The career opportunities for nurses seem almost endless. After all, the United States has a nursing shortage, so in-demand nurses can expect substantial salaries. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nurses made an average of $75,330 in 2020. What’s more, the field is expected to grow 7% over the next ten years, which is higher than the national average.
However, nurses with at least a BSN over an associate’s degree have many advantages and may have more job options. For example, nurses with a BSN or MSN can provide the same level of patient care as those with just an associate’s degree, but they also have flexible options to go into administration or even public health education.
Today’s nurses can work in a variety of settings. Nurses can work in health care, health education, or even private home health. Furthermore, they can find employment with hospitals and major medical treatment centers to private health practices, and even health care facilities that meet specialized needs. Moreover, they must be able to work independently but also with teams of other healthcare providers.
Therefore, it’s essential to choose the right school for a nursing education, and Texas has several top-ranked schools, based on their appearance in the U.S. News and World Reports Best Nursing Schools list. In the event of a tie on the U.S. News list, the editorial team at College Gazette judges the tiebreaker for this article. If a school is unranked by US News, the College Gazette team will rank it for this article.
10. Lamar University Joanne Gay Dishman School of Nursing (Beaumont, TX)
The Joanne Gay Dishman School of Nursing at Lamar University offers degrees in nursing, nursing education, and nursing administration at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. It is rated among the top 200 nursing programs in the country. Although the nursing program is offered on the Beaumont campus, the other programs are online.
Students gain extensive hands-on experience in the school’s three simulation labs. Basically, the labs have several different rooms devoted to different types of patient situations in order to give students more comprehensive training in complex and difficult situations. For example, students work in diverse simulations like labor and delivery, critical and emergency care, surgery, mental health, older adults, and more. In some cases, students even work with “Standardized Patients,” or community volunteers who have been trained to portray a patient with a background of a particular health condition; this training increases students’ abilities to communicate with a diverse community effectively.
9. Prairie View A&M University College of Nursing (Houston, TX)
Located within the Texas Medical Center, Prairie View A&M University offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees and is among the top 200 nursing programs in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report. Unlike many BSN programs, Prairie View A&M’s undergraduate BSN degree is actually a 4 ½ year program. However, students who already have an Associate’s degree in nursing and are an RN can complete the BSN program in as little as 12 months.
The college expects its students to understand the facets of nursing and related fields. For instance, graduate students studying nursing administration must take business and informatics courses in addition to the core nursing content.
Students are also encouraged to learn from others and gain broader perspectives through the many nursing-related student groups. The American Red Cross Student Nurses’ Volunteer Committee, for example, provides nursing services to the Houston area and is available to all students enrolled in a clinical studies course. Likewise, the American Association of Men in Nursing is dedicated to enhancing the growth and career development of the school’s male nursing students.
8. University of Incarnate Word Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions (San Antonio, TX)
Founded in 1931, the University of Incarnate Word was the first school west of the Mississippi River to offer an accredited bachelor’s degree in nursing. In addition to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in nursing, this private Christian-based university offers Texas’s only doctorate-level psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program. Because of the school’s academic achievements, it received three awards from the Texas Nurses Association in 2018.
Students at this San Antonio school receive a liberal arts education combined with nursing training, emphasizing implementing evidence-based and holistic patient care. Students gain a better understanding of all of the factors that can impact a person’s health, including genetics and lifestyle choices and factors like culture, spirituality, and even language. The School of Nursing and Health Professions is also specifically committed to meeting the needs of low-income and underserved communities.
7. Texas A&M University-Texarkana Department of Nursing (Texarkana, TX)
At the Texarkana campus, Texas A&M offers a traditional BSN program and an MSN degree but does not have options for doctoral study. Plus, since the fall of 2021, the school has also been offering a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program. And because of its consistent academic excellence, the school frequently finds itself on “best of” lists. For example, Best Value Schools ranked it among the Best Texas Colleges in Nursing in 2021. And U.S. News ranks the master’s program as #152 in the country.
The department’s mission is to educate tomorrow’s nurses to understand the intrinsic value of each patient and seek out compassionate and holistic treatments. Therefore, undergraduate students, for example, are expected to take courses in the sciences and nutrition but also liberal arts foundation courses like history, government, language, and cultural studies. However, in addition to this liberal arts foundation, students also get hands-on experience through laboratories, participation in simulations, and clinical rotations.
6. University of Texas at El Paso School of Nursing (El Paso, TX)
The UTEP School of Nursing is ranked among the best nursing schools in the United States, according to several organizations. For example, the website NursingSchoolsAlmanac.com ranked the university as the #30 nursing school in the Southwest, which included Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. In addition, U.S. News and World Report ranked UTEP as having the #131 master’s nursing program in the country.
Undergraduates at UTEP can choose from a traditional four-year BSN degree. Or, for students who are already RNs, the college has an RN-to-BSN option that can be completed in as little as 2 ½ semesters. What’s more, the RN-to-BSN program is entirely online, giving working nurses flexible opportunities to advance their careers. Likewise, the master’s programs are equally flexible. For example, many of the lecture-based courses are only seven weeks long and incorporate online learning activities.
5. Texas Women’s University College of Nursing (Denton, TX)
The nursing programs at Texas Women’s University strive to balance an education in nursing sciences with the art of providing quality patient care. Although the main campus is in Denton, TWU also has facilities in Dallas and Houston. Students can choose from undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in on-campus, online, or hybrid deliveries.
U.S. News and World Report highly ranks TWU’s programs. For example, according to U.S. News’s list of Best Online Programs in nursing education, TWU master’s program was ranked #2 in the country. What’s more, the family nurse practitioner master’s program was ranked #1 in Texas and #9 in the United States overall.
TWU’s faculty maintain strong research agendas. Because of the university’s founding as a women’s university, much of the research is likewise focused on advancing women’s health, especially cancer risks. However, faculty are also engaged in research about management health systems, achieving higher quality patient outcomes, and improved education for future nurses through clinical simulations.
4. UT Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation (Arlington, TX)
The College of Nursing and Health Innovation at the University of Texas-Arlington is proud of the institution’s many accomplishments. For example, more baccalaureate-educated nurses in Texas attended UT-Arlington than any other school. And it’s the biggest non-profit school of nursing in the country, with about 17,000 students attending on-campus and online classes. The college even has two designations as a National League of Nursing Center of Excellence. U.S. News ranks the master’s nursing programs as #60.
The online programs, in particular, have received many accolades. NursingProcess.org has ranked it as the #1 accelerated online BSN degree in the U.S.; similarly, College Rank has also awarded the online SBN program the top spot. Nursing School Hub also declares that UTA has the nation’s #16 most affordable online master’s nursing degree among nursing educator programs. Plus, in 2020, Best Health Degrees’ list of best online MSN degrees put UTA at #7. And the awards don’t stop there, either. In 2020, the Nursing Schools Almanac ranked the college #6 among nursing programs in the American Southwest.
The college credits these rankings to the school’s dedication to personalized instruction and one-on-one coaching. For example, all classes, whether they meet in-person or online, are small to encourage student-faculty interaction. In this way, even though the college has thousands of students, they all receive a high-quality education from faculty members who genuinely care about their success.
3. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing (Lubbock, TX)
Students at Texas Tech receive a broad foundation education in nursing with opportunities to specialize in niche disciplines. Actually, it’s the only nursing school in West Texas with all levels of education (undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral) and classes offered in a variety of formats. The school has 22 different nursing programs meeting every nursing career goal and aspiration. For example, graduate students can study fields as diverse as nursing administration to midwifery, pediatric nursing, psychiatric mental health nursing, and more.
The School of Nursing is actively trying to address the country’s nursing shortage by educating professionals to deal with the complexities of tomorrow’s healthcare needs. As such, the school has been an NLN Center of Excellence in Nursing Education since 2014. U.S. News ranks Texas Tech as having the #34 best nursing school.
2. University of Texas Health Science Center Cizik School of Nursing (Houston, TX)
As a nationally recognized institute for nursing education, the University of Texas-Houston has one of the top nursing programs in the United States. U.S. News ranked the program as #32 for incoming students in 2022. Moreover, the Nurse Anesthesia Program is among the top 10 in the U.S. And what’s more, students at the Cizik School of Nursing don’t have to choose between quality and affordability, because the school offers very low tuition rates in comparison to other top nursing schools in the country.
The programs are housed in the School of Nursing and Student Community Center. This 8-story building includes classrooms with the latest technology, an auditorium, dining and gathering spaces, research labs, and a bookstore. It was the first LEED-Gold certified building in the University of Texas system and promotes the intersection of health, access to natural features, and good indoor air quality. The building is near the Texas Medical Center, where students can participate in hands-on learning activities and clinical experiences.
1. University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing (Austin, TX)
The School of Nursing at UT-Austin is at the top of our list of the best nursing programs in Texas. U.S. News ranks the university as the #21 nursing program in the country. In addition, the TFE Times named the school as #10 among public schools of nursing. And beyond its academic standing, the college is also well-respected for its affordability. Value Colleges has frequently ranked the BSN and Ph.D. programs to be some of the best values in the country.
Plus, the college has aggressive research programs and is ranked #15 in funding from the National Institutes of Health among schools of nursing. UT-Austin’s School of Nursing has over a dozen centers and research initiatives into a diverse set of health problems across many demographics. For example, the African American Mental Health and Wellness Program teaches students to support Black Americans’ physical and psychological health. Similarly, the Center for Excellence in Aging Services and Long Term Care is working to improve the standards of geriatric care in the United States.