If you're considering a nursing career in Alabama, it's important to understand the diverse educational pathways available to aspiring nurses.
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Whether you're interested in entry-level nursing degrees like the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or RN to BSN programs, or if you're thinking about advancing your nursing education through Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs, Alabama offers a range of options to suit your goals.
Discover the best nursing schools and programs Alabama has to offer, along with everything you need to know about studying in the Yellowhammer State, salary expectations, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Best Undergraduate Nursing Programs in Alabama
The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most, with the addition of NCLEX pass rates (when applicable), graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rates of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.
Undergraduate nursing degrees in Alabama include:
Best ADN Programs in Alabama
ADN is a two-year program that provides essential nursing education and clinical training. Graduates are eligible to become registered nurses (RNs) and can enter the workforce more quickly than those pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). ADN programs are a popular choice for those seeking faster entry into the nursing field.
There are 25 Nursing Associate programs in the state of Alabama, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Below, we've ranked the top 15.
1. Gadsden State Community College
Gadsden State as a whole focuses on affordability and accessibility. The ADN Degree program is a standout with low costs and strong NCLEX-RN results with nearly 92% passing in 2022. The program has been ACEN-accredited since 1984.
2. Calhoun Community College
Calhoun Community College in Tanner offers an AAS degree in nursing at an estimated annual cost of $6,604. With 95 students in 2022 and an impressive 95% NCLEX pass rate, this ACEN-accredited program provides excellent education and preparation for nursing careers.
3. Coastal Alabama Community College
Located in Bay Minette, CACC presents an ADN program with a tuition cost of $6,043. ACEN-accredited and serving 161 students in 2022, the program boasts a remarkable 95% NCLEX pass rate, ensuring students are well-prepared for success.
4. Wallace State Community College
Wallace State Community College, located in Hanceville, AL, offers an ADN program with an annual tuition of $8,467. With a class of 171 students in 2022 and a 95% NCLEX pass rate, this ACEN-accredited program equips students with the skills needed to excel in their nursing licensure exams. Lawson State Community College
5. Lawson State Community College
Lawson State Community College, based in Birmingham, Alabama, provides an ADN program at a cost of $5,820. ACEN-accredited and serving 27 students in 2022, the program achieves an 89% NCLEX pass rate, offering students valuable training and preparation for a rewarding nursing career.
NCLEX Pass Rates
Gadsden State Community
|93.94||Calhoun Community College||AAS||Tanner||$6,604||95||95%||Yes|
Coastal Alabama Community
Wallace State Community
Lawson State Community
Jefferson State Community
Central Alabama Community
Snead State Community
University of West Alabama
Best BSN in Alabama
A BSN is a four-year undergraduate program that offers a comprehensive nursing education. BSN graduates are well-prepared for a wide range of nursing roles and may have more opportunities for career advancement and specialization. Many healthcare facilities prefer or require RNs to have a BSN due to the broader scope of education and skills it provides. Below, we've ranked the top 12 in Alabama.
1. University of North Alabama
The University of North Alabama in Florence offers a BSN program with an estimated annual tuition of $12,631. With an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 99% and ACEN accreditation, this program ensures a strong foundation for aspiring nurses.
2. University of Alabama
Pursue your BSN at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, with an estimated annual tuition of $16,585. Accredited by ACEN and boasting a remarkable NCLEX pass rate of 99%, this program equips students with essential skills for their nursing careers.
3. University of Alabama – Birmingham
At the University of Alabama's Birmingham campus, explore their BSN program with an estimated annual tuition of $16,585. The program maintains a stellar NCLEX pass rate of 99% and holds ACEN accreditation, providing quality nursing education.
4. University of Alabama – Huntsville
At the University of Alabama's Huntsville campus, the BSN program offers an estimated annual tuition of $16,585, providing aspiring nurses with a pathway to a rewarding career. Accredited by ACEN and achieving an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 98%, this program ensures students receive a quality education.
5. University of Mobile
The University of Mobile in Mobile offers a BSN program with an estimated annual tuition of $18,986. Accredited by ACEN and boasting a remarkable NCLEX pass rate of 100%, this program provides a supportive environment for aspiring nurses to thrive.
NCLEX Pass Rates
|99.06||University of North Alabama||BSN||Florence||$12,631||99%||Yes|
|95.51||University of Alabama||BSN||Tuscaloosa||$16,585||99%||Yes|
|95.51||University of Alabama at Birmingham||BSN||Birmingham||$16,585||99%||Yes|
|95.06||University of Alabama in Huntsville||BSN||Huntsville||$16,585||98%||Yes|
|93.80||University of Mobile||BSN||Mobile||$18,986||100%||Yes|
|93.61||University of South Alabama||BSN||Mobile||$16,223||94%||Yes|
|91.88||Auburn University at Montgomery||BSN||Montgomery||$13,689||85%||Yes|
|91.27||Jacksonville State University||BSN||Jacksonville||$18,336||93%||Yes|
|89.87||Spring Hill College||BSN||Mobile||$20,891||95%||Yes|
Best Graduate Degrees in Alabama
The most common graduate degrees in Alabama are:
Best MSN Programs in Alabama
An MSN is an advanced graduate degree program that allows RNs to gain specialized knowledge and expertise in various nursing fields. MSN programs typically require one to two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree in nursing and offer a range of specializations, including nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse administrator, and more. Graduates of MSN programs are prepared for advanced clinical practice and leadership roles in healthcare.
The MSN program at UAB offers four distinct pathways:
- Nurse Midwives
- Nurse Practitioners
- Health Systems Leaders
- Accelerated Master's in Nursing
Each pathway provides students the opportunity to learn from leading nursing and interprofessional faculty at Alabama's Academic Health Science Center. This foundation empowers them to make a difference in the lives of the patients and families they serve.
Auburn University's MSN program offers two tracks:
- Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Educator
Graduates from Auburn University's MSN programs are ready to lead in educator and APRN roles in health-related services to diverse populations. Students are required to complete a capstone paper regarding evidence-based intervention in either track.
UNA's MSN program offers four tracks:
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
UNA's MSN professors bring real-world experience to their classrooms, serving as the foundation for their programs, which offer flexible course schedules, competitive pricing, and a highly reputable education.
JSU offers three main MSN tracks
- Population Health Nursing
- Population Health with a Concentration in Nursing Education
- Population Health with a Concentration in Emergency Management
The program is designed to prepare advanced population health nurses to address vulnerable populations and communities as they exist and evolve into the future.
Samford University offers three MSN tracks:
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- FNP with Emergency Specialty
- Family and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Samford University's faculty offers deep clinical and leadership experience, ensuring students are prepared for their roles as APRNs after graduation, whether they lead teams of caregivers or entire organizations.
Best DNP Programs in Alabama
A DNP is a terminal doctoral degree in nursing that emphasizes advanced clinical practice, leadership, and evidence-based healthcare. DNP programs are designed for experienced nurses, often those with an MSN, who seek the highest level of nursing education. DNP programs focus on enhancing clinical skills, healthcare systems leadership, and the ability to implement research into practice. Graduates of DNP programs are prepared for leadership roles, advanced clinical practice, and influencing healthcare policy and practice.
UAB's DNP program offers students five main pathways:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Anesthesia
- Post-MSN to DNP
- Nurse Executives
- Nurse Leadership in Population Health
While the NP and CRNA programs require a BSN, the Nurse Executive and Nurse Leadership in Population Health programs require an MSN for entry, as they qualify as post-MSN programs.
The advanced practice DNP program at Samford University is for master's-prepared APRNs and is intended to prepare them for the most advanced levels of practice. Graduates will be able to effectively advance the management of individuals, families, and the population, improving the safety and quality of their care.
The DNP at Auburn University is a post-master's program designed for APRNs holding national certification in their specialty. The program builds on the competencies acquired through previous studies and provides additional specialized knowledge and skills to prepare them for higher levels of practice.
JSU offers three DNP tracks:
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Post-Master's DNP
JSU's DNP on advanced clinical practice, leadership, informatics and technology, quality indicators and outcomes improvement, and translation of evidence to practice in healthcare delivery.
Troy University offers three DNP tracks:
- Post-Master's DNP
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Leader
Each program enables nurses to become expert leaders and collaborators in solving health programs by infusing the nursing community with qualified educators.
Studying Nursing in Alabama
Studying nursing in Alabama can offer a unique and rewarding educational experience. Here's what to expect:
- Quality Nursing Programs: Alabama is home to several reputable nursing schools and universities that offer a range of nursing programs, including ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP. These programs are designed to provide students with a solid foundation in nursing theory and clinical practice.
- Diverse Healthcare Settings: Alabama's diverse healthcare landscape provides nursing students with opportunities to gain clinical experience in various settings. From large urban hospitals to rural healthcare facilities, students can learn to adapt to different patient populations and healthcare environments.
- Experienced Faculty: Nursing schools in Alabama typically have experienced and dedicated faculty members who are passionate about nursing education. They often have a wealth of clinical experience and can provide valuable insights to students.
- Community Involvement: Many nursing programs in Alabama emphasize community involvement and service. Students may have opportunities to participate in healthcare outreach programs and gain hands-on experience in underserved communities.
- Clinical Training: Alabama offers a wide range of clinical training sites, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and public health departments. This diversity allows nursing students to gain exposure to various aspects of healthcare.
- Supportive Nursing Organizations: Nursing students in Alabama can benefit from the support of professional organizations such as the Alabama State Nurses Association (ASNA) and the Alabama Board of Nursing. These organizations offer resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy for nursing students and professionals.
- Cost of Living: The cost of living in Alabama is generally lower compared to some other states, making it an attractive option for students seeking affordable education. This can be particularly advantageous for out-of-state students.
- Career Opportunities: After completing nursing programs in Alabama, graduates have opportunities to pursue nursing careers in the state or explore job prospects in neighboring regions. The demand for nurses in Alabama, as in many other states, remains strong.
- Licensing and Certification: Nursing students in Alabama will need to follow the state's licensing and certification requirements, which are administered by the Alabama Board of Nursing. This process typically involves passing the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN examination, depending on the level of nursing education.
It's important to note that the experience of studying nursing in Alabama can vary depending on the specific program and institution you choose. However, with its quality nursing education options, diverse clinical opportunities, and supportive nursing community, Alabama can be an excellent place to pursue a nursing career.
Salary Expectations in Alabama
Several factors can affect salary expectations for nursing professionals in Alabama, including education, experiences, healthcare facility, employer, demand for specialty, shift and hours, and more. The following averages are from the latest data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS). To develop the best understanding of potential salaries, it's important to conduct further research relevant to yourself and your employer.
Entry-Level Nursing Salaries in Alabama
According to the BLS, RNs in Alabama in 2022 earned:
- Mean Hourly Wage: $32.17
- Annual Mean Wage: $66,910
Unfortunately, the BLS does not specify whether this is an ADN-prepared RN or BSN-prepared RNs; however, given that a BSN is likely to increase earning potential, this is likely to be representative of slightly lower than the average BSN-RN salary.
RN salary in Alabama is 25% lower than the national estimates for 2022, as the BLS reports RNs across the U.S. earning:
- Mean Hourly Wage: $42.80
- Annual Mean Wage: $89,010
With the highest-paying states being:
- California: $133,340
- Hawaii: $113,220
- Oregon: $106,610
- Massachusetts: $104,150
- Alaska: $103,310
The BLS collected the Alabama RN wage data from over 49,370 nurses.
Graduate-Level Nursing Salaries in Alabama
For advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with an MSN or DNP, the BLS reported the average salaries in Alabama are:
- Nurse Practitioners: $106,610
- Nurse Anesthetists: $191,200
Compared to the national averages of:
- Nurse Practitioners: 124,680
- Nurse Anesthetists: $205,770
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Is it better to have an ADN or a BSN?
While obtaining an RN license after completing an ADN is possible, the opportunities after graduation and beyond are more significant with a BSN degree. BSNs focus more on research, leadership skills, and evidence-based practice, whereas an ADN primarily focuses on clinical skills.
Additionally, many healthcare institutions now require BSN-prepared RNs to fulfill various accreditation and Joint Commission requirements and to achieve the prestige of Magnet status.
Q: Is it better to have an MSN or DNP?
Whether it's better to have an MSN or a DNP depends on your career goals, the specific role you aspire to, and your personal circumstances. Here's a breakdown to help you decide:
- Advanced Clinical Practice: An MSN is suitable if you want to become an advanced practice nurse, such as a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist. MSN programs provide specialized clinical training and prepare you for advanced patient care.
- Quicker Entry into Practice: MSN programs are typically shorter in duration than DNP programs, allowing you to enter the workforce more quickly. This can be advantageous if you want to start your nursing career sooner.
- Focused on Clinical Skills: MSN programs emphasize clinical skills, making them a good choice if you intend to primarily focus on patient care and clinical practice.
- Advanced Practice and Leadership: A DNP is ideal if you aspire to hold leadership roles in nursing or want to combine advanced clinical practice with leadership responsibilities. DNPs are trained to lead healthcare organizations and drive evidence-based practice.
- Highest Clinical Expertise: While DNPs can also work in clinical practice, they often seek the highest level of clinical expertise in their specialty. This makes them suitable for roles demanding in-depth knowledge and complex patient care.
- Advocacy and Policy Influence: If you're interested in influencing healthcare policy, improving patient outcomes, or contributing to research and evidence-based practice, a DNP can equip you with the skills needed to effect change in the healthcare system.
- Research and Scholarly Pursuits: DNPs are often involved in research and scholarship, which can be appealing if you have a passion for advancing nursing science and practice.
The choice between an MSN and a DNP depends on your career aspirations. If you want to focus primarily on advanced clinical practice, an MSN is a suitable choice. If you aim to take on leadership roles, conduct research, or influence healthcare policy, a DNP may better align with your goals.
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