The Top Nursing Schools in Massachusetts

February 21, 2022 , Updated on April 27, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Review some of Massachusetts's top nursing programs and what it takes to earn a degree, become licensed to practice, and find employment in the state.

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The Top Nursing Schools in Massachusetts
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Massachusetts is home to some of the most nurse-friendly healthcare centers in the country, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Winchester Hospital, and Lowell General Hospital. As one of the top five states for the highest average annual salary, Massachusetts is an ideal location for nurses to both begin and advance their careers.

This guide explores how to become a nurse in Massachusetts, the salary and job outlook, and the best nursing programs in the state.

The Best Nursing Schools in Massachusetts

Learn more about the top nursing schools in Massachusetts and which programs make the best options for prospective nurses.

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

Northeastern University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 18%
Graduation Rate 89%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Northeastern University, one of the most prestigious nursing schools in Massachusetts, features 16 nursing programs — some of which offer accelerated formats.

Students enrolled at the Bouve College of Health Sciences can take a 67-credit BSN degree and graduate in 16 months. Northeastern also offers a four-year undergraduate program with two six-month cooperated experiences, or a five-year undergraduate degree with three six month clinical experiences. 

Clinical placement sites include Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital, and Lahey Clinic. Nursing students can also complete international cooperative experiences.

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Ph.D. in nursing
  • Campus: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $56,500 per year for undergraduate tuition
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by degree; transfer students need a minimum 3.0 GPA; completed prerequisites 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 85% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $70,200 for bachelor's graduates and $110,878 for graduate school graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#2

Boston College

School Information
Location Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 27%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Boston College's William F. Connell School of Nursing, which opened in 1947, features two DNP programs, including one for future nurse anesthetists.

Students can earn a DNP degree in nurse anesthesia in as few as 36 months by studying full time. In the third semester, they rotate at 3-6 facilities, working in the operating room four days a week. Placements sites include Boston Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Cambridge Hospital. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Ph.D. in nursing
  • Campus: Chestnut Hill, North Carolina
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $2,098 per credit for undergraduate tuition; $1,636 per credit for graduate tuition
  • Admission Requirements: DNP candidates need at least a BSN or MSN; critical care nursing experience; GRE scores; admissions interview 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $71,015 for bachelor's graduates and graduate school graduates $100,439, according to College Scorecard
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#3

Endicott College

School Information
Location Beverly, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 74%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Endicott College, among the top-ranked CCNE-accredited nursing schools in Massachusetts, offers undergraduate and graduate nursing programs that emphasize community outreach.

Students enrolled in the BSN degree can graduate within eight semesters, or four years to complete 126-128 credits. Endicott offers ample clinical experience which begins in the sophomore year and ends with a senior internship working under the supervision of a nurse preceptor. 

Nursing students also have service learning opportunities at homeless, immigrants, and prison facilities. Additionally, they can also study abroad in their junior year in Belize, Iceland, or Scotland.

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, Ph.D. in nursing
  • Campus: Beverly, Massachusetts
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $36,926 per year for undergraduate tuition; $845 per credit for MSN tuition; $5,853 per credit for Ph.D. nursing tuition
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum 3.0 GPA; SAT or ACT scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $69,079 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#4

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

School Information
Location Amherst, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 82%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst's Elaine Marieb College of Nursing, with undergraduate and graduate programs, features a MSN degree that emphasizes nursing education. 

Students enrolled in the MSN program complete 11 courses, or 32 credits, that include two practicums. Degree seekers provide direct patient care during one practicum and work in the classroom or health education department under a faculty supervisor for the second clinical experience.

UMass Amherst also offers an accelerated BSN degree, RN-to-BSN program, fully online Doctor of Nursing Practice, Ph.D. in nursing. Students can also earn undergraduate and graduate certificates in nursing education, Spanish and nursing health, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, Ph.D. in nursing, undergraduate and graduate certificates
  • Campus: Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $7,895 per semester for undergraduate in-state tuition; $18,158 for undergraduate out-of-state tuition; $2,081 per credit for in-state graduate tuition; $4,103 per credit for out-of-state graduate tuition
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by degree; MSN candidates need a BSN, or associate in nursing degree and a bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; current RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 89% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $68,647 for bachelor's graduates and $97,071 for doctoral graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#5

College of Our Lady of the Elms

School Information
Location Chicopee, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 75%
Graduation Rate 73%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The private Catholic College of Our Lady of the Elms, founded in 1928, has educated future nursing for more than four decades. 

Elms College features a fully online MSN degree with tracks in nursing and health services management, nursing education, school nursing, or a dual master's in business administration degree. Students can graduate in 2-3 years with the option of self-paced courses.

Undergraduate and graduate students learn in the 22,000-square-foot Lyons Center stimulation site, through clinical placements, and by working in the caRe vaN which travels to underserved communities. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Campus: Chicopee, Massachusetts
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $37,605 per year for undergraduate tuition; $905 per credit for MSN tuition; $880-$950 per credit for DNP tuition
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by degree and track; MSN candidates need a BSN; current RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; two letters of recommendation; official transcripts; resume; writing sample
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $69,410 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#6

Emmanuel College

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 78%
Graduation Rate 66%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Emmanuel College's Mauren Murphy Wilkens School of Nursing & Clinical Sciences, with distinguished undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in Massachusetts, offers a fully online MSN degree for current RNs and BSN degree holders. 

The 30-credit online MSN degree lets students train in specialized nursing areas with tracks in education or administration. Students complete nine courses in topics such as research and ethics in nursing, human diversity, policy, pathophysiology, and a practicum. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, graduate certificates in nursing education and nursing administration
  • Campus: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $350 per year for RN-to-BSN tuition; $860 per credit for MSN and graduate certificate tuition 
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by degree; MSN candidates need two letters of recommendation; minimum 3.0 GPA; official transcripts; BSN degree from an accredited program; resume; 500-word resume; current RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $66,883 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#7

Bunker Hill Community College

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Graduation Rate 14%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Bunker Hill Community College, with one of the most flexible nursing programs in Massachusetts, prepares 100% of graduates to pass the NCLEX-RN. 

Online ADN degrees provide convenient formats that appeal to working nurses with either asynchronous or asynchronous coursework. Courses combine lectures, lab work, and clinical experiences at healthcare settings. Students can take an on-campus day program with courses held twice a week in person, or an alternative format where they meet online once a week and on campus once a week.

  • Program: Associate in nursing degree
  • Campus: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Tuition: $24 per credit for in-state tuition; $230 per credit for out-of-state tuition
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GRE; math placement test; complete prerequisites; official transcripts
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $62,012 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#8

Simmons University

School Information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 81%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Simmons University features traditional nursing degrees, but also programs for working professionals that offer accelerated pathways to earn BSN or MSN degrees. 

Through the Dorothea Lynde Dix Scholars Program, students can complete a BSN degree in as few as 16 months. The curriculum ends with a clinical practicum and a course in clinical decision making and complex care that includes NCLEX-RN quizzes to prepare students for licensure.

Students can also take a BSN-to-MSN degree that takes five years to complete . Simmons also offers a fully online RN-to-BSN degree.

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $23,514 per semester for nursing tuition
  • Admission Requirements: BSN candidates must submit high school or college transcripts; minimum 3.0 GPA; teacher recommendation; counselor recommendation; essay; SAT or ACT scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $67,789 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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#9

University of Massachusetts-Lowell

School Information
Location Lowell, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 66%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell, among the top-ranked nursing schools in Massachusetts, incorporates interdisciplinary studies from fields such as dietetics, public health, and physical therapy. 

The BSN degree, which includes clinical experience in the senior year, takes 3.5-4 years to complete. Students choose from 250 clinical sites such as acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, and occupational health settings. Placements sites include Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Holy Family Hospital. 

Nursing students find social and civic opportunities through the Student Nurses Association and Eta Omega Honor Society. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Ph.D. in nursing
  • Campus: Lowell, Massachusetts
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $16,082 per year for in-state undergraduate tuition; $34,450 per year for out-of-state undergraduate tuition; $15,576 per year for in-state graduate tuition; $27,650 per year for out-of-state graduate tuition
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by degree; BSN degree candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA; official transcripts; SAT or ACT scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $64,706 for bachelor's graduates and $84,653 for graduates of graduate schools, according to College Scorecard 
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#10

Westfield State University

School Information
Location Westfield, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 87%
Graduation Rate 61%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Westfield State University, ranked among the nursing schools in Massachusetts, features an RN-to-BSN degree for nurses who hold an associate in nursing degree that can be completed in as few as 12 months. 

Taking online and on campus courses, students complete the program in 12-24 months. Graduates have training in patient safety, research, ethical standards, technology implementation, and healthcare policy. Students can complete the program quicker since Westfield accepts up to 90 transfer credits. 

Westfield offers start dates in September and January.

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Westfield, Massachusetts
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $970 per credit for in-state undergraduate tuition; $7,050 per credit for out-of-state undergraduate tuition
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing from an accredited program; current RN license; minimum 2.75 GPA; an academic or professional reference
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $68,331 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
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Featured Online MSN Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in Massachusetts

When choosing a nursing program, applicants should consider factors based on their academic and professional goals. To simplify the process, prospective students should research an institution's tuition, program length, and financial aid options for nurses.

Verify that the nursing institution is accredited and review their National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) scores and graduation rates. These numbers can indicate program quality.

Why Become a Nurse in Massachusetts

Nurses in Massachusetts enjoy one of the highest average salaries in the U.S., with licensed practical nurses, registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) collectively earning higher salaries than 90% of the country.

Massachusetts also has pending legislation to become a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state. As an NLC state, Massachusetts nurses can qualify for a license in another NLC state with minimal paperwork.

As part of the NLC, Massachusetts would agree to a set of rules and procedures that all licensed RNs must follow, joining 37 states already part of the compact.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Massachusetts

At $96,250, RNs in Massachusetts earn one of the highest average salaries in the country, third only to Hawaii ($104,830) and California ($120,560). Similarly, nurse practitioners in Massachusetts earn an average annual salary of $126,050, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While nurses in the state benefit from higher salaries, the cost of living in Massachusetts is one of the highest in the country, ranking 5th as the most expensive place to live. Therefore, the higher salary partially offsets the high cost of living in the state.

Like most other states, Massachusetts also expects an increase in the demand for nurses. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Massachusetts ranks 23rd in anticipated demand, with a projected 8.2% employment growth from 2018-2028.

Projections may change due to COVID-19.

The highest-paying cities in Massachusetts are located in the more densely populated areas of the state. These areas are close to the Massachusetts Bay and Atlantic Ocean.

With the western part of the state less populated, cities from the central part of Massachusetts to the coast tend to provide the best salaries.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Massachusetts
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Average Salary for RNs
Boston — Cambridge — Nashua $99,410
Leominster — Gardner $89,370
Worcester $88,470
Barnstable Town $88,210
Springfield $82,540
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Massachusetts

To become an RN or APRN in Massachusetts, prospective nurses need to complete a state-board approved nursing program. After fulfilling the academic requirements, nursing students must pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which allows them to apply for their license.

Both RNs and APRNs must satisfy continuing education requirements for nurses to maintain their license and continue working as a nurse in the state.

RN Requirements

Becoming an RN in Massachusetts requires nursing candidates to graduate from an accredited nursing program with either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

Nursing students are required to participate in a one-time training and education course on the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's and dementia before receiving their RN license. Upon completion, prospective nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN and submit an application of licensure to the state.

RNs are required to complete 15 contact hours and renew their license no later than their birthday in even-numbered years. The initial application fee is $275, while the renewal fee is $120. All materials are available online through the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing.

APRN Requirements

To become an APRN, nurses need an unencumbered RN license that allows them to practice in the state. RNs must earn a master of science in nursing or doctor of nursing practice. Graduate-level coursework includes pathophysiology, advanced physical assessment, and pharmacotherapeutics.

Graduates can then complete a national certification exam administered by national agencies recognized through the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and apply for licensure. The application fee is $150, while APRN renewal is $180.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Massachusetts

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Massachusetts


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

Prospective nurses must earn an ADN or a BSN before applying for RN licensure in Massachusetts.

An associate degree takes the shortest amount of time to complete, requiring around two years of study. However, some employers prefer to hire BSN-holders. Some nursing schools in Massachusetts offer ADN-to-BSN bridge programs.

How do I become an RN in Massachusetts?

Prospective nurses in Massachusetts must complete a state-approved, accredited nursing program that prepares them for the NCLEX-RN exam. Candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN before getting licensure.

What is the salary range for nurses in Massachusetts?

According to the BLS, salaries range from $73,310 (bottom 25th percentile) to $117,310 (top 75th percentile). Compared to the rest of the country, RNs in Massachusetts rank 3rd in annual salary at $96,250, while nurse practitioners rank 5th, earning $126,050.

How much is nursing school in Massachusetts?

A nursing school's cost depends on many factors, including location and degree type. For instance, Framingham State University represents the lower end of tuition costs at $11,380 per year, while Endicott College boasts much higher rates at $35,764 per year.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

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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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