By BMSND Staff
Many nursing schools in the South are expanding their facilities and program offerings to accommodate the increasing demand for highly trained nurses in the region and across the nation. Some of these schools have yet to receive recognition from national publications, yet deserve consideration from aspiring nurses looking for a more affordable or accessible nursing school option.
In an attempt to discover these up-and-comers, we researched dozens of Southern schools with nursing departments and evaluated them in terms of their commitment to ongoing growth.
Rating and Ranking Methodology
- Innovative Instructional Methods (e.g., experiential learning) – 1 point
- Use of Cutting-Edge Technological Resources – 1 point
- Recent Facility Additions/Renovations – 1 point
- Related Student Organizations and Societies – 1 point
- Flexible Track Options (distance learning, weekend/evenings, accelerated degree programs) – 1 point
- Community Connections – 1 point
- “Wow” Factor – 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us
Up and Coming Nursing Schools in the South
The following schools have been determined to be the top ten up and coming nursing schools in the South. After rating them according to the methodology above, we list them here in descending order according to points awarded. In cases where two or more schools received the same number of points, we compared the tying schools by net price and assigned the higher ranking to the more affordable school.
#10 – Lynchburg College
Net Price: $23,576
Lynchburg College is a private, residential college in central Virginia that offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a Master of Science in Nursing from its School of Health and Human Performance. In addition, the school recently added a new option for its nursing students – the Accelerated 2nd- Degree Nursing Program ideal for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another area but wish to pursue a career in nursing. Nursing students may choose to get involved in campus life by joining the Student Nursing Association or the Xi Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta, the International Honor Society of Nursing.
#9 – Lenoir-Rhyne University
Hickory, North Carolina
Net Price: $19,369
Originally created by four Lutheran pastors in 1891, Lenoir-Rhyne University is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 2007, two of the university’s alumni gave the largest gift in the college’s history, $5.1 million, to be used for a nursing scholarship and improvements to athletic facilities. Lenoir-Rhyne celebrated 50 years of nursing education in April 2014. The school’s RIBN program, or Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses, allows students to enroll at a community college to complete their associate’s degree while also taking courses at Lenoir-Rhyne to accelerate their path towards a bachelor’s degree.
#8 – Mississippi College
Net Price: $16,418
A private, Christian liberal arts and sciences university, Mississippi College is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Mississippi. The School of Nursing was established in 1969, and more than 1500 nurses have graduated the program. Nursing students begin clinical experiences during their first semester, and thanks to the school’s urban location, students have the opportunity to receive clinical training a at one of many local facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, state mental institutions, and hospice and home care. Students also have the advantage of a study abroad program in Colombia, South America. MC has an overall NCLEX pass rate of 99.8%.
#7 – The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
Net Price: $10,907
The UVA Wise academic program for nursing offers a pre-licensure program in nursing as well as an RN to BSN for registered nurses who have either a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing. The RN to BSN program is designed to accommodate the schedules of working nurses, and courses can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. Students who perform in the top 35% of their class may be invited to join the Beta Kappa Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.
#6 – University of North Alabama
Net Price: $10,118
The University of Alabama has been a leader in the education of nurses since 1973 and is fully approved by the Alabama State Board of nursing. BSN and MSN online programs provide a virtual learning environment that is academically rigorous while still flexible enough to accommodate working students. Volunteer work is available at the nearby Shoals Community Clinic. Project OPEN is a recent addition to the university, and offers scholarships to under-represented and economically disadvantaged students so that they may complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
#5 – Midwestern State University
Wichita Falls, Texas
Net Price: $10,172
The Wilson School of Nursing at Midwestern State University offers three levels of nursing education: a pre-licensure program, a RN to BSN program, and a Master’s of Science in Nursing program. The school houses the J.S. Bridwell Regional Simulation Center, a 13,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility with a full-time staff of expert nurse educators, each of whom have more than 20 years of clinical experience. Here, students practice clinical skills using the facilities adult, birthing, and infant mannequins. The on-campus Student Nursing Association also provides opportunities for professional growth through community outreach projects.
#4 – Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Net Price: $7,737
A historically black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina, WSSU is the third largest producer of nurses in North Carolina and #1 in the UNC system for graduates receiving jobs in the state after commencement. The School of Health Sciences offers nursing programs on the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Post-graduate certificates are also available, including the Nurse Educator Certificate, the Advanced Nurse Educator Certificate, and the Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate. WSSU also has two virtual campuses where students perform clinical training and practice—one on campus and the other at nearby Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
#3 – Gardner Webb University
Boiling Springs, North Carolina
Net Price: $22,988
Gardner-Webb is a private Christian University that integrates scholarship with spiritual life. The school offers Associate’s through Doctorate degrees in Nursing as well as post graduate certificates while preparing professionals to practice nursing from a holistic, value-centered mindset. Instructors use simulation based learning in conjunction with traditional teaching methods, and educational internships provide students with opportunities for one-on-one mentorships from practicing RN’s. Online and hybrid opportunities are ideal for nontraditional students who want to study while working. The GWU Hunt School of Nursing recently participated in a Summer Science Academy, introducing middle and high school students to the nurse’s role in perioperative and operative settings.
#2 – Lees-McRae College
Banner Elk, North Carolina
Net Price: $21,057
Located at the center of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina, Lees-McRae is a four year, co-ed, residential college offering a wide variety of baccalaureate degrees. The new May School of Nursing and Health Sciences houses the Hart Simulation Center, an athletic training lab, an Anatomage table, and a full-size, fully equipped ambulance simulator. Lees-McRae students perform more than 1,100 clinical hours in the community and enjoy an 88% post-graduation career placement rate. Lees-McRae is also a pet-friendly campus and is home to a wildlife rehabilitation center that serves as a learning lab for students and provides care for more than 1,400 injured wild animals are cared for per year.
#1 – Armstrong State University
Net Price: $14,013
Armstrong State has been designated by the Board of Regents as a regional health professions education center since 1978. Since 2007, the university has produced more undergraduate health professionals than any other school in the University system of Georgia. The school’s Nursing Department has recently unveiled two new nursing programs—the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program and the Family Nurse Practitioner graduate degree program. The school’s Medical Laboratory Science program is also the largest in the state of Georgia. Armstrong was ranked #7 in the nation by Military Times among four year schools on the publication’s “Best for Vets: Colleges 2016” list.
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