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Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Recognized as one of the best nursing schools in Iowa, Clarke University offers a holistic approach to nursing that emphasizes science, hands-on learning, and compassion for others’ care. The nursing school curriculum at Clarke University focuses on promoting, maintaining, and restoring the health of communities, families, and individuals across their lifespan. You will be guided through your BSN program by faculty mentors who expertly blend theory and practice in the major areas of nursing.

You’ll gain practical experience in your first year, thanks to state-of-the-art facilities like the Marie Miske Center for Science Inquiry. This includes access to our simulator lab, where you will work with industry-grade equipment and tools in real-life scenarios, as well as our 10-table, medical school-quality cadaver lab. You will also take part in three years of clinical experience at area health care facilities, including everything from operating and emergency care to specialized fields like oncology and cardiac rehabilitation. With each clinical group limited to eight students, you will receive one-on-one attention and support to ensure you get the most from your education.

Clarke University Nursing degree student getting real world application of learning

Learning in Action

Below is a small sampling of the types of classes you may take as a Clarke nursing major :

COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE — Learn to promote the health of individuals, families, communities through planning and application of the nursing process.

CARE OF CHILDBEARING FAMILIES — Explore the needs of childbearing families from pregnancy, delivery to postpartum care. From normal to high-risk situations, Clarke students are put to the test!

PRINCIPLES OF PHARMACOLOGY — Discuss the role of drugs in restoring health, preventing illness, and enhancing life while learning about pharmacologic and nursing concepts.

Achieve your nursing goals

Upon graduation, you will be prepared for positions across the country in health maintenance organizations, hospitals, clinics, sub-acute, long-term and outpatient care facilities, and community health agencies. Alternatively, you will also have the foundational knowledge to pursue continued education like your Doctor of Nursing Practice. Whatever route you choose, earning your BSN with Clarke puts you on the path to success in this fulfilling and in-demand field.

“Our only recommendation is that you send us more Clarke nursing graduates. They are the best-prepared nurses we have hired and step into the position ahead of the rest because of their hands-on experience in real hospital settings.”

– Professional nurse from MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center

Clarke University Nursing degree students in class

Experiences Like No Other

At Clarke, we’ve created a unique preceptorship program that allows our nursing students to get experience in real hospital settings beyond what any clinical can offer. You’ll complete 120 hours of service in the unit and care setting of your choice, implementing the skills you’ve learned in the classroom. With one-on-one mentorship from a working nurse, you’ll gain professional experience that prepares you to be a confident, skilled nurse.

Watch the video to hear students share their preceptorship experiences.

Program Details

How You’ll Learn
At Clarke University, you’ll enjoy classes that explore the latest tools, technologies, and best practices in the field of nursing. Combined with hands-on experience through our high-fidelity simulator lab and clinical placements, you will graduate ready to pursue your career and goals.

Clinicals and Internships
Clarke nursing students gain on-the-job experience through clinical placements in operating rooms, emergency rooms, diabetic and dialysis centers, cardiac catheter labs, cardiac rehabilitation, oncology and more. We partner with Dubuque area hospitals as well as national health care organizations, such as:

  • Unity Point Health/Finley Hospital
  • MercyOne Trinity Health System
  • Hospice of Dubuque
  • Regional Cancer Centers


Admission to Clarke University

Continue with Clarke’s Doctor of Nursing Program
Many of our Clarke Nursing students choose to continue their education through our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, which can take as little as three years. Our nationally recognized program offers you the flexibility to continue your nursing education while keeping up with work and home demands. DNP classes are hybrid, meeting face-to-face the first and third Thursdays of each month. Cohorts are limited to 20 students. Doctor of Nursing Practice students will complete 1,000 clinical hours specific to their concentration.

DNP concentrations include: Family Nurse Practitioner, Health Leadership Practice, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Nursing Program Outcomes

  • 95% percent of Clarke BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) graduates have job offers before graduation.
  • 90% of employers rate Clarke Nursing students higher than graduates from other nursing schools.
  • RN Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) Pass Rates: For the May 2021 BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) graduating class, of those who tested in the first six months after graduation, the pass rate was 100%.

Applicants are considered on an individual basis. Apply to Clarke today to begin your journey. 

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Meet Our Faculty

When our nursing graduates speak about how Clarke  shaped them as health care providers, there’s always a professor in the story. That’s because being a faculty member in Clarke University’s nursing department requires a deep passion for educating, encouraging, and empowering students. Here, your nursing professors will know your name. They will push you to develop your full potential and help you become the best version of yourself.
View Our Faculty & Staff
Lisa Rettenmeier, Ed.D.

Lisa Rettenmeier, Ed.D.

Chair and Professor of Nursing

I believe that nursing is not only about teaching skills, nursing is about caring for whole person, the body, mind, and spirit.  Nurses are driven intrinsically by “the virtues of serving, caring, respecting, empowering, and helping without asking for anything in return” (Sergiovanni, 2005, p. 74).  This statement exemplifies the virtues on which the nursing profession is founded and continues to shape my philosophy and professional teaching practice.

Kristin Tiernan, DNP

Kristin Tiernan, DNP

Associate Professor of Nursing

I hope that I help my students develop or expound on their passion for nursing. I want them to feel and see what an impact they will have on their patients.

Pieper Lundell, MSN

Pieper Lundell, MSN

Assistant Professor of Nursing

As a nurse, you can make a lifelong impact on your patients’ lives. They may be going through the worst or the best time of their lives, and you are the one who is by their side.

Ashley Cleary

Ashley Cleary

Instructor of Nursing

I challenge them to see how a Clarke education, with its core values of freedom, education, justice, and charity, encompasses the values that guide nursing practice.  I encourage them to consider how nursing practice guided by these values recognizes each patient as an individual worthy of loving and compassionate care.

Penny Demert-Neal

Penny Demert-Neal

Instructor of Nursing

As an instructor, I hope to challenge students intellectually and to teach them how to critically think. My goal is for the students to provide the best possible care for their patients each and every day. I hope I can convey my love and passion for nursing and help them to understand what a wonderful profession they chose.  The most important aspect of teaching for me is the relationship of trust that develops between the students and faculty.

Getting ready to take notes in a Clarke University English Class
There’s more to college than going to class.

The Classroom and Beyond

But don’t take our word for it…

Our Students & Alumni

Lauren Trojnar

Lauren Trojnar

Nursing '19

It was so exciting being fit for scrubs! I plan to be a pediatric nurse. I love working with children.

Ellie Ament

Ellie Ament

Nursing '16

My Clarke experience was amazing. I was selected for a competitive externship at Mayo Clinic, working in hematology/oncology the summer of my junior year. After that, I was subsequently offered a job there before I even graduated!

Josh Meier

Josh Meier

Nursing '21

The health care field is something I have always had a passion for. I chose nursing because of the flexibility, reward, and opportunities that come with it. I really enjoy this field because we have the ability to make sure patients receive the care they need and help those who can’t help themselves.

7 %
Job growth

Percent that employment of registered nurses is projected to grow from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Faster than the average for all occupations.


The 2020 median pay for registered nurses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

100 %
Community service

All senior nursing students provide community health services to vulnerable populations in the Dubuque area.


The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Clarke University is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Clarke University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

Other Programs to Explore

Experience Clarke Nursing for Yourself

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