Top-Ranked Nursing Schools in the United States for International Applicants

Top-Ranked Nursing Schools in the United States for International Applicants

Top-Ranked Nursing Schools: As an international student interested in attending nursing school in the United States, you want to know which programs will provide you with the highest quality education and opportunities. With so many options to consider, narrowing down your choices can be challenging.

In this article, we provide a ranking of the top nursing schools in the US for international applicants. We evaluated schools based on criteria including program quality, cost, location, support services for international students, job placement rates, and more. Whether you are just starting your research or trying to make a final decision, this list offers insights into 10 of the best nursing programs in the country for students from abroad. Read on to learn which schools stand out and why, as we walk you through what each one has to offer. With this guide, you can make an informed choice about where to apply and take the next steps toward earning your nursing degree in the United States.

Top Nursing Schools in the US for International Students

International applicants interested in pursuing a nursing degree in the US have many excellent programs to choose from. Several top schools offer high-quality nursing education along with generous scholarships and funding opportunities for international students.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland is ranked #1 in the US for nursing. It offers accelerated BSN and MSN programs for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field. Scholarships, grants and student loans are available for international students.

Duke University

Duke University in Durham, North Carolina is a prestigious private school with a top-ranked nursing program. Duke offers BSN, MSN and PhD programs in nursing. International students are eligible for merit-based scholarships as well as need-based financial aid.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is an Ivy League school with an esteemed nursing program. Penn offers traditional BSN, accelerated BSN and MSN programs. Generous funding, including scholarships, grants, work-study and student loans, is available for international nursing students.

In summary, Johns Hopkins University, Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania are three of the top nursing schools in the US that welcome international students and offer competitive funding opportunities. With a degree from one of these world-class universities, international nursing students can achieve their dreams of studying in America and building a successful career in nursing.

Admissions Criteria for International Students at US Nursing Schools

To gain admission as an international student into top-ranked nursing schools in the US, you will need to meet several criteria. ###Academic Requirements

Most schools require a minimum GPA, typically 3.0 or higher in prerequisite courses. You will need official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended. Some schools may require a Bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. Schools evaluate applicants based on the difficulty and content of courses taken, as well as grades earned.

Language Proficiency

As English is the primary language of instruction in US nursing schools, you must demonstrate strong English language skills. Acceptable tests include the TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo and Cambridge Assessment English. Minimum required scores vary by school.

References and Statement of Purpose

Schools typically require two to three letters of recommendation from professors who can evaluate your potential for graduate study in nursing. You will also need to submit a personal statement discussing your goals and reasons for pursuing an advanced nursing degree.


Some highly competitive nursing schools may require an interview, either in-person or via live video chat. The interview allows the school to further assess your qualifications and determine if you are a good fit with the program’s mission and goals.

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines for international students are often earlier, to allow enough time for reviewing applications and issuing acceptance letters for visa purposes. It is best to research schools of interest and note their application deadlines, which typically fall between 6 to 18 months before the start of the program.

Meeting the necessary criteria for admission as an international applicant requires advance preparation. However, acceptance into a top US nursing school can open up many career opportunities as an advanced practice nurse upon graduation. With diligent effort, you can achieve your goal of studying nursing in America.

Financial Aid Options for International Nursing Students

As an international student pursuing a nursing degree in the U.S., paying for your education can be challenging. However, there are several financial aid options available to help fund your studies.

Federal Student Aid

The U.S. government offers student aid, including grants, work-study programs, and loans, for eligible international students. To qualify, you must be enrolled full-time in an accredited nursing program and making satisfactory progress toward your degree. The amount you receive will depend on your financial need and the availability of funds at your school.

Private Loans and Scholarships

Private student loans and scholarships are also options for international nursing students. Various private lenders offer student loans and lines of credit for international students. Interest rates and repayment terms vary, so compare offers carefully. Additionally, many nursing schools and private organizations offer scholarships for international students. These are often merit-based, so you will need to meet minimum GPA requirements and other criteria.

Part-Time Work

As an international student, you are allowed to work part-time on campus for up to 20 hours per week. This can be a great way to earn money for living expenses and pay some of your tuition costs. Check with your school’s international student services office to explore on-campus work opportunities, such as teaching assistant roles, research positions, and jobs in the library, cafeteria, or residence halls.

With determination, you can find ways to fund your nursing education in the United States as an international student. Do plenty of research on the options available and don’t hesitate to ask schools and organizations about financial aid for which you may qualify. There are many resources out there—you just have to seek them out. Staying focused on your goal of becoming a nurse will make the challenges of paying for school worthwhile.

Top States and Cities for International Nursing Students


California is a popular destination for international nursing students due to its mild climate, cultural diversity, and many prestigious nursing schools. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego are home to top-ranked nursing programs at universities like UCLA, UCSF, and UC San Diego. California also has a high demand for nurses, so job opportunities abound after graduation.

New York

New York State and New York City, in particular, are a leading hub for nursing education and healthcare. Reputable schools like New York University, Columbia University, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center attract many international applicants. Living in an exciting, fast-paced city like New York also appeals to students from abroad seeking a vibrant cultural experience. After earning your degree, you’ll find many nursing positions available throughout New York’s large healthcare systems.


Several major cities in Texas, including Houston, Dallas, and Austin, offer affordable living costs and reputable nursing schools like UT Austin, UT Arlington, and Texas A&M. The state’s growing population and demand for healthcare services mean plentiful job opportunities for nursing graduates. Texas also has a lower cost of living compared to other states with top nursing schools, which can be appealing for international students on a budget.

In summary, for international nursing students, attending a highly ranked nursing program in a state or city with ample career opportunities and an exciting lifestyle is ideal. Places like California, New York, and Texas fit the bill, with prestigious schools, growing healthcare systems, cultural diversity, and a range of living options to suit different budgets. By choosing the location and program that aligns with your priorities, you’ll set yourself up for success as an international nursing student.

FAQs on Applying to Nursing Schools in USA as an International Student

Do I need a student visa to study nursing in the USA?

Yes, as an international student, you will need an F-1 student visa to enroll in a nursing program in the United States. The F-1 visa is the most common non-immigrant student visa. To obtain an F-1 visa, you must first be accepted into a Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified nursing school. The school will provide you with an I-20 form, which you will need to schedule an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

What are the admission requirements for international nursing students?

Admission requirements for international nursing students generally include:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent. Some schools may require a bachelor’s degree.
  • Proof of English language proficiency (TOEFL/IELTS scores).
  • Letters of recommendation.
  • A personal essay.
  • Transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
  • Meeting minimum GPA requirements, typically a 2.5 or higher.
  • Application fees. Amounts vary by school.
  • Some schools may require SAT/ACT scores, an interview, and/or nursing entrance exam scores.

Do I have to take the NCLEX-RN exam?

Yes, to become a registered nurse (RN) in the U.S., you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. This is the national licensing exam to become an entry-level nurse. As an international student, you are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN, but you must follow additional steps:

  1. Graduate from an accredited nursing program in the U.S. or Canada.
  2. Obtain an interim permit or temporary license (requirements vary by state).
  3. Submit an application for licensure by exam to your state’s board of nursing.
  4. Register and pay to take the NCLEX-RN exam.
  5. Pass the NCLEX-RN.
  6. Apply for a permanent license and begin your nursing career in the U.S.!

The key is to make sure you understand all licensing requirements in your desired state of practice. With the proper preparation, international students can succeed in U.S. nursing programs and pass the NCLEX-RN.


As an international applicant, choosing the right nursing school in the United States takes research and planning. By starting early and being strategic in your applications, you can find a program that matches your skills, experience, budget and career goals. Don’t be afraid to reach out to admissions counselors with questions. The application process may seem daunting, but taking it step-by-step will set you up for success. With hard work and perseverance, your dream of earning a nursing degree in America can become reality. Remember that you have a lot to offer any nursing program. Stay positive and focused during this journey, and soon you’ll be embarking on an educational experience that can open up incredible career opportunities.

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