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Nursing Schools in Nashville, TN: Best Online & Campus Programs

Learn about Nashville’s top-rated nursing schools and find the online, campus, or hybrid program that’s right for you.


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Whether you’re just beginning your nursing journey or are an experienced RN interested in advancing your nursing career, there’s probably a nursing school in Nashville for you. There are a variety of programs that range from helping you become eligible to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to training you to become an advanced practitioner or take on a leadership role at your organization. No matter your academic needs, nursing schools in Nashville, TN offer a variety of in-person, hybrid, and online programs to choose from.

This guide showcases the top Nashville nursing schools and details their nursing programs to help you choose the one that’s right for you. You’ll also find other valuable resources and information, including financial aid opportunities, licensing requirements, and how much you could earn after your start your new job. Keep reading to find your Nashville nursing school match and learn more about becoming a nurse in the area.

Nashville’s Best Nursing Schools and Programs in 2024

Nursing schools in Nashville, Tennessee offer many ways to complete your degree and become an RN. Their accredited programs are approved by the State Board of Nursing and are affordable, provide great student services, and have high NCLEX-RN passage rates. Read on to learn about some of the best nursing programs in Nashville, TN for 2023.

Best Overall Nursing Schools in Nashville, TN

Belmont University

Belmont University has a robust nursing school that provides a wealth of graduate and undergraduate degrees, including a Bachelor of Nursing degree, a Master of Science in Nursing, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. In addition to traditional entry into the BSN program, Belmont also offers direct entry BSN pathway that allows admittance into the nursing program and school at the same time. The MSN leads to advanced practice as a family nurse practitioner while also creating a foundation for the DNP program, which takes a hybrid approach to allow students to further their education and hone their skills and knowledge while continuing to work full time.

With five simulation labs, including the daily living laboratory that allows nurses to observe and discover the issues facing the elderly when they are living on their own, the Gordon E. Inman Center is the heartbeat of Belmont’s nursing school. The school’s NCLEX-RN pass rates (93%) and the FNP Certification Pass Rate (100%) are also impressive and reflect the rigorous and comprehensive learning you can expect from this institution.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing offers students the distinct advantage of its connection to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. As top-notch healthcare facility, it attracts doctors, nurses, and patients from across the globe. Vanderbilt’s comprehensive nursing programs include a Master of Science in Nursing with two tracks, a PhD in Nursing Science, and a DNP. The school also offers post-master’s certificates, a two-year post-doctoral program, and more than a dozen specializations for its graduate programs. Especially ambitious students can opt for the MSN/MDiv and MSN/MTS dual degree programs.

Entry into Vanderbilt’s programs is available to those with bachelor’s degrees in a field other than nursing and to BSNs. New college students interested in pursuing nursing at Vanderbilt first earn their BA or BS and complete certain prerequisites before moving into the advanced programs offered in the School of Nursing.

Middle Tennessee State University

The School of Nursing at Middle Tennessee State University offers a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree nursing program that results in eligibility to sit for the NCLEX. The program includes 41 hours of general education courses and 72 hours of major nursing requirements. The school also offers an MSN with concentrations in family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. For those who already have an MSN degree, there’s the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Certificate program as well.

The NCLEX-RN pass rate for graduates of Middle Tennessee’s nursing programs is an impressive 96%, and the certification rate for FNPs is just over 96% for first-time test takers. Resources available to students include peer-to-peer tutoring, simulation labs, student organizations, scholarships, academic advising, and more. The application process for MTSU’s nursing programs is now online.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Nashville

Galen College of Nursing

Galen College of Nursing offers many online options in addition to its traditional on-campus programs. Its online RN to BSN helps students obtain their bachelor’s degrees while working full-time. The mobile-friendly program can be completed in a year and to better accommodate student schedules, it offers six start dates per year with classes that are 8-weeks long. The online MSN is designed for students who need the freedom and flexibility of online learning to meet their career goals and continue working while in school.

Galen College of Nursing uses the Transfer Evaluation System, so students can figure out exactly how many of their credits will transfer before they enroll. The school also has an Associate Degree in Nursing, a three-year Bachelor of Nursing, an LPN to ADN bridge program, and a post-master’s Nurse Educator Certificate that are in-person.

South College

South College hosts numerous nursing programs, including several offered either partially or fully online. While the BSN, the RN to BSN, and the accelerated BSN are all available at the Nashville campus, the RN to BSN as well as an MSN are available entirely online. The RN to BSN program focuses on critical thinking, evidence-based care, research, and leadership and offers specialized training in fields like informatics and community nursing. Its clinical component takes place virtually and at community facilities convenient for students. The coursework is offered asynchronously online, meaning students can take classes not only from anywhere, but at any time that fits their schedule.

The MSN’s five concentrations – psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care, and nurse executive – are all offered online. The DNP with Nurse Executive concentration is also available fully online. Grants are available specifically for those who take online courses, and online students also receive technical support, tutoring, and career services.

Marian University

Utilizing a clinical partnership with Ascension Saint Thomas, Marian University provides students with the opportunity for blended learning through an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This program combines classwork that can be completed online with hands-on clinicals on campus or at a designated medical facility. Classes focus on areas like obstetrics and pediatrics, acute and long-term care, and mental and behavioral health. With site locations in five states and diverse clinical placements, the program has a high enrollment capacity.

Designed for non-nurses with bachelor’s degrees in another area, this accelerated BSN program takes as little as 16 months to complete. It’s taught from a faith-based perspective and has three start dates per year. It also boasts an NCLEX-RN pass rate that’s consistently above the national average.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in or Near Nashville

There are a number of programs available in Nashville and the surrounding area to meet your goals, whether you want to become an RN with an associate degree or earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice or PhD in Nursing. Options at nursing schools in Nashville, Tennessee are profiled below.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Nashville

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An ADN is the fastest way to become an RN, providing graduates with registered nurse eligibility within two years. These associate degrees provide general education and targeted nursing courses to prepare students for the NCLEX. With both classroom work and hands-on training, these programs are either in person or hybrid.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

A BSN is typically a four-year program that combines general education with clinical training and patient-centered care courses. A traditional BSN might be in a hybrid format, with courses offered online and hands-on clinical training in person. Those with BSNs typically have more job opportunities than those only with ADNs as they will complete a greater number of general education and advanced-theory nursing courses.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Those who have bachelor’s degrees in non-nursing fields can turn to an accelerated BSN to get the nursing education needed to sit for the NCLEX-RN. Depending on their prior bachelor’s degree coursework, students can complete this program in as little as 18 months as they’ve already met most general education requirements.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

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

Those with bachelor’s degrees in something other than nursing can earn an MSN in two to three years, depending upon the chosen specialty. A direct-entry MSN prepares students to sit for licensure as registered nurses without having to first complete a separate associate or bachelor’s degree nursing program.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Nashville for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

With LPN to RN and LPN to BSN bridge programs LPNs or LVNs can build upon their clinical training and prior education to become registered nurses in less time. These programs take about two years to complete and provide general education as well as advanced nursing courses in preparation for the NCLEX-RN.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

Nurses sometimes begin with an associate degree in nursing to get into the field as soon as possible. After a few years of working as an RN, they sometimes choose to pursue a BSN through an RN to BSN program to broaden their employment opportunities. Because students already have much of the necessary clinical training, most students graduate from RN to BSN programs in 18 months or less.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

Registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees can easily move into RN to MSN programs where they can focus on a particular specialty to help them advance in their careers. Because nurses already have their clinical experience, these courses take a deep dive into theory, research, and advanced theories. RN to MSN programs typically take two years to complete and can be entirely online, depending on the specialization.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Nashville

Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

Traditional MSN programs are for BSNs who want to move into advanced practice areas like nursing education, nursing informatics, leadership, and administration. These programs are often fully online, either full-time or part-time, and many nurses continue working while earning their MSNs.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

The Doctor of Nursing Practice is designed for nurses wanting to focus on the clinical side of nursing. In contrast, the PhD focuses on research and theory to prepare students to become educators or medical researchers. Completion times vary from three to seven years.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

Those who have an MSN or higher can pursue a post-graduate nursing certificate to build expertise in a specific aspect of nursing. Graduate certificates can open doors to a variety of specialized areas, including administration, gerontology, and pediatrics. Most working professionals take these courses at a comfortable pace for them and complete them within two years.

Examples of Nashville Nursing Schools with this Program

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Nashville

When looking into financial aid for nursing schools in Nashville, Tennessee the best bet is often scholarships and grants since they do not have to be paid back. Many organizations, businesses, and government entities recognize the deep need for more nurses and offer generous scholarships and grants. The State of Tennessee, for example, offers general scholarships for those enrolled in one of the many quality nursing programs in the state. Schools themselves, like East Tennessee State University, also offer scholarships.

Learn more about financial aid options by visiting our nursing scholarship guide, financial aid guide, and nursing student loan forgiveness guide.

How to Become an RN in Nashville: Licensing Requirements

Those who want to become a nurse in Nashville must pass the RN licensing requirements set forth by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. These include completing a board-approved and accredited program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Other requirements include passing a background check and showing proof of citizenship. To learn more about the process, visit our guide to Tennessee nursing schools.

Job Market and Earnings for RNs and APRNs in Nashville

The job market for registered nurses in the state of Tennessee is booming. Expect to see another 4,290 nurse openings each year through 2028, a change of 12.3%. APRNs are in even higher demand with the market for nurse anesthetists growing at a rate of 22.1%, nurse midwives at 28.6%, and nurse practitioners at a whopping 34.7%.

RNs in the Nashville metro area make a healthy salary, too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates an average annual wage of $68,130 for RNs in Nashville, higher than the $62,220 annual wage for nurses across the state as a whole. One thing to keep in mind about this higher salary is that living and Nashville and the surrounding area is usually more expensive than many other parts of the state. Employment opportunities include a variety of medical centers and hospital systems. One example, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is the largest hospital in the state and situated in the heart of Nashville. TriStar Centennial and Ascension St. Thomas are two other large hospital systems employing nurses in the region.

How Much You Could Make as an RN or Advanced Practice Nurse in Nashville

Median Hourly WageAvg. Hourly WageAvg. Annual Wage
Registered Nurses$31$33$68,130
Nurse Practitioners$47$47$98,590
Nurse Anesthetists$84$83$172,970

Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020