Atlanta is one of the best areas for nurses, hands down. As one of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the US, greater Atlanta encompasses not only the city of Atlanta itself, but numerous suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas – a microcosm of modern life in the South. That means that working nurses in the Atlanta area have a wide variety of career options, from hospitals and private practices, nursing homes and rehabilitation clinics, to education, government agencies, and nonprofits. Qualified nurses in Atlanta can choose practically any setting and any specialization they can imagine. It’s also one of the highest-paying cities for nurses, naturally.
Atlanta is also one of the nation’s hubs for higher education, with more than 30 colleges and universities in the metro region. That includes a lot of nursing programs, from basic associate’s degrees and diplomas to RN to BSN programs to Doctor of Nursing Practice and PhD programs from some of the nation’s top-ranked institutions. There are a lot of programs for prospective students to navigate, so TopRNtoBSN’s ranking of the 10 Best Nursing Schools in Atlanta provides a useful guide for nurses in and around Atlanta looking for a way to enhance their career with a higher degree.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Atlanta Nursing Schools
To rank the best nursing schools in Atlanta, TopRNtoBSN considered the factors that matter to busy nurses and nursing students. We researched all of the nursing programs in the Atlanta metropolitan area (including suburbs and exurbs) and ranked programs according to three factors:
- In-State Tution Cost (from current IPEDS data)
- Student Reviews (from Niche)
- Job Placement (from College Scorecard data)
By knowing the real cost, what real students think of the school, and how successful the school has been getting graduates into jobs, nursing students can make an informed decision about what program will make a difference in their career.
1. Mercer University – Georgia Baptist College of Nursing
For those who are looking for nursing schools in Atlanta, Mercer University’s Georgia Baptist College of Nursing offers students numerous opportunities. Their Atlanta campus offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), as well as preparation for their Master’s Degree (MSN). Students can also opt to explore the prelicensure track, accelerated track, or RN-BSN track. Each of these tracks will help prepare them if they wish to pursue their DPN, doctorate of nursing, in the future.
Georgia Baptist College of Nursing receives its accreditation through the Georgia Board of Nursing and the (CCNE) Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. This mission of the college of nursing is to create a learning community full of multicultural clinicians, leaders, researchers, and scholars exemplifying excellence in nursing. Mercer ranks as one of the top nursing schools in the South, with one of the nation’s best Doctor of Nursing Practice programs, according to U.S. News and World Report. Georgia State University one of the Atlanta nursing schools that currently offers nine programs and ten specialties.
Degrees: BSN, MSN, DNP
2. Georgia State University
Students who wish to achieve their goal of receiving their Master of Science, Doctor of Nursing Practice, or Doctor of Philosophy degree can do so at Georgia State University’s Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions. Students who explore their Master of Science can choose from their Post-Master’s Certificate or the RN to MS Bridge Program. If students are looking for leadership opportunities or advance in the nursing practice, then the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is optimal. There are also a plethora of opportunities available through the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), one of the few offered by Atlanta nursing schools.
The Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions receives accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. According to U.S. News and World Report, Georgia State University’s Nursing Program currently ranks as one of the nation’s best master’s and doctoral nursing schools, as well as one of the best nursing schools in Atlanta. The school’s motto is Veritas valet et vincet, which is Latin for, “Truth is Powerful and Will Conquer.” Their core values include accountability, collaboration, excellence, integrity, and value others.
Degrees: RN to MSN, DNP, PhD
3. Emory University
If you’re looking for a comprehensive nursing program, Emory University’s Woodruff School of Nursing is one of the best Atlanta nursing schools. There you’ll find BSN programs, accelerated programs, MSN programs, and Doctoral programs. Students beginning their career will find the BSN’s degree choices a great place to start. It’s possible to complete the accelerated program in approximately fifteen months if you need to get back on track. The MSN program offers a comprehensive opportunity to enhance your knowledge, while the doctoral degree provides leadership opportunities.
Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing ranks among U.S. News and World Report’s best national nursing schools; the university is central to healthcare in the Atlanta metro region. Emory University’s nursing school is one of the many nursing schools in Atlanta that receives its accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges Commission on Colleges, as well as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Their core values include excellence, collaboration, social responsibility, innovation, and leadership.
4. Clayton State University
Clayton State University’s School of Nursing, with its location in Morrow, Georgia, is an incredible opportunity for students to explore BSN Basic Licensure, as well as BSN RN Completion and MSN in Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP) programs. Undergraduates RN Completion program can participate 100% online, which allows for completion based upon a flexible schedule. What that means is that it’s possible to work a full-time job and manage family life while simultaneously completing a degree at one of the best greater-Atlanta nursing schools.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Clayton State University is one of the top Regional Universities in the South. The university’s motto is, “Dreams. Made Real.” The school of nursing receives its accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. It’s the nursing school’s mission to deliver a comprehensive education to nursing students encompassing a diverse experimental, ethnic, geographical, and socioeconomic background. In doing so, the university works toward being one of the leading nursing schools in Atlanta metro promoting lifelong learning.
Degrees: BSN, RN-BSN, MSN FNP
5. University of West Georgia
The University of West Georgia’s Tanner Health System School of Nursing, one of the best nursing schools in Atlanta metro (in the town of Carrollton). There, students can apply for their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or Doctorate in Nursing Education. When students participate in these programs, they have access to the Experimental Learning Center (ELC), which include two state-of-the-art facilities. One has a location on the Carrollton campus in the SON Building, and the other is in the UWG Newman Center.
The University of West Georgia’s Tanner Health System School of Nursing programs receives its accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. In 2018, the Tanner Health System School of Nursing ranked among the best in the country according to U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools. The nursing school’s mission is to provide high-quality academics that will consistently meet health care’s current and evolving needs.
Degrees: BSN and MSN
6. Gwinnett Technical College
Gwinnett Technical College, with its location in Lawrenceville, understands that patient care and nursing go hand-in-hand. Therefore, they’ve made it their mission to ensure nursing students receive high-quality education to prepare them for the ever-evolving nursing environment. Those attending this technical college have opportunities to pursue their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). In doing so, they can explore the traditional option, Paramedic option, or LPN Bridge option. When pursuing the traditional option, the ADN, students will have preparation for practicing as a nurse generalist.
The ADN programs offered through Gwinnett Technical College receive their accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The technical college’s core values include having integrity, commitment, and excellence. They ensure they’re one of the many nursing schools in Atlanta metro remaining customer-centric, adaptable, and innovative while providing leadership and lifelong learning opportunities. This mission of this public, two-year technical college is to ensure students have on-campus, as well as distance learning opportunities that are enriching.
7. Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University WellStar School of Nursing, with its location on Kennesaw campus, is north Georgia’s largest nursing program and one of the best nursing schools in Atlanta metro. Students have opportunities to pursue their bachelor’s (BSN), masters (MSN), and doctorate (DNP) degrees, as well as participating in accelerated tracks. Students will have access to clinical experiences, as well as an RN Refresher Program. Students will also find a link to a nursing jobs portal where they can access the most current and relevant professions according to their field of study and interests.
Kennesaw State University WellStar School of Nursing’s programs each receives their accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The university is currently ranking one of the nation’s Most Innovative Schools according to U.S. News and World Report. The WellStar School of Nursing’s Mission is to ensure their nursing programs are promoting academic excellence, offering high-quality education, and providing an environment that’s supportive of professional and personal growth with regard to Atlanta nursing schools.
Degrees: BSN, MSN, DNP
8. Point University
Point University’s online RN to BSN completion program is one of the best options for Atlanta nurses. That way, active nurses have an opportunity to participate in a Christ-centered educational program that also provides leadership and service. If students are currently holding their associate’s degree, participation in this program and career advancement is possible. Not only does the program build upon the student’s previous education, but it does so based upon their Christian philosophies.
Point University receives its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. According to U.S. News and World Report, they’re currently ranking at #45 (ties) in Regional Colleges South. As a Christian institution, Point University’s goals include being one of the best nursing schools in Atlanta, cultivating a spiritually, intellectually, socially, physically, and professionally encouraging environment for students to grow and learn.
Location: West Point
Degrees: RN to BSN
9. Georgia Gwinnett College
The Georgia Gwinnett College School of Health Sciences, with its location in Lawrenceville, offers students opportunities to pursue their Bachelor’s in Science in Nursing (BSN). In addition to having access to modern, state-of-the-art facilities, students will also be able to utilize laboratories, equipment, and high-tech classrooms to solidify their skills before embarking upon their careers. Because students are placing focus on meeting their goals through peer mentorship, as well as working with faculty, they have a greater chance of success.
The nursing program receives its accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The college ranks as one of U.S. News and World Report’s top public colleges in Regional Colleges South. The four pillars of this educational facility include scholarship, leadership, service, and creativity. The college’s mission includes being one of the many premier nursing schools in Atlanta ensuring all students have access to associate and bachelor degrees that meet their academic needs.
10. Brenau University
Brenau University is one of the premier nursing schools in the Atlanta metro area, with its location in Gainesville. Students who wish to attend this university can pursue a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate nursing degree programs. Undergraduates can explore Brenau University’s accelerated BSN full-time program, BS Health Science (Pre-Nursing Concentration) degree, BSN Nursing, or Nursing RN to BSN. Graduate students can pursue their Certificate In Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, DNP Advance Practice Nurse, DNP Leadership and Management, MSN Family Nurse Practitioner, MSN Nursing Leadership and Management, RN to MSN Family Nurse Practitioner – Accelerated, or RN to MSN Nursing – Leadership and Management – Accelerated.
Brenau University receives its accreditation by the Collegiate Commission for Nursing Education. They’re currently ranking at #31 (tie) in Best Colleges for Veterans and #42 in Best Value Schools according to U.S. News and World Reports. Their motto is, “As Gold Refined By Fire.” The university embraces strategies which include having a global perspective, ensuring students have quality online experiences, they’re cultivating timeless identities, and that their facilities experience upgrades to remain one of the best nursing schools in Atlanta region.
Degrees: BSN, MSN, DNP
Is the Job Market for Nurses in Atlanta Strong?
Yes! The great thing about the field of nursing is that it is always in high demand, and nurses in Atlanta are in higher demand than most places. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 15% nationally within the next decade, and with Atlanta remaining the 3rd fastest-growing city in the US, Atlanta nursing jobs are growing as well. The need for healthcare services will increase as the baby boom population continues to age. Atlanta nursing jobs will especially be high for long-term residential care facilities as a result of this. Hospitals, outpatient centers, and rehabilitation centers are other popular places of employment for nurses. Atlanta is also one of the nation’s best cities for African-American nurses.
Most registered nurses in Atlanta have the following duties: asses patients, record symptoms and medical histories, observation, administer medicine, operate medical equipment, perform diagnostic tests, evaluate results, and create plans for patient care. Nurses typically work a part of a team of healthcare providers, doctors, assistants, and specialists. There are different types of nurses, like addiction nurses, genetic nurses, critical care nurses, cardiovascular nurses, rehabilitation nurses, or public health nurses.
Can I Find Flexible Atlanta Nursing Programs?
Yes, if you know where to look. For example, you could find accelerated nursing programs Atlanta GA through a university. There are also part time nursing programs in GA. Just make sure that the nursing program is accredited or comes from an accredited school. Employers are less likely to hire graduates from unaccredited LPN programs in Atlanta, GA. Whether it’s an online RN to BSN program, or a Doctor of Nursing Practice or CRNA program, students can find it in Atlanta. A city like Atlanta also has no shortage of internship and clinical experience opportunities.
The education and training process for accelerated nursing programs – Atlanta, GA or anywhere – has high standards for students. This is to ensure that nurses entering the field are well-trained and equipped to handle the complex field of healthcare. Most nursing programs screen candidates carefully before admission. Program administrators often look for candidates who have done community work, volunteer work, quality essays, and good recommendation letters from teachers. Prerequisite courses are sometimes required, usually for physiology, anatomy, chemistry, and biology. Minimum GPAs of 3.0 are common. A test may be given in order to enter the nursing program.
Once you enter the program, you will be expected to complete coursework relevant to the field. Nursing research, pharmacology, public health, bioethics, and microbiology are typical courses you would find in a nursing program. After degree completion, the graduate will need a license from the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The NCLEX exam will test whether the graduate has critical nursing skills like safety, psychosocial integrity, health promotion, and basic care skills.
How Much Does a Nurse Make in Atlanta?
Registered nurses make an annual average of $70,000 as of 2017. The highest wages are earned in government, where nurses can make up to $75,900. Nurse wages are even higher in Atlanta, with the nurse practitioner salary Atlanta GA ranging from $97,011 to $113,573.
Like doctors, nurses play an extremely important role in our society. They treat patients, provide medicine, and promotion of the overall health and well-being of citizens. Without this crucial career field, many health centers would struggle to work efficiently.
Nursing is hard work, and not everybody is cut out for it. But for those who are cut out, the work can be very rewarding. You are able to help people in one of the most fundamental areas of life. Nurses can work in varied conditions; some work three days a week while others are able to work in different settings. In healthcare, there are plenty of areas to specialize in. Ultimately, though, nurses get to work a part of a team to help the community.