Aside from the gratification that comes with saving lives and helping others, registered nurses (RN) also enjoy high employment and wages. However, nobody can become an RN overnight. First, they need to earn a nursing degree.

While RNs can complete an associate degree program, many hospitals prefer candidates that earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN). While a BSN takes longer to complete, graduates tend to earn higher wages than non-BSN holding nurses.

We explore the top nursing programs in West Virginia, including tuition rates, and the career outlook for nurses in West Virginia. 

This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,

  • Reputation
  • NCLEX pass rate
  • Tuition
  • Acceptance rate, when available
  • Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible 

Our selection panel includes 4 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.

  • Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
  • Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
  • Kathleen Gaines MSN, RN, BA, CBC
  • Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN

Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 West Virginia nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

West Virginia Wesleyan College is a private school located in Buckhannon. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and students, including those earning a BSN, must take some religious courses as part of the curriculum.

The program boasts a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and offers a rigorous curriculum, so admission can be difficult. In addition to the BSN, WV Wesleyan offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a post-graduate FNP certificate, and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). 

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Private
  • Acceptance Rate: 96%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 2%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1,000
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1,000

Contact Information:

  • Address: 59 College Ave, Buckhannon, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $55,512

 

The American Public University System is a large school that focuses on online education. The online RN-BSN program allows current registered nurses to easily obtain a BSN.

The program is unique and really caters to students by having no entrance exams and no fees for textbooks, ebooks, the initial application, and transfer credit evaluation. Courses in the program last eight weeks, with two courses every semester. Other online options include an MSN and an online RN-MSN, though these also require additional contact hours. 

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Private
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 100%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $285
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $285

Contact Information:

  • Address: 111 W Congress St, Charles Town, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $63,005

 

Based in the small city of Fairmont, Fairmont State University provides students with affordable education, especially if they’re WV residents. Fairmont State has two main nursing programs: Traditional ASN and Traditional BSN. There are also several other pathways, including RN to BSN, School Nurse Certification, LPN to ASN pathway, and a weekend ASN program.

The nursing program has roughly 350 students currently pursuing nursing degrees and over 3,500 graduates. The traditional BSN program recently received accreditation in 2023 and can be completed in eight semesters or less, depending on previous coursework. Therefore, the NCLEX pass rate is reflective of the ASN program.

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 98%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 23%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $331
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $733

Contact Information:

  • Address: 1201 Locust Ave, Fairmont, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 63%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $63,855

West Virginia University is a large, comprehensive university system that educates nearly 27,000 students. The main campus in Morgantown serves 24,000 students and offers a variety of nursing programs. The main option is the traditional BSN, which boasts an impressive 100% NCLEX pass rate.

The other two options, the accelerated second-degree BSN and online RN-BSN, have similarly strong outcomes. WVU also offers an MSN, DNP, and Ph.D. in nursing. Some of the nursing programs are also available on the campuses at WVU satellite campuses, including Beckley, Potomac State, and WVU Tech.

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 10%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $391
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1,107

Contact Information:

  • Address: PO Box 6201, Morgantown, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $61,454

 

Shepherd University is located just a short drive from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It provides higher education to West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Of course, only West Virginia residents receive in-state tuition.

The two main nursing programs available are the BSN and an RN-BSN. The BSN has strong outcomes, including a high NCLEX pass rate for recent grads. In Fall 2022, the RN-to-BSN program moved entirely online, which is exciting for nurses looking for flexibility. Courses can be completed online in as little as two semesters if full-time. 

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 96%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 16%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $338
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $773

Contact Information:

  • Address: 301 North King St, Shepherdstown, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $61,020

 

As the oldest institution of higher education in West Virginia, West Liberty University has plenty of experience providing quality education. This includes educating nurses, as West Liberty has one of the best nursing programs in the region.

Undergraduate nursing options include a traditional BSN, an online RN-BSN, and an accelerated second-degree BSN. Students complete clinicals in WV, but the location near Pittsburgh, PA, and Steubenville, OH, opens doors for a nursing career outside of West Virginia. 

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 10%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $356
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $705

Contact Information:

  • Address: 208 University Drive, West Liberty, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $50,439

 

With just over 1,100 students, Wheeling Jesuit University, also known as Wheeling University, is among the smallest schools in West Virginia with a nursing program. However, the small student body size helps give Wheeling University an impressive 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and the average class has just 15 students.

Wheeling University has three undergraduate nursing programs: a traditional BSN, a 16-month second-degree BSN, and an online RN-BSN. Wheeling University offers a health services management certificate and a nursing management certificate. 

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Private
  • Acceptance Rate: 73%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 15%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $735
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $735

Contact Information:

  • Address: 316 Washington Ave, Wheeling, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $59,999

 

Located on the banks of the Kanawha River in Charleston, the University of Charleston offers a prime location with views of the state capitol building. As a private school, the roughly 2,100 students in attendance don’t receive in-state tuition, though many students are able to secure financial aid.

The University of Charleston offers two nursing degrees: a traditional BSN and an online RN-BSN. Clinicals through the undergraduate program include rotations in trauma centers, a children’s hospital, and more. Admission into the BSN program can be competitive, but the results are excellent. The traditional BSN program also boosts an impressive 1:8-10 faculty-to-student ratio. 

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Private
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 57%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $380
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $380

Contact Information:

  • Address: 2300 MacCorkle Avenue, SE, Charleston, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $57,564

 

Founded in 1904, Davis & Elkins College is a small, private school that enrolls less than 800 students. While students don’t have access to in-state tuition, about 90% of students receive some form of financial aid.

Currently, Davis & Elkins has several nursing programs: an ADN, an online RN-BSN, a traditional BSN, and an accelerated BSN. The College was recently named one of the Best Colleges in the South for 2022-2023 by U.S. News & World Report. Nursing students can expect to receive a quality education.

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Private
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 2%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1,245
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $1,245

Contact Information:

  • Address: 100 Campus Dr, Elkins, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: N/A

 

Founded in 1837, Marshall University has grown over the years to become one of the most important public schools in West Virginia. Marshall teaches nearly 8,000 undergraduate students, including 1,792 out-of-state students.

The School of Nursing offers a pre-licensure BSN and an online RN-BSN, as well as multiple graduate programs. The pre-licensure BSN is available at both Huntington and Pt. Pleasant campus, both of which saw impressive NCLEX pass rates. Pre-licensure clinical settings include Cabell Huntington Hospital, Hershel Woody Williams Veterans Administration Medical Center, and St. Mary’s Medical Center. 

School Information:

  • Public or Private? Public
  • Acceptance Rate: 97%
  • Percent Enrolled Online: 19%

Tuition:

  • In-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $359
  • Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit Hour: $820

Contact Information:

  • Address: 1 John Marshall Dr, Huntington, WV
  • Website

School Success:

  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Median Earnings 2 Years After Completing a BSN: $57,318

>> Show Me West Virginia Nursing Programs

Keep in mind that colleges and universities reserve the right to change tuition rates at any time. The yearly tuition rates listed here will vary for each student depending on various factors including,

  • Transfer credits
  • Completed competency exams
  • Amount of credits taken per year
  • Financial aid awards

Check with the specific school for current tuition rates.

Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

  • West Virginia nurses earn an annual mean wage of $67,640, which is lower than the national average.
  • West Virginia employs 19,800 RNs.
  • West Virginia employs 30.11 nurses per 1,000 people which is the second highest in the nation, only below South Dakota. 

While West Virginia doesn’t have the highest wages, nurses working in the Huntington-Ashland area can earn a mean salary of $67,820.

Nurses who plan on working in West Virginia may not earn the highest wages, but there are plenty of opportunities available. 

Spend some time reviewing different nursing programs to see which ones fit your wants and needs. After selecting some nursing programs you’re interested in, you’ll want to get in touch with each school and learn more about the application process.

Here are the next steps broken down:

Contact each school’s admissions offices. The admissions office is in charge of all things applications and admissions. Get in touch with each school’s admissions office to learn more about their admission requirements. 

Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Yes, nursing schools have their own admission requirements, and they’re often stricter than those set by the college or university. See what you need to do to get your nursing school application considered.

Submit your application(s). Once you’ve learned more about your eligibility and determined everything you need for your application, the final step is to gather your materials and send them in!

Common application requirements include:

  • High school transcript (GPA)
  • ACT and/or SAT scores
  • College entrance essay(s)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation

>> Show Me West Virginia Nursing Programs

After you send in your applications, you’ll begin receiving acceptance letters in the mail. However, your work isn’t done — next, you need to determine which school and nursing program is best. There are tons of factors to consider, including:

  • Annual tuition/nursing program cost
  • Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
  • Cost of living on-campus or in the area
  • Distance from home
  • School and nursing program acceptance rate
  • Length and type of program
  • Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
  • Accreditation (regional and programmatic)

Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation  

Accreditation means a school and/or program meets a specific set of standards set by nationally-recognized bodies. In West Virginia, make sure any college you apply to is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Make sure each nursing program has programmatic accreditation, too. Accreditation is also essential if you are interested in continuing your education and earning an MSN or DNP. 

The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are

Fortunately, getting an RN license in West Virginia is pretty straightforward. As a part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), nurses with an RN license in West Virginia can easily work as a nurse in other eNLC states. 

To get a license in West Virginia, you’ll need to:

  • Study at a nursing school approved by the West Virginia Board of Nursing
  • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
  • Pay an application and criminal background check fee
  • Apply through the West Virginia RN Board

West Virginia is one of the top employers for RNs per capita, and the current nursing shortage can help new RNs find a great position. There are plenty of great public and private nursing schools in West Virginia, so students have plenty to choose from.Because West Virginia is a member of the eNLC, nurses with permanent residency in the state and an active license can easily find work in other eNLC states. 

References:

BLS

West Virginia RN Board



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