The Top Nursing Schools in Minnesota

February 21, 2022 , Modified on 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.

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The Top Nursing Schools in Minnesota
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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.

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.

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