Florida’s need for nurses first boomed in the 1800s, when conditions like yellow fever, smallpox and cholera broke out around the state. Unofficial boards of health scrambled to create an organized system to mitigate the death toll, and enacted their first nursing practice act in 1913. Since then, healthcare in Florida has grown dramatically, with hospitals, nursing homes, public health agencies and many other types of healthcare facilities. This abundance of healthcare facilities has created a wealth of opportunities for Florida nurses.

However, in order to earn practicing positions in the Sunshine State, prospective nurses must first learn the skills and knowledge necessary for the nursing position they hope to attain. Specialized nursing education, training and licensure are all a part of this process. On this page, we discuss the Florida nursing schools that can help you with this process, as well as the steps for earning nursing licensure, the largest hospitals in Florida and more.

Best Nursing Schools in Florida

Although there are 101 nursing schools in Florida, it doesn’t mean they are all created equally. To help prospective nursing students find the best school, we have created rankings of the best undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in the state based on information collected by the Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Hopeful nurses can weigh their options by reviewing the rankings below.

Details about our methodology are available at the bottom of this page.

01
University of Florida
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$4,477
Undergraduate graduation rate
87%
Undergraduate retention rate
97%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
93%
02
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical Univ...
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,152
Undergraduate graduation rate
41%
Undergraduate retention rate
83%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
97%
03
Florida Atlantic University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$2,522
Undergraduate graduation rate
50%
Undergraduate retention rate
77%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
77%
04
North Florida Community College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$2,280
Undergraduate graduation rate
46%
Undergraduate retention rate
72%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
92%
05
Florida National University-Main Campus
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$12,600
Undergraduate graduation rate
59%
Undergraduate retention rate
83%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
91%
06
Pasco-Hernando State College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$2,297
Undergraduate graduation rate
36%
Undergraduate retention rate
68%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
67%
07
University of Central Florida
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$4,478
Undergraduate graduation rate
69%
Undergraduate retention rate
89%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
87%
08
Florida International University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$4,721
Undergraduate graduation rate
56%
Undergraduate retention rate
88%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
82%
09
University of North Florida
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,853
Undergraduate graduation rate
54%
Undergraduate retention rate
80%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
79%
10
Florida State University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$4,640
Undergraduate graduation rate
80%
Undergraduate retention rate
93%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
89%
01
Florida International University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
8
Graduate Tuition
$8,912
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
02
University of Central Florida
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$6,916
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
3
03
Florida Atlantic University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$5,467
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
04
Jacksonville University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
8
Graduate Tuition
$13,320
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
3
05
University of Florida
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$10,770
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
06
University of South Florida-Main Campus
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$8,350
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
07
Florida State University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$9,684
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
08
University of North Florida
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$8,570
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
09
Barry University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
9
Graduate Tuition
$17,820
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
4
10
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical Univ...
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$8,019
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1

Nursing Accreditation in Florida

While evaluating schools, every student has their own individual criteria for what they want in a nursing program based on their career goals. However, no matter what part of the nursing field students want to pursue after graduation, they should be considering schools in Florida that have been accredited. The accreditation process is designed to distinguish which schools and programs are delivering the education that students need in order to be successful in their careers after graduation. Here are a few examples of accrediting organizations that Florida nursing students should be looking for.

  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs

Florida Nursing Licensure

After students complete their nursing programs, they must meet Florida’s licensing requirements before they can practice in the state. The Florida Board of Nursing requires that those who want to work as registered nurses or licensed practical nurses pass the NCLEX examination, and submit fingerprints to the state in order to undergo a criminal background check. There is also a $110 licensing fee.

Those who want to become a clinical nurse specialist or advanced registered nurse practitioner also have to meet state requirements in order to practice. Clinical nurse specialists are expected to complete a state-approved graduate degree program in a clinical nursing specialty, submit fingerprints to the state for a background check, and pay a $75 fee to the nursing board. Advanced registered nurse practitioners must earn at least a master’s degree, submit to a background check, and pay a $100 fee.

For more information about the nurse licensing process, log on to the Florida Board of Nursing’s website at floridasnursing.gov/licensing/.

Florida Nursing organizations

The nursing community in Florida is huge, but with professionals dedicating their time to caring for patients, they may not always be able to connect with each other to share their knowledge and experiences. Professional nursing associations help people to do this through their networking opportunities. In addition, nursing associations offer resources to help nurses improve their skills, such as continuing education courses.

The following are examples of some of the Florida nursing organizations people can join.

  • The Florida Nurses Association works on behalf of professionals across all nursing practice areas. Membership benefits include a subscription to the American Nurse Todayjournal, professional development opportunities, and advocacy services. In addition, the organization allows members to participate in special groups related to their specific professional interests, such as nursing research, health policy, or ethics.

  • Those who join the National Students Nurses Association automatically become members of the FNSA. Members can participate in regional activities with other nursing students in their area, as well as an annual convention for all FNSA members.

  • This organization provides education, advocacy, networking and leadership to nurses who work in Florida’s schools. Members receive a subscription to The Journal of School Nursing and other publications, participate in conferences, and gain access to professional development courses. In addition, the association honors excellence in the field with state- and district-level School Nurse of the Year awards.

  • Membership benefits of the FLANP include access to community chat rooms, continuing education courses and a members-only website. In addition, the group organizes an annual conference for nurse practitioners.

Florida-Specific Continuing Education

Floridian nurses are required to complete at least 24 hours of continuing education credits every two years in order to renew their license. Out of these 24 credit hours, six hours must be related to nursing laws and rules, domestic violence, and the prevention of medical errors. In addition, nurses can take continuing education classes about conflict management, wound care, patient rights, and pain assessment and management.

Hospitals in Florida

Research from the Florida Center for Nursing shows that 89,990 nurses were employed by hospitals in the state between 2016 and 2017. That’s 62.6 percent of the Florida nursing workforce! There are many choices for nurses who want to work for hospitals, including the facilities described below.

  • Florida Hospital Orlando (Orlando) Florida Hospital Orlando had humble beginnings when it opened in 1908 in a two-story, rural farmhouse to treat tuberculosis patients. The hospital has grown into a 62,000 square-foot facility that provides a variety of clinical treatments, including general surgery, radiology services, and wound care.
  • Jackson Memorial Hospital (Miami) Jackson Memorial Hospital is a 1,550-bed facility where students enrolled in the University of Miami’s Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine have received training since 1952. The hospital is home to several recognized centers of excellence, including its Newborn Special Care Center and Ryder Trauma Center.
  • Orlando Regional Medical Center (Orlando) In addition to treating over 85,000 patients annually as of 2017, Orlando Regional Medical Center trains the next generation of medical professionals through its seven residency and ten fellowship programs in specialties like pediatric sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, pathology, and hematology.
Sources & Methodology

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we ranked 6,758 United States institutions with two different methodologies, in order to create two different lists: our undergraduate list and our graduate list. Final data for the 2016-17 school year was used for these rankings. (Schools that did not provide data for all 11 criteria were disqualified from the ranking.)

The 11 criteria for the undergraduate school ranking were as follows:

  1. Number of associate-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of associate-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of associate-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Average amount of federal grant aid awarded to full-time first-time undergraduates
  8. Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
  9. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  10. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  11. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

The graduate school ranking scored schools based on 9 criteria, different from the undergraduate list. These 9 criteria were as follows:

  1. Number of master’s-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of master’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of master’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  8. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  9. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools’ tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

 

Sources

  1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2018, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  2. American Hospital Directory, Accessed July 2018, https://www.ahd.com/
  3. Supply and Demand Projections of the Nursing Workforce: 2014-2030, HRSA, Accessed July 2018, https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bhw/nchwa/projections/NCHWA_HRSA_Nursing_Report.pdf
  4. Forecasts & Strategies, Florida Center for Nursing, Accessed July 2018, https://www.flcenterfornursing.org/ForecastsStrategies/AboutourForecastsStrategies.aspx
  5. Florida Center for Nursing, Accessed July 2018, https://www.flcenterfornursing.org/DesktopModules/Bring2mind/DMX/Download.aspx?Command=Core_Download&EntryId=1608&PortalId=0&TabId=151
  6. The History of Nurse Practice Acts, ATrain Education, Accessed July 2018, https://www.atrainceu.com/course-module-short-view/2011915-110_florida-laws-and-rules-module-01
  7. UCF College of Nursing, Accessed July 2018, http://www.nursing.ucf.edu
  8. Fast Facts, UF College of Nursing, Accessed July 2018, https://nursing.ufl.edu/about/fast-facts/
  9. Accreditation, Florida Atlantic University, Accessed July 2018, http://nursing.fau.edu/about/college-at-a-glance/acceditation.php
  10. School of Nursing, University of West Florida, Accessed July 2018, https://uwf.edu/coh/departments/school-of-nursing/
  11. Florida Board of Nursing, Accessed July 2018, http://floridasnursing.gov
  12. Florida Nurses Association, Accessed July 2018, https://www.floridanurse.org/
  13. Florida Nursing Students Association, Accessed July 2018, https://www.fnsa.net/
  14. Florida Association of School Nurses, Accessed July 2018, http://www.fasn.net/home
  15. Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners, Accessed July 2018, https://www.flanp.org/?
  16. Florida Hospital Orlando, Accessed July 2018, https://www.floridahospital.com/orlando
  17. Jackson Memorial Hospital, Accessed July 2018, http://www.jacksonhealth.org/jackson-memorial.asp
  18. Orlando Regional Medical Center, Accessed July 2018, https://www.orlandohealth.com/facilities/orlando-regional-medical-center
  19. CEUfast Online Nursing Continuing Education Course Library, Accessed July 2018, https://ceufast.com/courses

Explore schools offering nursing programs