The Top Nursing Schools in Arizona

February 21, 2022 , Updated on June 2, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Considering nursing school in Arizona? This guide identifies the best nursing programs in Arizona and helps you find the right school for your goals.

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The Top Nursing Schools in Arizona
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Arizona's rapid population growth and popularity as a retirement location make the state a great place to begin a nursing career. This guide explores the best nursing programs in Arizona for prospective registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs), how to earn an Arizona nursing license, and average salaries for nurses in the state.

Keep reading to learn more, or go straight to our list of the best nursing schools in Arizona or our list of the best nurse practitioner programs in Arizona.

Arizona and Nursing School Programs 2022

Accreditation is important. This guide lists only accredited schools and nursing programs in Arizona.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Arizona, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

#1

GateWay Community College-Central City

School Information
Location Phoenix, Arizona
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

GateWay Community College runs one of the best nursing schools in Arizona. GWCC features several programs that train enrollees to work as registered nurses, nursing assistants, and licensed practical nurses. 

Learners complete 62-75 credits to earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Students complete classes over six terms. They study topics like microbiology, psychology, and nursing theory. 

  • Programs: ADN; fast-track practical nursing certificate; nurse assistant certificate; nursing refresher certificate
  • Campus: Phoenix
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing 
  • Tuition: $85 per credit for in-county learners; $441 per credit for out-of-county learners; $241 for out-of-state learners
  • Admission Requirements: High school or GED diploma; passing scores on the practical nursing content exam
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.8% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $58,000 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard

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#2

Northern Arizona University

School Information
Location Flagstaff, Arizona
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 57%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Northern Arizona University offers some of the top nursing programs in Arizona. Learners can pursue traditional and accelerated pathways to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in 1-2.5 years. 

Students with a bachelor's degree in another major can enroll in the 79-credit accelerated program. Learners gain skills in critical reasoning, leadership, and professionalism. NAU also offers a reservation-based American Indian nursing program. This program features concurrent enrollment. 

  • Programs: BSN; master of science in nursing; doctor of nursing practice 
  • Campus: Flagstaff
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 
  • Tuition: $3,000 for the BSN degree; $2,400 for the accelerated BSN degree
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; passing scores on the KAPLAN admissions exam and CASPer test
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.9% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $63,360 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard

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#3

Chandler-Gilbert Community College

School Information
Location Chandler, Arizona
Graduation Rate 23%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College offers some of the top nursing programs in Arizona. Students need a "C" or better to earn their associate degree in nursing (ADN). The program requires 62-75 credits. Full-time students take 12-18 credits per term. Graduates learn how to collaborate on teams of healthcare providers. They also learn how to minimize risks while delivering quality nursing care. Enrollees use the latest technology in nursing care delivery. 

  • Program: ADN
  • Campus: Chandler
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing 
  • Tuition: $85 per credit for in-county learners; $401 per credit for out-of-county learners; $326 for out-of-state learners 
  • Admission Requirements: High school or GED diploma; passing scores on the practical nursing content exam
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.5% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $60,620 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard

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#4

Arizona State University-Downtown Phoenix

School Information
Location Phoenix, Arizona
Admission Rate 82%
Graduation Rate 58%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Arizona State University - Downtown Phoenix runs one of the best nursing schools in Arizona. Learners can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees that offer specializations.

The school's doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program offers specialties in areas like pediatrics and women's health. Students complete 585 clinical practicum hours and 540 clinical residency hours in their specialty area. 

  • Programs: Bachelor of science in nursing; master of science in nursing; DNP
  • Campus: Phoenix
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $10,710 per year for in-state undergraduates learners; $28,800 per year for out-of-state undergraduate learners; $11,720 per year for in-state graduate learners;  $23,544 per year for out-of-state graduate learners
  • Admission Requirements: DNP students need a master's or bachelor's degree from an accredited college; minimum 3.0 GPA; Arizona RN license; one year of clinical nursing experience; complete an admissions interview
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.7% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $65,660 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard

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#5

University of Arizona

School Information
Location Tucson, Arizona
Admission Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 65%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Arizona provides top-ranked nursing programs in Arizona, including a 15-month program for working professionals with a non-nursing bachelor's degree.

The College of Nursing requires that students complete 56 credits. Before taking courses in their specialty, degree-seekers study core topics such as pathophysiology across the lifespan, health assessments, and nursing pharmacology. The program combines online and in-person classes plus clinical experiences.  

  • Programs: Bachelor of science in nursing; master of science in nursing; doctor of nursing practice; adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner certificate; family nurse practitioner certificate; healthcare informatics certificate
  • Campus: Tucson
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education 
  • Tuition: $865 per credit for in-state learners; $929 per credit for out-of-state learners
  • Admission Requirements: MSN degree-seekers need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA; grade "C" or better for all prerequisites; minimum 75% score for the HESI admissions assessment exam 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98.2% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $64,620 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard

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#6

Paradise Valley Community College

School Information
Location Phoenix, Arizona
Graduation Rate 24%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Paradise Valley Community College offers convenient nursing programs in Arizona with full-time, accelerated, and weekend options. PVCC's associate degree in nursing (ADN) requires 64-74 credits. The curriculum prepares enrollees for the NCLEX-RN exam. Classes cover topics like human anatomy and physiology, psychology, and nursing theory and science. 

Degree-seekers can enroll concurrently in a bachelor of science in nursing program and transfer to partner institutions, including Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.

  • Program: ADN 
  • Campus: Phoenix
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing 
  • Tuition: $85 per credit for in-county learners; $441 per credit for out-of-county learners; $326 for out-of-state learners
  • Admission Requirements: High school or GED diploma; passing scores on the practical nursing content exam
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.8% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $65,520 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard

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#7

Pima Community College

School Information
Location Tucson, Arizona
Graduation Rate 21%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Pima Community College runs one of the best nursing schools in Arizona. Programs prepare enrollees to work as nurses in 5-6 semesters.

Core classes train students in nursing processes through clinical experience and skills labs. Enrollees study drug calculations, pharmacology, and trends and issues in nursing. Degree-seekers complete about 74 credits, including general education classes and support courses. To graduate, students must maintain a "C" average or better in all courses. 

Prospective enrollees must attend an information session. New students start in the fall or spring. 

  • Program: Associate degree in nursing 
  • Campus: Tucson
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing 
  • Tuition: $87 per credit for in-state learners; $218 per credit for out-of-state online learners
  • Admission Requirements: Complete the National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Examination for RN applicants; HESI A2 Assessment with a minimum 75% score; high school or GED diploma; complete prerequisites courses
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.7% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $60,610 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard

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#8

Glendale Community College

School Information
Location Glendale, Arizona
Graduation Rate 17%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Glendale Community College ranks among the best nursing schools in Arizona. The school's associate degree in nursing (ADN) program prepares students to work as nurse assistants, certified nursing assistants, and registered nurses.

Current licensed practical nurses, paramedics, and nursing transfer students can enroll in GCC's concurrent enrollment program. Learners can earn a bachelor of science in nursing while completing their ADN. Students complete clinical hours, choosing from more than 100 partner sites. Programs offer part-time and accelerated options. Enrollees can graduate in 16-18 months. 

GCC accepts applications year round. A placement waitlist averages 7-8 semesters.  

  • Program: ADN
  • Campus: Glendale
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing 
  • Tuition: $85 per credit for in-county learners; $441 per credit for out-of-county learners; $326 for out-of-state learners
  • Admission Requirements: High school or GED diploma; passing scores on the practical nursing content exam; LPN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes

School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98.7% first-time pass rate

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#9

Arizona Western College

School Information
Location Yuma, Arizona
Graduation Rate 25%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Arizona Western College has served nursing students since 1967. Enrollees can earn a certificate as a practical nurse in three semesters. Students can also complete a 67-credit associate degree in nursing (ADN) program in two years. 

Required classes include human development, microbiology, and anatomy and physiology. Current licensed practical nurses and transfer students from other accredited nursing programs in Arizona can get advanced standing and graduate sooner. 

AWC's nursing curriculum combines online assignments and simulations with in-person labs and classroom time. Students can concurrently earn an ADN and a bachelor of science in nursing from Arizona State University. 

  • Program: ADN
  • Campus: Yuma
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing 
  • Tuition: $92 per credit for in-state learners; $102 per credit for out-of-state learners
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum 2.5 GPA; minimum 75% on the HESI admission assessment; a "C" or better for all prerequisites
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.4% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $64,200 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard

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#10

Mesa Community College

School Information
Location Mesa, Arizona
Graduation Rate 18%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Mesa Community College features top-rated nursing programs in Arizona that lead to a certificate or an associate degree in nursing (ADN). 

Students complete 2-4.5 credits in nurse assisting or advanced placement to earn a nurse assisting certificate. They take either in-person classes or pursue a hybrid format with in-person labs and online lectures. The advanced placement course offers two credits to students who have provided direct patient care full time for one year.  

  • Programs: ADN; nursing refresher certificate; nurse assisting certificate
  • Campus: Mesa
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing 
  • Tuition: $85 per credit for in-county learners; $441 per credit for out-of-county learners; $326 for out-of-state learners
  • Admission Requirements: High school or GED diploma; passing scores on the practical nursing content exam
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 8 weeks
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 74.8% first-time pass rate

Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $55,960 for associate graduates, according to College Scorecard

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Featured Online MSN Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in Arizona

The appropriate program should fit your professional background and career goals. You should also consider factors like tuition, the program's National Council Licensure Examination-RN (NCLEX-RN) pass rate, and the program's acceptance rate. The program's format should suit your learning style and schedule.

Why Become a Nurse in Arizona

A popular destination for retirees, Arizona's population is rapidly growing. The state is known for access to outdoor recreation and national parks, a strong arts and dining scene, and vibrant culture. Arizona is also a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, and nurses who are licensed in another NLC state may apply for Arizona licensure by endorsement.

The number of nursing jobs in Arizona is projected to grow 35% from 2018-28 — the fastest rate in the country. However, Arizona is projected to experience a surplus of nurses by 2030, so attending nursing school in the state can help you develop a professional network and find a job.

The median annual salary for nurses in Arizona is $79,010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which falls above the national median. The median annual salary for NPs is $115,950.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Arizona

While Arizona RNs and NPs out-earn their counterparts in many other states, Arizona's cost of living index is 107, compared to the national index of 100.

Due to a job growth rate far above the 7% national average, Arizona may experience a surplus of about 1,200 nurses by 2030. However, candidates who attend nursing schools in Arizona enjoy a variety of employment options elsewhere because they can seek NLC licensure.

Unlike nurses in many other states, Arizona RNs in nonmetropolitan areas earn the highest average salaries due to higher demand in these locations. However, their counterparts in urban areas like Phoenix, earn nearly as much.

Highest Paying Cities for Nurses in Arizona
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Average Salary for RNs
Yuma, AZ $82,160
Prescott, AZ $82,040
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ $81,390
Tucson, AZ $76,660
Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ $72,530
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Arizona

Arizona's licensing requirements are similar to those in many states. Candidates must hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) to become an RN. Prospective advanced practice RNs (APRNs) need a master's degree or doctoral degree in nursing, with limited exceptions.

If you hold an out-of-state multistate license, you do not need to apply for Arizona licensure. If you are licensed in another NLC state, you can apply for a license by endorsement.

RN Requirements

Prospective RNs must earn an ADN or a BSN and pass the NCLEX-RN before applying for Arizona nursing licensure. Graduates who did not attend nursing school in Arizona should send their official transcripts to the state's Board of Nursing for verification. All applicants must pass a background check with fingerprinting and prove that they are eligible to work in the United States.

The Arizona Board of Nursing provides a complete list of requirements and fees on their website.

APRN Requirements

To become an APRN in Arizona, applicants must pass board certification exams. Their MSN advisor or DNP program should provide the Arizona Board of Nursing with the candidate's transcripts and a letter confirming their population area. Applicants also undergo a background check. Professionals who plan to prescribe controlled substances must apply for a DEA number from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The state board's website lists all requirements, fees, and relevant information for prospective APRNs.

The Best Nurse Practitioner Programs in Arizona

Prospective NPs can choose from a variety of master's- and doctoral-level advanced practice nursing programs in Arizona.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Arizona

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Arizona


Is Arizona a good state for nurses?

At 35%, Arizona's job growth rate for nursing positions is faster than any other state. According to BLS data, the median annual salary for nurses in Arizona is $79,010.

How do I become an RN in Arizona?

To become an RN in Arizona, you must complete a two-year ADN or a four-year BSN, pass the NCLEX-RN, submit your fingerprints for a background check, and submit your transcripts to the state board. You can also work as an RN in Arizona if you already hold a multi-state license.

How much does it cost to become a nurse in Arizona?

Most nursing schools in Arizona charge $40,000-$150,000 for a BSN. For an ADN, nursing programs in Arizona cost $6,000-$65,000. Candidates can find many financial aid sources, including loans, grants, and scholarships.

How much money does an RN make in Arizona?

The answer varies by experience and location. In Arizona, rural nurses make more than nurses in cities. The median annual salary for nurses in Arizona is $79,010, just above the national median of $75,330.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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