Nursing requires a certain level of scientific expertise, compassion, and hands-on skills. Now is a great time for registered nurses to pursue higher education and obtain a bachelor’s of science in nursing degree. Nurses will be able complete programs both online and in a traditional campus setting. With the healthcare reform, advanced medical interventions, and preventative medicine, the role of registered nurses is expanding. Education beyond an associate’s degree is necessary for nurses to achieve optimal patient care. There have been many stories about how hospitals require nurses to have their BSN and give preference to those who do.

In our Pennsylvania RN program guide, find rankings for both ADN and BSN Degree programs, tuition costs, NCLEX passing rates, and more. Research key Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania, 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.

Pennsylvania RN Program Comparisons: ADN vs BSN

Compare RN ProgramsADNBSN
Number of Nursing Programs3158
Average NCLEX Passing Rate84.99%90.05%
NCLEX Passing Rate Range71.15% to 92.37%82.33% to 99.01%
Average Net Price$13,391.00$20,705.63
Average Net Price Range$2,530.00 to $23,801.00$12,123.00 to $36,049.00
Average Student Loan$15,570.13$23,550.89
Average Student Loan Range$5,100.00 to $25,000.00$17,500.00 to $28,000.00
See Additional DetailADN Rankings for Pennsylvania StateBSN Rankings for Pennsylvania State

Best Ranked RN Programs in Pennsylvania

Best Ranked RN Programs in PennsylvaniaTo 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 Pennsylvania and the country. Schools ranked on our list have proven their ability to educate highly competent nurses.

To create our rankings, we evaluated 22 ADN degree programs and 36 BSN degree programs in Pennsylvania. 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 Pennsylvania to provide our state rankings. View our methodology.

PA Rank
US Rank
Offered As:
96.94 ADNPennsylvania College of Technology170 WilliamsportPublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.06 ADNPA College of Health Sciences2103 LancasterPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusSee School Details
94.90 ADNMontgomery County Community College4157 Blue BellPublicCampusACENSee School Details
94.85 ADNMount Aloysius College5159 Cresson

Mount Aloysius College has multiple campuses in Pennsylvania.  They offer a variety of nursing programs.  Altoona and Johnstown campuses offer an RN to BSN program.  Altoona campus offers the ADN program and a 2+2 program, meaning that students can attend for both their ADN and BSN simultaneously.  The RN to BSN program can also be completed online.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
94.33 ADNCommunity College of Beaver County6179 MonacaPublicCampusACENSee School Details
94.06 ADNCommunity College of Allegheny County7193 PittsburghPublicCampusACENSee School Details
94.03 ADNNorthampton Community College8194 BethlehemPublicCampusACENSee School Details
92.45 ADNCommunity College of Philadelphia9271 PhiladelphiaPublicCampusACENSee School Details
92.43 ADNUniversity of Pittsburgh-Titusville10272 TitusvillePublicCampusACENSee School Details
92.28 ADNButler County Community College11275 ButlerPublicCampusACENSee School Details
90.99 ADNHarrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg12323 HarrisburgPublicCampusACENSee School Details
89.31 ADNHarcum College13390 Bryn MawrPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusACENSee School Details
89.17 ADNLock Haven University14395 Lock HavenPublicCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
88.56 ADNClarion University of PA15410 ClarionPublicCampus, OnlineACEN, CCNESee School Details
88.40 ADNUniversity of Pittsburgh-Bradford16419 Bradford

University of Pittsburgh – Bradford is located in Bradford, Pennsylvania.  University of Pittsburgh has received many awards, one of which is one of the “150 Best Value Colleges in the United States” in 2012 by the Princeton Review.  They offer both an ADN degree and a BSN degree.  Their BSN degree is specifically an RN to BSN program.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
87.85 ADNLuzerne County Community College17442 NanticokePublicCampusACENSee School Details
87.04 ADNBucks County Community College18474 NewtownPublicCampusACENSee School Details
85.97 ADNWestmoreland County Community College19505 YoungwoodPublicCampusACENSee School Details
85.80 ADNLehigh Carbon Community College20510 Schnecksville

Lehigh Carbon Community College is located in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania.  They offer a practical nursing program and an ADN program.  Entrance into the ADN program is competitive and is based on a points system; students receive points based on multiple different variables.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
83.23 ADNDelaware County Community College21573 MediaPublicCampusACENSee School Details
75.90 ADNLa Roche College23663 PittsburghPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
75.49 ADNReading Area Community College24668 Reading

Reading Area Community College is located in Reading, Pennsylvania.  They offer a practical nursing program and an ADN program.  RACC has a transfer center; the transfer center is where students can go if they know they eventually will want to transfer to a 4-year program.  The transfer center will evaluate and help plan the courses that should be taken.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
100.00 BSNSaint Francis University11 Loretto

Saint Francis University is located in Loretto, Pennsylvania.  In terms of undergraduate programs, they offer a BSN program and an RN to BSN program.  They also are extremely proud of the fact that their faculty to student ratio is 8:1 in the clinical setting.  Their faculty and nursing students regularly volunteer in clinics for underserved populations.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
98.60 BSNCarlow University221 PittsburghPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
97.61 BSNCedar Crest College349 Allentown

Cedar Crest College is located in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  They offer a BSN program and an BSN Completion Program for RNs.  Unique to Cedar Crest College is the School Nurse Certification that is offered; it can be completed on-campus, online  or a combination of the two.  It can be completed in 18 months to 2 years.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACME, COASee School Details
97.48 BSNMessiah University456 MechanicsburgPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
97.43 BSNPennsylvania College of Technology557 WilliamsportPublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.99 BSNBloomsburg University of Pennsylvania668 Bloomsburg

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is located in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.  They offer a BSN program and an RN to BSN program.  Their RN to BSN program is offered entirely online; at this time, their online program is available only to PA residents but they are seeking to expand to non-PA residents in the very near future.

PublicCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
96.98 BSNEastern University769 Saint DavidsPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
96.47 BSNWaynesburg University887 WaynesburgPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
96.37 BSNDeSales University993 Center ValleyPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
95.67 BSNPA State University10117 University ParkPublicCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
95.13 BSNDrexel University11138 Philadelphia

Drexel University is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Their nursing programs are unique; their traditional BSN option is not so traditional.  Students are eligible for 3 paid, 6-month cooperative education experiences.  They also offer an accelerated BSN option, which is available to students with a prior bachelor’s degree.  This can be completed in 11 months for students attending full-time or 24 months for students attending part-time.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
95.11 BSNVillanova University12139 VillanovaPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
95.10 BSNWest Chester University of Pennsylvania13140 West ChesterPublicCampus, OnlineCCNESee School Details
94.88 BSNLa Salle University14150 PhiladelphiaPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
94.70 BSNMisericordia University15156 DallasPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
94.54 BSNAlvernia University16164 ReadingPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineCCNESee School Details
94.41 BSNUniversity of Pennsylvania17172 Philadelphia

University of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The 2017 US News & World Report noted that Penn Nursing was second in the nation, with the university as a whole ranking number nine.  Their undergraduate nursing program offers a BSN degree.  They also offer a second degree program, where students can obtain their BSN degree if they already have a bachelor’s degree.  They also have a unique option – a dual degree, where the student attends for their BSN degree and Healthcare Management degree simultaneously.  The degree in Healthcare Management is obtained through a partnership with The Wharton School.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampusACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
94.36 BSNRobert Morris University18175 Moon TownshipPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
94.26 BSNMansfield University of Pennsylvania19180 MansfieldPublicCampus, OnlineACME, COASee School Details
94.05 BSNDuquesne University20189 PittsburghPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
93.71 BSNGannon University21206 Erie

Gannon University is located in Erie, Pennsylvania.  The Villa Maria School of Nursing offers a BSN degree, an RN to MSN degree and a School Nurse Certificate.  The RN to MSN program is suggested to RNs with leadership skills and who have advanced experience as a nurse.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
93.56 BSNUniversity of Scranton22212 Scranton

University of Scranton is located in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  BSN students have several options at Scranton University; they offer a traditional BSN degree, an LPN to BSN option, an RN to BSN option, an accelerated BSN (for students with a prior bachelor’s degree) and an RN to MSN option.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
93.52 BSNWilkes University23214 Wilkes-BarrePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
93.41 BSNEdinboro University of Pennsylvania24218 EdinboroPublicCampus, OnlineCCNESee School Details
92.61 BSNIndiana University of Pennsylvania25246 Indiana

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is located in Indiana, Pennsylvania.  They offer a traditional BSN program.  They also offer an LPN to BSN program.  Per their website, “The track for licensed practical nurses provides an alternative curriculum accounting for prior work completed in a practical nursing program.”  This program is an ideal option for LPNs seeking a BSN degree.

PublicCampusCCNESee School Details
92.44 BSNTemple University26254 Philadelphia

Temple University is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  They currently offer a BSN program with an RN to BSN option.  Freshman students are eligible for entrance into the BSN program if they are highly qualified.  They also have a DNP option.  Their MSN program is not currently taking applications.

PublicCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
92.22 BSNYork College Pennsylvania27260 YorkPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusACEN, CCNESee School Details
91.61 BSNUniversity of Pittsburgh28281 PittsburghPublicCampus, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
90.26 BSNNeumann University29319 Aston

Neumann University is located in Aston, Pennsylvania.  They offer a BSN degree.  Neumann University is proud to note that their student to faculty ratio is 14:1, allowing professors to give personal attention to their students.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampusACME, COASee School Details
90.06 BSNHoly Family University30326 PhiladelphiaPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
88.46 BSNMoravian College31364 BethlehemPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, HybridACEN, CCNESee School Details
87.57 BSNEast Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania32395 East StroudsburgPublicCampusACME, COASee School Details
87.51 BSNWidener University-Main Campus33397 ChesterPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
87.46 BSNGwynedd Mercy College34400 Gwynedd ValleyPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusSee School Details
87.06 BSNMarywood University35406 ScrantonPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details

Become an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in Pennsylvania

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 Pennsylvania

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

Pennsylvania  RN Licensing Requirements

Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing PO Box 2649 Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649 (717) 783-7142 Fees: Initial licensing fee, RN: $35 License renewal (every two years), RN: $65; LPN: $60 Continuing Education Requirements: RNs: 30 contact hours every renewal period; LPNs: None

RN Licensure by Exams

After completing an approved nursing program, nursing candidates will submit an application to the board. Temporary practice permits can be issued to graduates who apply within a year after graduation. Nurses working under a temporary permit must be under direct supervision of an experienced registered nurse. In addition to the application, candidates must also provide transcripts, and in some cases, verification of program completion. There is a $35 fee for the materials to be processed and an addition $35 for a temporary permit if the candidate wishes to have one. There is a $200 fee that will be paid to Pearson VUE, the company that runs the NCLEX exam. Results will be sent to the examinees within 2-30 days. There is a 45-day waiting period for candidates who wish to retake the NCLEX. The candidate will then need to reapply and pay additional fees.

RN Licensure by Endorsement

Registered nurses who obtained licensure in one of the other fifty states will need to complete the requirements as stated above in addition to paying a $100 fee.

RN License for Nurses Educated Abroad

Nurses who have been educated in a country outside of the United States and have not taken the NCLEX must apply for CGNFS certification before applying for licensure. Upon receiving certification, candidates may apply to the Pennsylvania Board using the appropriate application online. Nurses must also register to take the NCLEX exam through the Pearson VUE website.

RN Salaries in Pennsylvania

There are many opportunities in hospitals, home health, and non-hospital work environments for registered nurses in Pennsylvania. Positions available to baccalaureate prepared nurses include:
  • Informatics works such as ICUs, maternity wards, cardiac care, and emergency departments
  • Nursing administrators and directors
  • Mental health
  • Nurse researchers
There are approximately 130,000 nurses licensed nurses in the state of Pennsylvania. Despite this, there is a huge shortage expected within the state. Pennsylvania will need an additional 54,000 registered nurses by the year 2020 to meet this great need. Nursing is predicted to be the fastest-growing occupation so now is a better time than ever to become a registered nurse.

Pennsylvania Registered Nursing Salaries

The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan area has the highest employment rate of registered nurses as well as the highest hourly mean wage and annual median wage.
Area nameEmploymentHourly mean wageAnnual median wage
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ8,350$31.76$64,670
Erie, PA3,100$27.49$55,320
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA7,050$31.73$63,590
Johnstown, PA1,810$29.87$62,860
Lancaster, PA3,290$32.98$65,270
Lebanon, PA910$31.84$66,440
Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division43,040$35.66$74,030
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD62,750$35.68$74,140
Pittsburgh, PA30,410$30.03$61,220
Reading, PA3,510$29.35$59,940
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA5,690$28.44$58,700
State College, PA1,090$28.68$61,810
Williamsport, PA1,100$31.60$65,850
York-Hanover, PA3,450$32.91$67,880
Far Western Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area2,980$27.24$56,850
West Central Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area2,740$27.13$56,300
Northeastern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area2,640$30.82$64,380
East Central Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area5,330$30.47$63,960
Source:, 2014 Data