Oklahoma Nursing Schools and Programs

February 24, 2022 , Modified on June 28, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Oklahoma offers new nurses a great start at a profitable career in an affordable state. See our roundup of the best Oklahoma nursing schools and programs.

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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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Oklahoma Nursing Schools and Programs
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Why become a nurse in Oklahoma? The state offers both a low cost of living and competitive median annual nursing salaries. Becoming a nurse in Oklahoma also includes financial incentives, such as hospitals offering retention bonuses and loan forgiveness to nurses working in prime need areas or Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA).

This guide outlines how to become a nurse in Oklahoma, salary data, and licensing requirements.

Keep reading to learn more about the top nursing schools and programs in Oklahoma.

The Best Nursing Schools in Oklahoma

Nurses in Oklahoma must complete at least an associate in nursing degree (ADN), with employers often preferring graduates with a minimum of a bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN). The degree you choose can determine your career and salary prospects. The best nursing schools in Oklahoma prepare students to succeed and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Oklahoma, 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.

Featured Online MSN Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in Oklahoma

Accredited nursing programs in Oklahoma offer ADN and BSN degrees, but not diplomas. The degree a nurse chooses varies based on their specific career goals, budget, educational background, and time commitment.

Associate degrees require a minimum of two years and bachelor's degrees require about four years. Online nursing programs in Oklahoma, unlike on-campus degrees, often include no set class times and shortened semesters that let degree-seekers graduate faster. However, students still must complete clinical placements at local hospitals and clinics.

The duration of a program also influences the cost. Financial aid options for nursing students vary between schools, withgrants and scholarships being more plentiful at specific nursing schools in Oklahoma.

Degrees prepare students to become registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). A school's NCLEX pass rate and acceptance rate often reflect how well a nursing program prepares students for the field.

Why Become a Nurse in Oklahoma

Becoming a nurse in Oklahoma offers excellent job opportunities. Employers in Oklahoma are projected to add RN jobs faster than national rates. RN positions could grow by 9.1%, compared to the national average of 7%, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Oklahoma also remains one of 39 states in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Bordering states, including Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, and Missouri, also participate in the NLC. Licensed nurses working in an NLC state, such as Oklahoma, qualify for multi-state licenses, which permit them to work in another compact state without having to complete any additional licensing requirements.

Similar to other U.S. states, Oklahoma has been experiencing a shortage of nurses. Because of the need for healthcare workers in Oklahoma, nurses can find incentives. OU Health, the University of Oklahoma's network of hospitals and clinics, offers retention bonuses to recognize nurses who have been under stress due to COVID-19. These bonuses, as well as other incentives, particularly help since Oklahoma does not have nurse-to-patient ratio mandates. Nurses can also waive benefits under the OU Health Travel at Home innovation and earn a higher hourly wage.

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) offers loan repayment assistance to nurses working in areas affected by the opioid epidemic.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Oklahoma

Salaries for RNs and nurse practitioners (NPs) in Oklahoma fall below the national average. RNs make an average annual salary of $66,600 in Oklahoma, compared to the national average of $80,010, according to the BLS. NPs earn an average salary of $112,750 in Oklahoma, while nationally, NPs earn an average of $114,510. However, Oklahoma has one of the lowest costs of living in the United States. Oklahoma's cost-of-living index came in at 88.2%, the third lowest in the country behind Kansas and Mississippi.

Statewide employment growth may exceed national averages. Employers could add RN positions at a rate of 9.1% in Oklahoma, while nationally, jobs are expected to grow by only 7%. NPs should see a job increase of 19.4%, compared to 45% nationally.

Where you work in Oklahoma as a nurse influences your pay. Oklahoma City pays RNs the most. Lawton, Tulsa, and Enid also pay RNs top salaries, as the table below indicates.

Highest Paying Cities for Nurses in Oklahoma
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Median Salary for RNs
Oklahoma City $68,020
Lawton $67,350
Tulsa $66,250
Enid $63,200
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Oklahoma

Nurses need to complete at least an ADN to work in Oklahoma. Approved nursing programs in Oklahoma must include a minimum of two years and 64 credits. That said, Oklahoma's licensing requirements vary for different types of nurses.

RN Requirements

At the minimum, RNs in Oklahoma need to complete an ADN degree. Much like in other states, many nursing students in Oklahoma pursue BSN degrees before taking the NCLEX exam. Nurses can apply for licensure by examination or through endorsement if they have a current license in another state. As an NLC state, Oklahoma allows nurses to apply for multi-state licenses.

Applicants for Oklahoma licensure need to be at least 18 years old. They also must have graduated from an Oklahoma Board of Nursing-approved program. Candidates need clinical experience in pediatrics, maternal-newborn health, adult medicine, or psychiatric mental health nursing. RNs also need to undergo a criminal background check before they can begin working.

APRN Requirements

APRNs in Oklahoma, just like in other states, need an MSN or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree to work as a certified registered nurse anesthetist, certified nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or NP. Nursing programs in Oklahoma must hold accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or the Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation.

APRNs often choose a specialty and obtain certifications to work with specific patient populations, such as adult-gerontology, pediatrics, women's health, or psychiatric and mental health.

Becoming an APRN in Oklahoma requires a valid RN license. The job requires supervising RNs at private practices, hospitals, and outpatient care facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Oklahoma


Is Oklahoma a nurse compact state?

Yes. Compact states allow nurses to hold multi-state licenses, which permit them to work in other states that participate in the NLC. Some 39 states take part in the NLC. When applying for licensure in Oklahoma, nurses request a multi-state license.

What is the starting salary for nurses in Oklahoma?

Nurses just entering the industry can expect to earn an entry-level salary. The bottom 25th percentile of RNs in Oklahoma earns $56,190 a year, or $27.01 an hour, according to the BLS. The top 90th percentile of RNs earn $85,160 a year.

What are the top hospitals for nurses in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma is home to private and public hospitals. Some of the best facilities with high-performing adult procedures include OU Health, University of Oklahoma Medical Center, Integris Southwest Medical Center, and St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa.

How long is RN school in Oklahoma?

Nursing students should expect to spend a minimum of two years studying full time to earn an ADN degree —the quickest pathway to becoming a nurse. Otherwise, RNs earn a BSN degree, which takes at least four years. Paramedics and current LPNs can enroll in a fast-track degree to become an RN.

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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