North Carolina Nursing Schools and Programs

January 21, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Explore what it takes to become a nurse in North Carolina by reviewing the top nursing schools, degree and licensing requirements, salary projections, and the anticipated job growth 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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North Carolina Nursing Schools and Programs
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By 2026, North Carolina expects a severe nursing shortage, requiring around 13,000 new nurses to fill the need. Combined with the below average cost of living, North Carolina makes a great place to pursue a career in nursing.

As a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), nurses can earn their licensure in the state with minimal paperwork, while also providing telehealth services across state lines.

Below, you can find the top nursing schools in North Carolina, including a breakdown on how to become a licensed nurse.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing programs in North Carolina, 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.

Keep reading to learn more about the best BSN programs in North Carolina, or go straight to our list of the best NP programs in North Carolina.

The Best Nursing Schools in NC for RN-to-BSN Programs

Appalachian State University true View School Profile $$ Boone, NC 72% 48% 20% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Appalachian State offers an online RN-to-BSN program for registered nurses. The three-semester curriculum covers professional practice concepts, informatics, theory, older adult care, health assessment, and community-based nursing. Applicants must already hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing, and the core curriculum consists of 64 credits.

Graduates complete a total of 120 undergraduate credits between the core, cognate, and electives. Courses are presented using an array of online instructional methods such as forums, quizzes, projects, papers, case study analyses, and lectures.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Boone, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $177 per credit for North Carolina residents, $827 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum 2.5 GPA, RN license, and associate in nursing or diploma in nursing
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Three semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Catawba College true View School Profile Salisbury, NC 46% 68% 12% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Catawba's 100% online RN-to-BSN program features a curriculum rooted in liberal art studies and emphasizes real-life work experience. Students can enroll at five different start dates for the eight-week block structure of coursework and take two classes at a time.

Faculty members come from a diverse range of careers, including geriatrics, mental health, maternity and pediatric care, and medical surgical nursing. Students benefit from one-on-one advising from faculty, along with numerous scholarships and financial aid programs. Catawba offers an articulation agreement with North Carolina community colleges, making it easier to transfer credits for students.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Salisbury, North Carolina
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $199 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or diploma in nursing, CPR and liability insurance, active RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 1 year
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
East Carolina University true View School Profile $$ Greenville, NC 65% 55% 45% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

ECU offers an affordable, 16-month RN-to-BSN program with the National League for Nursing Center of Excellence designation. Designed for working professionals, the program allows students to enroll in courses covering nursing research, clinical scholarship, evidence-based practice, community health nursing, and nursing leadership and finance. The program culminates in a capstone course and requires the completion of certain prerequisites.

Prospective students benefit from the opportunity to meet with faculty and staff for pre-advising to review prerequisites and transcripts. Additional courses include critical thinking, nursing in a global society, and professional communication in nursing.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Greenville, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $150 per credit for North Carolina residents; $700 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or diploma in nursing, RN license, 2.5 GPA, "C" grade in all math and science courses
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of North Carolina at Greensboro true View School Profile $$ Greensboro, NC 53% 60% 46% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

UNCG offers an RN-to-BSN program for students interested in furthering their nursing education. Coursework includes six required classes in topics such as nursing health assessment, community health nursing concepts and care, and a writing-intensive nursing concepts course.

UNCG offers two different articulation agreements for students transferring in from North Carolina community colleges. All students in UNCG's RN-to-BSN program must complete at least 31 semester hours in residence at UNCG for the degree and a total of 120 credits. Nursing electives include courses in global perspectives, health informatics, pharmacology, and health-care culture.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: Varies
  • Admission Requirements: Varies but general education courses and an RN certification must be completed prior to acceptance
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 3 semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Online or hybrid
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Gardner-Webb University true View School Profile Boiling Springs, NC 53% 67% 49% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Davis RN–to-BSN program at Gardner-Webb prepares nurses for leadership roles within their careers as registered nurses. The flexible programming allows students to begin in the fall, spring, or summer semesters.

Students learn about providing patient-centered care, evidence-based practice, and interdisciplinary collaboration as part of the Davis curriculum. Transfer applicants benefit from an articulation agreement with North Carolina community colleges. Graduates meet the expectations of the program's mission to make an impact on the health of the global community by being prepared professionals practicing nursing from a holistic, value-centered mindset.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Boiling Springs, North Carolina
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Tuition: Varies based on semester and whether full-time or part-time student
  • Admission Requirements: ADN or diploma in nursing, minimum 2.5 GPA, RN license, one year of experience within last five years
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 30 hours in the major, varies based on articulation agreements
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Fayetteville State University View School Profile $ Fayetteville, NC 35% 60% 66% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

A historically black university, FSU offers an RN-to-BSN degree that prepares students for careers in other areas of nursing beyond clinical care. The program emphasizes science-based learning and nursing skills education. Students learn about health assessment, evidence-based techniques and practices, community health, current issues and trends in nursing, and emergency nursing care.

Students must hold a 2.8 GPA before being approved to the pre-nursing major. Students may opt to join the Omega Psi, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society or earn one of the many nursing scholarships offered at FSU.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: Varies
  • Admission Requirements: Acceptance into the university, associate degree in nursing or diploma in nursing, RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 2.5 semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of North Carolina at Pembroke View School Profile $$ Pembroke, NC 41% 67% 51% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

UNCP offers an RN-to-BSN program for registered nurses who are ready to take the next step to earn a bachelor's degree. The program builds upon current knowledge, skills, and foundations to expand nursing career opportunities. Students take courses in eight-week sessions and may complete the accelerated track within 12 months or part-time route within two years.

The UNCP program follows the North Carolina uniform articulation agreement for transfer students from any North Carolina community college and allows entry in the summer, fall, or spring semesters.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Pembroke, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: Varies
  • Admission Requirements: Acceptance into UNCP, ADN or diploma in nursing, RN license, 2.5 GPA, "C" grade in prerequisite courses
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months (accelerated) to 2 years (part-time)
  • On-Campus Requirements: None if general education courses are complete
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Winston-Salem State University View School Profile $$ Winston-Salem, NC 48% 74% 50% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The HBCU Winston-Salem State University offers an affordable, flexible online RN-to-BSN program. The 100% online program allows for spring, summer, or fall entry, making it flexible for working professionals in the field. Those who opt into the accelerated track may complete the degree within one year. Prospective candidates must complete prerequisites in statistics, developmental psychology, and anatomy and physiology.

Major courses include the dynamics of professional nursing, adult health nursing, clinical reasoning, and health assessment. Further higher-level coursework explores mental health nursing, content synthesis for nursing practice, and care for the older adult. Students may opt for the independent study elective.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: Varies
  • Admission Requirements: 24 transferable credits with 2.0 GPA, 51 total transferable credits outside nursing, an ADN or diploma in nursing, RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 3 semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences View School Profile Concord, NC 69% 66% 62% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Cabarrus College offers a 100% online RN-to-BSN program. Students may enroll in the program in spring or fall semesters and must complete a satisfactory community assessment activity prior to graduation. The school's Atrium Health Loan Forgiveness program provides scholarship funds in exchange for their work in a sponsored facility.

The five-week nursing courses cover topics such as applied statistics, coping with grief and loss, health policy, and legal and ethical issues in contemporary society. Graduates further their nursing careers by becoming an advocate, clinician, coordinator, educator, and leader while promoting the health of different populations.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Concord, North Carolina
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Tuition: Varies
  • Admission Requirements: ADN or diploma in nursing, minimum 2.5 GPA, RN license, two professional references
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 1.5 years for full-time students
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Barton College View School Profile Wilson, NC 52% 75% 46% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Barton's RN-to-BSN program prepares nurses and students to become collaborative members of multidisciplinary health-care teams in a variety of professional environments. The 100% online program requires 126 credits for completion. Curriculum covers several general education courses and core nursing classes. Students complete coursework in legal and ethical issues in healthcare, confronting poverty, nursing leadership, and health maintenance through the lifespan.

The program, designed for one-year completion, allows students to enroll in spring, summer, or fall and provides smaller groups and one-on-one discussions with professors. Degree completion requires 35 semester credits over 2.5 semesters.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Wilson, North Carolina
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $450 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing, minimum 2.0 GPA, RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 1 year
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Pfeiffer University View School Profile Misenheimer, NC 43% 79% 45% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The 100% online RN-to-BSN program at Pfeiffer features a curriculum for students to advance their careers. The 120-credit program provides courses in health assessment, health and aging, and health promotion. Additional classes involve nursing leadership, perspectives in community nursing, and nursing synthesis and research.

Graduates receive an experiential learning credit upon successful completion of a course in professional nursing practice and communications. The 30-hour residency and electives students take are customizable, and 52 hours of courses include the 26 credits for nursing experience.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Misenheimer, North Carolina
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: Varies based on part-time or full-time enrollment
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in science or nursing or diploma in nursing, minimum 2.0 GPA, RN license, "C" grade in prerequisites
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Not specified
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Carolinas College of Health Sciences View School Profile $$$$$ Charlotte, NC 56% 40% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Carolinas College of Health Sciences offers a 120-credit RN-to-BSN program. The college boasts a 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio in the nursing program and an 89% job placement rate within six months of graduation.

The RN-to-BSN program includes core nursing content, lower-level and upper-level general education classes, and 32 credits focused on upper-level nursing content. The curriculum features classes such as health promotion, health informatics, and cultural aspects of health and illness.

  • Program(s): Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accreditation pending
  • Tuition: $382 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum 2.25 GPA, RN license, general studies prerequisites
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 to 18 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Featured Online Programs

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in North Carolina

To become a nurse in North Carolina, prospective students must choose a focus area to determine the appropriate academic program.

Whether deciding to pursue registered nurse (RN) licensure or a graduate degree to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), such as a nurse practitioner (NP), students must pass the corresponding licensing exams detailed by the state's licensing board.

After obtaining licensure, nurses are required to satisfy continuing education requirements to work as a nurse in the state.

As a nursing compact state, North Carolina has agreed on a set of rules and procedures that all licensed RNs must follow. The NLC makes it easier for RNs to find work in another state. Nurses with an NLC license also do not have to pay license renewal fees and can provide telehealth care to patients across state lines.

Becoming a Registered Nurse in North Carolina

The path to becoming an RN in North Carolina is similar to those in other states. Prospective RNs can pursue either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Upon gaining admittance, students must complete the program and meet all state's licensing requirements to sit for the NCLEX exam.

Learn more about becoming an RN in North Carolina.

RN Program Requirements:

  • Application Requirements: High school diploma or GED certificate; prerequisite courses in science, math, and the humanities
  • Program Length: Whether choosing to pursue an ADN or BSN, the length of the program can vary from one institution to another. ADN programs typically take two years to complete, while BSN programs take four years to complete.
  • Accrediting Bodies: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing; Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

North Carolina Licensure Requirements:

  • Education: Applicants must complete an accredited RN education program.
  • Exams: Students must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) to earn their license.
  • Renewal Frequency: Licenses must be renewed every two years.
  • Continued Education: RNs are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education to renew their license.

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner in North Carolina

Licensed NPs in North Carolina must hold a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a higher degree. While specific requirements for these programs vary by state, North Carolina requires nurses to complete an accredited NP program to earn certification through a national credentialing body.

For nurses looking to become NPs in North Carolina, they must complete the following requirements.

NP Program Requirements:

  • Application Requirements: For admittance into an NP program, students must have an RN license and hold at least a BSN. Other requirements include approximately 1-2 years of nursing experience and the completion of prerequisite science courses.
  • Program Length: NP programs in North Carolina take about two years to complete.
  • Accrediting Bodies: The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners; The American Association of Critical Care Nurses; The American Nurses Credentialing Center; National Certification Organization

North Carolina Licensure Requirements:

  • Education: Upon completion of the program, students will have earned either an MSN or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
  • Exams: Licensing exams vary for advanced practice registered nurse specialties.
  • Renewal Frequency: NPs in North Carolina must renew their approval to practice every year through the North Carolina Board of Nursing. They must also maintain their RN license, which must be renewed every two years.
  • Continued Education: NPs must complete at least 50 hours of continuing education to renew their license.

The Best Nurse Practitioner Programs in North Carolina

East Carolina University true View School Profile Greenville, NC

East Carolina University offers an online nurse practitioner program in North Carolina. The degree includes two different tracks for master's nursing students: the neonatal and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (NP) concentrations. The full program comprises 43 credits, which full-time students can complete in five semesters. Part-time students may take seven semesters to graduate.

Courses cover advanced topics, such as pharmacology and physical assessment. The online NP program includes one on-campus component each semester: a two-day intensive experience. Distance learners must also fulfill 550 clinical hours onsite at healthcare facilities during three clinical practicum courses. Students can arrange their practicum experiences at a location convenient to them.

Campus: Greenville, North Carolina

Type: Public

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Tuition: $349/credit for North Carolina residents; $994/credit for non-residents

Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum 2.7 GPA; current nursing license; one year of professional nursing experience; GRE or MAT scores; three recommendation letters; personal statement

Minimum Time Commitment: 21 months

On-Campus Requirements: Yes

Program: MSN - Neonatal or psychiatric-mental health NP

School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Western Carolina University true View School Profile Cullowhee, NC

Located in Cullowhee, Western Carolina University runs a hybrid master's degree in nursing with a family nurse practitioner (NP) track. Students complete much of their coursework online, but they must also attend class on campus every Tuesday. Learners enroll in the 52-credit program full time, and they can graduate in 24 months. Learners can also opt to complete a project or thesis toward the end of the program.

Students must also complete 640 hours of coursework onsite at a healthcare facility. Clinical hours start during the second semester, and master's candidates generally spend eight hours a week on their clinical obligations.

Campus: Cullowhee, North Carolina

Type: Public

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Tuition: $10,641/ year for North Carolina residents; $21,048/year for nonresidents

Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; current nursing license; one year of professional nursing experience; three recommendation letters; personal statement

Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months

On-Campus Requirements: Yes

Program: MSN - Family NP

School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Other Nursing License Options in North Carolina

Becoming a CNA or an LPN in North Carolina

Outside of RN and NP programs, there are additional licensing and certification options for prospective nurses in North Carolina. Common options include becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN).

Both options allow graduates to enter the workforce faster than those who attend traditional nursing schools. Becoming a licensed CNA or an LPN also provides nurses with insight into nursing without the time commitment of earning a higher degree. They can then use their experience as a stepping stone to becoming an RN.

North Carolina CNA Requirements:

  • Education: There are no education prerequisites needed for admission. Prospective nurses must graduate from a CNA school in North Carolina.
  • Exams: Prospective CNAs must pass the North Carolina Nurse Aide exam.
  • Renewal Frequency: CNA licensure must be renewed every two years.
  • Continued Education: CNAs must complete eight hours of in-service training every two years.

North Carolina LPN Licensure Requirements:

  • Education: Students must have graduated high school or earned their GED certificate prior to applying to an LPN program. Prospective nurses must complete an approved LPN program in North Carolina to earn their license.
  • Exams: Prospective LPNs must pass the NCLEX-PN (practical nursing) exam.
  • Renewal Frequency: Licenses must be renewed every two years.
  • Continued Education: LPNs are required to complete 15-30 hours of continuing education every two years.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in North Carolina

Compared to all other states, North Carolina ranks lower than the national average for salary and projected employment growth.

The state ranks 37th in median RN salary, almost $10,000 less than the national average. The median salary for NPs is around $5,000 less than the national average, which ranks North Carolina 35th among all states.

Ranking 29th among all states, the cost of living in North Carolina is also slightly cheaper than the national average, which can help offset the lower salary.

While the projected employment growth for RNs is over 3% higher than the national average, North Carolina still ranks 36th overall. For NPs, employment growth is approximately 15% lower than the national average; however, the state ranks 18th among all other states.

Nursing Role Median Salary Projected Job Growth
Registered Nurse $66,820 10.8%
Nurse Practitioner $106,770 30.4%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Highest Paying Cities for Nurses in North Carolina

Top Paying Metropolitan Area (RN)
Top Paying Metropolitan Area Median Salary for RNs
Fayetteville $76,010
Raleigh $68,690
Winston-Salem $68,650
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia $68,620
Durham-Chapel Hill $67,800
Source: BLS
Top Paying Metropolitan Area (NP)
Top Paying Metropolitan Area Median Salary for NPs
Greensboro-High Point $111,500
Raleigh $110,370
Winston-Salem $110,310
Greenville $109,560
Durham-Chapel Hill $109,160
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions About NP Programs in NC


How long does it take to become an RN in North Carolina?

It typically takes 2-4 years to complete an RN program in North Carolina, depending on the degree. For full-time students, earning an ADN typically takes two years, while a BSN takes four. Part-time study extends this timeline.

How much money do nurses make in North Carolina?

According to the BLS, RNs earn an annual median salary of $68,950, while NPs earn $108,370. However, the salary for both RNs and NPs in North Carolina can vary depending on location, education, and previous experience.

How much does nursing school cost in North Carolina?

The cost of nursing school in North Carolina varies depending on the program and institution. ADN programs can cost $6,000-$40,000, while BSN programs range from $40,000-$200,000. More advanced degrees vary in tuition cost based on the previous degree earned:

  • BSN-to-MSN: $20,000-$180,000
  • BSN-to-DNP: $25,000-$250,000
  • MSN-to-DNP: $17,000-$170,000

Is North Carolina a good state for nurses?

According to the personal finance group WalletHub, North Carolina is the 34th best state for nurses, while ranking 24th for opportunity and competition.

Even though nursing salaries in the state are lower than the national average, North Carolina also has a lower cost of living. Nurses can also benefit from North Carolina's involvement in the NLC, providing nurses who earned their degree in another state with an easier licensing process.

Does North Carolina have a nursing shortage?

Workforce strategy and analytics firm Mercer recently reported that North Carolina will be among the five worst states for nursing shortages from 2021-2026. They also estimate that national demand for nurses could increase by 5%, leaving North Carolina with a shortage of 13,000 nurses.


Nursing in Surrounding States

State

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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