November 14, 2022

Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Minnesota

To become a nurse, students must complete a state-approved program and become a registered nurse (RN). But to find the best position out of school — and to set yourself up for a successful, high-paying career — you should earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

Earning a BSN in Minnesota satisfies the requirements to sit for the NCLEX-RN (the exam required to become an RN) and the requirements to become licensed in Minnesota.

Fortunately, Minnesota is an excellent place to work as a nurse, and there are plenty of great nursing schools to choose from.


This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,

  • Reputation

  • NCLEX pass rate

  • Tuition

  • Acceptance rate, when available

  • Only ACEN or CCNE-accredited schools are eligible 

Nurse Panel

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 MSN, RN, BA, CBC

  • Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN

Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Minnesota nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

Show Me Minnesota Nursing Programs

Top 10 Nursing Schools in Minnesota

  1. St. Cloud State University

Annual Tuition: $10,118 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

St. Cloud State University has a state-of-the-art human patient simulation lab including five simulated hospital rooms, a home care simulation room, and 22 hospital bed spaces. With an already low tuition, St. Cloud students were awarded over $106 million in scholarship loans and grants. The university is a great place to study, especially if you are current or former military. There are currently more than 600 student veterans and active military enrolled in the university. 

2. Herzing University

Annual Tuition: Varies (estimated $440 per credit)| NCLEX Pass Rate: 77.27%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

With 9 campuses spread across multiple states, Herzing University is certainly unique. One of Herzing’s campuses is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the prime location is also home to Herzing’s innovative three-year BSN program. Designed to prepare students for a career in any state, the BSN accelerates every part of nursing without skipping on-site clinicals. A 12-month online RN-BSN and 16-month accelerated second-degree option are also available. 

3. College of Saint Scholastica

Annual Tuition: $38,750 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 80.49%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Founded over 100 years ago in the Benedictine tradition, the College of Saint Scholastica nearly doubled its student body over the past decade – however, St. Scholastica currently has just under 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. St. Scholastica’s School of Nursing also has an online RN-BSN and second-degree option, along with a master’s of science in nursing (MSN), and doctor of nursing practice (DNP), and a BSN-DNP.  Despite the relatively low number of overall students, 112 applicants are accepted into the nursing program each spring.

4. University of Minnesota

Annual In-State Tuition: $16,108 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 85.31%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

As one of the nation’s top research schools, the University of Minnesota is a popular school for graduate students. But in recent years, UMN has emphasized its undergraduate program, doubling the rate of students who graduate in four years or less. The four-year BSN program recently graduated over 100 students, making it one of the larger nursing programs in Minnesota.  94% of students completed the BSN program in three years. Of course, the graduate program is also an area of emphasis for UMN, and they offer an MSN, DNP, and Ph.D. in nursing. The low in-state tuition and high NCLEX pass rate should attract plenty of Minnesota residents. 

5. Concordia College

Annual Tuition: $28,400 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.44%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Not to be confused with the Minnesota university of the same name, Concordia College is a four-year liberal arts school with over 120 areas of study, including nursing. The two main programs offered through the nursing program, the traditional BSN, and the accelerated second-degree program, have excellent outcomes. Nursing students also have the opportunity to partake in an internship and clinical experience abroad, both of which count toward credits and/or required clinical hours. 

6. Saint Olaf College

Annual Tuition: $54,650 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 75%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

Located just outside of the Twin Cities area, Saint Olaf College was founded by Lutherans nearly 150 years ago. Saint Olaf only offers a traditional BSN. However, BSN students do have access to unique opportunities like studying abroad and the ability to double major which is rare for nursing students. Students can also apply for direct admission which guarantees acceptance to the BSN before they commit to Saint Olaf. 

7. Gustavus Adolphus College

Annual Tuition: $63,508 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.89%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

With both Lutheran and Swedish heritage, Gustavus Adolphus College is representative of the settlers that came to Minnesota years ago. Before applying to Gustavus, applicants should note that Gustavus describes itself as a “highly selective” liberal arts college. Once accepted, students must then apply to the nursing program. Only one nursing option – a traditional BSN — is offered by Gustavus, but the outcomes of the program are great. Gustavus only graduated 30 nurses in 2021, so if this nursing school meets your standards, then you might have some competition when applying. 

8. College of Saint Benedict

Annual Tuition: $52,108 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.34%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

The College of Saint Benedict is a small, private college located in St. Joseph. As mentioned earlier, the BSN is offered jointly by Sant Benedict and Saint John’s, though students can choose which school they attend. On top of having different campuses for non-nursing courses, Saint Benedict also has a higher tuition rate than Saint John’s — albeit by a few hundred dollars. The program only admits 54 students annually, so you may have to compete with Saint Benedict and Saint John’s students. 

9. University of Northwestern

Annual Tuition: $41,594 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.36%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

With a low student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1, the University of Northwestern should appeal to students interested in a small school. With the campus so close to downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, students can take advantage of opportunities in Minnesota’s thriving healthcare industries. Anyone interested in nursing should note that the only degree option available is a traditional four-year BSN. The nursing program has been growing, too — 76 nurses graduated in 2021, compared to just 20 in 2016. 

10. Winona State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $8,388 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $15,120 |NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.36%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

On top of in-state tuition for Minnesota residents, 94% of freshmen at Winona State University receive financial aid. While the in-state tuition is low, all nursing students are required to pay an additional fee per credit regardless of how many credits they take per semester. Nursing students have three main degree options: a traditional BSN, RN-BSN, or a graduate degree. Graduate students can enroll in either an MSN or DNP program and have several areas to specialize in. Winona State also has a close relationship with the Mayo Clinic, considered to be the best hospital in the world. Students may be able to complete their clinical hours at the Mayo Clinic.

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.

Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

  • Minnesota nurses earn an annual mean wage of $84,030, higher than the national average. 

  • Minnesota employs 69,000 nurses. 

According to the BLS, Minnesota’s annual mean wage for nurses is higher than the national annual mean wage of $77,600. 

On top of the high pay, Minnesota does an excellent job of employing nurses. The BLS gives Minnesota a location quotient of 1.17, meaning Minnesota employs more nurses for every 1,000 workers than the national average.

With 69,000 nurses, Minnesota is also among the top employers for nurses in the region, outpacing neighbors Wisconsin and Iowa.

Show Me Minnesota Nursing Programs

Next Steps:

After looking at different nursing programs, it’s time to start the application process. Keep note of every school’s application deadline, and try to finish applications in time for early admissions if you can – it will save you from a lot of stress as the deadline draws near!

Here are the next steps:

Contact each school’s admissions offices. Every school has an admissions office that helps you understand the application process. They can answer any questions you have about the required materials, minimum test scores, and potential scholarships.

Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. In addition to the school application, nursing programs have their application requirements. Nursing programs often require more prerequisite classes, a higher GPA, and other additional materials. 

Submit your application(s). After you’ve gathered your materials, the final step is to apply to each school. To increase your chances of getting into a nursing program, be sure to apply to more than one school.

Common application requirements include:

  • High school transcript (GPA)

  • ACT and/or SAT scores

  • College entrance essay(s)

  • Letter(s) of recommendation

Show Me Minnesota Nursing Programs

Important considerations when comparing schools: 

Once you start receiving acceptance letters, your next task is picking the school you want to attend. No pressure! To make the selection process easier, try picking the school that checks the most boxes on your list of wants and needs. 

Consider comparing things like:

  • 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

  • School accreditation (regional and national)

Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation  

Choosing an accredited school and nursing program guarantees that you’re earning a quality education. In addition to selecting a school with regional accreditation, make sure the nursing program is accredited, too. 

The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are

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. Furthermore, if you plan on attending a graduate or doctoral program, a prerequisite is a BSN from an accredited nursing program. 

Getting a License in Minnesota

While Minnesota isn’t part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), the licensure process is straightforward and can be completed almost entirely online.  

To get a license in Minnesota, you’ll need to:

  • Study at a nursing school approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing

  • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN

  • Pay an application and criminal background check fee

  • Apply through the Minnesota Board of Nursing

Completing a BSN or similar program from an accredited program in Minnesota satisfies the prerequisites to sit for the NCLEX and apply for a license. 

Show Me Minnesota Nursing Programs


With a combination of above-average pay and above-average employment, Minnesota nurses enjoy a plethora of high-paying positions. Minnesota also has an excellent mix of private and public schools, many of which have great outcomes for nurses. After completing a BSN program, the process of becoming a nurse is straightforward, so you’ll be well on your way to a long, successful career as an RN!

Infographic of top nursing programs in Minnesota




Minnesota State Department of Public Health