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    EDUCATION
    March 13, 2020

    Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Vermont

    Anyone looking to become a registered nurse (RN) has two options: complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN). 

    However, many healthcare facilities prefer nurse applicants with a BSN over an ADN, and BSN holders earn much more than the average non-BSN RN. If you're a current RN, a BSN is definitely worth considering.

    While Vermont doesn't have many nursing programs in-state, current RNs and aspiring nurses still have plenty of choices when it comes to earning a BSN.

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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 Vermont nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

    Show Me Vermont Nursing Programs

    Top 10 Nursing Schools in Vermont

    1. The University of Vermont

    Annual In-State Tuition: $19,062 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $43,950 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Considered a "Public Ivy," the University of Vermont ranks among the best schools in the nation. Unsurprisingly, UVM also has one of the best nursing programs in the region. The traditional BSN includes 594 hours of supervised clinical instruction, plus a 126-hour practicum in the student's area of interest. Graduates of the program consistently perform well on the NCLEX, with the recent graduating class exceeding the national average pass rate. UVM also has an online RN-BSN option for working nurses. 

    2. Castleton University

    Annual In-State Tuition: $11,304 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $27,984 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.3%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: Yes

    Bridge: No

    Founded over 230 years ago, Castleton University ranks as the 18th oldest institution of higher education in the U.S. Castleton also maintains a relatively small student body (1,900 full-time students) despite being a public school. Students interested in nursing have three options: a four-year BSN, a three-year accelerated BSN, and a two-year online RN-BSN. Transfer students can also bring course credits into all three program options. Castleton reported a 91.3% NCLEX pass rate for first-time test-takers in 2018, a rate that appears to be standard for the storied school.

    3. Norwich University

    Annual Tuition: $42,950 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: Yes

    Bridge: Yes

    Norwich University is the oldest private military college in the U.S. Over two thirds of residential students join the Corps of Cadets, an option extended to nursing students. BSN students complete clinicals at sites like the University of Vermont Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock. ROTC nursing students also get to work at U.S. Army and Navy hospitals around the world through summer internships. Students can choose between an accelerated BSN, online RN-BSN, or online Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN). Norwich doesn't disclose NCLEX pass rates, but aspiring nurses interested in military life should consider this school. 

    4. Vermont Technical College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $17,316 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $34,476 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.70%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Vermont Technical College offers affordable education with small average class sizes of just 15 students. While VTC doesn't offer a traditional BSN, it does have an excellent ADN program that leads to RN licensure. This program follows a 1+1+2 model, meaning students earn a practical nursing certificate while completing their ADN. Finally, the final two years of the program lead to a BSN license, technically earned as an online RN-BSN. Since the program is broken down into practical nursing, ADN, then BSN, students with any amount of nursing experience, such as current practical nurses, can enter the program. 

    5. Aspen University

    Annual Tuition: $10,550 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Vermont has fewer on-campus nursing programs than most other states, but the rise of online education lets students complete degrees from anywhere. Aspen University is one of the top online schools in the nation and offers a slew of online nursing degrees, including an RN-BSN. While the Colorado-based Aspen University does have a traditional BSN, students must commit to nearly 40 credits of in-person studies in Arizona -- something most Vermont students probably can't commit to. 

    6. Western Governors University

    Annual Tuition: $7,090 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Like other online schools, Western Governors University does have some on-campus programs, including a traditional BSN that's available in California, Utah, Texas, Florida, and Indiana. However, most Vermont nurses would be interested in the online RN-BSN. In addition to the RN-BSN, WGU also has a variety of online MSN degrees, including multiple RN-MSN options that bypass a BSN entirely. Students need to have an RN license before applying, but they have plenty of affordable degree options through WGU.

    7. Chamberlain University

    Annual Tuition: $21,230 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Based primarily in Illinois, Chamberlain University is perhaps best known for its online programs, including the one-year RN-BSN. Chamberlain charges online tuition on a per-credit basis, so students with previous college credit can complete the degree at a relatively low cost. Most students entering the online RN-BSN earn 87 proficiency credits, so the cost of the program can be low. A traditional program is also available, though it is outside of Vermont. 

    8. Capella University

    RN-BSN Program Cost: $9,600 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: Yes

    Bridge: No

    Capella University primarily offers degrees that lead to high-paying and high-growth positions. While graduate degrees are the most popular options -- 47% of students are earning a master's and 23% a doctoral degree -- the online RN-BSN is a great option for current nurses. The total program cost depends on how quickly you finish the program, and the fastest students spend less than $10,000 before financial aid while completing their BSN. Students can also earn one of the many online graduate degrees in nursing. 

    9. Grand Canyon University

    Annual Tuition: $15,040 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: Yes

    Bridge: No

    Based in Phoenix, Grand Canyon University has found success in offering online degrees. GCU does have a traditional and accelerated BSN program, but Vermont students who don't want to leave the state can only benefit from the online RN-BSN. Courses are only five weeks long, and students complete the degree in as little as 12 months. After finishing the RN-BSN program, students can fast-track to an online MSN. The two programs combined take about 2.5 years. 

    10. University of Phoenix

    Annual Tuition: $12,736 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Perhaps the most well-known online school, the University of Phoenix built a reputation as a flexible and affordable way to continue your education. As with other online schools, the top program for Vermont nurses is the online RN-BSN. The University of Phoenix states that students can earn their BSN through this program in just 14 months, then earn an MSN in just 18 months. While on-campus programs are available around the country, none are available in Vermont. 

    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)

    • Registered nurses in Vermont earn a mean annual wage of $69,160, lower than the national average.
    • Vermont employs 6,460 nurses, slightly higher than the national average per-capita. 

    Registered nurses in Vermont don't earn the highest wages, especially compared to neighboring New York where RNs earn a mean wage of $85,610. However, the mean wages in Vermont are just below the national mean wage of $75,510. Also, RNs with a BSN tend to earn higher wages than non-BSN holding RNs, and the BLS doesn't differentiate between the two.

    Employment for RNs in Vermont is strong, and national projections show an increased need for nurses around the country. Students who study in Vermont can always find a position in a nearby city outside of Vermont, too, such as Boston or New York City.

    Show Me Vermont Nursing Programs

    Next Steps:

    Vermont may not have the most nursing school options, but you should still apply to multiple programs. You never know when a school will offer you a large scholarship! After taking a look at several schools you'd like to apply to, you should get in touch with the admissions office, learn more about the nursing program, and apply.

    Here are the next steps broken down:

    Contact each school’s admissions office. Every school has an admissions office that helps students through the application process. Get in touch with the admissions office early to find out everything you need for your application.

    Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Nursing schools often require a higher GPA than the university, additional prerequisite courses, letters of recommendation, and essays. Check to see if you meet these requirements. If you don't, find out how you can meet them before accepting any offers from colleges. 

    Submit your application(s). Once you've determined everything you need to make your application the best it can be, the final step is to apply! Some materials you'll be required to submit include:

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

    Important considerations when comparing schools: 

    Getting accepted to colleges is a great feeling, but choosing between programs that want you can be tough. Every school offers specific and unique benefits, so the right school may not seem obvious. In this scenario, it helps to compare various factors -- including some you may not be thinking of. 

    When comparing schools, consider factors such as:

    • Total program cost, including in-state or out-of-state tuition and fees
    • Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
    • Cost of living on-campus or in the area
    • Distance from home
    • School and nursing program acceptance rate
    • Commute to school/hospital for clinicals
    • Program length
    • Program type (on-campus, online, hybrid)
    • Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
    • Accreditation (regional and programmatic)

    Show Me Vermont Nursing Programs

    Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation  

    Accrediting bodies look at universities and programs and assess their academic quality. When looking at schools in Vermont, make sure they're regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Also, ensure that every nursing program is programmatically 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 Vermont

    Vermont's path toward RN licensure is pretty straightforward and even allows RN candidates to earn a temporary permit while waiting for their license to be approved.  

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

    • Study at an accredited and approved nursing school
    • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
    • Pass a criminal background check, submit fingerprints, and pay an application fee. 
    • Apply through the Vermont Secretary of State website.

    Conclusion 

    While Vermont doesn't have a ton of four-year BSN options, students can still earn a traditional BSN -- sometimes at in-state tuition rates. Also, current RNs in Vermont have plenty of online options to continue their education. The outlook for nurses in Vermont is positive, and the BLS reports that Vermont employs an above-average number of RNs. Students looking to become RNs only need to complete a nursing education program, pass the NCLEX, and submit an application.

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    References:

    BLS

    Vermont Secretary of State

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