Top Ohio Nursing Schools and Programs icon

Top Ohio Nursing Schools and Programs

| NurseJournal Staff

Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

Ohio boasts many excellent campus-based and online nursing schools. The flexibility and convenience of online nursing programs in Ohio should appeal to students just beginning to explore nursing fields or nursing professionals seeking career advancement.

Our guide to online nursing schools in Ohio provides useful information on salary and career outlooks, along with educational and licensing requirements for certified nurse assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects significantly faster employment growth for all nursing areas than for other occupations. RNs in Ohio, who represent the most common practice area, can anticipate job openings to increase by over 14% from 2016-2026. NPs in Ohio, who hold graduate degrees and specialized training, can expect even greater opportunities and higher compensation.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Ohio?

As home to over 200 higher education institutions, Ohio continues to expand its online programs. Nursing ranks as the most common online undergraduate degree in Ohio, offering reasonable in-state and out-of-state tuition rates and modest tuition increases in comparison to neighboring states.

Because healthcare and social assistance has emerged as the top industry in the state, graduates of online nursing programs in Ohio can expect to find many career possibilities in different settings. The state offers attractive salaries and ranks second in the nation for affordability, taking into account household income, housing prices, and cost of living.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Ohio

The process of earning licensure and an online nursing degree in Ohio is similar to other states' processes. However, the Buckeye State maintains some specific requirements, including the licensing process for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). Aspiring APRNs must earn a graduate-level nursing degree and pass the NCLEX. APRNs must complete additional steps, such as receiving a specific national certification and obtaining a certificate of authority from the Ohio Board of Nursing.

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

    Consider your career aspirations when choosing an online nursing degree. At minimum, you will need to complete a one-year LPN diploma program, but becoming an RN opens better salary and career opportunities. To become an RN, you must complete a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) program or a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. When considering online BSN programs in Ohio, current RNs should explore online RN-to-BSN programs in Ohio. A nurse with a BSN may pursue a master of science in nursing (MSN) to advance their career. Ohio boasts some of the best online MSN programs in the country. Those who want to teach nursing at the college level or pursue top leadership positions will need a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Nursing schools in Ohio offer many options for those pursuing nursing degrees. When researching nursing schools in Ohio, make note of any prerequisites, such as undergraduate courses in medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology. Most nursing programs require a clinical internship, which provides hands-on experience. Students hoping to earn their degrees as quickly as possible can explore accelerated nursing programs in Ohio.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    Ohio's nursing schools prepare students to take the licensing exam, which is the final step to beginning a career in the field. You must pass the NCLEX-PN to work as an LPN and the NCLEX-RN to work as an RN. APRNs must also have a certificate of authority from the Ohio Board of Nursing. Enrollees should dedicate significant time to preparing for licensing exams. Test-takers receive up to five hours to complete the PN exam and up to six hours for the RN exam.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Ohio

As the need for primary and preventive care increases, nurses must take on broader responsibilities, which require a higher level of training. Most nursing licenses require either an undergraduate or graduate degree as the minimum educational credential. Online nursing programs in Ohio offering accelerated formats and convenient schedules allow students to acquire the appropriate degree while accommodating their personal and professional obligations.

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

While each program establishes specific curriculum and clinical requirements, most degrees leading to licensure require students to take core nursing courses and specializations in practice areas. Undergraduate nursing programs combine foundational courses in biology, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry with advanced nursing topics. Undergraduate online nursing programs in Ohio typically offer the following classes:

Community Health Nursing

Students integrate primary healthcare, public health, and nursing practice for the care of families, communities, and populations, applying epidemiology and risk assessment strategies. Faculty members emphasize the socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds of the communities served by nurses.

Pathophysiology and Pharmacology

This course presents the pharmacologic concepts critical to clinical decision-making in nursing practice. Content includes common diseases and injuries across the lifespan, along with the therapeutic and toxic effects of drugs.

Evidence-based Practice and Nursing Research

Enrollees learn to apply principles of the research process and evidence-based practice to the delivery of safe quality care. Coursework emphasizes competency in database search strategies and critical appraisal of evidence for quality care practices.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Ohio colleges and universities offer opportunities for online nursing education at all levels. While admission and graduation requirements vary considerably by degree type, online programs generally offer the same quality nursing training as campus-based schools, preparing students for the appropriate licensure exams and competencies required for practice roles.

Before enrolling in any online program, prospective students should thoroughly research all available options. Always ensure that each school holds regional accreditation and explore any on-campus requirements for orientations, exams, or hybrid courses. Almost all programs require supervised clinical hours. In some cases, online students may work with clinical sites near their places of residence.

Before enrolling in any online program, prospective students should thoroughly research all available options.

Online nursing programs in Ohio work particularly well for RNs who want a BSN after completing their diploma or ADN, bachelor's degree-holders in other fields who want to enter a nursing career, and nurses seeking to advance their career prospects while maintaining their employment.

Nursing Licensure in Ohio

Similar to other states, the licensing process in Ohio requires specific education for each nursing type. Ohio's regulations differ for APRNs. NPs, who rank among the most highly skilled and heavily regulated nurses in Ohio, must hold a valid RN license, a graduate degree, and national certification in an approved specialty before they can obtain their license.

Unlike full-practice states that allow NPs to perform many of the same services as doctors, NPs in Ohio operate with restrictive practice status, which requires collaborative agreements with supervising physicians and limits their scope of practice. The Ohio State Board of Nursing administers licensing, certification, and renewal regulations for CNAs, RNs, LPNs, APRNs, and other healthcare workers. The following section provides an overview of state requirements for each nursing category.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

This table compares licensure requirements for each type of nurse. Licensing rules frequently change, so nurses planning to practice in Ohio should consult the state board website for the most up-to-date information.

CERTIFIED NURSE ASSISTANT CNAs in Ohio must complete a state-tested nursing assistant program offered at numerous locations across the state, including community colleges, vocational and technical schools, and healthcare centers. Coursework addresses medical terminology, infection control, and other areas related to patient care and safety. All CNA candidates must pass the competency exam, which consists of a multiple-choice section and a 60-question audio component. Federal law requires all states to maintain a registry of CNAs authorized to work in federally-funding medical facilities. When a CNA candidate in Ohio completes the 75-hour training program and passes the competency exam, the state adds their name to the nurse aide registry. Once added to the registry, STNA certification remains active for two years. Out-of-state CNAs may apply for a request for reciprocity if they submit proof of good standing in their home state registry and have completed training and testing that meets federal requirements. Ohio waives the training program for students enrolled in nursing education programs, allowing them to apply for CNA certification after passing the competency exam.

Ohio Licensure Requirements

  • Education: High School diploma and completion of 75 hours in coursework and supervised training from an accredited state-tested nursing assistant program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in a degree program
  • Exams: Certified nursing assistant competency evaluation exam
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: 48 hours of in-service training and at least one day of paid service within the licensing period
LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE Completing a practical nursing education program from an accredited school serves as the minimum educational requirement for an LPN license in Ohio. The state board provides a list of approved programs from schools across the state. Practical nurse education programs provide training in areas such as basic patient care and safety, administration of medicine, assessment, and nutrition. Students must also fulfill the supervised clinical experience requirement. After completing a nursing program, LPN license-seekers must submit official transcripts to the state board, request an authorization to test, and register with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to take the NCLEX-PN. Candidates must achieve a passing score to receive full approval for licensure. Because Ohio does not participate in the nurse licensure compact (NLC), which recognizes licenses from other member states, nurses from outside of Ohio must apply for licensure by endorsement if they hold a license in good standing in their home state.

Ohio Licensure Requirements

  • Education: High school diploma and completion of a one-year practical nurse program from an accredited school
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in a degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: 24 contact hours within the licensing period; at least one hour related to standards of nursing practice
REGISTERED NURSE Earning an RN license in Ohio begins with a nursing diploma, an associate degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution. A nursing diploma or an associate degree, which typically require 1-2 years of study, allows graduates to sit for the registered nursing exam sooner than a traditional four-year BSN degree. While a BSN takes longer, this degree increases career and earning prospects. Accelerated BSNs permit bachelor's degree-holders in other subjects to finish their nursing education requirements in 18-24 months. RN-to-BSN programs enable students who hold RN licenses with credits earned through ADN programs to finish their bachelor's in approximately two years. Regardless of their chosen educational path, all candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN to complete the licensing process. The Ohio State Board of Nursing requires each applicant to submit official transcripts and pass a criminal background check to obtain an authorization to test. Once approved for testing, candidates register for the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE.

Ohio Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Nursing diploma, ADN or BSN from an accredited school
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in a degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: 24 contact hours within the licensing period; at least one hour related to the Ohio Nurse Practice Act
NURSE PRACTITIONER All advanced practice nurses, including NPs, must hold an unencumbered RN license and an APRN license, known as a certificate of authority in Ohio. State licensure for NPs in Ohio requires national certification and an MSN or DNP from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Graduate degrees prepare candidates to sit for a certification examination administered by a national credentialing agency approved by the state board. Ohio recognizes certifications in one of six population foci: family, adult/gerontology, neonatal, pediatrics, women's health, and psychiatric mental health. Because Ohio currently does not belong to the NLC, each NP must also enter into a collaborative standard care agreement with a supervising physician to practice in the state. NPs who seek prescriptive authority to administer medications and controlled substances must complete additional licensing requirements, including at least 45 contact hours in advanced pharmacology.

Ohio Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Valid RN license; MSN or DNP from an accredited school
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in a degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN plus national certification by examination in intended specialty from an approved national certification agency
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years; separate renewal for national certification every five years
  • Continuing Education: 24 contact hours within the licensing period, at least 12 hours in advanced pharmacology

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Ohio FAQ

WHAT NURSING FIELD MAKES THE MOST MONEY? APRNs rank among the highest-paid nurses in the U.S. NPs in Ohio earn almost $102,000 a year, making about $35,000 above the annual mean wages for RNs in the state.
CAN SOMEONE BECOME A NURSE IN TWO YEARS? Nurses can acquire LPN licenses in as little as 12 months, but these license holders have limited nursing responsibilities compared to RNs. In Ohio, graduates of ADN programs, which typically require two years, can apply for RN licenses.
DOES AN ONLINE NURSING DEGREE HAVE THE SAME VALUE AS AN ON-CAMPUS DEGREE? Accredited online nursing programs provide the same quality education as on-campus degrees, preparing graduates for licensure and jobs. Major employers, such as hospitals and medical clinics, view online degrees in the same regard as traditional nursing programs.
HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE WHAT NURSING FIELD TO GO INTO? Choosing a nursing field depends on your interests and career goals. Nurses eager to enter the workforce might pursue LPN licenses. Earning an RN or APRN license requires more postsecondary training but offers broader career possibilities.
IS OHIO A NURSE COMPACT STATE? Ohio is not a member of the NLC, which permits licensed nurses to practice in member states. Licensed out-of-state nurses may apply for licensure by endorsement to practice under a temporary permit while fulfilling licensing requirements.

Ohio Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

Ohio's 11.75 million residents face many healthcare challenges. The rapidly aging population, along with the high incidence of chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis, and the expanding demand for primary and preventive care contribute to a favorable employment climate for nurses at all levels.

The healthcare sector has been the leading employer in Ohio since 2009. While Ohio currently does not report a shortage of LPNs and RNs, the BLS projects these two nursing fields to grow much higher than the national average from 2016-2026. NPs, who perform many different patient care services, will experience even more striking rates of job growth and much higher salaries than other nurses.

While earning a degree does not guarantee employment, educational credentials contribute to career advancement and higher levels of compensation, especially for advanced nursing roles.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Ohio, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $27,570 5.2%
Licensed Practical Nurse $43,430 9.5%
Registered Nurse $66,820 14.2%
Nurse Practitioner $101,970 29.7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
U.S. $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
Michigan $30,130 $49,040 $71,330 $106,880
Indiana $27,210 $44,310 $64,860 $103,200
Kentucky $26,800 $41,920 $63,100 $99,790
West Virginia $26,410 $36,770 $61,780 $100,690
Pennsylvania $30,630 $48,120 $70,390 $98,250

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant


Skilled nursing care facilities, hospitals, retirement communities, and assisted living facilities for the elderly employ the highest levels of CNAs. The increase in Ohio's aging population who require basic assistance and the expanding patient preference for home and community-based long-term care drives much of the demand for CNAs. Although their salaries fall below other nursing fields, the average annual earnings of CNAs in Ohio remain competitive with those of nearby states.

Licensed Practical Nurse


BLS projects the employment of LPNs in Ohio to grow by 9.5% from 2016-2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for LPNs stems in part from the medical needs of an aging baby boomer population and the prevalence of chronic conditions requiring sustained patient care. While the mean salary for LPNs in Ohio falls about $3,600 below the national average, these nurses will find ample opportunities in residential and home healthcare settings, as well as hospitals and clinics.

Registered Nurse


RNs seeking work in Ohio can expect to see continued expansion in the field, with BLS projecting a 14.2% growth rate in employment from 2016-2026. The majority of RNs work in medical and surgical hospitals, but opportunities continue to appear in physician offices, home healthcare, nursing facilities, and outpatient centers. The annual RN salary in Ohio of $68,820 falls below the national average, but the state's top earners can make over $88,000 a year depending on their experience and the location of employment.

Nurse Practitioner


Because NPs provide many of the same services as physicians, they play an increasingly important role in providing primary and preventive patient care. Ohio holds the fifth-highest employment level in the U.S. for NPs. These nurses can anticipate a projected job growth rate of almost 30% from 2016-2026 in the state. The metropolitan area around Lima, Ohio, home to several major hospitals and medical facilities, boasts one of the highest concentrations of jobs for NPs in the country.

Nursing Resources for Ohio

  • The ONA provides a platform for RNs in the state, offering opportunities for professional development and networking, along with employment resources. The association's union arm, the Ohio Nurses Collective Bargaining Program, advocates for nurses on workplace and collective bargaining issues.
  • OAAPN advocates on behalf of Ohio's advanced practice nurses by lobbying for less restrictive state practice and licensure legislation. The association sponsors an annual statewide conference, in addition to continuing education and networking opportunities.
  • This state agency administers licensing, renewal, and certification for LPNs, RNs, APRNs, and other healthcare providers. The state board website offers practice guidelines and prescribing resources to improve patient care.
  • OhSNA provides resources for nursing students and graduates just beginning their RN careers. The association sponsors a state convention and professional development events to help students transition into the workforce.
  • This affiliate of the National League for Nursing promotes quality nursing education by providing continuing education workshops. The OLN works with the Ohio Action Coalition to strengthen the role of nurses in improving healthcare quality and access.

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