Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by II Editor
If you’re a military veteran looking to pursue a career in nursing, choosing one of the top military-friendly nursing schools can help ease your transition from service member to student. As someone who served our country, you have valuable skills and experiences that could benefit from further education. In this post, we’ll explore some of the best options for veteran nurses and what makes their programs so accommodating to those with military backgrounds.
Understanding Military-Friendly Programs
Before diving into specific school recommendations, it’s important to define what makes a nursing program “military friendly.” All accredited nursing schools must abide by federal laws protecting veteran student rights, such as providing in-state tuition eligibility regardless of residency status. However, some go above and beyond in acknowledging the unique needs of those with military experience.
Military friendly typically indicates the school actively works to recruit veterans, provides dedicated staff to support their success, gives credit for relevant military training and experience, and is flexible with schedules, deployments, and military obligations that could impact their studies. Things like having a Veteran’s Center on campus, accepting military transcripts for prerequisites, and accepting Joint Services Transcripts (JSTs) in lieu of traditional credit demonstrate commitment to serving those who served.
With this framework in mind, let’s explore some top options for military veteran nurses based on dedicated support programs, academic excellence, and affordability. Navigating the transition to higher education can seem daunting, but these institutions aim to make it as smooth as possible.
1. Excelsior College
Excelsior College in Albany, New York, is renowned nationwide for being one of the most military-friendly schools, ranked highly by external reviewers like Military Times. As a primarily online college, its flexibility works well for those maintaining busy schedules or deployed overseas. Excelsior accepts ACE recommendations for military training and uses prior learning assessments to help veterans earn credits toward their degrees more rapidly.
The school hosts over 20,000 military/veteran students and is a Yellow Ribbon partner, contributing additional funds atop the GI Bill for out-of-state costs. Its online Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral nursing programs are CAEP accredited and built with consideration for non-traditional learners’ needs. Standout support elements include a dedicated veterans support team available daily by phone/email and an online student veteran organization chapter for networking. Given its accessibility and acclaimed commitment to military students, Excelsior College stands out as an excellent choice.
2. University of Cincinnati
For those seeking a more traditional on-campus experience, the University of Cincinnati offers robust support and a top-ranked College of Nursing and Health. Located in Ohio with a competitive in-state tuition rate, UC provides priority enrollment and dedicated peer mentors through its Veterans and Military Services programs. Counsellors help navigate VA benefits and provide one-on-one guidance transitioning to student life.
The school grants credit for military training whenever applicable and allows real-world experiences to count toward practicum requirements. Its Yellow Ribbon partnership significantly defrays costs, and a Veterans Center provides community, advocacy, and referral services all in one location on campus. UC maintains a 97% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensing exam and is highly ranked for undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees nationwide. Veterans have many resources at their fingertips here to thrive academically and personally.
3. University of Minnesota
Nestled in a lively college town, the University of Minnesota offers a renowned academic medical center, robust scholarship programs, networking opportunities, and multiple campus locations both in Minneapolis/St. Paul metro and in rural areas of the state. As a top public research institution, it provides a wealth of clinical placements, simulation labs, research experiences and student organizations through which veterans can continue serving their community.
The school recognizes over 100,000 credit recommendations from ACE on top of military training transcripts. It maintains several veteran-specific scholarship funds through generous alumni donations. Student veteran support is spread across multiple satellite offices for accessibility, with dedicated advisers, mental health counsellors, and career guidance available. A military student listserv helps connect service members on campus. Minnesota has nursing programs ranging from BSN to DNP and routinely ranks in the top 20 nationally for health sciences education quality overall.
4. University of Florida
Consistently high-ranked clinically and academically, the University of Florida offers accredited nursing degrees from BSN to PhD across its multiple campuses statewide. Its size and geographic spread allow for flexible scheduling, and it is located in both Gainesville and Jacksonville and has a strong online presence. UF participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, provides priority registration, and has representatives certified to assist with all military education benefits through the Veterans Service Office, which is staffed by veterans.
Dedicated scholarship opportunities are awarded through need-based and merit programs for military affiliates and dependents. Counselling services specializing in deployment stress, PTSD and adjustment concerns are available confidentially on campus. Faculty understand deployment demands and extended absences for training or service. The school goes above with consideration of prior Navy/Corpsman medical experience directly applying to course prerequisites or reducing degree plan length. Committed to continuing each veteran’s level of service through healthcare education and practice.
5. University of South Alabama
With locations across coastal Alabama, the University of South Alabama offers options for those living in Mobile or Baldwin County or seeking hybrid programs pairing online and in-person components. It maintains a Veteran’s Resource Center on each campus staffed by veteran professionals for counselling, advising and advocacy, providing a dedicated support network from admission through graduation.
South Alabama grants transfer credits liberally based on the student’s experience and holds accelerated pathways for those with relevant medical military backgrounds, like Medics or Corpsmen. Scholarships are explicitly targeted for veterans or based on need. As a Yellow Ribbon partner, out-of-state costs are reduced significantly. Ranked in the top 50 nationally for return on investment in nursing education, sound academics prepare students to pass licensure exams and quality healthcare careers. Flexible options give veterans a smooth study experience.
Whether pursuing an online, hybrid or traditional campus experience, the nursing schools highlighted here stand out nationally for their commitment to accommodating military students’ unique needs. Using GI Bill benefits at a Yellow Ribbon partner maximizes financial support. Dedicated advising, counselling services, campus resources and scholarship opportunities smooth the way for anyone seeking to continue their education after military service through a nursing career.
Choosing an accredited, academically excellent program is essential, but looking at supplemental services, flexibility attributes, and commitment to valuing military experience make a significant difference in the veteran-student experience. These top schools share that dedication to serving those who have served our country. With the right support network in place, any transitioning veteran can succeed in furthering their education and fulfilling their passion for healthcare.