Best Washington Nurse Practitioner Programs

Updated November 22, 2022

Individuals interested in enrolling in nurse practitioner programs in Washington can refer to this page to learn more about the opportunities available to them in the state.
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If you are considering one of the many nurse practitioner (NP) schools Washington offers, it can be hard to choose. This guide explores the best Washington state master of science in nursing (MSN) programs, how to apply, and cost and financial aid.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nurse practitioner programs, 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.

Keep reading to learn more about nurse practitioner programs, or go straight to our list of the best NP programs in Washington.

What Can You Do With a Nurse Practitioner Degree?

The education, responsibilities, and salary ranges for NPs are all higher than for registered nurses (RNs) but lower than physicians. Like physicians, NPs are licensed to assess patients, diagnose conditions, and prescribe treatments. They must have at least an MSN.

NPs choose a specialty population, and their degree focuses only on that population. In full practice authority states like Washington, NPs can work independently, but in others, they must practice in collaboration with a physician or under a physician's supervision.

Some of the most common NP specialties are:

  1. 1

    Family Nurse Practitioner

    This is the most popular NP specialty. Family nurse practitioners (FNP) are primary care providers for all age ranges.

  2. 2

    Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

    Acute care NPs treat episodic illnesses or injuries, rather than providing ongoing care. They specialize in either adult or pediatric primary care.

  3. 3

    Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

    Pediatric NPs provide care from infancy through early adolescence. They can specialize in primary care, mental health care, or acute care.

Featured Online MSN Programs

What To Look For in a Washington Nurse Practitioner Program

When choosing from Washington state MSN programs, some factors are personal preferences, such as school size, location, and whether it is faith-based or secular. Other factors, such as cost, program quality and reputation, admission requirements, and program logistics are more objective. These include:

  1. 1

    Admission Requirements

    Admission requirements tell you how likely you are to be admitted and what the school values in candidates.

  2. 2

    Program Curriculum

    NP programs focus on a particular population. If you think you might change your mind about your specialty, a school that offers different MSN specialties would make transferring programs easier.

  3. 3

    Clinical Experience

    Clinical logistics vary, including where and how you are placed and the scheduling. If you plan to attend an NP program in Washington online, make sure you can get clinical placement in your community.

  4. 4

    Accreditation

    You must graduate from an accredited program to get your license and board certification. If you attend an unaccredited NP program, Washington will not give you a license.

  5. 5

    Program Length

    Consider the pace and length of the NP program. Some programs are structured for working students, and others offer part-time coursework.

  6. 6

    School NCLEX Pass Rate

    Even though you are looking at graduate schools, the NCLEX-RN pass rate indicates the school's overall reputation and quality.

  7. 7

    School Graduation Rate

    The graduation rate, along with the board pass rate, are also excellent indicators of a program's quality and reputation. A high graduation rate combined with a high board pass rate indicates that students are well-prepared to practice.

Applying to a Nurse Practitioner Program in Washington

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare your application. Talk with a mentor or recent program graduates about how to best present yourself and your qualifications. Have somebody you trust review your application to make sure it is error-free, and reflects your abilities. Alert your references and let them know if there are aspects of your background that you would like them to emphasize.

  • Admission Materials

    Current and unencumbered RN license, undergraduate transcript, two or three references, a completed application with an essay or personal statement

  • GPA Requirement

    Most schools require at least a 3.0 GPA. If your GPA is borderline, talk to an admissions counselor to see if your other qualifications can offset your lower GPA.

  • Other Requirements

    Many programs require or strongly prefer at least one year of experience as an RN.

Why Is Nurse Practitioner Program Accreditation Important?

Accreditation is the single most important quality measure for nursing schools. During accreditation, external objective reviewers evaluate every aspect of a program to be sure it meets the highest standards. Therefore, this guide only lists accredited NP schools in Washington.

  • State licensing agencies only license graduates of accredited schools.
  • Boards will not let graduates of unaccredited programs apply for certification.
  • Accredited programs almost never accept transfer credits from non-accredited programs.
  • Most employers will not even consider hiring a graduate of a non-accredited program.
  • Many financial aid options are available only to students enrolled in accredited programs.

Paying for a Nurse Practitioner Program in Washington

When financially preparing for an NP program, consider the cost, financial aid availability, how long the program will take to complete, if you can work while studying, any travel expenses for on-campus requirements or clinicals, and whether you qualify for in-state rates. Consider that If you are a state resident and enroll in a public NP school, Washington offers lower tuition rates.

If you're strategic about your finances and actively pursue scholarships and grants, you can graduate with manageable or even no debt. For those who choose to work in a health professionals shortage area, for the military, or for other government agencies, you may be eligible for either a full scholarship or total loan forgiveness.

Learn More About the Top NP Programs in Washington

#1 Best Washington Nurse Practitioner Programs

Pacific Lutheran University

  • Tacoma, WA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The family nurse practitioner certificate is one of the most popular of Pacific Lutheran University's programs. The family nurse practitioner program prepares learners for top careers in their field by developing highly specialized knowledge and skills. Some of these possibilities include positions in upper management, research, and academia.

Students enrolled in the family nurse practitioner program study advanced concepts, ideas, and frameworks in the subject. Enrollees may have the opportunity to choose a specific concentration, in order to prepare more directly for a certain career path. The program usually culminates in students completing an original dissertation based on field research.

Hands-on experimental work in clinical and laboratory settings is an integral component of the program. Additionally, learners benefit from internships and practicums in real-world settings like hospitals and clinics. These experiential components of the program help candidates take their learning from the classroom to the workplace.

Pacific Lutheran University at a Glance:

Location: Tacoma, Washington

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 86%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 11-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $30,316

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $30,316

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

#2 Best Washington Nurse Practitioner Programs

Seattle University

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Seattle University hosts 13 different doctoral programs, such as their top-ranked DNP with a family nurse practitioner track. Enrollees engage in intense study to develop specialized knowledge and skills in nursing, preparing them for top opportunities in the job market. Many exciting opportunities are available to terminal program graduates, such as high-level management, field research, and positions in academia.

The doctoral-level curriculum consists of an advanced study of both theoretical and practical frameworks and approaches to family nurse practitioner work. Enrollees may have the ability to choose a concentration in order to tailor their coursework and research to a specific career opportunity. Doctoral candidates usually complete original research to complete a dissertation.

The family nurse practitioner doctorate also builds hands-on skills through clinical and experimental degree requirements. Another important component learners experience is real-world training in healthcare environments like hospitals and clinics. Degree candidates are able to connect academic learning with the real world through these experiential programs.

Seattle University at a Glance:

Location: Seattle, Washington

Type of School: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 78%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 11-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $19,280

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $19,280

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

#3 Best Washington Nurse Practitioner Programs

University of Washington

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Washington offers 168 different doctoral opportunities, including a family nurse practitioner DNP program that ranks highly among similar offerings. The program helps enrollees develop an advanced understanding of nursing and its associated practices in order to qualify them for top career opportunities. Some of these possibilities include positions in upper management, research, and academia.

The doctoral family nurse practitioner curriculum provides students with advanced instruction in the subject, including its theoretical and practical frameworks. Some degree-seekers are able to pursue a concentration, which helps them focus their studies to prepare for specific career goals. The final component of the doctoral program is usually composing a dissertation based on original research.

The family nurse practitioner doctorate also builds hands-on skills through clinical and experimental degree requirements. The program also provides learners with opportunities for internships in approved healthcare facilities, including hospitals. These experiential components of the degree help candidates take their learning from the classroom to the workplace.

University of Washington at a Glance:

Location: Seattle, Washington

Type of School: Public, 4-year or above

Admission Rate: 52%

Student-Faculty Ratio: 20-to-1

Graduate Tuition In State: $18,198

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $32,439

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

Common Questions About Nurse Practitioner Programs


How much do nurse practitioners make in Washington?

Washington is the fourth-highest paying state for NPs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median NP salary is $130,840. However, the cost of living is also very high, especially in the Seattle area.

Are nurse practitioners in high demand in Washington State?

Demand for NPs is very high in Washington. The Washington Center for Nursing reports a projected 34.28% increase in demands for NPs between 2019 and 2029. Between 2024 and 2029, it projects 27.49% of the NP job growth will be from separations, turnover, transfers, and exits.

How long does it take to become a nurse practitioner in Washington?

Full-time programs typically take two years for students with a bachelor of science in nursing. If you have an associate degree in nursing, some NP schools in Washington offer a bridge program, which allows you to finish your education in approximately three years.

Can nurse practitioners practice independently in Washington?

NPs have full practice authority in Washington. This means they are licensed to practice independently.


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