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Graduates from the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, had one of the highest first-time pass rates in the 2020 National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN)—98.5 percent.

This pass rate is higher than both the national average of 86.6 percent and the Tennessee average of 91.6 percent.

The test, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, is used to determine which candidates are adequately prepared to enter real-life practice and work as registered nurses.

“Our dedicated undergraduate faculty and staff work diligently—in the classroom, simulation, and clinical environments—to ensure our nursing students are prepared to successfully pass the NCLEX,” said Shelia Swift, the college’s assistant dean of undergraduate programs. “We are committed to training our students to be exceptional professional nurses, and we appreciate all our clinical partnerships—those in primary care, acute care, and academic service–learning settings—for all they do to assist us in training our nursing students to lead care, create partnerships, and improve health.”

A total of 131 UT graduates from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs took the test for the first time in 2020.

“We are incredibly proud of our nursing students who have been dedicated to their studies and achieved an outstanding first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam, despite overcoming many challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sadie Hutson, executive associate dean of academic affairs for the college. “Our faculty have been passionate in preparing a robust nursing workforce to meet the needs of the state of Tennessee and the country. Our nursing graduates consistently demonstrate a high level of competence and positively impact the health of the communities in which they work and live.”

In addition to the undergraduate traditional and accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, the College of Nursing offers an RN to BSN track as well as graduate degrees and advanced practice certifications, with online and blended formats available for some programs.


Kara Clark (865-974-9498,