USC Upstate Celebrates 97% Pass Rate on National Nursing Exam

Nursing graduates of the Mary Black College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina Upstate achieved a 97% pass rate on the 2023 National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The rate is a nearly 15% increase from 2022.

“Our dedication, commitment, and targeted efforts to increase NCLEX-RN pass rates are truly reflected in these outcomes,” said Dr. Shirleatha Dunlap, dean of the Mary Black College of Nursing. “Our first-time pass rate was well above the 2023 national average of 88%. Not only did we meet, but we exceeded our goal.”

In 2023, 148 BSN graduates took the NCLEX, which is required to receive a nursing license. Of those, 143 passed the exam on their first attempt.

“I congratulate our nursing graduates for their exceptional performance on last year’s NCLEX,” said Dr. Bennie L. Harris, chancellor of USC Upstate. “It speaks not only to the quality of our instructors, but also to the hard work and commitment of our students. With South Carolina experiencing a critical nursing shortage, I am proud so many of our graduates will soon be providing the skilled health care our state residents need.”

The USC Upstate cohort represents the fourth-largest group of nursing graduates in the state.

Dunlap attributed the improved NCLEX performance to a concerted and strategic effort to improve pass rates. “Our faculty have been truly committed to student success, and have worked hard to update our curriculum, review assessment testing benchmarks, align course objectives throughout the curriculum, and conduct a gap analysis for curricular concepts,” she said.

“Our students have also worked hard and heeded the advice and guidance of faculty and staff as they were preparing to take the licensure examination and transition into practice,” she added.   

Going forward, Dunlap said the faculty will work to maintain consistency every year in NCLEX scores. “We know how important it is for our students to graduate and pass the licensure examination on the first try so they can smoothly and seamlessly transition into practice to meet nursing workforce needs,” she said.