Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

Updated November 7, 2022

Review some of North Dakota’s top nursing programs and the process of earning a degree, becoming licensed to practice, and being employed in the state.
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The shortage of medical professionals continues to impact the healthcare community, resulting in a rising need for nurses. North Dakota is projected to see increased growth for RN positions from 2020-2030, making it a compelling state for nurses to consider. Moreover, North Dakota nursing programs produce an above-average NCLEX pass rate.

This guide provides an overview of becoming a nurse in North Dakota, including salary data, job outlook, and the best nursing programs in the state.

The Best Nursing Schools in North Dakota

Learn more about the top nursing schools in North Dakota, including which programs in the state offer the best options for current and prospective nurses.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in North Dakota, 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 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

University of Mary

  • Bismarck, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Catholic-based University of Mary's nursing programs award traditional bachelor's degrees and online or evening accelerated tracks and bridge programs for licensed nurses.

Graduate nursing course delivery is online and includes master's degrees in nurse education, nurse informatics, leadership and management, and dual MBA tracks. Doctorate degrees concentrate on organizational leadership or family nurse practitioner.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); master of science in nursing (MSN); doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
  • Campus: Bismarck, ND
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: 
    • BSN: $9,170 per semester
    • Accelerated BSN: $12,665 per semester
    • LPN-to-BSN: $605 per credit hour 
    • RN-to-BSN: $340 per credit hour
    • MSN/MBA: $560 per credit hour
    • MSN: $460 per credit hour
    • DNP: $630-$665 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • Traditional BSN, LPN-to-BSN: 3.0 GPA, TEAS exam scores
    • RN-to-BSN: 2.75 GPA, RN license
    • Accelerated BSN: bachelor's degree, 3.0 GPA
    • Graduate: 2.75-3.0 GPA, RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes for traditional BSN
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $56,641 for bachelor's graduates and $94,408 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$17,350
Out-of-state
$17,350
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
3,779
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

University of North Dakota

  • Grand Forks, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

University of North Dakota offers on-campus bachelor's in nursing and online RN-to-BSN programs. Master's-level students can concentrate on family nurse practitioner or psychiatric-mental health. UND doctoral students can earn a doctor of nursing practice with a nurse anesthesia option. Graduate programs are offered online, with the exception of the nurse anesthesia track. Students receive assistance with clinical placement.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); master of science in nursing (MSN); doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
  • Campus: Grand Forks, ND
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE); Council on Accreditation (COA) of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs
  • Tuition: 
    • BSN: $450 per credit hour for in-state residents; $504 per credit hour for Minnesota residents; $676 per credit hour for out-of-state students
    • RN-to-BSN: $464 per credit hour
    • MSN/DNP: $816 per credit hour
    • DNP-nurse anesthesthetist: $925 per credit hour for in-state residents; $1,175 per credit hour for Minnesota residents; $1,388 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • BSN: 3.5 high school GPA, 27 ACT or 1280 SAT for direct entry; 2.75 GPA, TEAS exam scores for junior year entry
    • RN-to-BSN: associate nursing degree; RN license
    • MSN/DNP-nurse anesthetist: BSN, 3.0 GPA; RN license; one year of RN experience
    • DNP: MSN; 3.0 GPA; RN license 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes for BSN/DNP-anesthesia
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.6% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $61,437 for bachelor's graduates and $107,376 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$8,212
Out-of-state
$14,371
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
13,581
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

University of Jamestown

  • Jamestown, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

University of Jamestown describes its bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) as emphasizing bio-psycho-social-spiritual patient care. The program features internships between junior and senior years and preceptorships completed locally or in Kenya or Malawi, Africa.

UJ also offers an accelerated BSN for registered nurses online (RN-to-BSN) with testing options and 24/7 access to class materials.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
  • Campus: Jamestown, ND
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: 
    • BSN: $22,718 per year
    • RN-to-BSN: $330 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Completed first semester of sophomore year, 3.2 GPA, completed psychology, sociology, and sciences prerequisites; for direct entry, 3.4 high school GPA, 25 ACT or 1200 SAT; for RN-to-BSN, additional requirement of RN license 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.5% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $61,859 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$21,648
Out-of-state
$21,648
Retention Rate
72%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
1,115
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
9% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

North Dakota State University-Main Campus

  • Fargo, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Top nursing schools in North Dakota include North Dakota State University with three options for earning a bachelor's in nursing: a pre-licensure track, a primarily online program for licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and a fully online track for RNs.

NDSU also offers a doctorate that prepares family nurse practitioners and arranges clinical placements. 

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); doctor of nursing practice (DNP) 
  • Campus: Fargo, ND
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: 
    • BSN: $5,332 per year for in-state residents; $5,972 per year for Minnesota residents; $7,997 per year for out-of-state students
      • Part-time: $439 per credit hour for in-state residents; $491 per credit hour for Minnesota residents; $1,117 per credit hour for out-of-state students
    • DNP: $483 per credit hour for in-state residents; $613 per credit hour for Minnesota residents; $724 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • BSN: pre-nursing prerequisites; college 2.75 GPA
    • LPN-to-RN: completed NLN NACE exams; practical nursing certificate, diploma, or associate degree; 2.75 overall GPA; 3.0 nursing GPA; LPN license
    • RN-to-BSN: associate degree in nursing; 2.75 GPA; RN license
    • DNP: BSN with a 3.0 GPA; RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Five semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes, except for RN-to-BSN
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.6% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $62,397 for bachelor's graduates and $107,072 for doctoral graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$8,275
Out-of-state
$12,413
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
13,173
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

Lake Region State College

  • Devils Lake, ND
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Lake Region State College offers programs that prepare certified nurse aides, paramedics-to-nurses, practical nurses, and registered nurses (RNs). LRSC focuses on helping graduates pass their licensure exams. 

Paramedics and licensed practical nurses (LPN) earn associate degrees to become RNs. Coursework and clinical training covers adult, maternal-child, and psychosocial nursing and community health. 

Details:

  • Program(s): Practical nursing (PN); associate degree in nursing (ADN)
  • Campus: Devils Lake, ND
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $170 per credit hour 
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • PN: high school diploma or GED certificate; 2.5 GPA; TEAS exam scores
    • ADN: LPN or paramedic program completion and license; 2.75 GPA; TEAS exam score
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 84.4% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $56,776 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,778
Out-of-state
$3,778
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,982
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

North Dakota State College of Science

  • Wahpeton, ND
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

North Dakota State College of Science lists three degree options for nurses: practical nursing associate of applied science (AAS), registered nursing AAS, and registered nursing associate of science in nursing (ASN) available to licensed practical nurses (LPN-to-RN).

NDSCS graduates qualify for licensure and employment or transfer to bachelor's or graduate nursing programs in North Dakota.

Details:

  • Program(s): Practical nursing (PN); registered nursing (RN)
  • Campus: Wahpeton, ND
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $150 per credit hour for in-state residents; $168 per credit hour for Minnesota residents; $180 per credit hour for out-of-state + Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada, students
  • Admission Requirements:
    • PN AAS: high school diploma or GED certificate; 2.0 GPA; ACT scores
    • RN AAS: high school diploma or GED certificate; 2.25 GPA; ACT scores; certified nursing assistant certificate
    • RN ASN: LPN program completion and license; 2.25 GPA; ACT scores
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $58,673 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,528
Out-of-state
$5,433
Retention Rate
71%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,977
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

Williston State College

  • Williston, ND
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Nursing students at Williston State College can pursue a one-year program certificate or two-year associate of applied science (AAS). The program certificate qualifies graduates to become licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or continue on for another year to earn their AAS and qualify for registered nurse licensure. WSC offers some courses online.

Details:

  • Program(s): Practical nursing (PN); registered nursing (RN)
  • Campus: Williston, ND
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA) – pre-accreditation status
  • Tuition: $193 per credit hour 
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • PN: 2.5 high school GPA; 19 ACT; TEAS exam score; prerequisites with a 2.75 GPA
    • RN: PN program completion; LPN license; 2.75 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 11 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $56,415 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,750
Out-of-state
$3,750
Retention Rate
55%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,132
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
67% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

Dickinson State University

  • Dickinson, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Dickinson State University offers a nursing bachelor's RN completion program and an associate degree in practical nursing. Students attend classes on campus and complete clinical experiences both on and off campus.

DSU's bachelor's in nursing core courses include health assessment, clinical concepts, and community health. The practical nursing curriculum covers nursing concepts, psychiatric-mental health nursing, and pharmacology.

Details:

  • Program(s): Associate of applied science in practical nursing (AASPN); bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
  • Campus: Dickinson, ND
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $249-$319 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements:
    • Practical nursing: 2.25 high school GPA or GED of 145 or 450
    • BSN: 2.5 college GPA; nursing license 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88.2% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $56,415 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$6,522
Out-of-state
$9,782
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
100%
Students Enrolled
1,350
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

Bismarck State College

  • Bismarck, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Career-focused programs at Bismarck State College include preparation tracks for practical nurses (PN) and associate-level registered nurses (RNs). Students can earn their PN certificates, then advance to RN training.

BSC offers most courses on campus but also through live interactive video online. Clinical rotations are completed at local healthcare organizations.

Details:

  • Program(s): Practical nurse certificate to associate degree in nursing (ADN)
  • Campus: Bismarck, ND
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $235 per credit hour for in-state residents; $263 per credit hour for Minnesota residents; $352 per credit hour for out-of-state + Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada, students
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • PN: high school diploma or GED certificate; 2.5 GPA; age 18 at start of program; CPR certification; math prerequisites or placement testing; general academic readiness testing, e.g. TEAS, ACT/SAT, Accuplacer
    • ADN: PN or paramedic-to-nurse program completion; 2.75 GPA in major courses; 2.5 overall GPA; admission exam
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $55,964 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,320
Out-of-state
$4,980
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,739
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Top North Dakota Nursing Schools and Programs

Sitting Bull College

  • Fort Yates, ND
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Sitting Bull College offers nursing programs on North Dakota's Standing Rock Reservation. Enrollees can pursue an associate degree in practical nursing with an emphasis on responsible, holistic healthcare.

Core courses include introduction to the nursing profession, holistic health assessment across the lifespan, fundamental nursing interventions, and a capstone experience. 

Details:

  • Program(s): Associate of science in practical nursing
  • Campus: Fort Yates, ND
  • Type: Tribal
  • Accreditation(s): Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Tuition: $1,800 per semester 
  • Admission Requirements: Prerequisites with a "C" or higher; 2.3 cumulative GPA; background check
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
Average Tuition
In-state
$3,600
Out-of-state
$3,600
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
285
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Featured Online Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in North Dakota

Choosing a nursing program can be time-consuming. Applicants should consider a variety of factors depending on their academic and professional goals. To make the selection process easier, prospective students should focus their research on tuition, program length, and financial aid offerings.

Learners should also make sure prospective programs can successfully prepare their students. They can do this by verifying that aninstitution is accredited and reviewing its average NCLEX scores and graduation rates. These numbers help indicate program quality.

Why Become a Nurse in North Dakota

Becoming a nurse in North Dakota comes with a variety of benefits. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects above-average growth for nursing positions in North Dakota from 2020-2030. This, coupled with North Dakota's relatively high NCLEX-RN pass rate of 91.6%, makes the state a great location for nurses.

North Dakota is also part of theNurse Licensure Compact (NLC).As part of the NLC, North Dakota joins 37 other states in agreeing to a set of rules and procedures that all licensed RNs must follow.

The NLC makes it easier for nurses to qualify for state licensure with minimal paperwork. Nurses with an NLC license also do not have to pay license renewal fees, and they can provide telehealth care to patients across state lines.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in North Dakota

Compared to other states, nurses in North Dakota earn slightly below-average wages. Registered nurses (RNs) earned an average annual salary of $71,200 as of May 2021, and nurse practitioners earned $112,720. These earnings fall below the national averages for each position.

That said, North Dakota's cost of living falls slightly below average (96.7% of the national average), according to theEconomic Research and Information Center.

Like most other states, North Dakota should see increased demand for nurses in the coming years. Jobs for registered nurses are projected to increase by 16.5% from 2020-2030. Nurse practitioners can expect a whopping 31.4% job growth in that time frame.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in North Dakota

Nurses in North Dakota earn the highest salaries in the Bismarck (the state's capital) and Fargo metro areas. Both of these cities are located more toward the southern border of the state, with Bismarck centrally located and Fargo on the eastern state line separating North Dakota from Minnesota.

Top-Paying Cities
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Median Salary for RNs
Fargo $72,650
Bismarck $70,740
Source: BLS, 2021

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in North Dakota

North Dakota's process for becoming an RN or advanced practice RN (APRN) is similar to the process required in most other states. Prospective nurses must first complete a nursing program approved by theNorth Dakota Board of Nursing.

After fulfilling their academic requirements, undergraduate students need to pass the NCLEX-RN. Graduate students must gain certification through a nationally recognized certification organization in a specialty of their choosing.

Both RNs and APRNs must satisfy continuing education requirements to maintain licensure and continue working as a nurse in North Dakota.

RN Requirements

When becoming an RN in North Dakota, prospective nurses must first graduate from an accredited nursing program recognized by the state board of nursing. Graduates should earn either anassociate degree in nursing (ADN) or abachelor of science in nursing (BSN).

Upon completing their undergraduate program, graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit an application for licensure to the state. The application entails a $130 licensing fee.

RNs in North Dakota must renew their license every two years. To qualify for renewal, RNs must complete 12 contact hours within the licensing period and accumulate 400 hours of practice within the last four years. RNs who are pursuing licensure for the first time do not need to complete the contact hours during their first renewal period.

APRN Requirements

To become an APRN in North Dakota, nurses should hold an unencumbered RN license that allows them to practice in the state. They must also earn a master of science in nursing or a doctorate of nursing practice and qualify for specialty certification through a national nursing certifying body.

When applying for their license, the application includes a $100 initial licensure fee and a $20 processing fee for applicants who answer "no" to the criminal history check question.

APRNs are obligated to renew their RN and certification licenses every two years. To be eligible for renewal, they must complete 12 contact hours during the renewal period and 400 hours of practice within the last four years. APRNs with prescriptive authority must also complete 15 hours of pharmacotherapy education every two years.

Other Top Nursing Programs in North Dakota

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in North Dakota


How much do nurses make in North Dakota?

Nurses in North Dakota earn below-average salaries compared to national data. Registered nurses in the state earned an average annual salary of $71,200 as of May 2021. Nurse practitioners made $112,720 on average.

Are nurses in demand in North Dakota?

Yes, North Dakota projects an increased demand for nurses from 2020-2030. For example, registered nurses in North Dakota can expect a 16.5% increase in jobs during that time frame. Nurse practitioners should see a 31.4% job growth.

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

How long it takes to become an RN in North Dakota depends on your education and professional goals. Full-time students enrolled in ADN programs can graduate within two years. Those attending BSN programs on a full-time basis can finish in four years.

How do I get a nursing license in North Dakota?

After earning an ADN or a BSN in North Dakota, prospective nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN exam before applying to the state for licensure. Applicants pay a licensing fee before obtaining RN licensure. RNs must renew their licenses every two years.

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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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