When the United States entered World War I, Pennsylvania-born nurse Helen Fairchild went overseas with 63 other Pennsylvania nurses to care for wounded soldiers. The pages and pages of letters she wrote home paint a poignant picture of combat nursing during the war, and drive home the enormous impact nurses have on the lives of their patients.

There are many sick and injured people across the world who are in need of a nurse’s care, and Pennsylvania nurses are helping to provide that care even as we speak, working in hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, outpatient clinics and patient homes. If it’s your goal to do the same, then you should be aware of Pennsylvania nursing schools, licensing requirements, professional organizations and more. Fortunately, that’s what we’re here for.

Best Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

NursingDegrees.com used data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to create two separate rankings of the top nursing schools in Pennsylvania: one for undergraduate students and another for graduate students. For more details about our ranking methodology, visit the bottom of this page.

Prospective nurses in Pennsylvania can use our rankings to learn about the tuition and fees, acceptance rate, and other important factors regarding nursing schools in the state, as well as to see how one school compares against another. With this information, they can make an informed decision about what school(s) to apply to, rather than wasting time, money and energy applying to a school that is not what they are looking for.

01
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Undergraduate tuition
$13,590
Undergraduate graduation rate
46%
Undergraduate retention rate
78%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
87%
02
Temple University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$15,384
Undergraduate graduation rate
71%
Undergraduate retention rate
90%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
91%
03
Cedar Crest College
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$36,225
Undergraduate graduation rate
56%
Undergraduate retention rate
79%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
04
Eastern University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$30,780
Undergraduate graduation rate
58%
Undergraduate retention rate
78%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
05
York College Pennsylvania
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$16,970
Undergraduate graduation rate
61%
Undergraduate retention rate
78%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
06
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$7,238
Undergraduate graduation rate
49%
Undergraduate retention rate
74%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
95%
07
Misericordia University
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$29,150
Undergraduate graduation rate
74%
Undergraduate retention rate
82%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
08
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State...
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$13,868
Undergraduate graduation rate
67%
Undergraduate retention rate
83%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
83%
09
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campu...
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$16,952
Undergraduate graduation rate
86%
Undergraduate retention rate
93%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
65%
10
Pennsylvania State University-Penn State...
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$13,868
Undergraduate graduation rate
63%
Undergraduate retention rate
85%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
79%
01
University of Pennsylvania
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
14
Graduate Tuition
$32,286
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
02
Villanova University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
8
Graduate Tuition
$17,917
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
03
University of Scranton
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Graduate Tuition
$11,352
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
04
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Camp...
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
9
Graduate Tuition
$21,748
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
05
DeSales University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
8
Graduate Tuition
$19,560
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
06
Duquesne University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
5
Graduate Tuition
$22,212
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
5
07
Gwynedd Mercy University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Graduate Tuition
$11,772
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
08
Messiah College
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$11,250
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
09
Holy Family University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Graduate Tuition
$13,248
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
10
La Salle University
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
7
Graduate Tuition
$23,020
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1

Nursing Accreditation in Pennsylvania

Accreditation is a stamp of approval that no school should be without. An accredited nursing school in Pennsylvania has undergone an extensive review and evaluation by one or several organizations to check whether that institution meets certain basic academic standards for the United States. Students at an accredited nursing school may qualify for more financial aid, may be able to transfer credits to other schools more easily, and may have an edge over candidates who attended an unaccredited school when it comes to the hiring process.

All of this makes it very important for students to make sure the nursing school(s) they apply to are accredited by an official accreditation agency. Some of the major agencies in Pennsylvania include:

  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC)

Pennsylvania Nursing Licensure

In Pennsylvania, students who wish to work as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are required to complete an LPN program and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Usually LPN-oriented academic programs are either undergraduate certificate programs, but earning an associate degree in nursing can work as well.

Registered nurses (RNs) may be able to enter the field of registered nursing by earning either an associate degree in nursing or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Either way, they must pass the NCLEX-RN exam after graduation before they can practice as an official RN.

RNs who would like to become certified registered nurse practitioners (CRNPs) are required to earn a master’s degree in nursing and pass the national NP certification exam. Additional courses or certifications may be necessary for some of the many specialty nurse practitioner careers, such as becoming a nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist, but these requirements can be flexible depending on your situation. Checking with potential employers to see what options you have available to you might be a wise way to understand what you may need to do in order to pursue a specific NP specialization.

To learn more about nursing licensure in Pennsylvania, you may wish to review the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

Pennsylvania Nursing Organizations

Pennsylvania hosts a number of nursing organizations that can be of service to nursing students and working nurses. Here’s a brief overview of a few of these organizations:

  • Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA):

    PSNA’s mission is to lead, advocate and connect with registered nurses across the Commonwealth. This organization works on two fronts: first, it helps Pennsylvania nurses refine and sharpen their knowledge. Second, it builds and maintains relationships with leaders in the state.

  • Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP):

    PASNAP is a union of dedicated nurses and allied health professionals. Together, they promote legislation in Harrisburg and Washington for safe nurse-to-patient-ratios.

  • Nurses of Pennsylvania: 

    The nonprofit Nurses of Pennsylvania organization works toward a future where the healthcare system puts patients first. Safe staffing, better patient care and putting patients above profits are all goals of this group

PENNSYLVANIA-SPECIFIC CONTINUING EDUCATION

In order to maintain the active status of their nursing licensure, nurses in Pennsylvania must complete certain continuing education requirements. RNs are required to complete 30 hours during biennial renewal periods, while LPNs must participate in two hours of child abuse recognition and reporting that is approved by the Department of Human Services.

When they are renewing their licenses, LPNs need to complete at least two hours of continuing education. For CRNPs, 16 hours related to pharmacology is required. For up-to-date information on continuing education requirements for Pennsylvania nurses, visit this resource.

Hospitals in Pennsylvania

It is important for Pennsylvania nursing students to be aware of the hospitals in their state. Hospitals can be an excellent place for nurses to earn experience, whether they are just starting out at the entry level or whether they’ve been working as a nurse for years. The three largest hospitals in Pennsylvania include:

  1. Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest (Allentown): Lehigh Valley Hospital is the flagship hospital of the nonprofit Lehigh Valley Health Network. This facility provides a variety of services to patients, including breast health services, burn care, a cancer center and neonatal intensive care.
  2. Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia): The history of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (aka Penn Medicine) began when the nation’s first medical school was founded at the University of Pennsylvania in 1765. This academic medical center has several important discoveries to its name, including the first general vaccine against pneumonia and the discovery of the Philadelphia chromosome.
  3. Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia (Philadelphia): Einstein Medical Center is equipped with an accredited Level I regional Resource Trauma Center and a notoriously busy emergency room. One of its many important services is the Spine Institute, where orthopedics, neurosurgery, neurology, pain management and rehabilitation are combined to help patients manage and prevent back pain.
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 August 2018, https://www.ahd.com/
  3. Helen Fairchild: Reflection in Nursing, Nursing Theory, Accessed August 2018, http://www.nursing-theory.org/famous-nurses/Helen-Fairchild.php
  4. Continuing Education Information, Pennsylvania Department of State, Accessed August 2018, https://www.dos.pa.gov/ProfessionalLicensing/BoardsCommissions/Nursing/Pages/Continuing-Education.aspx
  5. Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, Accessed August 2018, https://www.psna.org/
  6. Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses & Allied Professionals, Accessed August 2018, http://www.pennanurses.org/
  7. About Us, Nurses of Pennsylvania, Accessed August 2018, https://www.nursesofpa.org/about/
  8. Lehigh Valley Hospital Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital Network, Accessed August 2018, https://www.lvhn.org/facilities_directions/hospital_locations/campuses/lehigh_valley_hospital%E2%80%93cedar_crest
  9. Penn Medicine, Accessed August 2018, https://www.pennmedicine.org
  10. What It Means to Be an Academic Medical Center, Penn Medicine, Accessed September 2018, https://www.pennmedicine.org/about/benefits-of-an-academic-medical-center
  11. Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, Einstein Healthcare Network, Accessed August 2018, https://www.einstein.edu/einstein-medical-center-philadelphia
  12. Spine Institute, Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, Accessed September 2018, https://www.einstein.edu/spine-institute

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