The Best Washington Nurse Practitioner Programs

NurseJournal Rankings Team
Updated November 30, 2023
Washington state offers several advanced degrees for nurses. Learn about the best Washington nurse practitioner programs with these rankings.
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For Washington nurses who wish to move up in their careers, attending a nurse practitioner (NP) program can help them gain advanced qualifications. Washington remains a great state for those interested in becoming an NP. In fact, Washington ranks as one of the highest paying states for nurse practitioners, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This guide introduces the best Washington nurse practitioner programs, so you can find the right degree to help you advance in your career.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nurse practitioner programs 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.

At a Glance: The Top 2 Nurse Practitioner Programs in Washington

  1. Pacific Lutheran University
  2. Seattle University

How Do Nurse Practitioner Programs Work?

Washington nurse practitioner programs train nurses to offer advanced care in several specialties. NPs offer a similar level of care as physicians and can prescribe medications in some states.

Nurse practitioners need a master of science in nursing (MSN) to qualify for certification. Because of this, nurse practitioner programs offer graduate-level coursework in healthcare. Students choose a specialization, such as adult-gerontology, women’s health, family care, pediatric care, and psychiatric-mental health.

Nurse practitioner programs at Washington universities can last 1-3 years. This depends on whether students enroll part- or full-time, already possess a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or enroll in an accelerated program, among other factors. Schools offer both online, on-campus, and hybrid programs. Regardless of format, MSN candidates must complete clinical hours on site.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Applying to a Nurse Practitioner Program in Washington

Admission requirements vary for Washington nurse practitioner programs. Typically, universities require MSN applicants to possess a bachelor’s degree and a registered nurse (RN) license. However, some schools offer RN-to-MSN programs that allow candidates with an associate degree to skip past the traditional bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) and go straight to the MSN.

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    Admission Materials

    For traditional MSN programs: BSN from an accredited college or university. For RN-to-MSN programs: transcripts from an associate degree in nursing; a prerequisite course in statistics, typically with a minimum “C” grade; current unrestricted RN license; background check; resume; some programs require recommendation letters and a personal statement
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    GPA Requirement

    Minimum GPA requirement of 3.0. Some schools may accept lower GPA in pre-nursing coursework or with a written explanation.
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    Other Requirement

    Some programs require at least one year of previous nursing experience.

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.

Learn More About the Top Nurse Practitioner Programs in Washington

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.
#1 The Best Washington Nurse Practitioner Programs

Pacific Lutheran University

  • Location-markerTacoma, WA
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$45,440
  • Out-of-state$45,440
  • Retention Rate80%
  • Acceptance Rate86%
  • Students Enrolled2,907
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment98%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Washington Nurse Practitioner Programs

Seattle University

  • Location-markerSeattle, WA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$47,565
  • Out-of-state$47,565
  • Retention Rate82%
  • Acceptance Rate83%
  • Students Enrolled7,050
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment88%
  • AccreditationYes

Frequently Asked Questions About Washington 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 demand in Washington?

The demand for nurse practitioners continues to grow across the country, with the BLS projecting the job outlook for NPs to increase by 46% from 2020-2030. That demand extends to Washington state. In fact, growth for the NP profession in Washington could outpace national growth, with the U.S. Department of Labor expecting an increase of 51% from 2020-2030.

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

Typically Washington nurse practitioner programs last 2-3 years. This time frame varies, depending on a nurse’s previous education and experience. For nurses with an associate degree, an RN-to-MSN program usually lasts longer than traditional MSN programs. Students can complete an accelerated degree even more quickly than the standard two years.

Can nurse practitioners practice independently in Washington?

Yes. Nurse practitioners hold full practice authority in Washington. This means they can meet with patients independently, diagnose illnesses, set treatment plans, and prescribe medication and controlled substances without a physician’s supervision.

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