The Top Nursing Schools in Rhode Island

Updated November 7, 2022

Rhode Island is successfully addressing nursing shortages, offering a high salary for nurses across disciplines. Find out more about nursing schools in Rhode Island and nursing requirements.
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Rhode Island is home to many excellent hospitals and offers easy access to both cities and coastal recreation. Although it's the smallest state,12,150 nurses work in Rhode Island.

This guide can help you choose between the best nursing programs in Rhode Island. We explore how to get your Rhode Island registered nursing (RN) license and typical salaries.

Keep reading for more about nursing schools in Rhode Island and your career prospects.

The Best Nursing Schools in Rhode Island

The best nursing program in Rhode Island for you depends on your preferences, learning needs, background, and career goals. If you want to earn your license quickly, an associate degree in nursing (ADN) takes two years to complete. A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) takes longer but is more valuable for career advancement.

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

Salve Regina University

  • Newport, RI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

A private college based in Newport, Salve Regina ranks among the top nursing schools in Rhode Island. Candidates can earn their master of science in nursing in a flexible online format that includes limited campus sessions. The program offers six annual start dates and a mix of synchronous and asynchronous classes.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Newport, Rhode Island
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $670/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's in nursing; registered nurse license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 28 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
Average Tuition
In-state
$40,750
Out-of-state
$40,750
Retention Rate
85%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
2,771
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#2 The Top Nursing Schools in Rhode Island

Rhode Island College

  • Providence, RI
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Based in Providence, Rhode Island College offers a hybrid doctor of nursing practice for trained nurses. As one of the top nursing programs in Rhode Island, the degree trains students for top-level administrative and clinical positions. Common courses include advanced epidemiology, clinical research/analytic methods, and healthcare policy and advocacy.

Details:

  • Program(s): Doctor of nursing practice
  • Campus: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $536/credit in state; $784/credit neighboring states; $1,005 out of state 
  • Admission Requirements: Registered nurse license; master's in nursing with a 3.0 GPA or bachelor's in nursing and a related master's degree (such as in public health or health administration)
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98.4%
Average Tuition
In-state
$8,218
Out-of-state
$21,683
Retention Rate
75%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
7,523
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Top Nursing Schools in Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island

  • Kingston, RI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

The University of Rhode Island operates campuses in Kingston and Providence. Ranked among the top nursing programs in Rhode Island, the school's master of science in nursing covers nursing theory, foundational science, and advanced practice. The program offers three specializations: adult-gerontology primary care, family, and psychiatric mental health. All courses take place in person at the URI Nursing Education Center in Providence.

Details:

  • Program(s): Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $803/credit in state; $1,550/credit out of state
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing with a 3.0 GPA; registered nurse license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.5%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $109,286 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$12,590
Out-of-state
$29,710
Retention Rate
86%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
17,465
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#4 The Top Nursing Schools in Rhode Island

Community College of Rhode Island

  • Warwick, RI
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Community College of Rhode Island operates campuses in cities including Warwick, Providence, and Lincoln. As one of the top nursing schools in Rhode Island, CCRI's associate of science in nursing builds entry-level skills and prepares students for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). The Lincoln campus program offers evening and weekend enrollment options.

Details:

  • Program(s): Associate of science in nursing
  • Campus: Lincoln, Newport, Providence, and Warwick, Rhode Island
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
  • Tuition: $210/credit in state; $626 out of state
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma or GED certificate; ACCUPLACER test; HESI A2 test
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 84.6%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $59,193 for associate degree graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,284
Out-of-state
$12,128
Retention Rate
59%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
14,775
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
21% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

Featured Online MSN Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in Rhode Island

When choosing between nursing schools in Rhode Island, consider the program quality and National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) pass rate, one of the strongest indicators of quality, tuition, and financial aid availability.

Acceptance and graduation rates and logistics of attending are also key. For example, if attending online, can you seek clinical placement as an online student in your community?

Because nursing accreditation is the most important factor in a program's value, this guide only lists accredited programs.

Why Become a Nurse in Rhode Island

The 2019 NCLEX-RN pass rate for Rhode Island was 88.9%, above the national average of 88.2%, an indication of quality among nursing programs in Rhode Island. Rhode Island requires disclosure of nurse staffing ratios, since a higher nurse-to-patient ratio is associated with less burnout for nurses and better outcomes for patients.

Rhode Island has the third highest ratio of nurses to the total working population in the country, with 27.42 nurses for every 1,000 workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While this means demand for nurses is lower, it also means healthcare facilities are less likely to be understaffed than in most states.

Rhode Island also offers emergency temporary licenses to nursing school graduates in Rhode Island or RNs from other states who may work in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island is also famous for its natural beauty, with stunning coastlines. Newport, Rhode Island, is a world-famous tourist destination for its gorgeous Gilded Age mansions, many of which are open as museums.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Rhode Island

Both RN and nurse practitioner (NP) salaries in Rhode Island rank 11th highest in the country. RNs earn an average $85,270 annually, compared to >$82,750 nationally. Rhode Island NPs earn an average $126,760, above the national average of $118,040. The cost of living is also high at 117.2.

Rhode Island is projected to have only 4% job growth for nurses between 2018 and 2028, the lowest in the country.

Learn more about RN salaries in Rhode Island

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Rhode Island

Providence is full of historic interest and natural beauty. Home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, it offers easy access to Newport's stunning beauty and world-famous mansions.

You can also access lovely small coastal towns and artist colonies from Providence.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Area: Providence — Warwick
Average Salary for RNs: $85,200

Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Rhode Island

All states have nurse license requirements, whether RNs or advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). These include graduating from nursing school, passing the relevant examination, and completing a criminal background check.

Rhode Island also requires nurses to have at least one continuing education unit in Alzheimer's and two hours in substance misuse training for their license renewals.

RN Requirements

To earn an RN license in Rhode Island, you must graduate with an ADN or BSN degree and then pass the NCLEX-RN and a criminal background check. You can get a temporary emergency license from the state board of nursing, though this may change after the COVID-19 pandemic. The license fee is $135.

If you attended nursing school in Rhode Island and take the NCLEX-RN as a Rhode Island resident, you must have your official transcripts sent to the board. Renewals are every two years and require 10 hours of continuing education for nurses. Nurses may apply for a six-month hardship extension.

APRN Requirements

To become an APRN in Rhode Island, you need a master of science in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice degree, a current and unencumbered RN license, and a passing score on the relevant board examination.

The state board of nursing requires verification of your education and certification, as well as a criminal background check. The application fee is $145.

Rhode Island is a full-practice authority state, but you must apply for prescribing authority, which you can do as part of your APRN application.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Rhode Island


How do I get a Rhode Island nursing license?

To get a Rhode Island nursing license, you need at least an ADN, a passing score on the NCLEX-RN, and a criminal background check with fingerprinting.

Nursing school graduates or RNs from another state are eligible for an emergency temporary license, valid for 90 days, provided they have a verified job offer.

How long does it take to become an RN in Rhode Island?

It takes at least two years to earn an ADN degree and four years for a BSN. Applications can take approximately four weeks.

If you graduated from a nursing school in Rhode Island or plan to work in a Rhode Island healthcare setting, you can apply for a 90-day emergency temporary license if you have a current employment offer in Rhode Island. You can start immediately once you submit a complete application.

Is Rhode Island a nurse compact state?

No, Rhode Island is no longer part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. However, there is pending legislation to amend the interstate compact, as of March 2022. Nurses from other states can apply for a license by endorsement or a temporary emergency license if they already have a verified nursing job offer in Rhode Island.

How long does it take to get a Rhode Island nursing license by endorsement?

It takes approximately four weeks to get a Rhode Island nursing license by endorsement. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can get a 90-day temporary emergency license if you have a verified job offer in Rhode Island. You can renew this license once.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

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