Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in New Jersey

The school where you earn your nursing degree can play a huge role in determining your future career as a nurse.

The Garden State of New Jersey has always been home to some of the top colleges and universities in the nation. Also, because of the area’s size and its proximity to other major metropolitan areas, New Jersey has established itself as an ideal place to earn a nursing degree and enjoy a nursing career.

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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 5 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.

  • Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
  • Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
  • Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN
  • Kathleen Coduvell Gaines, BSN, RN, BA, CBC
  • Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN

Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 New Jersey nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

Top 10 Nursing Schools in New Jersey 

New Jersey has an impressive range of both public and private nursing schools including some famous names. Here is our selection of New Jersey’s top 10 nursing schools.

Caldwell University

Annual Tuition: $33,990 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.08%

In-Person: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Caldwell University is a liberal arts school located in the city of Caldwell, just 20 minutes away from New York City. To earn a BSN from Caldwell, students need to complete the liberal arts core and 25 credits of nursing prerequisites. Also, because Caldwell is a private, Catholic institution, there is no in-state tuition offered. However, most students receive some form of financial aid. With the quality of education and the prime location, Caldwell is a great choice for students that want a private education near a big city.

Montclair State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $11,132 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

In-Person: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Considered one of the top public schools in New Jersey, Montclair State University is also a top-spot to earn a nursing degree. Aside from the traditional four-year BSN program, Montclair State also offers MSN degrees, including an RN to MSN option, as well as online nursing degrees. While Montclair State doesn’t disclose their NCLEX pass rate, the affordable in-state tuition is sure to get the attention of New Jersey residents – not to mention that 78% of undergrad students receive some form of financial aid.

Monmouth University

Annual Tuition: $38,880 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.74%

In-Person: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Monmouth University offers everything a nursing student would want, from a BSN to doctorate of nurse practitioner (DNP). The private school is also considered one of the top research institutions in the area, something that’s sure to get the attention of students looking for a graduate degree or DNP in nursing. Monmouth also offers the traditional four-year BSN track for traditional students. For current nurses, there’s even an RN to BSN program that can be completed online. The school offers the same tuition amount regardless of the student’s residency. 

The College of New Jersey

Annual In-State Tuition: $16,571 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.55%

In-Person: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Located about midway between Philadelphia and New York City is The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). TCNJ boasts one of the highest four-year graduation rates in the nation for public schools, as well as an impressive NCLEX pass rate for nursing students. Nursing students are likely going to enroll in the traditional BSN program which has a 100% job placement rate after 6 months for graduates. For in-state students, this is an affordable, effective way to become a nurse.

William Paterson University of New Jersey

Annual In-State Tuition: $12,936 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.95%

In-Person: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Located on the edge of wetlands and woodlands but just a short drive from New York City, students will get the best of both worlds at William Paterson University. Being a public school, New Jersey residents can also enjoy an incredibly affordable in-state tuition rate. There are no online nursing options at William Patterson University, but students can study toward a BSN, MSN, NP or DNP. Graduates also have an impressive NCLEX pass rate, which speaks volumes of the program’s quality.

New Jersey City University

Annual In-State Tuition: $11,890 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.68%

In-Person: No

Online: No

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

The quality of the education earned at New Jersey City University (NJCU) is what gets this public school on this list. One of the top schools in the regions, NJCU has flexible, affordable programs for busy students. Current RNs or student’s with a non-BSN degree can take advantage of their accelerated programs en route to earning their BSN and becoming certified. However, a traditional four-year BSN program is not currently offered.

Rutgers University

Annual In-State Tuition: $11,886 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.69%

In-Person: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (better known as Rutgers University) is one of the top schools in the nation. Founded in 1766, Rutgers is also part of one of the nation’s largest academic health care systems. While the NCLEX pass rate leaves something to be desired when compared to other schools, the low in-state tuition rate is sure to attract nursing students to the BSN program. A degree from Rutgers also carries weight and finding a desirable job could be much easier with a degree from this famous institution. 

Saint Peter’s University

Annual Tuition: $36,386 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

In-Person: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

The small, Jesuit school of Saint Peter’s University sits just a few minutes away from New York City and all the area has to offer. Saint Peter’s offers three different undergrad nursing programs: a traditional BSN program, an RN to BSN program, and an online RN to BSN program. As a private school, Saint Peter’s will have higher tuition than other schools – but future nursing students will like their impressive 100% NCLEX pass rate.

Stockton University

Annual In-State Tuition: $8,862 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.24%

In-Person: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Nothing beats location, and Stockton University has one of the best locations of all: right in the middle of the Pinelands National Reserve. While studying in the beauty of nature, students will also benefit from the proximity to NYC, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. With a low tuition rate for in-state students, Stockton University is an affordable way to earn your BSN. For students that already have a bachelor’s degree, Stockton also offers an accelerated BSN program.

Thomas Edison State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $7,519 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

In-Person: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Opened in 1972, Thomas Edison State University doesn’t quite stack up to the rich and famous histories of other schools on this list. However, the incredibly affordable in-state tuition rate and 100% NCLEX pass rate are sure to attract plenty of nursing students. Because Thomas Edison is still relatively young, a complete, four-year BSN program isn’t offered. However, an accelerated BSN program for students who already have a bachelor’s degree is offered, as is an RN to BSN program.

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,

  1. Transfer credits
  2. Completed competency exams
  3. Amount of credits taken per year
  4. 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)

  • New Jersey employs 79,530 nurses, well above the national average of roughly 59,000 nurses per state. 
  • The mean annual wage is $82,750 for nurses employed in New Jersey, above the national mean wage of $75,510.  

Studying at a New Jersey school opens doors not only to working in local hospitals but, many NJ schools have close connections with other areas. New Jersey is part of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington which, as a metropolitan area, is the fourth highest employer of nurses.

The first step to beginning a career in nursing is earning a degree, then taking the NCLEX to become a registered nurse (RN).

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Next Steps: 

Once you’ve created a short list of the best nursing schools for your situation, the next step is to start the application process.

  1. Contact an Admission Representative at each school. Some schools have stricter nursing school application standards than others, so you don’t want to end up enrolling in a school that you’re not eligible to earn a nursing degree.
  2. Check your eligibility to enter the school’s nursing program. While individual program requirements vary, it’s safe to assume that you’ll need a GPA of 2.75 or higher for both your high school and college courses. Most schools also want to see grades higher than a C+ in prerequisite courses.
  3. Gather all the paperwork you’ll need for the application. Again, the required paperwork often varies from school to school. For example, some schools may want to see proof that you’re CPR certified, or that you have previous work experience in a health-related field. Most schools will require a letter of interest or a personal essay. Keep in mind that some requirements can be completed in college prior to applying to the nursing program.

Remember: if at any point in the application process you feel lost or confused, contact the school’s admission representatives. They’ll walk you through everything you need to do.

Important considerations when comparing schools: 

Just because a school has a low tuition rate or a high acceptance rate doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. Every student should come up with a list of expectations from their potential school. Make sure to make the following considerations before deciding on a school, 

  • The school’s accreditation (regional and national)
  • Tuition cost
  • The acceptance rate to the university
  • The acceptance rate to the nursing program
  • NCLEX pass rate

Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation  

Nursing students who complete their studies at a non-accredited university will not be able to sit for the NCLEX. Therefore, they will face immense challenges in securing stable, well-paying jobs. Why? Because students who do not take the NCLEX are not eligible to work as Registered Nurses. 

The two nursing program accrediting organizations are,

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

These accrediting bodies ensure that all accredited nursing programs adhere to the same standard and criteria.

You should also make sure that your top nursing program choices are offering exactly what you’re looking for. If you have a specific career goal, keep in mind that making compromises could alter the trajectory of your future nursing career. 

Getting a License in New Jersey

To become an RN in New Jersey, you need to:

  • Take and pass the NCLEX
  • Complete a criminal background check
  • Complete the New Jersey Board of Nursing application 
  • Complete Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training. This can often be completed through a New Jersey school as it is required in the state.

The easiest way to ensure that you’ll be eligible to become a nurse in New Jersey is to earn a degree from a New Jersey school. Local schools tend to set their standards based on the state’s standards. Also, because many schools share similar requirements, a degree from New Jersey can open doors to a career in another state.

Conclusion 

New Jersey has a variety of options for earning a degree in nursing, and any school could easily lead to a career in one of the top states for nurses. However, with so many options, it can be tough to choose the perfect school and nursing program. Having so many options is a good thing, though, since students can find the perfect New Jersey schools for them while still working toward a long, successful career as a nurse!

References:

BLS

New Jersey RN Application

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program

Nurse.org

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