Nursing Schools in Pittsburgh, PA: Online & Campus Programs

Learn about top nursing schools in Pittsburgh, PA and find out which pathways are available to you — whether you’re a new student, a licensed nurse, or switching from another career.

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Edumed Staff

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Last Updated: 09/22/2021

Wherever you’re starting from, nursing programs in Pittsburgh offer options to help you launch a new nursing career or advance an existing one. If you’re a licensed RN or practical nurse, there are online programs designed to help you upgrade to a bachelor’s or master’s while you continue to work. If you’re coming to nursing from a different field and already hold a bachelor’s degree, pathways exist to help you become a nurse. And, of course, there are traditional campus nursing programs for students without any previous nursing or college experience.

This guide will help you get started on finding the right campus or online nursing program in Pittsburgh. It spotlights some best accredited nursing schools in Pittsburgh for 2021, breaks down the different degree options, helps you find financial aid and other support resources, explores the job market for nurses in Pittsburgh, and much more.

Best Nursing Schools in Pittsburgh, PA for 2021

The schools we profile below set themselves apart from the competition by offering flexible, affordable programming with high NCLEX pass rates, state approval, and quality student support. Their curricula prepares for your professional licensure by developing the clinical skills and technical knowledge you need to begin or advance your nursing career. Find out which nursing schools in Pittsburgh stand out in 2021.

University of Pittsburgh

A public institution first established in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh produces new knowledge through research and instruction. Pitt Nursing extends three different undergraduate courses of study: a traditional BSN, an accelerated or second career BSN, and multiple pathway options for licensed RNs looking to advance. The traditional BSN delivers a standard four-year curriculum designed for incoming freshmen. It offers an introduction to nursing, clinical training experiences, and preparation for the NCLEX. The accelerated BSN provides a similar path to licensure students who already have a bachelor’s degree.

The University of Pittsburgh’s RN options include three different bridge programs, the majority of which use hybrid learning modalities. These bridge programs result in either a BSN, an MSN, or a DNP. Students electing to use the RN-MSN pathway can specialize in informatics or clinical nurse leadership. Additional graduate-level options include a traditional MSN, two different doctoral programs, and an array of post-graduate certificates.

Duquesne University

A private, Catholic-affiliated school, Duquesne University administers nearly 200 different degrees, including nursing programs that cater to aspiring professionals from varying backgrounds. Its traditional, four-year BSN accepts new and transfer students, preparing them for licensure through hands-on clinical training and didactic instruction. Professionals in transition can obtain a BSN in 12–16 months using the school’s accelerated program, which boasts a 96% NCLEX pass rate. Duquesne sets itself apart from other nursing schools in Pittsburgh by extending a unique dual degree program that combines standard BSN attainment with focused instruction in biomedical engineering.

Online and in-person students alike enjoy complete access to Duquesne’s innovative learning and simulation center. The 7,000 square-foot facility infuses technology with clinical training through skills labs and augmented reality rooms. Opportunities for graduate students in nursing include an MSN program, post-master’s certificates, and doctoral programs in clinical leadership, executive nurse leadership, and healthcare management.

Pittsburgh Technical College

Pittsburgh Technical College’s School of Nursing extends training and education opportunities for nurses in the early stages of their careers. Most students complete the associate program in nursing in just 21 months, graduating fully eligible for initial licensure by examination. PTC’s associate degree in nursing builds core competencies in health assessment, laboratory diagnostics, and patient-centered care delivery. Students complete hands-on clinical training requirements using Pittsburg Technical College’s simulation center. They also receive rotational placements at area facilities focused on hospice, rehabilitation, acute care, and independent living.

The school also offers a 12-month practical nursing certificate that leads to LPN licensure with the state board of nursing. Currently licensed LPNs can advance their careers further through an LPN-to-ASN track that prepares students for transition to the RN role. All nursing programs at Pittsburgh Technical College hold state approval and accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Pittsburgh, PA

Most nursing schools in Pittsburgh, PA offer multiple options to help you advance your career. From actively licensed nurses to incoming freshmen new to the field, pathways like the ones listed below can provide the training you need to succeed. Find out which programs meet your needs and learn more about how they work.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Pittsburgh

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

These programs fulfill licensure requirements for most entry-level nursing positions in the Pittsburgh region. They typically take about two years of full-time study to complete and provide foundational instruction in the core nursing skills necessary to embark on an entry-level RN career. They also offer NCLEX preparation and require clinical training components that prepare you for work as an RN.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

Pittsburgh Technical College: Associate in Science (Nursing)
Community College of Beaver County: Nursing (ADN)

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

A traditional BSN results in a four-year RN degree that entails more comprehensive training than the associate RN degree. It readies students for licensure, qualifying them for a wider range of job opportunities in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care facilities. Students receive the same instruction as an ADN and develop additional competencies in education and management.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus: Nursing BSN
Carlow University: Nursing Major

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated bachelor’s in nursing programs offer a convenient pathway to registered nursing for professionals from other fields and students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline. The accelerated BSN program focuses study on the core skills and technical knowledge you need to obtain RN licensure. Because these programs do not require general education classes, most students graduate in 15 months.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

University of Pittsburgh: Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN (ABSN)
Robert Morris University: Nursing B.S.N. (Second Degree)

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

Designed for the same type of student as the previous path, these programs lead to graduate-level credentials rather than a bachelor’s degree. They require more credits as a result — usually around 75 credits not including clinical training — and may take more time to complete depending on your background. These programs also provide opportunities for specialization.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

LaRoche University – Entry Level MSN

Nursing Bridge Programs in Pittsburgh, PA for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

Practical nurses with an active license can use these bridge pathways to expand their professional scope. They recognize past training and experience and offer hands-on clinical instruction in applied settings with a wider scope of practice. Coursework covers nursing foundations, primary care and wellness, pharmacology, and lifespan development.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

Pittsburgh Technical College: LPN to ASN Track
Community College of Allegheny County – Nursing, AS LPN to RN Option

RN to BSN Programs

These bridge or degree completion programs cater to active RNs with a diploma or ADN. They deepen your clinical skill set, offering classes and practicum placements that develop professional competency beyond primary care alone. Most students complete their studies in 18 months or less, graduating fully equipped for career advancement or further study.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

LaRoche University: Nursing – RN to BSN Degree Completion Program
California University of Pennsylvania: RN to BSN Online Degree for Registered Nurses

RN to MSN Programs

Working RNs interested in advanced roles in leadership, education, or administration can use this bridge option. The RN to MSN program results in a master’s degree that focuses on scholarly approaches to nursing and cultivates hard skills in evidence-based practice. Most nursing schools in Pittsburgh with this option offer specializations in areas like pediatrics, mental health, and geriatric care.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

Chatham University: Nursing (RN-MSN)
Robert Morris University: RN to MSN

Advanced Nursing Programs in Pittsburgh, PA

Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

These programs lead to the same graduate degree as RN-MSN bridge options but accept students who already hold a BSN. As a result, they require fewer credits (around 30 or so) and less time (two-three years depending on the circumstances). Like other MSN offerings, these programs also provide opportunity for specialization.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

California University of Pennsylvania: Master of Science in Nursing Administration and Leadership
Duquesne University: Online Master of Science in Nursing

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

Doctoral programs confer the highest level of nursing education possible. They attract students with either a BSN or an MSN and some professional experience. DNP programs focus on professional expertise and clinical practice. A PhD course of study focuses on scholarship and academic research. Both qualify students for work as nursing educators.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

University of Pittsburgh: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Chatham University: Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

Post-graduate nursing programs in Pittsburgh, PA offer continuing education opportunities for MSN-degree holders. An ideal option for graduate-level nurses looking to broaden their expertise, certificate programs develop applied skills without requiring another degree. Areas of concentration include family nurse practitioner, forensic nursing, nurse leadership, and adult-gerontology.

Examples of Pittsburgh Nursing Schools With This Program

Duquesne University: Online Post-Master’s Nursing Certificates
Carlow University: Post-Master’s Certificate for Family Nurse Practitioner

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Pittsburgh, PA

Online nursing programs in Pittsburgh, PA are typically offered in hybrid formats to reflect the immersive and hands-on rigors of real-world nursing practice. This hybrid or blended nursing education approach means you will use a blend of online and in-person elements throughout your studies. Most programs deliver classroom instruction and theory-based coursework using online modalities. They include synchronous or asynchronous tools or a combination of the two.

These programs pivot to face-to-face experiences in the later stages of study, providing you with clinical placements or practicum components that give you the in-person training you need to advance. In some instances, you may need to complete hands-on lab requirements as well.

The transition to in-person learning can be challenging, especially if you’ve grown accustomed to self-paced study during coursework. Many programs address this by using a cohort model that provides structured opportunities for peer support throughout.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Pittsburgh, PA

Chatham University

Initially established as a women’s college in 1869, Chatham University prepares students for lives of purpose, value, and fulfilling professional work. In addition to multiple nursing pathways delivered through traditional means, Chatham’s School of Health Sciences offers an online RN-BSN bridge program. Designed for licensed RNs with a diploma or ADN, the 120-credit course of study deepens professional knowledge by cultivating key skills in clinical reasoning, health promotion, and evidence-based practice. Like other online nursing programs in Pittsburgh, it concludes with hands-on practicum experiences comprising 140 hours of supervised training.

The program entails 26 core nursing courses offered in interactive, online learning environments with flexibility for individual pacing. Most courses come in an accelerated, seven-week format designed to accommodate busy working professionals. Chatham University admits new students six times each year and possesses full accreditation with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Transfer students can bring in up 90 credits earned elsewhere, significantly reducing their time in school.

Carlow University

Located in the Steel City’s Oakland neighborhood, a major academic and healthcare hub, Carlow University is a Catholic institution associated with the Sisters of Mercy. It offers eight different online nursing programs in Pittsburgh with options for new students and working professionals at every level of attainment. Current RNs with an unencumbered nursing license and a diploma or ADN can broaden their professional horizons using the schools BSN bridge program. The course of study involves 24 credits delivered across eight core courses that study nursing informatics, microbiology, and evidence-based practice.

Additional online options for more advanced nurses include an MSN and post-graduate certification with concentrations in women’s health and family nurse practitioner, a doctorate of nursing practice, and a unique MSN-MBA dual degree program. These offerings and the RN-BSN bridge program all use asynchronous modalities to deliver didactic coursework, transitioning to face-to-face components for capstone requirements ahead of graduation.

Robert Morris University

A private school with roots that date back all the way to the American Revolution, Robert Morris University offers two online bridge programs in nursing along with several graduate programs. Current RNs can further their careers through a RN-BSN bridge that builds on previous knowledge and experience to expand professional scope. It involves 42 credits, including core course work and clinical rotations.

RNs interested in developing further expertise can enroll in Robert Morris’s online RN-MSN program. It achieves the same learning outcomes as the RN-BSN bridge and includes the following specializations: nursing education, nursing leadership, nursing informatics, care coordination, simulation, and nursing management. Robert Morris’s post-master’s certificate programs use similar areas of concentration and include additional mental health options. Students interested in bringing nursing into close contact with principles of business management can pursue a dual MSN/MBA course of study. The school also administers a DNP program that focuses on psychiatric mental health.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Pittsburgh, PA

Can I earn my nursing degree in Pittsburgh completely online?

Students attending online nursing programs in Pittsburgh will still need to complete some requirements in-person which mainly consist of clinical training hours. Most programs deliver coursework entirely online and then pivot to face-to-face environments in the later stages. Some may also require in-person elements like orientation sessions and skills simulations.

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

No. Prospective employers look at previous professional experience and licensure credentials when making hiring decisions. As long as you attend an accredited program with approval from the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing, you will meet basic employment qualifications. Employers care about competency and skill, not course delivery methods.

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

This depends on a number of factors like the type of school you plan to attend, whether you will enroll full time or a part time, and where you will live throughout study. Tuition rates fluctuate year-to-year even for the most affordable schools, but overall online nursing programs in Pittsburgh fall within the same price range as in-person offerings.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Pittsburgh, PA

Financial aid opportunities like scholarships and grants can make a big difference in the overall cost of your nursing education. Fortunately, most nursing schools in Pittsburgh strive to provide their students with some form of aid. This aid can be competitive and is typically awarded on the basis of academic merit or individual financial need.

Organizations like the Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania also provide scholarships and grants to qualified students. EduMed’s financial aid guide offers more information on where to look for potential awards, and our nursing scholarship guide looks at additional opportunities for aspiring RNs, including those in the Pittsburgh area.

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

Once you graduate, you will still need to apply for licensure with the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing before you can obtain work as an RN in Pittsburgh. The requirements for initial licensure include completing an approved and accredited education program, passing the NCLEX exam, submitting a background check, and paying any applicable fees. For more information on each step of this process see our guide to nursing schools in Pennsylvania.

Job Opportunities for RNs in Pittsburgh, PA

The overall job outlook for licensed RNs in the Pittsburgh area remains strong and will continue to grow through 2029. Current trends stem from local demand in Pennsylvania and a national nursing shortage due to aging demographics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nursing industry will add over 175,000 new RNs jobs each year throughout the U.S., growing by 7% overall.

The job numbers for Pittsburgh RNs are even more encouraging. The Keystone State ranks among the Top 5 states with the highest levels of RN employment. Over 10,000 RN jobs will open up each year in Pennsylvania, according to recent projections. With a growth rate of 12.5%, the state outpaces national numbers by a significant margin. Similarly, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry identifies healthcare and social assistance as the top industry for employment in Pittsburgh.

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

Nursing schools in Pittsburgh, PA not only open up more opportunities for employment, they also qualify you for positions with more responsibility and higher pay. As the table below indicates, the annual mean wage for RNs in Pittsburgh is $70,180, substantially higher than the annual mean wage for all professions in the area (currently $54,300).

Aspiring RN professionals coming from practical nursing will likely benefit the most from this bump in pay. According to BLS data, licensed practical nurses in Pittsburgh bring home $45,740 on average. This means that you could see a salary increase of up to 53% by transitioning to the RN role.

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

Median Hourly Wage Mean Hourly Wage Annual Mean Wage
Pittsburgh, PA $32.55 $33.74 $70,180
Pennsylvania $35.08 $35.66 $74,170
United States $36.22 $38.47 $80,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020

Additional Pittsburgh, PA Nursing Resources

Nurses of Pennsylvania

This volunteer-run outlet strives to improve bedside care and healthcare decision-making in Pennsylvania. It sponsors organizing activities and maintains an active social media presence that connects working professionals throughout the state.

Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania

A private nonprofit founded in 1983, this organization supports Pennsylvania nurses by recognizing outstanding achievement. It also extends a number of scholarships and other financial aid opportunities to qualified nursing students.

Pennsylvania Organizations of Nurse Leaders

This organization promotes excellence in nursing leadership and administration. It operates local chapters throughout the state and works to connect nursing management professionals to new opportunities through its career center. It also hosts annual conferences and events.

Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing

This agency is empowered by state law to oversee the licensure process for nurses in Pennsylvania and to enforce continuing education requirements. It offers guides and timelines for candidates based on different circumstances and provides the most up-to-date information on state regulations.

Pennsylvania State Nurses Association

Headquartered in Harrisburg, this organization assists nursing students throughout the Keystone State. It provides plenty of opportunities for networking, engages in advocacy efforts, and maintains a career center for recent and upcoming graduates.