time to start or advance your nursing career in New York City.

This guide highlights the best nursing schools in NYC and helps you find the right campus or online program for your career goals and academic needs. You’ll find details on the different types of degree and certificate programs, advice on how to pay for your education, and data showing you what to expect regarding employment and salary potential. Keep reading to start your NYC nursing school search.

Best Nursing Schools in NYC for 2021

We’ve spotlighted three of the very best nursing schools in NYC to show you what to look for during your nursing program search. Our selections are based on important factors like accreditation, affordability, curriculum comprehensiveness, program options, study flexibility, and access to quality student support services. See who is among the best nursing programs in New York City.

Hunter College

The Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing is the flagship nursing school of The City University of New York (CUNY) system of public universities. Hunter-Bellevue offers by far the most extensive of any CUNY campus, starting with its three BSN degree options. The four-year Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nursing: Generic Pathway Program is for students with no professional nursing experience and little or no previous college coursework. The Accelerated Second Degree Nursing Program (A2D) is for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees wanting to become RNs. Students with ADNs and current New York RN licenses interested in obtaining their BSN can opt for the RN to BSN Program. The generic and accelerated BSN programs are available in full-time formats only, while both full-time and part-time formats are available to RN to BSN students.

Graduate-level nursing programs at Hunter-Bellevue include MSN degrees in six specializations, a Psychiatric-Mental Health NP Post-Graduate Certificate, a DNP, and a PhD in Nursing offered in partnership with The Graduate Center CUNY. The PhD program is full-time only, and the Adult/Gerontological NP MSN program is part-time only. Full-time and part-time options are available for all other graduate programs.

Tuition rates for both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs at Hunter-Bellevue are extremely affordable for in-state and out-of-state residents alike.

New York University

New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing is the second-largest private nursing college in the U.S. NYU offers a host of BSN options, including a traditional BSN, a non-accelerated second degree BSN, an RN to BSN, and a Global Public Health/Nursing combined major BSN. Of particular note is the LEAD Honors BSN program for high-achieving nursing students. The LEAD Honors program builds on the traditional BSN curriculum and includes additional coursework and extracurricular activities for exceptional professional development, clinical and critical thinking, and leadership skills.

Master’s level nursing programs at NYU include a BS/MS dual degree with six specialization tracks, an MS/MPH dual degree, a DNP, a PhD in Nursing Research and Theory Development, and advanced certificates in five nurse practitioner and six other specializations.

As you might expect for a prestigious private nursing school in NYC, tuition costs are steep. However, generous funding options, including substantial scholarship and grant opportunities, are available. This results in surprisingly affordable total program costs for most NYU Meyers students.

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is a public hospital and medical school located in Brooklyn. It’s also home to one of the few public nursing schools in New York City featuring a full range of undergraduate and graduate nursing degree and certificate programs. BSN options include a full-time RN to BSN program that takes a year to complete and a full-time Accelerated BSN program that takes 15 months. The accelerated BSN is for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees seeking the training and clinical practice hours needed to become RNs.

Graduate-level nursing programs include MSN degrees in Family Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Education specializations, each of which requires six semesters (two years) of full-time study to complete. Post-master’s certificates in Family Nurse NP, Women’s Health NP, and Nursing Education are additionally available. Downstate’s DNP program is open to applicants with either a BSN or MSN degree.

Program costs for SUNY’s nursing programs are among the most affordable for in-state residents at $295 per credit for part-time students and $3,535 per semester for full time. Rates are substantially higher for out-of-state residents but still among the lowest available when compared to similar nursing programs at private universities.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in New York City

Understanding the many nursing degrees and certificate options available from nursing schools in NYC can be confusing. We’ve put together the following descriptions to help you figure out what program is best for meeting your personal and career goals.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in NYC

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN/ASN/AASN)

An associate degree in nursing provides a quick route to gaining the knowledge, skills, and clinical hours needed to become an RN for students with no previous college or nursing experience. Associate degrees typically require two years of full-time study and are usually found at community colleges.

Examples of NYC Nursing Schools with this Program

Borough of Manhattan Community College
College of Staten Island

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

Traditional BSN programs are for students with little or no previous college and no professional nursing experience seeking to become licensed RNs and earn bachelor’s degrees. Registered nurses with BSN degrees are often seen as more qualified to prospective employers than RNs at the ASN level. Traditional BSN programs are mostly found at four-year colleges and universities.

Examples of NYC Nursing Schools with this Program

St. Francis College
New York University

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated or second-degree BSN programs provide an efficient path to RN licensure for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees. Accelerated BSN programs involve around 50 credits and include the nursing coursework and in-person clinical hours needed to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Program lengths vary but most require 15 months to two years.

Examples of NYC Nursing Schools with this Program

Pace University
Mercy College

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

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs prepare students for leadership roles in healthcare administration, nursing academics, and advanced clinical practice in specialized nursing fields. Track options include nursing education, nursing leadership, and clinical practice along with nurse practitioner specializations leading to NP certification. MSN students attend classes online or on-campus and complete substantial clinical practice hours most often at their current places of employment.

The direct-entry MSN is for individuals with non-nursing bachelor’s or graduate degrees who want to become RNs and obtain advanced practice and leadership training in the same program. Programs include the substantial in-person clinical practice hours necessary to take the NCLEX-RN exam and for nurse practitioner certification with the NP specialization track. Program lengths vary from 15 months to two years.

Examples of NYC Nursing Schools with this Program

Columbia University

Nursing Bridge Programs in New York City for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN programs are for current practical nurses interested in becoming RNs. LPN to RN students earn nursing associate (ADN, ASN, AASN) degrees as well as complete the coursework and clinical hours needed to take the NCLEX-RN exam and obtain RN licensure. LPN to BSN graduates also earn BSN degrees.

Examples of NYC Nursing Schools with this Program

LaGuardia Community College
Monroe College

RN to BSN Programs

A staple of most college and university nursing schools, RN to BSN programs are for licensed RNs wishing to expand their nursing knowledge and skills while increasing their attractiveness in the job market by earning BSN degrees. RN to BSN programs typically take 30 credit hours of nursing coursework, which is combined with previous college credits and credits awarded for possession of an RN license to make up the total needed (typically around 120) for a bachelor’s degree. Many programs are 100% online.

Examples of New York City Nursing Schools with this Program

Lehman College (CUNY)
New York City College of Technology (CUNY)

RN to MSN Programs

RN to MSN programs are for currently RNs with either nursing diplomas or associate degrees who want to earn MSNs without first obtaining BSNs. RN to MSN programs are usually presented in part-time formats to accommodate working RNs, but some schools accommodate full-time students. Completion times range from 3 ½ to 4 years. A non-nursing bachelor’s degree is typically required for admission.

Examples of New York City Nursing Schools with this Program

Mercy College
CUNY School of Professional Studies

Advanced Nursing Programs in New York City

Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

Traditional MSN programs provide BSN degree holders with a direct path to a nursing masters. They’re offered by several universities with graduate nursing programs, and curriculums are available in both full-time and part-time formats. Some programs offer fully online didactic coursework, and most require substantial in-person clinical hours.

Examples of NYC Nursing Schools with This Program

Hunter College
New York University

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

A DNP degree prepares nurses for top-level leadership roles in advanced clinical practice, nursing administration, and public policy/advocacy positions. DNP degree programs are typically offered in several nurse practitioner and other specialized nursing fields. The PhD is for nurses interested in careers in research and academics. An MSN degree is typically required for both programs, though some feature BSN to doctorate formats. Completion times vary.

Examples of NYC Nursing Schools with This Program

Columbia University
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

Post-graduate nursing certificates provide nurses with MSNs or above with coursework and training in specialized areas that deepen their professional knowledge and expands their career opportunities. Certificates include NP and non-NP.

Examples of NYC Nursing Schools with This Program

Long Island University – Brooklyn
St. Joseph’s College New York

Inside Look at Online Nursing Schools in NYC

Online nursing programs in NYC are increasingly popular with most including distance learning components for lectures, reading and writing assignments, quizzes, etc. Many nursing schools, like the ones highlighted below, are now offering degrees and certificates entirely online. All pre-RN licensure programs still include substantial hands-on clinical practice experience as part of their curriculums, though, as do nurse practitioner certifications.

Best Online Nursing Schools in NYC

CUNY School of Professional Studies

The CUNY School of Professional Studies is the predominant provider of fully online nursing degree and certificate programs in the CUNY system. No pre-licensure programs are offered by CUNY SPS, meaning that a current RN license is an admission requirement for its nursing programs.

CUNY SPS’s RN to BSN prepares students with ADNs for positions in acute care, long-term care, and community-based settings. The program has articulation agreements with several NYC-area community colleges to allow ADN graduates a seamless transfer with maximum allowable credits into the RN to BSN program. CUNY SPS also offers accelerated RN to BS/MS programs in three accelerated tracks: Nursing Education, Nursing Informatics, and Nursing Organizational Leadership. These allow students to earn both BSN and MSN degrees in less time than through separate programs. Fully online MSN and post-master’s certificate programs in the same three tracks are also available.

CUNY SPS’s current $305 per/credit undergraduate and $470 graduate tuition rates are highly competitive. Online students pay the same low rate regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.

Long Island University

Long Island University’s Harriet Rothkopf Heilbrunn School of Nursing offers four graduate-level nursing programs in blended formats, including two MSN Nurse Practitioner options. The M.S. in Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program includes 40 credit hours over six semesters of part-time study. The M.S. in Family Nurse Practitioner program takes 46-credit hours and seven semesters of part-time study. Adult Gerontology Primary Care NP and Family NP post master’s certificates are also available. Graduates in all four programs are eligible for New York State certificates and national board certification in their specialized areas of practice.

All LIU’s programs are in a blended format with approximately half of classes online and half in person on the LIU Brooklyn campus. As a private university, LIU’s tuition rates are considerably higher than at public colleges and universities, but they are competitive with other private schools. Substantial financial aid resources are available.

Mercy College

Mercy College is a private, nonsectarian research university that offers three degrees with substantial online components. The 30-credit hour RN to BS Completion Program is open to current RNs with an ADN or nursing diploma and 60 credits of general education coursework. The RN to BSN program can be completed 100% online and both full-time and part-time options are available.

Current RNs seeking a nursing master’s can choose between Mercy’s MS in Nursing Administration and MS in Nursing Education programs. Both MSNs feature full-time and part-time options, and students can complete all classes entirely online or in a hybrid format with on-campus classes typically meeting twice monthly. MSN students additionally complete 120-hour practicum experiences with a mentor or preceptor in an administrative setting. Mercy’s nursing tuition is substantially higher than similar programs at public nursing schools but highly competitive with those at other private schools.

FAQs About Online Nursing Schools in New York City

Can I earn my nursing degree in New York City completely online?

Most RN to BSN programs and some post-graduate nursing certificate programs can be completed entirely online. However, all pre-RN licensure and nurse practitioner programs include substantial in-person clinical hour requirements.

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

Nursing employers understand that properly accredited nursing degree and certificate programs often include online components and that these programs provide the same quality of education and training as their on-campus counterparts. What’s most important is that you possess a current RN from a fully accredited nursing school.

Are online nursing programs in New York City more affordable than campus programs?

Most nursing schools in NYC charge the same rates for their online programs as for their on-campus ones. Some, like Mercy College’s RN to BSN program, do offer reduced tuition rates for online students. Your total online program cost will likely be less than that for an on-campus program once you factor in savings from not traveling to and from campus.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in NYC

Many funding resources are available to help qualifying NYC nursing students enrolled in properly accredited programs, the biggest of which is the federal student loan. Other financial aid resources include scholarships and grants, assistantships and fellowships (primarily for grad students), employer tuition assistance programs, and the GI Bill for active-duty military and veterans. NYC nursing students may also be eligible for a federal student loan repayment program.

Visit the NYSED’s Nursing Education Scholarships, Grants & Loans webpage for additional funding opportunities. Also check out EduMed’s financial aid and nursing scholarship guides for more information and advice on funding your nursing education.

How to Become an RN in New York City: Licensing Requirements

You must be licensed and registered by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to practice as an RN in New York City. To obtain your RN licensure, graduate from an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Additional requirements are detailed on this NYSED Licensure Requirements: Registered Professional Nursing webpage. Also visit EduMed’s guide to nursing schools in New York State for more information and advice on becoming an RN in NYC.

Job Opportunities for RNs in New York City

The pandemic created a critical shortage of nurses in New York that resulted in skyrocketing demand and substantially higher salaries. While that shortage has subsided, the demand for RNs and other nursing professionals should remain strong in New York for years to come. Recent long-term figures from the U.S. Department of Labor estimate a nearly 25% increase in the number of RNs employed in New York State between 2018 and 2028 as compared to a national increase of around 12%. Additionally, the New York State Department of Health estimates that about half of all of the state’s hospital beds and patients are in New York City, resulting in around half of all new nursing staff in the state.

Given its tremendous size and population, dozens of major companies and facilities employ nurses in NYC. Among the biggest are New York Presbyterian Hospital, Northwell Health, NYU Langone Health, and the Mount Sinai Health System.

How Much You Could Make as an RN in New York City

The cost of living in New York City is among the highest of anywhere in the U.S., so salaries for workers there, including nurses, are also among the highest in the nation. In addition to the BLS’s estimates in the table below, other recent annual salary estimates for NYC RNs range from $83,192 to $108,600 and depend on variables like job title, employer, and experience.

Earnings for Registered Nurses in New York City

Median Hourly WageMean Hourly WageAnnual Mean Wage
New York-Newark-Jersey City$45.65$45.63$94,920
New York State$43.19$43.16$89,760
United States$36.22$38.47$80,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020

Additional NYC Nursing Resources

American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) – New York City Chapter

The AACN is a professional association for staff nurses working in a variety of critical care nursing (acute care, CCU, ER, ICU, etc.) settings. It also welcomes clinical managers, department directors, education specialists, and nursing faculty members.

Black Nurses Association (BNA) – Greater NYC Chapter

The National Black Nurses Association is a professional association of 200,000 African American nurses in over 200 chapters worldwide. The association sponsors a variety of membership services and benefits including scholarship opportunities for student members.

Brooklyn Nurses Association

The Brooklyn Nurses Association represents nursing professionals working in Brooklyn, the Tri-state area, and beyond. They advocate for healthcare education, promotion, and improvement for the citizens of Brooklyn. The B.N.A. sponsors an annual scholarship for RN students pursuing degrees in New York state.

Oncology Nursing Society – New York City Chapter

The ONS is a national professional association of over 35,000 members dedicated to the promotion of oncology nursing excellence and the transformation of cancer care. Its NYC Chapter website includes a member discussion board, event postings, and job postings.

Philippine Nurses Association of New York (PNANY)

PNANY is a constituent member of the Philippine Nurses Association of America. Its goal is to unite and advocate for the rights and interests of Filipino nurses in the state of New York City. Membership benefits include networking events and continuing education programs.