Kaplan University Review

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Kaplan University is a proprietary, online university that provides distance learning for undergraduate, graduate and continuing professional education. It offers both bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing that can be completed in two, four and five years, respectively.

Note: It was announced in April 2017 that Purdue University is creating a new public university which it is accomplishing by purchasing Kaplan University. This includes its institutional operations and assets, which include 15 campuses and learning centers. This also will include its current 32,000 students, and 3,000 employees.

All current Kaplan students are being transferred to the new university. Some of the available programs may change in the coming years, but we expect Kaplan/Purdue will continue to offer online nursing programs to students.

Favorite Features

Nursing programs are accredited by the CCNE

Professionals who are considering an online nursing degree should carefully verify that their university’s program has been properly accredited by a respected educational body.

In nursing, the most respected body for accrediting bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This is an autonomous accrediting organization that contributes to the public health by ensuring that nursing education programs are providing quality nursing education.

The Commission is charged with ensuring that bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in nursing possess both integrity and quality. CCNE accreditation is a peer review process that functions according to nationally recognized standards that have been established in the US.

All of the nursing programs at Kaplan University have been accredited by the CCNE.

Kaplan University offers robust academic support and services

Kaplan is largely an online university, thus it is critical that it offers strong academic support and services to its students. The best online universities offer very strong support for their students that compare favorably to campus based students.

At Kaplan University, you can get assistance as you need it from these online services:

  • Academic support centers
  • Career services
  • Campus learning center facilities
  • Kaplan University libraries
  • Media library
  • Center for Disability Services

Career services is of particular importance because online students may need more help than campus based students to find work opportunities. Some of the many career services that you can access at Kaplan include career assessment, resume and cover letter review, mock interview, job search support, career fairs online, and 24/7 access to open jobs and career development tools.

Low tuition rates per credit hour

The cost of tuition at Kaplan University per credit hour is very reasonable:

  • $385 in state or out of state for Master of Science in Nursing
  • $315 in state and out of state for Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • $700 in state and out of state for Doctor of Nursing Practice

For a master’s degree, your entire tuition cost is only $23,100 for the entire program. You also will need to pay for books and some other associated fees, but your entire investment will be well under $30,000. This is a very reasonable cost, especially when you consider that master’s degree holders in nursing can earn up to $100,000 per year.

On a related note, Kaplan University also offers a discount for active military that amounts to $60 less per credit hour for the MSN program. This makes these programs extremely affordable for active duty military, military veterans and spouses of military members.

Least Favorite Features

Kaplan University is not ranked by US News and World Report

Kaplan University is a for profit, proprietary university, and as such, is not ranked by the most common college program ranking organizations, such as US News and World Report and The Princeton Review.

How important is this ranking? With online universities such as Kaplan, it could be significant. For profit colleges that largely work online may be viewed more skeptically by some employers and professionals in the healthcare industry.

However, it is important to note that the nursing programs are accredited by the CCNE, and the entire university also holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Very low published graduation rates

According to data that can be found online, Kaplan University’s graduation rate at its Davenport, Iowa campus is very low. Only 10.8% of students there graduate on time. A very high percentage drop out, and only 33% of freshmen return for their second year.

It is concerning that this campus has such a low graduation and retention rate. However, this does not necessarily reflect the graduation rate of online students in the various nursing programs.

Uncertainty looms with acquisition by Purdue University

As noted at the top of this review, Kaplan University’s assets are being acquired by Purdue University, including its 32,000 current students. It is unclear at this time how this will affect the nursing programs in the short and long term. It is possible that this will only improve the quality of the online nursing programs, but this is pure speculation.

The Details

General Information

  • Founded in 1937
  • Application deadline: Rolling
  • Application fee: $50
  • School type: Public
  • Term Schedule: Semester
  • Location: Davenport, Iowa

Tuition Rates (Per Credit)

  • $385 in state or out of state for Master of Science in Nursing
  • $315 in state and out of state for Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • $700 in state and out of state for Doctor of Nursing Practice

Nursing Degrees

  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice


  • Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Leader, Informatics or Nurse Educator

Nursing Certificates

  • Adult/gerontology nurse practitioner certificate
  • Executive leader graduate certificate
  • Family nurse practitioner certificate
  • Nurse educator graduate certificate

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • 33% freshmen retention rate at the Davenport, Iowa campus makes it among the worst in the US. This does not reflect the online nursing programs however.
  • 8% of full time students graduate on time at the Davenport campus, and only 10.8% graduate at all.
  • 2% of students at the Davenport campus graduated within 150% of the expected time; most of them dropped out.

US News Rankings

  • This university is unranked by US News and World Report