The Best 10 Nursing Schools in Chicago, IL

With over 40 nursing schools in Chicago, IL, you’re left with a variety of options in your search for a suitable nursing program.

However, it also means you’ll be faced with the difficult task of selecting the best school for your career development and growth.

You see, nursing is a very beautiful profession. But it is even more beautiful when you’re enjoying the practice, not for the fame or name, but for the satisfaction it gives you.

And the satisfaction comes from choosing the right program and the best school that offers it. We’ll discuss the programs and schools in a bit, but first, let’s understand the true essence of this great profession.

It is important to realize the reason nurses are called caregivers. The comfort and hope one gets, even in their worst state. The care, the love, the attention, and especially the thought that someone wants you to live. That is the real essence of nursing.

Nursing isn’t just a means of living. It is the means of giving others hope and making them live.

This means and more are what great nursing schools in Chicago, IL will offer you. So, let’s get right into it.

Just before we get into details, you may also like to read about The Best 8 Nursing Schools in Denver.

Types of Nursing Degrees

There are about 5 different nursing school degrees that you can obtain in the US.

The degrees include the following;

1. Diploma in Practical Nursing

This program or degree prepares you for becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). In fact, it is seen as the easiest route to becoming an LPN.

Associate Degree in Nursing

If you’re thinking of the fastest way to become a registered nurse (RN), the associate degree in nursing (ADN) is the right path for you.

Most ADN programs run for 2 years. But there are some programs with a completion period of 18 months.

2. Bachelor’s Degree

This is seen as the standard educational requirement for becoming an RN. Most healthcare organizations give preference to RNs who have a bachelor’s degree.

Also, RNs with BSN earn higher salaries than RNs with ADN.

3. Master’s Degree

Advancing your career in nursing requires you to attain higher training and education than the standard BSN programs.

An MSN degree opens up a lot of opportunities for you. Certain nursing specialties like Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, and Nurse Leader in an administration require a minimum of MSN degree.

4. Post-master’s Certificate

This is a program for MSN graduates who wish to specialize in a certain nursing field. And the beauty of this program is that you do not need to leave your work to acquire it.

5. Doctorate Degree

This is the apex of the nursing educational ladder. You can acquire the Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD) or Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS or DNSc) degree at this level.

If you wish to see the practical implementation of your research studies, the DNP program is a more suitable program for you. However, if you’re gunning towards a doctoral and do not need much clinical experience, the PhD and DNS programs might be what you’re seeking.

Levels in Nursing

Just like in every profession, there is a hierarchy in the nursing profession. It is important to note that the higher the educational level you attain in this profession, the higher you climb the career ladder.

Here are the different levels in the nursing profession:  

1. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

These are nurses who assist patients with their daily healthcare needs. They work under the supervision of RNs or LPNs and have limited clinical responsibilities.

To become a CNA, you have to take a training program approved by your state. The programs usually span between 4 -12 weeks.

2. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

LPN nurses work under the supervision of RNs or Medical Doctors (MD). They have more clinical duties than CNAs and can also take LPN to RN programs to become registered nurses.

Most LPN programs run for a minimum of 1 year.

3. Registered Nurse (RN)

Registered Nurses work hand in hand with medical doctors to give patients the best medical treatment. They can also be left to handle some clinical jobs in a variety of healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, etc.

The two common pathways to becoming an RN are through the ADN and BSN programs, after which you take the NCLEX-RN assessment.

4. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses have more independence in the healthcare sector than RNs. In some cases, they can diagnose a patient and prescribe medications.

An APRN is a registered nurse with a post-master’s degree or a DNP, and can work as a Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Midwife or even as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

5. Non-Clinical Specialties.

These specialties are programs where nurses can attain more education as leaders or managers in the profession. Here, the focus is on scholarly research and accomplishments and not practical experience.

The positions open to nurses in this level are Nursing Director, Nursing Educator, Nursing Administrator, and Nurse Manager etc.

The nursing profession deals with a lot of patient data, hence you may want to take one of these 10 Free Online Excel Courses To Advance Your Career.

10 Nursing Schools in Chicago, IL

Having known the different levels and programs in nursing, I am confident you’d be able to make the right choice of school to attend in Chicago, IL. 

Now let’s look at the best 10 nursing schools in Chicago, IL.

1. Trinity Christian College

NCLEX Pass Rate:100%

It is not by any form of mistake that Trinity Christian College Nursing Program is ranked the best in the entire state of Illinois.

The college is fully focused on preparing nurses to be experts in all areas of clinical nursing. They ensure their students are academically and clinically sound to carry out their responsibilities as professional nurses. And to do so from a Christian perspective.

Over the years, graduates from the college have maintained 100% pass rate at NCLEX licensure exams. This can be attributed to their top-notch educational set up.

Students are not just taught the theoretical aspects of nursing, they are also given several opportunities to get hands-on experience in their chosen program.

The school has also maintained an almost 100% graduate employment rate, plus it has the most concrete alumni network I have seen in the state.

Click here to visit the school website.

2. Rush University

NCLEX Pass Rate:97%
Programs:MSN, DNP, and PhD

As a school fully dedicated to training healthcare workers, it is no surprise that Rush University has one of the best Colleges of nursing in Illinois and the United States generally.

Being ranked No. 2 for DNP programs among the 600 nursing colleges with graduate programs proves beyond doubt the level of academic and clinical training that goes on at Rush.

Rush has graduated over 7,000 BSN, MSN and doctorate students from 1972 to date. Even though its last baccalaureate class graduated in 2009, it has continued to churn out quality nurses through its masters and doctorate programs. However, the generalist entry master’s (GEM) is a pre-licensure program for entry into RN practice.

Rush is one of the best choices among all the accredited nursing schools in Chicago, IL. You’d be making an excellent decision if you’re considering schooling there.

Click here to visit the school website.

Here are 30 Most Common Nursing School Interview Questions You should know

3. Lewis University

NCLEX Pass Rate:96%
Accreditation:ACEN, ACME, CCNE and NOA
Programs:Accelerated BSN, APRN Certificate, BSN, BSN to DNP, MSN, MSN to DNP, RN to BSN, and Post-master’s NP Certificate

Lewis University College of Nursing has been known for its consistency in producing highly qualified nurses every year.

The college offers a wide range of nursing programs including the traditional BSN, RN-BSN, MSN, MSN-DNP etc.

The learning culture at Lewis is super personalized as students have the opportunity to work one-on-one with staff members who have real world experience in Lewis state-of-the art simulation hospital rooms and care labs.

They also offer a wide range of online masters programs to offer its quality training to all those who can’t afford the traditional programs.

Click here to visit the school website.

4. Loyola University Chicago

NCLEX Pass Rate:92%
Accreditation:ACEN, ACME, CCNE and NOA
Programs:Accelerated BSN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, MSN to DNP, and Post-master’s NP Certificate

The Loyola University, Chicago school of nursing is obviously one of the best nursing schools in Chicago and Illinois at large.

Its three campuses are filled with quality staff who are focused on deep research to improve health care.

Loyola provides its students with real life, clinical experiences as they are often posted to their wide network of healthcare facilities and hospitals.

The 14:1 undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio at Loyola ensures every student receives ultimate attention from qualified teachers. No wonder, its students consistently exceed 90% in the NCLEX licensure assessments.

Click here to visit the school website.

5. University of St. Francis

NCLEX Pass Rate:91%
Programs:BSN, Online BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, DNP, Post-Master’s Certificates

University of St. Francis (USF) is a school rooted in its Catholic values. However, this does not in any way make it religiously exclusive. The university gives equal opportunities to its students irrespective of their religion.

USF Leach School of nursing has been consistently recognized by professional groups and publishers as one of the top nursing schools in the U.S. Some of these groups are U.S. News & World Report, the Princeton Review, Colleges of Distinction etc.

The quality of education and hands-on experience Leach School of Nursing gives its students can only be compared to a few schools in the entire nation.

Click here to visit the school website. 

6. University of Illinois at Chicago

NCLEX Pass Rate:84%
Accreditation:ACEN, ACME, CCNE
Programs:Accelerated MSN, BSN, BSN to DNP, BSN to PhD, MSN, MSN to DNP and Post-masters NP Certificate

University of Illinois Chicago Nursing College has consistently ranked high as one of the best nursing colleges in the United States.

With one of the largest and best-equipped simulation labs in the United States 29 faculty members who are fellows of the American Academy of Nursing, the school has produced some of the best nurses nationwide. This is evident in the number of alumni members it has as fellows in the American Academy of Nursing.

Being a top-tier research institution, it is currently ranked 7th in the U.S. among nursing schools for NIH funding. In fact, one of its clinical professors, Lauretta Quinn, is about to be inducted into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.

There is no doubt this is one of the best places you can attain high level professional nursing education in Chicago, IL.

Click here to visit the school website.

7. Chamberlain University

NCLEX Pass Rate:84%
Accreditation:CCNE, NLN CNEA
Programs:BSN, RN to BSN, RN to MSN, MSN, DNP, and Post-Master’s certificate programs

With over 130 years of academic excellence, Chamberlain University has always been at the forefront of innovations in healthcare education and practice.

Chamberlain University has 23 campuses nationwide. And with a strong educational alliance with healthcare institutions, its students are sure of the best theoretical and clinical experience nationwide.

The Chicago campus is among the schools with the highest number of BSN graduates annually. And that doesn’t in any way affect the level of personalized learning the students receive.

Chamberlin’s BSN program runs for 3 years, however the MSN and certificate programs can be acquired in as short as two years.

The fact that the MSN and certificate programs can be run fully online makes even the already wide educational reach of Chamberlin wider.

Click here to visit the school website.

8. DePaul University

NCLEX Pass Rate:90%
Programs:BSN, MENP, RN to MS, DNP

DePaul University is the largest Catholic University in the entire United States. The DePaul school of Nursing was the first to establish a Master’s Entry Nursing Practice (MENP) program in Illinois. This program is for college degree graduates from other fields other than nursing.

Even though the university is a really large one, students have easy access to their professors, and they receive the best-personalized learning experience from them.

With its wide range of clinical sites around the Chicago area, the students of DePaul School of Nursing are afforded the best practical experience in their nursing education.

Whether you’re a high school or college graduate looking to pursue a career in nursing or a registered nurse looking to advance your career. DePaul School of Nursing has a wonderful program made to suit your needs.

Click here to visit the school website.

9. North Park University

NCLEX Pass Rate:81%
Accreditation:ACEN, CCNE, ACME and NOA
Programs:BSN, MSN, APRN Certificate, Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certificate, and RN to BSN Level Degrees.

 The North Park University School of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a wide range of programs for nursing students. From the traditional BSN program to various master’s and post-master programs. It also offers a DNP program.

The RN-BSN and DNP programs are probably the most flexible, as they incorporate both on-campus and online classes. In fact, in the DNP program, students are allowed to complete the entire course work online.

North Park University provides a convenient but robust learning program for its students. If you want to know more, kindly visit the website here.

10. Elmhurst University

NCLEX Pass Rate:84.67%
Programs:BSN, MSN, RN to BSN, Accelerated MSN, MENP, DNP

The department of Nursing and Health Sciences at Elmhurst University offers 6 nursing programs to its students. Three at the undergraduate level and three at the graduate level.

Students of Elmhurst University have access to a good number of clinical institutions for practical learning experiences. Coupled with the quality learning resources available to them, the students have done excellently well in the NCLEX assessments.

The fact that Elmhurst is ranked as one of the best nursing schools in Illinois should prove to you that you will be getting the best experience there.

Click here to visit the school website.


Most states have different licensure requirements. That is why it is very important that you attend nursing schools in the states or areas where you want to work. This is because they are in the best position to properly prepare you for the state requirements.

Most of the nursing schools in Chicago, IL have world-class standards, especially the ones listed in this article. The standard of their academic processes, the state-of-the-art equipment, and laboratories are good evidence.

You might want to learn How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for Nursing School

Frequently Asked Questions on Nursing Schools in Chicago, IL.

How Much Do Nurses Earn in Chicago?

The median salary of nurses in Chicago is $73,890. However, this is for RNs only. The figure varies as the level or specialty changes.

Are There Job Opportunities for Nurses in Chicago?

There are a lot of job opportunities for nurses in Chicago. This ranges from the education sector to hospitals and care homes. Chicago is a robust city with approximately 2.7 million occupants. The number of nursing schools and healthcare facilities in the city is quite large.

What is the Quickest RN Program?

The fastest way to become a registered nurse is through the Associate Degree in Nursing Program.

Can You Get a Nursing Degree Online?

There are a couple of nursing programs delivered online by some universities. But they are mainly theoretically based, and you’d be required to take practical classes before you can be certified to be a nurse.

How do I Become a Registered Nurse in Chicago?

To become a registered nurse in Chicago, you can either acquire a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or get an Associate Degree in Nursing. You can also go through the Masters Entry in Nursing Program.
After that, you have to sit for and pass the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. 

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