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10 Nursing Master's Programs With Low Admit Rates

he U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: CollegeThe Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

A career as an advanced practice registered nurse requires a graduate degree, so either a master's or doctorate is necessary to enter this lucrative profession, which boasts median annual salaries that exceed $100,000.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends that aspiring advanced practice registered nurses pursue Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. "The changing demands of this nation's complex healthcare environment require the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to assure quality patient outcomes," the association states on its website.

Nevertheless, the significant time commitment involved in pursuing a nursing practice doctorate may lead someone to enroll in a master's program instead. For an applicant who holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, a Master of Science in Nursing program will typically take only two years to complete, while a Doctor of Nursing Practice program would require three to four years of study.

But getting accepted into a nursing master's program isn't easy.

The average fall 2019 acceptance rate among the 223 nursing master's programs ranked by U.S. News that provided this data was 68.2%. Meanwhile, at the 10 most selective nursing master's programs, the vast majority of applicants were turned away. Each of these programs admitted less than 26% of their fall 2019 applicants, and the average acceptance rate among these programs was 19.3%.

The University of California—Irvine accepted the lowest proportion of nursing master's program applicants: only 6%.

However, nursing school hopefuls who feel discouraged by the admissions statistics at competitive nursing master's programs can take comfort in the fact that there are many ranked programs that accepted a majority of their fall 2019 applicants. There were 171 ranked nursing master's programs with acceptance rates of 51% or higher, and 32 of these programs accepted 100% of applicants.

Below is a list of the 10 nursing master's programs where it was hardest to get in for the fall 2019 semester. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.












University of California—Irvine   456   27   6%   51 (tie)
Rush University (IL)   851   121   14%   24
Michigan State University   55   9   16%   77 (tie)
Florida Atlantic University   344   64   19%   47 (tie)
University of Tennessee—Knoxville   96   19   20%   25
University of Nevada—Las Vegas   159   33   21%   40 (tie)
University of San Francisco   887   192   22%   55 (tie)
Northeastern University (MA)   574   144   25%   59 (tie)
University of San Diego   543   135   25%   36 (tie)
Western University of Health Sciences (CA)   449   114   25%   131 (tie)


Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News Nursing School Compass to find admissions data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.