The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

February 21, 2022 , Modified on April 27, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Learn how to become a registered nurse or nurse practitioner in Washington. Explore earning potential and job outlook for RNs and NPs in Washington state.

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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 Washington
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Washington's job growth rate surpasses the U.S. as a whole. The state also boasts a higher-than-average National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) pass rate for nursing school graduates.

Whether you want to live in the tech-and-arts hub of Seattle or a remote rural area, nurses can find great satisfaction working in Washington.

Read on to learn more about the best nursing programs in Washington.

The Best Nursing Schools in Washington

With more than 40 nursing programs in Washington for associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees, you can find a school to match your career goals, budget, background, and learning preferences. 

This list explores the best nursing schools in Washington.

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

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How to Choose a Nursing Program in Washington

Whether you want an ADN or a BSN, consider costs (tuition and financial aid), the NCLEX-RN pass rate (one of the most important quality measures), and the program's acceptance rate and admission requirements. Clinical placement options and program logistics should also be factors.

This guide only lists accredited nursing programs, since unaccredited programs can be riskier for your time and money.

Why Become a Nurse in Washington

Nurses are in high demand in Washington, with salaries among the highest in the country. The NCLEX-RN pass rate for nursing programs in Washington is 90.6%, compared to 88% nationally.

The Pacific Northwest generally offers temperate weather year-round that allows for ongoing outdoor recreational activities. Despite its reputation, Seattle isn't even in the top 30 rainiest cities in the country.

Washington is one of the few states that requires hospitals to have a staffing committee to establish nurse-patient plans and policies. The Washington Center for Nursing lists some of the many financial aid options for nursing school in Washington.

While, like almost all states, nursing doesn't fully reflect the local demographics, Washington's nursing workforce is becoming more diverse, in both gender and race/ethnicity.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Washington

The projected job growth for RNs between 2020 and 2030 in Washington is 20.5%, compared to 12.1% for the nation overall, according to Projections Central. Nurse practitioner (NP) jobs, however, show a slower growth at 28.5%, compared to 28.2% nationally.

The average annual salary for Washington RNs is $91,310, considerably higher than the national average of $80,010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For NPs, the average salary is $126,480, with the national average at $114,510.

However, the cost-of-living index in Washington is 111.6% (100 nationally), with the cost of living in Seattle standing as one of the highest in the nation.

Almost 75% of RNs under age 30 held a BSN or higher degree as of 2019, so earning a BSN can give you an edge in the job market.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Washington

Seattle nurse salaries are among the highest in the country, due to increased demand and cost of living. RN salaries are also considerably above the national average in other major Washington cities and metropolitan areas.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Washington
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Average Salary for RNs
Seattle — Tacoma — Bellevue $95,120
Olympia — Tumwater $93,270
Wenatchee $88,550
Spokane — Spokane Valley $89,890
Walla Walla $91,280
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Washington

Whichever state you live in, you must earn a nursing degree, pass the applicable examination, and complete a criminal background check to become a nurse.

Washington requires all nurses to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

RN Requirements

To become a licensed RN in Washington, you must complete an ADN or a BSN program, pass the NCLEX, and submit an application to the state board of nursing. The application includes a criminal background check.

If you attended nursing school in Washington, the school will automatically send a certificate of completion. The application fee is $120, and you must also pay $200 for the NCLEX-RN examination. Washington has a Transition to Practice program for new graduates.

APRN Requirements

To become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you must have a current and unencumbered RN license (you may apply for both simultaneously), graduate from a master of science in nursing or doctor of nursing practice program, and pass the relevant board certification for your nursing specialty.

APRNs should apply to the state board of nursing separately for prescribing authority and meet the pharmacology education requirements.

APRN candidates who graduated more than one year before applying and do not have an APRN license from another state must show evidence of at least 250 clinical advanced practice hours. The fee is $125.

Other Top Nursing Programs in Washington

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Washington


How long does it take to become an RN in Washington?

Nursing programs in Washington offer several options for aspiring nurses. Students who wish to enter the field quickly can earn an associate degree, which requires two years.

Prospective nurses looking to qualify for nursing leadership opportunities or pursue advanced degrees can earn a BSN, which requires four years.

How do I become an RN in Washington?

Students who wish to enter the nursing field can prepare by applying to the best nursing schools in Washington. After earning a degree, each graduate qualifies to take the NCLEX exam to receive a license.

While the ADN is the minimum educational requirement to become an RN, most students earn a BSN.

What is the best nursing college in Washington?

Students should identify their educational and professional goals to determine the best nursing school in Washington. The best school for a student aligns with a learner's individual needs, including cost, flexibility, and location.

View some of the top-ranked nursing programs in Washington.

How much is nursing school in Washington?

Nursing programs in Washington vary in price. Prospective enrollees should take time to explore a program's structure and learning formats.

Private schools typically cost more than public universities. Students can also access online programs, which typically feature lower tuition costs.

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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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