Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania – PA | Colleges | Degree | Education

Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania – PA

One of the more attractive aspects of nursing is having the ability to offer compassionate care that can make a difference at a crucial point in someone's life. In Pennsylvania, qualified nurses have ample opportunities to practice their profession.

Between 2016 to 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that 33,000 new nurses would be needed in Pennsylvania to meet workforce demands. After graduating from nursing schools in Pennsylvania, licensed nurses may look forward to higher-than-average prospects of employment in hospitals, home health care services, and nursing homes.

Stay on this page to learn more about Pennsylvania nursing schools, earning licensure and how you can find ways to pay for your nursing education. Visit our Nursing Education, Schools and Career Overview for more general information about nursing, specializations, and how to choose a good nursing school.

What nursing schools are there in Pennsylvania?

To be competitive in the field of nursing in Pennsylvania, many students choose to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program. With so many nursing students choosing to earn a bachelor's degree, colleges have opened several new BSN degree programs, particularly in areas where there are nursing shortages, such as Westmoreland Country.

Nurses who have higher career goals and seek increased responsibilities may do so by earning a graduate degree. Students may choose from the traditional, on-campus degree program to fully online or hybrid nursing degree programs.

Browse through our list of nursing schools in Pennsylvania to see the diversity of nursing degree programs available in this state.

  • The University of Pittsburg offers a four-year BSN, an accelerated second degree BSN (for non-nursing undergraduates), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing. Students can gain clinical experience through the partnerships with Excela Health System and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
    • Online bridge programs such as the RN to BSN and the RN to MSN can help students advance in their nursing careers in Pennsylvania. They also offer an on-campus RN to DNP bridge program.
  • Drexel University nursing students have co-operative education experiences, which means that students receive professional employment experiences along with academic education. The BSN 4-year or 5-year programs include co-op experiences in areas such as acute and chronic illness, and contemporary healthcare networks. The college offers several MSN degree programs as well as the MSN to Ph.D. bridge program.
    • Their RN to BSN or RN to MSN can be taken online.
  • Gwynedd Mercy University offers several online and hybrid degree program options for nursing students. While the BSN is an on-campus program, students can choose hybrid programs at the master's levels with several track options such as adult-gerontology, nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and nurse educator. Students may pursue the highest level of education through their online DNP.
  • California University of Pennsylvania offers nursing degree programs that are 100 percent online. Registered nurses can enroll in an RN to BSN bridge program. Online graduate programs include specializations in nursing administration and leadership, as well as nursing education.
    • Nurses interested in earning a Master's in Business Administration can earn a specialized MBA-MSN or an MBA with a Nursing Administration focus.

What financial aid can I get for nursing programs in Pennsylvania?

Students who could use help to fund their nursing education may qualify for federal and state grants as well as numerous private and institutional nursing scholarships in Pennsylvania. This money does not have to be paid back but does come with certain stipulations. Here are just a few to get you started.

  • The Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania can support students who are enrolled in a nursing degree program in Pennsylvania. To qualify, you must be a state resident and committed to working in Pennsylvania after earning a nursing degree, online or on-campus.
  • Pennsylvania State Grant Program is offered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The award is granted to students based on financial need and other eligibility criteria.
  • The Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania can award scholarships to qualifying students in nursing degree programs in Pennsylvania or nursing research.

Get in touch with the financial aid office of your school of choice for more options.

What do I need to know about Pennsylvania nursing certification?

The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing regulates the practice of professional and practical nursing in Pennsylvania through the licensure and certification of nurses.

Clinical Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs) and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) may practice their professions after obtaining RN licensure and completing an accredited, Board-approved graduate or post-graduate nursing program.

In addition, a clinical nurse practitioner must earn national certification from Board-approved certifying organizations such as:

  • The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Board (AANPCB)
  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
  • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)
  • The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)
  • National Certification Corporation (NCC)

CNSs may need to pass the American Nurses Credentialing Center Clinical Nurse Specialist Exam to obtain national certification.

CRNPs must obtain certification in their specialty areas which may include family nurse practitioner, acute care nurse practitioner, and primary care certified pediatric nurse practitioner.

Do nurses need a license in Pennsylvania?

Every nurse needs to be licensed in the state of Pennsylvania. After completing a Board-approved nursing program and obtaining transcripts, an application for a license must be made online through the Pennsylvania Licensing Systems (PALS) website. You must also register with the Pearson VUE. When a candidate's application is approved by the Board, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) may be scheduled through the PearsonVUE.

Licensure Renewal and Continuing Education

In Pennsylvania, RNs are required to renew their license every two years. CRNPs and CNSs are also required to renew their licenses at the same time and must have completed continuing education requirements, usually a minimum of 30 hours.

Certifications to enhance career growth

RNs can obtain certifications any time during their career to show competency in specialized fields such as pediatrics, geriatrics, critical care, emergency care, and more. Those who have nursing careers in Pennsylvania may need to meet continuing education requirements to maintain certification.

What can I do with a degree in nursing in Pennsylvania?

In May 2019, the BLS ranked Pennsylvania the fifth state in the country for the highest number of employment of RNs. While some parts of the state have an adequate supply of nurses, other areas may experience nursing shortages.

Take a look at the tables below to see data on nursing salaries in Pennsylvania. Not surprisingly, the highest wages can be earned with more advanced nursing degrees such as a master's or doctorate. The data can help guide those considering Pennsylvania nursing careers.


  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Co-op), College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University,, accessed February 2020
  • Graduate, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, accessed February 2020
  • Long-term Occupational Projections, the Bureau of Labor Statistics,, accessed February 2020
  • Master of Science in Nursing, Bridge Program, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University,, accessed February 2020
  • NP Certification, American Association of Nurse Practitioners,, accessed February 2020
  • Online Clinical Nurse Specialist Program (MSN-CNS), Gwynedd Mercy University,, accessed February 2020
  • Online Graduate Degree Programs at Pitt Nursing, University of Pittsburgh,, accessed February 2020
  • Online Nursing Degree Programs at Cal U, California University of Pennsylvania, accessed February 2020
  • Online Nursing Programs in PA - Bachelors, Masters & Certificate Options, Gwynedd Mercy University, accessed February 2020
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  • Scholarships, Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania,, accessed February 2020
  • Scholarships, Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania,, accessed February 2020
  • School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh,, accessed February 2020
  • Westmoreland colleges, universities address nursing shortage, February 2020, Trib Live,
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