In fact, about 85 percent of Excelsior students pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), which is on par with the U.S. average.

Thirty-seven states license Excelsior nurses without any restrictions, including New York and Texas.

However, the Texas legislature has ordered the nursing board there to study how well Excelsior and other online nursing graduates perform compared to other nurses.

“In most professional nursing education programs supervised clinical learning experiences are required,” said Mary Beth Thomas, director of nursing for the Texas board, in an email statement. “Excelsior does not require these same experiences.”

Mary Lee Pollard, Excelsior’s dean of nursing and the former director of the Ellis Hospital School of Nursing, agrees that clinical experience is important.

That is why Excelsior only accepts students who have worked in clinical care professions before they enroll. Most Excelsior students are licensed practical nurses who want to become registered nurses, and others are paramedics or military corpsmen. The average age of an Excelsior student is 40.

In order to graduate, Excelsior students must pass a three-day evaluation of their clinical skills in a hospital setting with real patients.

“They have developed a very rigorous evaluation process for students where they come into a hospital on a weekend and they must successfully pass three patient scenarios and they have to pass 100 percent of the clinical lab,” said Glenda Kelman, chairwoman of the nursing department at Sage Colleges.


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