The Best Nursing Schools in the US
When searching for the best nursing schools in the U.S, aspiring nurses should review state-specific requirements in the geographic areas in which they would like to work. While the process for becoming a nurse is similar in every state, there may be slight variations from place to place. Most states have a board of nursing that oversees the licensing and renewal requirements for each type of nurse.
Prospective nursing students can also browse programs by our ranking of the best nursing schools in each state. Proximity and program specifics are important to review for students searching for the best school for them.
Explore the Best Nursing Schools in Your State
Nursing Schools by State
Nursing Licensure by State
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the nurse licensure compact?
The nurse licensure compact is an agreement among states that mutually recognize nursing licenses. Nurses who hold a license in a participating state can also practice in any other state in the compact. This helps nursing professionals avoid having to go through the licensing process in order to work in more than one state. Both registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can operate under the nurse licensure compact and enjoy the benefits.
Residency does need to be in the licensing state. If a nurse makes a permanent move to another state, they will still need to apply for a new nursing license based on their new location.
How do I apply for a compact state nursing license?
Nurses who are already licensed in a state that’s part of the nurse licensure compact automatically hold a multi-state license. Aspiring nurses should refer to their state’s board of nursing to ensure they’re members of the compact and also to review nursing license requirements. Applicants should remember to stay on top of the relevant continuing education requirements as well; otherwise, they run the risk of letting both their state and multi-state license expire. It can be costly and time-consuming to reactivate a nursing license once it has expired. There is no time limit to how long a nurse can practice in a compact state.
How do I transfer my nursing license to another state?
Nurses who change their primary state of residence must apply for a nursing license in the new state, even if the state is a compact member. When moving from one compact state to another, nurses may apply for licensure by endorsement. Because there is no grace period, this step should be completed immediately after moving to the new state. Even unexpired licenses from the previous state are not valid in the new state. Licensure by endorsement is also available in states that aren’t part of the nurse licensure compact. Nurses should review the specific state’s requirements to prepare for the appropriate application process.
What are the nursing compact states?
31 states across the U.S. currently participate in the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC). Here is the full listing of participating states, according to the NCSBN :
- Kansas (Joining on July 1, 2019)
- Louisiana (Joining on July 1, 2019)
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Licensed nurses in any of these states may also work in the other states listed without having to apply for licensure by endorsement. The exception, of course, is if there is a permanent change in residency.
What state has the highest-paid nurses?
Aspiring nurses may choose where to practice based on the average salary of professionals in their area of expertise. However, it’s also smart for nurses to consider the local cost of living to ensure their money stretches as far as it can.
The top three states for highest nurse wages, for example, are also some of the most expensive places to live in the U.S: California, Hawaii and Washington, DC. Other high-wage states that may offer a more affordable cost of living are Massachusetts, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada.
The five states with the lowest pay are Arkansas, Iowa, Alabama, Mississippi and South Dakota. The cost of living (and potentially the cost of tuition for a nursing degree) in these states is more affordable than that of their higher-paying counterparts.