Top Arizona Nursing Schools and Programs

November 12, 2021 · 6 Min Read

Top Arizona Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs. Arizona is experiencing one of the worst nursing shortages in our country. There are currently only 681 registered nurses for every 100,000 residents. This is way below the national average of 825...

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Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

From advancing their careers to increasing potential income, professionals enroll in online nursing programs in Arizona for various reasons. Four main nursing types exist in Arizona: certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), and nurse practitioner (NP). Each requires education, which learners can often pursue through online nursing schools in Arizona.

Online nursing programs in Arizona offer the same quality education as on-campus programs, only students complete courses at their own pace. These online programs also meet Arizona nursing licensure requirements as long as the program meets accrediting standards.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Arizona?

Projections show Arizona holds one of the nation's largest growth rates for all nursing types. Arizona also offers one of the region's lowest costs of living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean salary for RNs in Arizona ($77,000) beats the national mean wage ($75,500).

Perhaps the best reason to attend an online nursing program in Arizona is your ideal location. Many in-state programs meet Arizona nursing licensure requirements, so completing a program in Arizona sets you up for a career in the state.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Arizona

The first step towards becoming a nurse in Arizona is earning an on-campus or online nursing degree from an accredited nursing college. Aspiring nurses must also pass the NCLEX-RN exam. According to the Arizona State Board of Nursing (AZBN), individuals who pass the test can expect to receive their license in the mail 3-5 months after registering for the exam.

  • 1. Choose the Path That's Right for You

    To become an RN, candidates must earn an on-campus or online nursing degree. At a minimum, learners need an associate degree in nursing (ADN). However, many nurses now choose to start their careers by earning a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) through an online BSN program in Arizona. Students who plan to advance in the field by becoming family NPs, nurse anesthetists, or college-level nursing instructors must also pursue a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Earning an online nursing degree appeals to many busy professionals because it allows them to study at their convenience. Most entry-level nursing programs in Arizona require students to complete rounds of clinical practice. As such, schools do not typically offer these degrees in a fully online format. To gain admittance, most applicants to associate and bachelor's programs must pass a nursing admissions test and meet the general admission requirements at nursing schools in Arizona. An associate degree takes 1-2 years to complete, while a bachelor's degree typically takes four years. Students in online nursing programs in Arizona also take science courses in biology, chemistry, and anatomy, in addition to general education courses and specialty nursing classes.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    Graduates of nursing schools in Arizona must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to earn an RN license. The exam costs $200. Nursing programs prepare students to answer the NCLEX-RN's 75-265 questions within the allotted time frame of six hours, although successful candidates often study daily on their own. After graduating from an approved program, passing the NCLEX-RN, and clearing a criminal background check, candidates receive their license from the state board. While the board and individual nursing schools in Arizona cannot guarantee that applicants receive positions, nurses must hold this license before they can apply for an RN position in the state.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Arizona

Licensure for every nursing type requires both education and experience. Many online nursing programs in Arizona meet these requirements. By earning an online degree, you also maximize your income potential and increase your employability. Online schools offer these benefits in addition to flexibility and lower tuition.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Arizona?

Every school creates its own curriculum for nursing programs, so courses differ by school. However, many programs standardize most of the curriculum to meet Arizona and accreditation requirements. See below for common courses in an online nursing program in Arizona.


Nurses often create diets for patients to maintain or improve their health. Nutrition covers the fundamentals of food, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Students then create nutritional plans based on patient information.


This course combines anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, and physiology and applies them to pathogens and common diseases. Learners examine the effects of pathogens in patients.

Acute and Chronic Healthcare

Nurses learn to determine acute and chronic illnesses within an individual or family and to create a defense against the condition. They extend this knowledge to other affected populations.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Most nursing students possess no previous nursing experience. Since every nursing license requires a combination of education and experience, nurses with insufficient experience must earn it through in-person clinical hours. Most online nursing programs in Arizona are hybrid programs, combining in-person and online education. Students complete courses online and clinical experience in person.

Some degrees in Arizona allow for entirely online learning. For example, an RN with sufficient experience may enroll in an entirely online RN-to-BSN program. Other nursing types, such as NPs, require significant in-person experience.

Although most online nursing programs in Arizona require some in-person study, students choose online programs because of their flexibility. Nursing students with busy personal lives or those who must work while earning their degree take advantage of flexible online programs. Keep in mind that accredited online programs follow the same admission requirements as on-campus programs.

Nursing Licensure in Arizona

As part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), Arizona accepts multi-state licenses from other NLC member states. Likewise, other NLC members accept multi-state licenses from Arizona RNs. So, an RN license earned in Arizona essentially works in all other NLC member states.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners regards Arizona as a full-practice state for NPs. Before applying for prescriptive authority, NPs must complete educational courses. AZBN approves nursing programs, licenses all nursing types, and handles license renewals. Nurses can access all requirements for each nursing type online.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

Nursing licensure in Arizona requires education, experience, and proof of competency. Specific requirements for each category depend on the nursing type.

Certified Nurse Assistant CNAs complete an approved CNA or certified medication assistant (CMA) program. CNA programs require 120 hours, 40 of which must be clinical training. Students may complete the 80 classroom hours online. Upon completing the program, learners take a final exam and receive a program evaluation to verify their competence. Licenses take up to 120 days for the board to review, though most applications take less time. CNA licenses expire every two years, though AZBN outlines renewal requirements. Nurse aides may choose to become a CMA as well. This requires additional education but increases the scope of practice. Medication assistant licenses expire every two years at the end of the nurse's birth month and require 160 hours of practice within the two-year period.

Arizona Licensure Requirements

  • Education: AZBN-approved CNA program
  • Additional Clinical Hours: None
  • Exams: Final exam through program
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: N/A
Licensed Practical Nurse Arizona requires LPN applicants to complete an approved program or ADN. This process takes 1-2 years, depending on the student's chosen program. Toward the end of the LPN program, students gain eligibility to sit for the NCLEX-PN. Next, applicants submit their transcript, test scores, and diploma or certificate to AZBN. Applicants must also submit fingerprints and undergo a criminal background check. LPN licenses expire every four years, though some out-of-state nurses must renew licenses more frequently. During this time, LPNs must work for 960 hours in their field, complete an AZBN refresher course, obtain a more advanced nursing degree, or complete an LPN program. Arizona does not require continuing education (CE) for LPNs. Nurses must pay a $160 renewal fee.

Arizona Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Approved program or diploma
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in program
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every four years
  • Continuing Education: None required
Registered Nurse RNs follow similar application steps as LPNs. First, individuals need an ADN or BSN from an approved school. During this time, students become eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN, the exam required for RN licensure. Learners must earn a passing score on the NCLEX. After passing the exam, students submit their RN applications along with fingerprints and a criminal background check. Like LPNs, RNs do not need CE credits. Instead, RNs must practice as a nurse for 960 hours, complete an AZBN refresher course, earn an advanced degree, or complete an RN program within the past five years. Licenses expire every four years.

Arizona Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Diploma, ADN, or BSN
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Completed in program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN
  • Renewal Frequency: Every four years within 30 days of renewal date
  • Continuing Education: None if minimum practice met
Nurse Practitioner In Arizona, NPs earn an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) license. APRN applicants need a current RN license in Arizona or a multi-state license and a degree from a graduate nursing program. Next, APRN applicants must earn national certification as an APRN related to their population focus. The graduate degree's focus determines the NP's population focus. Certificates take up to 120 days to process, though some applicants may receive a temporary license. NPs pursuing prescriptive authority must complete 45 contact hours in pharmacology or clinical management of drug therapy within the past three years. AZBN does not require CE for renewal. As with LPN and RN renewals, APRN renewals do not require CE. Instead, NPs must complete 960 hours of practice within the past five years, complete an AZBN refresher course, or earn an advanced degree. Licenses expire every four years. NPs who fail to renew their RN license also lose their APRN license.

Arizona Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Graduate degree in nursing
  • Additional Clinical Hours: None required
  • Exams: Related national certification exam
  • Renewal Frequency: Renewed at same time as RN license
  • Continuing Education: None required by AZBN

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Arizona FAQ

How Long Does It Take to Get an RN License in Arizona? After taking and passing the NCLEX, Arizona processes RN license applications in 1-2 weeks. However, applicants who fail to follow application instructions face longer waiting periods.
Is Arizona a Good State For Nurses? Projections show some of the highest growth rates for nursing jobs in Arizona. Also, RNs in AZ earn a higher mean wage than the average U.S. nurse.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Nursing School in Arizona? Accredited and approved nursing programs meet the same standards as other nursing schools around the country. Nursing school can be highly competitive, and programs in Arizona are no exception.
How Long Does It Take To Get an Arizona Nursing License by Endorsement? If nurses follow license by endorsement instructions, the process takes 2-3 weeks after submitting the application.
Is Arizona a Nurse Compact State? Yes. An LPN or RN license also works in other compact states. Individuals could complete a program in Arizona, earn a license, and work in another state with relative ease.

Arizona Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

Arizona pays all four nursing types a higher mean wage than the national average. Arizona's mean wages also compete with other states in the region, though nurses can find higher mean wages elsewhere.

Projections show significant growth for every nursing type in Arizona. According to Projections Central, projections for each type are the highest in the nation and outpace other states in the region with high projected growth. One factor influencing the potential growth of nursing jobs in Arizona is the national nursing shortage. National projections show a significant shortage of RNs in Arizona. Wages for all nursing types could increase significantly during this time to attract qualified nurses.

Note that projections do not necessarily reflect real growth and no amount of education guarantees a specific salary or a position as a nurse in Arizona.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Arizona, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $31,450 35.1%
Licensed Practical Nurse $54,090 32.2%
Registered Nurse $77,000 37.3%
Nurse Practitioner $110,750 57.7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
California $35,220 $56,200 $106,950 $133,780
Nevada $35,130 $57,140 $85,620 $112,540</a
Utah $27,880 $48,130 $65,670 $105,840
Colorado $32,610 $51,210 $74,240 $111,210
New Mexico $28,310 $47,560 $71,730 $109,810

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant

CNAs in Arizona earn a mean wage of $31,450, higher than the national mean wage of $29,580. CNAs who continue their education and become a CMA, potential wages could increase. Projections show the highest growth rate for CNAs in Arizona, outpacing the next highest projected growth rate by over 4% (Utah, 30.6% projected growth). Current LPN or RN students could become a CNA to help cover costs while finishing their education.

Licensed Practical Nurse

In Arizona, the average LPN earns much more than the average U.S. LPN, though both Nevada and California pay a higher mean salary for LPNs. Growth projections of 32.2% from 2016-26 for LPNs in Arizona greatly outpace national projections of 12.3% over the same period. While Arizona does not pay the highest wages for LPNs in the region, Arizona boasts above-average pay and high growth.

Registered Nurse

The difference in mean pay for Arizona RNs and U.S. RNs is small, though Arizona still pays a higher mean wage. However, California's mean wage of $106,950 for RNs significantly outpaces Arizona's mean wage. Projections show a projected RN job growth rate of 37.3% in Arizona, the nation's highest rate and well above the national projected growth rate of 14.8%.

Nurse Practitioner

The average NP in Arizona earns about the same as the average U.S. NP. Mean wages in California greatly exceed those paid in Arizona, though salary also depends on where NPs work. For example, the BLS reports that NPs in Prescott earn a mean wage of $122,710 while NPs in the Sierra Vista-Douglas area earn a mean wage of $97,350. Projections show Arizona as the highest-growth state for NPs.

Nursing Resources for Arizona

  • AzNA offers insurance discounts, reduced national certification exam fees, a career center, and plenty of networking opportunities for all nursing types.
  • Part of the AzNA, this council focuses solely on NPs and NP students. Members receive certification exam discounts, access to conferences, and an AzNA membership.
  • AZBN licenses all nursing types in Arizona, handles license renewals, and collects fees for each application. Nurses complete their applications through the online portal.
  • AzONE strengthens nurses by offering educational and networking opportunities to turn nurses into leaders.
  • Part of the National Association of School Nurses, SNOA represents school nurses at the state and national levels. The group provides school nurses with valuable industry data and information.

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