Best Nursing Programs In The Pacific Northwest

Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by

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Earning a nursing degree is a major investment in education. Students who study nursing benefit by gaining problem-solving, critical-thinking, communication and technological skills. These skills may help them to find a job or qualify them for higher salaries compared to those who do not have the same level of education.

Best Nursing Programs In The Pacific Northwest

For our 2019 rankings, the research team at Nursing Schools Almanac collected data on over 3,000 nursing schools and campuses throughout the United States. We included the following states within our West rankings: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. We evaluated each nursing school in the region on three dimensions:

  • The institution’s academic prestige and perceived value
  • The breadth and depth of nursing programs offered
  • Student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination

We then combined these assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly. For a detailed description of our assessment methodology and dimension weights, please see here.


#1: University of California, San Francisco | San Francisco, CA
For the past decade, UCSF School of Nursing has placed among the top two nursing schools in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The school’s master of science in nursing (MSN) program offers 15 specialty areas, including several clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and nurse practitioner (NP) roles. UCSF conducts a master’s entry program which prepares non-nurses for initial licensure; graduates have achieved an outstanding National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) pass rate of 94% since 2008. The university also has an online master’s degree in healthcare administration and interprofessional leadership, as well as doctor of philosophy (PhD) tracks in both nursing and sociology.

#2: University of Washington | Seattle, WA
The University of Washington School of Nursing has been a top-rated nursing school by U.S. News & World Report for twenty years. UW offers the full breadth of nursing degrees: traditional and accelerated BSN programs, an MS in clinical informatics and patient-centered technologies, a PhD in nursing science, and 11 DNP tracks. Students can also pursue graduate certificates in areas ranging from palliative care to nurse-midwifery. UW’s graduating BSN class of 130-150 students annually has passed the NCLEX exam at a strong 93% first-try rate over the past decade.

#3: Oregon Health & Science University | Portland, OR
OHSU School of Nursing is one of the state’s largest nursing schools, with an enrollment of 1,100 students across five campuses (Portland, Ashland, Monmouth, La Grande, Klamath Falls) and online. OHSU offers a traditional BSN at all five campuses, an accelerated BSN in Portland and Ashland with seamless MSN/DNP transition, and an RN-to-BSN program in Portland and online. Traditional BSN students have achieved a first-time NCLEX pass rate of 90-95% in each of the past eight years. Accelerated BSN students have fared even better, consistently posting 93-99% NCLEX pass rates throughout that period. OHSU offers graduate specialties in nurse anesthesia, nurse midwifery, and four nurse practitioner roles: family, adult-gerontology acute care, psychiatric-mental health, and pediatric.

#4: University of California, Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA
UCLA School of Nursing has earned numerous national accolades. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the school #20 in the country for graduate nursing studies, and UCLA ranked #9 in 2016 NIH research funding for schools of nursing. Approximately 600 nursing students are enrolled across the university’s BSN, MSN, and PhD programs. The MSN program offers a direct-entry track for non-nurses which leads to CNL certification, as well as numerous advanced practice tracks in various NP and CNS specialties. UCLA students are well prepared for licensure: the school’s BSN graduates have maintained an 83% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate since program launch, while direct-entry MSN candidates have passed the exam at an 89% clip.

#5: University of Utah | Salt Lake City, UT
The University of Utah College of Nursing produces 250-300 graduates annually across its many nursing programs. Prelicensure BSN students have achieved an impressive first-time NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 94% since 2010. The college also offers an RN-to-BSN completion program for existing registered nurses; MSN focuses in care management, education, and informatics; and six DNP subspecialties, including five NP roles and nurse midwifery. The University of Utah’s distance PhD program has both BSN-to-PhD and MSN-to-PhD tracks. Indeed, the College of Nursing ranked #2 nationwide in 2015 NIH funding for nursing research.

#6: Samuel Merritt University | Oakland, CA
Samuel Merritt University has prepared professional nurses for a century. Undergraduates can enroll in either a traditional or accelerated BSN program. Across the two pathways, SMU graduates 350-400 BSN students each year who have passed the NCLEX exam at an 88% rate since 2008. Just as impressively, the school’s entry-level MSN program, which graduates 80-100 students annually, has a 90% NCLEX exam pass rate over that same time period. MSN students may prepare for careers as a case manager, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), or family nurse practitioner. The university also offers a DNP degree with an FNP specialization. All SMU nursing students have access to global medical mission opportunities as well as the Health Sciences Simulation Center, one of the region’s most advanced healthcare simulation facilities.

#7: University of Portland | Portland, OR
The University of Portland School of Nursing awards BSN, MSN, and DNP degrees. The baccalaureate program incorporates study abroad experiences in countries like Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Tanzania. UP produces approximately 200 BSN graduates annually who have averaged a solid 89% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. The graduate program employs a convenient hybrid delivery model of monthly immersion weekends and online learning modules. UP offers an MSN degree with clinical nurse leader and nurse educator tracks, as well as a DNP program with a family nurse practitioner population focus.

#8: University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus | Denver, CO
In 1965, the University of Colorado (CU) College of Nursing instituted the first nurse practitioner and school nurse programs in the United States. In 2005, the college became one of the first seven schools in the nation to launch the new DNP program. Today, the College of Nursing enrolls approximately 1,000 students across a wide breadth of nursing degree and certificate programs. Undergraduates can pursue five BSN pathways: traditional, honors, accelerated, an integrated community college partnership, and RN-to-BSN. For an astonishing twelve years in a row, the college’s 200-plus annual BSN graduates have passed the NCLEX exam at a 91% or higher rate. At the graduate level, CU offers eleven MSN specialty tracks, a distance-accessible PhD program, a DNP degree with a public health nursing (PHN) focus, and a dual DNP/MPH track.

#9: Washington State University | Spokane, WA
The WSU College of Nursing has educated more than 8,000 nursing professionals since 1968. The school offers programs at five campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Walla Walla, and Yakima. Undergraduates may pursue a traditional BSN at three sites (Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Yakima) or a flexible RN-to-BSN program at all five. The college graduates approximately 250 prelicensure BSN students each year, with a solid 88% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. In graduate study, WSU offers two MSN tracks (nurse leader, nurse educator), three DNP tracks (family nurse practitioner, psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner, population health nurse), and a nursing PhD program. All graduate programs support multiple entry points.

#10: University of San Diego | San Diego, CA
U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks USD’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science in the top tier of graduate nursing schools. USD offers a direct-entry MSN option for non-nurses; this pathway graduates 30-50 new nurses each year and has maintained a 91% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. Existing nurses can pursue an MSN in eight different areas of emphasis, a DNP with two entry points (post-BSN, post-MSN), or a PhD with three entry points (post-BSN, post-MSN, post-DNP). In addition to a diverse collection of graduate offerings, Hahn provides the opportunity to participate in international mission trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

#11: Western University of Health Sciences | Pomona, CA
The College of Graduate Nursing (CGN) at Western University of Health Sciences launched the nation’s first online curriculum for family nurse practitioners. The school also established the first DNP and direct-entry MSN programs in Southern California. CGN’s direct-entry MSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at a strong 90% rate over the past decade, including a 100% pass rate during the 2012-13 academic year. In addition to direct entry, the MSN program offers a bridge option for RNs with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). MSN students can choose to specialize as administrative nurse leaders, clinical nurse leaders, ambulatory care nurses, or family nurse practitioners. A post-master’s FNP certificate is also available.

#12: Loma Linda University | Loma Linda, CA
At Loma Linda University, students have access to the largest medical simulation center in the United States. They are also proximally located to Loma Linda University Medical Center, which hosts some of the nation’s largest clinical programs. Undergraduate pathways include the traditional BSN, accelerated BSN for non-nursing degree-holders, LVN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. The prelicensure pathways have grown rapidly in recent years: LLU graduated over 150 new BSN-educated nurses during the 2014-15 academic year, and graduates have earned a solid NCLEX pass rate of 86% since 2008. The university also offers MSN tracks for aspiring CRNAs, nurse administrators, and nurse educators, in addition to DNP and nursing PhD programs.

#13: Regis University | Denver, CO
The Loretto Heights School of Nursing (LHSON) offers a broad range of nursing degree and certificate programs. Undergraduates can choose one of five BSN pathways: traditional, accelerated (for non-nursing college graduates), CHOICE (for individuals working in healthcare), RN-to-BSN, or RN-to-BSN/MSN. Across the three prelicensure pathways, BSN graduates have averaged a strong 92% NCLEX exam pass rate since 2012. The graduate nursing department provides MSN tracks in education, management, family nurse practitioner, and neonatal nurse practitioner, as well as graduate certificates in most of these fields. LHSON also leads a two- to three-year DNP program that students may complete 100% online.

#14: Gonzaga University | Spokane, WA
Gonzaga University’s School of Nursing & Human Physiology offers a variety of baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional prelicensure BSN. Admission occurs during freshman year and is highly competitive. Not surprisingly, BSN students perform exceptionally well on the NCLEX licensure exam, posting a 91% first-time pass rate over the past decade. Gonzaga’s MSN program is offered entirely online, featuring three entry points (traditional, post-ADN, second master’s) and three specialty tracks (health systems leadership, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner). The university offers two doctoral nursing programs: a doctor of nurse anesthesia practice (DNAP) ranked in the top 20 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, and an online DNP.

#15: Pacific Lutheran University | Tacoma, WA
The School of Nursing at Pacific Lutheran University offers a top-tier MSN program with several entry points and specializations. Entry points include the traditional post-BSN program, an RN-to-MSN pathway for nurses with a bachelor’s degree in another field, and an entry-level program for non-nurses. Students can specialize as either an advanced generalist or a clinical nurse leader. The entry-level MSN program is select, admitting just 20-30 candidates each year, and its students have maintained an exceptional 96% NCLEX exam pass rate over the past decade. The School of Nursing also offers two BSN pathways – traditional and LPN bridge – as well as a DNP program that prepares aspiring family nurse practitioners and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners. Approximately 80 BSN graduates annually have averaged a 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade.

#16: Azusa Pacific University | Azusa, CA
Azusa Pacific University School of Nursing has a nursing program for every career objective. Undergraduates can pursue a four-year BSN, an LVN-to-BSN bridge, an RN-to-BSN completion program, or the Two-Plus-Two BSN. The final option is a unique track designed for APU transfer students. Prelicensure BSN candidates have passed the NCLEX exam at a solid 84% first-time rate since 2007. The university’s MSN program includes a direct-entry pathway, and these students have demonstrated a similarly strong NCLEX pass rate of 86%. The MSN curriculum features specialties in nursing education, school nursing, two CNS areas, and four NP roles. APU also offers a DNP program, a nursing PhD program, and eight post-master’s nursing certificates.

#17: California State University, Long Beach | Long Beach, CA
The CSULB School of Nursing graduates 100-200 new nurses annually through its prelicensure BSN program, which features both traditional and second-degree pathways. These students have enjoyed a stellar 95% NCLEX exam pass rate over the past ten years. CSULB also offers an RN-to-BSN completion program and a broad range of MSN degrees and graduate nursing certificates. MSN students can specialize in one of six nurse practitioner fields, advanced public health nursing, or nursing and health systems executive management. Certificates are also available for six NP roles: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-geriatric, family, pediatric, psychiatric-mental health, and women’s health.

#18: Seattle Pacific University | Seattle, WA
Seattle Pacific University’s School of Health Sciences has educated thousands of nursing graduates over the past eighty years. SPU students have access to clinical rotations at premier local institutions like Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital. They can also engage in study abroad opportunities; past destinations have included Guatemala, Ireland, and Vietnam. The School of Health Sciences offers a traditional upper-division nursing major, an MSN program, and a recently launched DNP program. Undergraduates have enjoyed a solid NCLEX pass rate of 88% over the past decade. MSN students can choose from two specialty pathways (clinical leadership in practice, nurse educator), and DNP students can choose from three specialty pathways (clinical nurse specialist, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner).

#19: University of San Francisco | San Francisco, CA
The USF School of Nursing and Health Professions was the first California institution to offer a DNP for working nurses. The school also offers prelicensure BSN and MSN programs, an online MSN program with two entry points (post-ADN, post-BSN), and a traditional campus-based MSN program at several locations in the San Francisco and Sacramento metropolitan areas. USF’s combined “4+1” bachelor’s and master’s program culminates with an MSN-CNL, master of public health (MPH), MS in behavioral health, or MS in health informatics. Prelicensure students consistently perform well on their licensure exams: since 2008, 87% of BSN graduates and 89% of direct-entry MSN graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN exam on their first try.

#20: University of California, Davis | Sacramento, CA
The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis offers several different nursing education pathways. Options include a master’s entry program in nursing with PHN certification, a traditional MSN program with leadership and FNP tracks, and a nursing science and healthcare leadership PhD. Graduates of the master’s entry program are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. Students in the FNP specialization have the option to enroll in a dual-track pathway which prepares them simultaneously for the professions of family nurse practitioner and physician assistant. These are the only FNP and physician assistant programs where students learn together to practice collaboratively with clinicians in a variety of settings.

#21: University of California, Irvine | Irvine, CA
The Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing offers BSN, MSN, PhD, and DNP degrees. The BSN program accepts freshman applicants and transfers from other schools. Each class is small with ~50 students, and BSN graduates have maintained a healthy 85% NCLEX pass rate since 2010. The Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) is designed for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. The program’s innovative curriculum features a desirable concentration in Community and Population Health. UC Irvine’s PhD in Nursing Science offers four broad focal areas: health promotion and disease prevention, health disparities and diversity, disease and symptom management, and health services and policy. In 2018, the university launched a DNP curriculum which provides both a post-master’s track and a family nurse practitioner (FNP) track. The FNP concentration is the first and only program of its kind currently offered by a University of California campus.

#22: University of Hawaii at Manoa | Honolulu, HI
UH Manoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (SONDH) is the only Hawaiian nursing school ranked by U.S News & World Report for its online MSN program. UH Manoa is also Hawaii’s only doctoral and research-intensive university. SONDH offers five BSN pathways including a traditional program for current university students, a high school direct entry option, and three RN-to-BSN programs. Graduate students can pursue an MSN, DNP, or PhD degree, again with multiple pathways including non-nursing bachelor’s, post-BSN, and post-MSN. Prelicensure students consistently pass the NCLEX exam at solid rates: over the past eight years, BSN graduates achieved an 86% pass rate and direct-entry MSN graduates achieved an 84% pass rate.

#23: Brigham Young University | Provo, UT
BYU College of Nursing is home to nearly 400 nursing students from 38 states and four international countries. The college offers two degree pathways: a prelicensure BSN program for aspiring registered nurses and an MSN degree for aspiring family nurse practitioners. BYU awards approximately 100-125 baccalaureate degrees and a dozen master’s degrees in each academic year, and these nursing students achieve stellar test scores. The college’s BSN graduates have passed the NCLEX exam at a 94% rate or higher for an amazing ten consecutive years, including a perfect 100% pass rate for the graduating class of 2018. Several recent MSN cohorts have also achieved a perfect 100% pass rate on the American Nurses Credentialing Center FNP certification exam.

#24: University of Washington Tacoma | Tacoma, WA
UW Tacoma has two programs for aspiring nurses: an RN-to-BSN offering and an MSN degree. The RN-to-BSN curriculum supports registered nurses in their professional development with a broad range of relevant coursework. Popular courses include Clinical Nursing Phenomena; Diversity, Health, & Inequities; Ethical Issues in Healthcare; and Genetics, Genomics, & Nursing Practice. The MSN program has two curriculum options: leader in healthcare delivery and nurse educator. This 47-credit-hour program may be completed in just seven quarters, which includes two quarters of fieldwork.

#25: San Jose State University | San Jose, CA
SJSU’s Valley Foundation School of Nursing offers several education pathways. Undergraduates may pursue a traditional BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, or the unique post-baccalaureate Wound & Ostomy Education Program. The latter option prepares WOC nurses for certification by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board. SJSU graduates 100-125 prelicensure BSN students annually, who have enjoyed an impressive 91% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past four years. Graduate options include a doctoral program jointly offered with CSU Fresno, dubbed the CSU Northern California Consortium DNP.

#26: University of Colorado, Colorado Springs | Colorado Springs, CO
UCCS’s Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing & Health Sciences has one of the top online MSN programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. In fact, the school earned a perfect 100 score for its distance-learning student services and technology. The MSN program prepares students as primary care nurse practitioners, with two population foci: adult-gerontology and family. UCCS also offers an online DNP degree and four BSN pathways: traditional, accelerated, RN-to-BSN, and dual enrollment. The college graduates approximately 100 prelicensure BSN students each year, achieving an impressive NCLEX-RN pass rate of 91% since 2012.

#27: Seattle University | Seattle, WA
The Seattle University College of Nursing offers a unique nursing curriculum that combines local and international nursing education. Students may take single academic courses abroad or enroll in a short- or long-term study abroad experience. Locations run the gamut from South America to Africa to Australia. The college offers a four-year BSN program as well as traditional and non-nurse immersion pathways to a DNP degree. Prelicensure students perform well on the NCLEX exam: over the past decade, 88% of BSN students and 94% of graduate immersion students passed the exam on their first attempt. Graduate students can choose from several nurse practitioner specializations, nurse midwifery, or advanced community public health nursing.

#28: University of Northern Colorado | Greeley, CO
The UNC School of Nursing offers online and on-campus programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate options include traditional BSN, second-degree BSN, and RN-to-BSN completion programs. UNC’s prelicensure BSN students have earned remarkably strong and consistent scores on the NCLEX licensure exam, passing at a rate between 88% and 98% for 13 consecutive years. Graduate students can pursue certification as an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner or a family nurse practitioner through the university’s MSN degree, post-MSN certificate, or DNP degree programs. The School of Nursing also offers clinical nurse leader (MSN) and nursing education (certificate or PhD) emphases.

#29: University of Southern California | Los Angeles, CA
The University of Southern California conducts an online MSN. Offered through the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, the MSN is designed for RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least one year of clinical experience. This evidence-based nursing program prepares family nurse practitioners to provide comprehensive care to individuals and communities. Students will complete clinical experiences at family practices, pediatric offices, urgent care facilities, internal medicine clinics, and community health clinics. Graduates of the program are trained to offer integrative care to infants, children, adolescents, and adults throughout their lives.

#30: University of Nevada, Las Vegas | Las Vegas, NV
The UNLV School of Nursing has a unique trimester system which allows students to complete the BSN program in just 16 months. UNLV typically admits 48 students into the program each trimester. Graduates of the BSN program consistently achieve exceptional NCLEX-RN exam pass rates of 93-99%, well above state and national averages for the past ten consecutive years. UNLV also offers MSN and graduate certificate specializations for aspiring family nurse practitioners and nurse educators; a DNP curriculum with post-BSN and post-MSN entry points; and PhD programs in nursing education and interdisciplinary health sciences.

#31: Stanbridge University | Irvine, CA
Stanbridge University offers LVN, ADN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs. All programs provide hands-on training in high-fidelity simulation and nursing skills labs, along with the opportunity to work in the first synthetic human cadaver lab on the West Coast. The MSN offers two potential tracks (executive and educator), and the program may be completed online. The RN-to-BSN is also available online. Stanbridge’s ADN graduates have achieved a remarkable 98% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination since the program’s inception. The school also graduates 150-200 LVN candidates annually. Over the past decade, these students have posted a solid 90% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure examination.

#32: California State University, Fullerton | Fullerton, CA
The School of Nursing at California State University, Fullerton has several graduate programs ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report, including nurse midwifery and nurse anesthesia. Numerous other degree options are available, including LVN-to-BSN, traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, four MSN specializations (leadership, nurse educator, school nursing, women’s healthcare), and a post-master’s DNP program. CSU Fullerton also offers a school nurse services credential (SNSC) and a post-SNSC MSN pathway for those who already hold the credential. Since 2009, graduates of the traditional and accelerated BSN programs have collectively passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a solid 89% rate.

#33: Montana State University | Bozeman, MT
The Montana State University College of Nursing is the state’s largest supplier of baccalaureate-educated nurses. It is also the state’s sole provider of graduate nursing education. The college offers BSN, MSN, and DNP degree programs. BSN students can pursue a traditional, accelerated, or LPN-to-BSN pathway depending upon their educational background. More than 200 students graduate the prelicensure BSN curriculum each year. These students have scored a 90% NCLEX pass rate since 2010, well above state and national averages. The MSN program prepares students for the clinical nurse leader role with a focus on rural practice. The DNP curriculum offers two nurse practitioner specialty tracks.

#34: University of Wyoming | Laramie, WY
The University of Wyoming’s College of Health Sciences is home to the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing. For the past 15 years, the school has conducted health brigades to Agua Salada, Honduras, in order to build a sustainable healthcare system for its community. UW offers three BSN options: a traditional four-year program, an online RN-to-BSN bridge, and a fast-track Bachelor’s Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree (BRAND) for non-nursing baccalaureate degree-holders. The graduate division has two MSN tracks (nurse educator and nurse leader), two DNP tracks (family nurse practitioner and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner), and an interdisciplinary PhD program in biomedical sciences.

#35: University of Nevada, Reno | Reno, NV
The Orvis School of Nursing is the oldest nursing school in Nevada. As a land-grant institution, the school serves the people of Nevada and the professional community at large. Degree pathways include a traditional BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, five MSN tracks, a dual MSN/MPH degree, and a DNP program. Approximately 125 traditional BSN students graduate each year, and they have passed the NCLEX exam at an impressive 92% rate over the past decade. Graduate students can pursue certification as a nurse educator, clinical nurse leader, or nurse practitioner in the fields of adult-gerontology, family, and psychiatric-mental health.

#36: West Coast University | Los Angeles, CA
West Coast University operates two campuses in Los Angeles – the North Hollywood nursing school and the downtown Center for Graduate Studies – with additional sites in Orange County and Ontario. The school’s modern campuses feature LEED buildings and state-of-the-art simulation centers. Traditional BSN and LVN-to-BSN degree programs are available in all three cities. The BSN program has grown rapidly since its recent launch, with over 1,000 graduates in each of the past five years. During that timeframe, WCU students have averaged an impressive 90% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure examination. The university also offers a wealth of online nursing programs including RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN, four MSN tracks, and an FNP certificate.

#37: California State University, Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA
Cal State LA’s MSN program consistently ranks among the best in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. The program has specialty tracks in nursing education and four NP fields. Existing MSN-holders can also pursue a graduate certificate in any specialty area. The school recently launched an innovative collaboration with the University of Michigan to attract underrepresented populations to their nursing and social work PhD programs. Cal State LA’s undergraduates have three options: traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, and accelerated 15-month BSN (formerly the entry-level MSN program). Since 2008, prelicensure BSN students have enjoyed a strong NCLEX pass rate of 92%. Entry-level MSN students had passed the exam at an impressive 96% rate, including several years with a perfect 100% pass rate.

#38: California Baptist University | Riverside, CA
Students at California Baptist University’s College of Nursing have the opportunity to donate their time, resources, and care through community outreach programs that provide services such as feeding the homeless. Students distribute clothing and food, participate in disaster preparedness, and travel overseas to work alongside nationals in education and health training. The college’s offerings include BSN, entry-level MSN (ELMSN), traditional MSN, and DNP degree programs. Post-master’s certification is also available in five distinct specializations. Since 2008, BSN graduates have achieved an 84% first-time NCLEX exam pass rate. Their colleagues in the ELMSN program have enjoyed an 87% pass rate over the same time period.

#39: Westminster College | Salt Lake City, UT
Westminster College’s School of Nursing & Health Sciences accepts a class of 90 prelicensure BSN students each year. Since 2010, these students have maintained an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 92%. The BSN curriculum covers important topics like community health, critical care, gerontology, leadership, medical / surgical care, obstetrics, pediatrics, and psychiatric care. The school also offers an RN-to-BSN completion program, master’s degrees for aspiring family nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists, and an FNP graduate certificate. Westminster’s master of science in nurse anesthesia (MSNA) program is the only such curriculum in the Intermountain West region.

#40: Point Loma Nazarene University | San Diego, CA
The School of Nursing at Point Loma Nazarene University offers several unique opportunities. These include a study abroad program which Open Doors ranked #15 in the nation, the LoveWorks short-term mission program, and a Health Promotion Center which serves residents of City Heights, a low-income multicultural area of San Diego. BSN candidates can pursue a traditional, LVN-to-BSN, or RN-to-BSN pathway to their degree. Graduates of the BSN program have consistently scored well on their licensure exams, with a strong 90% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. PLNU also conducts an MSN degree program with a general track and three CNS specializations: adult / gerontology, family / individual health, and pediatrics.

#41: California State University, Fresno | Fresno, CA
The School of Nursing at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) offers a traditional prelicensure BSN program, an MSN degree, and a DNP program. Over the past decade, BSN graduates achieved a noteworthy NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 87%. The MSN has two options: CNS/NE or primary care/NP. Several credential options are also available: a post-baccalaureate school nurse services credential, a post-master’s PMHNP, or a post-master’s NP. Part of the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Nursing at Fresno State offers a variety of clinical placements at major hospitals such as St. Agnes Medical Center and the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.

#42: San Diego State University | San Diego, CA
The SDSU School of Nursing combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience at several venues. Facilities include a media lab, a health assessment lab, a nursing fundamentals skills labs, and the Sharp Healthcare Human Patient Simulation Center. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional BSN degree or an RN-to-BSN completion program. SDSU graduates 100-150 traditional BSN students each year, with a remarkable 97% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past four years. Graduate students can select an MSN concentration in either adult-gerontology advanced practice nursing or healthcare systems leadership.

#43: Denver College of Nursing | Denver, CO
Denver College of Nursing is a private college focused solely on the art and science of nursing. Students have the opportunity to participate in the Student Nurses Association, community service projects, service learning, and the Global Health Perspective (GHP). Integrated throughout the Denver College of Nursing curriculum, GHP combines classroom training with in-field service-learning internships. On-campus program options include prelicensure ADN and BSN pathways, while RN-to-BSN and MSN programs are offered fully online. Since 2012, Denver College of Nursing’s ADN graduates have achieved a noteworthy 85% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Over the same time period, approximately 300 BSN graduates annually have scored an impressive 90% NCLEX-RN pass rate.

#44: California State University, San Marcos | San Marcos, CA
CSU San Marcos launched its School of Nursing in the fall of 2006. The university now offers four BSN pathways including traditional, accelerated, LVN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Approximately 150-200 students complete the prelicensure BSN pathways each year. These graduates have enjoyed a stellar 94% NCLEX pass rate since 2009. CSU San Marcos also has five MSN concentrations: clinical nurse leader, clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and nursing education. In 2008, the school opened a satellite campus in Temecula which offers accelerated BSN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs to the expanding communities of southwest Riverside County.

#45: Sonoma State University | Rohnert Park, CA
The Department of Nursing at Sonoma State University has educated more than 4,000 nurse professionals over the past forty years. Undergraduate pathways include a traditional four-year BSN program and an ADN-to-BSN Collaborative Nursing Education Continuum Model (CNECM) offered in partnership with Napa Valley College, College of Marin, Santa Rosa Junior College, Solano Community College, and Mendocino College. The university graduates 10-40 students annually from the traditional BSN program, with an impressive 95% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate since 2008. Graduate nursing students can pursue an MSN degree or a post-master’s certificate with an FNP emphasis.

#46: George Fox University | Newberg, OR
The School of Nursing at George Fox University prepares students to work in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including acute care, cardiology, nursing education, and medical missions. The BSN program takes four years to complete and admission is highly competitive, with only 48 students admitted each fall semester. George Fox complements its comprehensive BSN curriculum with strong extracurriculars, including a robust student nursing club that meets biweekly and a nationally recognized study abroad program. Since 2010, School of Nursing graduates have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an average first-time rate of 89%.

#47: Carroll College | Helena, MT
The Department of Nursing at Carroll College offers a unique BSN program that allows students to begin clinical experiences during sophomore year rather than junior year. This enables graduates to leave the program with three years of diverse clinical rotations to their credit. Carroll College also incorporates global outreach into its nursing curriculum. Recent classes have studied abroad in India and attended the International Public Health Nursing Conference in Ireland. Approximately 35-40 students graduate from the Carroll College BSN program each spring. They have achieved a strong 92% NCLEX pass rate since 2008, and several recent classes have reached 100% employment within six months of graduation.

#48: University of Washington Bothell | Bothell, WA
The School of Nursing & Health Studies at the University of Washington Bothell offers both BSN and master of nursing (MN) programs. The BSN degree has two tracks: a traditional RN-to-BSN program for transfer students who have already completed an ADN and hold an active RN license, and a first-year entry RN-to-BSN program for university freshman students. This dual-enrollment program between UW Bothell and the nursing program at Everett Community College allows students to graduate with an ADN from EvCC and a BSN from UW Bothell. Both BSN tracks have hybrid and in-person options. The university’s MN program is offered in a hybrid format, meeting twice per month on Fridays with self-directed online activities during the remaining weeks.

#49: Roseman University of Health Sciences | Henderson, NV
Since its 1999 founding as the Nevada College of Pharmacy, Roseman University of Health Sciences has educated more than 2,500 healthcare professionals. The College of Nursing offers an 18-month traditional BSN and a 16-month accelerated BSN at its campuses in Henderson, Nevada and South Jordan, Utah. An innovative Veteran-to-BSN curriculum and a recently launched nine-month RN-to-BSN program are also available. Prelicensure BSN students from both campuses have averaged a strong 91% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past eight years.

#50: Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions | Provo, UT
In the twenty years since its founding, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions has graduated approximately 2,200 students from its various master’s and doctoral degree programs. The university offers several advanced practice nursing programs. Baccalaureate-prepared nurses can pursue a doctor of nursing practice degree with a family nurse practitioner emphasis. This is a limited-residency program conducted mostly online, with one week spent on-campus each semester. Every graduate of the post-baccalaureate DNP program has passed the FNP certification exam administered by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Master’s-prepared nurses can complete a five-semester DNP curriculum offered entirely online. The university also offers post-master’s certificates for aspiring family nurse practitioners and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners.

#51: Northwest University | Kirkland, WA
The Mark and Huldah Buntain School of Nursing offers a unique program that sends every nursing major to another country for a month of experiential learning. Recent classes have traveled to India, Kazakhstan, Taiwan, and several countries in Africa. Each undergraduate cohort of 48 students is instructed with top-notch equipment in a robust network of local hospitals such as Providence, Swedish, Seattle Children’s, Evergreen, and Overlake. Over the past decade, these BSN students have achieved an excellent 91% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam. In addition to the traditional undergraduate degree, Northwest University also offers online RN-to-BSN and MSN programs.

#52: Brandman University | Irvine, CA
Brandman University is home to the Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions. The school is known for blending advanced technology and immersive learning: most coursework is delivered online, with students gathering periodically for three- to five-day sessions at the school’s high-tech Immersive Learning and Simulation Center. Brandman offers an RN-to-BSN completion program and five NP specialties: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, family health, pediatric acute care, and psychiatric / mental health. Each NP specialty may be pursued through either a BSN-to-DNP degree program or a post-doctoral certificate program.

#53: California State University, Stanislaus | Turlock, CA
The School of Nursing at California State University, Stanislaus (Stanislaus State) offers seven degree pathways. Options include a traditional BSN, an LVN-to-BSN pathway, an RN-to-BSN track for local nurses with an associate’s degree, an online RN-to-BSN with 24/7 accessibility, an accelerated second BSN (ASBSN), an MSN program, and an MSN degree with FNP concentration. All nursing students will participate in the School of Nursing Simulation Program. Simulation is integrated into the School of Nursing curriculum to provide experiential learning opportunities throughout the program. Over the past decade, prelicensure BSN graduates achieved an outstanding NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 96%.

#54: Boise State University | Boise, ID
Boise State University’s School of Nursing sits within the College of Health Sciences. Students here can complete a traditional prelicensure BSN degree, an RN-to-BSN pathway, an MSN degree with AGNP specialization, or a DNP degree. MSN students and practicing nurse practitioners can also earn a certificate in either acute care or primary care adult gerontology. Coursework for the RN-to-BSN, MSN, and certificate programs is available online. Boise State’s traditional BSN students perform well on the NCLEX licensure exam, typically passing at a rate of 92% or higher. The most recent cohort of MSN graduates achieved a 100% pass rate on the AGNP board exam.

#55: California State University, Sacramento | Sacramento, CA
The Sacramento State School of Nursing enrolls more than 550 students across its BSN and MSN programs. The BSN curriculum offers two pathways: a traditional four-year degree and an RN-to-BSN completion program. Approximately 100-180 students graduate from the traditional BSN program each year. They have achieved an NCLEX pass rate of 96% since 2008, an amazing streak for a program of this size. The RN-to-BSN pathway includes an innovative collaboration with three local community colleges to facilitate seamless transition from ADN to BSN. Sacramento State’s MSN program prepares BSN-educated nurses for advanced practice roles in administration, clinical practice, education, and school nursing.

#56: Idaho State University | Pocatello, ID
The College of Nursing at Idaho State University offers six distinct nursing programs. Undergraduate pathways include a traditional BSN, an accelerated BSN, and an RN-to-BSN program. The traditional BSN targets students with no nursing experience, and it offers a special entry point for LPNs. The accelerated BSN is for career switchers who hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline. ISU’s graduate options include MSN, DNP, and nursing PhD programs. The MSN is focused on nursing education and delivered entirely online. The DNP offers specializations in family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Both the DNP and PhD programs offer full-time and part-time schedules.

#57: Northwest Nazarene University | Nampa, ID
Northwest Nazarene University’s Department of Nursing provides undergraduate, degree completion, and graduate programs in professional nursing. NNU’s traditional BSN program includes clinical experiences throughout the Treasure Valley, state-of-the-art equipment in the Thomas Family Health and Science Center, and an annual medical mission trip to places like Ghana, Nicaragua, Peru, and the Ukraine. The school boasts a 96% first-time NCLEX pass rate. Existing RNs may pursue either a BSN degree or an MSN degree entirely online. The MSN curriculum offers an emphasis in either Leadership & Education or Family Nurse Practitioner, and it accommodates the entry of both BSN- and ADN-educated nurses.

#58: California State University, Chico | Chico, CA
CSU Chico’s School of Nursing serves the rural communities of Northern California in several innovative ways. In addition to RN refresher courses, the university operates a Rural California Nursing Preceptorship Program that provides nursing students with rural and semi-rural clinical experiences. CSU Chico also administers the Rural Northern California Clinical Simulation Center Partnership, dubbed the Rural SimCenter. The School of Nursing graduates approximately eighty prelicensure BSN students in each class. These students have achieved a phenomenal 96% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past eight years. CSU Chico also offers an online RN-to-BSN completion program and an online MSN program with nurse educator and nurse leader tracks.

#59: Concordia University Irvine | Irvine, CA
The nursing program at Concordia University has a new campus, known as Park Place Campus, which features a large skills lab, three simulation labs with sophisticated mannequins, additional classrooms, and a nursing station where students can practice hands-on nursing skills. The school offers an MSN degree and several BSN pathways, including LVN-to-BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Students in all programs will complete a curriculum designed around Dr. Jean Watson’s philosophy of caring in nursing, while working closely with faculty role models. Since 2009, prelicensure BSN graduates have achieved an excellent 93% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate.

#60: Brigham Young University – Idaho | Rexburg, ID
The Department of Nursing at BYU Idaho (formerly Ricks College) began in 1957, when the school launched its ADN program. Since then, the institution has educated thousands of aspiring nurses. Today, BYU Idaho offers a prelicensure BSN program and an RN-to-BSN completion pathway. Admission is very competitive: the Department of Nursing admits just 48 students per semester, typically accepting 30% of applicants. Not surprisingly, graduates consistently perform well on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, with an 88% pass rate over the past several academic years. The RN-to-BSN program is conducted entirely online, requiring three to six consecutive semesters of coursework depending upon the student’s academic background.

#61: Mount Saint Mary’s University | Los Angeles, CA
Mount Saint Mary’s University launched the first BSN program in the state of California. Today, this women’s university offers a variety of pathways for earning an ADN, BSN, or MSN degree. The ADN program is designed for working adults, with classes and clinicals in an evening and weekend format. MSMU graduates 80-100 ADN students each year, with a 79% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. The BSN program offers three pathways (traditional, accelerated, RN-to-BSN) and enables students to earn a California Public Health Nursing Certificate as well as licensure. BSN graduates have also posted an NCLEX pass rate of almost 80% since 2008. The MSN program features specialty tracks for an aspiring adult-gerontology CNS, nurse educator, or nursing administrator.

#62: Linfield College | Portland, OR
Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing is a partnership between Linfield College and Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center. The school offers a transfer-only BSN program on its Portland campus. Students apply to the nursing program after completing prerequisites at Linfield College’s McMinnville campus, another four-year college or university, or their local community college. Students receive a community-focused curriculum that integrates clinical nursing experience with courses in the humanities, laboratory sciences, and social sciences. The BSN program graduates close to 200 students annually, with a solid 86% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade and a 90% NCLEX pass rate for 2018.

#63: National University | San Diego, CA
National University is the first academic institution in the world to pursue and achieve Planetree Recognition. The School of Health and Human Services offers ten programs within the Department of Nursing, spanning the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate options include a traditional BSN, a post-bachelor’s BSN, an LVN-to-BSN pathway, and an online RN-to-BSN. Graduate offerings include traditional MSN and nurse anesthesia MSN degrees. Post-graduate FNP and PMHNP certificates are also available online. National University produces 200-300 prelicensure BSN graduates annually, and these students have achieved a noteworthy 88% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past decade.

#64: Walla Walla University | College Place, WA
Walla Walla University offers a traditional undergraduate prelicensure program leading to a BSN degree. Students spend the first two years of the program at the university’s College Place campus, where they complete general studies, nursing cognates, and nursing courses. The final two years are centered at the Portland nursing campus, where students integrate advanced nursing coursework with clinical experience. Walla Walla University graduates a BSN class of approximately sixty students each year. These students have consistently outperformed state and national averages on their licensure exams, posting a 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. The class of 2018 passed the exam at an impressive 96% rate.

#65: Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health | Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health has been a fully functioning training school for nurses since 1901. Each year, the School of Nursing graduates 80-100 ADN students across two tracks: a traditional two-year pathway and an advanced placement option for licensed vocational nurses. These graduates have posted a phenomenal 95% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade. Clinical nursing experiences are conducted at Los Angeles County Department of Health Services hospitals, including Los Angeles County + USC, Olive View-UCLA, Harbor-UCLA Medical Centers, and Comprehensive Health Centers and Clinics.

#66: Weber State University | Ogden, UT
Weber State’s Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing offers a breadth of nursing pathways including a traditional ADN program, an LPN-to-ADN bridge, an RN-to-BSN completion program, and several graduate degrees and certificates. ADN students take the NCLEX-RN licensure examination at the completion of their studies. The school produces 300-400 ADN graduates annually, who have averaged an 86% first-time NCLEX pass rate since 2015. Weber State’s MSN program offers executive and educator concentrations, and the school also awards post-master’s certificates in both fields. The university recently launched a new DNP program with family nurse practitioner and leadership tracks.

#67: Biola University | La Mirada, CA
Biola University’s Department of Nursing is part of the School of Science, Technology, and Health. The Department offers a traditional prelicensure BSN that was recently ranked sixth on Niche’s list of the Best Colleges for Nursing in California. Program highlights include opportunities for global health experiences in variety of countries and a state-of the-art simulation lab with multiple advanced patient simulators. The simulation lab provides the opportunity for students to experience a variety of clinical realities, from the intensive care unit to the delivery suite. Over the past decade, BSN graduates of Biola University’s Department of Nursing achieved a noteworthy NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 85%.

#68: Dominican University of California | San Rafael, CA
The Nursing Department at Dominican University of California is part of the School of Health and Natural Sciences (HNS). The largest school in the university, HNS offers a prelicensure BSN that allows students to gain invaluable hands-on experience in a mock hospital/clinic setting, housed within a state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Center. At the time of graduation, students will have completed over 1,000 clinical hours. The HNS nursing program welcomes high school graduates, transfer applicants, and those who have served in the military. Over the past decade, the program has graduated 70-130 students annually, with a cumulative NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of approximately 80%.

#69: Vanguard University | Costa Mesa, CA
Vanguard University launched its first nursing program in 2006. Since then, the school has added several additional programs including a prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway, an MSN degree, and a post-master’s adult gerontology CNS certificate. The prelicensure BSN is designed for freshman and transfer students who are not licensed RNs. The RN-to-BSN is for students currently enrolled in an ADN dual enrollment program at another institution who seek to complete a bachelor’s degree. The MSN is for licensed RNs who already hold a bachelor’s degree, while the twenty-week CNS certificate is for licensed RNs who already hold a master’s degree.

#70: San Francisco State University | San Francisco, CA
As part of SFSU’s commitment to social justice, most of the School of Nursing’s community health practicums are located in underserved San Francisco neighborhoods. The university offers three BSN pathways: a traditional BSN on the SFSU campus, a traditional BSN on the Cañada College campus in Redwood City, and an RN-to-BSN program. Since 2008, prelicensure BSN graduates have scored a solid NCLEX pass rate of 83%. The MSN program also has three pathways: entry-level, accelerated entry-level, and traditional. Entry-level students have performed even better on the NCLEX exam, with an 87% pass rate since 2008. The MSN curriculum includes CNS, administration, public health, and FNP emphasis areas.

#71: Touro University Nevada | Henderson, NV
Touro University Nevada opened in 2004 with 78 medical students. Today, the school serves more than 1,000 students across a diverse mix of healthcare and education programs. Nursing degree programs are offered through the College of Health and Human Services. Touro Nevada offers an RN-to-BSN completion program, an MSN degree for aspiring family nurse practitioners, a post-MSN graduate certificate, and a post-master’s DNP pathway. The RN-to-BSN and DNP programs may each be completed 100% online in just one year of study. The MSN program may be completed in seven trimesters mostly online, with three on-campus clinical intensives. All programs are CCNE-accredited.

#72: American University of Health Sciences | Signal Hill, CA
American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) is a private Christian university that prepares students for careers in the healthcare professions. The school emphasizes service to others both locally and abroad. AUHS’s nursing programs feature small class sizes, hands-on learning opportunities, and experienced faculty. A recent partnership with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science allows for additional work and learning opportunities in underserved communities. The prelicensure BSN program graduates 60-80 students annually, with a notable 81% NCLEX exam pass rate since the program’s inception. AUHS also offers an RN-to-BSN pathway for existing registered nurses to complete their baccalaureate education.

#73: California State University, Channel Islands | Camarillo, CA
California State University, Channel Islands (CSU Channel Islands) has several degree options for nurses. Pathways include the Bridge ADN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN, and traditional prelicensure BSN. Bridge ADN students can complete the program in as little as 15 months. The RN-to-BSN pathway is administered through Extended University; it takes approximately 22 months to complete, including summers. The traditional BSN program has 2.5-year and three-year options, including summers. Since 2009, graduates of the traditional BSN program have posted an outstanding NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 95%.

#74: Hawaii Pacific University | Honolulu, HI
The College of Health and Society at Hawaii Pacific University has three degree programs for aspiring nurses: BSN, MSN, and DNP. Post-graduate APRN certificates are also available in the fields of adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP) and family nurse practitioner (FNP). All programs provide hands-on education through clinical placement at healthcare facilities throughout Oahu. Nursing students supplement this clinical training at HPU’s Experiential Learning Center, where they are exposed to planned simulations modeled on real-world medical scenarios. HPU graduates approximately 150 students annually from its undergraduate program. Since 2010, these students have maintained approximately a 75% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN initial licensure examination.

#75: Western Washington University | Bellingham, WA
Western Washington University has an RN-to-BSN program that blends online and face-to-face coursework. Exclusively offered as a transfer degree, the RN-to-BSN curriculum delivers 45 upper-division credits through class meetings held one full day per week. The program may be completed in four quarters on a full-time basis or eight quarters on a part-time basis. Students learn concepts in the classroom during the first half of the curriculum, and then they apply these concepts through practice experiences in the second half of the curriculum. WWU graduates have been hired at many local medical centers including Skagit Valley Hospital, Providence Medical Group & Hospital, and PeaceHealth General Hospital.

#76: University of Alaska Anchorage | Anchorage, AK
The School of Nursing at the University of Alaska Anchorage launched its first undergraduate nursing program in 1971. Today the school offers ADN, traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, clinical MSN, leadership MSN, graduate certificate, and DNP programs. Students in the clinical MSN program may choose between the family nurse practitioner and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner specializations. The DNP recently incorporated a new BSN entry pathway, enrolling its first class of students in fall 2019. Prelicensure students consistently perform well on the NCLEX exam, including an 88% ADN pass rate and a 92% BSN pass rate for the most recent cohorts. Some nurse practitioner classes have achieved a perfect 100% pass rate on their certification exams.

#77: Simpson University | Redding, CA
The Betty M. Dean School of Nursing at Simpson University offers a prelicensure BSN and an RN-to-BSN track. The traditional BSN program combines nursing and general education courses with opportunities to work alongside community healthcare leaders. Students will complete a professional portfolio, which showcases accomplishments and leads to increased employment opportunities. Since the inception of the prelicensure BSN program, graduates have maintained an exceptional 94% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam. The RN-to-BSN program is an accelerated pathway that caters to working RNs who want to develop professional skills. The program is offered on campus, online, or in a hybrid format.

#78: California State University, San Bernardino | San Bernardino, CA
The Department of Nursing at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) offers a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway for California-licensed RNs, and a hybrid online MSN program with several specializations. For the past decade, the traditional BSN program has produced 100-150 graduates annually. These students have enjoyed a solid NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 85%. CSUSB’s graduate tracks include a population-based MSN, a nurse educator MSN, and an advanced community/public health nursing MSN. These specializations require an additional 57, 65, and 71 units of study, respectively, above the core MSN course load of 51 units.

#79: Concordia University | Portland, OR
Concordia is a private, nonprofit, Christian university and a member of the nine-institution Concordia University System. The Portland campus serves nearly 6,000 students across fifteen undergraduate majors and several graduate programs. Concordia University’s BSN program has one of the largest cadaver labs in the Pacific Northwest. The university also recently renovated its laboratory facilities by expanding and improving the analytical chemistry lab, cell culture lab, and biology research lab. Over the past eight years, BSN graduates have averaged a 92% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. The class of 2018 achieved a 96% pass rate in the traditional track and a perfect 100% pass rate in the accelerated track.

#80: Southern Utah University | Cedar City, UT
Southern Utah University’s Department of Nursing is part of the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science and Engineering. Aspiring nurses can earn a prelicensure BSN degree, while ADN- or diploma-prepared RNs can complete an RN-to-BSN program. The prelicensure BSN is a four-year program that features immersive clinicals at local hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Approximately fifty annual graduates have scored a 90% NCLEX pass rate or higher for an impressive seven consecutive years. The RN-to-BSN program employs a blended approach to teaching and learning, with classes delivered both online and on campus.

#81: Fresno Pacific University | Fresno, CA
The School of Natural Sciences at Fresno Pacific University offers RN-to-BSN, Pre-MSN, MSN, and MSN-FNP pathways. The RN-to-BSN prepares students to take their ADN degree to the next level, with a focus on clinical decision-making, holistic care, and community and public health nursing. The Pre-MSN prepares students to obtain an MSN, which includes direct entry into the registered nursing program. The MSN program focuses on assessment, prevention, and instruction, providing a broad education for today’s evolving healthcare field. The FNP emphasis focuses on primary care across the lifespan, with practicums that prepare participants for this specialty.

#82: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science | Los Angeles, CA
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science houses the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing. Program offerings include an RN-to-BSN pathway, an entry-level MSN, a family nurse practitioner MSN, and a post-master’s certificate. The entry-level MSN is designed for students with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree who wish to prepare for initial RN licensure. The program’s graduates have achieved an 84% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past three years. Graduates of the family nurse practitioner MSN also consistently exceed the national average pass rate on the NP certification exam.

#83: Chamberlain University | Sacramento, CA
Chamberlain University has expanded with the opening of its first campus in California. Launched in spring 2016, the program at the new Sacramento campus aims to meet the state’s growing demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses. Options include an onsite BSN that can be completed in as little as three years of year-round study, instead of the typical four years with summers off. Students have the opportunity to study and learn at SIMCARE CENTER, which provides high-tech simulated patient care in clinical learning environments, and a Center for Academic Success, which delivers comprehensive academic resources and support for students.

#84: University of Hawaii at Hilo | Hilo, HI
The School of Nursing at the University of Hawaii at Hilo offers a BSN program with two pathways (traditional, RN-to-BSN) and a DNP program with two pathways (post-BSN, post-MSN). The undergraduate program features a learning lab with low- and high-fidelity manikins in a simulated hospital environment, several rural clinical learning experiences, and the opportunity to engage in health-related projects in the community. Since 2010, BSN graduates have achieved an 84% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam. Graduate students develop the skills to assume leadership roles in a variety of healthcare settings, with a stated focus on improving healthcare delivery for diverse individuals, families, and communities.

#85: Utah Valley University | Orem, UT
Utah Valley University emphasizes holistic nursing and collaborative care throughout its nursing curriculum. The UVU Department of Nursing enrolls approximately 250 students across its ADN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs. Prelicensure candidates must begin by completing the ADN program. Approximately eighty students do so annually, with a strong NCLEX pass rate of 90% since 2010. Nurses may then progress to the RN-to-BSN program, which is offered entirely online to accommodate both full-time and part-time schedules. BSN-educated nurses can enroll in the university’s MSN program, which prepares students for a nurse educator role in either an academic setting or a healthcare institution.

#86: Colorado State University – Pueblo | Pueblo, CO
CSU Pueblo is part of the Colorado State University System, which serves as a major economic engine in the state of Colorado. Established in 1964 and recognized as a School of Nursing in January 2017, the CSU Pueblo nursing program provides various opportunities for aspiring healthcare professionals seeking a BSN, MSN, or DNP degree. The baccalaureate program offers traditional, accelerated, and RN-to-BSN pathways. Traditional BSN students have enjoyed an impressive 91% NCLEX-RN pass rate since 2012, while accelerated BSN students have scored a perfect 100% pass rate for the last three years. Graduate students can pursue nurse practitioner specialization options in adult-gerontology acute care (AGAC), psychiatric-mental health, and a combination AGAC/family focus. The MSN-to-DNP program also offers a population health focus, while the MSN program offers a nurse educator specialization.

#87: California State University, Northridge | Northridge, CA
The College of Health and Human Development at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) houses the Department of Nursing, which has a nursing curriculum geared specifically to the needs of the local community. Programs include the ADN-to-BSN Community College Collaborative, the accelerated BSN, and the RN-to-BSN pathway for existing nurses. A public health nurse (PHN) certificate is also available. The Collaborative links CSUN with designated California Community College partners to enable students to earn a BSN degree in just over 2.5 years. Applicants for all programs are eligible to receive credit for military education and experience. Since 2008, accelerated BSN graduates have achieved an outstanding NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 92%.

#88: Northwest Christian University | Eugene, OR
Established in 1895 as Eugene Divinity School, Northwest Christian University serves 800 students across its traditional undergraduate, evening/online undergraduate, and graduate divisions. The university’s nursing programs include an RN-to-BSN completion pathway, an MSN degree with two concentrations (nurse leadership in health systems, nursing education), and an RN-to-MSN pathway for students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. All programs are CCNE-accredited with coursework delivered 100% online. Students complete project-based practice experiences in their local communities.

#89: Western Governors University | Santa Ana, CA
Western Governors University offers a prelicensure BSN with clinicals at major Los Angeles and Orange County hospitals. The program’s partners include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Huntington Hospital, Tenet Health System, and Citrus Valley Health System. The program is highly selective – students must first be accepted and enrolled into the prelicensure nursing curriculum – and takes approximately 2.5 years to complete. Admissions preference is given to those individuals with a prior college degree. Since the program’s inception, around 30-50 BSN graduates per year have averaged an 88% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam.

#90: California State University, East Bay | Hayward, CA
California State University East Bay (Cal State East Bay) houses the Department of Nursing & Health Sciences. Nursing students here may choose from two pathways within the BSN program. One is a traditional prelicensure option, which features two years of pre-nursing requirements and 2.5 years of nursing courses. The other is an RN advanced placement program, which is open only to students who hold California registered nurse licensure. This program can be completed in one year of full-time study, or two years part-time. Over the past decade, 100-125 annual graduates of the traditional BSN program have earned an 89% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.

#91: California State University, Dominguez Hills | Carson, CA
The School of Nursing at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) resides in the College of Health, Human Services, and Nursing. The nursing program accepts registered nurses or students who are currently enrolled in a community college nursing program. Options include a pre-BSN dual enrollment program, an RN-to-BSN pathway, and an MSN degree with administrator, educator, CNS parent-child, and FNP specializations. A post-master’s certificate in nursing education is available, as well as a specialized public health nurse certificate for RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.

#92: Touro University California | Vallejo, CA
The School of Nursing at Touro University California offers programs designed for RNs who have already earned either an ADN or BSN degree. The school’s MSN program builds upon the strong foundation of ADN-to-BSN education. Graduates of the program may sit for the CNL national certification exam and are eligible for PHN certification through the California Board of Registered Nursing. The school’s DNP program prepares graduates to conduct advanced nursing practice and to sit for the FNP national certification exam.

#93: California State University, Bakersfield | Bakersfield, CA
The Department of Nursing at California State University, Bakersfield (DON CSUB) has three active programs: a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway, and an MSN degree with an FNP focus. Since 1970, more than 2,400 students have completed a BSN degree at DON CSUB. The school remains the only public university in the region where students can earn a BSN. Over the past decade, BSN graduates have achieved an impressive NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 91%. Established in 1987, the MSN program has also produced hundreds of graduates who remain in Bakersfield and the surrounding Kern County area, serving as leaders in the local healthcare community.

#94: Colorado Mesa University | Grand Junction, CO
Colorado Mesa University’s Department of Health Sciences takes a career ladder approach to learning that allows healthcare professionals to pursue their education while maintaining their employment. At the introductory level, CMU offers an LPN certificate program that produces thirty graduates annually. These students have scored a phenomenal 97% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure exam since 2012. Aspiring registered nurses can pursue either an ADN or BSN degree. Graduates from these programs have also performed well on their licensure exams, with an NCLEX-RN pass rate of 87% and 88%, respectively, since 2012. Graduate students can pursue an MSN degree in two distinct specializations (family nurse practitioner, nurse educator) or a DNP degree with an FNP focus. Select coursework is available via online and distance learning technologies.

#95: Saint Martin’s University | Lacey, WA
Saint Martin’s University is one of fourteen Benedictine colleges and universities in North America, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. The university enrolls 1,300 students across dozens of programs in four academic colleges. The College of Arts and Sciences offers a baccalaureate nursing program with two tracks: traditional prelicensure and RN-to-BSN degree completion. Students enjoy small class sizes, receive mentoring from faculty who are practicing nurses, and conduct clinical experiences in community and acute care settings. The nursing program at Saint Martin’s is CCNE-accredited.

#96: California State University, Monterey Bay | Seaside, CA
California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) offers programs for graduates of ADN programs and those who hold a current California RN license. Two pathways are available: ADN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN. The BSN degree can be obtained in approximately 12 to 15 months full-time or 18 months part-time, depending on the pathway. Courses are offered through Extended Education in a hybrid model, blending online and face-to-face in order to maximize access opportunities for students.

#97: Utah State University | Logan, UT
Founded in 1888, Utah State University is Utah’s only land-grant institution. The Department of Nursing and Health Professions is part of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, one of nine academic colleges in the university. The department offers a full suite of undergraduate nursing programs including a five-credit-hour CNA program, a one-year practical nursing certificate, a two-year associate of science degree in nursing, and a four-year prelicensure baccalaureate degree. The LPN program graduates approximately thirty students annually, while the ADN program graduates 40-60 students annually. Both programs have a track record of success on the nursing licensure examinations, including an 88% NCLEX-PN pass rate and an 86% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past three years. The BSN program accepted its inaugural class in the fall of 2017.

#98: Bellevue College | Bellevue, WA
Bellevue College serves nearly 30,000 students across more than 200 bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree, and certificate programs. The school offers three nursing pathways: a nursing assistant certificate, an associate’s degree in nursing, and an RN-to-BSN degree completion program. The ADN curriculum prepares students for entry-level registered nursing practice, while the RN-to-BSN curriculum builds upon the academic foundations and experience of the ADN-prepared nurse. Bellevue College graduates 50-75 students annually from its ADN program, with an excellent 93% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade.

#99: Weimar Institute | Weimar, CA
The Weimar Institute nursing program has three pathways for aspiring nurses. The pre-nursing program offers courses for students wishing to transfer to other Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities. The four-semester ADN program is for students with no prior nursing education or experience. The LVN-to-RN program is for licensed vocational nurses looking to transition to a registered nursing career. Both the traditional ADN program and the LVN-to-RN program prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. All students engage in laboratory sessions and log clinical time in skilled nursing facilities, acute care hospitals, outpatient settings, and the Weimar Institute NEWSTART Lifestyle Program.

#100: Platt College | Aurora, CO
The nursing program at Platt College allows aspiring nurses to earn their degree as quickly as possible. Students can earn a BSN in just 36 months, with no prerequisite requirements. The BSN program, which consists of 184.5 quarter credit hours, includes a combination of on-campus and online courses such as Nursing Care of the Aging Adult, Critical Thinking & the Nursing Process, and Contemporary Nursing Practice. Platt College is ACCSC-accredited; in addition, the nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Platt College’s BSN program graduates 40-70 students annually, with a solid 85% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination since 2012.

Top 10 Up and Coming Nursing Schools in the West


By BMSND Staff

Next in our series of up and coming nursing schools is our ranking of the top up and coming nursing schools in the west.

The nursing profession has changed drastically over the past few decades. With new medical technology becoming available each year and advancements being made in medical research on an ongoing basis, it’s more important than ever for  nursing schools to remain relevant. Students looking for a solid nursing education that will prepare them for success in today’s healthcare workforce should do their due diligence to ensure that the college or university they choose is making an ongoing effort to provide the most contemporary professional training possible.

Our editors have researched dozens of up and coming nursing schools in the western region of the country to determine the ten that stand out among the rest.

Rating and Ranking Methodology

  • Innovative Instructional Methods (e.g., experiential learning) – 1 point
  • Use of Cutting-Edge Technological Resources – 1 point
  • Recent Facility Additions/Renovations – 1 point
  • Related Student Organizations and Societies – 1 point
  • Flexible Track Options (distance learning, weekend/evenings, accelerated degree programs) – 1 point
  • Community Connections – 1 point
  • “Wow” Factor – 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us

Up and Coming Nursing Schools in the West

There are many quality options for prospective nursing students who wish to study in the western part of the United States. The following schools have shown an exceptional effort towards sustained growth and progress. These noteworthy schools have been rated according to the above rating and ranking methodology and are listed here in descending order. Net price has been considered only when two or more schools received the same rating.

#10 – Gonzaga University

Spokane, Washington

WebsitePoints: 4
Enrollment: 7,563
Net Price: $28,650

Founded in 1881 as a boys college, Gonzaga University is now a private four-year university located on a 131-acre campus near the Spokane River. The university’s relatively new School of Nursing and Human Physiology was established in 2013 and now offers a traditional bachelor of science in nursing degree program as well as four online options: the Online Registered Nurse to Master of Science in Nursing (RN to MSN), the Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), the Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and the Online Second Master’s Degree. Gonzaga was voted #6 “Best Value in the West” for 2019 by U.S. News and World Report, and for two years in a row Money Magazine listed it as among the best values for private colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest.

#9 – Utah Valley University

Orem, Utah

WebsitePoints: 5
Enrollment: 39,931
Net Price: $9,792

In addition to a high quality education, there are outstanding networking opportunities for students in the Department of Nursing at Utah Valley University. These include the UVU Student Nurses Association and its affiliations with the Utah Student Nurse Association, the National Student Nurse Association, and the Utah Nurses Association. The department offers nursing programs starting with associate’s degrees and going up through the master’s level. Its MSN program prepares graduates to serve as nurse educators in academia or a clinical setting. Community outreach is one of the factors that make this school stand out. Nursing students have the opportunity to provide wellness outreach and health education with local partners throughout the community at places like the Provo City Centro Hispano Health Fair, the Huntsman World Senior Games, and the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake.

#8 – Weber State University

Ogden, Utah

WebsitePoints: 5
Enrollment: 28,247
Net Price: $9,853

The MSN program offered through the Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing at Weber State University has been making leaps and bounds since it gained accreditation. With its “career ladder” approach, the dedicated faculty have earned this school national recognition. The rungs of the ladder run the gamut. Starting with an with an associate’s degree, options progress through a BSN, MSN, and graduate certificates before culminating with a DNP. Learning site flexibility is maximized by partnerships the nursing school has throughout the state, including in Layton, Logan, and Kaysville, with additional fully-online options.

#7 – Eastern New Mexico University

Portales, New Mexico

WebsitePoints: 5
Enrollment: 6,005
Net Price: $11,178

Home to more than 60 academic programs, the Eastern New Mexico University Department of Health and Human Services offers two attractive options for prospective nurses: a highly regarded BSN completion program and a regionally-competitive MSN program in education. The MSN is a fully-online program designed to maximize convenience. Working nurses in particular take advantage of this; 95% of those graduating worked full-time as RNs while students, and 97% of students are enrolled part-time. The nursing faculty are particularly noteworthy as professionals, while the university itself is in the top-10% of public institutions in the Southwest for offering the lowest tuition rates.

#6 – California State University – Fresno

Fresno, California

WebsitePoints: 5
Enrollment: 25,137
Net Price: $16,046

In 1911, California State University opened its doors as a teacher’s college and is still the area’s largest producer of educational professionals. The university’s School of Nursing is growing rapidly as well, however. Today, prospective nursing students have the opportunity to pursue one of several programs of study: the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the School Nurse Services Credential Program, a Master of Science in Nursing, a Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Credential Program, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The school also features several off-campus research and training centers as well as the Fresno State School of Nursing Community Health Mobile Unit.

#5 – Point Loma Nazarene University

San Diego, California

WebsitePoints: 6
Enrollment: 4,592
Net Price: $31,160

Point Loma Nazarene University offers three options for prospective undergraduate nursing students: the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, the RN to BSN program, and the LVN to BSN program. In addition to a DNP, graduate programs include a general Master of Science in Nursing with an option to specialize in business or education, plus Clinical Nurse Specialist tracks in Adult/Gerontology, Family/Individual Health, and Pediatrics. The PLNU School of Nursing was recently awarded the Song-Brown Grant which will be used to purchase high fidelity, computer controlled simulation mannequins for the nursing skills lab.

#4 – Northwest Nazarene University

Nampa, Idaho

WebsitePoints: 6
Enrollment: 2,201
Net Price: $22,320

NNU offers an on-campus Bachelor’s degree in nursing, plus online programs like an RN to BSN, MSN, and MSN Family Nurse Practitioner track. Thanks to a grant from Blue Cross of Idaho, the advanced nursing practice lab has recently been renovated to better serve the school’s students. Northwestern Nazarene is home to an engaged Student Nurse Association that benefits the local community through partnerships with the Canyon Area Immunization Coalition, the Nampa Family Justice Center, fun community events, and Operation Christmas Child.

#3 – New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, New Mexico

WebsitePoints: 6
Enrollment: 14,289
Net Price: $14,382

New Mexico State University has been providing high-quality nursing education for students since 1972 and offers a 4 year pre-licensure BSN, the online RN to BSN for returning nurses, and the 2nd degree road runner option for individuals who already have an undergraduate degree in another discipline. NMSU’s Doctorate in nursing practice received national accreditation in 2014. More recently a school of Nursing Assistant Professor was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health for his research on diabetes and hypertension in Hispanic men. In 2020 ranked the NMSU School of Nursing among the best of its kind in New Mexico.

#2 – University of San Diego

San Diego, California

WebsitePoints: 7
Enrollment: 9,073
Net Price: $50,655

As a graduate nursing school, the Hahn School of Nursing School and Health Science at the University of San Diego offers several stellar options for established nurses who wish to continue their education: a Master of Science in Nursing, a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. The school recently completed construction on the Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advanced Practice and Simulation, a three-story $8 million facility which includes a state-of-the-art simulation center as well as a research library. In 2020 U.S. News and World Report ranked this nursing school as among the best graduate programs in the nation for its MSN and DNP degrees.

#1 – Washington State University

Pullman, Washington

WebsitePoints: 7
Enrollment: 31,478
Net Price: $17,816

The School of Nursing at Washington State University prepares over half of all baccalaureate degreed nurses in the state. The school’s experienced faculty act as not only instructors but mentors as well, guiding students through clinical training experiences and collaborating alongside them on groundbreaking research projects on topics such as rural mental health, substance abuse, addictions, geriatrics, environmental health, transitional care, underserved populations, cultural competency in nursing, and childhood obesity. WSU was recently recognized as the third most beautiful nursing school in the nation.

Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Washington

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In 2014, more than 4,200 students were enrolled in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in Washington, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. During the past five years, an initiative was launched to increase those enrollment numbers. Supported by grants from organizations such as the Robert Wood Foundation, the initiative has two goals: meet the skyrocketing demand for nursing care in light of a rapidly aging population and develop an adequate level of nursing capacity in high-demand areas. Learn about the potential of the nursing profession in Washington, educational options, and nurse licensure requirements to enter the field.

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Top Nursing Schools in Washington

1Gonzaga University91.50$$$$$11:1583%
2Pacific Lutheran University91.00$$$$$11:1468%
3Seattle University91.00$$$$$12:1178%
4Washington State University90.50$$$$$15:1367%
5University of Washington-Seattle90.00$$$$$18:1284%
6Seattle Pacific University89.50$$$$$15:1575%
7Whitworth University89.50$$$$$11:11075%
8Lake Washington Institute of Technology89.25$$$$$15:11029%
9Green River College89.25$$$$$12:11031%
10Peninsula College88.75$$$$$15:11029%
11Seattle Community College-South Campus88.75$$$$$15:11026%
12Centralia College88.25$$$$$17:11034%
13Walla Walla University88.25$$$$$13:11056%
14Highline College88.25$$$$$15:11028%
15Olympic College88.00$$$$$19:1528%
16University of Washington-Tacoma Campus88.00$$$$$16:1555%
17Seattle Community College-North Campus87.75$$$$$16:11029%
18University of Washington-Bothell Campus87.75$$$$$19:1567%
19Saint Martin’s University87.75$$$$$12:11048%
20Northwest University87.50$$$$$13:11053%
21Bellevue College86.50$$$$$18:11026%
22Skagit Valley College86.25$$$$$15:11022%
23Heritage University85.75$$$$$8:11019%
24Eastern Washington University84.25$$$$$21:11046%
25Clover Park Technical College83.75$$$$$23:11032%
26Yakima Valley Community College83.25$$$$$19:11023%
27Columbia Basin College82.50$$$$$20:11025%

Find a Nursing School in Washington

Both prospective and practicing nurses can select from a variety of nursing programs to start or advance in their careers. In Washington, these programs can be found at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The search tool below can be used to explore the different nursing schools and programs available to students in Washington state.StateDegree LevelSchool TypeEnvironmentClear All Filters

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SchoolTuition & FeesAcceptance RateStudent PopulationSchool TypePrograms
Bellevue CollegeBellevue, WAIn-state:

26%21,653Both Online and Campus1
Bellingham Technical CollegeBellingham, WAIn-state:

55%3,633Both Online and Campus1
Big Bend Community CollegeMoses Lake, WAIn-state:

32%2,850Both Online and Campus1
Cascadia CollegeBothell, WAIn-state:

28.62%4,029Both Online and Campus1
Centralia CollegeCentralia, WAIn-state:

33.85%5,742Both Online and Campus1
Clark CollegeVancouver, WAIn-state:

24.66%16,609Both Online and Campus1
Clover Park Technical CollegeLakewood, WAIn-state:

32%6,127Both Online and Campus1
Columbia Basin CollegePasco, WAIn-state:

24.63%9,251Both Online and Campus1
Eastern Washington UniversityCheney, WAIn-state:

45.77%16,583Both Online and Campus1
Edmonds Community CollegeLynnwood, WAIn-state:

27.95%13,935Both Online and Campus1
Everett Community CollegeEverett, WAIn-state:

30.67%13,613Both Online and Campus1
Gonzaga UniversitySpokane, WAIn-state:

83.15%8,578Both Online and Campus2
Grays Harbor CollegeAberdeen, WAIn-state:

37.11%3,183Both Online and Campus1
Green River Community CollegeAuburn, WAIn-state:

30.53%11,600Both Online and Campus1
Heritage UniversityToppenish, WAIn-state:

18.97%1,457Both Online and Campus1
Highline CollegeDes Moines, WAIn-state:

28.38%10,151Both Online and Campus1
Lake Washington Institute of TechnologyKirkland, WAIn-state:

29.02%5,551Both Online and Campus1
Lower Columbia CollegeLongview, WAIn-state:

24.68%4,681Both Online and Campus1
North Seattle CollegeSeattle, WAIn-state:

28.93%10,349Both Online and Campus1
Olympic CollegeBremerton, WAIn-state:

27.75%11,066Both Online and Campus2

The Licensure Process in Washington

The Washington Nursing Commission is the regulating body for the nursing field in the state of Washington. RNs interested in practicing in this state must meet the commission’s requirements for a license, which include the following:

Eligibility Requirements

  • Graduate from a state-approved nursing education program
  • Complete and pass a background check through the Washington State Patrol and Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Submit an online application and $88 fee
  • Answer a personal profile questionnaire
  • Complete seven hours of AIDS/HIV training
  • Graduates of in-state nursing programs must have official transcripts sent from the school to the Nursing Commission
  • Out-of-state nursing students must have a verification form completed by their program director and sent to the Nursing Commission
  • Register for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) with Pearson VUE and pay a $200 testing fee
  • Wait to receive an Authorization to Test (ATT)
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN

The License Renewal Process in Washington

Washington RNs are required to renew their license every year. Renewal applications can be submitted online and must be completed on or before the applicant’s birthday. To qualify, nurses must complete at least 531 hours of nursing practice and 45 credit hours of approved continuing education every three years. The renewal application fee is $97.

ARNP Licensure in WA

The licensing process for advanced registered nurses practitioners is similar to that of registered nurses. The Washington Nursing Commission recognizes the following national certification programs for APRNs: American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, American College of Nurse Midwives, American Nurses Credentialing Center, Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, National Certification Corporation, and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. In addition to the requirements for RN licensure, APRNs must do the following:

  • Submit online application and pay a $92 fee
  • Hold a valid and active RN license in Washington
  • Submit official transcripts in a sealed envelope as proof of completion of an approved graduate program
  • Provide evidence of national certification, which must come directly from a national certifying organization
  • Submit employment verification that demonstrates at least 250 hours of advanced nursing practice in your specialized field. However, this is not required if you graduated the same year you submitted your application

More information and details for ARNPs, including updates and license verification can be found at the Washington State Department of Health.

Career Outlook for RNs in Washington

The state of Washington is home to nearly 85,000 licensed registered nurses, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. However, a workforce study from University of Washington School of Medicine estimates that within the next 15 years there will be a service gap of 18,000 positions in the state. In turn, employment data from the Employment Security Department in Washington State projects strong occupational growth in nursing between 2013 and 2023. Explore the employment and salary numbers for registered nurses in Washington below.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Washington

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett WA Metropolitan Division$40.23$83,690
Tacoma Metropolitan Division$37.78$78,580
Wenatchee-East Wenatchee$35.14$73,080
Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area$34.28$71,300
Mount Vernon-Anacortes$34.23$71,200

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Washington vs. National Numbers


  • Washington
  • National

Registered NurseCertified Nurse MidwifeNurse AnesthetistNurse Practitioner$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000

YearAnnual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)Annual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)
Registered Nurse$62,730$77,520$93,880$0$54,620$66,640$81,080
Certified Nurse Midwife$83,960$92,840$107,220$0$82,580$96,970$114,090
Nurse Anesthetist$123,510$161,800$0$0$132,380$153,780$181,860
Nurse Practitioner$86,170$99,610$115,910$0$82,720$95,350$113,470
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 EmploymentTOTAL EMPLOYMENT (2014)050,000100,000Registered NurseCertified Nurse MidwifeNurse AnesthetistNurse Practitioner51,600802502,3905,11036,590

Registered Nurse51,6002,687,310
Certified Nurse Midwife805,110
Nurse Anesthetist25036,590
Nurse Practitioner2,390122,050

2022 OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK050,000100,00065,2101404803,0707,70043,900

Registered Nurse65,2103,238,400
Certified Nurse Midwife1407,700
Nurse Anesthetist48043,900
Nurse Practitioner3,070147,300

AVG. ANNUAL OPENINGS (2012 – 2022)050,000100,0002,23010201102901,5605,850

Registered Nurse2,230105,260
Certified Nurse Midwife10290
Nurse Anesthetist201,560
Nurse Practitioner1105,850

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Washington RN Resources

ARNPs United of Washington State

The ARNPs United of Washington State is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the work of advanced registered nurse practitioners through continuing education programs, networking events, public policy advocacy, and a career center.King County Nurses Association

The King County Nurses Association is a professional organization with more than 3,200 registered nurses from all specializations and areas of practice. Through memberships, scholarships, networking events, and nursing education programs, the KCNA supports professional development of nurses in Washington state.Nursing Students of Washington State

Nursing Students of Washington State is the state-based chapter of the National Student Nurses Association. Membership is open to students enrolled in accredited nursing schools in the state and offers a variety of resources and support, including scholarships.Puget Sound Nurse Practitioner Association

Founded in 1998, the Puget Sound Nurse Practitioners Association is a nonprofit organization that promotes the work and professional development of advanced practice nurse practitioners in Puget Sound.Washington Center for Nursing

The Washington Center for Nursing supports the development of a skilled nursing workforce through a variety of means, including mentoring programs, diversity efforts, and continuing education programs for nurses.Washington Nursing Commission

The Washington Nursing Commission is a division of the Washington State Department of Health and is responsible for regulating the practice of nursing in the state. It manages the licensing and renewal process, sets guidelines for professional practice, and handles disciplinary action for registered nurses.Washington State Association of Occupational Health Nurses

The Washington State Association of Occupational Health Nurses is an arm of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses. It is the primary organization that supports occupational health nursing in Washington and offers an array of resources, including a career center, memberships, and networking events.Washington State Nurses Association

The Washington State Nurses Association is the largest nursing association in the state, serving more than 75,000 licensed nursing professionals in every specialty and role. It supports the nursing profession through legislative action, continuing education programs, and nursing unions.

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