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Washington, DC, Nursing Schools: Top Online and Campus

Washington, DC, is home to multiple top nursing programs. From associate degrees to doctoral programs, you can reach the highest level in your profession. Keep scrolling to see which nursing schools in Washington, DC, stand out.

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US Capitol Building in Autumn - Washington DC United States

While Washington, DC, doesn’t crack the top 20 most populous cities in the U.S., nurses in the nation’s capital are in similar demand to towns across the country. And while it might seem like the District of Columbia’s relatively small geographic footprint and population pales compared to states like New York and California, DC is home to some standout nursing schools.

Whether you’re a recent high school graduate, an active RN wanting to earn a bachelor’s degree, or a nurse wanting to move into academic roles, Washington DC’s universities offer the educational programs you need to meet your academic and career goals.

Throughout this page, you’ll learn about the different types of nursing programs in Washington, DC, and explore the spotlights of some of the best nursing schools in the city. You’ll also discover vital employment and salary data for RNs in the District of Columbia and find essential resources for nursing students in the metropolitan area.

Keep reading to learn more about nursing programs in Washington, DC, and what they can do for you.

Best Nursing Schools in Washington, DC, for 2024

The best nursing schools offer accredited programming, standout academics, extensive student services, and the flexibility that working nurses need. While the nation’s capital isn’t home to an endless number of academic options for nursing students, the city does offer multiple top schools. We’ve spotlighted three high-quality schools that can stand up to nursing programs anywhere in the country. Keep reading to see which schools stand out.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University is not only one of the top-ranked schools in the District of Columbia, but it also ranks among some of the best institutions in the country. This private research institution is home to undergraduate and graduate-level nursing programs covering everything from a bachelor’s in nursing to various doctoral specializations, such as a Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP).

Georgetown is home to an elite, in-person BSN program that full-time students complete in about four years. Students tackle core nursing topics and classes such as women’s healthcare, vulnerable populations, and the care of children. In addition to this in-person BSN track, students can access online master’s, doctoral, and non-degree certificate nursing programs. Online programs employ a blend of synchronous and asynchronous classes while supplementing virtual work with extensive in-person clinical experiences.

Prospective undergraduate students apply online and must include transcripts and recommendation letters. As part of the admission process, first-year applicants will take part in an interview with a Georgetown alumnus.

Howard University

Year over year, Howard University tops lists as the top historically Black university in the U.S. Established in 1867, this elite private school is home to various online and in-person nursing programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

Howard offers a standard bachelor’s in nursing program along with LPN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN degree-completion tracks. Additionally, the RN-to-BSN program is available as a fully online option. Regardless of their chosen undergraduate pathway, nursing students at Howard University hone vital clinical skills while taking a forward-looking approach, developing the ethics and professional standards that promote progress and social justice.

Graduate nursing students at Howard can choose between two tracks: family nurse practitioner (FNP) and nurse educator. The FNP option develops further competencies through more than 700 clinical hours, while the nurse educator track prepares RNs for teaching roles in academic, clinical, and community settings.

Catholic University of America

Established in 1887, the Catholic University of America is a private institution whose nursing programs stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best programs in the country. From a standard BSN program to various online graduate options, Catholic University prepares nursing students for various clinical and academic roles in nursing.

Undergraduate nursing students can enroll in a traditional, four-year BSN track and tackle core nursing classes, including pharmacology, mental health nursing, introduction to nursing research, and management of healthcare diversity. Alongside undergraduate work, Catholic University is home to 100% online graduate degrees, including master’s and doctorate nursing programs. The school also offers online graduate certificate offerings in pediatric primary care, family nurse practitioner, and adult-gerontological primary care.

Catholic University students not only have access to a long list of clinical opportunities, but they can also take advantage of the school’s proximity to various governmental organizations spanning from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the National Institutes of Health.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in or Near Washington, DC

Whether you’re an experienced registered nurse or a recent high school graduate interested in a nursing career, Washington, DC, is home to just about any nursing program to meet your academic and professional needs. From associate degrees to graduate-level programs, we spotlight the different types of degrees you can earn around the nation’s capital.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Washington, DC

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Typically offered at community and technical colleges, an associate degree in nursing is an excellent option for students wanting to jumpstart their nursing career in about two years. ADN programs introduce foundational nursing topics while providing extensive hands-on learning opportunities. Additionally, ADN programs prepare students for state licensure.

Examples of Washington, DC, Area Nursing Schools with this Program

University of the District of Columbia

Northern Virginia Community College

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

A traditional bachelor’s degree in nursing is typically a four-year program that prepares students for RN licensure. Because of its expanded curriculum and extensive real-world training, BSN graduates can anticipate expanded career options and higher earning potential than those with just an associate degree. Students complete general education classes, core nursing coursework, and hands-on clinical training throughout these four-year programs.

Examples of Washington, DC, Nursing Schools with this Program

Catholic University of America

George Washington University

Accelerated BSN Programs

An accelerated BSN program is often a solid choice if you’ve completed an unrelated bachelor’s degree. It builds on the college credits you’ve already earned, making the program go faster than a traditional nursing bachelor’s degree. Whether you’re changing careers after a decade in the workforce or fresh out of an undergraduate program, accelerated BSN degrees focus entirely on nursing coursework, allowing you to complete the degree in as few as 18 months.

Examples of Washington, DC, Area Nursing Schools with this Program

George Washington University

George Mason University

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

Direct-entry master’s in nursing programs are designed for students with a non-nursing background, having earned an unrelated bachelor’s degree. This accelerated academic option allows students to move quickly through a nursing curriculum, inevitably saving ample time and money when earning a graduate degree in nursing. Early on their educational journey, students complete a mix of undergraduate and graduate coursework and eventually transition to a graduate-level curriculum. As a result, students often graduate in about two years. Currently, no Washington, DC, area schools offer a direct entry program.

Example of Washington, DC, Area Nursing School with this Program

John Hopkins

Nursing Bridge Programs in Washington, DC, for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

Perhaps you’ve completed a licensed vocational nursing program but want to expand your career options. LPN-to-RN and LPN-to-BSN programs build upon your clinical experiences and academic training and offer a practical way to earn your RN licensure. LPN-to-RN programs can be completed in as few as 18 months, and LPN-to-BSN students earn their diplomas in three to four years.

Example of Washington, DC, Nursing School with this Program

Howard University

RN to BSN Programs

RN to BSN programs offer an accelerated path for working nurses to earn their bachelor’s degrees. Designed with working RNs in mind, these programs build on clinical experience and foundational nursing knowledge, often preparing RNs for leadership roles in the field. Often available online, RN to BSN students can complete academic requirements in about two years.

Examples of Washington, DC Nursing Schools with this Program

George Washington University

University of the District of Columbia

RN to MSN Programs

Like RN to BSN programs, RN to MSN bridge programs offer an accelerated pathway for RNs to gain graduate-level credentials quickly. These programs are available as both online or campus-based options and offer the flexibility working RNs need to manage personal and professional obligations while completing their academic requirements. RN to MSN students can often graduate in 30-36 months.

Example of Washington, DC Nursing School with this Program

Currently, there is no quality RN to MSN programs in the DC area.

Advanced Nursing Programs in Washington, DC

Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

If you’re a bachelor’s-degree-holding RN or someone with an unrelated bachelor’s degree, MSN programs offer a practical way to expand career options and enhance earning potential. Students pursuing a master’s degree in nursing complete a mix of core requirements and specializations classes. Some common MSN specializations include topics such as nursing leadership and nursing informatics. Full-time students can complete a traditional BSN program in 18 to 24 months.

Example of a Washington, DC Nursing School with This Program

George Washington University

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

DNP and PhD programs in nursing offer the top levels of academic and clinical training. For students interested in research and teaching opportunities, a PhD in nursing arms students with the skills and credentials they need to move into these new roles. Conversely, a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree prepares students with extensive clinical knowledge for leadership roles in nursing.

Examples of Washington, DC, Area Nursing Schools with This Program

Uniformed Services University

University of Maryland, Baltimore

Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

Master’s and doctoral programs aren’t the only way for nurses to maximize their professional options. Post-graduate nursing certificates offer targeted, specialized knowledge and are often available as online options. Some popular post-graduate nursing certificates include topics like gerontology, nursing education, and nursing informatics.

Examples of Washington, DC, Nursing Schools with This Program

Georgetown University

George Washington University

What You Need to Know About Online Nursing Programs in Washington, DC

Online nursing programs offer a flexible and affordable academic option, especially for working nurses. As a result, these options have become more widespread, with top schools around the country offering standout online options.

But just because some nursing programs are advertised as “online” doesn’t mean all programs are created equally. Additionally, although online nursing programs, RN and BSN students should anticipate in-person clinical requirements, some popular online nursing programs include RN to BSN bridge programs, graduate degrees, and post-graduate certificate programs.

While online programs are enticing for working students, prospective online students should evaluate whether they’re ready for self-guided coursework. Some students thrive in an in-person environment and may struggle with the time management and self-discipline that online programs require.

Continue reading as we spotlight two of the best online nursing programs in Washington, DC.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Washington, DC

George Washington University

George Washington University is a private institution based in DC that serves more than 27,000 students annually. Its online programs include a 100% online RN to BSN program that students can complete in as few as 15 months. Throughout this part-time program, students complete asynchronous coursework, allowing them to accommodate personal and professional obligations.

Students can complete this program in just four semesters and tackle classes such as dynamics of nursing leadership, nurses’ role in healthcare policy, principles of nursing research, and community and public health.

Prospective students must hold an associate degree in nursing from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants can apply online and must include official transcripts, a current résumé, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. Applicants also must hold an active RN license.

Howard University

Established in 1867, Howard University is a private, historically black institution in Washington, DC. One of the top HBCUs in the United States, Howard is home to multiple nursing programs, including an RN to BSN program that students can complete entirely online.

Howard’s RN to BSN program is designed to offer working RNs the chance to quickly earn a bachelor’s degree while continuing to work. Throughout this degree-completion track that full-time students can complete in just 12 months, online degree-seekers tackle classes such as nursing leadership, health policy and economics, community mental health, and concepts of health and illness across the lifespan.

Those interested in this RN to BSN program can only enroll during fall semesters and can apply through the Common Application. Prospective students should have an associate degree with a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA. Alongside standard application materials, applicants must include proof of active RN licensure.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Washington, DC

Can I Earn My Nursing Degree in Washington, DC, Completely Online?

From Georgetown to George Washington University, multiple 100% online nursing programs exist in Washington, DC. While the degrees offered vary between schools, available programs cover everything from ADN to DNP options. When reviewing potential programs, be sure to check any in-person requirements.

Will Employers Consider My Online Washington, DC Nursing Degree Less Valuable?

Absolutely not. The diploma you receive will look identical to that of in-person graduates. After all, the work you complete online mirrors that of campus-based programs. Whether online or on-campus, accredited programs offer the rigorous coursework needed to earn licensure and develop the skills that underscore compassionate and competent nursing care.

Are Online Nursing Programs in Washington, DC, More Affordable Than Campus Programs?

Tuition rates vary between schools and programs. Public institutions traditionally cost less than private schools, with in-state students paying the lowest tuition rates. Still, online learners often save on campus-based fees, housing, food, and travel costs. After factoring in accelerated programs, online nursing options often allow students to save on their degrees.

Funding Your Future: Financial Aid for Washington, DC, Nursing Students

Whether you pursue your nursing program online or on campus, even the most affordable programs come at a cost. Thankfully, nursing students can access various financial aid opportunities, including federal loans, scholarships, grants, and tuition reimbursement initiatives.

When reviewing prospective programs, be sure to communicate with each school’s financial aid office to see how you can cut costs and apply for institutional and programmatic scholarships. In addition to what schools can offer, professional organizations are an excellent resource for scholarships and other opportunities. The Black Nurses Association of Washington, Area, Inc. provides scholarships to African American students on a yearly basis. Two are available for students already in a nursing program, and three are available to incoming college students planning to pursue a nursing career.

How to Become an RN in Washington, DC: Licensing Requirements

If you’ve decided to become an RN in Washington, DC, there are a few steps you’ll want to know before you begin the journey toward RN licensure. The first step to becoming an RN in Washington, DC, involves finding a program that’s approved by the Washington, DC, board of nursing—you’ll also want to consider schools that are accredited by groups such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Before you complete your RN degree, you’ll begin preparing for the NCLEX-RN. In addition to earning your degree and meeting the requisite clinical requirements, this exam is the key to earning your RN licensure. In DC, you’ll be required to renew your nursing license every two years and complete any continuing education requirements.

Job Opportunities for RNs in Washington, DC

The job outlooks for various nursing positions in Washington, DC, mirror national numbers. Registered nurses in DC can anticipate jobs to grow by 5% over the next decade, while RN jobs nationally are projected to grow by 6%.

While the job growth numbers for RNs in DC are relatively modest, nurse practitioner jobs are projected to grow more substantially. Both nationally and in the District of Columbia, nurse practitioners can expect their discipline to grow by about 40% by 2031.

After earning your RN licensure, you’ll have access to professional opportunities in various settings. Some of the biggest employers for RNs in the DC metro area include a long list of hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare locations. The top hiring groups include Medmetry, Stability Healthcare, Trusted Health, and various university hospitals.

How Much You Could Make as an RN in Washington, DC

Registered nurses in Washington, DC, are continuously in demand and earn salaries considerably higher than the national average. RNs in the immediate Washington, DC, area earn about $15,000 more than the national mean wage. But these numbers don’t paint the whole picture.

Experienced nurses in DC and those with specialized training can earn considerably more. Additionally, RNs with advanced degrees who take on leadership roles tend to make the most. As a result, you can see how clinical expertise, advanced degrees, and post-graduate certificates can expand job opportunities and lead to higher pay. Check out the numbers below to see how the wages for RNs in DC stack up against nurses nationally.

Earnings for Registered Nurses in Washington, DC

Median Hourly WageMean Hourly WageAnnual Mean Wage
Washington, DC$45.78$47.38$95,220
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area$38.37$42.82$79,810
United States$36.22$38.47$80,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

Additional Washington, DC, Nursing Resources

  • Black Nurses Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area: Established in the early 1970s, this professional organization was created to provide professional resources for Black nurses while advocating for various changes in healthcare systems. Additionally, this group provides outreach and career services for middle and high school students in the DC area.
  • District of Columbia Nurses Association: The DCNA is the main professional organization for RNs who work in the nation’s capital. This group is associated with the AFL-CIO labor union and works to ensure fair pay, benefits, and the well-being of nurses working in DC.
  • National Association of Hispanic Nurses—DC Metro Chapter: This group advocates and provides resources for Hispanic nurses in Washington, DC, and the surrounding areas of Maryland and Virginia. In addition to offering professional resources, the NAHN’s DC chapter mentors and supports the next generation of nurses in the area.
  • DC Board of Nursing: The DC Board of Nursing is the licensing organization for RNs working in the nation’s capital. Additionally, this group offers continuing education opportunities and creates and oversees regulations encouraging compassionate and competent nursing care.
  • DC Health Professional Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP): Washington, DC’s Department of Health offers a loan repayment program for various healthcare professionals, including registered nurses and advanced practice nurses. Eligible nurses can receive up to $83,510 in compensation and must work at an HPLRP-certified healthcare organization.