Nursing Schools in Houston: Accredited Online & Campus Programs

Start or advance your nursing career at one of the best nursing schools in Houston. Programs are offered both on campus and online and provide a variety of degree pathways.

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Last Updated: 05/24/2021
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You can become a nurse in as little as two years through either an in-person or online nursing school in Houston. Advanced degrees for moving ahead in the field are also available. The 85 hospitals in the Houston area provide ample opportunities for those wanting to work in nursing. Additionally, RNs in Houston earn an annual mean wage of nearly $85,000, giving you the opportunity to make a difference and make a solid living at the same time.

This guide profiles the best nursing schools in Houston and helps you discover the best program for your career goals, whether it’s a traditional BSN program for new students, an online bridge program that takes you from RN to MSN, or one of the many other options. You’ll also learn about financial aid options that can help lower the cost of nursing school and more about the nursing job market in the Houston area.

Best Nursing Schools in Houston for 2021

To help you find a nursing school in Houston, we’ve identified three of the best nursing schools in terms of affordability, student support, financial aid, and accreditation. The spotlights below will help you know what to look for in a quality nursing program. See who stands out in 2021.

Cizik School of Nursing at UT Health

Cizik School of Nursing at UT Health offers more than 10 nursing degrees. The 60-credit Pacesetter BSN can be completed in four semesters. Current RNs can select one of three RN bridge programs: an RN-BSN, an RN-FNP, and an RN-MSN in Leadership.

There are eight degree offerings at the MSN and post-graduate level, including MSN and NP degrees. Programs for Nursing Education, Psychiatric Mental Health, and Nursing Leadership are also available. The BSN-DNP program leads to specializations in anesthesia and NP, DNP, and PhD programs are also offered.

Cizik and its degree programs are approved by the Texas Board of Nursing and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Houston Community College

Houston Community College offers a 60-credit Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program leading to taking the NCLEX-RN. Coursework includes anatomy/physiology, microbiology, psychology, and patient care across the lifespan in addition to nursing clinicals. HCC’s 60-credit LVN to RN program culminates in an AAS and RN licensure.

HCC’s has an 80% NCLEX pass rate. Programs are approved by the Texas Board of Nursing (TBON) and accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Chamberlain College of Nursing

Chamberlain College of Nursing is among the best nursing schools in Houston based on the number of accredited degrees alone. It offers a three-year BS in Nursing, an MS in Nursing, an RN to BSN, and an RN to MSN. Other programs include an MSN Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, an MSN Family Nurse Practitioner, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Significant to note is that new students who opt for the RN to BSN Online Degree Completion program save 47% on tuition.

In 2020, Chamberlain University’s NCLEX pass rate for BSN graduates was 91%. Degree and certificate programs at Chamberlain College of Nursing are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in or Near Houston, TX

Houston offers a variety of nursing programs for students at different points in their nursing education and careers, from pre-nursing programs through doctoral degrees. The most common nursing programs available in Houston, TX are detailed below along with links to some schools offering them.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Houston

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Students moving into the nursing field for the first time can pursue a two-year ADN. The ADN provides the academic and practice bedrock needed for advanced nursing programs. Students are prepared to take the NCLEX-RN after they graduate. ADN programs are typically found at community colleges.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

Houston Community College
Alvin Community College

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

The BSN degree is rapidly becoming preferred by many employers seeking entry-level RNs. The theoretical and clinical hours required to surpass those in ADN programs, with the BSN requiring 120 units completed in four years.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

University of St. Thomas Houston
Houston Baptist University

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated BSN programs are the fastest pathway to an RN. The curriculum is the same as in traditional BSN programs, but students can take more credits per semester than traditional students. The degree can be completed in 18 months.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

University of St. Thomas Houston
Cizik School of Nursing at UT Health

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

Direct-entry MSN programs are for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field who want to become RNs or advanced practice nurses (APRNs). The curriculum mirrors the studies required for a nursing master’s but doesn’t require applicants to retake undergraduate courses.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

University of Houston
Chamberlain University

Nursing Bridge Programs in Houston for Current Nurses

LVN to RN and LVN to BSN Programs

Bridge programs are ideal for LVNs who want to become RNs. LVNs may be required to complete pre-requisites nursing coursework and have a year of experience working as LVNs to qualify for admission to bridge programs. The amount of time to complete these programs varies.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

Lone Star College
Sam Houston State University

RN to BSN Programs

An RN to BSN program is for nurses who want to increase their nursing opportunities along with their income. These 60-credit bridge programs are only open to licensed RNs.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

Cizik School of Nursing at UT Health
University of Houston

RN to MSN Programs

Registered nurses who do not hold a BSN can complete their MSN to qualify for advanced nursing positions through an RN to MSN program. Candidates may hold an ADN or a bachelor’s degree outside the nursing field for admissions. Graduates are prepared for roles as administrators, nurse practitioners, nursing educators, or nursing informatics specialists.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

Texas Woman’s University
University of Texas Health Science Center

Advanced Nursing Programs in Houston

Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

RNs looking to become nursing leaders and advanced practitioners can complete their traditional MSN in two to five years. You can also choose an area of emphasis to focus on in your studies. The curriculum combines advanced didactic coursework, clinical placements, labs, and specialization courses.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

University of Houston
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

DNP and PhD degrees are the pinnacle of advanced nursing education and are available to RNs with an MSN. The DNP is designed for nurses who want to lead clinical practice initiatives. The PhD is better suited for nurses planning to undertake university teaching roles and advanced nursing research.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

Baylor College of Medicine
University of St. Thomas-Houston

Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

Post-graduate certificate programs offer experienced MSN graduates expertise in a range of specialties. These include advanced credentials for health informatics specialists and nurse practitioners in populations including neonatal, pediatrics, adult-gerontology, women’s health, and nursing education. The number of required credits varies by major.

Examples of Houston, TX Nursing Schools with this Program

University of Houston
Texas Woman’s University

Inside Look at Online Nursing Schools in Houston

Online nursing programs from one of the best nursing schools in Houston allow you to more easily pursue your didactic coursework at your own pace and location. Class management software puts streaming and recorded courses at your fingertips along with interactive features through email, chat, and class bulletin boards. Many four-year and graduate online nursing programs are hybrid, and online courses are paired with on-site clinicals and internships at healthcare organizations close to where you live and work. Online learning comes with its own set of academic challenges, though, and its flexibility often requires a higher level of individual motivation. The nursing schools highlighted below have some terrific online options for students studying nursing in the Houston area.

Best Online Nursing Schools in Houston

Chamberlain University

Chamberlain University makes its extensive campus programs, including a three-year BS, an RN to BSN, and an RN to MSN, also available online. The online BSN offers online courses but requires hands-on experience at its campus SIMCARE Center and clinical experience a couple of days a week at a healthcare institution near students’ residences. The RN to BSN is offered entirely online without on-site requirements.

The online BSN’s clinical nursing courses cover fundamentals, maternal and pediatric nursing, adult health nursing, and community health nursing. Some of Chamberlain’s programs duplicate the on-site experience through a cloud-based virtual simulation resource called i-Human Patients (IHP) that provides virtual patient care, assessments, patient communications, and problem solving.

Applicants must hold a nursing diploma or ADN degree. All degrees are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Houston Baptist University

Houston Baptist University’s online RN to BSN and hybrid MSN programs provide a convenient option for students. Because student attendance sometimes drops with lecture-based courses, HBU uses a more effective model of podcasts, assignments, course materials, webcasts, PowerPoint presentations, and instructional videos.

The 29-credit RN to BSN degree consists of eight self-paced courses and eight-week semesters. Courses include health assessment, pharmacology, community nursing, pathophysiology, applied nursing research, and healthcare administration for nurses. Students are assessed by their mastery of the course topics and not by completion alone. General education credits from a previous college can be transferred to the program.

A Student Success coach is assigned to each student as a mentor, and students meet with coaches online every week. The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Higher Learning Commission.

Alvin Community College

At Alvin Community College, students can complete their two-year RN degree entirely online. The 60-credit program includes theory classes and clinicals each semester. For the final Capstone, students spend half their time in mentorship (preceptorship) experiences. Online degree outcomes include theory and clinical skills, standards of practice (including ethical considerations), technology in patient care, assessment, and development of treatment plans.

ACC also offers a 60-credit online LVN to ADN transitional program. Prerequisites for this program include four courses (two in biology, one in psychology, and one in English). The online LVN to ADN transition program takes one year to complete.

ACC’s NCLEX-RN pass rate is 92%. Its ADN programs are approved by the Texas Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

FAQs About Online Nursing Schools in Houston

Can I earn my nursing degree in Houston completely online?

You can complete your theoretical training entirely online. Community college ADN programs typically do not require on-site internships, but they often hold campus clinicals. BSN and MSN degree programs sometimes require in-person clinical placements as do many bridge programs.

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

Online nursing degrees require the same curriculum and practical experience as their campus equivalents and are offered by fully accredited, award-winning universities. Nursing employers evaluate candidates based on their degree, experience level, and specializations and won’t care if you completed coursework online.

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

When you tally the cost of tuition along with commuting/parking cost and student activity fees, online nursing schools in Houston often cost less overall than campus-based programs. This is especially true for accelerated nursing degrees completed more quickly than traditional programs.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Houston

There are many financial aid programs offering assistance to nursing students in Houston. Before receiving financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Available aid includes Federal Pell Grants, subsidized and government loans, nursing fellowships, scholarships, and research grants. Most Houston-area nursing schools also offer their own financial assistance. For example, the University of Houston awards 17 different scholarships to nursing students annually. Additional financial aid resources include the Texas Nursing Students Association’s annual awards of $500 for two recipients. You can start your search for financial aid at EduMed’s nursing scholarship guide and main financial aid guide.

How to Become an RN in Houston: Licensing Requirements

You must pass the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Exam, successfully answering 75% of the 50 questions, and pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Your Texas nursing license is good for two years and requires 20 hours of continuing education to renew. The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) oversees all licensing requirements in the state. Visit our guide to nursing programs in Texas for detailed information on licensing.

Job Opportunities for RNs in Houston

RNs in Houston take jobs within hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and home health and hospice organizations. Locally, there are more than 3,000 listings for nursing jobs in Houston where 56,520 are already employed. The Texas Workforce Commission predicts that RN jobs in Houston area hospitals will increase 8.63%, creating 25,333 new positions by 2028. That’s compared to nationwide growth of 7%, and 222,000 jobs by 2030. RN job growth projections in Texas are even higher at 35% and 25,333 new jobs.

Many of the healthcare employers in Houston are part of national networks with more than 10,000 employees. The largest employers of Houston area nurses include Houston Methodist, Texas Children’s Hospital, the University of Texas Medical Branch, HCA Healthcare, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Aveanna Healthcare, St. Luke’s Healthcare, Baylor College of Medicine, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

How Much You Could Make as an RN in Houston

How much you can earn as an RN in Houston depends on your level of education, specialty, and experience, but wages are solid and higher than those state-wide and nationally. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an annual Houston RN mean wage of $84,960. Salary.com estimates an annual average between $59,624 and $106,313. In-state Texas RN mean wages are $76,800, and the national mean wage is $80,010. Additionally, Indeed shows that hourly wages rise from $29.78 for new RNs to $38.92 for RNs with ten years of experience.

Earnings for Registered Nurses in Houston, TX

Median Hourly WageMean Hourly WageAnnual Mean Wage
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX$40.49$40.85$84,960
Texas$36.21$36.92$76,800
United States$36.22$38.47$80,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020

Additional Houston Nursing Resources

Texas Board of Nursing (BON)

The BON issues licenses to graduates of approved nursing education programs, serving 27,000 nurses a year. It provides information on preparing for licensing and maintaining nursing licenses. You can also find licensing application forms.

Texas Nurses Association (TNA)

For more than 100 years, the TNA has been a membership organization serving licensed nurses in the state. It offers a career center, which is open to non-members, that reaches 1,902 employers as well as information about continuing nursing education and practice resources.

Office of Practice and Learning, Texas Department of Health Services

The OPL is a repository of resources to improve or implement the state’s public health programs. These include the DSHS Continuing Education Service, DSHS internships, and a preventive medicine residency program.

Greater Houston Chapter of AORN

AORN, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, provides resources for professional development and practice support for perioperative nurses. You’ll find a job board listing openings in Houston, Beaumont, Polok, Tyler, Galveston, and other Texas locations.