What is Nursing Diversity?
Nursing diversity refers to the practice of training, hiring, and supporting nurses from all walks of life. Although race and ethnicity are part of this equation, they’re not the only elements. A diverse nursing workforce is one that reflects its own multicultural society.
In her article on Why is Diversity in Nursing So Important?, Erica Bettencourt provides a succinct definition:
“Diversity in Nursing includes all of the following: gender, veteran status, race, disability, age, religion, ethnic heritage, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, education status, national origin, and physical characteristics.”
Equity & Inclusion
Keep in mind that nursing diversity also involves a commitment to equity & inclusion. It means that:
- Nurses are actively involved in culturally competent & patient-centered care, approaching each person with an awareness of their unique needs & concerns.
- Institutions, healthcare leaders, doctors, co-workers, and community members are working together to create better outcomes for patients & families.
- The healthcare sector and nursing schools are constantly looking for new ways to address systemic inequities, historical injustices, and long-running disparities.
Why is Diversity so Important in Nursing?
For an overview on this topic, we highly recommend the report on The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity, published by the National Academy of Medicine in 2021. It delves into many of the issues surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). For years, the profession has been grappling with:
- Racism, discrimination & bias in the workplace
- Poorer health & higher mortality rates for underrepresented groups
- Refusal of care to certain groups (e.g. transgender or gender non-conforming)
- Healthcare mistakes & lawsuits due to errors in communication and understanding
- A lack of representation across leadership positions, leading to systemic failures and ill-informed decisions
- Money wasted on institutional and government initiatives that aren’t supported by thoughtful research
- Workforce drain as nurses who feel undervalued and unsupported leave the profession
Benefits of Nursing Diversity
In contrast, a diverse nursing workforce that’s supported by a well-organized healthcare institution can lead to major benefits across the board, including:
- Improved Patient Outcomes: Patients who see themselves reflected in nursing staff are more comfortable with seeking care, asking questions, and raising concerns about treatments. Trust in an institution and the quality of care rise in response.
- Holistic & Customized Care: No two humans are alike. Nurses who have been trained in diverse environments understand how a patient’s background, family & genetic history, and cultural practices shape their health story. Diverse nurses look at the “whole”—and not just test results.
- Cross-Cultural Growth: Nurses in a constructive working environment have the opportunity to learn from each other’s cultures & circumstances. They’re exposed to new languages, perspectives, and life experiences that help build their cultural competencies.
- Stronger Community Engagement: Nurses who come from underrepresented groups have a unique knowledge of their community’s needs. If healthcare institutions are willing to hear their voices, these experts can advocate for targeted services & programs to address specific inequities.
- Increase in Healthcare Access: Nurses often want to work in their own communities. It could be an urban neighborhood in Chicago, a rural outpost in Maine, or a pueblo in New Mexico. Increasing diversity through recruitment, training & funding can help alleviate healthcare shortages in underserved communities.
- Workforce Resilience: A diverse nursing workforce contains a wide range of mentors, faculty, and senior-level leaders who are ready to support nurses throughout their career. Seeing diverse nurses in leadership positions gives junior nurses the confidence to stick with their job choice and aim high.
- Smarter Healthcare Decisions: Diversity is an important component of nursing research and governmental policy-making. It helps administrators & politicians avoid bone-headed decisions and wasted funds. The more perspective you have on an issue, the wiser your healthcare recommendations will be.
How Diverse is the Nursing Workforce?
There are a number of organizations that track data on the make-up of the nursing workforce. As you might expect, many of them focus on race & ethnicity. You can get a sense of the numbers by examining:
- AACN Research & Data Center: Latest Data on Race & Ethnicity
- NCSBN National Nursing Workforce Survey
- NLN Biennial Survey of Schools of Nursing & Faculty Census Survey
Generally speaking, nursing has a more diverse workplace than many other healthcare professions:
- In 2020, the NAM report on The Future of Nursing 2020-2030 found that nursing aides had the highest levels of reported diversity, with 54% white, 37.5% African American, 13.4% Hispanic, and 5.1% Asian.
- LPNs and licensed vocational nurses had a slightly more uneven split, with 68.2% white, 25% African American, 8.2% Hispanic, and 4.1% Asian.
- AACN data show gradual increases in minority representation across all levels of nursing education, except for research-focused doctoral degrees.
Room for Improvement
But there is a long way to go before nursing reflects U.S. census data. According to the 2020 NCBSN National Nursing Workforce Survey:
- RNs are still predominantly white & non-Hispanic (e.g. 80.6%).
- Black & African Americans make up ~13-14% of the adult population, yet only 6-7% of the RN workforce.
- Hispanics represent around 19-20% of the adult population, yet only 5-6% are registered nurses.
It’s also important to remember that nursing diversity covers a broad range of issues:
- Gender diversity is a huge challenge for the nursing profession—BLS Labor Force Statistics in 2021 suggest that only 13-14% of RNs are men.
- In the 2018-2019 NLN Faculty Census Survey, only 16.6% of full-time nurse educators reported being members of underrepresented populations.
- Nurses from ethnic minorities continue to be underrepresented in nursing leadership positions.
National data on sensitive issues such as sexual orientation (e.g. LGBTQIA+), disability, and religion in nursing can be harder to source, but there are plenty of research papers devoted to these topics. Have a look at PubMed.gov for examples.
Challenges to Achieving Nursing Diversity
Achieving diversity in healthcare is not an easy solution. Even when nurses are united in their mission, they can still find themselves facing a number of systemic challenges.
- We’ve provided a brief overview, but the NAM report on The Future of Nursing 2020-2030 does an excellent job of digging into the major issues.
- Organizations such as Minority Nurse and Institute for Diversity and Health Equity (IFDHE) also cover these kinds of topics. See our list of Nursing Diversity Resources for more ideas & links.
Cost of Education
The first step to achieving equity is feeding the education pipeline. With more & more nurses stepping away from the profession, it’s essential that schools & universities train new healthcare professionals.
- But the cost of schooling can be a huge barrier to low-income families.
- And worries about educational debt often thwart good intentions before they begin.
As the Future of Nursing authors note, nurses may choose to opt for more lucrative career paths in well-subsidized health systems (e.g. acute care) instead of choosing high-need specialties (e.g. rural nursing, public health, primary care, etc.).
Diverse students require diverse nurse educators who have deep-rooted understanding of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). But the profession has been grappling with chronic faculty shortages for quite some time. In a 2020 report on the Nursing Faculty Shortage, the AACN noted that:
- Faculty are aging & retiring at high rates.
- Better compensation in other sectors is pulling nurse educators away from teaching.
- Master’s and doctoral programs are not producing enough educators to meet demand.
Most nursing schools now understand that diversity & health equity can’t be covered in one class—these issues need to be integrated into the entire curriculum. But all of their efforts to improve courses & clinical training won’t matter much if there’s no one there to teach.
Lack of Support in School
Nursing students from underrepresented groups often encounter extra hurdles when they start school. In a frequently cited report, Lived Experiences of Racially and Ethnically Underrepresented Minority BSN Students: A Case Study Specifically Exploring Issues Related to Recruitment and Retention the authors noted that barriers included:
“Negative interactions with and lack of diversity of faculty and peers, deficiency of cultural competency training, lack of academic and financial support, and negative family behaviors.”
They may be subject to discrimination, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, or bias. They may not be able to find mentors. Or they may be expected to act as the “token spokesperson” for their group.
Lack of Support in the Workplace
These problems aren’t limited to students—minority faculty members and working nurses report having many of the same experiences. Citing Gewin’s Nature article on The Time Tax Put on Scientists of Colour, the Future of Nursing authors note that:
“Faculty from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups face a ‘diversity tax,’ in which they are asked to be part of efforts to improve diversity and inclusion to serve on committees; mentor underrepresented students; and participate in other activities that are uncompensated, unacknowledged, and unrewarded.”
In a 2020 report on Barriers to Career Advancement in the Nursing Profession: Perceptions of Black Nurses in the United States, the authors’ analysis highlighted seven key themes/frustrations:
“Maintaining white comfort, distrust, no one like me, paving the way, worthy of representation, leadership role not expected of Black nurses, and an advanced degree does not equal advanced opportunities.”
If nurses from underrepresented groups aren’t supported by their institutions, they will resign. And all of their hard work will go with them.
Solutions to Achieving Nursing Diversity
Although the profession won’t change overnight, there are signs that progress is being made. DEI research is increasing. Offices of Diversity are implementing and monitoring initiatives. Curricula are changing. Clinical teaching is becoming more thoughtful. Here are some practical ways in which social, academic & financial barriers are being addressed.
The journey to diversity starts with recruitment. Nursing schools need to be proactive about finding prospective students and helping them make smart decisions about their finances, career paths, and choice of learning (e.g. accelerated programs).
Alumni can play a part these efforts—many nurses go into the healthcare profession because of family members. Some schools have even started developing K-12 initiatives to bring students into the pipeline much earlier (e.g. free summer programs, health career clubs, classroom workshops, etc.).
In the past, healthcare admissions procedures have been weighted toward academic performance and test scores. Holistic admissions takes a different approach. Many universities are disregarding GRE scores and looking at a candidate’s experiences, character attributes, and potential contributions to nursing instead.
- As Glazer et al. note in Holistic Admissions in Nursing: We Can Do This, this leads to an uptick in diversity of the student body with no detrimental outcomes.
- According to the Holistic Admissions in the Health Professions: Findings from a National Survey, student performance measures such as graduation & exam pass rates have remained largely unchanged.
One of the easiest fixes is to lower the cost of entry into the profession for underrepresented students. This can be achieved through university-sponsored scholarships, tuition reimbursement, and loan forgiveness programs.
Advocates can also demand more funding for programs like the HRSA’s Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) Program, which increases nursing education opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Distance Learning & Accelerated Programs
Nursing students from underrepresented and diverse groups are often working multiple jobs. They may have families or other social obligations. Or they may live in rural areas or communities that are far away from university campuses.
So nursing schools that are serious about achieving diversity are changing their ways. Many of them now offer:
- Online or hybrid programs that combine virtual coursework with occasional visits to campus for skills labs and clinical practicums in local communities.
- Accelerated bridge programs such as the RN to MSN or BSN to DNP.
- Articulation agreements with local community colleges or lower-level institutions.
- Competency-based education, which allows students to advance through their degree after they demonstrate they have met required competencies. Western Governors is a popular example.
Nursing curricula should never be set in stone. New research is appearing every week on the effects of bias in pedagogy, problems with outdated clinical training, contributions to nursing from underrepresented groups, and more. The Future of Nursing authors state that addressing racism & discrimination requires more than programs or statements:
“It requires developing action-oriented strategies, holding difficult conversations about privilege, dismantling long-standing structures and traditions, conducting curricular reviews to detect biases and correct as necessary, and exploring how interpersonal and structural racism shapes the student experience both consciously and unconsciously.”
Accrediting bodies have a part to play. They have control over certification policies, practices, and coursework. If they insist on educational training in public health, SDOH, health equity, and cultural competency, schools will tow the line.
Better Social Support
Nursing schools are offering a wide variety of services to ensure that diverse students receive the support they need. Examples include:
- Summer bridge programs to help first generation or underrepresented college recruits prepare for the academic & social road ahead.
- Mentoring programs that include working nurses & faculty who have a firsthand understanding of the challenges that students face.
- Partnering with support organizations such as HOSA – Future Health Professionals.
These efforts shouldn’t be limited to the student body. Nursing schools and workplaces must pay attention to their faculty and staff. An inclusive educational environment is one in which institutions are open about improving diversity, active in seeking feedback (e.g. surveys), and eager to implement solutions (e.g. improved pay & benefits, leadership recruitment, etc.).
Examples of Diversity Initiatives in Nursing
We’ve highlighted a few examples of diversity initiatives by organizations and universities, but these are just a taster! If you follow the links in our list of Nursing Diversity Resources, you’ll discover plenty of ideas.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is throwing their back behind DEI efforts and initiatives.
- For an overview, see the section on AACN Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, with links to events, publications, recent data, awards & funding opportunities, workshops, and more.
- AACN Fact Sheets are always helpful—the one on Enhancing Diversity in the Workforce has specific ideas on strategies.
- Faculty, deans, and academic administrators should also consider signing up for the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Leadership Network (DEILN).
Researchers may also want to investigate the work of Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, which was founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the AARP Foundation, and AARP. It’s building an arsenal of resources, including dashboard indicators.
Hospital & Healthcare Institutions
Check the organizations featured in DiversityInc Top Hospitals and Health Systems to learn more about innovative diversity initiatives. Each one is doing invaluable work with patients, employees, students, suppliers, and the community.
Moffitt runs a centralized Language Services department with certified translators and interpreters. It supports research on cancer health disparities among Blacks/African Americans through the George Edgecomb Society. It organizes Team Member Engagement Networks (e.g. [email protected]) & Faculty Engagement Networks (e.g. Women in Oncology). It connects to the community through the Moffitt Program for Outreach, Wellness, Education and Resources (M-POWER). And that’s just the start!
Mayo’s Office has developed a large number of initiatives to encourage underrepresented minorities to choose careers in health care. These include the Imaging Careers and Networking (ICAN) Program for high school students, Mayo Physicians of Tomorrow for college students, and more. It also organizes Mayo Employee Resource Groups (MERGS); supports International Patient Offices and minority health and wellness programs; and runs a Supplier Diversity Program.
Kaiser Permanente is working hard to support parity—in 2020, 53% of the CEO’s direct reports were women, and nearly 43% of the executive medical directors were women. Nearly 67% of the total workforce were members of racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities. It has a call center staff that’s fluent in more than 140 languages. It’s recently established a health equity advisory council to expand its identification of care disparities beyond its current quality measures. And it’s putting a ton of money into Equity in Health and Health Care Research.
Universities & Nursing Schools
The most proactive nursing schools tend to be the ones that have diversity in their DNA. Frontier Nursing School, for example, was founded on principles of community-based nursing and rural outreach. That means it has a clear remit to train & serve diverse nurses.
Chamberlain has developed a clear Social Justice Commitment and framework on the Social Determinants of Learning. And it’s supporting these efforts with real-world actions. It’s adopted a holistic admissions approach using personalized & data-driven practices. It’s created a personalized learning approach called the Chamberlain Care Student Success Model. And it’s committed to online learning.
Frontier is a national success story—thanks to concerted efforts, its student of color population tripled in a decade to ~28% in 2020. It has instituted a holistic admissions process; offered mentoring & funding to students of color; and implemented a Diversity Impact Program that includes scholarships, an annual student conference, opportunities for DEI involvement & student ambassadorship, and access to a closed social media group.
UND’s efforts include cross-cultural events, bias incident reporting, cultural diversity scholarships, identity resources, and the highly successful Recruitment & Retention of American Indians into Nursing (RAIN) Program. The RAIN program provides academic support to American Indian students seeking a nursing degree at any stage. It includes a “No Excuses Orientation” with Tribal leaders, mentoring & advisement, tutoring, an honor ceremony, and more. 50% of American Indian RNs in North Dakota are RAIN graduates.
RINIMC stands for the Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter High School. It’s the first public charter high school in the U.S. to focus on the nursing profession—after 4 years, high school graduates can transfer as many as 20 college credits towards their nursing college major. Tuition is completely free and the school is open to any Rhode Island student. Almost half of the program’s students are Latinx, and more than one-third identify as Black.
In addition to mentoring current nurses and partnering with colleges & universities to offer tuition discounts for members, the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) is also reaching out to K-12 schools. Since 2010, it’s offered a Summer Youth Institute—a one-day enrichment program for children & teens during the NBNA Annual Conference. Member chapters have also taken on the responsibility for outreach efforts.
Nursing Diversity Resources
- Diversity Nursing
- DNPs of Color
- Exceptional Nurse: Nurses with Disabilities
- Institute for Diversity and Health Equity (IFDHE)
- Minority Nurse
- Minority Nurse: Scholarships & Fellowships Database
- National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing
- Specialty Nursing Organizations
Tool Kits & Guidelines
- AACN Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Tool Kit
- AHA Health Equity Action Library (HEAL)
- AONL Guiding Principles for Diversity in Health Care Organizations
- Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity
- Strive for Diversity in Nursing
Research & Publications
- Diversity Digest
- Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action: Increasing Diversity in Nursing Resources
- Integration of Social Determinants of Health in Nursing Education, Practice, and Research: Annual Report
- Minority Nurse: Nursing Statistics
- NCBSN National Nursing Workforce Survey
- NLN Biennial Survey of Schools of Nursing & Faculty Census Surveys
- PubMed.gov: Published Research on Nursing Diversity
Conferences & Events
- Accelerating Health Equity Conference
- Diversity Leadership Institute
- Diversity Symposium
- Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action: Health Equity Action Forums
- Nursing Workforce Diversity Conference
- Transcultural Nursing Society Annual Conference
Rankings & Indices
- America’s Best Employers for Diversity
- Disability Equality Index
- DiversityInc Top Hospitals and Health Systems
- HRC Healthcare Equality Index
Nursing Diversity Rankings
For our alphabetical list of the 30 Most Diverse Nursing Schools in the country, we wanted to highlight universities & colleges that have a reputation for producing diverse nurses with BSNs & MSNs. So we consulted with a statistician who specializes in educational & population analysis to come up with a reasonable methodology.
- Diversity Data: We used racial, ethnic, and gender (e.g. male vs. female) diversity statistics in our calculations because these are the data that are available. It’s nowhere near a perfect formula—we would have liked to considered important aspects of diversity such as age or LGBTQ+ representation. But it will give you a broad sense of a school’s make-up.
- Choice of Schools: Schools had to have at least 30 graduates and be ACEN- or CCNE-accredited in order to qualify. We excluded any for-profit universities, including for-profits that recently became non-profits. We did decide to include Christian & Catholic schools—read our notes and talk to alumni if you’re thinking of a religious option.
- Completion Data: Once we had eliminated for-profit & non-accredited options, we analyzed BSN & MSN student completion numbers and compared them to state averages, sorting by schools that do best relative to their regions.
- State & Regional Variations: A perfectly diverse school could be said to have equal representation in every student population. But it’s much easier to achieve Hispanic representation in California than it is in Maine. So we compared each school’s diversity data (for each student population category) to the average nursing student diversity data (for each category) in the state. That means schools that truly outperformed their state’s averages in multiple student demographics earned a spot on our list.
We should note that this is only one approach! There are plenty of other nursing rankings that examine the diversity of nursing faculty, diversity in nursing leadership (e.g. DNP completions), RN achievements, and more. We focused on BSN & MSN student completions because it’s the most relevant to you at this stage in your career.
30 Most Diverse Nursing Schools (Alphabetical)
California State University – Bakersfield
- Asian: 19.8%
- Black: 6.6%
- Hispanic: 35.5%
- Other: 20.7%
- White: 17.4%
Nursing at Cal State Bakersfield
Thanks to its strategic location just north of Los Angeles, Cal State Bakersfield has a Hispanic and Asian American student majority—the university is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). CSUB Nursing isn’t overly large, but it has diverse faculty and it achieves superb NCLEX pass rates. Students have the opportunity to practice in Bakersfield & Kern County clinical sites and tuition rates are reasonable.
California State University – Los Angeles
- Asian: 28.5%
- Black: 5.6%
- Hispanic: 34.5%
- Other: 11.6%
- White: 19.7%
Nursing at Cal State LA
Solid NCLEX pass rates. Experienced faculty. An ADN-BSN Collaborative Program with local community colleges. And a Chin Family Institute for Nursing that’s committed to caring for underserved urban populations. These are just a few of the reasons why the Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing (PACSON) gets strong marks for both education & equity. Cal State LA is a frequent winner of the Higher Education Excellence Diversity (HEED) award and a HSI & Minority Serving Institution.
Cardinal Stritch University
- Asian: 6.5%
- Black: 22.6%
- Hispanic: 16.1%
- Other: 11.3%
- White: 43.5%
Nursing at Stritch
Stritch is a small and mighty Franciscan school with a diverse student base—more than 44 countries are represented. Better yet, the Ruth S. Coleman College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CONHS) has a 98% job placement rate and positive reviews. Stritch is a private university, but it offers a number of scholarships, including Boys & Girls Clubs scholarships and MSN funding for graduates of its BSN program.
- Type of Institution: Private Lutheran College
- Location: Kenosha, WI
- Undergraduate Programs: BSN
- Graduate Programs: None
- Asian: 4.7%
- Black: 7.0%
- Hispanic: 18.6%
- Other: 14.0%
- White: 55.8%
Nursing at Carthage
Carthage is a small Lutheran college, but the Department of Nursing doesn’t push its faith-based mission too hard. The BSN curriculum only includes one religion course and a Global Heritage elective. If you’re interested in serving diverse populations, be sure to check out the section on Student Opportunities. They include a Fellowship in Population Health, paid internships, J-Term Study Tours (e.g. Nicaragua), and community service options. You may also wish to investigate Carthage’s DEI initiatives, including scholarships.
College of Mount Saint Vincent
- Asian: 16.4%
- Black: 19.7%
- Hispanic: 27.2%
- Other: 16.4%
- White: 20.2%
Nursing at the Mount
The Mount’s School of Nursing is located on a lovely campus in the Bronx, so NYC healthcare practicums are part & parcel of the curriculum. The school receives glowing reviews on independent sites—nurses praise the positive environment, great faculty, and helpful career services—but pass rates & completion rates can fluctuate. Having said that, Mount is one of the highest-ranked schools for social mobility in New York City. And even though it’s a Catholic school, students of all faiths are welcome to attend.
CUNY Lehman College
- Asian: 12.9%
- Black: 39.3%
- Hispanic: 31.4%
- Other: 7.9%
- White: 8.6%
Nursing at CUNY Lehman
You’ll find CUNY Lehman’s Department of Nursing in the School of Health Sciences, Human Services, and Nursing. It’s not a big place, but it can boast of diverse faculty, investment in a $75 million nursing facility, and the only DNP program in the Bronx. Just as importantly, CUNY Lehman has a track record of success in economic mobility & affordability and a majority Black student base. If you’re interested in urban research, check out the CUNY Institute for Health Equity.
CUNY New York City College of Technology
- Asian: 19.8%
- Black: 36.0%
- Hispanic: 13.5%
- Other: 7.2%
- White: 23.4%
Nursing at City Tech
City Tech is an urban CUNY school in Brooklyn. The Department of Nursing is led by diverse full-time faculty and NCLEX pass rates are strong, but graduation rates are mediocre. Independent reviews are also less than stellar. The college has an Office of Compliance & Diversity, but it’s primarily concerned with policies and procedures. Talk to recent alumni to get a sense of what to expect.
- Asian: 14.2%
- Black: 9.2%
- Hispanic: 23.4%
- Other: 13.5%
- White: 39.7%
Nursing at Dominican
Dominican’s Nursing Division makes a point of being student-friendly. It offers Evening & Online RN-BSN pathways, a Weekend Accelerated BSN, and evening graduate programs. Although NCLEX pass rates are middling, 95% of nursing students who have graduated in the last five years have secured employment and independent reviews of the faculty & teaching environment are fairly positive.
Florida International University
- Asian: 8.5%
- Black: 17.8%
- Hispanic: 52.1%
- Other: 5.7%
- White: 15.9%
Nursing at FIU
FIU is a massive public university in Miami, which means it’s been serving Hispanic students for quite some time. The university is strong on social mobility & poverty research and the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences often appears in national nursing rankings. Faculty are diverse and male nursing students are well-represented. See the Division of Diversity Equity & Inclusion for more info on campus-wide initiatives.
Galen College of Nursing – San Antonio
- Asian: 11.9%
- Black: 7.1%
- Hispanic: 45.2%
- Other: 11.9%
- White: 23.8%
Nursing at Galen
Galen is an ACEN-accredited private nursing school that was established by Humana Health Institutes in 1989. It’s now one of the largest private nursing colleges in the country, with campuses in a number of states. As you might expect, the San Antonio campus has a big Hispanic student population. NCLEX pass rates are middling, but Galen does have a Pathway to Success that’s designed to support students with mentors & resources.
Gwynedd Mercy University
- Asian: 10.5%
- Black: 18.7%
- Hispanic: 6.1%
- Other: 4.1%
- White: 60.5%
Nursing at GMercyU
The Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions goes out of its way to accommodate working professionals. It offers a special Weekend BSN and online graduate programs, including multiple MSN tracks and a DNP. It has connections to 100+ regional healthcare organizations, including CHOP. And it’s small enough to have a 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio on clinical experiences. DEI initiatives are many & wide-ranging—read Mercy in Action news updates to learn more about outreach efforts.
- Asian: 1.8%
- Black: 22.8%
- Hispanic: 12.3%
- Other: 24.6%
- White: 38.6%
Nursing at Langston
Langston is the only historically black college in Oklahoma, which means it has a proud history of serving diverse students. The School of Nursing & Health Professions concentrates on BSN programs, which are available on the Langston or Tulsa campus. NCLEX pass rates fluctuate—some years they’re terrible; some years they’re fairly strong.
- Asian: 7.3%
- Black: 12.2%
- Hispanic: 7.3%
- Other: 9.8%
- White: 63.4%
Nursing at Lipscomb
Lipscomb is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, so it’s no surprise to see that the School of Nursing takes a Christ-centered approach to education. Faculty lean toward female & Caucasian, but first-time NCLEX pass rates and job placement numbers are excellent. Students can also take advantage of strong clinical practicums, a senior preceptorship, and externship opportunities with the Vanderbilt Medical Center. Lipscomb’s DEI principles are covered in the Diversity & Inclusion section.
Long Island University
- Asian: 15.6%
- Black: 20.4%
- Hispanic: 12.5%
- Other: 28.1%
- White: 23.5%
Nursing at LIU
LIU has a nursing school on its LIU Post campus, but we’re going to focus on the programs offered at the Harriet Rothkopf Heilbrunn School of Nursing in Brooklyn. Thanks to its location, it has plenty of clinical connections with NYC Health and New York hospitals. But it’s not cheap, NCLEX pass rates are poor, and it doesn’t have a great deal of financial aid. You’ll find tons of reviews of LIU Nursing on the web—ask around before enrolling.
New Jersey City University
- Asian: 16.1%
- Black: 17.4%
- Hispanic: 16.1%
- Other: 6.5%
- White: 43.9%
Nursing at NJCU
NJCU is a Hispanic Serving & Minority Serving Institution located in one of the most populous cities in the country. The Department of Nursing is led by relatively diverse faculty & staff and it offers a range of professional programs at the main campus and NJCU @ Fort Monmouth. After the Black Alumni, Administrator, Faculty, Student, and Staff Organization (BAAFSSO) released a series of demands, NJCU hired a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) in 2021.
New York University
- Asian: 20.9%
- Black: 6.4%
- Hispanic: 14.1%
- Other: 13.0%
- White: 45.6%
Nursing at NYU
Funding, size, and location have a lot to do with NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing position at the top of many nursing leaderboards. The College is an NLN Center of Excellence led by experienced & diverse faculty. It receives a ton of NIH research dollars. It’s involved in multiple local & global initiatives, including the P20 Center for Precision Health in Diverse Populations. And its undergraduate alumni command excellent salaries.
North Park University
- Asian: 20.8%
- Black: 5.6%
- Hispanic: 17.6%
- Other: 12.8%
- White: 43.2%
Nursing at North Park
North Park is a Christian university with Swedish Evangelical Covenant roots, so be aware that the School of Nursing and Health Sciences will focus on religious principles in education programs. Faculty aren’t hugely diverse, but the school offers scholarships & hospital employee discounts and clinical rotations occur in variety of Chicago sites. The school also participates in University Ministries Global Partnerships Initiatives.
- Asian: 12.5%
- Black: 2.5%
- Hispanic: 7.5%
- Other: 17.5%
- White: 60.0%
Nursing at Norwich
Norwich’s School of Nursing is located in Vermont, one of the least diverse states in the country. But Norwich also has a long history of serving the military & veterans—it’s the birthplace of the ROTC—and offers a welcoming atmosphere for online students. The school has clinical affiliations with major regional centers like Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the University of Vermont Medical Center. And faculty are experienced.
Oak Point University
- Asian: 15.4%
- Black: 19.1%
- Hispanic: 28.7%
- Other: 8.8%
- White: 28.1%
Nursing at Oak Point
Formerly known as Resurrection University, Oak Point began its life as the West Suburban Hospital School for Nurses. It now specializes in nursing & radiography programs for upper division & graduate students. Oak Point has a healthy Hispanic presence and supports initiatives such as Service Learning in underserved areas and continuing education for diverse learners. The BSN contains day & evening courses; graduate programs are online.
- Asian: 15.3%
- Black: 14.1%
- Hispanic: 13.8%
- Other: 10.8%
- White: 45.9%
Nursing at Pace
Size & location come with major benefits at Pace. The Lienhard School of Nursing has clinical affiliations with many major healthcare organizations in New York City. Nursing faculty are experienced and diverse. Pass rates are well-above state averages. And graduate programs often achieve solid national rankings. Pace has its own Division of DEI—check out the Barry M. and Jackie Gosin Center for Equity and Inclusion and the People of Color Collective.
Saint Elizabeth University
- Asian: 8.2%
- Black: 21.6%
- Hispanic: 21.6%
- Other: 16.5%
- White: 32.0%
Nursing at SEU
SEU isn’t the biggest of universities, but it has a high proportion of Black and Hispanic students, a reputation for social mobility & low student debt, and a dedicated Inclusion, Equity & Advocacy Committee. The Department of Nursing offers both undergraduate & graduate programs, including RN to BSN programs on partnering campuses, and local medical center & hospital employees are eligible for major tuition discounts.
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
- Asian: 12.9%
- Black: 32.5%
- Hispanic: 13.4%
- Other: 5.3%
- White: 35.9%
Nursing at SUNY Downstate
When you enroll in an top-notch academic medical center in a global city, you see results! Graduates of the College of Nursing often end up working for established New York City hospitals and healthcare centers. NYC students should definitely check out the Pipeline Programs and some of the healthcare initiatives being spearheaded by the the Office of Diversity Education and Research. Downstate also makes a point of emphasizing community involvement.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
- Asian: 2.8%
- Black: 22.2%
- Hispanic: 1.7%
- Other: 10.2%
- White: 63.1%
Nursing at UALR
UALR’s School of Nursing focuses on the undergraduate side of nursing training. Achievement data & pass rates aren’t top-tier, but job placement rates are solid. The school offers a variety of flexible degree pathways, including an Online RN to BSN, and it runs a Professional Development Center for continuing education. Students can take advantage of the Multicultural Center and become part of Student Affairs Diversity Initiatives (SADI).
University of Charleston
- Asian: 3.0%
- Black: 6.1%
- Hispanic: 6.1%
- Other: 21.2%
- White: 63.6%
Nursing at UC
UC’s Department of Nursing is part of the School of Health Sciences. West Virginia is a historically underserved state, so UC students see a wide range of patients. BSN clinical experiences include training at a Level I Trauma Center, a premier cardiac center, and the only free-standing Women’s and Children’s hospital in West Virginia. Better yet, online programs are eminently affordable.
University of Detroit Mercy
- Asian: 6.5%
- Black: 7.9%
- Hispanic: 5.0%
- Other: 9.7%
- White: 70.9%
Nursing at UDM
UDM is rooted in Jesuit & Mercy values, which means it puts a great deal of emphasis on service learning. The McAuley School of Nursing oversees volunteer work by faculty, students, and alumni. It helps to organize clinical, co-op, and internship experiences. And it offers distance learning options for MSN students. Learn more about UDM’s clinical partners in the Detroit area.
University of Illinois Chicago
- Asian: 16.8%
- Black: 12.1%
- Hispanic: 15.9%
- Other: 7.1%
- White: 48.2%
Nursing at UIC
UIC College of Nursing reaps the benefits of being part of a large public research university. It’s affiliated with UI Health. It’s a WHO Collaborating Centre. It operates a nurse-managed clinic. It has faculty who are actively engaged in community practice. And it has made a commitment to Diversity & Inclusion. DEI aspects include an Urban Health Program (UHP), a holistic admissions policy, a virtual Meet & Learn educational series, study abroad opportunities, and more.
University of Miami
- Asian: 7.3%
- Black: 11.2%
- Hispanic: 38.1%
- Other: 8.6%
- White: 34.7%
Nursing at UM
UM is a big private research university, which means the School of Nursing & Health Studies (SONHS) has plenty of resources to offer its diverse student base. It’s affiliated with 200+ clinical partners. Nursing faculty are experienced & equitably represented. Pass rates are consistently solid. International training opportunities are available. And diversity & inclusivity initiatives cover everything from funding to mentorship. It’s no wonder SONHS frequently appears near the top of U.S. News rankings.
University of Nevada – Las Vegas
- Asian: 33.2%
- Black: 4.9%
- Hispanic: 21.2%
- Other: 15.2%
- White: 25.5%
Nursing at UNLV
At UNLV’s School of Nursing, you’ll find tons of degrees, an emphasis on high-level research & community engagement, and a commitment to reaching out. UNLVSON oversees the high school Nurse Camp, the undergraduate Second Responders program, the UNLV Rebel Nurse Mentoring Program (RNMP), and a whole lot more. The school is an NLN Center of Excellence and home to a large number of male nursing students. Check out the faculty profiles and resources section for more info.
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
- Asian: 9.9%
- Black: 4.8%
- Hispanic: 50.1%
- Other: 6.6%
- White: 28.5%
Nursing at UTHSC
For Hispanic students, UTHSC San Antonio’s School of Nursing is a treasure trove. It earns excellent independent reviews. It’s well-funded and research-focused. And it’s embedded in the community. The school operates a mobile health unit used for disaster relief, runs its own Patient Care clinic, and has ties to 400+ clinical affiliates in the local area. Learn more about the outreach work being done by faculty & students. Nursing scholarships are also available.
Western Connecticut State University
- Asian: 9.4%
- Black: 16.0%
- Hispanic: 17.9%
- Other: 4.7%
- White: 51.9%
Nursing at WCSU
WCSU’s Department of Nursing isn’t large, but it offers a full range of nursing programs, including an Online Ed.D. in Nursing and a DNP in partnership with Southern Connecticut State University. Plus it has a large number of male nurses. The WCSU Alumni Nursing Society has more info on graduate achievements. Keep in mind that Online RN to BS students are required to obtain RN licensure in Connecticut.
How to Analyze the Diversity Rankings
There are a few important things to keep in mind when you’re examining the 30 Most Diverse Nursing Schools in the country:
- Academics: Diversity doesn’t always equal academic achievement. Some diverse schools are doing an excellent job of serving their nursing students, but they’re often well-funded and staffed by outstanding faculty (e.g. big private universities, public research universities, and academic healthcare colleges). Smaller state schools often struggle more.
- Tuition & Admissions: Speaking of which, state universities in urban areas that offer low tuition rates to local students are—by default—going to be more diverse. And they usually have a more open admissions policy. Big private universities that are highly ranked can be much more expensive & choosy.
- Gender Parity: A number of schools in our list are strong in gender representation, including FIU, UNLV, UTHSC, and Cal State LA. These are large universities located in major urban areas. You may see more male nurses on these kinds of campuses.
- Diversity & Community: When you’re evaluating a nursing school that’s considered “diverse,” think about how that school connects to its community. Schools like SUNY Downstate make a point of reaching out to their neighborhoods and organizing clinical experiences that cater to local populations & diverse patients.
- Religious Schools: Not all religious schools are the same. Catholic universities with a history of community service can be very bullish on equity & inclusion, welcoming students from all faiths and backgrounds. In contrast, Christian schools that are born from Evangelical roots will often have a Christ-centered approach. Do your homework & analyze the curriculum before applying.