Top Minnesota Nursing Schools and Programs

September 29, 2021 · 6 Min Read

Top Minnesota Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs The nursing shortage in Minnesota has been in existence since 2003. This is having such a huge impact on human services in Minnesota itself. Every patient who is added to the workload...

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Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

As an alternative to traditional on-campus programs, online nursing programs in Minnesota allow students to pursue their education on their own terms. This guide covers online nursing programs in Minnesota that prepare candidates for four types of licensure: certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), and nurse practitioner (NP). This page also details how to apply for Minnesota nursing licensure.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Minnesota?

If you intend to work in Minnesota, you should consider enrolling in an online nursing program in the state. Minnesota publishes a list of approved nursing programs, allowing students to choose a program that qualifies them for licensure.

Aspiring nursing professionals in Minnesota can also take advantage of the state loan forgiveness program. RNs and LPNs can qualify for the program if they work for two years in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and care homes for people with developmental disabilities. The state forgives $6,000 in loans for program participants.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Minnesota

Nurses in Minnesota follow the same process as their counterparts in other states, but with some differences relating to procedures and licensing costs. The Minnesota Board of Nursing (BON) allows nurses to receive their license through either examination or endorsement. New nurses must take an examination after they complete nursing school in Minnesota. Nurses who received their license from bordering states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or Iowa) may practice with their home state's license if they do not plan to work in a non-healthcare agency such as a school or correctional facility.

  • 1. Choose the Path That's Right for You

    Choosing the correct nursing program in Minnesota depends on personal career goals and financial resources. Nursing in this state requires at least an LPN, though limited opportunities exist with this title. Most nurses earn either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) before earning their license. Many online RN-to-BSN programs in Minnesota exist for those who already hold a nursing license and want to earn a bachelor's degree. For students wanting an advanced degree in nursing, an on-campus or online master of science in nursing (MSN) program in Minnesota ensures steady career growth and higher pay. An MSN also prepares learners to become NPs, while individuals looking to teach nursing or reach top leadership positions can pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Another option is a Ph.D., which focuses more on inquiry-based learning and research, and has a required teaching component.
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Online nursing degrees provide flexibility for working students. Common prerequisites for an online nursing school in Minnesota include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and statistics. Online BSN programs in Minnesota often take four years to complete. Students enrolled in accelerated programs may finish sooner. Advanced online nursing degrees such as an MSN take 2-3 years to finish. DNP students graduate in an average of 3-6 years, depending on the program.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    The two main components of achieving a nurse's license include passing the nationwide NCLEX-RN board exam (or NCLEX-PN for LPNs), and then receiving licensure in the state the student wishes to practice. Learners have six hours to complete the exam, including a short tutorial and two optional breaks. The exam focuses on four main topics taught in RN programs in Minnesota, including safe, effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, preventative healthcare, and psychosocial integrity.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Minnesota

Minnesota requires all nursing professionals to complete a nursing program or degree to earn a license. For nursing assistants, this means a short program at a training center. However, RNs and NPs must earn a degree, or multiple degrees, at a college or university. Online nursing schools in Minnesota offer more flexibility than traditional on-campus programs.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Minnesota?

Students take both theoretical and practical courses while enrolled in nursing programs. Theoretical courses involve lectures and class discussions, while practical courses require degree-seekers to observe and carry out supervised work in clinical settings. Each school offers a unique curriculum with different courses. See below for some common courses in online RN programs in Minnesota.

Health Assessment

This course teaches learners how to evaluate patients' health, considering physical, developmental, and psychological health. Students learn how to assess these factors throughout the human lifespan, from infancy to old age.

Community Nursing

This course explores healthcare as it relates to various groups and populations. Students learn about the spread of diseases and illnesses. They also study health promotion and disease prevention methods.

Pharmacology in Nursing Practice

All nursing students take a pharmacology course, which deals with prescription drugs. The course covers the benefits and risks associated with medication, and how to administer safe pharmacological therapy.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Nursing students can usually find approved nursing programs through online learning. However, they must complete their clinical hours onsite at a healthcare service location.

LPNs must complete diploma programs. RNs can earn either an associate or bachelor's degree, while NPs should enroll in a graduate program and obtain either a master's degree or a doctorate. Traditionally, LPN training programs last one year, associate programs last two years, bachelor's degrees take four years, master's degrees take 1-2 years, and a doctorate could take 3-4 years.

However, online nursing programs in Minnesota often offer flexible timeframes. Students can find both accelerated and part-time options. These web-based programs might especially appeal to learners who work full time or must care for their families. Although part-time programs offer more flexibility, they take longer to complete.

CNAs must complete nursing assistant training programs. Classes occur at training centers, which students usually must attend in person.

Nursing Licensure in Minnesota

The BON enforces regulations regarding the nursing profession in the state. The BON sets different licensure requirements for LPNs, RNs, and NPs. Nursing assistants do not apply for licensure or certification. Instead, they apply to appear on a nursing assistant registry. The BON often refers to these professionals as registered nursing assistants. In addition, NPs in Minnesota can diagnose patients and prescribe medication without needing to complete an additional application.

Keep reading to review Minnesota's licensure requirements at all nursing levels. You can also learn how to keep nursing licensure active through continuing education (CE) and renewal.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

The table below outlines Minnesota's requirements to become licensed as a CNA, LPN, RN, and NP. With this chart, you can easily compare factors such as education and exam requirements.

Certified Nurse Assistant CNAs can register in Minnesota if they complete an approved training program and pass a competency test. Aspiring CNAs can find seven approved training programs at different sites across the state. Programs include state-sponsored nursing assistant and home health aide curricula, the Red Cross training course, and the American Health Care Association's program, in addition to a few others. The programs range from 75-128 hours, with most including 16 clinical hours within the curriculum. CNA trainees then take a competency test like the NNAAP. Individuals can research testing and training sites through the Minnesota BON search engine. CNA candidates then submit an application to appear on Minnesota's Nursing Assistant Registry. To remain on the registry, individuals should work at least eight hours in a nursing assistant job during every two-year renewal period.

Minnesota Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Nurse assistant training program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Included in the training program
  • Exams: National Nurse Assistant Assessment Program (NNAAP) from Pearson Vue
  • Renewal Frequency: Renew every two years
  • Continuing Education: N/A
Licensed Practical Nurse Minnesota's BON offers a list of several approved practical nurse training programs, which candidates must complete before they can become LPNs. Most community and technical colleges offer these programs. These diploma programs typically last two semesters and include required clinical hours. Finally, candidates must pass the NCLEX-PN. The certification process involves submitting an application, completing a criminal background check, and submitting test scores. After initially receiving their license, candidates must renew it 6-29 months later, depending on their birth month. Afterward, they should renew their licenses every two years. LPNs qualify for renewal by completing 12 contact hours of CE through this two-year period. LPNs can gain CE credits by enrolling in refresher courses at community or technical colleges; completing courses through hospitals, professional associations, or other healthcare settings; or publishing an article in a scholarly journal.

Minnesota Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Approved practical nursing program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Included in the training program
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: Initially 6-29 months depending on birth month, and every two years following
  • Continuing Education: 12 contact hours within the two-year licensing period
Registered Nurse RNs in Minnesota must obtain either an associate or bachelor's degree. The BON publishes a list of approved programs. While community colleges usually offer associate degrees, students can enroll in bachelor's programs at four-year colleges and universities. The curriculum includes clinical practicums that students complete during the last 1-2 years of the program. After graduating, RN candidates should pass the NCLEX-RN. Candidates apply for licensure by completing an application form, submitting their test scores, confirming their degree, and undergoing a criminal background check. Although the initial period of their licensure lasts 6-29 months, RNs must later renew their licenses every 24 months. They should complete 24 CE hours during this two-year period to receive renewal eligibility. The BON does not dictate the content area of CE hours as long as RNs obtain these hours through approved and accredited programs and courses.

Minnesota Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Approved ADN or BSN
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN
  • Renewal Frequency: Initially 6-29 months depending on birth month, and every two years following
  • Continuing Education: 24 contact hours within the two-year licensing period
Nurse Practitioner In order to become an NP in Minnesota, candidates must apply for advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) licensure. To do this, they need an active RN license and a graduate degree. The Minnesota BON offers a list of approved programs, which includes both master's and doctoral degrees. Candidates also must apply for national certification through a national certification agency, like the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board. Minnesota allows NPs to choose between six specializations: family and individual care across the lifespan, adult-gerontology care, neonatal care, pediatrics, women's and gender-related health, and psychiatric and mental health. After obtaining a degree and certification, NPs must apply for initial licensure. During this time, they complete 2,080 clinical hours through a collaborative agreement with a physician at a hospital or other healthcare setting. After this, they can apply for full APRN licensure. NPs must keep their RN license active as well, so they must renew both licenses every two years.

Minnesota Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Approved MSN or DNP
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Must practice at least 2,080 hours within a collaborative management setting in a hospital
  • Exams: Examination from national certification agency within the NP's specialization
  • Renewal Frequency: Renew every two years
  • Continuing Education: 24 contact hours within the two-year licensing period plus CE hours required by national certification agency

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Minnesota FAQ

What Nursing Field Makes the Most Money? NPs earn more than other nursing professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), NPs in Minnesota make $119,000 on average. This surpasses the mean salaries for RNs by about $40,000.
Can Someone Become a Nurse in Two Years? Yes. In Minnesota, RNs can obtain their license with either an associate or bachelor's degree. An associate degree traditionally lasts two years. Additionally, LPN diploma programs only last one year, and nursing assistants can complete their training programs even more quickly.
Does an Online Nursing Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree? As long as the online nursing program holds accreditation and approval from the Minnesota BON, it holds the same value as an on-campus degree. The BON lists approved programs — offered both online and on-campus — online.
How Should I Choose What Nursing Field to Go Into? This depends on your personal interests and goals. Consider your values and which demographic interests you. Also consider your salary expectations and the responsibilities you would like to take on.
Is Minnesota a Nurse Compact State? No. This means nurses from other states must apply for licensure by endorsement. However, Minnesota recognizes licenses from its bordering states. For more information about border state eligibility, visit the Minnesota BON website.

Minnesota Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

The BLS reports that nurses in Minnesota make a mean salary above the national average. The mean pay for CNAs, RNs, and NPs in Minnesota surpasses the average salaries for those positions in the U.S. by a few thousand dollars. Only LPNs earn a mean salary about on par with the national average. These salaries can go a long way in Minnesota, which remains in the top half of the country's most affordable states.

The tables below highlight salary and job growth in Minnesota and surrounding states. Keep in mind that the figures below show the average salary, and real earnings depend on many factors. In addition, a degree does not guarantee a certain income.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Minnesota, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $33,710 5.8%
Licensed Practical Nurse $47,020 12.2%
Registered Nurse $78,920 11.1%
Nurse Practitioner $119,160 27.8%

Source: BLS, Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
North Dakota $25,570 $46,410 $65,740 $106,200
South Dakota $26,820 $38,630 $58,340 $100,690
Iowa $29,120 $42,820 $59,130 $106,290
Wisconsin $29,590 $45,290 $71,470 $106,790

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant

In Minnesota, CNAs earn a mean wage of $33,710 compared to the national mean salary of $29,580. CNAs in Minnesota also earn significantly higher salaries than CNAs in neighboring states, who earn $25,570 to $29,590. In addition, Projections Central projects the number of CNAs to grow by 5.8% from 2016-2026.

Licensed Practical Nurse

LPNs in Minnesota earn a mean salary consistent with national numbers. Minnesota LPNs make mean earnings of about $47,020 each year. Nationally, LPNs receive a mean salary of about $47,050. However, according to BLS data, LPNs in Minnesota make greater earnings than LPNs in all neighboring states. According to Projections Central, jobs for LPNs in Minnesota could increase by 12% from 2016-2026 — about on par with national projections.

Registered Nurse

Minnesota RNs earn nearly $79,000 annually, while BLS data shows the average salary across the country is about $75,500. RNs in Minnesota also earn considerably more than RNs in neighboring states. However, although Projections Central calculates that jobs for Minnesota RNs will grow by 11% from 2016-2026, the national growth rate for RNs outpaces Minnesota's figure at 14%.

Nurse Practitioner

Minnesota NPs make considerably higher wages than their counterparts across the country. Nationally, NPs make $110,030, while NPs in Minnesota earn $119,160. The profession may grow by nearly 28% from 2016-2026 in Minnesota, according to Projections Central. The BLS attributes the profession's rapid growth to the expanding healthcare industry as a whole, especially since NPs can take on many of the same roles as physicians.

Nursing Resources for Minnesota

  • MNA connects RNs and other nursing professionals through legislative advocacy and symposiums. Members can also access CE resources for license renewal.
  • Specifically for nurses with NP certification, MNNP hosts an annual conference and publishes a newsletter so that members can stay current on the profession. MNNP also sponsors student scholarships.
  • As the regulatory body of the nursing profession in Minnesota, the board publishes licensure guidelines, approved education programs, CE resources, and answers to frequently asked questions.
  • This association serves forensic nurses working in the state through sexual assault nurse examiner trainings and CE opportunities. The group also offers several workplace resources, including patient education tools.
  • MSNA provides many benefits to nursing students, including scholarship and career planning opportunities. Students can also take advantage of discounts to professional conferences and NCLEX examination preparation.

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