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Accredited Nursing Schools in Philadelphia, PA

Learn more about online and campus nursing programs in Philadelphia, PA and find the best one for you.

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WRITTEN BY: Shannon Lee
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REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 06/01/2023

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In any healthcare setting, nurses are front and center, prepared to deliver the best possible care for patients. Without them, the offices of physicians, hospitals, outpatient treatment centers, nursing homes, and even telemedicine couldn’t function properly. This is one reason why we keep hearing about the constant shortage of nurses, especially registered nurses and advanced practice nurses As a result, these professionals are in demand everywhere, but especially in large metro areas such as Philadelphia.

To meet this demand, nursing schools in Philadelphia offer a wide variety of nursing programs. Whether you’re an aspiring nurse wanting to move into the workforce quickly with an associate degree or a current RN looking to learn new skills, accredited nursing schools in Philadelphia are ready to help you meet the challenge. This guide takes a look at those programs, what it takes to get into them, the online or on campus options offered, and much more.

Best Nursing Schools in Philadelphia, PA for 2023

There are numerous options for nursing programs in Philadelphia; so many, in fact, that it can be tough to know where to begin. When looking at all the options and narrowing them down by affordability, support services, and accreditation some clear standouts start to emerge. In the following section, we identify some of these spotlight schools and explain what makes them notable. Learn more about what to expect from some of the best nursing schools in Philadelphia, PA in 2023.

Villanova University

The only Augustinian Catholic University in the United States, Villanova University offers a wealth of programs, including those in nursing. The M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing offers the following nursing program options:

  • Nursing (BSN)
  • Nursing Education Track (MSN)
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Track (MSN)
  • Nurse Anesthesia Doctor of Nursing Practice Track
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Track (MSN)
  • PhD in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice Track

In addition to these programs, Villanova is also home to a robust collection of continuing education courses to help students keep their license current.

Named a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing, Villanova is an accredited school with a 98.8% placement rate of nursing graduates. The nursing school is affiliated with more than 70 hospitals, community-based agencies, and healthcare systems throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond. However, students can also choose to pursue part of their practicum in another country through international and multicultural study programs.

LaSalle University

With more than 10 program options, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at LaSalle University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and offers flexible options for students with busy schedules. Though there are traditional programs students might expect, such as the bachelor’s and master’s in nursing, there are also more flexible tracks such as the school’s Achieve program, which allows students to earn their BSN on evenings and weekends.

Some programs, such as the RN to BSN option, are fully online. The RN to BSN program takes about 10 months to complete and offers a pay-by-the-course tuition model, with costs the same for in-state or out-of-state students.

The doctor of nursing practice is also a fully online program, with a yearly immersion experience that must be completed on campus. Students can enroll on a part-time or full-time basis. Required clinical hours vary, but can usually be easily met through the student’s current workplace. It’s open to nurses with master’s degrees, including advanced practice nurses. A similar program is open to BSN-prepared nurses.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, known affectionately as Penn Nursing, is home to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in nursing, as well as certificates, dual degrees, and accelerated options. It’s also known as the best nursing school in the entire world.

Accelerated programs include a BSN second degree program, for those who have a degree in something other than nursing; a direct-entry BSN/MSN program for those who don’t intend to work between their degree achievements, and the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation for highly-motivated BSN students who want to jump to their PhD in nursing program. Dual degrees are available at all levels, including a nursing and healthcare management bachelor’s degree, the nursing master’s degree combined with bioethics, public health, or health law degrees, and the PhD in nursing in conjunction with the master’s in bioethics. Those who want to pursue dual degrees must be accepted by both programs before they can begin their studies.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. With this size comes a plethora of colleges and universities within the city limits and in the greater county area around the city that have nursing programs. Finding a nursing program in Philadelphia is made much easier when such an emphasis is based on education of the residents. There are academic options available for all levels of nursing from certificates and associate programs to doctoral degrees. Learn more about each type of program and who they’re best suited for.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Philadelphia

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

The ADN is the minimum requirement for becoming a registered nurse in Pennsylvania. This program usually takes two years of full-time study to complete and is one of the fastest ways for an aspiring nurse to get into the field. This is ideal for entry-level nurses who want to work in the field but aren’t focused on advancement just yet.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools With This Program

Community College of Philadelphia
Harcum College

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

This is a traditional bachelor’s degree that takes about four years of full-time study to complete. The traditional BSN is for those who have no previous college or university experience or prior nursing training. The first two years are often spent on prerequisites and general education, with the last two years including targeted nursing courses and clinical training experiences.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools With This Program

Thomas Jefferson University
LaSalle University

Accelerated BSN Programs

An accelerated BSN program is perfect for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, but want to become an RN. Their previous academic work often transfers in full, which means they complete nursing core classes and clinicals over the span of a year or two in order to become a registered nurse. Due to the format of the curriculum, many of the program requirements will include clinicals.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools with This Program

Gwynedd Mercy University
Holy Family University

Nursing Bridge Programs in Philadelphia, PA for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

Licensed practice nurses and licensed vocational nurses can earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing through an LPN to RN or BSN program. Taking this route leverages the student’s prior nursing experience and education, which can save time compared to a regular ADN or BSN program. These bridge programs are often set up so that students can continue working as an LPN as they pursue their degree and prepare to become an RN.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools With This Program

Pennsylvania College of Technology
Wilson College

RN to BSN Programs

Many RNs start out with their associate degree and get into the workforce quickly. But if they want better opportunities for advancement later on, they might need a bachelor’s degree. This program is for those who are already working in the field but want to earn their bachelor’s degree to improve their chances for advancement and professional growth.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools with this Program

Drexel University
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

RN to MSN Programs

These programs are ideal for those who want to either start working as an advanced practice nurse or who simply want the master’s in nursing to help them advance in their existing position. Applicants to these programs can include both BSN and ADN-prepared registered nurses, although the latter will be more common. For prospective MSN nursing students with BSN degrees, a traditional MSN program might be a better choice.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools With This Program
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

Advanced Nursing Programs in Philadelphia, PA

Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

The traditional program for the MSN is designed for those with a BSN and nursing licensure. These programs take about two years to finish and are for those who want to continue working in the field as they earn their MSN, including those who seek out a career as an APRN.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools With This Program

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

The DNP and PhD are the terminal degrees for nurses. The DNP is more for hands-on clinical work while the PhD lends itself well to careers in research and teaching at the post-secondary level. Nurses who enter the DNP program will typically hold a master’s degree and have several years of experience.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools With This Program

Villanova University
LaSalle University

Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

Post-graduate nursing certificate programs are perfect for practicing nurses who want to specialize in a particular area of nursing, but don’t need another degree. Because of this, those eligible to apply for these programs will already have a master’s degree in nursing and have several years of relevant experience.

Examples of Philadelphia Nursing Schools With This Program

Thomas Jefferson University
Gwynedd Mercy University

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Philadelphia, PA

Online nursing programs offer flexibility for those who want to continue working in their current career while earning the knowledge and skills necessary to become a nurse or advance their nursing skills. Those who attend an undergraduate program will likely encounter an on campus program or one that is a hybrid, with some classes offered fully online and clinical courses offered at an in-person location. This location might be on campus or at a designated facility close to the student’s home. Either way, the clinical work will be under the direct supervision of a registered nurse, preceptor, or other healthcare professional. Though the online work can be completed at a pace that makes the student comfortable, these programs will often be in a cohort format. This means that certain milestones must be reached within a flexible time frame along with the rest of the class in order to graduate.

Those who already have their registered nursing license, a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and experience under their belt might find entirely online programs at the master’s or doctoral level. These programs will either consist of only online classes or allow the student’s current job duties to meet the program’s clinical course requirements. With the rest of the requirements entirely online, the result is a truly online educational experience.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Philadelphia, PA

Drexel University

The College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University offers a wealth of programs for nurses, many of which are online. The master’s programs in nursing include advanced role or nurse practitioner tracks, both of which have numerous options.

For instance, the MSN includes options in nursing education, clinical nurse leader, and public health nursing, and an RN to MSN Bridge program. The nurse practitioner options include tracks that focus on pediatrics, gerontology, psychiatric health, women’s health, and family nursing across the lifespan.

Doctoral programs, both the PhD in nursing and the doctor of nursing practice, are available online as well. Certificates and continuing education options are also available through Drexel University. Students can actively work with a variety of practices in the Philadelphia area, including the Center for Nutrition and Performance, Community Wellness HUB, and the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center. Numerous research opportunities are available for those of any degree level in the nursing department.

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

Students can find a variety of nursing degree options at the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences. Located in the greater Philadelphia region, this school provides opportunities for earning the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees. The school is affiliated with Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, which provides clinical experiences for students. Students who are already employed at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health can look forward to 100% tuition reimbursement for earning their degree.

Though the associate and bachelor’s levels are mostly in person, the master’s and doctoral programs are mostly online, with any clinical hours being met by the student’s current work experiences. There are a few requirements to attend on campus; these are two one-day sessions on campus to meet with professors and the cohort. One semester of the master’s program is spent in applied practice, which can be completed at an approved location of the student’s choosing.

Gwynedd Mercy University

Students at Gwynedd Mercy University can earn their degrees through on-campus learning at the main campus and at campuses in Bensalem or Center City, PA or through online means. There are numerous options for earning the bachelor’s degree, including accelerated and weekend programs. The school is just 30 minutes away from Philadelphia, meaning students can take advantage of clinical experiences at a wide variety of healthcare centers in the regional area.

The doctor of nursing practice is designed for advanced practice nurses and offered entirely online. The master’s programs are offered in a hybrid format, with classroom work blended with hands-on practicums. The master’s tracks include family, pediatric, or adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, and general nurse practitioner. There is also the nurse practitioner certificate, open to those who already hold a master’s degree. Students can opt for part-time or full-time work in the master’s programs.

Nursing programs at this school are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Philadelphia, PA

Can I earn my nursing degree in Philadelphia completely online?

It depends on the nursing degree program. Students going for their licensure for the first time, such as those in an ADN or BSN program, must complete clinical experiences in addition to their classroom study. If these programs are marketed as being online, it’ll only be the didactic portion of the curriculum that’s offered through remote learning Students in a master’s program, who already have their RN license and are currently working in the field, can sometimes take all of their courses online.

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

Not at all. As long as the degree you earned came from an accredited school and you earned your registered nursing license upon graduation, employers typically won’t care whether or not the program was online. They also understand that many schools are shifting to hybrid programs, and that online programs are just as good as the traditional ones.

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

Not necessarily, but they can be. Online nursing programs in Philadelphia might not offer lower tuition just because they offer online classes. However, there are still cost savings involved with online courses, such as the lack of a commute — thus saving on gas — and the lack of parking fees, on-campus student fees, and the like.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Philadelphia, PA

The costs of attending a traditional or online nursing program in Philadelphia can be daunting. Even with a job offer and pay increase coming after graduation, some tuition rates can make some nursing degrees unobtainable without financial help. Fortunately, there are grants and scholarships that can help cut down on the cost of tuition and loans to cover over the cost of your education. These scholarships and loans can come from professional organizations, the schools themselves, or even businesses, especially those in the healthcare field. Loan assistance and loan repayment programs might also be available, depending upon where you work after graduation. Learn more about tuition assistance and other forms of aid for students in nursing programs in Philadelphia through our nursing scholarship guide and financial aid guide.

How to Become an RN in Philadelphia, PA: Licensing Requirements

Those who graduate from an accredited nursing school in Philadelphia, PA can become a registered nurse through these steps:

  • Create an account at the Pennsylvania Licensing System.
  • Pay the $120 fee and the $30 fee for a temporary permit, if applicable.
  • Provide a criminal history check.
  • Verify your education.
  • Provide verification of any other requirements that might be pertinent to you, such as clearing up any background questions.

Keep in mind that the requirements for licensure to become a nurse in Philadelphia are the same as the state of Pennsylvania as a whole. To learn more about what’s needed, visit the PA State Board of Nursing or our guide to nursing schools in Pennsylvania.

Job Opportunities for RNs in Philadelphia, PA

Registered nursing jobs in the U.S. are expected to grow 6% nationwide from 2021–2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but the job growth for all professions in that same time span is just 5%. In Pennsylvania, there are about 137,970 registered nurses. However, roughly half (69,370) of these RNs work in Philadelphia and the surrounding metropolitan area. This means many, if not most, of the job opportunities for new RNs will be in Philadelphia and nearby areas. Many of these jobs will be in medical and surgical hospitals, followed by home health care services, offices of physicians, outpatient care centers, and nursing care facilities.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is by far one of the largest employers of healthcare professionals in Philadelphia and the entire state of Pennsylvania. Other hospital systems in the greater Philadelphia area, such as Lehigh Valley Hospital Center or Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, are also among the top 50 employers in the state.

How Much You Could Make as an RN in Philadelphia, PA

Working as an RN in Pennsylvania offers a mean annual wage of $80,630, which is lower than the national average salary of $89,010; however, those working in the Philadelphia metro area can expect to make closer to the national average, given its higher cost of living and overall higher wages.

Earnings for Registered Nurses in Philadelphia, PA

Median Hourly Wage Mean Hourly Wage Annual Mean Wage
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington $38.00 $38.45 $79,980
Pennsylvania $35.08 $35.66 $74,170
United States $36.22 $38.47 $80,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020

Additional Philadelphia, PA Nursing Resources

Community Champions

Hosted by the University of Pennsylvania, this group offers students the opportunity to become more involved in the community through practicing clinical skills, providing health information to kids, mentoring students, promoting physical wellness, and networking.

National Association of Hispanic Nurses: Philadelphia Chapter

Serving those in the Philadelphia region, this is the only state chapter of the NAHN in Pennsylvania. Members can enjoy scholarships, mentoring, networking, and other benefits that increase educational and professional opportunities for Hispanic nurses.

National Nurse-Led Care Consortium

This program is based in Philadelphia, and many of the initiatives take place in the greater Philly area. Nurses who join this organization can look forward to a wide variety of public health programs to engage in, training and resources to make them better nurses, and strong legislative advocacy.

Pennsylvania State Nurses Association

This association provides stalwart support for nurses in the state of Pennsylvania, including strong advocacy, continuing education, a career center, assistance for young nurse professionals, and much more.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Area Black Nurses Association, Inc

This chapter of the national organization serves nurses of color in the southeastern PA area, including Philadelphia. Assistance includes scholarships, job opportunities, information on education, job resources, events for members, and more.

Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania

This association for nurses has several chapters in the state, including one in Greater Philadelphia, Central Philadelphia, and Southeast, all of which can serve nurses in the Philadelphia region. Members can expect an annual convention, awards and scholarships, programs for improvement of nursing, and advocacy.