Choosing the Right Nursing School

With so many options for nursing school, it can seem daunting to select the right school for you. This guide will discuss the various types of institutions that offer nursing degrees. This is a very brief overview meant to encourage future students to research the type of institution they wish to attend.


  1. Which type of school did you attend (or currently attending)?

    • 4
      PUBLIC Non-Profit
    • 1
      Private Non-Profit
    • 0
      Private For-Profit

5 members have participated

Choosing the Right Nursing School

"Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to the nursing program at _________!"

It's the sentence that every prospective nursing student wants to read. You're on your way to becoming a registered nurse! To make it even better, you've been accepted to your dream school. Hooray! But wait, how did you know that this was the best program for you?

Well, you probably read the fantastically informative piece from Kate_Peds about choosing the right nursing school. (Thanks for letting me indulge myself just a little!) This is what you discovered:

There are three types of schools that you will encounter when searching for the right nursing program

  1. Non-profit public schools and universities
  2. Non-profit private universities
  3. For-profit private schools and universities

Between the three, you will find hundreds of different programs. How do you know which is the best for you? Take a look at this brief snapshot of each type of program and who should attend.

Non-profit Public Universities

What is it

These are your local state schools and other public universities. They have a physical, centrally located campus. They may be associated with a hospital system that can provide additional clinical rotations and resources to students. This is the most cost-effective choice for prospective nursing students. These schools typically offer in-state tuition or subsidized tuition, as well as scholarships for academic achievements.

Who should go to this program

Non-profit public universities are a great choice for any future nurse. While admission is competitive, these programs tend to attract experienced faculty members and hold relationships with very reputable clinical sites. Both graduation and NCLEX pass rates are fairly good at these schools.

Non-profit Private Universities

What is it

Non-profit private universities are often times smaller than public universities. Think more along the lines of a liberal arts college. An exception is Ivy league schools, who also fall into this category. Like their public school counterparts, they have a centrally located campus and attract qualified faculty. These programs tend to cost more, as they do not receive federal funding like the public universities do. They often times offer scholarships.

Who should go to this program

The greatest deterrent for private non-profit schools is the cost, so if you can get past that issue, these programs are excellent. Many non-profit private schools hold clinical rotations at the same reputable sites that nearby public universities do. A bonus of private non-profit schools is that they often times have shorter to no waiting lists compared to a public university, as the cost of the program means less students are applying at a time (Ivy League schools are the exception to this observation).

For-profit Private Universities

What are they

For-profit schools often offer programs across a large region as opposed to a single state. These schools may or may not have a central, physical university campus (some may have several small classrooms or satellite campuses in a region). They are typically expensive and have limited opportunities for mitigating costs (no in-state tuition, no to very few scholarship opportunities). Admission requirements for these programs tend to be more liberal than those of public and private non-profit programs. Controversy surrounding exit exams and student retention rates have increased the scrutiny of graduation and pass rates at these schools in recent years.

Who should go to this program

Due to high cost, validity of graduation and pass rates, and lack of central location, those choosing to attend a for-profit private university should do so with extreme caution. Some potential employers refuse to consider degrees from these schools, while others care only if a graduate has come from an accredited program. You can research this information in your area or speak with potential employers yourself to find out their opinions on competitive degrees.

So, there you have it. A very brief and concise snapshot of the various types of institutions that offer nursing degrees. Not all of the points made about each type of school is an absolute. A successful student will attend an accredited, affordable school with a solid reputation. Being informed about your future program is the first step in making the right decision. I hope that this overview brought you one step closer to receiving a "Congratulations!" from your dream school. ?

Kate_Peds is a registered nurse and the author of, a career and advocacy blog for nurses. She works at a children's hospital and loves taking care of kids.

4 Articles   35 Posts

Share this post

Share on other sites


4 Articles; 35 Posts

It is important for future students to ensure that both the university and the nursing school itself are accredited by the appropriate bodies. Just because a school is well-known does not mean it is immune from these types of citations.


13 Posts

Kate_Peds said:
Great point! It is important for future students to ensure that both the university and the nursing school itself are accredited by the appropriate bodies. Just because a school is well-known does not mean it is immune from these types of citations.

Yes, without a doubt. It is also vitally important to know the financial underpinnings of the schools that relentlessly troll for students even on this site; since some have delisted from the stock exchange making it is hard to get a handle on how financially stable they are. In essence their books remain closed.

All one has to do is look at how quickly ITT Tech went up in smoke recently. The absurd thing is that they were running TV ads right up to the point of the school abruptly shutting down leaving thousands stranded without degrees and expensive loans to pay. The Corinthian debacle was the same way. These two for profits had good accreditation.

So I suppose my point is that while accreditation is important and a must, it still will not help much if the school you go to has great accrediting but going down the financial drain.

Unfortunately, the schools in question, especially some the the big for profits like South University continue to recruit the unsuspecting without ever letting on that their accreditation status is shaky, enrollment is plummeting and that many of their other brands owned by Educational Management Corporation are in teach-outs.

Not divulging these reputably published facts to prospective students is deceptive and unethical to say the least. It puts many in jeopardy they may not even be aware of.

I wish I could say better of them but they've had their time in the sun and have since dropped the ball.