Minnesota is fostering the move toward a higher standard of patient care by encouraging advanced nursing degrees and professional development for registered nurses. In fact, the growth in the job market is estimated to require 2,000 new qualified nurses a year over the next 5 years. Educational opportunities abound in the state for both new nursing students, as well as registered nurses (RNs) looking to advance their careers. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting the average RN salary at $72,310 in Minnesota, it's easy to see why it's gaining popularity as a lucrative and rewarding career choice.

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ADN Programs in Minnesota

An Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) program prepares graduates to provide quality, patient-centered care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and care facilities. This 2-year program is commonly offered at smaller institutions such as community and/or technical colleges. Many students choose this route to their RN license because it is relatively quick and tends to be less expensive than other options.

More than 25 schools/campuses offer a fully accredited and approved ADN program throughout the state of Minnesota.

What to Look For in an ADN Program in Minnesota

To ensure that you choose the right program for you, you'll want to compare schools and ADN programs thoroughly. There are a few key components to look for that will help you pick a quality program:


One of the best ways to check that your program of choice is worthy of your time and money is by ensuring that it is properly accredited. Accreditations are bestowed upon ADN programs that meet rigorous standards of quality by organizations like the Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). On the local front, you will want to look for programs that are approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing.


To officially become a registered nurse, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nursing upon completion of your ADN degree. It's a good idea to review any prospective school's curriculum and NCLEX-RN pass rates to make sure you will be prepared for this important exam. A 2015 report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing states that 83.7% of new nurse grads passed the NCLEX and received RN licenses that year.

Program Outcomes

Schools typically provide statistical reports on outcomes based on prior graduates of their ADN programs. These reports are a great window into the school's success. Be sure to check for favorable outcomes regarding the following:

  • Graduation rates
  • NCLEX-RN pass rates
  • Graduate satisfaction
  • Employment rates

One example of a school offering a fully accredited ADN program in the state is Minnesota State College Southeast.

ADN Program Admission Requirements in Minnesota

Entrance requirements will vary from school to school and are subject to change, so review your school of choice's particular requirements before applying. Below is a sampling of the types of requirements that ADN programs in the state can have:

  • Completion of ATI TEAS exam with score of 420 or above
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0

Tuition and Costs of ADN Programs in Minnesota

The cost of your ADN degree can give you sticker shock at first, but consider the fact that the median wage for registered nurses in Minnesota is a bit higher than the national average. In general, you'll need to pay for tuition along with any mandatory fees, and don't forget to factor in indirect costs such as textbooks and transportation. Most schools have financial aid departments that can help if you are worried about being able to pay for your preferred program.

For example, the estimated total tuition and fees for the ADN program at Lake Superior College in Duluth is $16,000 for Minnesota residents.

Advantages of ADN Programs

ADN programs are great because they will lead to highly desired registered nursing jobs in roughly half the time it takes to get a more advanced nursing degree. Plus, the shortened time frame combined with the prevalence of the program at smaller colleges means that it's typically less expensive than other programs. These two factors alone make it an increasingly popular choice for those wanting to start a career in registered nursing.

BSN Programs in Minnesota

For a more advanced option than an ADN, consider a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN). This 4-year degree is usually offered at larger, traditional colleges in more urban settings. A BSN degree can lead to such nursing careers as school nurse, ER nurse, critical care nurse, and more. This more advanced nursing degree also comes with higher salary potential.

Approximately 20 schools in the great state of Minnesota offer accredited BSN programs.

What To Look For in a BSN Program in Minnesota

Many recent nursing graduates will tell you that you need to find a school and BSN program that's right for you. Factor in the main things like cost, accreditation, and program outcomes, but don't forget to give equal weight to location and how transportation might factor in to completing the program. If you already hold a bachelor's degree or higher in another field, you will want to look for a school that offers an accelerated BSN program for just this scenario. Also, if you are already a registered nurse via a diploma/certificate program, check to see if your school of choice offers an RN to BSN program.

Gustavus Adolphus College, located in St. Peter, MN, is an excellent example of a school in the state that offers an accredited and approved BSN program.

BSN Program Length in Minnesota

A standard BSN program (sometimes referred to as "Generic BSN" or "Pre-licensure BSN") will take 4 years to complete. Accelerated BSN programs for those who are eligible typically take a little over a year to complete, depending on the school. Lastly, an RN to BSN bridge program will take 1-2 years to complete, depending on the program and the prior coursework completed.

BSN Program Admission Requirements in Minnesota

Each school will have their own set of entrance requirements, so inquire with your school or contact an admissions counselor from your program of choice to make sure you fully meet the requirements before applying. As an example, BSN programs in the area tend to require things such as:

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.85
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses with a grade of C or higher
  • Personal essay and interview required

Tuition and Costs of BSN Programs in Minnesota

While each school offering a BSN program in Minnesota will have different costs, most of the fee categories are the same. You'll need to account for tuition, mandatory school fees, uniforms, books, and more. Keep in mind that tuition tends to be more expensive if you are an out-of-state student. Room and board also tends to be a separate expense, so check with your school if this is something you require.

To provide a cost example, the tuition for the BSN program at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul is roughly $286.02 per credit for Minnesota residents, not including additional mandatory fees.

Advantages of BSN Programs

There are so many reasons why students choose the BSN route to become an RN. Some pre-licensure students choose it because they want the full 4-year university experience, while others want it so that they can hold higher and more skilled nursing positions. It's also a versatile degree; you can earn a BSN after completing an ADN, or if you have already earned a degree in another subject. It's also an excellent jumping off point if you want to eventually pursue a graduate degree in nursing.

MSN Programs in Minnesota

A Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a graduate-level degree for those wanting to further their nursing skills beyond an ADN and BSN. This advanced program is required for nursing jobs such as Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Midwife, Family Nurse Practitioner, and other nursing specialties. In fact, aside from a general MSN degree, many schools offer specialized MSN degrees where you can choose your nursing focus.

There are roughly 3 schools in the state that offers some form of an MSN degree (either direct-entry or for those who already hold non-nursing degrees).

MSN Program Length in Minnesota

The length of an MSN program in the state is typically 2-3 years from start to finish. This can fluctuate based on the type of specialty chosen as well as the type of coursework schedule offered; many schools offer part-time, online, or night courses to accommodate busy working nurses. Minnesota also offers a few MSN programs designed for those who already hold a non-nursing bachelor's degree. These intensive programs tend to last around 16 months.

MSN Admission Requirements in Minnesota

Admission to MSN programs can be very competitive, so it's a good idea to be certain that you meet all the entrance requirements. An example of requirements you will face for most MSN programs in the state include:

  • Official transcripts from every post-secondary school attended
  • A completed bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Current unencumbered nursing license
  • 2 years of recent clinical practice as an RN

Tuition and Costs of MSN Programs in Minnesota

While MSN programs can be expensive, the caliber of nursing jobs they lead to can make up for it quickly. You will need to account for tuition, fees, clinical components, textbooks and more. Most grad students are eligible for financial aid to help pay for their MSN degree, typically in the form of student loans. Your school of choice can give you more information if you qualify. As an example on cost, the tuition rate for the 57-credit entry-level MSN at St. Catherine University is approximately $782 per credit. This does not include additional fees.

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Getting a Minnesota Nursing License

Minnesota regulations for becoming a licensed nurse require specific information for application by examination or endorsement. These requirements include:

  • Completed application with fees paid
  • 'Confirmation of Program Completion' - top portion by candidate, bottom portion 'Affidavit' completed by nursing program
  • Register for NCLEX
  • Provide proof of moral character - if required

To apply for licensure by endorsement include the following information:

  • Completed application and fees
  • Verification of licensure - request form or NURSYS (if applicable)
  • 'Confirmation of Nursing Employment for Licensure by Endorsement' - top portion completed by candidate, remainder completed by current employer

Accelerated Nursing Programs in Minnesota

You can earn a degree or bridge your existing degree into a nursing MSN degree in 12 to 18 months, depending on program and prerequisites required. Candidates that hold a BA in another field can change direction and move into a BSN or MSN degree, programs of this nature are offered in a few colleges within the state. Candidates will find that the nature of these programs is intense as both clinical and course loads are run concurrently. Some bridging programs do allow for continued employment, while the accelerated programs recommend not working outside of the program requirements. Tuition for these programs varies depending on additional courses required, as well as other various factors.

Best RN Programs in Minnesota


Selecting the best nursing school in Minnesota can be difficult. To make the process easier first look for a school that supports students towards licensure and beyond. A great way to measure this is through NCLEX-RN "pass rates." We have ranked the top 20 nursing schools in Minnesota by analyzing current and historical NCLEX-RN "pass rates", meaning the percentage of graduates who pass the exam, out of the 42 RN programs in the state. Programs reviewed include schools that offer an Associate in Nursing (ADN/ASN), BSN, or Direct-Entry MSN Degree.

For more information on our top nursing school rankings, see our Methodology Page (https://www.registerednursing.org/rn-ranking-methodology/).

Note: At the time our analysis was conducted, 2014 was the most recent NCLEX-RN pass rates published by the state.


Concordia College

901 8th St. S., Moorhead, MN 56562 (218) 299-4000

Located in the beautiful community of Moorhead, Minnesota, Concordia College is where the art and the science of nursing are combined into an effective BAN program. Both traditional and transfer options exist, and graduates are welcomed into the ranks of professional nurses after graduation and examination. Get all the program details by visiting the .

Score: 94.03| Programs: BAN

Century College

3300 Century Ave N, St Paul, MN 55110 (651) 779-3200

Century College in St Paul, Minnesota offers a flexible blend of daytime, evening, and online classes and clinics to accommodate the lives of busy area students. Graduates incorporate knowledge of the diversity of human populations as they enter the broader workforce. Learn more by visiting the .

Score: 91.64| Programs: Associate in Nursing

St. Cloud State University

720 4th Ave S, St Cloud, MN 56301 (320) 308-0121

St. Cloud State University is located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. With advanced simulation labs and special emphasis placed on applied learning, St. Cloud graduates have earned their BSN or MSN degree and stand ready to change the face of patient care. Check out the official .

Score: 90.89| Programs: BSN

Globe University

80 South 8th St., Suite 51, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (612) 455-3000

Rooted in urban Minneapolis, Globe University offers nursing degrees at the BSN and MSN levels. Alongside nursing training, much emphasis is placed on leadership and management in the healthcare field. Visit the to learn more.

Score: 89.87| Programs: BSN

North Hennepin Community College

7411 85th Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55445 (763) 424-0702

North Hennepin Community College is an integral part of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Faculty shapes nursing education by placing special emphasis on service to persons with disabilities, complex care cases, and a diverse population. Follow the link to learn more about the .

Score: 89.63| Programs: Associate in Nursing

Metropolitan State University

700 7th St E, St Paul, MN 55106 (651) 793-1300

Located in picturesque Fremont on San Francisco Bay's interior, Ohlone College produces first-rate nursing graduates year after year. With solid clinical and theoretical training, nurses provide evidence-based advocacy to meet patient need. Visit the to learn more.

Score: 89.60| Programs: BSN, MSN

Rochester Community & Technical College

851 30th Ave SE, Rochester, MN 55904 (507) 285-7210

Rochester Community & Technical College in Rochester, Minnesota is located south of Minneapolis. RCTC graduates are a welcome addition to the medical landscape both locally and in distant communities. Get all the program details by visiting the .

Score: 89.56| Programs: Associate in Nursing

Normandale Community College

9700 France Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55431 (952) 358-8200

Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota is home to an excellent nursing program. Students focus on how to help communities and individuals focus on positive health outcomes. Get all the program details by visiting the .

Score: 88.87| Programs: Associate in Nursing

Alexandria Technical & Community College

1601 Jefferson St, Alexandria, MN 56308 (888) 234-1222

Alexandria Technical & Community College can be found in the beautiful community of Alexandria, Minnesota. Students learn to provide compassionate and evidence-based care to a diverse population. Get all the program details by visiting the .

Score: 88.83| Programs: Associate in Nursing

Inver Hills Community College

2500 80th St E, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076 (651) 450-3000

Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota is home to a rigorous nursing curriculum. Students learn to collaborate with patients and health care practitioners to identify illness and promote wellness. Visit the to learn more.

Score: 88.47| Programs: Associate in Nursing

University of Minnesota

1049 University Dr, Duluth, MN 55812 (800) 598-8636

The University of Minnesota in Duluth compels students to complete their BSN or MSN nursing degree with an exemplary degree of ethics. The variety of clinical appointments available to students greatly broadens their professional experience. Visit the to learn more.

Score: 88.28| Programs: BSN, MSN

Hibbing Community College

1515 E 25th St, Hibbing, MN 55746 (800) 224-4422

Hibbing Community College in Hibbing, Minnesota ensures that students have the capacity to provide empathetic, evidence-based care for patients in clinical practice and once graduated. Area medical facilities welcome HCC graduates to employment. Follow the link to learn more about the .

Score: 87.32| Programs: Associate in Nursing

Winona State University

175 W Mark St, WiNOna, MN 55987 (507) 457-5000

Winona State University is found in Winona, Minnesota. With a high degree of proficiency, faculty ensures that their BSN and MSN students can assess and intervene for patient care in a timely, effective and compassionate manner. Visit the to learn more.

Score: 86.51| Programs: BSN

Minnesota State University - Mankato

360 Wissink Hall, Mankato, MN 56001 (507) 389-6022

Minnesota State University - Mankato has an acclaimed nursing program. With BSN and MSN degree options, nurses spend a portion of their time learning how critical inquiry relates to effective practice. Visit the to learn more.

Score: 85.87| Programs: BSN

Minnesota State Community & Technical College

1414 College Way, Fergus Falls, MN 56537 (877) 450-3322

Minnesota State Community & Technical College is located in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Experienced faculty mold students into effective, caring communicators who can manage the patient dynamic effectively. Check out the official .

Score: 85.65| Programs: Associate in Nursing

Anoka-Ramsey Community College

11200 Mississippi Blvd NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433 (763) 433-1100

Located in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, Anoka-Ramsey Community College is an excellent program where nursing students integrate practical and theoretical knowledge to advance the role of the nurse in medical settings and to advocate for patient health. Follow the link to learn more about the .

Score: 85.49| Programs: Associate in Nursing

Bemidji State University

1500 Birchmont Dr NE, Bemidji, MN 56601 (218) 755-2001

Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota has exemplary nursing faculty who devote time to the mentorship of individual BSN and MSN students. The nursing program provides the support and skills for students to graduate ready to launch their career. Follow the link to learn more about the .

Score: 83.52| Programs: BSN

Ridgewater College

2101 15th Ave NW, Willmar, MN 56201 (320) 222-5200

The high standard of scholarship that supports critical thinking, Ridgewater College in Willmar, Minnesota has an acclaimed nursing education program. RC nursing graduates are known as innovative leaders and problem solvers in their practice. Get all the program details by visiting the .

Score: 83.41| Programs: Associate in Nursing

Central Lakes College

501 W College Dr, Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 855-8000

Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minnesota helps nursing students develop professionalism and ethical values while caring for patients and communities comprised of diverse cultures. CLC graduates are ready for a nursing career in the 21st century. Visit the to learn more.

Score: 83.16| Programs: Associate in Nursing

College of St. Scholastica

1200 Kenwood Ave, Duluth, MN 55811 (800) 447-5444

College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota strives to provide a solid education to the nurse generalist in preparation for a career that will include lifelong learning and development, and synthesis of personal and professional experience for greater patient empathy. Learn more by visiting the .

Score: 82.98| Programs: BSN

Continued List of All RN Programs in Minnesota

#21 Northland Community & Technical College
1101 MN-1, Thief River Falls, MN 56701
(218) 683-8800
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#22 College of St. Benedict/St. John's University
37 South College Avenue, St. Joseph, MN 56374
(800) 544-1489
Programs: BSN
#23 Minnesota West Community & Technical College
1450 College Way, Worthington, MN 56187
(507) 372-3400
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#24 Rasmussen College
851 Trafalgar Ct, Maitland, MN 32751
(407) 618-5300
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#25 Minneapolis Community & Technical College
1501 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 659-6000
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#26 Bethel University
3900 Bethel Dr, St Paul, MN 55112
Programs: BSN
#27 St. Catherine University - Minneapolis
601 25th Avenue South , Minneapolis, MN 55454
(651) 690-6000
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#28 Crown College
8700 College View Dr, St Bonifacius, MN 55375
(952) 446-4100
Programs: BSN
#29 St. Catherine University - St. Paul
2004 Randolph Ave, St Paul, MN 55105
(651) 690-6000
Programs: BSN
#30 Gustavus Adolphus College
800 West College Avenue, Saint Peter, MN 56082
(507) 933-7317
Programs: BSN
#31 Northwest Technical College - Bemidji
905 Grant Ave SE, Bemidji, MN 56601
(218) 333-6600
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#32 Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical
1250 Homer Rd, Winona, MN 55987
(507) 453-2700
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#33 Presentation College
115 South Park Street, Suite 105, Fairmont, MN 56031
(507) 235-4658
Programs: BSN
#34 Herzing University
5700 West Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55428
(414) 271-8103
Programs: BSN
#35 St. Cloud Technical & Community College
1540 Northway Dr, St Cloud, MN 56303
(800) 222-1009
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#36 South Central College
1920 Lee Blvd, North Mankato, MN 56003
(507) 389-7200
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#37 Lake Superior College
2101 Trinity Rd, Duluth, MN 55811
(218) 733-7600
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#38 Riverland Community College
1900 8th Ave NW, Austin, MN 55912
(507) 433-0600
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#39 Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College
2101 14th St, Cloquet, MN 55720
(218) 879-0800
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#40 National American University
7801 Metro Parkway, Ste. 200, Bloomington, MN 55425
(952) 356-3600
Programs: BSN
#41 Pine Technical & Community College
900 4th St SE, Pine City, MN 55063
(320) 629-5100
Programs: Associate in Nursing
#42 University of Northwestern - St. Paul
3003 Snelling Ave N, St Paul, MN 55113
(651) 631-5100
Programs: BSN

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