EDUCATION
September 26, 2022

10 Best Nursing Schools in Colorado

Colorado is one of the all-around top states for nurses. A nursing education earned in Colorado is going to be compliant with any requirements needed to become a nurse in the state. Also, many Colorado schools have connections with local hospitals and health care centers, so a degree could increase your chances of finding a job in-state.

But before you can begin your nursing career in Colorado, you need to become a registered nurse (RN). And to get the best jobs, it’s smart to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), at the very least.

So, a nursing degree from Colorado can increase your chances of finding a job across the nation.

Methodology

This is a nurse panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,

  • Reputation

  • NCLEX pass rate

  • Tuition

  • Acceptance rate, when available

  • Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible 

Nurse Panel

Our selection panel includes 5 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.

  • Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS

  • Tyler Faust, MSN, RN

  • Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN

  • Kathleen Gaines MSN, RN, BA, CBC

  • Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN

Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Colorado nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.

>> Related: RN Salaries By State 2020

Top 10 Nursing Schools in Colorado 

While one school may be perfect for one student, an entirely different university may provide the perfect nursing program for you. This is why it’s difficult to rank specific schools in any particular order.

1. Adams State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $9,560 | NCLEX Pass Rate:92.85%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Tucked between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges is Adams State University. Adams State University offers the benefits of a public school (i.e. in-state tuition), but with the small class sizes, you’d expect to find at a private school. This means that their BSN program is going to have smaller, more intimate classes than other Colorado schools. Along with preparing you for the NCLEX, Adams also introduces nurses to the National Student Nurses’ Association, a group that can help launch your career once you graduate. The program boasts a 95% employment of graduates 90 days upon graduation and 95% of graduates felt they were adequately prepared to practice as a nurse generalist upon graduation.

 

2. University of Colorado

Annual In-State Tuition: $30,452 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 86.22%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

The University of Colorado system (abbreviated UC) extends to cities across the state, but if you’re interested in nursing, you’ll likely be studying in the state’s capital of Denver. The UC Denver BSN program is a 24-month degree option that includes summer education, so you can expect to be studying full-time during those two years. This takes place after your first two years of school, and it isn’t uncommon for students to begin their studies at a UC school in a different city. The work can be demanding, but you’ll be set to take the NCLEX by the time you graduate!

3. Colorado Technical University

Annual Tuition: $12,529 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: No

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

There are three important things to note about the BSN program at Colorado Technical University. First, most students and CTU choose their RN to BSN completion degree as it is a fully online school. Second, the RN to BSN degree can be completed entirely online. Third, the cost of the program depends on how much experience and previous school credit you have. There isn’t an NCLEX pass rate for Colorado Tech because their students are already registered nurses, but this is an easy and affordable way to earn a BSN for any current nurses. 

4. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Annual In-State Tuition: $8,539.60 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.68%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is the only UC school outside of Denver that offers a BSN program. Aside from getting to earn their degree in beautiful Colorado Springs, students will also get one of the most comprehensive nursing educations available in the state. Students won’t be in their nursing courses until the second semester when they join either the fall or spring cohort, depending on when they applied. From there, you’ll work toward your degree, complete with clinicals throughout your senior year. UC has a state-of-the-art Simulation Learning Center that trains nursing students on real-life scenarios and boasts partnerships with hundreds of hospitals across Colorado and multiple healthcare agencies. 

5. Aspen University

Annual Tuition: $5,170 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Before you apply to Aspen University’s BSN pre-licensure program, you should know that even though this is a Colorado school, the entire program is offered at the Arizona campus. Yes, you’ll study in Arizona, and you’ll be connected with some of the best hospitals in the greater Phoenix area. So, you’ll still be getting a quality education, and you’ll be lined up for a potential career right out of school. Perhaps the only downside is that the cost of the BSN pre-licensure program is much higher than any other undergraduate program at Aspen. However, students are rewarded with a quality education. 

6. Regis University

Annual Tuition: $38,558 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 87.32%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Located in Denver is Regis University, a small, Jesuit school. As a private school, the higher tuition rate is to be expected; however, students will get the benefit of a lower student-to-faculty ratio. For nursing students pursuing a BSN, that means more individual attention during classes. Once nursing students reach junior and senior year, they’ll start to spend time working in local hospitals to gain clinical experience. One big part of Regis’ nursing curriculum is Service Learning, which combines a nursing education with volunteer work. With plenty of degree options and a high NCLEX pass rate, this is a good school for anyone interested in a private, Catholic education. 

7. Colorado Mountain College

Annual In-State Tuition: $5,850 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 80%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Affordability is a huge draw for Colorado Mountain College. The school recently avoided raising its tuition, and while in-state students get low tuition, students from the nearby area get access to even lower tuition. However, to complete a BSN completely through Colorado Mountain College, students will need to first complete an associate degree in nursing, take the NCLEX, then enroll in the online RN to BSN program. This can be accomplished in less than the typical four year period, though, and the NCLEX pass rate for the program is impressive.

8. Colorado Mesa University

Annual In-State Tuition: $9,460 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 78%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

Colorado Mesa University prides itself on selectivity, something that could be an issue for students looking to get accepted into the BSN program. But there’s a good reason for the tough competition applicants face. It’s a quality program, too, and perhaps the best that students can find in Western Colorado. Any current RNs can also take advantage of their online RN to BSN option. There is also a LPN to BSN program available to students. 

9. University of Northern Colorado

Annual In-State Tuition: $10,947 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.19%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

While the University of Northern Colorado is primarily a graduate school, nursing students can still find a quality BSN program. Designed to be completed over nine semesters, the BSN adequately prepares students for the NCLEX. However, the real goal of the program is to set students up to continue on with their education and earn a graduate degree in nursing. While this is not required, any future nurses who know they want to earn their master’s (MSN) or doctorate (DNP) may want to circle this school on their list.

10. Colorado Christian University

Annual Tuition: $36,682  | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.66%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: Yes

As the name implies, Colorado Christian University is a religious institution. This impacts some of the courses required for the BSN degree. For example, students will be taught with a holistic approach, emphasizing compassion and morality. Of course, this won’t impact the quality of the BSN as a vast majority of graduates pass the NCLEX. CCU structured their BSN program for adults who aren’t already RNs but do have previous work experience, although the program is available to traditional students as well.

4 Key Factors That Affect Nursing School Tuition

Keep in mind that colleges and universities reserve the right to change tuition rates at any time. The yearly tuition rates listed here will vary for each individual student depending on various factors including,

  1. Transfer credits

  2. Completed competency exams

  3. Amount of credits taken per year

  4. Financial aid awards

Check with the specific school for current tuition rates.

Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

  • There are over 51,680 nurses employed in Colorado, and that number is projected to increase. 

  • Nurses in Colorado make an annual mean wage of $80,670.

Show Me Colorado Nursing Programs

Next Steps:

After reviewing colleges and finding some that feel like a good fit, you’ll want to begin the application process. This can be a long process, but you’ll want to make sure you’re picking the perfect school for you.

  • Contact each school’s admissions offices. Admissions offices are there to help you, the prospective student, learn more about the school and, most importantly, the BSN program. Admissions counselors can find any information you need regarding the program, including any specific requirements that weren’t clear on the school’s website. Ask as many questions as you need.

  • Prepare your application. Every school has different requirements to be considered for admission, and each nursing program likely has additional requirements. Common requirements include:

    • ACT and/or SAT scores

    • High school transcript (GPA)

    • College entrance essay(s)

    • Letter(s) of recommendation

Additional materials may be required, so check with the admissions office early on during the process.

  • Submit your applications. Once your materials are together, you’re all set to apply. If any of the schools you’re applying to use the Common App, this step can be relatively easy. 

During this step, you should keep a note of the application deadline for each school, as well as any deadlines that might be related to the nursing program.

Important considerations when comparing schools 

If choosing the right nursing school came down to one factor, then nobody would care about the rest. With that in mind, you shouldn’t choose a nursing school just because it has a high NCLEX pass rate or a high acceptance rate. Consider multiple factors prior to choosing your school, including:

  1. Annual tuition and total nursing program cost

  2. Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered

  3. Cost of living on-campus or in the area

  4. Distance from hospitals

  5. School and nursing program acceptance rate

  6. NCLEX pass rate

  7. Type of program (BSN or associate degree)

  8. Program outcomes

  9. School’s accreditation (regional and national)

You should also check to see that schools are offering exactly what you’re looking for. Remember, the program you choose could alter the trajectory of your future nursing career. 

Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation

Nursing students who complete their studies at a non-accredited university will not be able to sit for the NCLEX. Therefore, they will face immense challenges in securing stable, well-paying jobs. Why? Because students who do not take the NCLEX are not eligible to work as Registered Nurses. 

The two nursing program accrediting organizations are,

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

These accrediting bodies ensure that all accredited nursing programs adhere to the same standard and criteria.

Every school on this list is accredited by one of these institutions, but other nursing schools may not be. Always double check.

Show Me Colorado Nursing Programs

Getting a License in Colorado

The great thing about Colorado is that it’s part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), meaning a nursing license in Colorado is sufficient to be a nurse in roughly 37 other states.

To become licensed, you’ll need to:

  • Pass the NCLEX-RN

  • Pass a criminal background check

  • Complete the Colorado nursing application 

And that’s it! Prior to this, you’ll need to be eligible for the NCLEX-RN. Fortunately, any accredited Colorado school should cover all prerequisites.

Conclusion 

From the wonderful location to the great pay, there are plenty of reasons to consider nursing in Colorado. There are also a variety of great schools to choose from where you can complete your BSN. Once you become licensed, you’ll be set to work as a nurse in Colorado and many other states.

Find Nursing Programs

Infographic comparing the top nursing schools in Colorado

References:

BLS

Common App

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