Become a Nurse in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin , seasoned nurses apply critical thinking skills to help structure the best healing environment for patients. As the healthcare industry evolves and becomes more complex, nurses become required to provide an advanced scope of practice beyond the traditional bed setting. However, meeting the objectives that are presented in the nursing industry require nurses to seek out higher education. While an associate’s degree in nursing can get you in the door with foundational skills, a bachelor’s degree will provide all the necessary tools that are needed to meet the challenges head-on.

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

Wisconsin RN Program Comparisons: ADN vs BSN

Compare RN ProgramsADNBSN
Number of Nursing Programs2325
Average NCLEX Passing Rate88.78%89.84%
NCLEX Passing Rate Range79.53% to 96.50%78.38% to 96.40%
Average Net Price$10,325.04$18,318.52
Average Net Price Range$5,252.00 to $20,018.00$11,557.00 to $31,413.00
Average Student Loan$9,637.33$19,055.79
Average Student Loan Range$5,499.00 to $24,750.00$12,000.00 to $29,000.00
See Additional DetailADN Rankings for Wisconsin StateBSN Rankings for Wisconsin State

Best Ranked RN Programs in Wisconsin

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

To create our rankings, we evaluated 19 ADN degree programs and 13 BSN degree programs in Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin to provide our state rankings. View our methodology

WI Rank
US Rank
Offered As:
96.54 ADNBlackhawk Technical College186 Janesville

Blackhawk Technical College is located in Janesville, Wisconsin.  They offer an ADN degree.  They also offer an LPN progression program, which allows the LPN to advance their degree.  The LPN must take a bridge course prior to enrollment, but then is able to join the other students in the third semester of the program.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.30 ADNFox Valley Technical College295 Appleton

Fox Valley Technical College is located in Appleton, Wisconsin.  FVTC offers a variety of options for its students; they offer an ADN degree but they also offer a pathway for LPNs and paramedics that allows them entrance into the program.  They also offer refresher courses for LPNs and RNs who are out of practice and need to review their skills before returning to the workforce.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.22 ADNMilwaukee Area Technical College398 Milwaukee

Milwaukee Area Technical College is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  They offer an RN program and an LPN-RN Educational Progression program.  Students opting to apply to the LPN-RN program should know that at least one year of LPN experience is required.  The program begins in August and January each year.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
95.03 ADNWaukesha County Technical College4148 Pewaukee

Waukesha County Technical College is located in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.  They offer an ADN program and an LPN to RN progression option.  Their progression option is reserved for Wisconsin LPNs – students most hold an LPN nursing license in order to enroll.  The LPN also must pass LPN Progression Transition Success Strategies course prior to entering the program.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
93.95 ADNMid-State Technical College5198 Wisconsin RapidsPublicCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
92.81 ADNMoraine Park Technical College6252 Fond Du Lac

Moraine Park Technical College is located in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  Their nursing program is an “associate degree with a practical nursing exit point.”  The first two semesters prepare the student for a career as a practical nurse; at that point, the student may choose to exit the program and begin their career.  They can also continue for further education and earn their associate’s degree.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
92.79 ADNNorth Central Technical College7253 WausauPublicCampusACENSee School Details
92.70 ADNLakeshore Technical College8259 ClevelandPublicCampusACENSee School Details
92.27 ADNNortheast Wisconsin Technical College9276 Green BayPublicCampusACENSee School Details
90.44 ADNNicolet Area Technical College10343 Rhinelander

Nicolet Area Technical College is located in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.  They offer an ADN program and an LPN to RN bridge option.  Nicolet Area Technical College originated in 1967, with its first classes being offered in January of 1968.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
87.70 ADNSouthwest Wisconsin Technical College13450 FennimorePublicCampusACENSee School Details
87.30 ADNWisconsin Indianhead Technical College14466 Shell LakePublicCampusACENSee School Details
86.91 ADNGateway Technical College15480 KenoshaPublicCampusACENSee School Details
86.77 ADNWestern Technical College16484 La CrossePublicCampusACENSee School Details
84.49 ADNMadison Area Technical College17537 MadisonPublicCampusACENSee School Details
84.45 ADNChippewa Valley Technical College18539 Eau ClairePublicCampusACENSee School Details
81.81 ADNCollege of Menominee Nation21601 Keshena

College of Menominee Nation is located in Keshena, Wisconsin.  They offer an ADN program.  Their program allows the student to become an RN within 4-6 semesters, or 2-3 semesters if the student has prior work experience as an LPN.  They have two campuses – one in Keshena, which is on the Menominee Indian reservation, and another in Green Bay.  Students do not have to be American Indians to enroll, although over 80% are descendants of American Indian tribes.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampusSee School Details
81.66 ADNRasmussen-Green Bay22605 Green BayPrivate For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
79.16 ADNHerzing University-Madison (Herzing College)23638 MadisonPrivate For-ProfitCampus, OnlineSee School Details
96.98 BSNCarroll University169 WaukeshaPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
96.02 BSNUniversity of Wisconsin-Oshkosh2106 OshkoshPublicCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
95.11 BSNWisconsin Lutheran College3139 MilwaukeePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
95.05 BSNBellin College4143 Green BayPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
94.44 BSNMaranatha Baptist University (Maranatha Baptist Bible Col.)5170 WatertownPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusSee School Details
91.27 BSNAlverno College6296 MilwaukeePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, OnlineACENSee School Details
90.54 BSNViterbo College7310 La CrossePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
89.77 BSNUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison8332 MadisonPublicCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
88.24 BSNUniversity of Wisconsin-Eau Claire9371 Eau ClairePublicCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
87.50 BSNMilwaukee School of Engineering10398 MilwaukeePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
86.79 BSNMarian University11413 Fond Du LacPrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
78.62 BSNUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee12500 MilwaukeePublicCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details

Become an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in Wisconsin

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 Wisconsin

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

Wisconsin  RN Licensing Requirements

Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing 1400 E. Washington Avenue P.O. Box 8935 Madison, WI 53708 (608) 266-2112 Continuing Education Requirements: None

RN Licensure by Exams

Students are encouraged to turn in their applications six weeks prior to graduation. When the application is entered it will be given an identification number and the applicant will be notified with weekly email updates. There is a licensing fee of $90 and candidates will be able to obtain a temporary permit for an additional $10. The temporary permit is good for 90 days and allows candidates to work as a graduate nurse. Graduates are advised to register for the NCLEX exam and paying the $200 fee prior to submitting the application to the board. When and only when the candidate has received the authorization to test (ATT), can he/she schedule the NCLEX exam. It is worth noting that the candidate must pass the exam during the 90-day temporary permit period. Failure to pass the NCLEX will submit a short retake application and pay an additional $15 fee. Candidates should also be advised that there is a 45-day waiting period before the NCLEX can be reattempted.

RN License by Endorsement

Registered nurses who obtained licensure in one of the other 50 states may obtain licensure in Wisconsin by endorsement. Candidates must submit verification of licensure from every state where licensure was held and a copy of a current license. Candidates who obtained licensure in a Canadian province may also be endorsed in Wisconsin if they passed the appropriate exam. Registered nurses who have not practiced in the previous five years will be required to complete a refresher course.

RN License for Nurses Educated Abroad

Nurses who completed a nursing program in a country outside of the United States will need to complete the CGFNS certification process before Wisconsin licensure can be obtained. This does not apply to Canadian students who did their education in English.

RN Salaries in Wisconsin

Baccalaureate-prepared nurses have a wide array of opportunities available to them. Rural communities and healthcare facilities fill the health care system in Wisconsin with a large population of elderly citizens. It has been reported that nurse leaders are needed to service and organize homebound patients in the rural populations that fill Wisconsin. Nurses who graduate from an RN program are able to obtain certification in more than 100 nursing specialties.

Wisconsin Registered Nursing Salaries

While Milwaukee has the most registered areas employed than any other metropolitan area in Wisconsin, it is Madison that has the highest hourly mean wage and annual median wage.
Area nameEmploymentHourly mean wageAnnual median wage
Appleton, WI1,900$29.49$60,500
Eau Claire, WI2,230$31.97$64,340
Green Bay, WI3,190$28.57$58,580
Janesville, WI1,380$31.10$63,240
La Crosse, WI-MN3,550$26.32$53,900
Madison, WI7,210$35.93$73,190
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI18,940$32.48$66,970
Oshkosh-Neenah, WI1,580$30.17$62,780
Racine, WI1,560$31.56$65,300
Sheboygan, WI720$30.29$61,130
Wausau, WI1,350$30.35$61,190
Eastern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area2,410$29.86$61,440
West Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area3,530$31.61$64,590
South Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area2,290$29.90$62,530
Southwestern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area1,270$29.59$59,660
Northern Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area1,140$29.20$59,410
Source:, 2014 Data