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    Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in New Hampshire

    As part of New England, New Hampshire is close to major metropolitan areas and quiet rural towns. For nurses, this means you essentially have your pick of high-paying positions in a prime location. 

    Before starting a nursing career in New Hampshire, students should first earn a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN). While nurses only need Registered Nurse (RN) licensure to work, BSN-holding nurses tend to earn much more than non-BSN RNs.

    In this guide, we cover the top nursing schools in New Hampshire, along with program outcomes, career and salary outlook, and considerations when picking a nursing school in New Hampshire. 

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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 New Hampshire nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

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    Top 10 Nursing Schools in New Hampshire

    1. Granite State College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $7,791 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $9,015 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Based in Concord, Granite State College is affordable for all students, with out-of-state students paying slightly more than in-state students. Tuition costs can be further reduced if students bring in enough transfer credits through their associate degree. An associate degree and current RN license are required for Granite's RN-BSN program, the only nursing option at the school. Current students at a New Hampshire Community College can join a partnership program that transfers them into Granite's program after completing an associate degree.

    2. University of New Hampshire

    Annual In-State Tuition: $18,879 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $35,409 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.55%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: Yes

    Bridge: Yes

    As the flagship program of New Hampshire's public school system, the University of New Hampshire is often recognized as one of the top schools in the region. UNH is just a short drive to Boston, the mountains and the ocean, giving nursing students a little bit of everything to enjoy. The Department of Nursing has one main undergraduate program, a BSN, that has excellent outcomes for students. UNH also has multiple graduate programs including an online DNP and post-graduate certificate. While some public schools have lower costs, UNH's quality is practically unbeatable.  

    3. Keene State College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $14,568 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $23,756 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.24%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Keene State College is located just on the edge of downtown Keene, giving the small student body of just 5,000 plenty to do when they aren't studying. Of course, nursing students still have to complete both courses and clinical hours. Outcomes for Keene State's BSN program are positive, with above-average NCLEX pass rates and a 90% employment rate within one year of graduation for those that do pass the NCLEX. The BSN has two routes: a pre-nursing route where students begin nursing courses their freshman year and a degree completion route which is essentially an RN-BSN option, the latter is currently under administrative review.

    4. Saint Anselm College

    Annual Tuition: $41,800 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Founded in 1889, Saint Anselm College is a private school that's based in the Benedictine tradition. The Manchester campus emphasizes engagement and community, so nursing students should have plenty to do when they aren't completing their degrees. BSN students begin clinical rotations during their sophomore year and earn experience in various healthcare settings. Saint Anselm's BSN is also the largest in the state, recently graduating 94 students (with all of them passing the NCLEX on the first try). Saint Anselm also has a hybrid online/on-campus RN-BSN option. 

    5. Southern New Hampshire University

    Annual Tuition: $32,539 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: Yes

    Bridge: No

    As a private, non-profit school, Southern New Hampshire University doesn't offer in-state tuition. However, tuition isn't necessarily as high as it seems--94% of on-campus students received either a scholarship, grant, or both. Tuition costs are also different for online students, and SNHU's 90,000 online students far outweigh the 3,000 on-campus students. Fittingly, the nursing degree options are entirely online. Undergraduate nurses can select an RN-BSN or accelerated RN-MSN. Applicants already need to have their RN, but those that do can join one of the largest online schools in the nation.

    6. Colby-Sawyer College

    Annual Tuition: $42,846 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Colby-Sawyer College is a private and independent school, meaning the college has no religious affiliation (which is uncommon for private schools). Colby-Sawyer is also a small school with just over 1,000 undergraduate students, 70% of whom are women. The BSN program is one of the best in New Hampshire, and current RNs can enroll in the online RN-BSN program. Recent BSN graduates aced the NCLEX on their first try, and Colby-Sawyer has a track record of regularly educating nursing students who pass the NCLEX.

    7. Plymouth State University

    Annual In-State Tuition: $14,440 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $23,330 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Plymouth State University offers students a college experience in a small town with plenty of outdoor activities nearby. For a public school, Plymouth State is relatively small (just 23 nursing students graduated in 2018), so entry into the nursing program can be competitive. The BSN is the only nursing degree available, but that's allowed Plymouth State to improve the program. Perhaps the most impressive part of Plymouth State's nursing program is how much it's changed over the past several years. Plymouth State BSN graduates had just a 72% pass rate in 2013 and a perfect pass rate in 2018.

    8. Franklin Pierce University

    Annual Tuition: $39,100 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Another small, private school, Franklin Pierce University focuses on attracting students that want to advance their careers. Currently, 210 of the 1,420 students study entirely online, and more students could move online as Franklin Pierce continues to improve its online school. The only undergraduate program offered through the School of Nursing is the online RN-BSN. Other options include an RN-MSN, multiple MSN degrees, an MSN/MBA dual degree, and a nursing education certificate, all of which are available online. 

    9. Rivier University

    Annual Tuition: $32,440 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Founded by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary and Sister Madeleine of Jesus, Rivier University is located in Nashua, just a short drive from Manchester and only two hours from Boston. Interestingly, undergraduate students make up less than half of Rivier's student body, in large part because of the school's commitment to professional studies. For nursing students, this means you can pick an associate's, bachelor's, or graduate degree. The BSN has excellent program outcomes and students participate in clinicals at healthcare facilities like Boston Children's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Lowell General Hospital. 

    10. Manchester Community College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $4,556 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $13,508 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.28%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    With nearly 8,500 students enrolled, Manchester Community College has a sizable student body. However, as a community college, MCC doesn't offer four-year degrees, meaning nursing students can only select an Associate of Science in nursing (ASN). The ASN prepares students for the NCLEX and leads to licensure, though graduates should still consider earning a BSN. Fortunately, MCC makes this process easy for grads. Upon completing the ASN in three years, students can easily transfer into Franklin Pierce University to complete their BSN. Of course, students can also choose to complete an online RN-BSN after finishing their ASN. 

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    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.

    New Hampshire Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 

    • RNs in New Hampshire earn an annual mean wage of $72,760, slightly lower than the national mean wage.
    • New Hampshire employs 13,630 RNs.

    The mean salary for RNs in New Hampshire is lower than the national mean wage of $75,510, but only by a slight amount. Of course, nurses with a BSN and some experience are likely to earn higher than the mean wage for both New Hampshire and the US.

    While New Hampshire's 13,630 nurses pale in comparison to states like Massachusetts (80,630), it's actually right on par with the national average of nurses per 1,000 workers. So, relative to the population, New Hampshire is an average employer of nurses.

    Potential wages and employment skew depending on where nurses live. For example, the Northern New Hampshire, nonmetropolitan area pays an annual mean wage of $65,260, while the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua area in MA and NH pays nurses an annual mean wage of $95,270. If you're looking for a high-paying job in New Hampshire, location is everything.

    Next Steps:

    After reviewing the top nursing schools in New Hampshire, you'll want to take a closer look at some of the schools that interest you. Before you start your applications, make sure you get in touch with every school and program to figure out what you need to do to prepare each application.

    Here are the next steps to take:

    Contact each school’s admissions offices. Every school has an admissions office, and they should be able to answer any questions you have about the admissions process. Get in touch with them before you start your application. 

    Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Nursing schools generally have their own requirements for admission, meaning you'll need to meet even tougher standards than those set for college admissions. You can complete some prerequisites in school for some programs, so find out if you're on track for admission.

    Submit your application(s). The final step in the application process is to send in your applications! When applying, you'll need to supply several items, including:

    • High school transcript (GPA)
    • ACT and/or SAT scores
    • College entrance essay(s)
    • Letter(s) of recommendation

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    Important considerations when comparing schools: 

    Selecting schools to apply to is one thing, but deciding where you're going to earn your BSN is another. While one school may provide a clear advantage (low tuition or great location), you should consider multiple factors before making your decision.

    Factors to consider include:

    • In-state vs. out-of-state tuition cost
    • Cost of the nursing program (some have added fees)
    • Type of school (public or private)
    • Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
    • Semesters vs. quarters
    • Cost of living on-campus or in the area
    • School and nursing program acceptance rate
    • 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 that the school/program meets the rigorous standards set by an overseeing organization. In New Hampshire, any school you apply to should be regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Also, make sure that every nursing program is accredited. 

    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 New Hampshire

    New Hampshire is part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) which means two things:

    1. The RN licensure process is standardized.
    2. An RN license earned in New Hampshire is accepted in every other eNLC member state. 

    If you complete an accredited nursing program in New Hampshire, you should be prepared to earn RN licensure after you graduate. Along with earning a BSN from an accredited school, students need to:

    • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
    • Pass a criminal background check 
    • Declare a Primary State of Residency
    • Pay an application fee and complete an application through the New Hampshire Board of Nursing

    Conclusion 

    New Hampshire is about average in terms of pay and employment for RNs, though the prime New England location and NH's status as an eNLC member allow nurses to find high-paying positions around the country. Future nurses should first complete a BSN from an accredited New Hampshire school. Fortunately, there are plenty of great options, and many have incredible outcomes for nursing students.

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    References:

    BLS

    New Hampshire Board of Nursing

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    Nurse.org

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