North Dakota is well known for designing and implementing nursing practice initiatives that are intended to enhance healthcare and the nursing profession. North Dakota is the only state to require a bachelor’s degree before being admitted into the field. In 1987, legislation was passed that requires all newly hired registered nurses to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, due to popular demand, the law was repealed in 2003. Despite the repeal, North Dakota and state nurse associations continue to encourage a BSN education. Nurses who are willing to advance their education, know that now is a great time to earn their RN or BSN degree from an accredited institution.

In our North Dakota RN program guide, find rankings for both ADN and BSN Degree programs, tuition costs, NCLEX passing rates, and more. Research key North Dakota RN Program information to help you compare program metrics and to apply to best RN program for your career in nursing.

In the State of North Dakota, nurses are helping to change the face of healthcare. To ensure that they have the best education and preparation for future health care challenges, registered nurses need to graduate from a state-approved associate's degree in nursing program or a BSN degree program.

Nurses who graduate from an RN program can obtain certification in over 100 nursing specialties, go on to earn an RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree.

BSN degree holders have options to earn an Advance Practice Register Nursing (APRN) degree and become a Nurse Practitioner (NP), or earn an advanced degree for a career in any number of nursing leadership roles such Nurse Educator or Clinical Nurse Specialist.

North Dakota RN Program Comparisons: ADN vs BSN

Compare RN ProgramsADNBSN
Number of Nursing Programs56
Average NCLEX Passing Rate89.19%90.08%
NCLEX Passing Rate Range75.00% to 96.21%84.56% to 93.51%
Average Net Price$8,371.20$13,777.67
Average Net Price Range$7,365.00 to $9,259.00$9,981.00 to $16,568.00
Average Student Loan$8,485.00$16,834.67
Average Student Loan Range$7,133.00 to $10,498.00$13,489.00 to $20,250.00
See Additional DetailADN Rankings for North Dakota StateBSN Rankings for North Dakota State

Best Ranked RN Programs in North Dakota

Best Ranked RN Programs in North DakotaTo help nursing students in their search for a top RN program, the education experts at publish their annual findings of the best nursing schools for both North Dakota and the country. Schools ranked on our list have proven their ability to educate highly competent nurses.

To create our rankings, we evaluated 5 ADN degree programs and 5 BSN degree programs in North Dakota. We obtained each institution’s first-time NCLEX-RN passing rates, the number of students taking the test, the program nursing accreditation and more. We then compared the results against other nursing programs in North Dakota to provide our state rankings. View our methodology

ND Rank
US Rank
Offered As:
97.42 ADNBismarck State College157 Bismarck

Bismarck State College is located in Bismarck, North Dakota.  Through the Dakota Nursing Program, a collaboration of several community colleges, a standardized nursing program allows students to earn their LPN and then their RN in a stepwise fashion.  They are also eligible for bridge programs for RN to BSN/RN to MSN with neighboring universities.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.97 ADNNorth Dakota State College of Science268 Wahpeton

North Dakota State College of Science is located in Wahpeton, North Dakota.  They offer several options for their nursing students; they offer an LPN diploma, an LPN AAS, which is designed for students who will eventually seek to obtain their ADN, and an ADN degree.

PublicCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
95.33 ADNDakota College at Bottineau3138 BottineauPublicCampus, OnlineSee School Details
92.98 ADNWilliston State College4242 Williston

Williston State College is located in Williston, North Dakota.  Their program is considered a 1+1 program, where the first year earns the student an LPN certificate and license, and the second year earns the student an RN degree.  Their program is designed under the Dakota Nursing Program.

PublicCampusSee School Details
88.78 ADNLake Region State College5405 Devils Lake

Lake Region State College is located in Devils Lake, North Dakota.  LRSC offers a practical program and an ADN program.  Their ADN program is open to students holding an LPN license or paramedic license; it is not a program for students new to healthcare.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.60 BSNUniversity of Mary182 BismarckPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
96.43 BSNUniversity of North Dakota289 Grand Forks

University of North Dakota is located in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  They offer several options for their nursing students – a traditional BSN degree, an accelerated BSN for students with a prior bachelor’s degree and an RN to BSN track.  The RN to BSN program is utilizes “distance learning” and faculty from the nursing department will arrange for clinical experience with a facility in the student’s area.

PublicCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
93.37 BSNDickinson State University3222 Dickinson

Dickinson State University is located in Dickinson, North Dakota.  They offer an associate of applied science practical nursing (AASPN) program and a BSN program.  Unique to their program is the BSN completion program, which is actually an LPN to BSN program, designed with their LPN students in mind.

PublicCampus, OnlineACME, COASee School Details
93.19 BSNNorth Dakota State University (Combined NDSU Fargo campus and NDSU Nursing at Sanford Health Bismarck)4230 Fargo

North Dakota State University is located in Fargo, North Dakota.  They offer a BSN degree with two options: a pre-professional option and a professional option.  The pre-professional option is for new students, whereas the professional option is for students who already have their RN license.

PublicCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
90.52 BSNMinot State University5311 Minot

Minot State University is located in Minot, North Dakota.  They offer a traditional BSN program and an online BSN completion program for RNs.  The BSN completion program can be completed on a full-time basis or a part-time basis and accepts new students twice yearly.

PublicCampus, OnlineACME, COASee School Details

Become an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in North Dakota

RNs who wish to become advanced practice registered nurses will want to pursue any number of avenues to earn Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Earning a Master of Science in Nursing consists of graduate-level coursework and clinical practice for those nurses who wish to direct patient roles such as a nurse practitioner. You can also pursue indirect patient roles such as teaching or leadership roles, or become involved in policy, state-wide health initiatives or community engagement. There are many clinical and non-clinical avenues that an RN with MSN can pursue.

Become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in North Dakota

Learn how to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) and research schools in North Dakota offering the following high paying nurse practitioner specialties: Learn about Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree.

North Dakota  RN Licensing Requirements

North Dakota State Board of Nursing 919 South 7th Street, Suite 504 Bismark, ND 58504 (701) 328-9777 Fees: Initial licensing fee, RN: $110 License renewal (every two years), RN: $90 Continuing Education Requirements: RNs and LPNs: 12 contact hours every renewal period

RN Licensure by Exams

Upon completing a degree program, nursing candidates will begin the steps toward licensure. If the steps are completed in a timely manner so that he/she will be eligible to work as a graduate nurse while the steps are being completed and the paperwork is being processed. The license application fee is $130 and can be found online. Official transcripts need to be sent to the Board. Before North Dakota can issue a 90-day work authorization, the candidate must also register for the NCLEX exam through the Pearson VUE website and pay the $200 fee. When authorization to test has been issued, the candidate can schedule the computer-based test. Candidates are required to apply for the CHRC within 60 days of graduation in order to obtain temporary work authorization. There is no limit on exam retakes however, there is additional paperwork required.

RN Licensure by Endorsement

Registered nurses who have obtained licensure in one of the other 50 states can apply for licensure by endorsement. In addition to the application, candidates must submit a criminal background check, official transcripts, and license verification. There will be a refresher course required if the candidates is not a recent graduate and has not practiced at least 400 hours within the past four years.

RN License for Nurses Educated Abroad

Nurses who completed an education program abroad are required to have their coursework evaluated by a professional evaluation service such as CGFNS. The certificate should be submitted with the licensure for examination. A social security number is also required for licensure. Applicants from Canada need not provide a CGNFS certificate.

RN Salaries in North Dakota

North Dakota has been suffering from a nursing shortage for almost five years. A lot of hospitals in North Dakota are hiring traveling nurses, which is apparent with the lack of qualified nursing personnel in the hospitals across the state. The median annual salary in the state of North Dakota is $53,300. The top end of the range is $70,000 and is dependent on the nurse’s experience, education, and practice setting. Pursuing higher education can help nurses to expand the setting in which they can practice and open up career possibilities that did not exist with an associate’s.

North Dakota Registered Nursing Salaries

Overall, the amount of registered nurses in North Dakota is on the low end. However, Fargo has the highest amount of registered nurses across the nations. It should come to no surprise that Fargo also has the highest hourly wage and annual median wage.
Area nameEmploymentHourly mean wageAnnual median wage
Bismarck, ND2,130$26.81$55,520
Fargo, ND-MN2,580$29.24$59,510
Grand Forks, ND-MN1,040$27.76$56,930
Far Western North Dakota nonmetropolitan area420$28.86$56,160
West Central North Dakota nonmetropolitan area790$27.37$54,020
East Central North Dakota nonmetropolitan area730$26.95$55,770
Far Eastern North Dakota nonmetropolitan area340$26.98$56,090
Source:, 2014 Data