Florida Nursing Schools and Programs

February 21, 2022 , Updated on June 1, 2022 · 6 Min Read

There are several ways to become a nurse in Florida. This page explores different paths to becoming a nurse, salary data, and available nursing programs in the state.

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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.

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Florida Nursing Schools and Programs
Credit: Sean Pavone / Miami, Florida / Shutterstock

Florida is home to several large healthcare organizations, such as Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Tampa General Hospital. As a state with a growing healthcare system, the increased demand for nurses is supported by many nursing programs in Florida. This includes the use of high-ranking hospitals for clinical rotations.

Nurses can find many opportunities to advance their careers and learn new skills in Florida. There are also advanced practice programs that support the increasing demand for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

This page explores how to become a nurse in Florida, salary data, and available nursing programs in the state.

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

The Best Nursing Schools in Florida

The top nursing schools in Florida are conveniently distributed throughout the state. The nursing programs on this list give students the knowledge and hands-on experience they need to succeed.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Florida, 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

University of Central Florida

School Information
Location Orlando, Florida
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

One of the top nursing schools in Florida, the college of nursing at the University of Central Florida has been training nurses since 1959. At the undergraduate level, students can enroll in a traditional BSN program, a second degree BSN for those with non-nursing backgrounds, and an RN-to-BSN bridge program. Students may also complete their associate of science nursing degree at approved state colleges while concurrently taking BSN courses at UCF.

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#2

Florida State University

School Information
Location Tallahassee, Florida
Admission Rate 36%
Graduation Rate 83%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Florida State University offers an undergraduate upper division major for students who have completed 60 credits, including all nursing prerequisites and general education requirements. This limited enrollment BSN admits only 72 students each fall and spring semester. Coursework and clinical experiences emphasize working with patients from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

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#3

University of Miami

School Information
Location Coral Gables, Florida
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Miami's School of Nursing and Health Studies provides several options for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The doctor of nursing practice consists primarily of online courses in addition to 3-4 weekends of on-campus instruction each semester. The curriculum requires a two-semester capstone project and a comprehensive exam in the final semester.

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#4

University of South Florida-Main Campus

School Information
Location Tampa, Florida
Admission Rate 48%
Graduation Rate 75%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The College of Nursing, one of 14 schools that make up the University of South Florida, administers fully accredited BSN, MSN, DNP, and Ph.D. programs. The MSN features several nursing specialty options in advanced practice. These concentrations require 27 credits in core courses and at least 18 credits in the chosen nurse practitioner track.

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#5

Florida International University

School Information
Location Miami, Florida
Admission Rate 58%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Established in 1972 when Florida International University opened, the school of nursing has expanded to over 20 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral nursing programs. The graduate division offers both MSN degrees and postgraduate certificates in the same clinical specialties as the nurse practitioner concentration tracks. The certificate program admits nurses with an MSN degree who wish to be nationally certified in another specialty area.

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#6

Florida Southern College

School Information
Location Lakeland, Florida
Admission Rate 52%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The oldest private college in the state, Florida Southern College awards both undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees. The selective direct-entry BSN admits first-year students just entering FSC out of high school. Enrollees begin taking nursing classes in their first year and attend clinical placements beginning in the fall semester of the second year.

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#7

University of North Florida

School Information
Location Jacksonville, Florida
Admission Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 67%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

One of 12 public universities in the state university system, the University of North Florida runs several undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, including a post-MSN certificate for students who do not desire a clinical doctorate. The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner certificate, designed for MSN degree-holders, requires 30 credits and 750 clinical hours.

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#8

Lake-Sumter State College

School Information
Location Leesburg, Florida
Graduation Rate 47%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

A member of the Florida College system, Lake-Sumter State College offers two nursing degrees at the associate and bachelor's level. The associate of science in nursing prepares graduates for RN licensure. The bachelor of science admits students with an associate nursing degree or diploma who hold an active RN license or who are eligible for licensure.

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#9

The University of Tampa

School Information
Location Tampa, Florida
Admission Rate 45%
Graduation Rate 58%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Tampa awards bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in nursing. The part-time MSN program, designed for students working in healthcare positions, features adult/gerontology nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner concentrations. The program requires 3-4 clinical practicums, depending on the concentration, for a minimum of 224 practice hours.

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#10

Ave Maria University

School Information
Location Ave Maria, Florida
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 58%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 1% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

This private, Catholic university, located in southwest Florida, offers an undergraduate nursing degree that reflects Catholic intellectual tradition, liberal arts education, and evidence-based practice. The 130-credit BSN offered by Ave Maria University consists of a two-year pre-nursing track, followed by two years of nursing requirements, including a professional nursing review course that prepares students for RN licensure.

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Featured Online MSN Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in Florida

There are several factors to consider when choosing a nursing school in Florida. Consider the program's tuition rate and financial aid options. Students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This federal application is used by all public and some private colleges and universities to determine financial aid status.

Some students may also be eligible for fee waivers, exemptions, or scholarships specific to Florida. You can find more information from the Florida Department of Education. Students in Florida may be eligible for the:

  • Florida Student Assistance Grant Program
  • Florida Work Experience Program
  • Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program

The nursing program must be accredited so you can take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) offered by the National Council of the State Board of Nursing (NCSBN). All states use this exam to issue nursing licenses. Schools that best prepare students have a higher pass rate.

During the pandemic, and in response to the nursing shortage, some schools have created self-paced online classes or have included additional online classes.

Of the 545 Magnet hospital designations given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), 23 are in Florida. As you choose a nursing program, consider if the school has clinical rotation placements at one of these hospitals.

Why Become a Nurse in Florida

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida ranks as the third highest employer of nurses by state, second only behind California and Texas. The demand is also expected to rise in the coming years.

The cost of living in Florida is slightly less than average in the U.S., supported in part by the taxes from the tourist industry. The state offers a unique blend of beautiful weather, recreational activities, and diverse culture. Florida is known for attracting seniors during their retirement years. However, there are several factors that make the state appealing to all age groups.

Florida excludes state income tax, and housing costs remain lower than in many other parts of the country. Beautiful beaches and opportunities for outdoor activity and entertainment borders the state on the east and west.

The projected employment growth rate is much higher than the average growth rate in the United States. This could signal poor nurse-to-patient ratios until staff openings can be filled.

According to the American Nurses Association, to date, there are no staffing regulations or laws in Florida. This means no mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios must be met. Florida was one of the country's first right-to-work states and is an "at-will" employment state. The right-to-work law means that an employee can quit without giving notice, and an employer can terminate employment without giving any reason. Although, the termination must not violate any anti-discrimination laws.

Florida is also a recipient of Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VIII Nursing Workforce Programs. This money supports programs that provide healthcare to people in need. This can include patients experiencing financial or medical challenges and the geographically isolated. Florida received $8.2 million from Title VIII funding.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Florida

The job outlook for registered nurses (RNs) and APRNs in Florida is bright. This is likely fueled by a rapidly growing population. The median salary for an RN is $67,510 in Florida as compared to the $75,330 national figure. Florida ranks 35th out of all states for its RN median and average salary.

The median salary of an APRN in Florida is $100,930, while the national number is $111,680. Additionally, the projected employment growth for APRNs in Florida is 36.9%.

While the overall cost of living in Florida is slightly below the U.S. average, some areas come with higher living expenses. The following metropolitan areas offer an above-average salary.

Highest Paying Cities for Nurses in Florida
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Median Salary for RNs
Cape Coral-Fort Myers $72,310
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton $71,060
Gainesville $70,860
Punta Gorda $70,720
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach $70,490
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Florida

Your journey through nursing school starts with choosing an educational path. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine called for increasing the BSN-prepared workforce to 80%. As the American Association of Colleges of Nursing explains, this educational path helps the RN better meet the demands of the career.

RN Requirements

To practice as an RN in Florida, you must first complete an accredited associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a BSN program. Once you have graduated, you may apply to take the NCLEX examination. Passing this examination is required to obtain your state licensure from the Florida state board of nursing.

For licensures, you must have graduated from an accredited program and have your fingerprints submitted electronically to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Applicants who answer "yes" to questions about their health history, have a criminal history, or were denied licensure in the past must submit additional documentation.

Nurses must renew their state license every two years. They should submit 27 continuing education (CE) credits and a $75 fee if they have an active license and wish to remain active. This fee varies and can be as much as $240 if your license has expired.

Florida is part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC). This is an agreement between participating states that allows a nurse to hold a license in one state and practice in another.

APRN Requirements

To practice as an APRN in Florida, you need to graduate from an accredited master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. Starting in 2025, all certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) must have graduated from a DNP program to practice.

According to the Florida State Board of Nursing, you gain a separate RN and APRN license in Florida. You must have a certification through a specialty program to obtain your state APRN license. This fulfills the CE requirements for your RN license, since you must maintain CE requirements to renew your specialty certification.

The applicant must submit fingerprints, proof of certification through a national certifying body, and proof of malpractice insurance. The APRN license and application fee is $110 and an additional $100 for a dispensing license.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Florida

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Florida


How long does it take to become an RN in Florida?

BSN-prepared nurses go to school for four years. However, you may start your nursing career with an ADN degree that can be completed in two years. Some programs allow you to complete a BSN in as little as nine months after graduating from an ADN program. The advanced degree increases your salary potential and improves patient outcomes.

How long does it take to get a Florida nursing license?

By law, the application must be reviewed within 30 days of being submitted. According to the state board of nursing, there is no set time to review an initial application or an application for endorsement. Since Florida is part of the eNLC, nurses with an eNLC license may practice in Florida without applying for a license.

How many nursing programs are in Florida?

Over the past decade, there has been an increase in available nursing programs in Florida to meet the demands of the nursing shortage. Strong employment prospects and competitive pay for nurses have fueled the growth in programs. Nearly every metropolitan area now includes nursing schools that graduate ADN, BSN, and MSN-prepared nurses. For example, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area offers 10, and Fort Lauderdale offers 32 nursing programs.

How much does nursing school cost in Florida?

The cost of nursing schools in Florida can vary by location and whether the school is public or private. Estimates of the average cost for a BSN program range from $40,000-$200,000, and the average cost of an ADN program can range from $6,000-$100,000.

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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.

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