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2021 Most Popular Online Nursing Schools

646 Colleges
$67,065 Avg Salary
$26,282 Avg Student Debt

With 305,309 degrees and certificates handed out in 2018-2019, nursing is the #3 most popular major in the United States.

There are lots of options to pick from today when trying to decide which program is right for you. As online education oppotunities continue to grow, you're not restricted to just schools in your local area anymore. Even some of the 'big name' schools are offering online courses. Also, there are a number of trade schools with offerings that you might find attractive.

The Most Popular Online Nursing Schools ranking is one of many tools that Course Advisor has developed to help you make your educational decision. This report analyzed 646 schools in the United States to see which ones were the most popular online programs for students. To create this ranking we looked at how many students graduated from schools with online programs.

Check out the online nursing programs at these schools if you want to attend one of the most popular in the United States.

#1

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, UT

Our 2021 rankings named Western Governors University the most popular online school in the United States for nursing students. WGU is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the large suburb of Salt Lake City.

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Out of the 646 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, Chamberlain University - Illinois landed the # 2 spot on the list. Chamberlain - Illinois is a very large private for-profit school located in the suburb of Addison.

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#3

Grand Canyon University

Phoenix, AZ

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Grand Canyon University. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Most Popular Online Nursing Schools list. Grand Canyon University is a fairly large private for-profit school located in the large city of Phoenix.

On average, nursing graduates from Grand Canyon University take out $32,934 in student loans while working on their degree. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $378, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around you if you attend The University of Texas at Arlington. The school came in at #4 on this year’s Most Popular Online Nursing Schools list. Located in the city of Arlington, UT Arlington is a public school with a fairly large student population.

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A rank of #5 on this year’s list means Ohio University - Athens Campus is a great place for nursing students pursuing an online degree. Located in the distant town of Athens, OHIO Athens is a public school with a fairly large student population.

On average, nursing graduates from OHIO Athens take out $23,749 in student loans while working on their degree. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $264, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#6

Capella University

Minneapolis, MN

Capella University landed the #6 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best nursing programs. Capella University is a fairly large private for-profit school located in the large city of Minneapolis.

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National University College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for nursing students. It came in at #7 on the list. Located in the medium-sized city of Bayamon, National University College is a private for-profit college with a fairly large student population.

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#8

Walden University

Minneapolis, MN

Walden University came in at #8 in this year’s edition of the Most Popular Online Nursing Schools ranking. Located in the city of Minneapolis, Walden University is a private for-profit school with a very large student population.

After completing their degree, nursing graduates from Walden University carry an average student debtload of $53,556. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $614, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#9

Excelsior College

Albany, NY

Excelsior College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for nursing students. It came in at #9 on the list. Located in the small city of Albany, Excelsior College is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population.

While working on their degree, nursing majors at Excelsior College accumulate an average of around $18,138 in student debt. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $200, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center landed the #10 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best nursing programs. Located in the large city of Lubbock, TTUHSC is a public school with a moderately-sized student population.

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Rasmussen College - Florida ranked #11 on this year’s Most Popular Online Nursing Schools list. Rasmussen College - Florida is a medium-sized private for-profit school located in the small city of Ocala.

Nursing majors at Rasmussen College - Florida take out an average of $22,498 in student loans while working on their egree. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $233.

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Southern New Hampshire University came in at #12 in this year’s edition of the Most Popular Online Nursing Schools ranking. SNHU is a very large private not-for-profit school located in the midsize suburb of Manchester.

The average amount in student loans that nursing majors at SNHU take out is $13,608. When it comes time to repay the loan, graduates who are on a 10-year repayment plan pay an average monthly payment of $141.

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Rasmussen College - Minnesota ranked #13 on this year’s Most Popular Online Nursing Schools list. Rasmussen College - Minnesota is a small private for-profit school located in the city of St. Cloud.

While working on their degree, nursing majors at Rasmussen College - Minnesota accumulate an average of around $22,498 in student debt. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $233.

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With a ranking of #14, University of North Carolina at Wilmington did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students. UNCW is a large public school located in the city of Wilmington.

While working on their degree, nursing majors at UNCW accumulate an average of around $24,452 in student debt. When it comes time to repay the loan, graduates who are on a 10-year repayment plan pay an average monthly payment of $274.

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Purdue University Northwest did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for nursing students. It came in at #15 on the list. Purdue Northwest is a fairly large public school located in the suburb of Hammond.

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American Sentinel University ranked #16 on this year’s Most Popular Online Nursing Schools list. Located in the city of Aurora, American Sentinel University is a private for-profit college with a small student population.

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#17

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

Drexel University landed the #17 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best nursing programs. Drexel is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Philadelphia.

The average amount in student loans that nursing majors at Drexel take out is $34,810. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $394, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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With a ranking of #18, West Coast University - Orange County did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students. Located in the city of Anaheim, West Coast University - Orange County is a private for-profit school with a small student population.

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With a ranking of #19, University of Central Florida did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students. UCF is a fairly large public school located in the suburb of Orlando.

After completing their degree, nursing graduates from UCF carry an average student debtload of $20,200. When it comes time to repay the loan, graduates who are on a 10-year repayment plan pay an average monthly payment of $226.

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University of Cincinnati - Main Campus ranked #20 on this year’s Most Popular Online Nursing Schools list. UC is a fairly large public school located in the city of Cincinnati.

While working on their degree, nursing majors at UC accumulate an average of around $30,200 in student debt. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $334.

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#21

Aspen University

Denver, CO

With a ranking of #21, Aspen University did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students. Located in the city of Denver, Aspen University is a private for-profit school with a moderately-sized student population.

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University of Phoenix - Arizona landed the #22 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best nursing programs. UOPX - Arizona is a fairly large private for-profit school located in the large city of Tempe.

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California State University - San Marcos came in at #23 in this year’s edition of the Most Popular Online Nursing Schools ranking. CSUSM is a large public school located in the large suburb of San Marcos.

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#24

Kaplan University-Indianapolis

Indianapolis, IN

With a ranking of #24, Kaplan University-Indianapolis did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students. Kaplan University-Indianapolis is a very large public school located in the large city of Indianapolis.

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#25

Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, AZ

With a ranking of #25, Northern Arizona University did quite well on this year’s best schools for nursing students. NAU is a fairly large public school located in the small city of Flagstaff.

After completing their degree, nursing graduates from NAU carry an average student debtload of $28,982. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $324.

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#30

Wilmington University

New Castle, DE
#36

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL
#39

Oakland University

Rochester Hills, MI
#42

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, MI
#43

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC
#44

Liberty University

Lynchburg, VA
#46

Resurrection University

Chicago, IL
#46

Gwynedd Mercy University

Gwynedd Valley, PA
#48

University of Rhode Island

Kingston, RI
#49

Utica College

Utica, NY

Remaining Award Winners

This list shows the remainder of the schools awarded a Most Popular Online Nursing Schools badge. Showing in this list means the college was ranked in the top 15% of the 646 different United States nursing schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
52 Galen College of Nursing - Louisville Louisville, KY
53 National University La Jolla, CA
53 Mississippi University for Women Columbus, MS
55 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY
56 South University’s online programs Savannah, GA
57 Regis University Denver, CO
58 George Washington University Washington, DC
59 Laboure College Milton, MA
60 Universidad del Sagrado Corazon Santurce, PR
61 Denver College of Nursing Denver, CO
62 Daytona State College Daytona Beach, FL
63 Winston - Salem State University Winston-Salem, NC
64 University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver, CO
65 Mount Carmel College of Nursing Columbus, OH
66 University of South Carolina - Upstate Spartanburg, SC
67 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
68 University of Michigan - Flint Flint, MI
69 University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL
70 Boise State University Boise, ID
70 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
72 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh Oshkosh, WI
73 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
74 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY
74 Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus, OH
76 University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Milwaukee, WI
77 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD
78 Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL
79 University of Oklahoma - Health Sciences Center Oklahoma City, OK
80 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
81 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
82 Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi Corpus Christi, TX
83 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA
84 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
84 Arizona State University - Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
86 Florida International University Miami, FL
87 University of South Carolina - Columbia Columbia, SC
88 Villanova University Villanova, PA
89 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ
90 Brigham Young University - Idaho Rexburg, ID
91 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
91 Nevada State College Henderson, NV
93 Santa Fe College Gainesville, FL
94 University of South Alabama Mobile, AL
95 Rutgers University - Camden Camden, NJ
96 Medical University of South Carolina Charleston, SC

Additional Noteworthy Schools

Here are some additional great schools for Nursing students that almost earned our Most Popular Online Nursing Schools award.

Rank College Location
97 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
97 University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL
99 Frontier Nursing University Hyden, KY
99 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
101 Augusta University Augusta, GA
101 The Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences Cincinnati, OH
101 Minnesota State University - Mankato Mankato, MN
101 University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, AL
105 University of Missouri - St Louis Saint Louis, MO
106 Rasmussen College - Illinois Rockford, IL
107 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville Knoxville, TN
108 St Petersburg College Clearwater, FL
109 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
110 Southwestern Oklahoma State University Weatherford, OK
111 Polk State College Winter Haven, FL
112 James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA
112 Lehman College Bronx, NY
114 California University of Pennsylvania California, PA
115 Curry College Milton, MA
115 Colorado Technical University - Colorado Springs Colorado Springs, CO
117 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS
117 Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO
117 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
120 University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA
121 Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences Kansas City, MO
121 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC
121 Central Methodist University - College of Graduate & Extended Studies Fayette, MO
121 Xavier University Cincinnati, OH
121 Lamar University Beaumont, TX
126 Arkansas State University - Main Campus Jonesboro, AR
127 Sacred Heart University Fairfield, CT
127 The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg, TX
127 Pensacola State College Pensacola, FL
127 Seminole State College of Florida Sanford, FL
127 Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL

View the Most Popular Online Nursing Schools for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

One of 34 majors within the area of study, nursing has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services 99,641
Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants 93,192
Allied Health Professions 86,697
Health & Medical Administrative Services 82,868
Public Health 36,569

Notes and References

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Credit for the banner image above goes to Aleksahgabrielle.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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