Nurses are essential members of the healthcare profession. After all, they do everything from coordinate patient care to take a lead role in educating patients and the general public about preventative health measures.
However, the nursing field is constantly changing in response to society’s current health needs. Plus, modern technology is impacting the entire healthcare system, and tomorrow’s nurses need to be in the know about the latest technological updates. Therefore, before becoming an RN, or Registered Nurse, potential candidates must pass the NCLEX, or the National Council Licensing Examination. This exam makes sure that candidates have the skills and knowledge to be nurses, and they can’t take it without at least a BSN, or Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Because of this requirement and the growing demand for nurses due to the aging population in the United States, many students are pursuing academic degrees in nursing. Most—but not all—of the schools in this top 10 list of the best nursing schools in Florida have bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, giving students plenty of options according to their personal career goals.
The following rankings are based on schools’ appearance in the U.S. News and World Reports list of the best graduate nursing schools in the country. In the case of a tie, the editorial team at College Gazette judges the tiebreaker.
10. Jacksonville University Keigwin School of Nursing (Jacksonville, FL)
The nursing programs at Jacksonville University blend a liberal arts education with clinical experiences to educate tomorrow’s nursing professionals. Several bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and post-graduate programs meet the needs of the school’s diverse student body. The school makes the list of the top 200 nursing schools in the nation, according to U.S. News.
The faculty at the Keigwin School is very focused on individualized student success. And as such, the nursing programs at Jacksonville University are designed to give students the flexibility and individual attention they need to succeed. For example, class sizes are kept small to ensure good faculty-to-student ratios. What’s more, undergraduates can choose from a traditional track or accelerated 12- or 16-month tracks for career-change students who already have a degree. Plus, a flexible and online RN-to-BSN program is available as well; the program can take as little as 9 months and is offered at a very low tuition rate.
9. Nova Southeastern University Ron and Kathy Assaf College of Nursing (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Nova Southeastern University has developed programs designed for both students new to nursing and existing nurses wishing to further their professional careers. Some classes are offered online, while others are held on-campus in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, or Miami. And in fact, students can earn some degrees online, which is an excellent option for working nurses. U.S. News and World Reports ranked the master’s program as #49 among nursing programs across the nation.
Students seeking master’s degrees, in particular, have several different paths of study to choose from, owing to NSU’s commitment to preparing students for the ongoing challenges of modern health care. For example, master’s students can concentrate in niches as varied as nursing education and leadership or nursing informatics. Or, they can study to specialize as a family nurse or adult-gerontology or psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.
8. Florida Southern College (Lakeland, FL)
Florida Southern College blends traditional classroom learning with hands-on clinical opportunities to prepare students for demanding nursing careers. For instance, undergraduate students study much more than nursing sciences. Instead, they receive a broad education in biology, behavioral sciences, nursing management, and community health. What’s more, travel abroad experiences give students a deeper cultural understanding of global health needs, disease, and illness. U.S. News ranks FSC among the top 160 nursing schools.
Simulation labs are becoming standard in the top nursing schools, and those at Florida Southern are particularly high-tech. After all, the nursing school incorporates some of the world’s most technologically advanced simulation equipment available. Not only do the lab’s mannequins hear and respond to students’ questions, but they can even reproduce patients’ typical physiological responses. In this way, FSC’s students perfect their bedside care in a hands-on learning environment. In fact, FSC’s undergraduate nursing students are so well-prepared that 100% of graduates are either offered a job after school or are accepted into a graduate program.
7. Florida Gulf Coast University School of Nursing (Fort Myers, FL)
U.S. News ranks Florida Gulf Coast University among the top 160 nursing schools in the United States. In addition, the school is also ranked as Florida’s #1 RN program by RegisteredNurse.org.
The FGCU Marieb College School of Nursing places a strong emphasis on community outreach and hands-on learning. The curriculum stresses that students need nursing skills in addition to “soft” skills like good communication, critical thinking skills, understanding diverse cultural viewpoints, and the ability to solve complex problems. Therefore, the school has built several community partnerships in support of its demanding clinical internship expectations. In addition, all undergraduate students must devote 4 or 5 semesters to clinical learning. And actually, students at FGCU receive more hands-on learning in clinical settings than at many other universities.
6. Barry University College of Nursing and Health Sciences (Miami Shores, FL)
Barry University is a private institution based on Catholic Dominican values. In 2020, the National League for Nursing recognized Barry University as a Center of Excellence. Basically, this honor demonstrates that the college excels in student learning outcomes, nursing-related research, the professional development of faculty and graduates. U.S. News and World Reports ranks Barry University #131 on its list of Best Nursing Schools with master’s programs.
The college’s motto is “Study, Reflect, Act,” which reflects the faculty’s dedication to scholarship and research as well as political activism in the nursing field. The school is also committed to promoting social justice and allowing all students to study nursing regardless of their income level. Therefore, the school has established a partnership with Baptist Health South Florida to create the Baptist Scholars program. Through this agreement, highly qualified undergraduate students in the traditional BSN program can enjoy significantly reduced tuition. And upon the successful completion of their BSN degree, these students are guaranteed employment with Baptist Health.
5. University of Tampa (Tampa, FL)
According to U.S. News, the University of Tampa has the #5 top nursing program in Florida and the #117 program in the country. But even better, the website RegisteredNursing.org has ranked the University of Tampa as the top nursing program in Florida. The ranking was awarded based on the current and historical NCLEX pass rates for UT graduates. After all, in seven of the last eight years, 100% of UT graduates taking the NCLEX for the first time passed.
This private school has partnerships with over 120 health care facilities in the Tampa Bay area, which allows students to gain hands-on experience in many areas of healthcare. For example, students can receive specialized instruction in primary care and clinical management roles in pediatrics, adult and family health, geriatrics, women’s health, and psychiatric mental health. Students can also participate in annual travel courses designed to impart a greater understanding of global health issues.
4. University of South Florida College of Nursing (Tampa, FL)
The faculty at the University of South Florida believes that students learn best by doing. In addition to classroom instruction, students are exposed to various health issues through clinical rotations. However, community outreach expands beyond clinical settings.
For example, students also have opportunities to work with community organizations like local public schools, faith-based ministries, and the Tampa Police Department. For instance, in the Peds to Succeed program, pediatric nursing students are working to promote health and early prevention with low-income and underserved youth at the local R.I.C.H. House. In this Resources in Community Hope program from the Tampa Police, low-income youth learn about healthy habits in a curriculum developed by USF nursing students.
In total, USF College of Nursing students devote more than 110,000 clinical hours in the community each year with over 1,000 clinical partners.
In the 2022 list of best schools, U.S. News and World Report ranked the USF master’s program as #56 and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program as #62 among the best nursing programs.
3. Florida International University Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences (Miami, FL)
Florida International University has 20 different degrees and certificate options to meet the diverse needs of its student body. The school’s goals are to prepare tomorrow’s nurses for leadership roles in an increasingly multicultural and multiethnic society. Therefore, many of the faculty focus on creating culturally competent healthcare systems and how public health policies can be improved to serve all patients better.
FIU gives students flexible study options. For example, in addition to a traditional on-campus BSN degree, FIU also offers a fully online track for existing RNs who want to advance their career with a BSN. Students can even take classes full-time or part-time, depending on their schedule. In fact, in 2020, TheBestSchools.org ranked FIU as being #8 in a list of best online RN to BSN programs in the country.
In 2021, U.S. News and World Reports declared that the FIU Master’s program was #56 in Best Nursing Schools, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs was rated #40. What’s more, U.S. News has nationally ranked the FIU graduate nursing program every year since 2015.
2. Florida Atlantic University Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing (Boca Raton, FL)
The Lynn College of Nursing is focused on “caring science,” which reflects the interconnectivity of health and whole-person wellness in relationship to family members, the community, and the greater good of society. Through evidence-based research, the college’s faculty promote caring science to the students to truly understand nursing’s balance between science and art form.
Even the college’s building reflects these principles of caring and is a visual representation of the intersections of health, self-care and healing, and the built environment. The green building is LEED-certified and follows the design principles of Feng Shui, also reflecting the college’s commitment to global perspectives.
For example, the building has spaces for classroom instruction and labs as well as meditation and reflection areas. In fact, the college even has an Archives of Caring in Nursing, which collects scholarly research aimed to advance the understanding of caring and its impact on the nursing profession. Lynn College is actually the first institution in the country to have such an archive.
FIU’s nursing doctorate program was ranked #60 by U.S. News and World Report in 2022.
1. University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (Coral Gables, FL)
Ranked as the top nursing program in Florida, the University of Miami opened South Florida’s first collegiate nursing program in 1949. And since then, the School of Nursing and Health Studies has established itself as a leader in the nursing profession. As a result, U.S. News has ranked the school as the #34 master’s nursing program in the country. In addition, the Ph.D. program was ranked #18 by Academic Analytics. What’s more, undergraduates taking the NCLEX exam have the highest pass rates in South Florida.
The University of Miami is dedicated to student success and has several flexible degree options that meet the needs of its diverse student body. For example, students can benefit from stackable credentialing, full-time or part-time programs, and hybrid courses partially offered online. Because of the school’s leadership in the nursing field and its high level of academic research, it is 1 of just 8 U.S institutions named as a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.