University of Dubuque Named One of the Best Registered Nursing Programs in Iowa

Feb 18, 2021 | University Relations staff

DUBUQUE, Iowa - The University of Dubuque’s nursing program was named one of the best registered nursing programs in Iowa for the fourth consecutive year., a nursing advocacy organization, placed UD second on the 2021 Best RN Programs in Iowa.

“We are so pleased to receive the distinction again, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that last year’s graduates dealt with a lot: uncertainty, an abrupt switch to remote learning, and the loss of some hands-on clinical experiences. It really is amazing how well they did on their NCLEX exam, and we are tremendously proud of their accomplishment and the success the previous BSN class had on the exam as well,” said Peg Kerr, head of the nursing department and a professor of nursing. ranked the Top 10 nursing schools in Iowa by analyzing current and historical pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) out of the 33 registered nursing programs in the state. Used by all state boards of nursing across the United States to help measure a student’s competency, the exam is required for licensure.

In 2020, UD had a 94 percent first time NCLEX-RN pass rate, above the state and national averages of 87 percent each. The University’s first time pass rate was 100 percent the previous four years.

UD’s nursing program is designed around a 21st century curriculum devoted to meeting the demands of 21st century health care. A variety of factors help maintain a commitment of excellence to students.

“Our small class size and student-to-faculty ratio in the clinical setting allows us to provide quality clinical experiences and pay attention to the individual learning needs of every student. In addition, we have a stable group of faculty who are not only experienced nurse educators but also maintain clinical relevance by continuing to practice nursing in area hospitals. And, finally, our curriculum has proven to provide the necessary content to prepare students for entry-level competence and to perform well on the NCLEX exam,” Kerr said.

Elena Krasowski, a junior nursing major, agreed. She said she appreciates the experience her professors bring to the classroom and know they care about educating and helping students.

There are 59 students in the pre-nursing program and 51 students in the bachelor of science in nursing program at UD.

“I’m proud to be part of the University of Dubuque nursing program,” said Cailyn Pienschke, a junior nursing major. “It’s a lot of work and it’s definitely not easy, but it’s worth it.” 

Learn more about UD’s nursing program by visiting

View’s 2021 – Best Nursing Schools in Iowa ranking by visiting