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    Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Louisiana

    In the past, becoming a registered nurse (RN) was more than enough to enjoy a successful nursing career. While nurses must still be RNs today, many hospitals are requiring nurses to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) as well.

    Not only does a BSN increase your chance of finding a nursing position, but BSN holders earn an average of $30,000 more per year than non-BSN holding RNs. 

    To start your nursing career on the right track, choose an accredited university that offers a BSN. If your plan is to become a nurse in Louisiana, then completing a degree in Louisiana prepares you for the state's requirements for nurses. 

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    Methodology

    This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,

    • Reputation
    • NCLEX pass rate
    • Tuition
    • Acceptance rate, when available
    • Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible 

    Nurse Panel

    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 Louisiana nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

    Top 10 Nursing Schools in Louisiana

    Southern University and A&M College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $9,242 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.58%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Southern University and A&M College is a public school based in Baton Rouge. As a public historically black university, SU has an incredible transfer program for students currently enrolled in California Community Colleges. If students enter the nursing program via this transfer, they join via a bridge program. Otherwise, the traditional BSN is the main undergraduate nursing option. This four-year degree has more relaxed admission standards than other programs, and the NCLEX pass rate is still impressive. For Louisiana locals, this program can be incredibly affordable. 

    Southeastern Louisiana University

    Annual In-State Tuition: $8,656| NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.12%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Based in the small town of Hammond, Southeastern Louisiana University is among the largest universities in Louisiana. With roughly 15,000 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 20:1, students get to experience the benefits of a college town with a large, dedicated staff. The small school atmosphere may play a role in the success of BSN graduates. Along with a traditional BSN and an online RN-BSN, Southeastern offers a master's of science in nursing (MSN), a post-MSN doctor of nursing practice (DNP), and a BSN-DNP. 

    University of Louisiana at Lafayette

    Annual In-State Tuition: $11,198 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 99.14%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Founded in 1898, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has provided Southwestern Louisiana with premier higher education for over 100 years. Today, the state's second-largest school teaches more than 19,000 students. The Department of Nursing at UL Lafayette offers degrees for just about any student. The main program, the pre-licensure BSN, is a four-year degree that culminates with the NCLEX — a test that 115 of the 116 recent grads passed. Other nursing options include online RN-BSN, MSN, DNP, and continuing education credits for current nurses. 

    McNeese State University

    Annual In-State Tuition: $8,400 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Since it opened its doors 80 years ago, McNeese State University has risen to national prominence and has become a top destination for students across the country. Based in Lake Charles, McNeese is connected with various businesses and industries in Southwestern Louisiana, the region where nursing students will earn clinical experience. For proof of the quality of McNeese's nursing program, applicants need to look no further than the traditional BSN. In 2018, every nurse that graduated from the BSN program passed the NCLEX on their first try.  

    University of Louisiana at Monroe

    Annual In-State Tuition: $9,254 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.67%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    With the Bayou DeSiard going straight through campus, the University of Louisiana at Monroe has a campus like no other. As a public school, ULM attracts many students from the Monroe area, though students anywhere in Louisiana can take advantage of the in-state tuition. One of the highlights of ULM is the Kitty DeGree School of Nursing which has offered a BSN for 55 years. Graduates of the traditional BSN have shown incredible success on the NCLEX in recent years, and current RNs can enroll in the online RN-BSN. 

    Louisiana State University

    Annual In-State Tuition: $11,962| NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.86%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Louisiana State University, better known by many as LSU, is the flagship university in Louisiana. Well known for its high-quality academics and athletics, LSU is consistently ranked among the top universities in the nation. It should come as no surprise to nursing students that the School of Nursing is one of the best in the state. LSU recently graduated 223 BSN students, by far the largest class in Louisiana, and 216 of them passed the NCLEX on their first try. Along with a BSN, LSU offers an MSN, DNP, and a unique doctor of nursing science.

    Northwestern State University of Louisiana

    Annual In-State Tuition: $5,180 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.10%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: Yes

    Bridge: Yes

    Based in the port city of Natchitoches, Northwestern State University of Louisiana is the oldest Louisiana school that still remains at its original campus. Over the past 130 years, NSULA's rich history has expanded to include campuses in Shreveport, Alexandria, and Fort Polk. The BSN offered through the nursing program is designed to prepare nurses for a career, though many graduates choose to continue their education and earn an MSN or DNP.  An accelerated summer program is available to students that already have a bachelor's degree in a different field. 

    Nicholls State University

    Annual In-State Tuition: $5,766.32 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.09%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Nicholls State University is a public school home to nearly 6,500 students. While the school was founded in 1948, Nicholls is projected to see significant growth — part of the 25-year master plan. How exactly the master plan will affect the College of Nursing, in the long run, is yet to be seen. Though in its current state, the College of Nursing is excelling. The College of Nursing is comprised of a BSN, MSN, and DNP. The BSN is broken down further into a traditional pre-licensure program, and RN-BSN, and an LPN-BSN. 

    Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University

    Annual Tuition: $16,944 (based off per-credit tuition rate) NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.83%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    A small, Catholic school based in Baton Rouge, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University focuses primarily on health sciences. The School of Nursing is the highlight of FranU, and students in the program complete their clinical work at a facility in the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. As with most programs, the traditional BSN is the main degree offered, though an online RN-BSN is also available. Outcomes for the program are highly positive, and 90 of the 92 recent grads passed the NCLEX on their first try. 

    University of Holy Cross

    Annual Tuition: $14,180 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.35%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    The University of Holy Cross is located in New Orleans on the banks of the Mississippi River. The setting is perfect for nurses that want to enjoy the largest city in Louisiana. The only nursing option offered by the University of Holy Cross is a four-year BSN. Nurse.org reports 2018 NCLEX scores for Louisiana, though the University of Holy Cross recently announced a perfect 100% pass rate for its 2019 nursing class. On top of NCLEX success, BSN graduates enjoy a 100% job placement rate.

     

    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)

    • Louisiana nurses earn an annual mean wage of $63,970, lower than the national mean wage of $75,510.
    • Louisiana employs 22.53 nurses for every 1,000 employees, higher than the national average. 

    Louisiana may not be among the highest paying states for nurses, but there are plenty of nursing positions available — particularly in densely populated areas.

    For example, the New Orleans-Metairie area employs 27.71 nurses per 1,000 workers, much higher than the national average of roughly 20 nurses. Also, nurses in this area earn a mean annual wage of $66,730, higher than the average for Louisiana.

    Nursing positions are available across Louisiana, but as with most states, the highest paying positions are in large metropolitan areas. 

    Next Steps:

    Once you've narrowed your list to a handful of schools you're interested in, the next steps are to get in contact with the schools, prepare your applications, and apply. Even if you only have one school you want to attend, it's smart to apply to more than one school to increase your chances of getting accepted and earning financial aid. 

    Here are the next steps broken down:

    Contact each school’s admissions offices. The admissions office is in charge of all things admissions, including your application. If you have any questions about a school's application process, the admissions office should have answers. 

    Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Along with the school's admission requirements, each nursing program has a set of admission requirements. Make sure you're eligible — or will be eligible if the program begins after the freshman or sophomore year — before applying. 

    Submit your application(s). Once you've prepared your application for each school, the final step is to submit your applications! Again, if you have any questions during this process, contact each school's admissions office. 

    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: 

    Choosing the right nursing school can be difficult, to say the least. If no program sticks out as the best option, compare the pros and cons of each nursing program and university. Along with the quality, cost, and outcomes of a program, various factors should be considered before selecting a 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
    • Necessary traveling (to/from hospitals and home)
    • 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  

    Accrediting bodies evaluate the academic quality of a school and program. When you choose an accredited school, you're ensuring that your education meets the rigorous standards of an accrediting body. Make sure any school you apply to in Louisiana is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Also, check for nursing accreditation. 

    The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are

    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 Louisiana

    Louisiana is part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), meaning a license in Louisiana also works in most other states. To be part of the eNLC, Louisiana is required to meet specific standards for licensing nurses. 

    To get a license in Louisiana, you'll need to:

    • Study at an accredited school
    • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
    • Pass a criminal background check and submit fingerprints 
    • Apply through the Louisiana State Board of Nursing

    Conclusion 

    Louisiana is home to many excellent public schools with great nursing programs. While Louisiana may not be the highest paying state for nurses, more nurses are employed per capita in Louisiana than most other states. After earning your BSN from a Louisiana school, you're on track to take and pass the NCLEX and become licensed. A license earned in Louisiana is good in most other states thanks to the NCLEX, so you're set for a long and successful nursing career!

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    References:

    BLS

    Louisiana State Board of Nursing

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