Best Nursing Schools in Ohio: Top Online & Campus Programs

Review Ohio’s best online and campus programs that have the quality, flexibility and affordability you need to reach your nursing education and career goals.

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Last Updated: 06/03/2021
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Whether you’re just starting out on your nursing journey or you’re a current nurse ready to advance to the next stage of your career, there’s a nursing school in Ohio that can meet your needs. This guide provides a great starting point for finding the nursing program in Ohio that’s best suited for you, from traditional campus BSN programs to online bridge programs that can take you from RN to MSN.

You’ll find profiles of top-ranked schools, a breakdown of the different types of nursing programs offered by Ohio colleges, ideas for where to get financial aid, details about the RN licensing process in Ohio, and much more. Keep scrolling to learn more about nursing schools in Ohio and find your program match.

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Best-in-Class Nursing Schools in Ohio for 2021

There are many excellent nursing programs in Ohio, and the best-in-class stand out in terms of affordability, accreditation, and student support. We spotlight three of the top nursing schools below and look at these qualities in addition to their flexibility and program offerings. These profiles not only show you who stands out in 2021, but they help you know what to look for as you begin your Ohio nursing school search.

Ohio University

Ohio University offers multiple undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees, including on-campus LPN to RN, ADN, and BSN programs as well as online RN to BSN, MSN, DNP, and graduate certificate options. All these programs are CCNE accredited, and the school’s NCLEX-RN pass rate is over 85%.

Students pursuing a traditional on-campus BSN start as pre-BSN majors and complete prerequisite and general education courses their first year. Current RNs who want to follow the online RN-to-BSN pathway can choose from eight different start dates throughout the year. The flexible start dates and online classes increase the convenience of earning a BSN without disrupting your career.

The MSN degree has four different concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Doctoral programs include BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP options and are available 90% online with 3 one- or two-day on-campus intensives. There are also seven post-graduate certificates available as well.

Ohio State University

Ohio State University (OSU) offers RN to BSN, BSN, and MSN degrees along with post-master’s specialization options. Undergraduate tuition is very affordable at under $5,000 a semester with students paying in-state rates no matter where they live.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) prepares students for work in hospitals, clinics, businesses, and homes. This 4-year degree is typically full-time, though there are some exceptions for students needing part-time. Upon graduation, students are ready to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.

The RN-to-BSN option is available 100% online and either full-time or part-time. Ohio State’s graduate programs include a traditional MSN and a direct-entry MSN for those with a bachelor’s degree in a different subject. Doctoral options include a BSN to DNP, post-master’s DNP, and PhD programs.

The nursing school at OSU is set apart because of its evidence-based practice, global engagement, and innovation. Its focus on primary care leadership, research, and wellness also makes it stand out.

Mount Carmel College of Nursing

Students attending the Mount Carmel College of Nursing have a student-to-faculty ratio of just 8-to-1. This individualized attention helps students not only learn the necessary skills but also implement them confidently.

There are five different options for undergraduates pursuing a BSN.

Undergraduate tuition for a traditional BSN is $460/non-clinical credit and $1,033/clinical credit. Programs are fully accredited by NCAC and the CCNE.

Master’s programs range from 33 to 48 required credits. The MSN has three different tracks: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Leadership – Clinical Operations.

Common Qualities of the Best Nursing Schools in Ohio

With the changing healthcare needs in Ohio, graduating from a top-quality program with an advanced nursing degree is necessary for career advancement. Common qualities of the best nursing programs and schools in Ohio include national accreditation and state-approval, program variety, and some level of flexibility.

  • Nationally Accredited and State Approved

    Perhaps the most important quality in a nursing school is national accreditation and state approval. Qualified teachers, quality programs, and solid clinical training are requirements for ACEN and CCNE accreditation as well as for state approval. These standards are also imperative for preparing for the NCLEX-RN and obtaining your RN license.
  • Variety

    Variety involves going beyond single BSN degree options, and offering specialty tracks or concentrations within a degree better help direct nurses to high-demand areas. Variety also means more levels of education offered, from LPN certification to PhDs.
  • Flexibility

    Flexibility means full- and part-time options as well as online courses or programs where possible. Flexibility may also mean shorter programs for those who’ve completed necessary prerequisites or fast-track programs for those coming into the nursing field with degrees in another subject. Flexibility in these ways allows those who need to work full time to continue doing so while also advancing their education.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Ohio

Whether you’re just starting your nursing journey, wanting to change from one career to another, or already working as an RN, there are on-campus and online nursing programs in Ohio just right for you. We explain the most common options currently available below and list some of the schools offering them.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Ohio

ADN Programs

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year program designed to help students get started in their nursing careers. Students take general education and nursing courses and attend clinicals to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is a traditional four-year program that culminates with becoming a registered nurse in the state of Ohio. Many employers want nurses who hold a BSN because these graduates are not just prepared to carry out basic nursing duties, but they are also trained for more advanced leadership positions.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

An accelerated BSN is a faster version of a traditional BSN designed specifically for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field. This option typically waives general education courses and puts students straight to work on the nursing curriculum. If you’re looking for a career change and want to become a nurse, this program is for you.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Ohio for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

Those who are licensed practical nurses (LPN) aren’t registered nurses, though they can do many of the same tasks as RNs. This program is specifically for LPNs because it builds upon prior knowledge and supplements it with clinical experiences in preparation for the NCLEX-RN exam and becoming registered nurses.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

Many employers are seeking registered nurses who have completed a full bachelor’s degree. The RN-to-BSN program is for registered nurses who have the experience but not the degree. These programs are often available online, making it easier for students currently working as RNs to earn their degrees.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

The RN-to-MSN program is for registered nurses who don’t yet have a BSN but know they want to get at least a graduate degree in nursing to help them specialize or work toward becoming a nurse practitioner. Programs typically take 16 to 30 months.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Ohio

MSN Programs

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is perfect for nurses with a BSN looking to specialize or work toward becoming nurse practitioners. A traditional master’s degree is one option. Another is a direct-entry MSN, which is for non-nurses with a bachelor’s degree in another subject wanting to start a career in nursing.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with this Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

A DNP and PhD in nursing are both doctoral nursing programs that dive into the specialties and philosophies of nursing. Those wanting to perform research and push the boundaries of science to change the future of healthcare would do well to earn a doctoral degree.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with this Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Post-graduate certificates are for those who already have a master’s degree but want to study a second specialization without getting a doctorate. Examples of these certificates include nursing leadership, family nurse practitioner, and adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.

Examples of Ohio Nursing Schools with This Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Ohio

Similar to most schools, many nursing schools in Ohio have been increasing their online options over the past two decades. This lets students earn a degree regardless of where they live. It also offers the flexibility of earning a degree or certificate while working and managing other responsibilities.

Not all nursing programs are available online. Undergraduate programs requiring clinical time must be completed in-person since you can’t substitute the experience gained by putting skills into action with real patients in real clinical settings with online simulations. However, other coursework can technically be completed online. That is why RNs can earn a BSN degree 100% online since they’ve already passed the NCLEX-RN exam and completed clinicals.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Ohio

Chamberlain University

Chamberlain University understands that once you start working as an RN, you’ll want to continue learning without needing to leave your job. To meet this need, Chamberlain offers an RN to BSN, RN to MSN, traditional MSN, and DNP — all 100% online.

Courses start at Chamberlain every eight weeks, and there are no mandatory log-in times. This means you can learn at your own pace and in your own time. If you’re new to the idea of completing online classes, your admissions counselor can walk you through a personalized tour of the online learning environment.

Students pursuing the RN-to-BSN online option spend an average of 8-10 hours per week for each class on schoolwork, and they complete their degrees in as little as three semesters. Practice experiences are built into courses and can be completed at your workplace, and there are the clinical rotations like you had while preparing for your license.

Kent State University

Kent State University is known for its dedication to innovative and evidence-based nursing education. Their online courses start every seven weeks throughout the year, allowing students to pursue RN-to-BSN, MSN, or DNP 100% online programs from wherever they are and in their own time.

The online RN-to-BSN nursing program can be completed in as little as 12 months and only costs $400 per credit hour regardless of residency. Graduates can assume roles as professional nurses and pursue career advancement, including additional graduate education. KSU’s nursing education helps students apply evidence-based nursing processes in a culturally sensitive way to promote the health and adaptation of individuals and families.

Mercy College of Ohio

Mercy College of Ohio has both RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN online degrees available. The RN-to-BSN program has three start dates throughout the year and is designed specifically for working RNs. Courses include Nursing Informatics, Population Health Assessment, Global Focused Nursing Care, and Nursing Leadership. All nursing core courses can be completed in as little as 12 months of full-time study.

For those wanting to go beyond an MSN, Mercy College’s RN-to-MSN online program can be finished in as little as three years. There are two tracks available, Nursing Leadership and Nursing Education. Students receive 32-39 block credits for their associate or diploma degrees in nursing in addition to credit for any previously completed and required general education coursework. Though students will not earn a BSN in the middle of the program, they do complete certain baccalaureate coursework and the RN-to-MSN Bridge course before entering the MSN coursework. Classes include Informatics and Healthcare Technologies, Theoretical Foundations for Professional Nursing Practice, and Healthcare Policy in the Global Community.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Ohio

Can I earn my nursing degree in Ohio completely online?

It depends on the degree you’re pursuing. RN-to-BSN, MSN, and DNP programs are generally available 100% online. They sometimes require one or two on-campus visits, depending on the program. ADN and BSN degrees usually require at least some time in person for clinicals.

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

Quality Ohio nursing programs strive to keep their online courses just as valuable as their on-campus ones. Courses are taught by the same teachers, and the curriculum is identical. Also, employers can only see the school where you earned your degree, not the format in which it was received. They’ll only know if you tell them yourself.

Are online nursing programs in Ohio more affordable than campus programs?

Though tuition costs are often the same, some schools charge online students the in-state tuition rate, regardless of where they live. If you are pursuing an online nursing degree in Ohio and live out of state, this could save you a lot. Online degrees also rack up savings in other ways, such as through the absence of transportation costs to and from campus.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Ohio

There are many financial aid options for nursing students, including typical government loans and grants. Our nursing scholarship guide can help you find opportunities. Ohio also has a Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP) that offers financial assistance to Ohio students enrolled in an approved Ohio nurse education program, and the Ohio Nurses Foundation also has several scholarships available. In addition, if you’re currently working as a nurse or nursing assistant, talk to your employer to see if they’re willing to help you pay for your nursing education in exchange for your commitment to work for them for a certain amount of time.

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

Knowing your state’s specific licensing requirements is very important. If done improperly, you could waste time and money and potentially miss out on job opportunities. The Ohio Board of Nursing lists everything you need to do. Note that some things must be done before you even finish your nursing program. We’ve detailed Ohio RN licensing information below in a step-by-step format, so you don’t miss anything.

Step 1

Apply to take the NCLEX-RN

When you are nearing the end of your nursing degree, go to Ohio’s professional licensing page, and create your account with the “I don’t have a license” option. You’ll want the application to go to the nursing board and indicate that you’re applying for an RN license. Your application type will be through examination. This application is used by the Ohio Nursing Board to determine if you are eligible to take the NCLEX. You will also need to pay a $75, non-refundable application fee.

Step 2

Complete Criminal Records Check

The Ohio Nursing Board requires every licensing applicant to complete a BCI (civilian) and FBI (federal) criminal records check. This is part of the application step above, and you can find more information about that here.

Step 3

Register for the NCLEX-RN

Register with the testing company, Pearson VUE, so they can send you an ATT (Authorization to Test) document once they receive notice that you are eligible to take the test. This document includes a special ATT number you’ll need to register to take the test.

Step 4

Provide Educational Documentation

Once you’ve completed your nursing program, provide your nursing administration with your application number from step #1 since they’ll need it to generate your Program Completion Letter and send it to the Ohio Board of Nursing. The name on your completion letter must match the name on the application you submitted to the Board.

Step 5

Schedule and Take the NCLEX-RN

Once the Board has proof that you completed your nursing education, they’ll reach out to Pearson VUE and tell them you can take the exam. You will then receive your ATT document and can schedule a time to take the NCLEX-RN. Once you’ve registered, print a registration confirmation; download the NCLEX Candidate Bulletin for instructions, fee information, and Education Program Codes; and pay the NCLEX fee. Then take (and pass) your test. Once you pass, the Ohio Board of Nursing issues your license.

Step 6

Renew license when necessary

In Ohio, nursing certification is subject to renewal every odd-numbered year and must be completed by October 31st of that year to keep your nursing license from lapsing. The Board sends renewal applications to every nurse with an active license, and renewal requires completion of 24 hours of approved continuing education (CE) nursing hours.

Job Outlook for RNs in Ohio

Though Ohio’s nursing job growth rate is slightly below the national average, it’s still projected to grow by 9.6%. This is still very fast considering the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the average yearly job growth rate nationally closer to 4%. From now through the year 2028, almost 900 nursing jobs are projected to open each year in Ohio, so the nursing outlook in Ohio is solid.

Employment Projections for RNs in Ohio

Employment (2018)New Jobs (2018-2028)Job Growth Rate (2018-2028)Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
Ohio127,430139,6809.6%8,360
United States3,059,800371,50012.1%210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

The earning potential for registered nurses in Ohio is pretty even across the state. Most areas start new nurses in the low $52Ks per year with the potential to earn more than $90K depending on where you’re working and your level of experience. That being said, it’s important to note that though the starting salary is nearly the same, Ohio’s median and high nursing wages both fall below the national average.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Ohio

10th PercentileMedian Earnings90th Percentile
Ohio State$52,260$65,790$90,090
United States$52,080$73,300$111,220
Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY$53,770$71,110$95,850
Binghamton, NY$52,410$67,720$94,280
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY$54,260$76,400$99,740
Elmira, NY$50,810$67,670$81,650
Ithaca, NY$44,290$60,790$88,130
Kingston, NY$56,400$75,390$98,150
Ohio-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$65,230$93,090$125,930
Rochester, NY$52,450$66,290$82,430
Syracuse, NY$51,570$69,600$93,260
Utica-Rome, NY$53,690$71,200$93,510
Watertown-Fort Drum, NY$52,860$68,940$90,740

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019

Ohio Nursing Resources

Ohio Nurses Association

Provides state- and county-specific scholarships and grants, nominations for nursing awards, and information about continuing education opportunities.

Ohio Board of Nursing

Explains all you need to know about state laws and requirements to become a nurse. This is where you apply for a nursing license.

Scholarships and Online Resources for RN Students

This resource provides links and information about school-based scholarships for RN students, regional and national scholarships, tips for improving your scholarship application, student organizations, and professional associations.

OhSNA (Ohio Student Nurses’ Association)

This association, specifically for nursing students in Ohio, is designed to help them become the best nurses they can be. The association promotes participation in community affairs, influences the standards of nursing education, and encourages recruitment efforts.

Ohio Association of School Nurses (OASN)

This association is for students looking to become school nurses. It provides nearly 16 CNE contact hours at their annual OASN conference and additional CNE contact hours at regional activities throughout the year.