When Carol A. Mello (named “Community Health/ Home Health Nurse of 2017” by Rhode Island Monthly magazine) found out that her great-niece did not want to be a nurse because she didn’t want to work in a hospital, her response was, “But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a nurse!” Indeed, there are a multitude of opportunities for nurses in Rhode Island. In addition to hospitals, Rhode Island nurses can be found working in doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics, elementary and high schools, patient homes and research universities, to name just a few.

If you’re considering nursing, regardless of where you hope to work, Rhode Island’s nursing schools are a great place to get started. Read on for information on the best nursing schools in Rhode Island, details of the state’s nursing certification and licensure process, and a list of professional associations that may be able to help advance your education or even your career.

Featured Nursing Schools in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Badge ImageThere are 5 schools offering nursing degree programs at various levels in Rhode Island. To help prospective nurses in Rhode Island make an informed decision about which of these schools to attend, we’ve collected data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and displayed it below in two featured lists: one list for graduate students and one for undergrads.

Nursing Accreditation in Rhode Island

Accreditation is one of the most important features to consider when choosing a nursing school. In order to become accredited, nursing schools in Rhode Island must demonstrate that their facilities, clinical experience opportunities and level of instruction meet or exceed established state standards of quality.

All schools displayed on NursingDegrees are accredited by official regional or national organizations. However, in case you’re considering applying to a school that is not in our rankings, make sure the nursing school you choose is recognized by an official accrediting body that is recognized by the state of Rhode Island, such as:

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

Rhode Island Nursing Licensure

To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Rhode Island, students are required to earn a diploma or certificate from a college-level LPN program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for practical nurses (NCLEX-PN). Registered nurses (RNs) in the state must complete an associate’s degree or other acceptable credential from an RN education program and pass the national registered nursing exam (NCLEX-RN).

Those who wish to advance their careers and work as a nurse practitioner (NP) or other advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) are required to hold master’s degrees or higher in their nursing specialty and provide reports of any criminal convictions, plea arrangements or ethics issues that may have arisen in the past.

Rhode Island Nursing Organizations

Professional nursing associations and organizations can assist nurses with many aspects of their careers and personal growth. Different organizations in Rhode Island can connect nurses to many different opportunities for continuing education, professional networking, career development and other helpful resources. Here’s a few of the professional nursing organizations available to nurses and nursing students in Rhode Island:

  • Rhode Island State Nurses Association (RISNA):

    RISNA is part of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and is dedicated to promoting the profession of nursing and improving nursing practice in Rhode Island. Members can take advantage of discounted CE modules and members-only journals and publications.

  • Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Rhode Island:

    The NP Alliance of Rhode Island’s mission is to improve the professional and business environments for nurse practitioners and gain educational support for nurse practitioner students. Members have access to exclusive networking opportunities and discounts on conference attendance.

  • Student Nurses Association of Rhode Island (SNARI):

    This organization was created to promote student participation in activities relevant to nursing, helping nursing students to earn experience and practice their skills before starting an official nursing career. SNARI works to achieve this goal by hosting monthly meetings and various community outreach events.

Rhode Island-Specific Continuing Education

Continuing education (CE) requirements for LPNs and RNs state that 10 contact hours must be completed every two years. NPs and other APRNs must also complete 10 contact hours every two-year licensing period, but there may be other requirements that vary based on their chosen advanced nursing specialty. Visit the Rhode Island Department of State nursing portal for up-to-date information on CE requirements for different specialties of Rhode Island NPs.

Hospitals in Rhode Island

Over 60 percent of RNs across the country work in hospital environments, so students at Rhode Island nursing schools would do well to have some information about the major medical centers in their area before graduation. Here’s an introduction to three of the largest hospitals in the state:

  • Rhode Island Hospital (Providence): In addition to being the largest hospital in the state, Rhode Island Hospital is home to the only Level 1 trauma center and verified burn center in Rhode Island. It offers elite levels of expertise in cancer, cardiology, neuroscience and several other specialties.
  • Kent Hospital (Warwick): Kent Hospital features more than 30 areas of specialty care and is also an affiliate of the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM) for medical education.
  • Our Lady of Fatima Hospital (North Providence): Our Lady of Fatima Hospital is a for-profit hospital sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. It offers a wide range of services such as wound care, a sleep disorder lab, rehabilitation, breast cancer care and pediatric dentistry.
Sources & 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.



  • 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 September 2018, https://www.ahd.com/
  • Rhode Island’s Top Nurses, Rhode Island Monthly, Accessed September 2018, https://www.rimonthly.com/rhode-islands-top-nurses/2/
  • Nursing, State of Rhode Island Department of Health, Accessed September 2018, http://health.ri.gov/licenses/detail.php?id=231
  • NN Nursing Network, American Nurses Association Rhode Island, Accessed September 2018, http://www.risna.org/
  • ENP Network, NP Alliance of Rhode Island, Accessed September 2018, https://npari.enpnetwork.com/
  • Student Nurses’ Association of Rhode Island, Accessed September 2018, http://www.snari.org/
  • Rhode Island Hospital, Accessed September 2018, https://www.rhodeislandhospital.org/
  • Kent Hospital, Accessed September 2018, http://www.kentri.org/
  • Fatima Hospital, Accessed September 2018, http://www.fatimahospital.com/
  • Licensing of Nurses and Standards for the Approval of Basic Nursing Education Programs, Rhode Island Department of State, Accessed December 2018, https://rules.sos.ri.gov/regulations/part/216-40-05-3
  • Membership, The NP Alliance of Rhode Island, Accessed December 2018, https://npari.enpnetwork.com/membership/new
  • Member Benefits, Rhode Island, American Nurses Association, Accessed December 2018, https://risna.nursingnetwork.com/page/66121-member-benefits
  • Members, Student Nurses’ Association of Rhode Island, Accessed December 2018, http://www.snari.org/members.html