Washington DC is the capital of our nation and an epicenter for culture and politics. Also called the District of Colombia, it has the unique classification of being a federal district. Therefore, it is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the US Congress and is the center of the US government. Washington DC is also home to numerous monuments, museums, a zoo, and the National Mall. So there is no shortage of recreation and entertainment in Washington DC.
It’s a great place to live and an excellent place for a nursing career! Washington DC is home to many leading health care institutions, including the Veteran’s Administration and the National Institutes of Health. In addition, few places have access to healthcare research and health care policy development like Washington DC. If you are interested in becoming a nurse in Washington DC, we have compiled a list of the best nursing programs in this beautiful capital!
How We Ranked the Best Nursing Programs in Washington DC
The Nursing School Hub editors ranked the Washington DC nursing programs using data from IPEDS and Niche, including cost, potential salary, and student reviews. The geographical area of Washington DC is small, and the number of schools available within the district is limited. However, Washington DC is in the middle of an urban area that spans into Virginia and Maryland. Many DC residents work in Virginia and Maryland and residents of those states that work in DC. We feel a wider region around DC gives more opportunities to prospective nursing students only miles from the border.
1. Georgetown University
Georgetown University’s School of Nursing has one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC. The National League for Nursing has recognized Georgetown University as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. The nursing school’s state-of-the-art simulation center trains nurses with their work skills and prepares them for nursing certification exams. In addition, Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic institution in the United States for higher learning. Because it is a private institution, the tuition is expensive. However, it may be worth it considering the level of education. Georgetown nursing student first-time pass rates are exceptional, and their graduation rate is over 90 percent.
Georgetown has a robust nursing degree program at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The university has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP). In addition, Georgetown offers online Post-Graduate Certificate (PGC) programs for nurses who want to earn certifications and advance their nursing careers. The school offers four Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) certificate specializations. Students can choose from Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nurse-Midwifery (NM), Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP), and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP).
Degrees: BSN, A-BSN, RN-BSN, MSN, A-MSN, RN-MSN, Online BSN-to-MSN – AG-ACNP, Online BSN-to-MSN – FNP, Online BSN-to-MSN – NM, Online BSN-to-MSN – WHNP, BSN-DNP, MS-DNP, DNAP
2. George Washington University
Another one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC is George Washington University’s nursing school. GW offers many different nursing degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels. The university also has an array of certificate programs. The nursing programs are offered in many ways, including on-campus, hybrid format, and online. In addition, the school’s partnership with the George Washington Hospital creates many unique opportunities for nursing students to learn.
George Washington University is a private university chartered in 1821 by the United States Congress. GWU is the largest institution of higher education in Washington DC. The George Washington University School of Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Degrees: Online RN-BSN, Accelerated BSN, Veterans BSN, Online RN-MSN, DNP, Graduate Certificate: Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, MSN: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, MSN: Family Nurse Practitioner, MSN: Nurse-Midwifery, MSN: Nursing Leadership and Management, Master of Science in Nursing, Post-Baccalaureate DNP, Post-Master’s Certificate: Family Nurse Practitioner
3. The Catholic University of America
The Conway School of Nursing at the Catholic University of America has one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC. The school has both graduate and undergraduate nursing programs, as well as post-graduate certificates. There are a few options for earning a BSN. The traditional BSN program is for nursing students with no experience. The ABSN is for students earning a second bachelor’s degree. There is also a RN-BSN and a harder to find LPN-BSN. After the BSN, students can go on to earn a MSN, DNP, or PhD at Catholic University.
The Catholic University of America is a private institution and affiliated with the Catholic Church. The school was established in 1887 and began offering undergraduate degrees in 1904. The nursing programs at the Catholic University of America are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Degrees: BSN, LPN-to-BSN, Accelerated BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, RN-to-MSN, Nurse Educator, Nurse Practitioner, Ph.D. (Doctoral), DNP
4. Howard University
The College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences at Howard University provides one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC. Nursing students can choose from a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing, and a Post-Master’s certificate. There are three paths to the Howard BSN – Traditional, LPN to BSN, and RN to BSN. The Traditional BSN track is for freshmen and transfer students. If you are a Licensed Clinical Nurse, you can enter the LPN to BSN track. For licensed RN’s interested in earning a BSN, the online RN to BSN track is available. Finally, the graduate-level nursing programs are for RN’s interested in a Master’s degree in nursing. There are two available programs. The first one is a traditional master’s track for becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). The second track is an online Nurse Educator (NE) track that prepares registered nurses to teach in academic and clinical settings.
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private research university comprising thirteen schools and colleges. Howard is also a federally chartered historically black college university (HBCU). In addition, the school offers more degree programs than any other HBCU in the nation.
Degrees: BSN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN – Nurse Practitioner, online MSN – Nurse Educator
5. Trinity Washington University
Trinity Washington University offers one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC. Founded in 1897 as Trinity College in Washington, DC. The school was the first Catholic liberal arts college for women in the US. Trinity became a co-ed university in 1960 and officially became Trinity Washington University in 2004. Today, the school enrolls more than 2,000 students.
Trinity offers a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing for traditional students and an RN-BSN path. In addition, the school maintains partnerships with the Children’s National Health, Washington Hospital Center, Sibley Hospital System, National Rehabilitation Hospital, and the Trinity Center for Women and Girls in Sports. Nursing students can sign up for clinicals with these local partners in and around Washington, DC. The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Trinity is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Degrees: BSN, RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
6. St. Michael’s School for Allied Health
St. Michael’s School for Allied Health offers one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC. St. Michael has an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing (AAS). The degree takes two years to complete and prepares students to become registered nurses. Both programs are offered at the school’s branch campus in Washington DC and the main campus in Virginia. Additionally, the credits and coursework earned at the Washington DC branch campus are transferable to Virginia main campus.
Saint Michael College of Allied Health branch campus in Washington DC has the approval to offer the AAS degree in Nursing by the District of Columbia Higher Education Licensure Commission. In addition, the DC Board of Nursing approved the college to initiate an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Nursing in 2019.
Degrees: AAS in Nursing
7. University of the District of Columbia
Another one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC is offered by the University of the District of Columbia. The University of DC is the only public university in the nation’s capital. The school offers career development and Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Degrees. This unique university is comprised of a Community College, traditional university colleges, and a law school.
Through the University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC), students can choose two nursing degree paths to the Associate in Applied Science in Nursing (AASN) degree. One is for new students, and one is for students who have already received a Practical Nursing Certificate. In addition, the central University of the District of Columbia (UDC) offers an online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The program is for working registered nurses. It consists of eleven nursing courses that can be completed in less than 16 months. The RN to BSN program is accredited by The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Degrees: 2 Associate degree, online RN to BSN
8. Marymount University – Arlington, VA
The Malek School of Nursing Professions at Marymount University has one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC. The Marymount campus is six miles outside of Washington DC in Arlington, Virginia. Students can easily commute to campus from DC with a short ride on the Metro commuter train. The Malek School of Nursing Professions offers Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral level nursing degree programs. The Bachelor’s degree is offered in a traditional path (BSN) and an accelerated path (ABSN). In addition, they offer two master’s degree programs, two master’s certificates, and three doctoral programs. Five of the programs in the nursing school are offered entirely online for working students.
Marymount University is a private Catholic University. The school was the first Catholic college established in Virginia in 1950. Marymount University is accredited by the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees. The nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Degrees: BSN, ABSN, FNP-MSN, online FNP-MSN, online BSN-DNP, online DNP-post master’s, FNP Post-master’s Certificate, Online FNP Post-master’s Certificate Online
9. College of Southern Maryland
The College of Southern Maryland offers one of the best nursing programs in DC. First established as a community college, the school officially became the College of Southern Maryland (CMS) in 2000. CSM operates four campuses in a tri-county area of Maryland. All four campuses are an easy commute from Washington DC. The College of Southern Maryland is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In addition, the Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs are approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
The Practical Nursing certificate program is a one-year degree that prepares students to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s). After graduating, these nursing students can take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Once they receive a license, they can move on to the associate’s degree and RN licensing. The Associate’s Degree in Nursing program prepares graduates to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The is the first degree that will qualify students to become a registered nurses. The LPN to ADN Transition Pathway is for Practical Nurses with an active Maryland or compact LPN license. Qualified nurses can get one year of credit toward the ASN and start the associate’s program in the 3rd semester. Like the LPN-RN program, the Military Medic to ADN Transition Pathway prepares students for qualified Corpsmen to get credit for the first year of the ASN program and enter the third semester. There are a few additional class requirements for this program. Still, it offers a path for military medics to shorten the time it takes to become a registered nurse.
Degrees: PN Certificate (LPN), ASN (RN), LPN-RN, Military Medic/Corpsman to ADN
10. George Mason University
George Mason University offers one of the best nursing programs in Washington DC. GMU is located about twenty miles outside of Washington DC in Fairfax, Virginia. George Mason is a public university that began in 1957 as a branch of UVA. The school became independent in 1972 when it took its current name. Today, George Mason is one of the largest public universities in Virginia, with over 35,000 students enrolled annually.
It’s fair to say that George Mason has a robust offering of nursing degree programs. The GMU School of Nursing offers seven different paths to complete a BSN. They range from traditional, accelerated, co-enrollment, hybrid, online, in-person, and have a program designed for military veterans. The master’s degree programs are similar, with different paths to the MSN and graduate certificate options. In addition, George Mason has three different doctorate programs. The nursing degree programs at George Mason University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Degrees: traditional BSN, ABSN, RN-to-BSN, Veteran LPN-BSN, co-enrollment BSN, MSN, Graduate Certificate-Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Graduate Certificate-Nursing Education, RN-MSN, BSN-DNP, MSN-DNP, PhD
How Do I Choose a Nursing School in DC?
Accreditation and program outcomes are important to consider when looking at a nursing program in Washington DC. You can make the most of the money you spend by choosing a nursing education program that is accredited. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are two bodies to look for. An employer may not consider a degree valid from an unaccredited school.
It’s is vital to attend a school whose graduates have the highest pass rates. Low exam pass rates may be a sign that a nursing program is not very good. To get a license, you need to pass the exam. Review the program outcomes of each school you are considering. These are usually listed on a school’s website. If you can’t find a school’s program outcomes, that could signify that the school may be trying to hide the information. The Program Outcomes to review are the graduation rate, the Licensure exam first-time pass rate, Graduate satisfaction, and employment rate in the field.
How is the Job Market for Nurses in Washington DC?
Washington DC is a metropolitan area with one of the lowest employment levels of RN’s. However, nurses are in demand in DC, and the registered nurse job outlook for 2022 in Washington DC is promising. The highest salaries for RN’s will be at the best paying hospitals in Washington, DC, like Medstar Hospital and George Washington University Hospital.
The US Bureau of Labor predicts nursing jobs will grow faster than the average for all occupations in the next few years. The median salary for a Registered Nurse is approximately $38-$40 per hour. Another pro of a nursing career is job security. Pre-pandemic, the nursing profession was already in need of more nurses. Now there is a nationwide shortage of nurses, and it is driving up salaries. There is also a nationwide shortage of Nurse Educators.
How Much Are Nurses Paid In Washington DC?
Nurses in Washington DC can find many rewarding employment opportunities in the healthcare, government, and other sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the mean annual wage for nurses in Washington DC to be $74,330 in 2020. The mean salary for nurses nationwide in 2020 was $80,010, ranking DC below the national pay average for nurses. However, nurses in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria Metro Area earned a yearly salary of $83,490. So, the median RN salary in Washington DC is between $74,000 and $83,000 a year if you consider the DC metro area.
A new grad RN salary in DC may start between $45,000 and $60,000. The general rule of thumb is the higher your degree, the more you can earn. For example, nurses with a bachelor’s degree (BSN) typically earn nearly a higher salary than nurses with an associate degree in nursing. Thus, an RN with a BSN salary in Washington DC may make in the range of $70,000 to $90,000. Additionally, a nurse salary in Washington DC for a master’s and doctorate level degree can earn much more. So, if you are interested in earning a higher salary, consider a higher degree or a nursing specialization.
Your Nursing Career in Washington DC
While attending one of the Best Nursing Programs in Washington DC, students should take advantage of the clinical training. Nursing Clinicals teach you a lot and are also great opportunities for nursing students to land a job. Every nursing degree program has required clinical rotations that involve nurses learning and performing in a hands-on work setting with a preceptor. Nursing students in Washington DC should view the assignments as opportunities to network and find a job. In addition, your preceptor instructors will be an excellent source for references and career advice. So, put your best foot forward!