Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Delaware
Nursing projects to be one of the fastest-growing and highest-demanded jobs in the nation. But before anyone can begin a nursing career, they must become a registered nurse (RN).
On top of becoming an RN, aspiring nurses should strongly consider earning a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN). Not only does a BSN increase your employability, but BSN holding RNs earn over $30,000 more than non-BSN nurses.
Regardless of your desired education level, all nurses in Delaware begin their journey by attending nursing school.
This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,
- NCLEX pass rate
- Acceptance rate, when available
- Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible
Our selection panel includes 4 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.
- Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
- Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
- Kathleen Gaines, BSN, RN, BA, CBC
- Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN
Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Delaware nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
Top 10 Nursing Schools in Delaware
Annual Tuition: $12,192 (based on per-credit tuition) | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
Wilmington University is a large, private school with over 20,000 students enrolled. The school provides students with plenty of degree completion options, including multiple RN-BSN degrees online. The main option -- a standard RN-BSN -- takes roughly 1.5 years to complete and offers students the chance to accelerate into a master's of science in nursing (MSN). Other options include an accelerated second-degree RN-BSN and a pre-RN-BSN. While Wilmington University doesn't have a traditional BSN program, they do offer plenty of graduate-level nursing degrees, some of which are online programs.
Annual In-State Tuition: $14,280 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $35,710 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96%
One of the most historic universities in the U.S., the University of Delaware's first class had three signers of the Declaration of Independence. The main campus in Newark hosts most classes, including those taken by nursing students. UD's traditional BSN is the main focus of the undergraduate nursing programs, offering students a four-year BSN with incredible outcomes. Students are admitted into the nursing program during their freshman year, exposing them to nursing topics early on. Other nursing options include an online RN-BSN, an accelerated second degree BSN, and plenty of MSN, doctorate in nursing practice (DNP), and Ph.D. degree paths.
Annual In-State Tuition: $8,258 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $17,294 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 83.33%
Founded in 1891, Delaware State University is a Historically Black university and is one of the nation's first land-grant institutions. Students in the traditional BSN complete clinicals in and around Dover, gaining experience and developing a potential professional network. Nursing students in the top third of their class can join the Nursing Honors Society after their junior year, an elite group that impresses on resumes. Delaware State University's only other nursing program is a traditional MSN with a concentration in either global leadership or nursing education.
Annual In-State Tuition: $5,014 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $11,876 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.46%
One of three Delaware Technical Community College campuses that offers a nursing degree, the Owens campus in Georgetown is known as "the birthplace of Delaware Tech." The campus is based squarely in Georgetown, a small city that serves as the county seat. While the associate degree in nursing (ADN) is similar across the three campuses, each has different outcomes, faculty, and enrolled students. (The Owens campus has the fewest nursing students of the three.) Also, choosing a location to complete the degree is important to local students who may want to stay close to home. Delaware Tech may not directly offer a BSN, but graduates can always enroll in an online RN-BSN program.
Annual Tuition: $26,406 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 82.93%
Wesley College has grown a lot since it was founded as a preparatory school in 1873. Today, the college teaches 1,150 students in the small town of Dover, though over 4,000 students apply each year. The low school admission rate coupled with the small size of the BSN program (only 41 students graduated in the 2019 class) makes entry into this program highly competitive. The unique program has students begin clinicals in their first year, exposing students to important nursing skills early on. Wesley College also has an RN-MSN program with dual-degree or traditional options.
Annual In-State Tuition: $5,014 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $11,876 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.87%
The second of three Delaware Tech campuses that offers an ADN, the Stanton campus by far has the largest nursing program. In 2019, 123 students graduated and took the NCLEX, about 40 more than the next closest Delaware Tech campus. As a bigger program, competition into the ADN could be less intense than at other campuses, and Stanton still impresses with a strong NCLEX pass rate. As with the other campuses, no BSN program is available, though graduates can start nursing and earn an online RN-BSN.
Annual Tuition: $6,000 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%
Based in Lewes, Beebe Medical Center is primarily a healthcare facility, though it does have an accredited nursing school: the Margaret H. Rollins School of Nursing. This program leads to RN licensure and prepares students to complete a BSN through either Wilmington University or the University of Delaware, though this step isn't required. This two-year program doesn't lead to a diploma instead of an ADN, though it does prepare students to sit for the NCLEX. Beebe Medical Center also boasts a perfect pass rate for students who graduated in 2019.
Annual In-State Tuition: $5,014 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $11,876 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.5%
The Terry campus in the town of Dover is the final of the three Delaware Tech campuses with an ADN, and arguably the best of the three. Not only are NCLEX pass rates highest at the Terry Campus, but the location in Dover could make it easier for graduates to find a nursing position right out of school. It's also worth noting that every Delaware Tech campus posted an NCLEX pass rate higher than the national pass rate of 88%, so students can't go wrong with whichever campus they choose.
Annual Tuition: $9,750 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
Aspen University is a primarily online school that boasts flexibility and affordability. Students can't attend any in-person program in Delaware, though current RNs can enroll in the online RN-BSN program. This 12-month program uses 8-week courses, and courses start every two weeks. For working nurses who want a flexible education at a low cost, this is an excellent way to earn a BSN. Aside from the RN-BSN, Aspen also offers a slew of online MSN programs, some of which don't require a BSN.
Annual Tuition: $7,090 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
Like Aspen University, Western Governors University is a primarily online school. Though WGU does have on-campus programs, undergraduate nursing students in Delaware can only enroll in the online RN-BSN. Most graduates finish the online degree completion program in 18 months, and many students continue working while completing the BSN. WGU also has plenty of online master's degrees in nursing to choose from.
4 Key Factors That Affect Nursing School Tuition
Keep in mind that colleges and universities reserve the right to change tuition rates at any time. The yearly tuition rates listed here will vary for each student depending on various factors including,
- Transfer credits
- Completed competency exams
- Amount of credits taken per year
- Financial aid awards
Check with the specific school for current tuition rates.
Delaware Nurse Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),
- Delaware nurses earn an annual mean wage of $74,800, near the national average
- Delaware employs 11,840 registered nurses, one of the highest per-capita rates in the nation
Delaware RNs earn slightly lower than the national average of $75,510, though location matters. For example, nurses in Salisbury earn a higher mean wage than nurses in Dover, according to the BLS.
Employment for RNs in Delaware is excellent. Delaware employs 26.40 nurses for every 1,000 workers, the fourth-highest rate in the nation. Coupled with decent pay, Delaware could be a great place to start a nursing career.
Next Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Delaware
Delaware has a mix of public and private, two- and four-year schools, so students have plenty to look at. Make a list of some schools and programs that interest you, then start to figure out what you need to do to get into the college and nursing program.
Here are the next steps broken down:
1. Contact each school’s admissions offices. Any questions you have about the admissions process can be answered by the admissions office. Every school has one, so reach out early.
2. Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Getting into a college or university is the first step. Next, you need to make sure you meet the nursing school's requirements. The sooner you find out the requirements, the sooner you're ready to apply!
3. Submit your application(s). After completing the first two steps, the final step is to prepare your applications and send them in! It's always a good idea to apply to multiple colleges and nursing programs.
Common application requirements include:
- High school transcript (GPA)
- ACT and/or SAT scores
- College entrance essay(s)
- Letter(s) of recommendation
Important Considerations When Comparing Schools:
As you start to receive acceptance letters to different schools, you need to start preparing for a huge decision: where you're going to earn your degree! Every school has its own set of benefits, so there's no "right" answer. Instead, compare each school and find the best fit for your situation.
Factors to consider include:
- Annual tuition/nursing program cost
- Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
- Cost of living on-campus or in the area
- Distance from home
- School and nursing program acceptance rate
- Length and type of program
- Type of degree (BSN, ADN, online)
- Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
- Accreditation (regional and programmatic)
Why You Should Care About the Nursing Program’s Accreditation
Schools and specific programs (like nursing) can receive accreditation to verify their academic quality. When applying to schools in Delaware, make sure they're accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Also, don't apply to a nursing program that doesn't have programmatic accreditation.
The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
If you earn a degree from an unaccredited school, you may have trouble securing federal financial aid and finding work as a nurse after graduation.
Getting a License in Delaware
No matter what, you must complete an approved nursing program in Delaware to earn an RN license. Thanks to Delaware's Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) membership, you can easily gain a multi-state license to most other states after earning your RN license.
To get a license in Delaware, you'll need to:
- Study at a nursing school approved by the Delaware Board of Nursing
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Pay an application and criminal background check fee
- Apply through the Delaware Board of Nursing
With NCLEX pass rates that exceed the national average, Delaware aptly prepares students to become RNs. Wages for RNs are near the national average, and Delaware employs more nurses per capita than most other states. Students have plenty of nursing school options, and those that earn an ADN can always complete an online RN-BSN program. After finishing their nursing program and becoming RNs, students can gain a multi-state nursing license through the eNLC and work outside of Delaware.