School of Nursing rises to Top 10 in U.S. News & World Report rankings

Vanderbilt’s DNP program is ranked No. 5 and its MSN program is ranked No. 8 in the country. Photo by Susan Urmy.

In the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of graduate nursing programs released in March, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing rose to the No. 5 rank for its Doctor of Nursing Practice program and to No. 8 for its Master of Science in Nursing program. Those positions are the highest rankings VUSN has received and mark the first time Vanderbilt has been ranked a national Top 10 best graduate nursing program.

“We’re thrilled with our significant rise in the U.S. News & World Report rankings,” said Linda D. Norman, DSN, FAAN, VUSN dean and Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing. “It’s rewarding that the hard work by our faculty, staff, students and alumni over the past several years is being recognized.”

“The rankings speak to the quality of the school and reflect the esteem our peer institutions have for VUSN and its graduates, faculty, scholarly work and innovations,” she said, noting that 40% of MSN and DNP scores come from peer assessment, more than any other factor evaluated.

Six of VUSN’s programs were recognized as being in the Top 5 of their specialties. The Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialties ranked No. 2. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and Nursing Informatics ranked No. 3. The Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program is in the No. 4 spot. Nurse-midwifery programs were not ranked this year, so VUSN’s Nurse-Midwifery specialty remains tied as No. 1 in the country.

To determine scores for nursing schools, U.S. News & World Report uses a ranking methodology based on a weighted average of 14 indicators. The data comes from statistical surveys sent to administrators of 584 accredited schools of nursing which offer master’s or doctoral programs. Specialty program rankings are based on assessments by nursing school deans and deans of graduate studies who identify up to 10 schools offering the best programs in each specialty area. The surveys and assessments were conducted in fall 2018 and early 2019.

In addition to peer assessment, schools are evaluated on factors that include research activity, faculty credentials, faculty participation in nursing practice and the percentage of faculty members with significant achievements. The schools’ acceptance rate, program size, faculty-student ratio and students’ undergraduate GPAs are also considered. Individual specialty scores are based completely on peer assessment.