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Top 10 Most Affordable Traditional Nursing Degree Programs

nursing degree programIf you turn to Google in search of the best nursing degree programs available, chances are you’re likely to find a link to the U.S. News and World Report rankings of the best nursing colleges and universities throughout the country. These rankings are quite popular because they take into account a variety of important factors, such as student engagement and student-to-faculty ratio. However, these rankings often do not account for costs and affordability. With tuition rates rising across the country, affordability is one of the most important factors taken into consideration by today’s nursing students.

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In the end, you want to know the reputation of a school and how good it is, but you also need to know how much it costs to attend. For instance, the number one nursing program listed on the U.S. News and World Report’s 2012-2013 rankings is Ferris University. Although the school scores quite high in student-to-faculty ratios and its level of student engagement, the cost of tuition per semester is a staggering $10,466. To put this figure into perspective, the second school on the U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings, Lamar University, only charges nursing students $3,120 per semester, amounting to a massive difference of over $7,000.

Recognizing this disparity and sensing the need to balance out the rankings process, we’ve examined the top 20 ranked nursing programs according to the U.S. News and World Report and uncovered their tuition costs. Thanks to the beauty of Excel, we were able to determine which schools provide the ultimate mixture of quality instruction and cheap tuition costs, resulting in our top ten list of the most affordable traditional nursing degree programs.

1. Lamar University

Lamar University sealTuition – $3,120 per semester
Scoring a respectable 74.5 on the U.S. News and World Report rankings and taking the second spot, Lamar University’s extremely cheap tuition helped it ascend to the top position on the list, making it an ideal option for current or prospective nursing students. Lamar University’s Dishman Department of Nursing provides the right balance of affordability and quality instruction. The department’s respected RN to BSN program requires students to complete 120 credit hours, preparing them for success in all of the practical nursing functions as well as teaching them how to solve critical problems and allowing them to continue their education through the pursuit of a post-graduate degree.

2. Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University sealTuition – $2,785 per semester
With a high U.S. News and World Report score and an incredibly low tuition of only $2,785 per semester, Stony Brook University is one of the most affordable online colleges and should definitely be on the radar of every prospective nursing student. After spending the first two years satisfying their general education requirements, students with a minimum GPA of 2.8 are able to apply to Stony Brook’s coveted nursing degree program. The basic program typically takes two years to complete. However, students that have already earned their bachelor’s degree and are simply striving to receive a baccalaureate toward their RN are able to apply for the school’s Accelerated Baccalaureate Program, which can be completed in only 12 months.

3. University of Nevada at Las Vegas

University of Nevada Las Vegas sealTuition – $2,872 per semester
UNLV’s nursing program may not score as high as some other schools on the U.S. News and World Report rankings, but the school’s low tuition definitely helps students keep more money in their pocket. Specifically designed for prospective or current nurses who cannot commit to their studies full-time, UNLV’s flexible nursing degree programs allow students to earn graduate and post-graduate degrees while working at the same time.

4. University of Michigan–Flint

University of Michigan Flint sealTuition – $4,551 per semester
The University of Michigan-Flint may have a slightly higher tuition cost, which knocked it down to fourth on the list, but its quality score is undeniably impressive. The well-respected, regionally accredited nursing degree program offers an amazing lineup of both traditional and online classes. However, just because some classes are taken online doesn’t mean the school is lacking quality education. In fact, the Accelerated Nursing MSN program at the University of Michigan-Flint ranked third out of 100 schools surveyed by the U.S. News and World Report. Many students also appreciate that the program can be completed in as little as 16 months.

5. Northwestern Michigan College

Northwestern Michigan College logoTuition – $84.60 per credit hour
There are numerous affordable online colleges that offer Associate’s Degree in Nursing programs, but Northwestern Michigan College is one of the best and most affordable. With a diverse array of clinical and lab courses to choose from and an accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, Northwestern Michigan College is a popular option for residents of the Midwest looking to spark their nursing career. Founded in 1951 and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwestern Michigan University has been offering their top notch nursing program for years. Online students may pay $150 per credit hour, but in-district students can receive quality instruction for a mere $84.60 per credit hour.

6. Censored by School

7. Indiana State University

Indiana State University logoTuition – $3,949 per semester
Indiana State University has a solid reputation, and it offers an equally solid nursing education. The school’s RN to BSN program is ideal for RNs looking to achieve a bachelor’s degree in nursing. It also offers a respected graduate program for those seeking to further their education, albeit at a higher price than some other schools on the list.

Indiana State University was originally founded in 1965, a century after the founding of the original Indiana State Normal School. The school has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1915, and it offers a myriad of traditional and distance learning programs, such as an RN to BSN program and an LPN to BSN program, allowing current nurses to further their nursing education. The school also offers numerous master’s programs as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice program, all of which are approved by the Indiana State Board of Nursing. With a price tag of only $3,949 per semester, Indiana State University is an affordable option for anyone in search of a quality nursing education.

8. East Carolina University

East Carolina University sealTuition – $5,869 per semester
The price tag for a nursing degree from East Carolina University may be a little higher than other colleges and universities on the list, but the school’s high quality score cannot be ignored. The heralded school offers a myriad of premier nursing programs, including the RN to BSN program, RN to MSN program, Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and a variety of MSN programs with specialties in Nursing Leadership, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult-Gerontology, Neonatal, Midwifery, Nurse Education, Anesthesia, and Family Nurse Practitioner.

9. Clarkson College

Clarkson College logoTuition – $6,555 per semester
Due to the fact that Clarkson College has one of the highest U.S. News and World Report quality scores on the list, it is not surprising that the tuition cost is noticeably higher. However, the college is still much more affordable than many other nursing programs across the nation. At Clarkson College, students have a wide range of nursing programs to choose from, such as the BSN program, LPN to BSN program, and RN to BSN program, each of which are specifically designed for those who want to pursue their bachelor’s degree but are already working in the nursing field. For those who have already earned their bachelor’s degree in nursing, an MSN program is also available. Furthermore, a post-master’s certificate program is also available.

10. University of Massachusetts–Amherst

University of Massachusetts sealTuition – $6,615 per semester
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst offers the perfect mix of quality instruction and affordability. Students of this respected school can choose from six different nursing degree programs, which are available for people in various stages of their nursing careers. Whether students have been in the nursing field for 15 years or have no experience at all, UMass-Amherst offers nursing programs for anyone, regardless of where they are at in their nursing career.


Find Your Degree is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.