The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Updated November 7, 2022

Nebraska needs qualified nurses and may pay more for frontline healthcare workers. See what you need to become licensed in Nebraska and what you could make.
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Do you want to serve as a nurse on the front lines? Nebraska needs nurses to fill positions left vacant by healthcare workers burnt out from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses in high-need areas may even receive bonuses up to $5,000 if proposed legislation passes.

This guide explores nursing salaries, top-ranked nursing programs, and how to become a nurse in Nebraska.

The Best Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Not every nursing school produces the same student outcomes. The nursing schools listed here prepare students to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), go to graduate school, and land a nursing job.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Nebraska, 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 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Nebraska Wesleyan University

  • Lincoln, NE
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Established in 1887, this Methodist-affiliated university serves over 2,100 students. In addition to the traditional four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program, NWU offers an accelerated BSN option for working nurses with a valid RN license. The 30-credit RN-to-BSN features online, hybrid, and in-person classes that meet once a week in eight-week sessions. 

  • Program: RN-to-BSN
  • Campus: Lincoln, NE
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $445 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or nursing diploma; minimum 2.5 GPA; current Nebraska, Iowa, or Compact State RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 61.9% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $67,395 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$34,582
Out-of-state
$34,582
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
68%
Students Enrolled
2,044
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Creighton University

  • Omaha, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

One of 28 Catholic and Jesuit-sponsored higher education institutions in the country, Creighton administers more than 140 academic programs in nine schools and colleges. Creighton hosts one of the few nursing schools in Nebraska that offers a flexible online doctor of nursing practice with full- and part-time options and limited on-site requirements. 

  • Program: Doctor of nursing practice
  • Campus: Omaha, NE
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $955 per credit hour 
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing; official transcripts; minimum 3.0 GPA; valid RN license; three letters of recommendation; resume; personal statement
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.8% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $59,626 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$39,630
Out-of-state
$39,630
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
8,821
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

College of Saint Mary

  • Omaha, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, CSM is a Catholic women's university enrolling 1,000 students in more than 30 academic programs. The practical nursing certificate appeals to students seeking nursing programs in Nebraska that offer a fast-track to a nursing career. The 42-credit certificate, which can be completed in one year, prepares graduates for the NCLEX-PN. CSM also offers a three-year bachelor of science in nursing degree. 

  • Program: Practical nursing certificate program
  • Campus: Omaha, NE
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Nebraska State Board of Nursing; Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $337 per credit 
  • Admission Requirements: High school graduate or equivalent; official transcripts; minimum 2.0 GPA; valid CNA license and completion of CPR course
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 82.1% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $63,692 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$20,750
Out-of-state
$20,750
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
1,050
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Northeast Community College

  • Norfolk, NE
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Established 47 years ago to serve the residents of northeast and northcentral Nebraska, Northeast has become a top-ranked rural community college. The 72-credit associate in nursing degree, which takes two years to complete, prepares graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN. Students who successfully complete the first two semesters receive a diploma in practical nursing and may choose to take the NCLEX-PN to gain licensure. 

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing
  • Campus: Norfolk, NE
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $108 per credit for Nebraska residents; $151 for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; official transcripts; completion of nursing application and entrance exams; minimum 2.7 GPA in prerequisite courses; completion of a nurses aide course and inclusion in the Nebraska Nurse Aide Registry
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes 
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $52,524 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,970
Out-of-state
$4,170
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,258
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Bryan College of Health Sciences

  • Lincoln, NE
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

In partnership with the Bryan Medical Center, Bryan College awards associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees and certificates. This Methodist-affiliated college offers the only nursing program in Nebraska that provides a job guarantee upon acceptance; students receive an employment offer their junior year at a Bryan Health facility. They also get a $5,250 scholarship for their senior year that requires a one-year work commitment. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Lincoln, NE
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $597 per credit 
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; official transcripts; minimum 2.75 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Four years
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.9% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $59,626 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$15,867
Out-of-state
$15,867
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
775
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Mid-Plains Community College

  • North Platte, NE
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

MPCC provides educational programs for residents in an 18-county service area in west central Nebraska. This community college offers over 50 academic programs, including an associate degree in nursing. The 66-credit nursing curriculum features a concept synthesis course that prepares students for the NCLEX-RN and the HESI comprehensive exam. 

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing
  • Campus: North Platte, NE
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $112 per credit for Nebraska residents: $130 per credit for out-of-state students 
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; official transcripts; completion of general education requirements; ACT or Accuplacer scores; two letters of references; active status on the Nebraska Nursing Assistant Registry
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $51,482 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,820
Out-of-state
$3,660
Retention Rate
67%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,125
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Central Community College

  • Grand Island, NE
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

One of six regional community colleges in the state, CCC offers 37 career and technical programs, primarily for residents of central Nebraska. The associate degree in nursing awards a practical nurse diploma to students who successfully complete the first two semesters. Students who continue through the remaining two semesters receive an associate degree and the opportunity to sit for the NCLEX-RN. 

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing
  • Campus: Grand Island, NE
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $92 per credit for Nebraska residents; $138 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; official transcripts; minimum 58.7% ATI TEAS score; active status on the Nebraska Nursing Assistant Registry; CPR certification
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $54,574 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,700
Out-of-state
$4,050
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,368
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Metropolitan Community College Area

  • Omaha, NE
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Established in 1974, MCC offers more than 100 one- and two-year career programs, including nursing and allied health degrees. The associate of science in nursing requires 103.5 quarter credits. Students who complete the practical nurse curriculum which comprises the first year can finish their associate degree in the second year and sit for the NCLEX-RN.​​

  • Program: Associate of science in nursing
  • Campus: Omaha, NE
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $68 per credit for Nebraska residents; $102 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; official transcripts; completion of MCC general education requirements
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 85.8% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $56,087 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,880
Out-of-state
$4,320
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
14,300
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Southeast Community College Area

  • Lincoln, NE
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

This two-year college operates three campuses in Lincoln, Beatrice, and Milford, and several learning centers throughout southeast Nebraska. SCC offers a 65-credit associate of applied science degree in nursing that prepares graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN. Licensed practical nurses (LPN) may enroll in the LPN-to-RN option to earn their associate degree in approximately one year.

  • Program: Associate of applied science in nursing
  • Campus: Lincoln, NE
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $102 per credit for Nebraska residents; $123 credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent, official transcripts; completion of SCC general education requirements with a minimum 2.75 GPA; HESI assessment
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Four semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $56,333 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,448
Out-of-state
$2,952
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
9,756
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 The Top Nursing Schools in Nebraska

Western Nebraska Community College

  • Scottsbluff, NE
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

WNCC offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs at three campus locations in Scottsbluff, Sydney, and Alliance. The 72-credit associate of nursing program, one of the college's most popular majors, combines classroom work with hands-on clinical rotations. Students fulfill their clinical experiences in daytime, evening, and some weekend placements.

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing
  • Campus: Scottsbluff, NE
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) 
  • Tuition: $107 per credit for Nebraska residents; $111 per credit for out-of-state residents
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; official transcripts; completion of WNCC general education requirements; minimum 3.0 GPA; ATI-TEAS test scores; active status on the Nebraska Nursing Assistant Registry
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Four semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $53,775 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,496
Out-of-state
$2,520
Retention Rate
56%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,722
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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How to Choose a Nursing Program in Nebraska

In Nebraska, much like throughout the country, education costs vary by institution. Private colleges often cost more than public institutions. Public colleges in Nebraska can voluntarily join the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, which provides affordable tuition to students who live in participating states, including Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Nursing schools in Nebraska also have different NCLEX pass rates, a measurement of how well a program prepares students to become nurses. Acceptance rates can indicate the quality of nursing schools in Nebraska, as does accreditation. Employers and graduate schools may only accept nurses from accredited nursing programs in Nebraska.

Other factors to consider include convenience and flexibility. Nursing schools in Nebraska may offer online, part-time, and weekend courses that make going back to school convenient for working nurses.

Nursing students should also consider the curriculum and available career services. Does the school offer nursing specialties? Do they have partnerships with local and national healthcare facilities for clinical experiences and job placement? Considering these factors can help nursing students decide on a school best suited for their career path.

Why Become a Nurse in Nebraska

Nebraska offers nursing students and nurses many opportunities not available in other states. For instance, nursing schools in Nebraska have lower than national average tuition rates.

National in-state students at four-year colleges pay an average of $10,560 a year, according to the College Board. Nursing students in Nebraska pay less than $10,000 a year for in-state tuition.

Federal funding for nurses in Nebraska has also increased since 2016, with the state receiving more than $3 million for title VIII nursing workforce development programs and $879,695 for the National Institute of Nursing Research. In addition, the state reports higher than average satisfaction rates with 59.5% of registered nurses (RNs) and 57.7% of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) "very satisfied" with their jobs in 2021.

Nebraska needs nurses, particularly in rural areas where some counties have no RNs. In 2020, the state faced a shortage of 4,191 RNs, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and LPNs.

As a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, Nebraska allows nurses from other participating states to work without having to get an additional license. As a right-to-work state, Nebraska nurses cannot be required to join or pay union dues, which can make collective bargaining and organizing a union difficult.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Nebraska

Employers in Nebraska staff some 24,060 RNs, 1,500 nurse practitioners (NPs), 5,530 LPNs, and 13,390 certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Nebraska RNs earn an average annual salary of $69,480, less than the national average mean wage of $80,010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, Nebraska nurses enjoy a lower cost-of-living index at 93.6, compared to the national average of 100. Learn more about RN salaries in Nebraska.

Nebraska expects RN job growth to increase by 11.1% from 2018-2028. Employment for NPs should grow by 19.7%, LPNs 11.9%, and CNAs 6.8%.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Nebraska

Rural areas in Nebraska may have the highest need for nurses, but cities pay the most. Nurses in Omaha — Council Bluffs and Lincoln earn the highest salaries in Nebraska.

Highest-Paying Cities
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Median Salary for RNs
Omaha — Council Bluffs $70,510
Lincoln $68,280
Sioux City $60,160
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Nebraska

Nebraska requires that RNs complete a state-approved education program — either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) — and the NCLEX-RN.

During the COVID-19 pandemic through March 31, 2022, the governor of Nebraska waived continuing education and examination requirements to hire retired and inactive nurses from other states.

After passing the NCLEX, nurses must apply for licensure through the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Nurses who hold multistate licenses from NLC states can work in Nebraska without any additional schooling or credentials. Nurses from other states must have graduated from an accredited program, passed the NCLEX, and have a valid nursing license.

RN Requirements

RNs can become licensed only after completing a two-year ADN or a four-year BSN degree. An accredited nursing program in Nebraska prepares graduates to pass the NCLEX, a computerized assessment that nursing students take no earlier than 35 days after graduation.

Nursing students can apply for licensure through the DHHS up to 90 days before graduating, if they have registered for the NCLEX. The state RN licensing requirements include an application fee, evidence of citizenship, a photo, a criminal background check, and transcripts.

An RN license costs $30-$123, depending on if the license expires on an odd- or even-numbered year. The criminal background check requires a $45 fee and submission of fingerprints.

APRN Requirements

It takes a master's in nursing degree or doctor of nursing practice degree to become an APRN. APRNs have their RN license and an advanced degree in a specialty area, such as certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or NP.

Each APRN specialty has a different application required by the DHHS. Candidates submit a fee of $25-$68 and proof of citizenship or legal green card. Admission requirements also include a criminal background check, transcripts, an ID, RN license, and proof of a national certification exam.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Nebraska

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Nebraska


I took my exam. When will I be licensed in Nebraska?

You must first complete the appropriate nursing form. RNs, APRNS, and LPNs have different licensing processes and application forms due to the DHHS. The licensure unit of the DHHS processes nursing licenses in the order received. Applicants wait about 8-10 weeks, which includes criminal background check processing time.

How will I know if I've been licensed in Nebraska?

The License Lookup feature on the DHHS website displays all active nursing licenses. After the Nebraska DHHS publishes a license to its website, nurses receive their licensing paperwork and physical license by mail. Any incomplete application will be returned by mail.

How much does nursing school cost in Nebraska?

Exact tuition varies by school, with two-year colleges often charging less than four-year institutions. The Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture charges about $5,347 per year, while the University of Nebraska in Lincoln costs $9,366 per year.

What are peer-reviewed courses?

Peer-reviewed courses teach nurses the basics of becoming peer reviewers for medical research. Students learn how to assess reports and identify any conflicts of interest or fraud. Courses also cover research ethics and the different types of plagiarism.

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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