Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Kansas
Nurses know that a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN) is the best way to kickstart a long, successful nursing career.
Earning a BSN increases nurses' chances of finding a high paying job, and BSN holders earn an average of $30,000 more a year than non-BSN holding registered nurses (RNs).
But simply earning a BSN isn't enough. Nurses should complete a BSN from a regionally accredited school, and the better the school they attend, the more likely they are to find a high-paying position after graduation.
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, BSN, RN, BA, CBC
- Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN
Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Kansas nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
Top 10 Nursing Schools in Kansas
Annual In-State Tuition: $6,808 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.13%
Emporia State University was founded in 1863, but the school has seen massive changes over the past few decades. Today, Emporia offers all students a flat tuition rate, meaning the cost of attending the university is the same regardless of how many courses you take. This means that there are no hidden costs to the 128-credit nursing program, a four-year program that leads to a BSN. Nursing students are placed in various clinical sites across Kansas, many of which are in Emporia, Wichita, and Topeka.
Annual Tuition: $27,240 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 80.85%
Hesston College is a two-year school that has recently started adding full four-year programs, including a complete BSN. As a recent program, Hesston is still growing its program, and the total number of nursing students admitted doubled from 12 to 54 from 2018 to 2019. Because this is a new program, the NCLEX pass rate isn't as high as other schools; however, Hesston states that 98% of grads end up passing the NCLEX, albeit not necessarily on the first try. Current LPNs or RNs can complete their BSN online through Hesston.
Annual In-State Tuition: $10,182 (based on a per credit charge) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 97%
As one of the premier schools in Kansas, the University of Kansas is likely to be on any Kansas residents' list of potential schools. Founded in 1866, KU is the centerpiece of Lawrence, a modern college town known for its liveliness. Nursing students get to enjoy the campus and college town vibe when they aren't studying at one of the top schools in the region. Most students enroll in the traditional BSN, though an online RN-BSN option is also available. With a near-perfect first-time NCLEX pass rate for recent grads, there's no reason future nurses shouldn't consider this program.
Annual Tuition: $28,860 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.65%
Located in Leavenworth and Overland Park, the University of Saint Mary has just 1,362 students spread across two campuses. USM is a Catholic school, though the nursing program doesn't emphasize religion. Incoming nursing students can either apply to the traditional BSN after one year of schooling or gain direct entry into the program after high school. Any applicants should note that USM has been allowing fewer nurses into the program, but have been seeing higher NCLEX pass rates as a result. This could make the application process more competitive, though anyone admitted to the program is set to receive an excellent education.
Annual Tuition: $31,036 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.68%
MidAmerica Nazarene University is a private, faith-based school with a 40,000 sq foot campus in Olathe. The large campus and tight undergraduate community are draws for incoming students and help MNU retain students. While MNU isn't the largest school in Kansas, the traditional nursing program is among the largest in the state, admitting 154 nurses in the 2017-2018 class. MNU also boasts a high NCLEX pass rate for grads, so if you can afford the private school tuition, entry could be low-competition, and the outcomes could be great.
Annual Tuition: $29,300 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.14%
Despite calling the unassuming Baldwin City home, Baker University has produced some incredible graduates — likely because Baker is Kansas' first-ever university. However, students pursuing a BSN aren't going to spend their whole college experience in Baldwin City. The Baker University School of Nursing is based in Topeka, much closer to many of the top healthcare facilities in the region. After finishing two years in Baldwin City, nursing students must relocate to Topeka to start the two-year BSN. The program is slightly unconventional, but the results speak for themselves.
Annual In-State Tuition: $16,334 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.68%
With nearly 7,000 students enrolled, Pittsburg State University is one of the smaller public schools in Kansas. Of course, studying at a small school has its benefits, from easy class-to-class commuting to smaller class sizes. Small schools also tend to have lower student-to-faculty ratios, one reason why recent BSN grads passed the NCLEX at such a high clip. Other nursing options offered through the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing include an RN-BSN, MSN, BSN-DNP, and MSN-DNP.
Annual In-State Tuition: $9,600 (based on a per credit charge) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.70%
Not only is Washburn University's annual in-state tuition low, but students from Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas all receive in-state tuition. This makes earning a BSN through the School of Nursing incredibly affordable for many incoming students. The traditional BSN is one of the largest programs in Kansas and admitted 152 students in 2017-2018. For some traditional BSN students, additional tuition assistance may be available. Current BSN holders can also complete their DNP entirely online through Washburn.
Annual Tuition: $30,386 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 86%
Based in Wichita, Newman University has sites across the state, including in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a private Catholic school, students at Newman won't have access to low in-state tuition rates. However, the BSN is well worth the cost, and while the most recent NCLEX pass rate leaves something to be desired, the NCLEX pass rate was 100% the year before (2017). Current high school students can apply for direct entrance, guaranteeing a spot in the nursing program. For any nurses looking to continue their education, Newman offers a master's of science in nurse anesthesia (MSNA), a degree that leads to a high-paying field.
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,155 (based on a per credit charge) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.29%
Wichita State University has received tons of positive news in recent years, a big reason why the school is seeing massive growth. Located just outside of downtown Wichita, Wichita State offers a lively college campus with the appeal of city life nearby. Through the School of Nursing, students can complete their BSN in three ways: an online RN-BSN, an accelerated BSN, and a traditional BSN. The traditional option allows for high school students to be directly admitted to the program, too.
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),
- Kansas nurses earn an annual mean wage of $61,030, lower than the national average.
- Kansas employs 20.22 nurses for every 1,000 employees, on par with the national average.
Compared to the national mean wage of $71,730, Kansas's mean wage for nurses seems low. However, the cost of living in Kansas is much lower than the national average.
According to BestPlaces, the median home cost in Kansas is just $137,700, compared to the national average of $231,200. If your goal is homeownership, you could achieve that goal easily in Kansas.
Also, the BLS only reports the mean wage in Kansas. Nurses could easily earn higher than what's reported.
Choose a few schools that you're interested in and learn more about the nursing program. If each school fits your wants and needs, the next steps are to begin the application process, prepare your application, and apply.
Here are the next steps broken down:
Contact each school’s admissions offices. Every school has an admissions office, and you should get in touch with each admissions office before beginning your application. The admissions office will answer any questions you have about the school's application process.
Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. In addition to college admission requirements, nursing students must meet the requirements of a nursing program. Some prerequisites to nursing programs can be completed while in college, so don't stress if you aren't currently eligible.
Submit your application(s). After you've gathered your application materials and ensured eligibility for each school and nursing program, the final step is to submit each school's application.
Common application requirements 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 nursing schools are the same, and choosing the "best" school can be tough. Each nursing school and college offer different benefits, and one school might be perfect for your wants and needs. To pick the best school for you, compare each school, what they offer, and the potential outcomes of earning your BSN at that school.
When comparing schools, consider the following:
- Total cost of the program
- Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
- Cost of living on-campus or in the area
- School and nursing program acceptance rate
- Difficulty of the program
- Commute to school/hospital for clinicals
- Length of program
- Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
- Accreditation (regional and programmatic)
Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation
When a school and/or program is accredited, it means the academic quality of that school or program meets the rigorous standards of a government-recognized accrediting institution. In Kansas, look for schools that are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Also, make sure the nursing program has programmatic accreditation.
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 Kansas
As part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), earning a nursing license in Kansas guarantees licensure in most other states, including all of Kansas' neighbors. Fortunately, this also means that becoming licensed in Kansas is relatively straightforward.
To get a license in Kansas, you'll need to:
- Study at a state-approved nursing school
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Pass a criminal and mental health background check and submit fingerprints.
- Apply through the Kansas Board of Nursing website, ksbn.kansas.gov.
With a low cost of living and plenty of nursing positions, Kansas is an excellent place for nurses to start their careers. First, nurses should earn a BSN from one of the many great private or public programs in Kansas. Once the BSN is finished, nurses just need to pass the NCLEX-RN and become licensed. This license transfers easily to most other states, so Kansas nurses could find a position in a nearby state.