Best Colleges In Florida For Nursing

Last Updated on February 11, 2023 by

Nursing is by far one of the oldest and most noble professions in the entire world. It has been practiced for as long as people have needed help taking care of the sick or the injured. In the past, nursing was an apprentice craft taught through practice by experts in the field. Today, nursing is one of the most popular courses taken at tertiary education level. Get more information regarding Best Colleges In Florida For Nursing, best community colleges in florida for nursing, best colleges for pediatric nursing in florida, colleges with the best nursing programs in florida, number 1 nursing school in florida & best undergraduate nursing schools in florida

The result of this popularity is a country full of nursing schools; both independent and those affiliate with larger universities. Florida is one such state. This makes it a little tricky for aspiring nurses to find what works best for them. Below are four of the very best nursing schools in Florida with descriptions that should make things easier for you to find what best suits your needs.

Colleges With the Best Nursing Programs in Florida

Nurses are essential members of the healthcare profession. After all, they do everything from coordinate patient care to take a lead role in educating patients and the general public about preventative health measures. 

However, the nursing field is constantly changing in response to society’s current health needs. Plus, modern technology is impacting the entire healthcare system, and tomorrow’s nurses need to be in the know about the latest technological updates. Therefore, before becoming an RN, or Registered Nurse, potential candidates must pass the NCLEX, or the National Council Licensing Examination. This exam makes sure that candidates have the skills and knowledge to be nurses, and they can’t take it without at least a BSN, or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. 

Because of this requirement and the growing demand for nurses due to the aging population in the United States, many students are pursuing academic degrees in nursing. Most—but not all—of the schools in this top 10 list of the best nursing schools in Florida have bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, giving students plenty of options according to their personal career goals.

Jacksonville University Keigwin School of Nursing (Jacksonville, FL)

Jacksonville University
Excel23, JU, CC BY-SA 4.0

The nursing programs at Jacksonville University blend a liberal arts education with clinical experiences to educate tomorrow’s nursing professionals. Several bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and post-graduate programs meet the needs of the school’s diverse student body. The school makes the list of the top 200 nursing schools in the nation, according to U.S. News.

The faculty at the Keigwin School is very focused on individualized student success. And as such, the nursing programs at Jacksonville University are designed to give students the flexibility and individual attention they need to succeed. For example, class sizes are kept small to ensure good faculty-to-student ratios. What’s more, undergraduates can choose from a traditional track or accelerated 12- or 16-month tracks for career-change students who already have a degree. Plus, a flexible and online RN-to-BSN program is available as well; the program can take as little as 9 months and is offered at a very low tuition rate.

Nova Southeastern University Ron and Kathy Assaf College of Nursing (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Nova Southeastern University has developed programs designed for both students new to nursing and existing nurses wishing to further their professional careers. Some classes are offered online, while others are held on-campus in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, or Miami. And in fact, students can earn some degrees online, which is an excellent option for working nurses. U.S. News and World Reports ranked the master’s program as #49 among nursing programs across the nation. 

Students seeking master’s degrees, in particular, have several different paths of study to choose from, owing to NSU’s commitment to preparing students for the ongoing challenges of modern health care. For example, master’s students can concentrate in niches as varied as nursing education and leadership or nursing informatics. Or, they can study to specialize as a family nurse or adult-gerontology or psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.

Florida Southern College (Lakeland, FL)

Florida Southern College blends traditional classroom learning with hands-on clinical opportunities to prepare students for demanding nursing careers. For instance, undergraduate students study much more than nursing sciences. Instead, they receive a broad education in biology, behavioral sciences, nursing management, and community health. What’s more, travel abroad experiences give students a deeper cultural understanding of global health needs, disease, and illness. U.S. News ranks FSC among the top 160 nursing schools. 

Simulation labs are becoming standard in the top nursing schools, and those at Florida Southern are particularly high-tech. After all, the nursing school incorporates some of the world’s most technologically advanced simulation equipment available. Not only do the lab’s mannequins hear and respond to students’ questions, but they can even reproduce patients’ typical physiological responses. In this way, FSC’s students perfect their bedside care in a hands-on learning environment. In fact, FSC’s undergraduate nursing students are so well-prepared that 100% of graduates are either offered a job after school or are accepted into a graduate program.

Florida Gulf Coast University School of Nursing (Fort Myers, FL)

Florida Gulf Coast University
Twhair, FGCU Academic Core, CC BY-SA 3.0

U.S. News ranks Florida Gulf Coast University among the top 160 nursing schools in the United States. In addition, the school is also ranked as Florida’s #1 RN program by RegisteredNurse.org.

The FGCU Marieb College School of Nursing places a strong emphasis on community outreach and hands-on learning. The curriculum stresses that students need nursing skills in addition to “soft” skills like good communication, critical thinking skills, understanding diverse cultural viewpoints, and the ability to solve complex problems. Therefore, the school has built several community partnerships in support of its demanding clinical internship expectations. In addition, all undergraduate students must devote 4 or 5 semesters to clinical learning. And actually, students at FGCU receive more hands-on learning in clinical settings than at many other universities. 

Barry University College of Nursing and Health Sciences (Miami Shores, FL)

Barry University
Jutland86, Barry University Library, marked as public domain

Barry University is a private institution based on Catholic Dominican values. In 2020, the National League for Nursing recognized Barry University as a Center of Excellence. Basically, this honor demonstrates that the college excels in student learning outcomes, nursing-related research, the professional development of faculty and graduates. U.S. News and World Reports ranks Barry University #131 on its list of Best Nursing Schools with master’s programs.

The college’s motto is “Study, Reflect, Act,” which reflects the faculty’s dedication to scholarship and research as well as political activism in the nursing field. The school is also committed to promoting social justice and allowing all students to study nursing regardless of their income level. Therefore, the school has established a partnership with Baptist Health South Florida to create the Baptist Scholars program. Through this agreement, highly qualified undergraduate students in the traditional BSN program can enjoy significantly reduced tuition. And upon the successful completion of their BSN degree, these students are guaranteed employment with Baptist Health.

University of Tampa (Tampa, FL)

According to U.S. News, the University of Tampa has the #5 top nursing program in Florida and the #117 program in the country. But even better, the website RegisteredNursing.org has ranked the University of Tampa as the top nursing program in Florida. The ranking was awarded based on the current and historical NCLEX pass rates for UT graduates. After all, in seven of the last eight years, 100% of UT graduates taking the NCLEX for the first time passed.

This private school has partnerships with over 120 health care facilities in the Tampa Bay area, which allows students to gain hands-on experience in many areas of healthcare. For example, students can receive specialized instruction in primary care and clinical management roles in pediatrics, adult and family health, geriatrics, women’s health, and psychiatric mental health. Students can also participate in annual travel courses designed to impart a greater understanding of global health issues. 

University of South Florida College of Nursing (Tampa, FL)

The faculty at the University of South Florida believes that students learn best by doing. In addition to classroom instruction, students are exposed to various health issues through clinical rotations. However, community outreach expands beyond clinical settings. 

For example, students also have opportunities to work with community organizations like local public schools, faith-based ministries, and the Tampa Police Department. For instance, in the Peds to Succeed program, pediatric nursing students are working to promote health and early prevention with low-income and underserved youth at the local R.I.C.H. House. In this Resources in Community Hope program from the Tampa Police, low-income youth learn about healthy habits in a curriculum developed by USF nursing students. 

In total, USF College of Nursing students devote more than 110,000 clinical hours in the community each year with over 1,000 clinical partners. 

In the 2022 list of best schools, U.S. News and World Report ranked the USF master’s program as #56 and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program as #62 among the best nursing programs.

Florida International University Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences (Miami, FL)

Florida International University College of Nursing
Comayagua99, FIU HLS, CC BY 3.0

Florida International University has 20 different degrees and certificate options to meet the diverse needs of its student body. The school’s goals are to prepare tomorrow’s nurses for leadership roles in an increasingly multicultural and multiethnic society. Therefore, many of the faculty focus on creating culturally competent healthcare systems and how public health policies can be improved to serve all patients better.  

FIU gives students flexible study options. For example, in addition to a traditional on-campus BSN degree, FIU also offers a fully online track for existing RNs who want to advance their career with a BSN. Students can even take classes full-time or part-time, depending on their schedule. In fact, in 2020, TheBestSchools.org ranked FIU as being #8 in a list of best online RN to BSN programs in the country. 

In 2021, U.S. News and World Reports declared that the FIU Master’s program was #56 in Best Nursing Schools, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice programs was rated #40. What’s more, U.S. News has nationally ranked the FIU graduate nursing program every year since 2015. 

Florida Atlantic University Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing (Boca Raton, FL)

The Lynn College of Nursing is focused on “caring science,” which reflects the interconnectivity of health and whole-person wellness in relationship to family members, the community, and the greater good of society. Through evidence-based research, the college’s faculty promote caring science to the students to truly understand nursing’s balance between science and art form.

Even the college’s building reflects these principles of caring and is a visual representation of the intersections of health, self-care and healing, and the built environment. The green building is LEED-certified and follows the design principles of Feng Shui, also reflecting the college’s commitment to global perspectives. 

For example, the building has spaces for classroom instruction and labs as well as meditation and reflection areas. In fact, the college even has an Archives of Caring in Nursing, which collects scholarly research aimed to advance the understanding of caring and its impact on the nursing profession. Lynn College is actually the first institution in the country to have such an archive. 

FIU’s nursing doctorate program was ranked #60 by U.S. News and World Report in 2022.

University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies (Coral Gables, FL)

University of Miami
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Ranked as the top nursing program in Florida, the University of Miami opened South Florida’s first collegiate nursing program in 1949. And since then, the School of Nursing and Health Studies has established itself as a leader in the nursing profession. As a result, U.S. News has ranked the school as the #34 master’s nursing program in the country. In addition, the Ph.D. program was ranked #18 by Academic Analytics. What’s more, undergraduates taking the NCLEX exam have the highest pass rates in South Florida.

The University of Miami is dedicated to student success and has several flexible degree options that meet the needs of its diverse student body. For example, students can benefit from stackable credentialing, full-time or part-time programs, and hybrid courses partially offered online. Because of the school’s leadership in the nursing field and its high level of academic research, it is 1 of just 8 U.S institutions named as a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.

Nursing Colleges in Florida


Baby Boomers comprise a full quarter of Florida’s population, and as they age, this demographic is going to require more and more health care-related services. Don’t forget, either, that a sizable percentage of the Sunshine State’s nursing workforce are Boomers: Forty-four percent of the state’s registered nurses are older than 50 and hope to retire within the next five to ten years, and that’s going to leave a huge demand for more recent graduates of accredited nursing schools in Florida. True, compared to many other states, RN salaries are on the low side in Florida; but living expenses are also lower, there’s no state income tax, and there are very few places in the country that are as warm and beautiful. Below you will find a list of the best nursing schools in Florida.

1. University of Miami, Coral Gables

About University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies: Faculty and administrators at the University of Miami’s School of Nursing and Health Studies understand that health care is in a period of rapid transformation. When you graduate from UM, one of the highly ranked nursing schools in Florida, you’ll be fully equipped to deal with every challenge and emerging medical trend that’s thrown your way.

The school’s Simulation Hospital not only teaches students valuable clinical skills but also replicates the process a vulnerable patient may go through when he or she travels from an outpatient clinic or an ERs to a hospital unit. The nursing school’s Simulation Hospital recreates this patient flow so precisely that it has become a resource for developing and testing mass casualty protocols throughout the state of Florida. Once students have honed their bedside skills, they go on to do rotations with more than 170 clinical partners throughout the greater Miami metropolitan area. Nursing students also have the opportunity to participate in healthcare immersion experiences in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Mexico, Spain and Taiwan.

Financial Aid: No separate scholarship applications are necessary at the university of Miami; all incoming freshman are automatically screened for merit-based scholarships on the basis of their academic achievements. The School of Nursing and Health Studies offers no nursing-specific scholarships per se, but it does maintain a list of outside scholarship sources, which it urges students to take advantage of. Students may also be considered for needs-based grants and other financial assistance upon completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA.)

2. University of Central Florida, Orlando

About College of Nursing @ UCF: “U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks the College of Nursing at University of Central Florida among the top 25 nurse training programs for veterans in the nation. The college is also home to a unique healthcare simulation graduate program that’s actively recruiting the RNs who will become tomorrow’s healthcare simulation educators and experts. Instruction currently takes place at the University Tower building in Central Florida Research Park just beyond the boundaries of the University’s Orlando campus, but by the end of this decade, the college hopes to be moving into a new building at the Lake Nona Health Sciences Campus where students and teachers will be able to partner more closely with the university’s College of Medicine.

One of the prominent nursing schools in Florida, UCF College of Nursing is particularly known for its research and fieldwork in improving patient outcomes and reducing disparities among the aging and vulnerable populations. Clinical rotations take place at teaching hospitals, acute care hospitals, community clinics and other health care providers throughout the central Florida area.

Financial Aid: Students enrolled in the college can apply for eight merit-based nursing scholarships. Some of these scholarships are reserved for students pursuing specific subspecialties within the field of nursing. The UCF Office of Financial Aid administers other types of assistance as well, which are awarded on the basis upon need and upon the availability of funding. You will have to fill out a FAFSA form in order to be considered for these grants and loans.

3. University of Florida, Gainesville

About UF College of Nursing: Florida’s flagship university is the fifth top-rated program in the nation for undergraduate nursing degrees, according to “U.S. News and World Report.” The College of Nursing also consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of graduate nursing programs. With 700 undergraduate students and 370 graduate students, this nursing program is one of the Sunshine State’s largest. It’s one of six University of Florida colleges dedicated to the health sciences, so students have the opportunity to learn side by side with colleagues enrolled at the Dentistry, Health Professions, Medicine, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine Colleges.

UF’s College of Nursing receives research grants from funding institutions like the National Institute for Nursing Research, the National Science Foundation, the John A. Hartford Foundation, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. Classrooms, simulation laboratories and a 500-seat auditorium are located in a dedicated building that’s part of the 173,000-square-foot Health Professions/Nursing/Pharmacy complex. Clinical rotations take place at UF’s Health Shands Hospital or at one of the other acute care hospitals and community-based health-care facilities in the central Florida region.

Financial Aid:Twenty-six scholarships are available for undergraduate UF nursing students, and 20 scholarships are available for graduate UF nursing students. Each scholarship has its own set of criteria: Some are merit-based, some are needs-based while others are awarded on the basis of county of residence or interest in a specific nursing subspecialty. Nursing students may also qualify for federal financial aid on the basis of their FAFSA applications.

4. Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton

About Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing: The Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University is another one of the nursing schools in Florida that gets high marks from “U.S. News and World Report.” Founded in 1979 as a department within the College of Social Sciences, the nurse-training program evolved into a freestanding college in 1990. Emphasis is placed on the caring and nurturing aspects of patient care in a day-by-day context.

Five centers and institutes are housed with the college that serve as wellness resources for Florida Atlantic University and the Westgate community as a whole: the Christine E. Lynn Center for Caring; the Initiative for Intentional Health; the Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center; the Nursing Leadership Institute; and the FAU Community Health Center. The state-of-the-art Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing has design features that support feng shui and a commitment to environmental sustainability. In the building’s Professional Practice Lab, aspiring nurses get the chance to build their skill repertoires by working with lifelike manikins. Clinical placement sites include Brevard and Broward County Health Departments, Tenet’s Florida Medical Center, Florida Hospital Tampa/University Community Hospital, GEO Care Treasure Coast Forensic Treatment Center and Miami Children’s Hospital among others.

Financial Aid: FAU’s nursing scholarships are only available for fall and spring semesters; they are not awarded for summer semesters. Funding for undergraduates is based upon student need as determined by the FAFSA. Financial assistance for graduate students is available in the form of College of Nursing scholarships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships and doctoral stipends. The FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for federal grants and loans.

5. University of South Florida College of Nursing, Tampa

About USF College of Nursing: The College of Nursing at University of Southern Florida is one of the nursing schools in Florida that’s a prominent research center. The college is justly proud of the research it pursues in areas like cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and management, chronic illness, caregiver support and biobehavioral mechanisms. In 2017, the college was the recipient of more funding from the National Institutes of Health than any other academic institution in the state of Florida. Nursing students are encouraged to pursue their own research interests in a 2,000-square-foot biobehavioral lab that’s equipped with sophisticated technology.

The college began as a three-year diploma program charged with providing nurses for Gordon Keller Memorial Hospital. Today, it’s an integral part of the USF Health system, and interprofessional education and collaboration are high priorities. Students acquire the bedside skills they’ll need through realistic simulation experiences; they refine these skills further through experiential learning rotations at Tampa General Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital, James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital, and other health care facilities throughout the greater Tampa region. Students also have the opportunity to participate in international health care experiences in Panama, St. Croix and Scotland.

Financial Aid: University of Southern Florida offers a number of scholarships and fellowships, but you will have to activate your USF NetID before you can apply. The College of Nursing does not have its own financial aid office but USF Health, Office of Financial Aid will be happy to help you navigate the scholarship application process. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit, financial need and other special criteria. Nursing students may also apply for federal grants and funding by completing a FAFSA form.

6. Florida State University, Tallahassee

About Florida State University College of Nursing: Florida State University in Tallahassee is committed to educating nurses who will be leaders in clinical practice, in research and in education. The university was established in 1851 as Florida State College; its College of Nursing was founded in 1950. This college is routinely ranked by “U.S. News and World Report” among the top 100 nursing schools in the nation, and it sets high academic standards for incoming students: freshman nursing students must present with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, and transferring upper division students are expected to have a GPA of 3.78 or higher.

Classes take place inside Vivian M. Duxbury Hall whose entire top floor is a simulation laboratory where students can learn and practical skills such IV insertion and suctioning. Students are able to refine their skills further through clinical rotations at institutions like Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare; Capital Regional Medical Center; Florida State Hospital; Archbold Medical Center in Thomasville, Georgia; local county health departments and Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville. The nursing school is also the home to The Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Center for Research and Evidence Based Practice, which is a center for fieldwork that seeks to optimize treatment outcomes for patients.

Financial Aid: This nursing school administers seventeen scholarships for aspiring nurses. Students who are interested in applying for these funds must submit their applications directly to the College of Nursing. Junior, senior and graduate students may also apply for the prestigious New Alumni Ambassadors Award. Federal financial aid is administered through the University’s Office of Financial Aid. Both scholarships and federal financial assistance require the submission of a FAFSA form.

7. University of Tampa, Tampa

About University of Tampa : If you’re interested in becoming a health care generalist with the skills to tackle any challenge, University of Tampa’s Department of Nursing may offer the training you’ve been searching for. The department operates out of the six-story, 91,000-square-foot Graduate and Health Sciences building. As part of the College of Natural and Health Sciences, nursing students share learning facilities such as the state-of-the-art digital anatomy lab and hospital room simulation lab with colleagues in the university’s newly created physicians’ assistant program. Nursing students are introduced to the university’s simulation lab at the beginning of their sophomore year.

Once nursing students are confident about their skills, they have opportunities to pursue clinical rotations at more than 120 hospitals, clinical agencies, schools and medical practices within the greater Tampa metropolitan area. In addition to teaching clinical skills and their scientific basis, UT’s nursing education prepares students to be excellent communicators who are committed to the teamwork that plays such an integral role in providing high-quality nursing care.

Financial Aid: The University of Tampa offers six scholarships that are only available to undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Students may also be eligible for federal and state assistance including grants, loans and work-study upon completion of the FAFSA form and a Florida Residency Affidavit.

8. University of North Florida, Jacksonville

About School of Nursing @ UNF: At the School of Nursing at University of North Florida, you’ll learn how to meet the ever-changing health care needs of communities within an ever-evolving framework of health care delivery trends. Every nursing student is partnered with an underserved or vulnerable group within the community of Jacksonville. This teaches aspiring nurses how to identify and successfully overcome the many challenges patients face when those patients are discharged from hospital care.

Along with the university’s Departments of Public Health, Health Administration, and Nutrition and Dietetics, the nursing school—which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018—is part of the Brooks College of Health. Classes take place at venerable J. Brooks Brown Hall; a newer, four-story addition houses additional classrooms, an X-ray and radiation laboratory and Student Health Services. A sophisticated simulation environment teaches the basics of bedside care as well as how to respond in emergency situations like a code blue. Clinical rotations take place at hospitals within the Jacksonville region as well as at health departments in Baker, Clay and Nassau Counties.

Financial Aid: Scholarships are administered through Brooks College; sixteen of those scholarships are specifically reserved for nursing students. Undergraduate and graduate students are required to complete one semester of education before they are eligible to apply. Students may also apply for federal aid by completing a FAFSA form. Scholarships count toward the total financial aid package.

9. Jacksonville University, Jacksonville

About Keigwin School of Nursing: Jacksonville University has been offering nursing programs in Florida since 1981, but the Keigwin School of Nursing was formally established in 2017. If you’re interested in becoming a nursing leader committed to promoting positive health outcomes among culturally diverse populations, then this is a school you should find out more about. Here, you will learn the power of critical thinking and creative inquiry as well as the clinical skills that will help fight illness and promote wellness among the patient populations you serve.

In 2018, construction began on a new state-of-the-art building that will house the Keigwin School of Nursing as well as Jacksonville University’s School of Applied Health Sciences and School of Orthodontics. When complete, the new three-story, 36,000-square-foot building will contain classrooms, offices, kinesiology and orthopedic laboratories and other medical facilities. Students practice

Financial Aid: Although the Keigwin School is in the process of putting together an endowment for the Stephanie Bloom Nursing Scholarship, which will only be available to nursing students, all financial assistance is administered through the Jacksonville University Office of Student Financial Assistance. A FAFSA submission is a prerequisite for all forms of needs-based federal financial aid.

10. Nova Southeastern University, Ft Lauderdale

About Ron and Kathy Assaf College of Nursing : Are you looking at nursing schools in Florida that provide a solid foundation on which you can build your professional practice? If so, by enrolling at the Ron and Kathy Assaf College of Nursing at Nova Southeastern University, no matter what you want the focus of your nursing career to be, you’ll have the advantage of forward-looking teaching strategies and access to innovative educational technology.

This nursing college is one of several highly respected health science colleges at Nova, and as a student here, you can look forward to learning alongside aspiring physicians, dentists, optometrists and pharmacists. The Nursing Education Center in the University Park Plaza is a state-of-the-art facility that houses a simulation environment with three rooms, three beds and high-fidelity patient manikins. Your clinical rotations will take place at major hospitals and health care centers throughout Fort Lauderdale and surrounding communities in Broward County.

Financial Aid: Nova Southeastern University offers 10 scholarships specifically for nursing students. Only students who are taking fulltime classes at the Ron and Kathy Assaf College of Nursing are eligible to apply. For consideration, you will have to fill out a scholarship profile as well as applications for each scholarship in which you’re interested. Most scholarships also require the submission of a FAFSA application. Your FAFSA application will also be used to determine whether you’re eligible for federal grants and loans.

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