Nursing school rankings attempt to measure the caliber of individual nursing schools by comparing numerous factors. As far as it is known there are two sets of rankings of nursing schools, one by U.S. News & World Report and the other is NIH Research Funding. Each provides basic information on programs that can lead to more selective searches on your part.
There is no replacing the research that you should do on the nursing schools that interest you. This ranking information is to complement that research. Most students when looking for a nursing school focus on certain geographic areas. From that point on then the ranking information can help them understand some of the relative strengths and weaknesses of those particular nursing schools.
How are Rankings Determined
The system used for nursing school rankings varies, but many are based on data collected from a survey designed by academic experts. The responses come from a combination of students, alumni, school administrators, recruiters and executives. The feedback given can be factual or highly subjective. By applying a complex formula the different factors in the survey end up carrying more or less significance.
If you do not have a list of nursing schools that you are looking into, these rankings can provide you with an advantageous starting point. Some of the information is subjective and may cause questioning of its validity, but remember:
- Rankings tend to emphasize statistics
- Final lists are based on formulas that may have subjective standards (should a school’s student-to-faculty ratio count for more or less than 20 percent?)
- Many aspects cannot be rated on these ranking guides such as: quality of student life, professor instruction and campus activities
- The information may not be in depth, only a superficial view
- Your needs and desires as a student may be different than those focused on
Questions to Ask Yourself
Before taking as law any of these ranking guides, evaluate its credibility. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What criteria does the guide use to rank schools?
- What information is based on subjective standards?
- Who judged the criteria? Was it an impartial third party, another school, the same school . . .?
- What are the evaluator’s qualifications to judge a nursing program? (A survey respondent may be knowledgeable about one or two schools, but they may not be well-informed about the dozens of programs on the list.)
Use these rankings as a guide to assist you in your search for a great nursing school. But use your own judgment and research to make that all-important final decision.