Introduction to Nursing Programs in Toronto

nursing programs toronto

The nursing profession is one of the most in-demand and rewarding careers in Canada. With an aging population and growing focus on community-based healthcare, there is a continuous need for qualified, compassionate nurses across the country. As the largest city in Canada and a global hub for healthcare and medical research, Toronto offers some of the best nursing programs and ultimate career opportunities for aspiring nurses.

There are many great reasons to consider becoming a registered nurse. Canada’s national occupation classification lists registered nursing as one of the top 5 skills-shortage occupations in the country. The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) projects that Canada will be short of 60,000 registered nurses by the year 2022 due to population growth, an aging workforce, and increasing healthcare demands. This translates into excellent job prospects for nursing graduates. The average registered nursing salary in Ontario is over $80,000 annually.

Nurses also have immense career flexibility as they can specialize in diverse healthcare settings from hospitals to community health centers, doctors’ clinics, schools, and more. The holistic nursing curriculum empowers students with a wide range of medical knowledge from pharmacology to physical examinations. The rewarding nature of the job and ability to directly impact people’s health and wellbeing also attracts many to the field.

Specifically studying nursing in Toronto has added advantages due to the abundance of world-class medical facilities, research institutes, and diverse urban communities to gain clinical experience in. Toronto hospitals often top Canadian rankings for nursing excellence and innovation. The city’s multicultural population also allows nursing students to become adept at providing culturally-competent care.

Overall, entering an accredited nursing program in Toronto serves as the perfect gateway to a meaningful and in-demand career improving healthcare for those in need.

Top Nursing Programs in Toronto

Toronto is home to some of Canada’s top nursing schools, colleges and universities offering accredited programs to equip students with the skills and knowledge to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and pursue registered nursing licensure. Here is an overview of five highly-ranked nursing programs in Toronto:

Centennial College

Centennial College is Ontario’s first public college offering a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Centennial has an excellent reputation as one of Toronto’s top nursing schools for its state-of-the-art simulation labs, rigorous curriculum, and prime location connected to three major hospitals.

Nursing Programs Offered:

  • 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • 2-year accelerated program for those with a prior university degree
  • Focused programs: Perioperative Nursing, Critical Care Nursing

Admissions Requirements:

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent
  • Six Grade 12 U/M courses
  • Competitive admission average of mid to high 70s
  • CASPer test
  • Immunizations, CPR certification

Tuition Fees:

$6,550 per year

Campus and Student Life

Modern downtown campus equipped with advanced simulation labs. Strong reputation for innovative nursing curriculum integrating theory, practice and critical thinking. Connected to three partner hospitals for optimum clinical placements. Vibrant, diverse student community and range of support services.

George Brown College

George Brown College is another highly-ranked college for nursing in Toronto. Its nursing degree integrates extensive practical training at state-of-the art labs with theoretical foundations.

Programs Offered:

  • 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • 2-year accelerated program for those with a prior university degree

Admissions Requirements:

  • OSSD or equivalent with six Grade 12 U/M level courses
  • Competitive admission average in 70s range
  • CASPer test
  • Immunizations, CPR certification

Tuition Fees:

$6,795 per year

Campus and Student Life

Modern waterfront campus with strong focus on simulation training and small class sizes for individualized coaching. Connected to several excellent hospital partners for clinical experience. Vibrant student life including the George Brown Nursing Student Society club.

Humber College

Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning is known for its high caliber nursing program integrating theoretical knowledge with extensive hands-on clinical training.

Programs Offered:

  • 4-year Bachelor of Nursing degree
  • 2-year accelerated program for those with a prior university degree

Admissions Requirements:

  • OSSD or equivalent plus six Grade 12 U/M courses
  • Competitive admission average
  • Immunizations, CPR certification
  • CASPer test

Tuition Fees:

$6,784 per year

Campus and Student Life

Cutting-edge simulation hospital labs with advanced mannequins. Small class sizes focused on practical, hands-on development of clinical skills. Strong campus culture focused on peer support.

Ryerson University

The Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing at Ryerson University is recognized as one of Ontario’s premier nursing schools providing a rigorous 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Programs Offered:

  • 4-year BScN degree
  • Offered full-time or through a flexible part-time option

Admissions Requirements:

  • OSSD plus six 4U/M courses with competitive grades
  • CASPer test
  • CPR and immunization records

Tuition Fees:

Approximately $7,590 per year

Campus and Student Life

Cutting-edge nursing simulation labs. Small class sizes focused on mentorship. Connected to several excellent hospital partners for clinical placements. Vibrant downtown campus life including the Ryerson Nursing Course Union student group.

York University

The School of Nursing at York University is known for its social justice approach emphasizing health promotion and community-based care.

Programs Offered:

  • 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree

Admissions Requirements:

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma plus six 4U/M courses
  • Competitive admission average
  • CASPer test
  • CPR certification

Tuition Fees:

Approximately $7,250 per year

Campus and Student Life

Emphasizes social justice, health equity, and determinants of health lens. Chance to engage with diverse Toronto communities through clinical placements. Small class sizes focused on critical thinking and leadership. New state-of-the-art simulation lab facility.

Key Differences Between Top Nursing Programs in Toronto

While Toronto nursing schools and programs share some commonalities, there are some key differences in nursing degrees, specializations offered, program length and formats which allow prospective students to choose the best fit for their goals:

Types of Nursing Degrees Offered

Most nursing programs offer a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. This fully prepares students to meet all competencies tested on the NCLEX-RN national exam for registered nursing licensure.

Some schools also offer accelerated 2-year nursing degrees for candidates who already possess an undergraduate degree such as a Bachelors of Arts or Science. This allows them to fast-track and focus exclusively on nursing curriculum.

Certain colleges like Centennial also provide focused nursing programs such as Critical Care Nursing and Perioperative Nursing for registered nurses looking to specialize.

Program Length and Formats

While the standard program length is four years, schools like Ryerson University also offer part-time nursing degree options which allow students to complete courses at a slower pace. This provides added flexibility to balance work and academics.

Accelerated two-year “fast track” nursing programs cater towards candidates with existing degrees who can focus exclusively on nursing. They condense four years of curriculum into an intensive two years.

Clinical Placement Opportunities

All accredited programs meet the same nursing curriculum requirements. A key advantage of Toronto programs is connections with world-class hospital partners to gain clinical experience in diverse settings – from large research hospitals to community health centers serving vulnerable populations.

Small cohorts also allow for more clinical placement opportunities for individuals rather than only observing. This level of hands-on development is invaluable.

Specialization Options

After gaining RN licensure, nurses can choose to specialize through focused BScN programs, graduate certificates or master’s degrees in areas like neonatal care, oncology nursing, mental health nursing, geriatric care and more.

Many Toronto nursing schools offer post-graduate specialty college certificates or course bundles in high-demand areas which nurses can complete part-time while working.

Nursing Program Application Process

Here is a step-by-step overview of the typical application cycle for BScN programs in Toronto:


  • Applications open a year in advance of the program start date
  • Competitive admission averages in the 70s-80s% range
  • Certain documents and tests are required for nursing program applications

Required Documents

Typical documentation required includes:

  • Completed program application
  • Official high school and any post-secondary transcripts
  • Proof of immunizations (tetanus, diphtheria, measles, etc.)
  • CPR Level C certificate
  • Personal statement/essays
  • Resume
  • 2-3 professional references

International students require additional documents including language testing and educational credential assessments.

Admissions Criteria

Admissions are highly competitive with certain prerequisites:

  • Meet general university/college entrance requirements
  • Completed specific high school courses
  • Minimum admission averages in 70-80s% range
  • Strong performance in CASPer test
  • Relevant healthcare exposure
  • Immunizations and CPR certification
  • Criminal record check

Scholarships and Financial Aid Opportunities

There are excellent government and institutional nursing scholarships and financial aid options including:

  • Ontario Nursing Education Initiative (ONEI)
  • Registered Nurses Foundation of Ontario (RNFOO) awards
  • Institutional needs-based funding and bursaries
  • Ontario and Canada student loans/grants

Securing funding early is advisable given competitive program costs.

Nursing Career Prospects in Toronto

Gaining licensure as a Registered Nurse in Ontario opens diverse and rewarding career paths with high demand. Here are key highlights:

In-Demand Nursing Job Types

  • Hospital settings: ER, ICU, OR, mental health, oncology, neonatal units
  • Community and home care – visiting patients for treatments
  • Long-term care facilities – caring for geriatric residents
  • Private clinics – doctors’ offices, rehabilitation centers
  • School health services – providing campus healthcare

Top Employers for Nurses in Toronto

Toronto hospitals lead national rankings for nursing excellence and work environment. Top employers include:

  • University Health Network
  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • Toronto General Hospital
  • Mount Sinai Hospital
  • St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Women’s College Hospital

Salaries and Job Outlook for Toronto Nurses

The average registered nursing salary in Ontario is over $80,000 annually with immense growth:

  • Median Salary: $86,483 per year [Source]
  • Job Growth: 16% increase by 2028 – well above national job market growth [Source]

Obtaining Nursing Licensure in Ontario

To practice as an RN in Ontario, graduates must:

  • Pass the NCLEX-RN national nursing exam
  • Apply for registration with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO)
  • Complete the CNO Jurisprudence Exam on legislation, ethics and professional standards

The CNO will also conduct background checks and review documentation before awarding nursing licensure allowing legal practice.

Conclusion and Next Steps

We hope this guide provided helpful insights into the top tier nursing programs available in Toronto to launch your career, along with their differences, admissions processes, and career prospects for nursing graduates. Toronto’s cutting-edge healthcare sector, diverse populations, and wealth of respected nursing schools make it an ideal location to gain advanced nursing competencies.

Here are the key next steps to choose and prepare for admission into an accredited Toronto nursing program:

  • Research program curriculums, clinical opportunities, campus culture
  • Compare nursing concentrations and specializations offered
  • Enroll in relevant healthcare experiences like hospital volunteering to strengthen your application
  • Determine funding/scholarship options early for financial ease
  • Prepare thoroughly for admission tests like CASPer to excel

Wishing you the very best as you take your first steps towards this meaningful nursing journey ahead!

How long does it take to become a nurse in Toronto?

The quickest pathway is a 2-year accelerated bachelor’s of nursing degree already having a prior undergrad degree. Typical BScN programs take 4 years. After graduating, students must pass the NCLEX exam and register with the College of Nurses of Ontario to practice as an RN.

What is the best school for nursing in Toronto?

Top ranked nursing schools in Toronto are Ryerson University, York University, Centennial College, George Brown College and Humber College known for state-of-the-art simulation labs and hospital partnerships.

Is there a 2 year nursing degree in Canada?

Yes, schools like Centennial College, George Brown and Ryerson in Toronto offer 2-year accelerated bachelor’s of nursing degrees for candidates who already have an undergraduate degree, allowing them to fast-track the 4-year program.

What is the quickest nursing program?

The fastest route is an accelerated 2nd entry bachelor’s of nursing degree for those with a prior degree seeking a career change to nursing. This intensive 2-year program quickly develops advanced clinical skills through simulations.

What is the easiest type of RN?

School nurse RN roles are considered easier with traditional hours and less stressful critical care needs. RNs can also explore easier nursing careers in settings like clinics, public health and insurance companies.

What is the fastest way to become a nurse in Canada?

The quickest pathway is an accelerated 24 month 2nd degree entry bachelor’s of nursing program offered to candidates with an existing humanities, health science or science undergraduate degree.

Which nursing year is the hardest?

The 3rd year of a 4 year BScN program is typically considered the most difficult given intense focus on pharmacology, complex health assessments and rigorous clinical placement hours at hospitals.

Which nursing course is the hardest?

Many nursing students indicate that critical care nursing is the most difficult course dealing with high-acuity patients. Other demanding classes are pathophysiology, advanced health assessments and mental health nursing.

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