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Best North Dakota Nursing Schools for 2024: Online & Campus

Ready to earn your RN? Whether you’re a rural resident, a city dweller, or looking to move to this Great Plains state, this guide tells you about your options for nursing programs in North Dakota.

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A bronze statue depicting a group of figures stands prominently in a lush, green park with a tall modern building in the background under a clear blue sky.

North Dakota is a rural state and the fourth least populous state in the nation. If you don’t live near one of its few cities, you may want an online nursing program or online options for obtaining specific training for work in a rural clinic or on a reservation. Also, because of the high racial disparity in premature death rates and an increased prevalence of excessive drinking and drug fatalities, there’s an urgent need for healthcare access and providers in North Dakota.

This guide covers the types of nursing programs you’ll find in North Dakota, financial aid options, steps to earning an RN license, and the job outlook. Read on to discover the many options for nursing schools in North Dakota, regardless of where you live.

About the ranking


Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS. 

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted. 

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

Institutional Aid – Percent of full-time undergraduate students who are awarded institutional grant aid, as self-reported by the school.

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

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# School Name Type Tuition Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 University of North DakotaGrand Forks, ND Public $$ 3

The University of North Dakota's online nursing program has been 30 years in the making, and they've earned an excellent reputation in the process. UND's programs target working nurses looking to add to their credentials. At the MSN level, students can opt for a family nurse practitioner or psychiatric nursing emphasis. The school also offers a post master's Doctor of Nursing Practice program that can be completed in as few as five semesters.

Program Feature:

Family Nurse Practitioner MS

  • Credits: 49
  • Length: varies
  • Cost: $815.50/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Faculty Ratio
Student %

Popular Programs: Nursing Schools in North Dakota

We profiled two popular nursing programs below so you can dig deeper on what to expect from the school you choose by learning about what other students like you look for in a program.

University of Mary

The undergraduate nursing programs at the University of Mary include an LPN to BSN program, an RN to BSN option, and a BSN accelerated second-degree program. These programs are CCNE-accredited and had 100% NCLEX pass rates in 2020 and 2021. Most importantly, the school offers robust online options for nurses trying to fit coursework into their busy lifestyles. The remote options can be completed in as little as one or two years. If you’re interested in an on-campus experience, there’s the opportunity to earn up to $15,000 in scholarships, the equivalent of a free senior year.

Bismark State College

The nursing program at Bismark State College offers students the opportunity to earn their degrees locally without the need to travel. Students in or near Ashley, Harvey, Hazen, Hettinger, and Garrison attend theory classes at a local medical center via in-person instruction and Interactive Video Network (IVN). The school offers an 11-month LPN track and a two-year RN track. Its NCLEX pass rates are above the national average, job placement for graduates is 100%, and financial aid is available. Since the program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education for Nursing (ACEN), quality is assured.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in North Dakota

There are a wide variety of nursing programs in North Dakota. Whether you’re new to the healthcare field or looking to advance your existing nursing skills, there’s a school and a program to fit your needs. Below are some of the most common options currently available in the state.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in North Dakota

ADN Programs

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a good option for students looking to finish their degrees in about two years, and graduates are ready to take the NCLEX to earn RN licensure. Course credits from an associate degree in nursing can be applied toward a BSN or MSN degree later.

Examples of North Dakota Nursing Schools with this Program

North Dakota State College of Science

Dakota College at Bottineau

Traditional BSN Programs

Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs generally takes about four years to complete. Like an associate degree in nursing, a BSN prepares you to take the NCLEX. The course topics are more advanced, though, and a BSN can lead to higher earning potential and more career opportunities. This option can be more beneficial in the long term.

Examples of North Dakota Nursing Schools with this Program

University of North Dakota

Minot State University

Accelerated BSN Programs

Have a degree in something other than nursing and want to transition? Accelerated BSN programs allow you to earn your BSN in a shorter amount of time than a bachelor’s usually takes. How long it takes will likely depend on how many prerequisites you’ve completed (e.g., biology, anatomy) and what your undergraduate degree is in.

Example of North Dakota Nursing School with this Program

University of Mary

Nursing Bridge Programs in North Dakota for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

If you already have your Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), you can continue your studies in an RN program in North Dakota. Some schools offer a bridge program that allows students to apply previous courses and work experience toward an advanced degree. RNs generally earn more than LPNs and have a more comprehensive range of career opportunities.

Examples of North Dakota Nursing Schools with this Program

North Dakota State University

Bismark State College

RN to BSN Programs

For nurses who already hold RN licenses and are working in the field, earning a BSN increases job opportunities and earning potential. Several schools offer programs that allow you to apply previous credits/clinical experience toward earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. An RN to BSN track often takes less time than a traditional BSN program.

Examples of North Dakota Nursing Schools with this Program

North Dakota State University

Mayville State University

RN to MSN Programs

If you have an RN license and want to advance your career, an MSN program is a good option. MSNs provide specialized knowledge, and MSN nurses often work in leadership positions or roles, such as nurse midwives or nurse practitioners. RN to MSN programs allow you to bypass the BSN degree and earn a master’s degree.

Example of North Dakota Nursing School with this Program

University of Mary

Advanced Nursing Programs in North Dakota

MSN Programs

If you’re ready to advance your RN career, an MSN might be the next step. Several program options include RN to MSN degrees that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, traditional BSN to MSN degrees, and MSN programs for students with degrees in something other than nursing. An MSN degree prepares you for a career in nursing leadership or a specialized role (e.g., nurse practitioner).

Examples of North Dakota Nursing Schools with This Program

University of North Dakota

University of Mary

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

After you’ve earned an MSN, the next step might be a DNP or PhD in Nursing. This level of learning prepares students for the highest level of nursing practice, and graduates often work in leadership roles or as educators in nursing programs.

Examples of North Dakota Nursing Schools with This Program

North Dakota State University

University of North Dakota

Post-Graduate Certificates

There are usually opportunities to specialize in most nursing graduate programs. Perhaps you’re interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse practitioner, or you’d like to specialize in bioethics or informatics. A post-graduate certificate can help you gain the skills you need for a specific job or field.

Examples of North Dakota Nursing Schools with This Program

University of Mary

University of North Dakota

What You Need to Know About Online Nursing Programs in North Dakota

Advances in technology have made nursing programs more flexible than ever. Online nursing programs in North Dakota allow you to learn when and where it’s most convenient for you. Many nursing students already work in the field, so flexibility is key for managing existing responsibilities. Whether you’re earning your RN or a BSN or are working on a graduate degree, you can take most or all your lecture classes online. The exact set varies by school and program, but in-person clinical practicum components are still likely required. Online students usually participate in clinical rotations near their school, typically within 50-100 miles. Remote courses are convenient, but they require increased motivation and self-discipline.

University of Mary

The University of Mary offers two online/hybrid undergraduate nursing programs. The LPN to BSN program includes online courses as well as in-person residencies at the school’s Bismarck campus. This option takes about two years to complete. The RN to BSN option is fully online and can be completed in about a year. The programs are intended for busy working nurses who want to advance their knowledge and careers. The university coordinates clinical placement for its students, which is a significant time saver. The program is CCNE accredited and offers one of the most robust graduate nursing departments in the state for continuing your studies.

Mayville State University

The CCNE-accredited RN to BSN online program from Mayville State University offers a solidmix of flexibility and affordability. Students in the online nursing program generally take three to four courses per semester in five-week blocks. Students are also required to take one 10-week clinical course, and some non-nursing classes are also required to complete the bachelor’s degree. You can choose either a full-time (12 months) or part-time (24 months) course of study. This program is a good option for current RNs to advance their career while still working and earning a salary.

University of Jamestown

Students in the University of Jamestown’s online RN to BSN program can earn their degrees on their own timelines while also minimizing costs. The school partners with many junior colleges and offers several credit transfer options. Plus, it keeps its fee structure low. When it comes to coursework, students choose from eight-week or 16-week course options, with cohorts starting each summer. Online BSN students at the University of Jamestown are eligible to complete a certificate in Psychology for Health Care Professionals, which can open further professional pathways. The school is also CCNE accredited, so you know the teaching and curriculum meet national standards.

Funding Your Future: Financial Aid for North Dakota Nursing Students

Students attending a regionally or nationally accredited school are eligible for all types of federal financial aid, from loans that need to be repaid to grants that are basically a gift of free money. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a good place to start when it comes to federal and state aid. Additionally, the North Dakota Center for Nursing has several links and resources for nursing-specific scholarships.

No matter what nursing program in North Dakota you choose, you’ll find this nursing scholarship guide helpful. Also, check out this financial aid guide where you can research all the options available (e.g., grants, loans, scholarships, work-study) regardless of your major.

Preparing for Your RN Career in North Dakota

While nursing licensure requirements are similar from state to state, each has its own specific requirements and fee structure. It’s important to carefully read and follow the steps provided by the North Dakota Board of Nursing to ensure you receive your license immediately. The following steps are needed to obtain an RN license in North Dakota:

Step #1: Complete a state-approved RN degree.

If the nursing program is in-state, it must be approved by the North Dakota Board of Nursing. If it’s out-of-state, it must be approved by another Board of Nursing, include supervised clinical experience, and be roughly equivalent in amount and time to the North Dakota Board of Nursing approved programs.

Step #2: Request transcripts be sent to the North Dakota Board of Nursing.

Graduates should not directly send or fax their transcripts. They should instead make a secure request through the National Student Clearing House, e-script, or Parchment. Students can also ask their school to send a paper copy of their transcripts.

Step #3: Register with NCLEX Candidate Services for testing.

Graduates should register online or by calling 1-866-496-2539. The fee is $200. If something comes up (e.g., illness, schedule conflict, etc.), you must reschedule your appointment at least 24 hours before the appointed exam time.

Step #4: Complete the online RN exam application.

Prospective RNs should complete the exam application online and pay the $145 exam/processing fee. You must then pass the NCLEX to become an RN.

Step #5: Complete a criminal history record check.

Applicants should follow the online instructions for a Criminal History Record Check. Once transcripts, exam application and fee, passing NCLEX results, and criminal history check are completed and received by the nursing board. You’ll receive your RN license within three business days.

Step #6: RNs are required to renew their license every two years in North Dakota.

RNs must complete 12 continuing education hours each year (this is not required for the first renewal after taking the NCLEX and works at least 4oo hours in the preceding four years (this is waived for recent graduates). The renewal fee varies depending on license type and whether it’s a renewal or reactivation.

Bright Horizons Ahead: Job Outlook for North Dakota RNs

The job market for BSN registered nurses continues to grow, especially for those graduating from nursing programs in North Dakota and even for those from out of state. From 2020-2030, the job growth rate for registered nurses is expected to increase by 13.9% in North Dakota compared to just 12.1% nationally. Even after 2030, RNs are expected to be in high demand due to an aging baby boomer population and longer life expectancies, which leads to the need for specialized care. Nurses are so needed that the state of North Dakota has created an incentive program to bolster employment. Healthcare facilities have access to upwards of $4,000 in incentive-matching funds to recruit either out-of-state nurses or North Dakota-based nursing students.

Employment Projections for RNs in North Dakota

New Jobs
Job Growth Rate
Average Annual Openings
North Dakota1,40013.9%700
United States371,50012.1%210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

The median salary for an RN in North Dakota is about $73,250. This amount varies depending on location; a nurse in a rural area might have a lower salary, while a nurse near the state’s biggest city, Fargo, can expect to earn over $75,000 annually. Compared to the national average, nurses in North Dakota earn a bit less, but the state’s cost of living is also lower. For nurses interested in advancing their careers and salaries, remember that nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists often earn well into the six figures, even in North Dakota.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in North Dakota

10th Percentile50th Percentile
90th Percentile
North Dakota$59,810$73,250$95,360
Bismarck, North Dakota$60,970$62,370$95,680
Fargo, North Dakota, area$60,800$75,440$94,800
Grand Forks, North Dakota area$59,600$61,780$77,200
United States$59,450$77,600$120,250

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

North Dakota Nursing Resources