The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

Updated July 8, 2022

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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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.

#1 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

One of the most established nursing schools in Washington, the University of Washington provides bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in the field.

The bachelor's program offers traditional and accelerated tracks. The online master's program focuses on clinical informatics and patient-centered technologies. Doctoral specializations include adult-gerontology and women's health.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); master of science (MSN); doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in nursing science; doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
  • Campus: Seattle, Washington
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: BSN: $4,026 per quarter; MSN: $709 per credit; Ph.D.: $6,725 per quarter; DNP: $925 per credit ($9,934 per quarter in-state, $14,150 out-of-state for some tracks)
  • Admission Requirements:
    • BSN: 100 hours of healthcare experience; prerequisite courses with minimum 2.8 GPA; proctored online essay (bachelor's degree for accelerated track)
    • MSN: bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; one year of healthcare experience; minimum C grade in statistics prerequisite
    • Ph.D.: bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; Zoom interview; statement of goals and research interests
    • DNP: BSN; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license; statistics course; timed online essay
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $72,152 for bachelor's graduates, $95,549 for master's graduates, and $105,678 for doctoral graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$10,370
Out-of-state
$37,071
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
52%
Students Enrolled
47,576
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#2 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

University of Washington-Bothell Campus

  • Bothell, WA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Registered nurses can earn their bachelor's through the University of Washington Bothell's RN-to-BSN program. The university delivers the program in on-campus and hybrid formats. UW Bothell also offers a hybrid master's degree in nursing with available concentrations in nurse education and nurse leadership.

The bachelor's and master's programs are cohort-based and include fieldwork. Learners can study full time or part time.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (RN-to-BSN); master of science in nursing (MSN)
  • Campus: Bothell, Washington
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: RN-to-BSN: $16,221 per year (in-state), $53,328 (out-of-state); MSN: $17,817 per year (in-state), $30,999 (out-of-state)
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • RN-to-BSN: associate degree in nursing; RN license; minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA; minimum 3.2 nursing GPA; nursing goals statement
    • MSN: BSN; RN license; minimum 3.0 GPA; prerequisite statistics course
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $72,152 for bachelor's graduates and $95,549 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$10,370
Out-of-state
$37,071
Retention Rate
83%
Admission Rate
74%
Students Enrolled
5,913
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#3 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

Gonzaga University

  • Spokane, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

The School of Nursing and Physiology at Gonzaga University offers several of the best nursing programs in Washington. Learners pursuing the bachelor's in nursing study on campus, but Gonzaga offers the graduate nursing programs online.

Registered nurses and nursing degree-holders can pursue a master's or doctorate in nursing. Most graduate nursing programs offer specializations in nurse leadership, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); master of science in nursing (MSN and RN-to-MSN); doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
  • Campus: Spokane, Washington
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: BSN: $49,800 per year; RN-to-MSN: $845-$965 per credit; MSN/DNP: $1,100 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • BSN: high school diploma
    • MSN/DNP: RN license; minimum 3.0-3.3 GPA; statistics course (some tracks require a nursing degree)
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97.4% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $71,930 for bachelor's graduates, $105,418 for master's graduates, and $105,678 for doctoral graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$44,280
Out-of-state
$44,280
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
7,537
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#4 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

Western Washington University

  • Bellingham, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Western Washington University offers a degree-completion program for registered nurses pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing. The 45-credit RN-to-BSN program features weekly on-campus classes to accommodate working nurses. Degree-seekers complete hands-on internships and projects.

Courses cover community-based care for vulnerable populations; social justice and healthcare; and policy, leadership, and U.S. healthcare.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (RN-to-BSN)
  • Campus: Bellingham, Washington
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $327 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree or diploma in nursing; RN license; prerequisite coursework; minimum 2.75 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $76,460 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$7,215
Out-of-state
$23,562
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
90%
Students Enrolled
16,142
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#5 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

University of Washington-Tacoma Campus

  • Tacoma, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

University of Washington Tacoma offers a hybrid bachelor's program for registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma in nursing. The university also offers a master's program with two concentration options: leader in healthcare delivery and nurse educator.

Bachelor's degree-seekers complete a practicum. Master's programs require fieldwork and offer coursework, scholarly inquiry project, and thesis tracks.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (RN-to-BSN); master of science in nursing (MSN)
  • Campus: Tacoma, Washington
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: Full-time undergraduate: $4,066 per quarter (in-state), $13,342 (out-of-state); graduate: $6,099 (in-state), $10,556 (out-of-state)
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • RN-to-BSN: associate degree or diploma in nursing; minimum 2.0 GPA; RN license; one year of clinical practice; statistics prerequisite
    • MSN: BSN; minimum 3.0 GPA; statistics prerequisite; RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 9-12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $72,152 for bachelor's graduates and $95,549 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$10,370
Out-of-state
$37,071
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
5,329
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#6 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

Whitworth University

  • Spokane, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

A Christian school, Whitworth University partners with Washington State University to offer a bachelor of science in nursing. Students attend Whitworth for 2-3 years and then apply to WSU's nursing school.

At Whitworth, learners complete liberal arts coursework and nursing prerequisites. Graduates receive a dual BSN from Whitworth and WSU.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
  • Campus: Spokane, Washington
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) through WSU
  • Tuition: $630 per credit hour (full time); $500 (part time)
  • Admission Requirements: High school transcripts; SAT, ACT, or CLT scores (optional for attendees of an accredited high school or college)
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $70,456 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$43,800
Out-of-state
$43,800
Retention Rate
84%
Admission Rate
91%
Students Enrolled
2,814
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#7 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

Seattle University

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

A Jesuit Catholic institution, Seattle University offers a bachelor's degree and a doctorate in nursing. 

The bachelor's program accepts recent high school graduates and transfer students. SU's doctoral program offers three paths. Degree-seekers can study to become acute and primary adult-gerontology nurse practitioners, primary care family and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, or certified nurse-midwives.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
  • Campus: Seattle, Washington
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: BSN: $50,328 per year (full time), $1,118 per credit (part time); DNP: $884 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • BSN: college prep prerequisites in math, laboratory biology, and laboratory chemistry with minimum B grades
    • DNP: bachelor's or master's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; two years of work experience; letter of intent
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 84.5% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $69,505 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$45,765
Out-of-state
$45,765
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
78%
Students Enrolled
7,199
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#8 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

Walla Walla University

  • College Place, WA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Walla Walla University offers nursing programs in College Place, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Learners can study entirely in Portland. Others spend two years completing prerequisites and sophomore nursing courses at College Place before transferring to the Portland campus.

WWU offers entry for registered nurses and licensed practical nurses as space is available.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); RN-to-BSN; LPN-to-BSN
  • Campus: College Place, Washington; Portland, Oregon
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $29,487 per year
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum 2.9 college GPA (College Place start), minimum 3.25 college GPA (Portland start); prerequisites with minimum C grades; pre-admission testing
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 9-21 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.1% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $77,297 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$27,936
Out-of-state
$27,936
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,831
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#9 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

Seattle Pacific University

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Seattle Pacific University uses a Christian approach for undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Doctoral students can specialize in clinical nurse specialist, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, or family nurse practitioner.

Nursing students complete clinical practice internships and can practice skills in the on-campus clinical learning lab.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); doctor of nursing practice (DNP)
  • Campus: Seattle, Washington
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: BSN: $36,504 per year (full time), $1,014 per credit (part time); DNP: $899 per credit 
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • BSN: prerequisite coursework with a minimum 2.85 GPA; documentation of work or volunteer hours, awards, and honors; professional reference
    • DNP: BSN or master's in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license; 12 months of RN experience 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.8% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $71,463 for bachelor's graduates and $94,408 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$44,604
Out-of-state
$44,604
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
91%
Students Enrolled
3,529
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#10 The Top Nursing Schools in Washington

Pacific Lutheran University

  • Tacoma, WA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Undergraduate students at Pacific Lutheran University can pursue a traditional bachelor's in nursing program. PLU also offers a bridge program for licensed practical nurses.

The master's in nursing program includes tracks for non-nurses, nursing bachelor's degree-holders, and registered nurses. Master's degree-seekers can pursue an advanced generalist or clinical nurse leader specialization.

Doctoral students can select the family nurse practitioner or psychiatric mental health specialty.

Details:

  • Program(s): Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN); LPN-to-BSN; master of science in nursing (MSN); BSN-to-MSN; RN-to-BSN; BSN-to-doctor of nursing practice (DNP); MSN-to-DNP; advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)-to-DNP
  • Campus: Tacoma, Washington
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: Undergraduate: $49,472 per year; MSN: $783-$1,093 per credit hour; DNP: $1,159 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements:
    • BSN: high school diploma or practical nurse license; prerequisite coursework
    • MSN: non-nursing bachelor's, BSN, or RN license and experience; 3.0 GPA; prerequisites
    • DNP: RN license and experience; BSN or MSN with 3.0 GPA or MSN and APRN license
  • 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: $68,875 for bachelor's graduates and $92,632 for master's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Tuition
In-state
$43,264
Out-of-state
$43,264
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
86%
Students Enrolled
3,062
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Featured Online MSN Programs

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.

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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