On this page

Back to top

Best Nursing Schools in Wisconsin: Online & Campus

Want to become a registered nurse or APRN in Wisconsin? Check out our list of the best nursing schools in Wisconsin and join the ranks of this rewarding, high-demand field.

Search hundreds of schools
for the degree you want ......

I want my
In
Avatar photo
WRITTEN BY: Shannon Lee
Avatar photo
REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 09/06/2023

Editorial Values and Practices

Registered nurses are in demand across the U.S., and Wisconsin is no exception. Wisconsin nursing schools have risen to the challenge by offering a plethora of programs to help you start or advance your nursing career. This guide highlights the best in-person and online nursing programs in Wisconsin and profiles the state’s top-ranked schools to help you find the one that’s right for you. You’ll also learn about where you can get financial aid, how to get your nursing license, and what you can expect to earn after graduation. Read on to discover your degree pathway to becoming a nurse in Wisconsin.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Wisconsin for 2024

There was a time when nursing programs were entirely hands-on, even classroom work. Today, there are many hybrid programs with classwork like lectures and discussions entirely online and hands-on clinical experiences still in-person. Many RN to BSN programs are entirely online since students usually already have solid experience as RNs. Even those without any nursing experience can expect some aspects of their programs to be virtual.

To get you started on your search for a top-tier online program, take a look at who topped our ranking of the best ones for the ’23-’24 school year.

or
About the ranking

X

Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS. 

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted. 

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

Institutional Aid – Percent of full-time undergraduate students who are awarded institutional grant aid, as self-reported by the school.

Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# School Name Type Tuition Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Rasmussen University-WisconsinGreen Bay, WI Private for-profit $$ 1

Rasmussen University's hybrid BSN program can be completed in as few as 33 months. The school offers several other nursing programs including a PN/LPN, ADN/RN, RN to BSN, MSN, MSN-NP, post graduate certificates, and a DPN. The BSN program is intended for individuals who do not have a degree yet and want to finish their BSN quickly. It includes both in-person and online classes as well as hands-on field experience.

Program Highlights:

Bachelors of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 180 maximum
  • Length: 33+ months
  • Cost: $335/credit
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
12/1
Online
Student %
96%
2 University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukee, WI Public $$ 2

The University of Wisconsin's BSN@Home degree offers a range of extremely flexible options to help students earn their BSN quickly. Most classes are offered online, although a few will require in-person attendance. Online classes are offered in all semesters, and 7 and 14-week courses are available. Online courses are asynchronous, and competency based assessments can be taken in place of a traditional course to show mastery of a subject. Other online nursing programs include a PhD in Nursing, the post-master's DNP, and the RN to BSN.

Program Highlights:

Bachelors of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 120-124
  • Length: 3 years
  • Cost: $452/credit
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
66%
or
About the ranking

X

Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS. 

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted. 

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

Institutional Aid – Percent of full-time undergraduate students who are awarded institutional grant aid, as self-reported by the school.

Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# School Name Type Tuition Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Northwood Technical CollegeShell Lake, WI Public $ 1

Northwood Technical College offers a part-time Associate Degree of Nursing program. This program is mostly online but does require in-person clinicals and skill labs at the Shell Lake Health Education Center. Upon completion, graduates can sit for the NCLEX to become registered nurses. To be accepted into the ADN program, you must complete a 2-credit nursing assistant course. Northwood Technical College also offers a full-time ADN program, but it is not available online.

Program Highlights:

Associate Degree of Nursing

  • Credits: 70
  • Length: 4 years
  • Cost: $160.40 per credit
  • Mode: Online plus on-campus clinicals
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
7/1
Online
Student %
73%
2 Lakeshore Technical CollegeCleveland, WI Public $ 1

Lakeshore Technical College offers various tracks within its nursing program including the Practical Nursing Program, the Licensed Practical Nurse/Paramedic Bridge to Associate Degree Nurse Pathway, and the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) Program, among others. Students enrolled in the ADN program have access to courses at the college's Clinical Skills lab and opportunities to build on real-life experience caring for patients throughout Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties in Wisconsin. The program must be completed within five years of enrollment.

Program Highlights:

Associate Degree Nursing Program

  • Credits: 65
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $146.20/credit (resident), $219.30/credit (nonresident)
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: ACEN
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
11/1
Online
Student %
66%

Madison Area Technical College

Madison Area Technical College offers a hybrid ADN that allows general education courses to be completed online and hands-on training to be completed at one of their four campuses, a local hospital, or another healthcare facility. Students can expect to complete this 61-credit program in four semesters.

Once accepted for enrollment, students must complete the petition requirements, which include certain prerequisites and testing. When these are satisfied, a student earns full admittance into this ADN program and can expect to learn good judgment and technical competence along with how to care for patients of all ages. The program also promotes self-direction and independence and a willingness to understand and follow procedures.

Popular Accredited Nursing Schools in Wisconsin

There are many nursing schools in Wisconsin, which makes choosing one challenging. Below, we highlight three popular online nursing programs in Wisconsin to help you get an idea of what students just like you look for in a program.

University of Wisconsin – Madison

The School of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a range of nursing programs, including three pathways to a BSN, two options for doctoral programs, and three certificates. The traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN to BSN bridge programs are for those with no nursing experience as well for RNs with associate degrees. Doctoral programs for nurses include the DNP, which offers several hybrid and online options, and the PhD, which emphasizes research for advanced nursing practice. Those with at least a bachelor’s degree can also earn certificates to gain specialized skills in areas like psychiatric mental health, nurse educator, and school nursing.

UW-Madison offers a student-centered education at the state’s only academic health center. It also boasts a 93% first-time pass rate for the NCLEX. Graduates work in exam rooms, board rooms, and the military.

Madison Area Technical College

Madison Area Technical College offers diplomas and degrees that pave the way to quickly work as a nurse. The Nursing Assistant program costs just $661 and takes about a year. The Practical Nursing diploma includes 33 credits, can be finished in as little as a year, and is mostly in person with some online components. These two programs provide entry into the healthcare field but do not lead to RN licensure.

The Associate Degree in Nursing and Nursing Completion LPN to ADN programs consist of 61 credits each, take two years, and lead to the NCLEX-RN. Finally, the Paramedic to RN program, with some online and some in-person components, provides a pathway for experienced paramedics to enter the nursing field in 2 years with full-time attendance.

University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire offers several nursing degree options. Students can earn their bachelor’s degrees and continue through the DNP all at UW-Eau Claire and continue working while doing so through flexible hybrid options.

The traditional BSN is an on-campus program while the BSN Completion Program is available in a hybrid format. Those who want to take their RN careers beyond the bachelor’s level can opt for the MSN or the DNP, which has both post-bachelor’s and post-master’s options. Post-master’s certificates in either education or nursing administration offer specialization without having to earn another degree.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Wisconsin

There are numerous pathways to becoming a nurse, from earning an associate degree and becoming an RN to earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice or PhD in nursing to adding specializations through post-graduate certificates. Below are the common paths available through nursing programs in Wisconsin.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Wisconsin

ADN Programs

ADNs are designed for those with little or no college experience and who want to enter nursing as quickly as possible. The ADN takes about two years, is available at community colleges, and allows students to become RNs after graduation. It also allows for a smooth transition to a BSN later.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

Traditional BSNs take about four years and result in eligibility to sit for the NCLEX-RN. BSN programs are for those who want to earn a bachelor’s degree, gain access to better nursing jobs, and be ready to earn an MSN at some point.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Those with bachelor’s degrees in something other than nursing can turn to the accelerated BSN program to gain the necessary knowledge and clinical skills to take the NCLEX-RN. Accelerated BSN programs focus on core nursing courses and can be completed in 15 to 24 months of full-time study.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Wisconsin for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

LPNs who want to become RNs have two pathway options. LPN to RN programs, offered mostly by community colleges, take three to four semesters and result in an associate degree. LPN to BSN programs result in bachelor’s degrees after four years of study and are offered by colleges and universities.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

Those who earned their RN through the associate degree path can earn their bachelor’s degrees through an RN to BSN program. Most four-year nursing schools offer this program, often entirely online. Since skills honed as an RN often replace the clinical aspect of a BSN program, students must simply complete additional nursing coursework.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

Current RNs with ADNs or BSNs can earn master’s degrees through an RN to MSN program. Most MSNs offer multiple specializations and take 18 months to three years to complete. Coursework is mostly online with clinical requirements met by working as an RN. Those with ADNs can often earn BSNs at the same time as MSNs with four years of study.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Wisconsin

MSN Programs

Those with BSNs can hone their skills in advanced leadership, administration, advanced practice, and more through an MSN program. These programs take about two years and are often offered entirely online. Some advanced practice specialties may require in-person clinicals, which can often be completed at your current place of employment.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with This Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

Those who want to take their career to the highest level can earn a DNP or a PhD. The DNP degree is for nurses who want to move into advanced nursing practice or administrative positions while the PhD focuses on research and development that advances nursing practice. These programs offer a variety of specializations and take three to seven years.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with This Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Post-graduate certificates offer targeted specializations like nursing education, public health nursing, nurse practitioner (and several fields under that umbrella), and more. These certificates take just a few classes to a few semesters to complete.

Examples of Wisconsin Nursing Schools with This Program

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Wisconsin

Students enrolled in one of the many accredited nursing programs in Wisconsin are eligible for various forms of financial aid. Some, such as grants that help lower the cost of tuition, come from federal and state governments. Scholarships are also available through a variety of organizations and businesses and sometimes through a school itself. The University of Wisconsin-Madison, for example, awards over $400,000 nursing scholarships annually. Student loans are also popular ways to pay for higher education with the best route being through the Federal Government.

To learn more about what’s available, check out our list of nursing scholarships, guide to graduating from nursing school debt-free, and financial aid guide.

How to Become an RN in Wisconsin: Licensing Information and Requirements

The NCLEX-RN serves as the gateway to earning a license to work as a registered nurse in Wisconsin and all other states. The specific process for Wisconsin is set forth by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing. We’ve outlined the steps for RN licensure in Wisconsin below.

Step 1

Enroll in an approved RN program

Students who want to become RNs in Wisconsin must graduate from a program approved by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing. This generally includes any Wisconsin-based ADN or BSN program accredited by the ACEN or CCNE.

Step 2

Sign up for the NCLEX-RN

Before you can receive your RN license from the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN. Most nursing students register for the test during the final few months of their nursing degree program. To register, create an account with Pearson VUE and pay a testing fee of $200.

Step 3

Complete and submit paperwork to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing

The application includes numerous forms to complete and submit. It also includes official transcripts sent directly from your nursing school.

Step 4

Pass the NCLEX-RN

The NCLEX-RN is an adaptive computer test with the difficulty of questions changing as you get questions correct or incorrect. The four main topics covered are a safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. Most of the exam is multiple choice.

Step 5

Pass the background check

Before the Wisconsin Board of Nursing issues your RN license, you must pass a criminal background check. This requires the submission of fingerprints.

Job Outlook for RNs in Wisconsin

The need for new RNs in Wisconsin is strong with an average of 3,600 annual projected openings through 2028. In addition, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development anticipates Wisconsin will have a shortage of between 4,200 and 20,400 RNs by 2040. Much of this need will be at hospitals, which often rely on nursing schools in Wisconsin to provide a steady supply of new RNs.

Employment Projections for RNs in Wisconsin

New Jobs (2018-2028)Job Growth Rate (2018-2028)Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
Wisconsin4,4207.8%3,600
United States371,50012.1%210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

RNs in Wisconsin can expect a salary matching the national median income. However, median earnings increase for nurses working in metropolitan areas like Madison and Milwaukee. At $73,540, RNs in Wisconsin make significantly more than those in Iowa ($61,130) and are in line with what nurses in nearby states like Illinois ($72,610) and Michigan ($73,040) make.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Wisconsin

10th PercentileMedian Earnings90th Percentile
Wisconsin$56,040$73,540$99,060
United States$53,410 $75,330$116,230
Appleton, WI$55,310$67,980$85,570
Eau Claire, WI$52,050$63,980$88,000
Fond du Lac, WI$54,460$62,690$78,480
Green Bay, WI$54,840$68,520$82,180
Janesville-Beloit, WI$54,410$71,250$94,030
La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN$57,250$74,680$99,770
Madison, WI$62,860$80,820$105,410
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI$57,000$75,980$101,340
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI$54,750$71,380$94,800
Racine, WI$55,480$71,760$93,800
Sheboygan, WI$55,720$66,980$85,380
Wausau, WI$54,620$68,360$89,860
Appleton, WI$55,310$67,980$85,570

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020