More than 25 percent of the current nursing workforce is within 5 years of retirement, according to a 2016 survey by the Illinois Center for Nursing, which emphasizes the need for new nurses statewide. In order to meet this demand, nursing schools in Illinois are hard at work educating the next generation of RNs and LVN/LPNs who can staff the hospitals, public health agencies, correctional facilities and ambulatory care organizations around the state.

As well as listing the top nursing schools in the state, this page explores how to become a nurse in Illinois, discusses nursing college accreditation and goes into state-specific requirements for employment in the nursing profession. Whether you want work at one of the top hospitals in Chicago or staff a clinic in a rural community, this page can help you get started.

Best Nursing Schools in Illinois

Illinois Badge ImageLooking for the right nursing school is no small task. Students may be concerned about the cost of tuition, the size of their classes or whether a given institution offers their chosen nursing specialty as an option. No matter what you’re looking for in a nursing school, the rankings below can help you make an informed decision about where to study.

Using data compiled by the Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we figured out which of the 90 nursing schools in the state could be called the best, creating separate lists for both the undergraduate and graduate level. Here are our rankings of the best graduate and undergraduate nursing schools in Illinois.

Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Undergraduate tuition
$32,540
Undergraduate graduation rate
73%
Undergraduate retention rate
86%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$36,070
Undergraduate graduation rate
64%
Undergraduate retention rate
75%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
94%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$32,320
Undergraduate graduation rate
52%
Undergraduate retention rate
72%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$30,656
Undergraduate graduation rate
48%
Undergraduate retention rate
67%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$8,589
Undergraduate graduation rate
55%
Undergraduate retention rate
63%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$7,576
Undergraduate graduation rate
49%
Undergraduate retention rate
73%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
93%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$19,200
Undergraduate graduation rate
42%
Undergraduate retention rate
84%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$10,116
Undergraduate graduation rate
69%
Undergraduate retention rate
81%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
86%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$7,056
Undergraduate graduation rate
13%
Undergraduate retention rate
61%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$8,617
Undergraduate graduation rate
56%
Undergraduate retention rate
75%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
94%
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
12
Graduate Tuition
$18,594
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Graduate Tuition
$6,652
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$7,765
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
6
Graduate Tuition
$15,660
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
6
Graduate Tuition
$16,000
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$8,880
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$13,464
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$13,518
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$10,410
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$13,502
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0

Nursing Accreditation in Illinois

Nurses in Illinois have a huge responsibility to the patients they serve, so it’s imperative that they earn a quality education. Accreditation is a way of ensuring that a school’s nursing curriculum meets the high educational standards a state expects, and it serves as an important step in affirming an institution’s quality of instruction.

The following are some of the accrediting organizations that students should look for in Illinois:

  • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

Illinois Nursing Licensure

After completing a state-approved degree program, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses must become licensed in order to work. Licensing requirements include passing the appropriate National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN), submitting fingerprints for a background check and paying a $200 fee to the state nursing board.

A new license is required in order for working RNs to become advanced practice nurses (APNs), whether as a nurse midwife, nurse practitioner (NP) or nurse anesthetist. In order to earn an APN license, you must first complete a graduate degree program in your chosen nursing specialty. Then you must supply the state licensing agency with your graduate transcripts, a copy of the nursing certification earned in your program and a $125 application fee.

Each type of nursing license in Illinois stays valid for a maximum of two years. Licenses for RNs and APNs expire on May 31 of every even-numbered year, while LPN licenses expire on January 31 of every odd-numbered year.

More information on how nurses in Illinois can earn and maintain their license can be found at www.idfpr.com/profs/nursing.asp.

Illinois Nursing organizations

Professional nursing organizations can be a major contributing factor to nurses’ success. They connect Illinois health care professionals with one another and offer opportunities to sharpen nursing skills and knowledge. Here are a few of the nursing organizations that may be helpful to nursing school students and graduates in Illinois:

  • Illinois Nurses Association:

    The INA is a nurses’ union dedicated to improving clinical workplace environments in the state and educating nurses about their rights. Members have access to exclusive health care plans as well as networking events, workshops and seminars where they can learn from each other and stay abreast of developments in the field.

  • Illinois Association of School Nurses:

    This affiliate of the Illinois Education Association has been supplying its members with resources, mentorship services and continuing education opportunities since 1957. Students who hope to work in Illinois schools as nursing instructors may even be able to qualify for IASN scholarships.

  • Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing:

    The ISAPN supports advanced practice nurses by helping them to develop their knowledge and skills, in particular those necessary for leadership roles at health care facilities. Membership benefits include job leads, an annual conference, networking events and continuing education.

  • Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders:

    Nurses in leadership roles are tasked with managing their employees in addition to keeping their own practice skills sharp. This organization supports nurse leaders in both of these endeavors with mentoring assistance, leadership development opportunities, continuing education and networking events.

Illinois-Specific Continuing Education

The nursing field is constantly changing, so it’s important for professionals to keep up with the advancements in technology and technique. To this end, the state of Illinois requires that nurses complete at least 20 hours of state-approved continuing education coursework before they may apply to renew an expiring license.

Specific continuing education (CE) requirements may depend on a range of factors, such as your chosen nursing specialty and the amount of formal education you’ve already completed. Some common topics in CE classes include women’s health, leadership, nursing ethics and alternative medicine.

Hospitals in Illinois

Hospitals are an integral part of the nursing field. The Illinois Center for Nursing reports that over half of nurses in the state work in hospitals and other acute care settings. On top of that, hospitals often play a role in training nurses by partnering with schools to offer clinical experience opportunities for students. Here are some details about three of the biggest hospitals in Illinois:

  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago) Northwestern Memorial Hospital is an academic medical center that trains doctors in a variety of specialties, such as gynecology, geriatrics, orthopedics and urology. Through its partnership with the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, the hospital has been recognized for its gold-standard nursing training.
  • Evanston Hospital (Evanston) Evanston Hospital has been providing comprehensive acute care to patients since it opened in 1891. Some of the facility’s specialties include high-risk obstetrics, palliative care and cutting-edge lab capabilities.
  • Advocate Christ Medical Center (Oak Lawn) Advocate Christ Medical Center is a faith-based facility dedicated to holistic care. It is the home of one of the busiest Level 1 trauma centers in the state, providing care to over 105,000 patients each year. Its exemplary cancer care, transplant and women’s health services make it a leading referral facility in the state.
Sources & Methodology

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we gathered data for 6,758 United States institutions. We then filtered that list of schools by state and analyzed the data for each state with two different methodologies, in order to create two different lists: our undergraduate list, based on 11 ranking criteria, and our graduate list, based on 9 ranking criteria.

Final data for the 2016-17 school year was used for these rankings. Schools that did not provide data for all of the required ranking criteria were disqualified from that ranking.

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

  1. Number of associate- and bachelor’s-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of associate- and bachelor’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of associate- and bachelor’s-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- and doctoral-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of master’s- and doctoral-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of master’s- and doctoral-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

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2018, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • American Hospital Directory, Accessed August 2018, https://www.ahd.com/
  • Registered Nurse Workforce Survey 2016, Illinois Center for Nursing, Accessed August 2018, http://nursing.illinois.gov/PDF/2017-10-18_icn_rnws_final.pdf
  • Approvals and Accreditation, Ambria College of Nursing, Accessed August 2018, http://www.ambria.edu/Ambria/ApprovalsAccreditation/tabid/230/Default.aspx
  • Chamberlain College of Nursing Chicago Campus, Accessed August 2018, https://www.chamberlain.edu/nursing-school/illinois/chicago
  • Accreditation, Mennonite College of Nursing – Illinois State, Accessed August 2018, https://nursing.illinoisstate.edu/about/accreditation.php
  • About Us, UIC College Of Nursing, Accessed August 2018, https://www.nursing.uic.edu/about-us/about-us#accreditation
  • Become Nurse In Illinois + Requirements & Licensing, NurseJournal.org, Accessed August 2018, https://nursejournal.org/licensing/illinois-nursing-requirements/
  • Advanced Practice Nurse, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Accessed August 2018, https://www.idfpr.com/Renewals/apply/forms/rn-apn.pdf
  • IL LPN Continuing Education Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Accessed August 2018, http://nursing.illinois.gov/PDF/2017-07_IL_LPN_CE_Relicensure_FAQ.pdf
  • Illinois: Board of Nursing CE Requirements, Nurse.com, Accessed August 2018, https://www.nurse.com/state-nurse-ce-requirements/illinois
  • Illinois Nurses Association, Accessed August 2018, http://www.illinoisnurses.com/
  • Illinois Association of School Nurses, Accessed August 2018, https://iasn.org/
  • Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, Accessed August 2018, https://www.isapn.org/
  • Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders, Accessed August 2018, https://www.ionl.org/
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Accessed August 2018, https://www.nm.org/locations/northwestern-memorial-hospital
  • Evanston Hospital, Accessed August 2018, https://www.northshore.org/locations/our-hospitals/evanston-hospital/
  • Advocate Christ Medical Center, Accessed August 2018, https://www.advocatehealth.com/cmc/
  • Renewals, Nurse Practice Act, Administrative Code, Illinois General Assembly, Accessed December 2018, http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/068/068013000A00400R.html

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