Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts
To become a registered nurse (RN), students need to be eligible for, take, and pass the NCLEX-RN.
However, many nursing employers are beginning to prefer candidates that have a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). This four-year degree also prepares students for the NCLEX-RN.
Also, each state has its own requirements for licensing nurses. So, if you want to become a nurse in Massachusetts, picking a BSN program in Massachusetts puts you on track to begin your career there.
This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,
- NCLEX pass rate
- Acceptance rate, when available
- Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible
Our selection panel includes 4 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.
- Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
- Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
- Kathleen Gaines MSN, RN, BA, CBC
- Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN
Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Massachusetts nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
Top 10 Nursing Schools in Massachusetts
While factors like tuition and location are important, it’s important to note that some schools offer special programs. Online options, bridge programs, and accelerated programs are excellent options depending on where you’re currently at in your career.
Because everyone’s expectations from a nursing school are different, these Massachusetts schools are ranked in no particular order.
1. Simmons College
Annual Tuition: $65,649 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93%
Located in the vibrant city of Boston, Simmons College is one of the smaller schools in the area with just over 1,800 undergraduates. With a low student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, students can enjoy small class sizes and city living all at one school. Nursing students benefit from personalized learning, and Simmons boasts a high NCLEX pass rate as a result. Along with the traditional BSN, adult learners can choose from a 16-month accelerated program, RN-BSN, or a five-year BS/MN nursing program. Interestingly, the direct-entry NCLEX pass rate is even higher than the traditional program at 97%.
2. Boston College
Annual Tuition: $59,050| NCLEX Pass Rate: 92%
Often considered one of the top colleges in the nation, Boston College is the first college to open its doors in Boston. Founded on Jesuit beliefs, Boston College’s robust nursing school offers,
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- DNP in Nurse Anesthesia
- Ph.D. in Nursing
BSN students are eligible to begin work on a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) during their junior and senior years, cutting the time and cost of earning an MSN. Also, while the cost is high, the majority of students receive some form of financial aid.
3. University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Annual In-State Tuition: $8,860 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90%
The University of Massachusetts - Amherst is one of the top public research schools in the nation, something that master’s or doctoral students may be interested in. The robust College of Nursing has three different BSN tracks and three graduate-level degrees, not including the post-master’s certificates. The main nursing degree, the traditional BSN, also includes an honors program for eligible students. An accelerated BSN and online RN-BSN are also available.
4. University of Massachusetts - Lowell
Annual In-State Tuition: $34,550 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91%
Another part of the extensive UMass system, The University of Massachusetts - Lowell is a nationally-ranked public research university. UMass Lowell’s 18,000 students are spread across six schools, including the Solomont School of Nursing. Master’s degrees are the highlight of the Solomont School of Nursing with five separate MS options to choose from, including a fast-track MS-DNP. A traditional BSN and online RN-BSN are also available, as are a Ph.D. in nursing and a DNP.
5. University of Massachusetts - Boston
Annual In-State Tuition: $14,542 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90%
The University of Massachusetts - Boston, or UMass Boston, is located on the water and is just a short drive from downtown Boston. Despite the prime location, UMass Boston is a relatively small research school with just over 16,000 students. Much like other schools in the UMass system, UMass Boston’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences primarily offers graduate-level degrees, including a Ph.D., MS, and BS-DNP. A traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN-BSN are also available for undergraduate students.
6. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
Annual Tuition: $34,650 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 92%
Recently ranked the top school for earning power by The Wall Street Journal, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (MCPHS) is among the best schools for health sciences. MCPHS has three campuses across Massachusetts and an online school where students can complete any of the School of Nursing’s innovative accelerated programs. The School of Nursing is comprised of three undergraduate programs and six graduate programs, all of which are nationally acclaimed. There are also multiple online certifications available to students including Psychiatric and Family NP.
7. University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
Annual In-State Tuition: $14,408 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 83%
The University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth may only have 8,500 students, but it has a large online catalog of courses and degrees and has the only BSN program in Southeastern Massachusetts. For example, the College of Nursing has two entirely online programs: an RN-BSN and MSN. The online MSN is meant for future nursing leaders, and students can choose a concentration in nursing and healthcare education or global public health. Along with those programs, UMass Dartmouth also boosts the following programs:
8. Elms College
Annual Tuition: $38,735 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 80%
College of Our Lady of the Elms, more commonly known as Elms College, was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1928 to provide Chicopee residents with a Catholic, liberal arts education. As a private school, students must pay a relatively high tuition rate; however, the perfect NCLEX pass rate for BSN graduates shows that the degree is well worth the money. Elms’ School of Nursing has multiple nursing programs available to students including,
- Traditional BSN
- Accelerated Second Degree BSN
- RN to BSN Degree Completion
- MSN in Nursing Education
- MSN in School Nursing
- MSN in Nursing and Health Services Management
- DNP in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- DNP in Family Nurse Practitioner
- DNP in Health Systems Innovation and Leadership
- Elms College students can achieve just about any level of nursing education they want at Elms.
9. Regis College
Annual Tuition: $43,715 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 85%
While Regis College has only been educating students for 90 years, it has quickly established itself as one of the top private schools in the region. The Richard and Sheila Young School of Nursing is no exception and was recently recognized as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. Nursing students have multiple options of study, including a traditional BSN, an accelerated second degree BSN, and a unique online BSN-DNP. Outside of the classroom, nursing students get to enjoy a small, private school in Weston.
10. Salem State University
Annual In-State Tuition: $18,961.20 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 78%
The historic town of Salem may be best known for witchcraft, but today the vibrant home is better known for being a fun place to live just a half an hour from Boston – and the home of Salem State University. For Massachusetts residents, Salem State is an affordable option and an excellent place to earn a nursing degree. Undergraduate nurses can choose from a traditional BSN, an accelerated second degree BSN, an LPN-BSN, and an RN-BSN, and various graduate programs are available as well. Essentially, any student pursuing a nursing degree can find a program that fits their needs at Salem State.
Show Me Massachusetts Nursing Programs
4 Key Factors That Affect Nursing School Tuition
Keep in mind that colleges and universities reserve the right to change tuition rates at any time. The yearly tuition rates listed here will vary for each student depending on various factors including,
- Transfer credits
- Completed competency exams
- Amount of credits taken per year
- Financial aid awards
Check with the specific school for current tuition rates.
Nurse Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),
- Massachusetts nurses earn an annual mean wage of $96,630.
- Massachusetts has a nursing location quotient of 1.20, meaning it employs more nurses per 1,000 workers than the average state.
Massachusetts does an excellent job of compensating qualified nurses. Compared to the national mean wage of $82,750, Massachusetts’ mean wage of $96,630 is significant.
The Commonwealth is also a large employer for nurses, especially for its size. Currently, 88,270 nurses work in Massachusetts, and the number is projected to grow over the next decade.
While not as many nurses are employed as in states like California, Texas, Florida, or New York, Massachusetts employs more nurses per 1,000 workers than all three of these states. Whichever way you look at it, Massachusetts is an excellent place to begin and enjoy a nursing career.
Once you’ve researched some schools and generated a list of places you’d be interested in studying at, the next steps are to get in contact with the schools, prepare your application(s), and apply! While you may have one dream school, it’s always worth applying to multiple colleges, just to be sure.
Here are the steps to applying for college:
Contact each school’s admissions office. Every school has an admissions office that is there to help you with the admissions process, including the application. Each office will tell you about the application process, school requirements, and materials needed for the application.
Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. On top of school requirements, most nursing programs have their own set of admissions requirements. Nursing schools typically have stricter requirements than colleges, so make sure you’re on track to be admitted to the nursing school.
Submit your application(s). Once your applications are finished, then the last step is sending them in! Every school has its own application requirements, so make sure you have everything you need. Commonly required materials include:
- High school transcript (GPA)
- ACT and/or SAT scores
- College entrance essay(s)
- Letter(s) of recommendation
Important considerations when comparing schools:
No two schools are the same, and after you start receiving acceptance letters, you might become stressed trying to pick the right school. But don’t stress out! As long as a school is regionally accredited and has an accredited nursing program, you can’t make a wrong decision. So, just choose the best school for you!
When comparing schools, consider things like:
- Annual tuition and total program cost (nursing programs may cost more)
- Private vs. Public (public schools offer in-state tuition)
- Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
- Cost of living on-campus or in the area
- Distance from hospitals for clinicals
- School and nursing program acceptance rate
- Length of the program (accelerated or traditional)
- Program outcomes
- Accreditation (regional and national)
Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation
Accreditation is a school’s way of proving its academic quality. Accrediting bodies only award schools that meet a minimum level of academic excellence, and along with national and regional accreditation, schools can have specific programs accredited, including nursing programs.
The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
If you earn a degree from an unaccredited school, you may have trouble securing federal financial aid and finding work as a nurse after graduation.
Getting a License in Massachusetts
The main prerequisite for nurses in Massachusetts is education. Massachusetts doesn’t require you to have a BSN to be eligible for a nursing license, but to find a well-paying position after school, a BSN is highly recommended.
To get a nursing license in Massachusetts, you’ll need to:
- Study at a state-approved school
- Prove Good Moral Character (as defined by the law)
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Pay an application fee
- Apply for licensure through Mass.gov
Every regionally accredited nursing program in Massachusetts will satisfy any prerequisites, so choosing a local school is a smart choice if you want to work in-state.
>> Related: The Complete Guide to Nursing in Massachusetts
As one of the highest paying states for nurses, Massachusetts is sure to get any nurses’ attention. Also, with plenty of major cities and hospitals, Massachusetts is one of the highest employers of nurses per capita. Combine those statistics with the plethora of incredible nursing schools, and one could argue that Massachusetts is the best state in the nation for nursing school and a nursing career.