The Top Nursing Schools in Minnesota

Updated June 27, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Minnesota nurses earn above-average salaries and enjoy a below-average cost of living. Learn more about nursing programs in Minnesota and how to earn your RN license in the state.

mini logo
NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

The Top Nursing Schools in Minnesota
Credit: Bradley Olson | EyeEm | Getty Images

There are more than 40 state-approved associate degrees in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs available in Minnesota. Minnesota nursing salaries are higher than the national average, while the cost of living is slightly below the national average. These figures make attending nursing school in Minnesota a beneficial move for your career.

This guide can help you choose the right program for your career goals and outlines how you can earn a Minnesota nursing license.

Keep reading to learn more about the top nursing schools and programs in Minnesota.

The Best Nursing Schools in Minnesota

There are excellent nursing programs in Minnesota at the ADN and BSN levels. If you want to graduate as soon as possible, a two-year ADN program can help you earn your license faster than traditional tracks. However, a four-year BSN is more valuable if you plan on earning a master of science in nursing (MSN) or working in higher-level positions.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Minnesota, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

#1

St Olaf College

School Information
Location Northfield, Minnesota
Admission Rate 48%
Graduation Rate 86%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

St. Olaf, boasting one of top nursing schools in Minnesota, offers a BSN program with different concentration options. Students choose from promoting health and wellness, preventing illness, restoring health, and care of the dying.

Applicants can gain admittance as first-years, but most learners start as sophomores. Enrollees study holistic health, pharmacology, family health, gerontological nursing, and behavioral health. 

Clinical experiences take place locally. Sites include the Children's Hospital of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $52,670 per year
  • Admission Requirements: A minimum 2.85 cumulative GPA and prerequisite courses with a minimum 2.70 GPA 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
Visit Site
#2

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

School Information
Location Minneapolis, Minnesota
Admission Rate 57%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

U of M Twin Cities operates one of most prominent nursing schools in Minnesota, started in 1909. The school now features multiple nursing programs and two clinics to train future nurses.

Nursing students learn in lecture halls, the simulated 11,000-square-foot Bentson Center, and the Health Science Education Center. Degree-seekers choose from a BSN, MSN, Ph.D. in nursing, or DNP. 

U of M offers grants, waivers, fellowships, work-study programs, and scholarships for nursing students. The university distributed about $2.1 million for the 2021-2022 year.

  • Programs: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, Ph.D. in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, healthcare design and innovation post-baccalaureate certificate, leadership in health information technology for health professionals certificate, and post-graduate certificates
  • Campus: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $520 per credit for undergraduates; $1,018 per credit for graduate students
  • Admission Requirements: Varies
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.5% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $65,723 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Visit Site
#3

Dakota County Technical College

School Information
Location Rosemount, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 55%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

DCTC's practical nursing program trains future LPNs through classroom lectures, stimulated labs, and hands-on experiences. Students complete their clinicals at local facilities near the Rosemount, Minnesota, campus. 

Degree-seekers take 43 credits over two years in preparation for the NCLEX-PN exam. Courses teach anatomy and physiology, health career mathematics, lifespan development, and maternal and child health. Besides classes, learners complete two clinicals and a nursing capstone. 

DCTC also offers a nursing assistant certificate. 

  • Programs: Nursing assistant certificate and practical nursing diploma
  • Campus: Rosemount, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation 
  • Tuition: $201 for nursing assistant students; $222 for practical nursing students
  • Admission Requirements: TEAS scores, a criminal background check, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and prerequisite courses
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes

School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.5% first-time pass rate

Visit Site
#4

Alexandria Technical & Community College

School Information
Location Alexandria, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 58%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

ATCC equips students to become RNs in two semesters through its ADN program.

Students complete 64 credits in two phases. The first phase covers nursing fundamentals: human anatomy and physiology, lifespan psychology, and the principles of nutrition. After acceptance into the core nursing program, learners complete two clinicals and courses in advanced nursing concepts and family nursing. 

ATCC, which offers in-state tuition to online students, also features a 36-credit practical nursing diploma.

  • Programs: Associate degree in nursing and practical nursing diploma
  • Campus: Alexandria, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation 
  • Tuition: $176 per credit for on-site tuition; $205 for online tuition
  • Admission Requirements: Current LPN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $54,536 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Visit Site
#5

Ridgewater College

School Information
Location Willmar, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 42%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Ridgewater's ADN-to-BSN nursing programs advance the careers of LPNs and students with no nursing experience through a dual-enrollment program at Metropolitan State University. 

Degree-seekers complete 30-35 nursing and 40 general education credits to earn their associate at one of the top-rated nursing schools in Minnesota. Students continuing to a BSN take another 30 nursing and 15 general education credits. 

Classes cover chronic and palliative care and acute and complete care. Enrollees learn professionalism, leadership skills, and clinical reasoning through the coursework. Current LPNs receive five advanced standing credits. Ridgewater also offers a 40-credit practical nursing diploma. 

  • Programs: Associate degree in nursing, bachelor of science in nursing, and practical nursing diploma
  • Campus: Willmar, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Tuition: $197 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Official transcripts, TEAS scores, and a minimum 2.75 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.9% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $54,109 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Visit Site
#6

Riverland Community College

School Information
Location Austin, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 42%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Riverland offers flexible nursing programs in Minnesota with evening and daytime formats. Riverland students earn an ASN with the option to pursue a BSN through a bridge program at Winona State University.

Full-time nursing students take day courses, clinicals, and labs 3-4 days a week. Working degree-seekers can take an evening program. Courses explore pharmacology, family nursing, health assessments, and acute care. Learners complete clinicals at the Albert Lea, Austin, and Owatonna campuses. 

In the final semester, enrollees can study abroad, find mentorships, or take complementary therapist courses. 

  • Programs: Associate of science in nursing, practical nursing diploma, and nursing assistant certificate
  • Campus: Austin, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Tuition: $202 per credit for general education courses; $249 per credit for nursing courses
  • Admission Requirements: Active CNA registration or current LPN license, prerequisite courses with a minimum 2.75 GPA, and a minimum 58.6% TEAS score 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 83.3% first-time pass rate
Visit Site
#7

Minnesota State University-Mankato

School Information
Location Mankato, Minnesota
Admission Rate 63%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 44% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Minnesota State Mankato features one of the best nursing schools in Minnesota with clinical placements in rural areas, Rochester, and the Twin Cities. Students choose from two nursing programs in Minnesota State Mankato's catalog.

The online RN-to-BSN program suits current associate degree-holding RNs. The pre-licensure nursing program offers family-focused courses for degree-seekers without a nursing background. 

Over four years, learners study health assessments and nursing procedures, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and nursing leadership and management. Minnesota State Mankato also offers a doctor of nursing practice. 

  • Programs: Bachelor of science in nursing, RN-to-BSN, and doctor of nursing practice 
  • Campus: Mankato, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $355 per credit for online learners; $315 per credit for Mankato campus students 
  • Admission Requirements: 30 college credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA, core prerequisites with a minimum C grade average, and TEAS scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24-48 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.1% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $67,079 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Visit Site
#8

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

School Information
Location Fergus Falls, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 41%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

M State offers three nursing programs in Minnesota for students just out of high school and experienced nurses.

Current LPNs earn an associate by completing 32 credits, including 21 prerequisites and 11 prior learning credits. M State also offers a 64-credit associate degree and a 40-credit practical nursing diploma. 

The ADN covers nursing fundamentals: medical microbiology, human anatomy and physiology, reproductive health, and lifespan development. The ADN and LPN-to-ADN programs require nursing clinical hours. 

  • Programs: LPN-to-ADN, associate degree in nursing, and practical nursing diploma
  • Campus: Fergus Falls, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation 
  • Tuition: $218 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: ACT/SAT scores, minimum 58.6% TEAS score, minimum 3.0 GPA for ADN applicants and 2.75 GPA for LPN-to-ADN applicants, and American Heart Association Basic Life Support certification
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.3% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $55,026 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Visit Site
#9

Winona State University

School Information
Location Winona, Minnesota
Admission Rate 68%
Graduation Rate 59%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Founded over 50 years ago, WSU's nursing school offers a flexible RN-to-BSN degree that takes one year to complete. 

Students take 30 nursing credits in research and evidence-based practice, holistics assessments, and population-based healthcare. Besides coursework, learners complete 60 clinical hours through WSU's partners. Working RNs can graduate in 1-4 years enrolled part time or in 12 months with full-time enrollment.

WSU offers nursing students a for-credit Biel Leadership Fellowship opportunity worth $1,500. 

  • Programs: Bachelor of science in nursing, RN-to-BSN, two master of science nursing programs, six doctor of nursing practice programs, and several post-graduate certificates
  • Campus: Winona, Minnesota
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $4,050 per credit for Minnesota residents; $7,301 per credit for non-residents
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or diploma in nursing for RN-to-BSN applicants, current RN license, and a minimum 2.75 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.0% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $65,101 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Visit Site
#10

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

School Information
Location Winona, Minnesota
Admission Rate 92%
Graduation Rate 64%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Saint Mary's offers an RN-to-BSN program that aligns with the institution's Lasallian principles. 

Degree-seekers study in cohorts of about 40 students, completing 122 credits. The curriculum covers nursing research, pharmacology and applied mathematics, nursing ethics, and community health assessment. 

Nursing students complete 585 clinical hours, 50% in the simulation lab. The program offers rolling admission and three start dates each year. Saint Mary's also features a doctor of nursing practice with a concentration in nurse anesthesiology. 

  • Programs: Bachelor of science in nursing and doctor of nursing practice
  • Campus: Winona, Minnesota
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $40,520 per year for undergraduate students; $955 per credit for graduate students
  • Admission Requirements: An associate in nursing degree, minimum 2.5 GPA, and current RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $97,071 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Visit Site

Featured Online MSN Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in Minnesota

When choosing from the many nursing schools in Minnesota, consider the tuition and other costs, the NCLEX-RN pass rate, tuition costs, the format and length of the program, and where you can find clinical placement. Because accreditation is a vital factor in the degree's overall value, this guide only includes accredited nursing programs in Minnesota.

Why Become a Nurse in Minnesota

Whether you want to live in the Twin Cities area, with its many recreational amenities, or in a smaller, rural setting, you can enjoy a great quality of life in Minnesota.

While Minnesota doesn't mandate a particular nurse-to-patient ratio, it requires that each hospital create a core staffing plan. The chief nursing officer (or their designee) and other staff take responsibility for meeting these requirements.

The national average salary for registered nurses (RNs) is $75,330, compared to $80,960 in Minnesota, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, the cost-of-living index is 99.6, slightly below the national cost-of-living index of 100.

Minnesota also recognizes nursing licenses from the surrounding states of Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. If you didn't attend nursing school in Minnesota and don't have a license from a neighboring state, you must apply for a license by endorsement to practice in Minnesota.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Minnesota

The average annual RN salary in Minnesota is $80,960. Nurse practitioners (NPs) in Minnesota earn an average annual salary of $120,860, considerably more than the national average of $110,680. Because the cost-of-living index is 99.6 (though higher in larger cities), your salary stretches farther than other higher paying states.

Statistics indicate that the number of nursing jobs in Minnesota could grow by 12.4% between 2018 and 2028. However, from 2014-2030, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects a surplus of 3,100 nurses. Because there are 70,820 nurses currently working in Minnesota, this surplus is small by comparison.

St. Cloud, Mankato, Rochester, and Duluth are all medium-sized cities, while the Twin Cities region hosts a population of approximately 3.6 million people. Rochester is home to the famous Mayo Clinic, which employs 11,700 nurses alone.

All of these cities offer scenic settings for year-round outdoor recreation. Most regions in Minnesota are known for their midwestern friendliness and easy-going lifestyles.

Highest Paying Cities for Nurses in Minnesota
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Median Salary for RNs
St. Cloud $86,750
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington $86,290
Mankato-North Mankato $84,100
Rochester $71,870
Duluth $69,630
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Minnesota

Whether you attend nursing school in Minnesota or another state, the requirements for becoming an RN are similar to those in other states. You must earn a nursing degree, pass the NCLEX-RN examination, pass a background check, and submit an application.

RN Requirements

To become an RN in Minnesota, you must graduate from an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. An ADN takes two years to complete, while a BSN takes four years. However, a BSN gives you an edge as a job-seeker and prepares you to enter an MSN program if you so choose.

For licensure, you must apply to the state board of nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN examination. The total fees for a new RN license are $138.25. Nurses from neighboring states must pay a $50 verification fee.

APRN Requirements

To become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) in Minnesota, you must earn an MSN or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) from an accredited program, pass the board certification examination, pass a background check, and apply to the state board of nursing. You must practice nursing for at least 2,080 hours under a collaborative arrangement with a physician to earn full practice authority as an APRN.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Minnesota

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Minnesota


What is the average NCLEX-RN pass rate in Minnesota?

For first-time candidates in Minnesota educated in the U.S., the average pass rate for 2020 was 83.8%. Graduates with an ADN averaged a pass rate of 80.3% and BSNs averaged a pass rate of 89.2%.

Rates for individual BSN programs in Minnesota ranged from 62.5-100%. For ADN nursing schools in Minnesota, the range extended from 47.83-97.35%. These figures do not include nursing programs in Minnesota that closed during 2020.

What is the best degree for nursing students in Minnesota?

More than half of all nurses in Minnesota hold a BSN degree — 64% have earned a BSN or higher, and 10% hold an MSN or a DNP. The right degree for you depends on your career goals. When choosing a nursing program in Minnesota, consider the cost, program length, the school's NCLEX-RN pass rate, and cultural fit.

How long does it take to become a nurse in Minnesota?

Attending nursing school in Minnesota takes approximately two years for an ADN program and four years for a BSN. An ADN degree is faster with cheaper tuition rates, but a BSN program offers more career opportunities and makes it easier to earn an MSN later on.

What financial aid programs are available for Minnesota nursing students?

There are national, state, and local financial aid programs available for nursing students in Minnesota. Some government programs offer full scholarships, plus expenses, in exchange for work in an underserved area. Check individual school websites for financial aid offerings and policies.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

State

NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.

Popular Resources

Resources and articles written by professionals and other nurses like you.