Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Missouri
To work as a nurse, students must pass the NCLEX and become a registered nurse (RN). But requirements vary from state to state, so completing a nursing program in Missouri puts you on track to become a local nurse.
While becoming an RN is required for nurses, many facilities prefer to hire graduates with a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN). Not only does earning a BSN increase your chances of finding a position, but BSN holders earn much more on average than RNs.
If you want to enjoy a high-paying career as a nurse in Missouri, the best thing to do is earn a BSN at an accredited Missouri college or university.
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 Missouri nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
Top 10 Nursing Schools in Missouri
Annual In-State Tuition: $8,552 (based off per credit tuition) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.23%
With 12,000 students, Southeast Missouri State University fits somewhere between a large and small college. Based on the banks of the Mississippi River, students get a true campus experience at Southeast. Southeast also happens to be home to one of the most storied nursing programs in the state. Founded in 1958, the Department of Nursing offers a traditional BSN, an online RN-BSN, and a master of science in nursing (MSN). The BSN is transfer-friendly for anyone who already started their college education.
Annual In-State Tuition: $12,094| NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.26%
The University of Missouri - Columbia, better known by its nickname "Mizzou," is among the top public research schools in the nation. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that nearly half of all students graduate with no debt. An affordable education at a nationally renowned school should be more than enough to attract students to the Sinclair School of Nursing. Nursing degrees are available at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. The Sinclair School of Nursing is part of the University of Missouri Health System, one of the largest healthcare networks in the state. Students earning a BSN could connect with some of the top facilities in the region.
Annual Tuition: $22,250 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 87.5%
Based in the city of Hannibal, Hannibal-LaGrange University is a small school of just 1,000 students. With a small student body, students get the benefit of focused education. The nursing school at HLG is a perfect example of this. This past year, 100% of nursing graduates found a job, and 90% had a job offer at graduation. While HLG doesn't offer a traditional BSN, the 3+1 associate-BSN lets you complete your BSN and become an RN in four years. If students are interested in a small, focused, private nursing education, Hannibal-LaGrange is worth looking at.
Annual Tuition: $21,115 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.37%
Avila University is a Catholic school with just over 1,200 undergraduate students. With a student-to-teacher ratio of just 12:1, nursing students are all but guaranteed to have small class sizes. The nursing program more than adequately prepares students for a career in nursing and the high NCLEX pass rate demonstrates the quality of the program. Up to 54 nursing students are admitted each year, so competition for space could be tough. It's also worth noting that Avila's tuition includes books and campus fees which makes budgeting easy.
Annual In-State Tuition: $9,433 (based off per credit tuition) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.29%
In-state students benefit from the University of Missouri - Kansas City's low in-state tuition, though Kansas and Heartland residents also receive significant tuition discounts. Despite the 16,000 students at UMKC, the school manages an impressive 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students interested in a BSN have multiple options to choose from: a traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN-BSN. An MSN, doctor nurse practitioner (DNP), and Ph.D. in nursing are also offered by UMKC. Nursing graduates passed the NCLEX-RN at a high clip last year, and pass rates have been trending upward.
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,796 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.31%
Consistently ranked one of the top public schools in the Midwest, Truman State excels in helping students find relevant jobs after graduation. This means that nursing students earning a BSN can expect to pass the NCLEX and find a position upon completing the program. Common landing spots for graduates include Mayo Clinics, Children's Mercy Hospital, and University of Missouri Hospitals. Along with the four-year BSN, Truman State offers an accelerated BSN that can be finished in 18 months.
Annual Tuition: $42,540 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.28%
St. Louis University is among the oldest Catholic school in the nation and recently celebrated 200 years of education excellence. With 12,000 students, SLU is also a larger private school, though students have plenty of room on SLU's extensive campus. Students interested in nursing have three BSN options: a traditional BSN, accelerated BSN and RN-BSN. The Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing opened in 1928 and has been a regional leader in nursing education ever since, and the high NCLEX pass rate is proof of this program's quality.
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,588 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.83%
Missouri State University has an incredibly low in-state tuition, and out-of-state students with high enough ACT/SAT test scores and GPAs are offered the same tuition rate. So, if your high school academics are strong, you're guaranteed in-state tuition. If the low tuition cost isn't reason enough to earn a nursing degree at Missouri State, then the high NCLEX pass rate for recent grads should suffice. Undergraduate nursing students choose from the traditional four-year BSN or the nursing degree completion program. Missouri State also offers an MSN, DNP, a nurse educator certificate, and a post-masters population health certificate.
Annual Tuition: $26,070 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.19%
Located just a short drive from downtown St. Louis, Maryville University is a relatively low-cost private school. While Maryville has over 10,000 students, 5,900 of them study online. Of course, nursing students earning a BSN must complete their clinicals in person, though some courses can be completed online. To make education easier for nurses, Maryville gives every on-campus student an iPad loaded with useful apps. Maryville's innovative system must work since they have a high NCLEX pass rate and an impressive 97% career placement rate. 10.
Annual In-State Tuition: $11,622 (based off per credit rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 86.32%
The University of Missouri - St. Louis has one of the largest nursing programs in the state, recently graduating 218 nurses. Such large class sizes could make this one of the easier nursing programs to get into. The three main undergraduate options, a traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN-BSN, all have impressive NCLEX and employment outcomes. Also, UMSL's in-state tuition is extended to Illinois residents. A per-credit fee of $220 per hour is also charged for undergraduate nursing courses — something to keep in mind before applying.
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),
- Missouri nurses earn an annual mean wage of $64,160, lower than the national mean wage.
- Missouri has a location quotient of 1.20, meaning it employs more nurses per 1,000 workers than the national average.
Yes, Missouri nurses earn less than the national average for nurses; however, nurses in Missouri had a higher mean wage than nurses in neighbors Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
Missouri is also a large employer of nurses with over 68,840 nurses currently employed and working. This makes Missouri one of the nation's higher nursing employers.
The majority of nursing positions in Missouri are in the St. Louis and Kansas City regions. If you want to live and work in Missouri, either of these metropolitan areas could be your future home.
Once you've looked over some colleges and nursing programs you're interested in, the next steps are to get in touch with each school, check admission requirements, and submit your applications. It's in your best interest to apply to more than one college in case one school decides to give you an unbeatable financial aid package.
Here are the next steps in detail:
- Contact each school’s admissions offices. The admissions office helps applicants learn more about requirements and application details. Before you start your applications, contact each school's admissions office to learn more.
- Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. In addition to college admission requirements, you must meet the requirements for the nursing program. Make sure you're on track for nursing school eligibility.
- Submit your application(s). After you've completed your research and prepared your application materials, the final step is to submit your applications! Pay special attention to application deadlines as they vary from school to school.
Materials you'll likely need for your application include:
- High school transcript (GPA)
- ACT and/or SAT scores
- College entrance essay(s)
- Letter(s) of recommendation
Important considerations when comparing schools:
After applying to schools, you'll begin to receive acceptance letters in the mail! Your final task is to select a college. If the right choice isn't clear, consider comparing each school you've been accepted to. When in doubt, pick the school and program that best fits your personal wants and needs.
Factors to consider when comparing schools include:
- Annual cost of program
- Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
- Cost of living on-campus or in the area
- School and nursing program acceptance rate
- Direct entry vs. separate application for the nursing program
- Daily commute to school/hospitals
- 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 are in charge of verifying the quality of academic programs. When looking at colleges, the two types of accreditation to look for are regional and programmatic. In Missouri, the regional accrediting body is the Higher Learning Commission.
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 Missouri
As part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), Missouri follows a standardized set of requirements for nursing licensure. Also, becoming licensed in Missouri also counts as licensure in most US states.
To get a license in Missouri, you'll need to:
- Study at a regionally accredited institution
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Pass a criminal and mental health background check
- Complete a notarized application and apply through the Missouri Division of Professional Registration
The Missouri Division of Professional Registration also suggests that you have your official transcript sent to the Board of Nursing office immediately after graduating.
Missouri is a high employer of nurses, and the two major metropolitan areas give BSN graduates options. Missouri is also home to plenty of excellent nursing programs, many of which are in-state and offer discounted tuition to Missouri residents. After completing a BSN and becoming licensed, nurses are eligible to work in most US states thanks to the eNLC.