The Top Nursing Schools in Massachusetts

February 21, 2022 , Modified 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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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