The Best Nursing Schools in the United States

Find the best nursing schools in your state, based on the net monthly income of graduates one year after finishing a degree. The schools on these lists offer ACEN- and CCNE-accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees and ACEN-, CCNE-, COA-, and ACME-accredited Master of Science in Nursing degrees.

Explore the Best Nursing Bachelor's Degrees in Your State

Explore the Best Nursing Master's Degrees in Your State

Learn about Nursing Licensure by State

Read about nursing licensure in each state, and learn how to become a registered nurse, certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, or advanced practice registered nurse in each state. State nursing boards have rules that vary by state, so it's important to consider the specific laws in the state where you want to practice, as well as learn about whether a nursing license will transfer between states through the nursing licensure compact.

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, the nurse will still need to apply for a new nursing license based on the new location.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) maintains a list of states that are currently part of the compact.

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 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.