Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Michigan

Nurses entering the workforce are finding that some hospitals now require nurses to have a bachelor's in nursing science (BSN).

Not only is earning a BSN important for finding a position, but BSN graduates typically earn more than nurses without a college degree.

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But where you earn a BSN from can also have a tremendous impact on your future. Picking the right school can set you up for your first job, connect you with professionals, and secure your place as a nurse for years to come. 

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 45 years of combined nursing experience and 6 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 Michigan nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

Top 10 Nursing Schools in Michigan

Grand Valley State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $11,520 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: No

With nearly 25,000 students, Grand Valley State University does a good job of keeping an average class size of 26 students. GVSU also keeps things affordable as 89% of students earn some type of financial aid. A low in-state tuition rate with a high chance of financial aid is more than enough to draw nurses to the BSN program. In addition to affordability, nearly 100% of BSN grads find a job after graduation. Nursing students will also get to study in the Grand Rapids Medical Mile, an area dedicated solely to medical-related activities. 

Madonna University

Annual Tuition: $19,500 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 81%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Founded in 1937, Madonna University is a small, private school with just under 2,500 students. Madonna currently has four campuses locations: Livonia (the main campus), Gaylord, and Macomb in Michigan, along with a campus abroad in China. Also available is an Accelerated BSN, a brand new, 16-month program that lets students with a non-nursing degree earn their BSN and be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN. Courses through this program are offered online, but clinicals still need to be completed in-person. 

Western Michigan University

Annual In-State Tuition: $11,493 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Located in Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University has two unique qualities that set it apart. First, Western Michigan is one of the most diverse universities in the nation. Second, every single one of them over 22,500 students is paired with a mentor. Mentorship is huge for nursing students, both for education and networking. The BSN degree, the top nursing degree at Western Michigan, offers a direct admission for incoming freshman. So, you’ll know for sure if you got into the nursing school before deciding to attend Western Michigan.

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Annual In-State Tuition: $14,402| NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: No

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor – often referred to as Michigan – is one of the most recognizable universities in the nation. For an institution with such a rich history of academic excellence, it’s no surprise that the BSN makes it on this list. From minor options for the BSN to the chance to study abroad, nursing students will get the education they want at Michigan. While the price is great, Michigan’s nursing program is incredibly competitive, and Michigan offers advice on how students can set themselves apart when applying to the nursing program.

Northern Michigan University

Annual In-State Tuition: $9,766 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Northern Michigan University has a 360-acre campus in Marquette that hugs the shore of Lake Superior. Marquette is a total college town, with 7,600 undergraduate students compared to 20,000 Marquette locals. Incoming BSN students will study at a state-of-the-art technology center, although Marquette’s northern location may make nursing students feel separated from large hospitals and facilities. However, the study abroad program in Belize designed specifically for nurses gives students the chance to get out of Michigan and see the world.

Calvin University

Annual Tuition: $31,730 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Established in 1876, Calvin University was known as Calvin College for years – that is, until the name officially changed on July 10, 2019.  The name change reflects the growing academic quality of Calvin, which instills Christian beliefs into all of its degrees. Faith plays a role in the BSN, too, although students will still spend most of their time learning about nursing and gaining real-world experience. While Calvin doesn’t disclose the NCLEX pass rate, 100% of the nursing school graduates either continue their education or find a job within a year of graduating. Also, students can choose an interim abroad in Mexico, Nepal, or China.

Hope College

Annual Tuition: $31,560 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: No

Located in downtown Holland, Hope College has over 150 years of teaching experience. While just a small college of just 3,100 students, Hope is a nationally-ranked school based on value and quality.  Future students interested in the nursing program have the chance to become pre-accepted for a BSN but need to have an ACT score of 28 or higher or an SAT score of 1300 or higher. After entering the program, nursing students study at a state-of-the-art simulation lab and complete their clinicals at various facilities in the area. 

Michigan State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $14,062 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Perhaps best known for the athletics, Michigan State University is one of the nation’s premier universities for academics. Located in East Lansing, MSU is home to over 50,000 students from all around the world. Of course, a world-renowned university has a competitive nursing program. The traditional BSN receives triple the number of applications than there are spots in the program, so entry is far from guaranteed. However,  those that are accepted will join a program that recently saw every single graduate pass the NCLEX-RN on their first try.

University of Detroit Mercy

Annual Tuition: $39,882 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

The University of Detroit Mercy is the largest Catholic school in Michigan. Home to 5,000 students, 92% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid, so nursing students are unlikely to pay the full annual tuition rate. Nursing students also get to take advantage of super-low class sizes, with some classes having as few as five students. Of course, thanks to Detroit Mercy’s prime location in Detroit, students will get to study at some of the top hospitals and facilities in the state. Detroit Mercy nursing grads have also enjoyed a 100% placement rate after finishing their degree, so a nursing position after graduation is practically guaranteed.

Wayne State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $12,269 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.32%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

One of the biggest draws for Wayne State University is their downtown Detroit location. All 27,000 on-campus students live in the city, enjoying the perfect blend of city life and college atmosphere. The city location is part of the reason Wayne State’s nursing program is one of the top programs in Michigan. Five undergraduate options are available at Wayne State: a traditional BSN, and direct entry BSN, an accelerated second-degree BSN, RN-BSN, and a program specifically for veterans. Once accepted to any of these programs, students can take advantage of the prime location and its proximity to hospitals. 

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 individual 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)

  • Michigan employs 94,090 nurses, making it one of the highest employers of nurses in the nation. 
  • Michigan’s location quotient for nurses is 1.08, meaning they employ more nurses per capita than the national average.

Michigan offers a blend of outdoor beauty and bustling cities, ideal for nursing students that want a little bit of both.

While the annual mean salary for nurses in Michigan ($69,120) is slightly lower than the national mean salary ($73,550), Michigan has a lower cost of living than the national average. Housing is particularly affordable, making Michigan a good place to buy your first home.

If you can tolerate the cold winters, there’s plenty that Michigan has to offer for nurses!

Next Steps:

Michigan has a blend of quality private and public schools, and nursing students should be open to applying for both – even if they aren’t Michigan residents. However, before sending any applications, students will want to make sure the schools they’ve chosen are the right fit.

Once you’ve selected some schools, the next steps are to:

  • Contact each school’s admissions offices. Admissions offices will be your primary point of communication with schools. They can tell you everything you need to know, from necessary materials to submit, minimum requirements, and the acceptance rate of the nursing program.
  • Make sure you meet the nursing school requirements. Nursing programs often have stricter admissions requirements than schools, so you’ll need to meet both standards. Typically, you’ll need a higher GPA, stronger test scores, and letters of recommendation. Volunteer hours and extracurriculars may also be required.
  • Submit your application(s). Once you’ve determined you’ve spoken to each school and determined your eligibility, all you need to do is submit your application(s). Some schools may use the Common App which could save you tons of time! During your application, you’ll need to submit:
    • High school transcript (GPA)
    • ACT and/or SAT scores
    • College entrance essay(s)
    • Letter(s) of recommendation

Each school has its own set of standards, so you may need to submit additional information. Keep in touch with admissions counselors during this process to make sure you’ve fully completed your college application.

Important considerations when comparing schools: 

A school may not seem like an ideal fit at first glance, but the better you get to know a college, the more you might like about it. Don’t write off a school just because you’ve never heard of it or because it doesn’t have a football team – take time to get to know each school.

The best way to find the right school is to weigh the pros and cons, which can include:

  • Annual tuition and total program cost (these can be different)
  • Cost of living in the area
  • Acceptance rate (both for the school and the nursing program)
  • Application process (direct entry vs. traditional entry)
  • Scholarship, grants, and federal aid offered
  • Length of the program (accelerated or traditional)
  • Potential program outcomes
  • Distance from hospitals
  • Additional opportunities (such as study abroad)
  • Accreditation (regional and national)

Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation  

Accrediting agencies are in charge of setting minimum standards for education programs and ensuring specific programs meet their rigorous standards. An accredited school doesn’t just mean the program is great – unaccredited schools may make you ineligible for federal funding, and many employers will only accept nurses with a BSN from an accredited school.

The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are

If a school is accredited by one of these institutions, then their nursing program adheres to strict national standards.

Getting a License in Michigan

Applying to become a nurse in Michigan is relatively simple. Everything can be done online through the Michigan Board of Nursing, and any questions you might have about the process can be answered there.

To get a license in Michigan, you’ll need to:

While nurses aren’t required by Michigan to complete a BSN, doing so increases your chances of finding a good job right out of school. Also, BSN programs satisfy the prerequisites to sit for the NCLEX-RN, so you’ll be on track if you choose to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Conclusion 

As a high employment state, Michigan could be a long-term home for nurses. Some of the top schools in the world are in Michigan, along with plenty of high-quality nursing programs. Regardless of which accredited program students choose, they’ll be setting themselves up for a high-paying job in an affordable state.

Search Michigan Nursing Programs (Enter desired zip code)

References:

BLS

Michigan Board of Nursing

Best Places

Common App

Nurse.org

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