The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

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Updated November 7, 2022

Learn about the best nursing schools in Pennsylvania and find other vital information about working as a nurse or attending nursing programs in Pennsylvania.
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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

City view from Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at sunset Credit: f11photo / Philadelphia / Shutterstock

With an excellent selection of nursing programs and one of the top NCLEX-RN pass rates in the country, there are many reasons to pursue a nursing education in Pennsylvania.

This guide covers the top nursing programs, how to get a Pennsylvania nursing license, and typical nursing salaries. Keep reading to learn more about the top nursing schools and programs in Pennsylvania.

The Best Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

This guide helps you choose from the many nursing programs in Pennsylvania. The best school for you depends on your career goals, experience, and background.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Pennsylvania, 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 Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

The University of Pennsylvania hosts many top nursing programs in Pennsylvania. Penn offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees, as well as a dual-degree option and several post-master's certificates. A minimum of 12 courses are required for most MSN tracks at Penn, and a maximum of five years is allowed for successful completion. 

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing (MSN), including eight specialty nurse practitioner programs, nurse-midwifery, health leadership, and nursing and healthcare Administration.
  • Campus: Philadelphia, PA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
  • Tuition: $52,508 per year
  • Admission Requirements: BSN from an accredited college or university with a course in statistics; minimum 3.0 GPA; no GRE required; previous work as an RN specific to each clinical area of master's-level study
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.8%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $109,193 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$51,156
Out-of-state
$51,156
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
8%
Students Enrolled
26,675
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Messiah University

  • Mechanicsburg, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Messiah University, a private Christian school, offers an online RN-to-BSN program geared towards working registered nurses with an associate degree looking to earn a bachelor's degree. Clinical requirements can be achieved through clinical experiences at the student's place of employment. 

The RN-to-BSN course load includes: nine credits of prerequisites, 30 core credits, 53 transfer credits, and 28 adult general education credits. 

Details:

  • Program(s): RN-to-BSN 
  • Campus: Mechanicsburg, PA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $51,050 per year
  • Admission Requirements: Official transcripts; associate degree in nursing from accredited nursing program with minimum 2.5 GPA; active, unencumbered RN license
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $62,631 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$35,280
Out-of-state
$35,280
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
3,374
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

York College of Pennsylvania

  • York, PA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

York College of Pennsylvania, located only two hours from Washington, D.C. and two hours from Philadelphia, dates back to the 19th century. York boasts NCAA Division III sports teams, more than 100 student clubs, 11 Greek life organizations, and both a BSN and an MSN track for nursing students.

As many as 51 credits may be granted for previous nursing knowledge and experience. Up to 75 credits can be transferred from a student's ADN program. Credits may also be earned through successful passage of CLEP exams. 

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: York, PA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $19,415 per year
  • Admission Requirements: Cumulative GPA of 3.0; 2.8 GPA for science courses; 2.0 GPA for nursing prerequisites 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $67,954 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$18,910
Out-of-state
$18,910
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
4,307
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Geneva College

  • Beaver Falls, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Geneva College is a private, Christian college offering a dual-degree nursing program in Pennsylvania, wherein students graduate with an associate of nursing from the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) and a bachelor of science in nursing from Geneva. 

Details:

  • Program(s): RN-to-BSN
  • Campus: Beaver Falls, PA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA)
  • Tuition: $41,840 per year
  • Admission Requirements: High school transcripts and standardized testing (SAT, ACT)
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 82%
Average Tuition
In-state
$27,670
Out-of-state
$27,670
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
1,432
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
14% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus

  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

The University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus offers a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program with part- and full-time tracks for clinical nurse specialist, health systems, executive leadership, nurse anesthesia, nurse-midwife, and nurse practitioner, as well as MSN, RN-to-BSN, BSN, and second-degree BSN.

Details:

  • Program(s): BSN, MSN, RN-to-BSN, DNP, certificates 
  • Campus: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: DNP- $33,558 per year for in-state residents; $38,618 per year for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: DNP- official GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, personal essay, current CV or resume, complete graduate and undergraduate transcripts
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $62,790 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$18,628
Out-of-state
$32,656
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
57%
Students Enrolled
32,686
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#6 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Chatham University

  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Chatham University offers a Pathways to Nursing program in collaboration with UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing, including BSN, RN-to-MSN, MSN, DNP, and BSN-to-DNP programs. Originally founded in 1869 as a women's college, Chatham began accepting male undergraduate students in 2015.

Chatham's MSN program is designed for working nurses and takes place fully online. The curriculum includes eleven 15-week courses.

Details:

  • Program(s): BSN, RN-to-MSN, MSN, DNP, BSN-to-DNP
  • Campus: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $27,126 per year
  • Admission Requirements: 3.0 undergraduate GPA, official transcripts, current resume or CV, current RN license, admissions essay
  • On-Campus Requirements: None
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $71,471 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$37,363
Out-of-state
$37,363
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
2,437
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#7 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

University of Scranton

  • Scranton, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

The University of Scranton Department of Nursing offers baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degree programs with a focus on Catholic and Jesuit traditions and ideals. 

Founded in 1888 as Saint Thomas College and situated in the Pocono mountains, the school became a university in 1938. Of the current faculty, 88% hold terminal degrees. The student-to-faculty ratio is 12:1. 

Details:

  • Program(s): BSN, MSN, DNP
  • Campus: Scranton, PA
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $48,062 per year for undergraduate students
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.5%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $90,769 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$45,390
Out-of-state
$45,390
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
5,253
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#8 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Beaver

  • Monaca, PA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Penn Beaver's RN-to-BSN degree program is offered in partnership with Penn State Shenango.

Learners benefit from flexible scheduling; part- or full-time options; hybrid, in-person, and web-based instruction; evening courses for those who work during the day; opportunities for independent study; in-person instruction on either the Shenango or Beaver campuses based on student preference.

Applicants may present a portfolio of accomplishments in order to receive up to 33 credits for professional experience. Employees of certain health systems receive tuition discounts. 

MSN, DNP, and post-graduate APRN certificate programs are also available. 

Details:

  • Program(s): RN-to-BSN, MSN, DNP, APRN certificate
  • Campus: Monaca, PA
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $25,974 per year for in-state residents; $34,836 per year for non-residents
  • On-Campus Requirements: Optional
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $69,419 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$12,718
Out-of-state
$21,310
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
Not provided
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#9 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Abington

  • Abington, PA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Abington offers a hybrid program with both in-person and virtual learning. Seven-week courses are accelerated, with evening classes offered for those who work during the day. 

Details:

  • Program(s): RN-to-BSN
  • Campus: Abington, PA
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $592 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: 2.0 GPA; diploma or associate degree in nursing. 
  • On-Campus Requirements: Hybrid
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $69,419 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$13,540
Out-of-state
$22,728
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
Not provided
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#10 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Somerset County Technology Center

  • Somerset, PA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Somerset County Technology Center offers a one-year practical nursing program that trains practical nurses to care for individuals across the lifespan in a variety of settings. Licensed practical nurses can choose to work while pursuing further education in nursing at the college or university level. 

Details:

  • Program(s): Practical nursing program 
  • Campus: Somerset, PA
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Middle States Association - Commission on Secondary Schools
  • Admission Requirements: 18 years of age; graduate of accredited high school or GED program; successful passage of Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS); submission of complete application and references. 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
77
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Secondary Education

Featured Online Nursing Programs

Best Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioner Programs

#1 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Degree-seekers may want to consider University of Pennsylvania’s master of science in nursing if they hold a bachelor's in nursing. Many learners find the program's advanced training appealing. Graduates can pursue managerial positions and earn more money. Degree-holders can use their master’s-level knowledge and skills to improve their job prospects in a tightening job market.

The Philadelphia-based private school offers 141 master's degrees, including the master of science in nursing. Faculty serve as mentors and offer research opportunities in addition to strong academic instruction.

The institution accepts around 8% of all applicants. Graduate programs are often more selective. In addition to required courses, enrollees can probably tailor the curriculum with elective coursework. Students can access many services that can help them in their academic studies. Options include career services and professional development opportunities.

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,156
Out-of-state
$51,156
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
8%
Students Enrolled
26,675
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#2 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Villanova University

  • Villanova, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Villanova University offers a master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner track. The program enrolls bachelor's degree-holders. Learners pursue this degree for the top-ranked academics and specialized training. Graduates can use their master’s-level knowledge for managerial and research jobs in different industries.

A comprehensive college, the private school offers 45 master's programs on campus in Villanova, including the master of science. Faculty serve as mentors and offer research opportunities in addition to strong academic instruction.

The institution accepts around 28% of all applicants. However, graduate programs are often more selective. The program may offer elective credits to customize the degree in addition to the required advanced courses. Beyond academics, students can receive help with career counseling and financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$54,550
Out-of-state
$54,550
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
28%
Students Enrolled
10,848
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

University of Scranton

  • Scranton, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Bachelor's degree-holders seeking an affordable master's degree should consider University of Scranton. The college offers a master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner specialization. The program features high-quality instruction and career preparation. Many financial assistance offerings are available to help make the degree more affordable.

Tuition costs about $11,580 per year for in-state enrollees. An average of 99% of degree-seekers receive aid such as scholarships. Financial packages include loans that benefit 65% of enrollees.

Master's graduates may enjoy more upward mobility and other perks than those with a bachelor's only. Graduates can pursue high-level positions such as research or managerial roles. They may also work toward a Ph.D. or other terminal degrees.

Average Tuition
In-state
$45,390
Out-of-state
$45,390
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
5,253
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Millersville University of Pennsylvania

  • Millersville, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Bachelor's degree-holders who want to remain competitive in the job market should consider attending Millersville University of Pennsylvania. With 23 master's programs in a variety of disciplines, the school ranks among the state’s leaders in graduate education. The master of science in nursing  family/individual across the lifespan nurse practitioner program gives students a traditional graduate school experience that includes scholarship, professional development, and networking opportunities.

Enrollees learn from qualified professors with relevant credentials and experience. The curriculum’s practical and theoretical instruction produces professionals with high-level problem-solving and decision-making skills. Graduates qualify for a variety of high-level positions. They may also change careers or pursue a terminal degree.

According to the school, graduate students pay an average $9,288 per year if they live in Pennsylvania. Out-of-state degree-seekers pay $13,932. Qualified learners may receive financial aid like scholarships, grants, and loans. Degree-seekers study on a pleasing campus that offers amenities like a gym and state-of-the-art labs, teaching, and research spaces.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,570
Out-of-state
$19,290
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
7,783
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#5 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Thomas Jefferson University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students with a bachelor's in nursing should consider applying to Thomas Jefferson University's master of science in nursing program. Learners pursue this degree for a more in-depth understanding of the field. Graduates may benefit from  more job opportunities and higher pay. The advanced training provides degree-holders with a clear advantage over many of their peers when they enter the job market.

Located in Philadelphia, the public school is a comprehensive college. Graduate students here can choose from a catalog of 37 different master's degrees, including a master of science in nursing. Degree-seekers can add research experience and faculty mentorship to their graduate school experience.

The institution accepts around 66% of all applicants. However, graduate programs are often more selective. Enrollees build advanced knowledge that prepares them for specialized jobs. Students can take advantage of a career services department and networking opportunities.

Average Tuition
In-state
$40,680
Out-of-state
$40,680
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
66%
Students Enrolled
8,026
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#6 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Widener University

  • Chester, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Degree-seekers can choose from a variety of affordable degrees at Widener University, including one designed for nursing students with a bachelor's. The Chester-based college offers a master of science in nursing that features high-quality instruction and career preparation. Financial aid is an important funding stream to make this degree affordable for many.

Graduate students who live in Pennsylvania can expect to pay an average tuition of $23,830 per year. An average of 100% of degree-seekers receive grants and scholarships to help pay for their degree. Enrollees can also explore loans, with about 65% of students taking them out in some amount.

A master’s degree builds on bachelor’s-level knowledge, producing more advanced professionals in the field. Graduates qualify for a variety of positions in management and other areas. Master's degree-holders interested in higher education and research positions may choose to pursue a doctorate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$46,378
Out-of-state
$46,378
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
72%
Students Enrolled
6,496
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#7 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

La Salle University

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

La Salle University, a private college, offers graduate degrees on campus in Philadelphia. The institution’s 50 master's programs enroll learners seeking to advance their education and careers. Key program features include highly qualified instructors, rigorous curricula, and ample student support.

The school’s master of science in nursing is worth consideration for students interested in advancing their education. Graduates leave the program equipped for a variety of high-level jobs that may include managerial positions. Degree-seekers complete intensive classes covering a variety of topics. They can also receive assistance like career services.

Enrollees pay an annual tuition of around $25,060. Degree-seekers can contact the financial aid department to see how much aid they can receive, as the school awards tuition to 99% of learners. The school's graduation rate is 66%, which is another draw for students.

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,700
Out-of-state
$30,700
Retention Rate
71%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
4,933
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#8 The Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania

Carlow University

  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Bachelor's degree-holders may find Carlow University worth a second glance as they explore master’s programs. The school is considered a state leader in graduate programming, offering 20 master's degrees in a variety of disciplines. One option includes the master of science in nursing: family nurse practitioner program. The curriculum helps learners develop advanced knowledge and skills in nursing.

Qualified professors with relevant credentials and experience teach the courses. The curriculum covers high-level concepts while giving learners practical experience that might include research opportunities. Enrollees can use this knowledge for managerial positions or to change careers. Some master's graduates move on to a doctoral program if they want to teach or conduct research.

Graduate students can expect to pay an average $18,766 per year. Financial aid opportunities like scholarships, grants, and loans make this degree more affordable. Enrollees can enhance their educational experience with services such as tutoring and career advisement.

Average Tuition
In-state
$29,652
Out-of-state
$29,652
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
92%
Students Enrolled
2,022
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

How to Choose a Nursing Program in Pennsylvania

When choosing the best nursing program for your needs, important factors to consider include tuition and other costs, the school's NCLEX-RN pass rate (an excellent measure of how well the school prepares students), program logistics, clinical placement options, graduation rate, and acceptance rate.

The programs listed in this guide include only accredited programs.

Why Become a Nurse in Pennsylvania

Nursing programs in Pennsylvania boast the eighth highest first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate, with a 91.7% pass rate compared to the national rate of 86.6%. This measure indicates that programs in Pennsylvania successfully prepare students for entry-level nursing careers. Current nurses may benefit from Pennsylvania's Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) status, which allows them to work in other NLC states.

Whether you want to practice in a rural setting, a historic city like Philadelphia, or Pittsburgh, one of the most successful reinvented cities in the country, attending nursing school in Pennsylvania can help you reach your goals.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Pennsylvania

As of 2020, registered nurses (RNs) in Pennsylvania can expect to earn a median annual salary of $72,970, slightly under the national median of $75,330, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For nurse practitioners (NPs), the median annual salary is $104,020, compared to $111,680 nationally.

Philadelphia is one of America's oldest cities and is home to some of its most famous historic sites. While also one of the country's largest cities at over 1.5 million, it's still known as a city of neighborhoods.

If you want a more agricultural setting, Chambersburg-Waynesboro has a population of approximately 150,000. The other cities on this list are also mid-sized, but within reach of either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, for when you want big-city attractions.

Highest Paying Cities for Nurses in Pennsylvania
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Median Salary for RNs
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington $79,030
Chambersburg-Waynesboro $78,430
Harrisburg-Carlisle $76,240
York-Hanover $73,820
Lebanon $73,780
Source: BLS, 2020

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Pennsylvania

Every state has its own requirements for obtaining a nursing license, but they all include earning a nursing degree, passing the NCLEX-RN, and completing a successful background check. If you attend a nursing program in Pennsylvania, you apply for a license by examination. If you graduate from a school in another state, you must apply for a license by endorsement.

RN Requirements

To become an RN, you must first graduate from an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. An ADN takes two years and a BSN takes four years to complete, but the BSN is a more valuable and versatile degree. Many employers require or prefer the BSN for higher-level jobs, and it also positions you to enter a master of science in nursing (MSN) program to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

After you graduate, submit your application to the state board of nursing and register for the NCLEX-RN. If you attended nursing school in Pennsylvania, your application should include the state criminal history record check (CHRC). If not, you need to submit this separately. You must also have at least three credit hours in recognizing and reporting child abuse from an approved provider.

APRN Requirements

APRNs include nurse NPs, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists.

To become an APRN, you need a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. You also need a passing score on the applicable board certification examinations and to apply for a license from the state board of nursing. Applicants must complete a successful CHRC.

The requirements also include at least three credit hours in recognizing and reporting child abuse from an approved provider.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Pennsylvania


How long does it take to get a Pennsylvania nursing license?

An ADN program typically takes two years and a BSN typically takes four years to complete. Applying for a new license in Pennsylvania can take up to 12 weeks, but the Pennsylvania Board of Nursing offers information on how to streamline the process and get your license as quickly as possible.

What is the salary range for RNs in Pennsylvania?

According to the BLS, the median 2020 RN salary is $72,970. The lowest 10% earns an average of $53,910, and the top 10% earns $99,870. Experience, education, workplace setting, responsibilities, certifications, and geography all affect salary.

Is Pennsylvania a nurse licensure compact state?

Pennsylvania joined the NLC in July 2021. A Pennsylvania nursing license is now a valid multistate license for any of the 37 participating states, and nurses from participating states can use their license in Pennsylvania.

What financial aid programs are available to Pennsylvania nurses?

You have a variety of financial aid options to attend nursing school in Pennsylvania, including scholarships, grants, and loans. If you commit to work in a designated underserved area in Pennsylvania after graduation, you may be eligible for scholarships or loan forgiveness. If you are already a working nurse in Pennsylvania, you are also eligible for certain financial assistance programs.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

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