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Nursing Schools in Texas

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Degree-seekers interested in exploring Texas nursing schools can review this page to learn more about the opportunities available to them in the state. Readers can explore what types of nursing programs they can enroll in, state licensing requirements, and career and salary prospects in the field. They can also find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about nursing in Texas.

Texas boasts high employment numbers for nurses, offering a variety of lucrative opportunities for graduates. The schools listed in the rankings below include those with bachelor’s and master’s nursing programs offered on campus. We use our own methodology to determine these rankings, taking into account several factors that students should consider when choosing a program for their needs.

The Top Nursing Schools in Texas for 2020

Read about our ranking methodology here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Texas

  • How long does it take to get a Texas nursing license?

    The time commitment to earn licensure in Texas depends on the educational pathway candidates follow. To become a registered nurse (RN), students can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Students can complete an ADN and become an RN in about two years, while BSN students pursue their degree and RN licensure for four years.

  • How do I renew my nursing license in Texas?

    To renew an RN license in Texas, candidates must complete 20 contact hours of continuing education credits during each two-year renewal period. Once they complete their required hours, they must complete a renewal application and pay the application fee.

  • Does a Texas nursing license transfer to other states?

    Texas participates in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). This compact allows nurses in one state to practice in other states that belong to the NLC without needing to pursue separate licenses. States that do not belong to the NLC do not honor a Texas nursing license.

  • Can a nurse practitioner write prescriptions in Texas?

    There are two key limitations for nurse practitioners in Texas with regard to prescriptive authority. Professionals must follow specific procedures and understand certain limitations when prescribing controlled substances and prescriptive authority should be delegated by a physician, including a written document prescribed by law.

  • Are Texas nurses unionized?

    There are unionized nurses in Texas. Some of the main organizations these nurses belong to include National Nurses United and Texas Nurses Association. Members of these organizations follow unique guidelines and enjoy membership benefits.

How Do I Become a Nurse in Texas?

Nurse candidates in Texas should determine the nursing practice level they want to pursue to determine the specific requirements they need to meet. To become a licensed vocational nurse, learners only need to complete a year-long diploma or certificate program and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. RN candidates should compete either a two-year ADN or a four-year BSN and complete the NCLEX-RN exam to earn their RN license.

Students interested in becoming advanced practice nurses must earn a master’s degree from a board-approved, nationally accredited program. The state requires students at this level to complete coursework in physical evaluation/assessment, pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology. The board recognizes the following specializations for advanced practice nurses:

  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Certified nurse midwife
  • Certified nurse practitioner
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist

Types of Nursing Programs in Texas

ADN Programs

ADN programs prepare learners for entry-level nursing roles as registered nurses. RN licensing criteria require candidates to earn an ADN or BSN. During their associate program, degree-seekers focus on building their knowledge and skills at a foundational level. Most students complete their program requirements in about two years, although some institutions offer accelerated or online formats that allow enrollees to satisfy their requirements in less than the standard two years.

BSN Programs

At the bachelor’s level, nursing students typically take about four years to earn their degree. Some institutions offer bridge programs or accelerated formats that allow learners to graduate in closer to two years. The curriculum explores adult care, mental health, and pharmacology. BSN graduates can complete the NCLEX-RN exam to earn their RN license and begin entry-level roles in settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities.

MSN Programs

RNs who want to expand their career opportunities, increase their earnings, and build upon their theoretical knowledge of healthcare can enroll in MSN programs. MSN students prepare for advanced practice nursing opportunities in occupations like nurse practitioner. At the master’s level, degree-seekers can focus on providing care to a particular patient population, pursuing concentrations in women’s health, gerontology, or pediatrics. Master’s students typically take about two years to complete their program, although bridge programs and accelerated options can allow them to earn their degree sooner.

DNP Programs

While many employers currently require advanced practice nurses to hold a master’s degree, DNP degrees may become the standard across healthcare settings. These programs expose learners to higher scientific practice and knowledge, enabling them to provide the highest quality of care to patients of all ages. DNP students can consider bridge programs to accelerate their degree. At the doctoral level, learners can experience varying program lengths, typically 3-6 years.

Texas Nursing Licensure Requirements

The Texas Board of Nursing regulates nursing licensure in the state, maintaining standards and procedures for obtaining and renewing licenses. Licensing requirements differ depending on the level of education. The nursing board issues licenses to candidates who complete approved nursing education programs through examination and, in some cases, by endorsement.

All nurses in the state must renew their licenses on a biennial basis by completing a specified amount of continuing education requirements. The board also provides licensure to qualified registered nurses who earn a graduate degree in nursing and want to pursue advanced practice opportunities. Texas nurses follow the Nursing Practice Act, following standards for nursing education and practice.

To become an RN, candidates should hold an ADN or BSN. The state requires APRN candidates to complete an MSN or DNP. At the advanced practice level, nurses can explore licensing opportunities as clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners.

Job and Salary Outlook for Nurses in Texas

In Texas, registered nurses enjoy the second-highest employment levels for the occupation in the nation, with 218,090 registered nurses working in the state. These professionals earn annual mean wages of about $74,540, with the highest-paying opportunities offered in the business support services industry.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) most often work within physicians’ offices. The state boasts the third-highest employment levels in the U.S. for NPs with 13,620 employed, earning an annual mean wage of $115,440. Only New York and California boast higher employment levels. These nurses experience the highest paying opportunities within the community food and housing, emergency, and other relief services industries.

Top Nursing Schools in Texas

  1. Texas A&M University

    College Station, TX

    Located in College Station, Texas A&M houses one of the top nursing schools in Texas. Through a host of degree options spanning from certificate programs to graduate degrees, the university's college of nursing offers an array of academic opportunities that match the academic and professional needs of its students. The Texas A&M College of Nursing is dedicated to research, effective training, and expanding medical access across the state.

    On-campus undergraduate programs include a traditional bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree and a second degree BSN. The traditional BSN degree is structured for both traditional students and those transferring with required prerequisites. The second degree BSN is formatted for degree-seekers who already hold an undergraduate degree. This academic track can be completed in as few as 15 months. The college of nursing also offers an online/on-campus hybrid MSN family nurse practitioner program.

    Texas A&M accepts applications for both Spring and Fall semesters. Prerequisite coursework must be completed prior to enrolling.

  2. University of Texas at Austin

    Austin, TX

    Traditionally ranked as one of the best nursing programs in Texas, the University of Texas at Austin offers a number of academic options for those seeking a degree in nursing. From undergraduate and graduate programs, to continuing education and compliance certification, the school of nursing at UTA prepares learners for the clinical demands of nursing through rigorous academics and practical training.

    UTA offers undergraduate nursing programs in two tracks: a traditional BSN degree and an RN-to-BSN bridge program. While the transfer application process may differ slightly, all BSN learners complete coursework together and prepare to sit for national licensure upon graduation. Doctoral and master of science in nursing (MSN) programs are available for nursing students, professionals, and learners from unrelated fields. UTA also offers a hybrid doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree.

    Rooted in evidence-based nursing science, the UT school of nursing promotes an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment. With a mission of consciously expanding diversity, the school recognizes the positive correlation between workforce demographics and community health.

  3. Texas Christian University

    Fort Worth, TX

    A private Christian university in Fort Worth, Texas Christian University was established in 1873. Students pursuing a degree from TCU's Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences can choose from multiple nursing program options. With a vision of transforming global health, TCU leans on international professional relationships and coursework, emphasizing rigorous, mentored academic research.

    TCU offers two BSN tracks. The traditional track requires 124 credits for graduation and typically requires four years. The accelerated track may suit ambitious students with a proven track record of academic success. Degree-seekers earn the 59 credits of required nursing coursework for graduation in just four semesters. TCU also offers MSN and DNP programs for degree-seekers wanting a graduate program.

    To enroll and remain in TCU's nursing program, learners must meet a set of technical standards to ensure both success in the program and the ability to provide adequate nursing care in professional environments.

  4. Texas Tech University

    Lubbock, TX

    Situated in Northwestern Texas, Texas Tech University offers 22 different nursing programs. One of the top nursing schools in Texas, TTU combines its broad scope of academic options with expanding access to higher education by creating innovative pathways for learners to complete their degree.

    TTU provides several routes to obtaining a BSN degree. The traditional BSN program is designed for students without nursing credentials. The RN-to-BSN program allows learners with established healthcare experience to advance their career. TTU also offers two accelerated programs: one designed for students already holding a bachelor's degree and the other aimed at veterans from all branches of military service.

    TTU also offers an MSN degree with a concentration in either leadership studies or advanced practice (APRN) studies. The leadership track allows graduate learners to focus on education, informatics, or administration. The APRN tracks cover disciplines like pediatric nursing and nurse midwifery.

  5. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

    San Antonio, TX

    The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the top nursing schools in Texas. Offering pre-licensure degree options, graduate studies, and post-graduate certificates, UT Health at San Antonio provides learners with diverse career pathways from research to specialized clinical care.

    Designed for students who are not registered nurses, the traditional BSN track can be completed in 22 months of full-time study. Learners accepted into the program must have completed four semesters of prerequisite, general education coursework. Applicants with a different undergraduate degree can complete an accelerated BSN in 15 months of full-time study.

    Graduate programs include an MSN and two DNP tracks. The DNP program is the highest possible degree in professional nursing practice and leans heavily upon leadership and management concentrations.

  6. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

    Houston, TX

    Consistently ranked as one of the best nursing schools in Texas, the Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston offers academic options spanning from undergraduate to doctoral programs. As a national leader in nursing education, UT Health at Houston sees students engage with respected faculty while producing high passing rates for certification testing.

    The majority of degrees offered by UT Health at Houston employ both online and on-campus coursework. BSN and RN-to-BSN programs allow for new enrollees every semester. UT Health at Houston's master of nursing degree also offers an on-campus/online hybrid structure for both full- and part-time degree-seekers.

    The more rigorous BSN-to-DNP tracks, with concentrations in nurse anesthesia or nurse practitioner, are only offered as on-campus options. The more generalized DNP program can be completed as an online option. The school also offers a research-focused Ph.D. in nursing and some post-master's specialization coursework.

  7. The University of Texas Medical Branch

    Galveston, TX

    The University of Texas Medical Branch aims to create leaders through innovative nursing education and promote high-impact research to increase access to effective, quality medical care. Through an extensive list of academic options and nursing specializations, UTMB confers hundreds of nursing degrees each year and sees the vast majority of graduates securing careers in the field.

    UTMB offers three enrollment tracks for undergraduate nursing students. The traditional path requires 60 hours of prerequisite coursework, along with a minimum score of 60 on the Test of Essential Academic Skills. The university also offers an intensive honors BSN program and an RN-to-BSN track for those with an existing license.

    MSN-seekers can earn their degree with a specialization in topics like adult

    gerontology, leadership, nurse practitioner, and nurse educator. Along with post-BSN/MSN certificates, UTMB also offers DNP and Ph.D. programs in nursing.

  8. Baylor University

    Waco, TX

    Located at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing offers a Christian-focused community and prepares students for roles in healthcare leadership, professional practice, and research. With service and Christian values at the heart of Baylor's curriculum, experienced faculty prepare students for academic tracks from bachelor's degree to graduate studies.

    Along with a traditional BSN that takes approximately two years to complete with prerequisite coursework, Baylor also offers a fast-track BSN for individuals who already hold a bachelor's degree. An accelerated online BSN is also available. Mirroring other top nursing schools in Texas, Baylor also offers several graduate level degrees. DNP specializations include family nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery, executive nurse leadership, and anesthesia nursing.

    As a supplement to traditional classroom and clinical training, Baylor nursing students can participate in mission trips to gain experience by helping communities in need around the world.

  9. University of Houston

    Houston, TX

    Offering flexible undergraduate and graduate degrees, the University of Houston houses one of the top nursing schools in Texas. An institutional member of the Texas Medical Center with certification from the Texas Board of Nursing, UH seeks to provide a nationally competitive, innovative nursing education that nurtures the growth of expert clinicians and professional leaders.

    Undergraduate students can choose from several pathways to earn a BSN, depending on their academic and professional background. In addition to the traditional undergraduate track, UH offers a fast-track RN-to-BSN option for registered nurses working in the field. Additionally, a second degree BSN path is available for students who already hold a bachelor's degree.

    Graduate studies are also available through three different master's in science in nursing concentrations. An administration track focuses on the nuts and bolts of healthcare organization and management, while an education track seeks to develop clinical and educational strategies for nursing students. A family nurse practitioner concentration allows for maximum student flexibility while expanding nursing competencies.

  10. University of the Incarnate Word

    San Antonio, TX

    The largest Catholic university in Texas, the University of the Incarnate Word was founded in 1881. As a top nursing school in Texas, UIW produces effective nursing professionals with a passion for service and making a positive impact on communities. Through expert faculty, diverse academic tracks in nursing, and service opportunities, UIW students can gain personal, academic, and professional growth in a Christian-centered environment.

    UIW's traditional BSN program requires 28 months to complete and boasts rigorous classroom coursework and clinical experience. To complement BSN coursework, degree-seekers can choose from minors in kinesiology, public health, or sports management. An ROTC program is also available for students interested in armed service while earning additional scholarship opportunities.

    UIW also offers a wide variety of graduate degrees and concentrations. From a general MSN to a doctor in nursing practice, learners can train their focus on psychiatric care, practice, kinesiology, and nursing leadership. Postgraduate nursing certifications are also available.

Learn More About Nursing Programs in Texas

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