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Explore Rhode Island’s Best Nursing Schools: Online and On-Campus Programs

Career opportunities are plentiful in the growing healthcare field for educated and trained nurses in Rhode Island. Explore program spotlights, find the best nursing schools in Rhode Island, and learn what it’s like to be a nurse in the state.

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WRITTEN BY: Linsey Knerl
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REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 06/02/2023

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People living in Rhode Island are like those in any other state in the U.S. They want access to great healthcare that helps them live longer, better lives. To make this happen, the state will need to increase the number of nurses practicing over the next few years, especially those that truly understand the healthcare challenges of Rhode Island residents. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, the state’s two most common chronic and costly conditions are high blood pressure and diabetes. The state requires compassionate and skilled nurses at all education levels to treat and combat these conditions and the various illnesses that occur because of them.

Learn about the variety of programs available at nursing schools in Rhode Island, licensing requirements in the state, salaries, and job growth.

2023’s Best-in-Class Nursing Schools in Rhode Island

Nursing schools in Rhode Island may offer similar degree levels and program basics, but beyond that, they vary in almost every other way. Nursing programs in the state represent a wide range in price, flexibility, and how courses are administered. Taking time to research several programs and seeing how they measure up to your personal career goals and learning style is the best way to make a nursing school decision.

We identified the top nursing programs in Rhode Island to help you make the right choice. Please take a look at our picks for 2023.

Rhode Island College

Students seeking a high-quality nursing degree program at one of the nursing schools in Rhode Island that will prepare them for the rigors of nursing in the future may find Rhode Island College and its Svart Onanian School of Nursing a top-notch career choice. With undergrad and graduate options, including hybrid courses for the BSN program, it’s possible to get a flexible, complete nursing education at a reasonable cost.

The NCLEX-RN pass rate of graduates of the nursing program at Rhode Island College is consistently high, with some classes boasting a 98% pass rate. The BSN, MSN, and doctorate nursing programs at the school are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Salve Regina University

Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, offers a range of nursing programs, including BS, RN to BS, MSN, and DNP degrees. Its BSN program offers two tracks: one for students with no nursing experience and an RN to BSN option for students with an associate degree in registered nursing. The school doesn’t currently have a second degree BSN option. To gain entry into the BSN program at Salve Regina University, you’ll need to apply by Nov. 1 of each year. There are limited slots for each year, so students are encouraged to apply early.

All three degree options are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Community College of Rhode Island

Nursing professionals with a CNA or LPN who want to take their nursing careers to the next level may find the Community College of Rhode Island to be just the right fit. CCRI is the only public school in the state to offer an associate degree in registered nursing for CNAs and LPNs who want a seamless option to advance to an RN. The school offers a CNA-LPN bridge program and an LPN-RN bridge program, as well as continuing education options like CPR and tech courses to help students stay on top of what the healthcare workplace requires.

The college provides numerous resources for students, including study help and tutoring and a simulation center to give future nurses more opportunities to practice their care. The nursing capstone offers a preceptorship where you’ll be matched with an experienced staff RN, an immersion into the role of an RN, and a capstone course to learn about leadership and autonomy in your job.

Four CCRI campus locations make nursing degrees accessible to more students in Rhode Island.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Rhode Island

Whether you have never taken a nursing class before or you already have your RN licensure, there are many nursing program options at nursing schools in Rhode Island to support you in the next step of your career. The state’s nursing schools have everything from initial LPN courses to full programs for earning your doctorate. These programs show the range of options available to you today.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Rhode Island

ADN Programs

If you aren’t interested in a four-year college degree but want the job security of being a registered nurse, you can get your associate degree in nursing. This 18-month to two-year program, available at a few nursing schools in Rhode Island, prepares students for taking their nursing exams with coursework in the sciences and patient care clinicals.

Examples of Rhode Island Nursing Schools with This Program

Community College of Rhode Island

New England Institute of Technology

Traditional BSN Programs

If you want to have the traditional four-year college experience complete with in-person learning and student activities, one of these nursing schools in Rhode Island programs may be for you. You’ll get the opportunity to earn general education credits as well as focused nursing credits. This is for you if you’ve never earned a degree or held a nursing license.

Examples of Rhode Island Nursing Schools with This Program

Salve Regina University

University of Rhode Island

Accelerated BSN Programs

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, you may be eligible to add on nursing courses and get a BSN on an accelerated schedule. Students who have earned all the general education credits required for a bachelor’s degree in another subject may be able to get their degree in two-three years, taking 12 credits per semester.

Example of Rhode Island Nursing School with This Program

Rhode Island College

Nursing Bridge Programs in Rhode Island for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

If you are a student with LPN licensure, you’ll just need to take a few more classes at one of the nursing schools in Rhode Island to earn your RN degree and certification. Schools with this option can help you get your bachelor’s degree faster and get you on your way to earning more or even prepare you for graduate school.

Examples of Rhode Island Nursing Schools with This Program

Community College of Rhode Island

New England Institute of Technology

RN to BSN Programs

With many of the core nursing courses completed, registered nurses are good candidates to continue their education and earn their bachelor’s degree. Additional coursework in general studies, as well as advanced nursing theory, is typically required. Expect to have around 37 credits transferred into the program, with an additional 45 credits or more required for graduation.

Examples of Rhode Island Nursing Schools with This Program

Salve Regina University

Rhode Island College

RN to MSN Programs

Master’s degrees in nursing offer more upward mobility and opportunities for better pay, but not every student wants to earn their bachelor’s degree and then their master’s. With an RN to MSN degree program, registered nurses are given credit for courses already taken and can continue through the graduate school coursework without stopping for a BSN first. Currently, no nursing schools in Rhode Island offer this program.

Advanced Nursing Programs in Rhode Island

MSN Programs

If you already have your bachelor’s degree and an active registered nurse license, one of the traditional MSN programs in Rhode Island may be for you. With advanced coursework and the opportunity to work alongside top-tier professors, graduates of these programs could go on to get their Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) designation.

Examples of Rhode Island Nursing Schools with This Program

New England Institute of Technology

Salve Regina University

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

A nursing doctoral program puts you in the driver’s seat for a career in teaching, advanced nursing care, or nursing leadership. You could choose to enter a doctorate of nursing program or get your PhD. Both offer incredible opportunities to explore all that healthcare has to offer, as well as the highest salary ranges.

Examples of Rhode Island Nursing Schools with This Program

Rhode Island College

University of Rhode Island

Post-Graduate Certificates

If you’ve already earned your advanced degree but want to continue refining your skills in niche areas of medicine, a post-graduate certificate program may be for you. Specialties range and include nursing managers, patient care and service quality, and gerontology/acute care. Earning a certificate can make you more attractive to hiring managers for top nursing positions.

Examples of Rhode Island Nursing Schools with This Program

Rhode Island College

University of Rhode Island

Inside Scoop: Online Nursing Programs in Rhode Island

Some nursing programs in Rhode Island offer flexible online learning while still requiring the hands-on experience nurses need to be their best in every situation. Students with RN licenses and at least associate degrees are more likely to find programs that will give them largely online experiences compared to students entering the field from a non-related degree program.

Clinicals are also a big part of any nursing program. While coursework and tests may happen online, expect to spend at least some of your clinical hours with patients in real-life scenarios where in-person learning happens. You may find other students in these non-traditional programs to be working or taking care of families while going through school.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island

Designed for working students, the RN to BS in nursing program at the University of Rhode Island makes it possible to earn a nursing bachelor’s degree in just 15 months. Coursework is completely online, and students can expect to spend between 12-18 hours per week for every course they take. All courses are asynchronous, so you can view lectures and complete activities any time before they are due.

Students need to take a total of 120 credit hours to graduate, with most RNs transferring around 30 to 45 credits into the program. Courses run for seven weeks and include Nursing Management of Clients, Adult Health Assessment, and Nursing Pharmacology.

Salve Regina University

This fully online RN to BSN program from Salve Regina University can help registered nurses move to the next phase in their careers with a traditional degree. With six start dates per year, students may complete the program in just 12 months. Courses include Healthcare Informatics, Holistic Health Assessment, Research and Evidence-Based Practice, and Aging and End-of-Life Care, as well as general studies credits in Literature and Medicine.

Discounted rates are available for members of the military, those working at partner healthcare facilities, and their family members.

Rhode Island College

If you want to take your nursing education and expertise to the doctorate level, Rhode Island College offers a hybrid learning option that combines flexible online courses with the hands-on experience top nursing professionals need today. Those with a BSN or MSN in a health-related field can apply, and students can finish in as little as two or as many as seven years, depending on their schedules.

Courses include Concepts and Practice of Palliative Care, Surgical First Assist Theory, and Healthcare Statistics.

Affordable Nursing Education in Rhode Island

Students pursuing a nursing degree should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see which grants and loans they qualify for. Most schools require a FAFSA application to be considered for scholarships and grants, so even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for federal aid, filling it out can help you access much-needed resources based on your income and assets. Each school also has a financial aid page detailing scholarships specific to their students. Some are available to all, while a few may include funds specifically for those in the nursing program. Our nursing scholarship guide can help you find more money for school as you continue your education, and our comprehensive financial aid guide gives additional tips for success.

How to Meet Rhode Island RN Licensing Requirements

Because nurses are medical professionals responsible for many detailed and crucial tasks in the healthcare system, they’ll need to have both a quality education and the proper licensure to stay compliant with Rhode Island’s nursing board. Some steps to becoming a nurse are similar to what’s required in other states, but the board of nursing will always have the most updated information for those seeking licensure and working to keep it.

Step #1: Complete an Accredited RN Degree Program

You will need to have attended a school recognized by the Rhode Island Nursing Board before applying for a nursing license. It must be accredited for the license you are pursuing (RN or LPN), and you must have transcripts showing your progress.

Step #2: Apply for Residency

If you plan on living in Rhode Island while you work, be sure to get your proof of address and driver’s license showing you live there.

Step #3: Submit Your Application for Licensure

Applications can be submitted online, with supporting documents mailed to the licensure office. The fee for RNs is $135, and LPNs is $45.

Step #4: Show Your Transcripts

If you haven’t gotten your nursing license before, you must have the school of nursing you attended send official transcripts to the board of nursing with the graduation date and type of degree you earned. Digital transcripts won’t be accepted.

Step #5: Take and Pass the NCLEX-RN

Once your transcripts have been received and you register with the NCSBN, you will be cleared to take the NCLEX-RN exam. It costs around $300-$350. A passing grade is required to continue the process of getting your nursing license.

Step #6: Get Your Background Check

All nurses in Rhode Island must apply to the Office of the Attorney General for their fingerprint-supported national background check. The fee is $35 and must be completed in person. Your records will show if you pass, but you do not mail the results to the health department.

Step #7: Show Your Out-Of-State License

If you get your nursing license by endorsement, you do not need to take the exam again or show transcripts. You must request verification from all the other state boards where you received a license. Nurses from California and Pennsylvania must ask that the verification be sent directly to the Rhode Island Nursing Board, but nurses from all other states can use the system at www.NURSYS.com.

Step #8: Keep License Current with Continuing Education Requirements

Continuing education requirements may change, so check in often to see what classes or workshops you need to prove you are meeting standards. The board of nursing keeps these updated on its website.

RN Opportunities: Rhode Island Nursing Job Outlook

You’ve probably heard about nursing shortages throughout the country, but is this really the case in Rhode Island? Projections suggest that, while nurse demand isn’t as high as in some other states, there is a significant need for nurses to fill vital roles, especially as older nursing professionals retire. With a forecast of 5% job growth from 2021-2031, nurses with the dedication and skills to be skilled and compassionate caregivers will likely have many opportunities to live and work in Rhode Island.

Employment Projections for RNs in Rhode Island

New Jobs
(2020-2030)
Job Growth Rate
(2020-2030)
Average Annual Openings
(2020-2030)
Rhode Island13,3405.2%740
United States371,50012.1%210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

The high demand for nurses has given them the ability to choose where they want to work while being able to negotiate better salaries. Overall, Rhode Island has a slightly higher median wage for beginner and mid-career nurses than the national average. As nurses reach the high end of the wage range, they fall behind their peers across the country.

Fortunately, nurses often get good benefits, and hiring bonuses can help boost wages. The data below offers a look at what you can expect to earn at different stages in your nursing career.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Rhode Island

10th Percentile50th Percentile
(Median)
90th Percentile
Rhode Island$61,340$78,900$101,650
Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island area$61,340$78,670$101,650
United States$59,450$77,600$120,250

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

Rhode Island Nursing Resources