November 14, 2022

Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Idaho

To work as a nurse in Idaho, students must first become licensed as a registered nurse (RN). Idaho has specific requirements to become an RN, including a minimum amount of education and experience.

However, if you want to find higher-paying nursing positions in Idaho, it's best to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). While a BSN takes at least four years to complete, nurses with a BSN earn tens of thousands more than non-BSN-holding RNs.

On this page, we cover the top schools in Idaho for a BSN or an associate degree in nursing (ADN), both of which satisfy state requirements to become licensed. We also cover considerations when choosing a school, salaries, and employment for nurses in Idaho, and steps to become licensed.


This is a 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 4 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.

  • Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS

  • Tyler Faust, MSN, RN

  • Kathleen Gaines MSN, RN, BA, CBC

  • Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN

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

Show Me Idaho Nursing Programs

Top 10 Nursing Schools in Idaho

1. Lewis-Clark State College

Annual In-State Tuition: $6,996 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $20,252 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.87%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

The Lewiston-based Lewis-Clark State College is relatively small for a public school with just 3,684 students. However, this allows LCSC to achieve a low 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio, meaning plenty of one-on-one time between students and teachers. Combine the low student-to-teacher ratio with the state-of-the-art labs for nursing students, and you have one of the best nursing programs in Idaho. Available nursing degrees include a traditional BSN, an online RN-BSN bridge program, and an LPN-BSN. 

2. Northwest Nazarene University

Annual Tuition: $34,390 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.37%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

Primarily a school for continuing education, Northwest Nazarene University has as many undergraduate students (1,300) as it does high school students earning college credit. However, the non-traditional structure of NNU doesn't detract from the quality of the College of Nursing. The main program is a traditional undergraduate BSN, though an RN-BSN, master of science in nursing (MSN), and MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner are all available online. NNU is a private school meaning no in-state tuition, but the NCLEX pass rate is much better than most schools. NNU also offers yearly international medical mission trip opportunities to Nicaragua, Ukraine, Peru, and Ghana. Although the tuition may seem high at first glance, 39% of our students graduate with no debt at all. In the 2021-22 academic year the average financial aid an incoming student received was more than $21,000.

3. Idaho State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $7,958 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $25,934 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 84.25%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: No

Idaho State University is home to nearly 13,000 students but has a low 13:1 student-to-teacher ratio, giving this larger public school a small school vibe. ISU's main campus is in Pocatello, though additional campuses are in Meridian, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls. The main nursing degree, a traditional BSN, is extremely competitive only accepting 40 students each semester. While the BSN is offered in Pocatello, most courses are hybrid, meaning they're a blend of face-to-face and online learning. Other nursing options include an accelerated degree, online BSN completion programs, and multiple graduate-level programs. 

4. Boise State University

Annual In-State Tuition: $8,364 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $25,701.10 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.53%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

With over 22,000 students, Boise State University is one of the largest schools in the region, offering a large campus with state-of-the-art buildings and a prime location in a growing city. Also growing is the School of Nursing which is increasing the number of admitted nursing students to the traditional BSN to 80 each semester. Boise State also offers an online DNP program and a hybrid Adult-Gerontology NP program. The simulation center offers students a 12-bed practice lab with state-of-the-art adult and pediatric mannequins.  

5. Brigham Young University - Idaho

LDS Annual Tuition: $4,536 | Non-LDS Annual Tuition: $9,072| NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.22%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

A private school founded by followers of Latter Day Saints, Brigham Young University - Idaho has over 26,000 on-campus students, plus an additional 15,000 online students. Right off the bat, applicants should note the tuition rates; a lower rate is offered to LDS members, rather than following an in-state and out-of-state structure. BYU-Idaho only offers one program, a traditional BSN. Regardless of your religious affiliation, this is an incredibly affordable BSN. 

6. North Idaho College

Annual In-State Tuition: $4,245 (based on per-credit tuition) | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $10,920 (based on per-credit tuition) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.31%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Not every accredited nursing school in Idaho offers a BSN, but schools like North Idaho College offer two-year degrees that lead to RN licensure. Based on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene, NIC's location is pretty much unbeatable. Again, the only nursing program offered by NIC is the associate degree in nursing which leads to licensure. With low in-state tuition, NIC can be a great place to start your nursing journey, ending with an RN-BSN elsewhere. 

7. College of Western Idaho

Annual In-State Tuition: $4,170 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $9,180 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 86.36%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

The College of Western Idaho is another small, two-year school that has affordable tuition. With over 30,000 students earning credits last year, CWI is far from a small school. The only nursing program -- an associate in nursing RN -- has excellent outcomes and consistently sees over 85% of graduates pass the NCLEX on their first try. Additional tuition rates are available for students from other districts in Idaho, or those from nearby states like Washington, so some out-of-state students might pay a lower tuition rate than what's listed. 

8. College of Southern Idaho

Annual In-State Tuition: $3,360 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $6,840 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 82.50%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

The College of Southern Idaho is fast-growing, continually adding more students and improving its academic programs. More nursing programs may be offered in the future, but currently, CSI only has an associate in nursing that leads to RN licensure. There are two routes to entering this program: the traditional route (no previous experience) or as a licensed practical nurse, so there technically is a bridge option.

9. Carrington College - Boise

Annual Tuition: $25,138 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 80.52%

Traditional: No

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Technically a chain with locations across the nation, Carrington College has a location in Boise that offers one nursing program: a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) to RN bridge program. Of course, students must first become LVNs before entering this program, though it's one of the only of its kind in Idaho. NCLEX pass rates aren't disclosed for the Idaho campus, though graduates from Carrington's other campuses tend to do well on the exam. 

10. Aspen University

Annual Tuition: $10,550 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: No

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Aspen University is actually based in Colorado, though its online programs -- including various nursing options -- are among the best that online schools offer. The top option for Idaho is the online RN-BSN bridge, a 12-month program that uses accelerated eight-week courses. Other online options are available, such as an RN-MSN bridge. Tuition rates vary depending on the program you choose, but the short time it takes to complete each program is unbeatable. 

Show Me Idaho Nursing Programs

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 student depending on various factors including,

  • Transfer credits

  • Completed competency exams

  • Amount of credits taken per year

  • 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), 

  • Idaho RNs earn an annual mean wage of $73,640, lower than the national mean wage.

  • Idaho employs 14,400 nurses, equal to 19.03 nurses for every 1,000 workers. 

Idaho's annual mean wage for RNs is lower than the national mean wage of $77,600, though there are a few factors to consider. First, the cost of living in Idaho is lower than the national average. Second, RNs can find higher wages in certain parts of Idaho. 

Here are a few regions in Idaho and the annual mean wage for RNs:

  • Boise City: $75,510

  • Coeur d'Alene: $78,600

  • Twin Falls: $71,760

So, where you live and work in Idaho can greatly influence your potential wages.

Idaho is also on par with the national average for employing RNs. However, more nurses are always needed, especially as seasoned nurses begin to retire or transition into other roles.

Next Steps:

Reviewing potential colleges and universities is the first step to earning a nursing degree. Next, you need to narrow down your list, gather all materials needed for each application, and submit your applications. Some colleges and universities will use the Common Application but it is important to determine if there are additional components needed for applying to the nursing program.

Here are the next steps broken down:

Contact each school’s admissions offices. Every school has an admissions office. The admissions office is your point of contact if you have any questions about the application process. They might even help you create a stronger application to increase your chances of admission!

Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. On top of college admissions, most nursing schools have their own set of requirements for admission. These are usually harder to meet, so make sure you're on track to be nursing school eligible before applying to -- or committing to -- a college. 

Submit your application(s). You've learned more about the admissions process, found out everything you need to be nursing school eligible, and prepared all your materials for your application. The final step is to send in each app!

In your application, be prepared to submit:

  • High school transcript (GPA)

  • ACT and/or SAT scores

  • College entrance essay(s)

  • Letter(s) of recommendation

Show Me Idaho Nursing Programs

Important considerations when comparing schools: 

Eventually, college acceptance letters will start coming in! This is an exciting moment that leads to the final step in the college process: picking where you want to study. Choosing a college is a big decision, and there are many factors to consider -- some of which might not seem obvious at first.

Some of the factors you'll want to consider include:

  • Tuition cost and cost of the nursing program (these might be different)

  • Type of school (public or private)

  • Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered

  • Cost of living on-campus or in the area

  • Distance from home

  • School and nursing program acceptance rate

  • Distance to clinicals (and transportation to get to clinicals)

  • Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)

  • School’s accreditation (regional and national)

Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation  

Accreditation proves that a school or program meets rigorous academic standards. Any school you apply to in Idaho should be regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, or have national accreditation. Also, only apply to a nursing program that has programmatic accreditation. 

The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are

If you earn a degree from an unaccredited school, you may have trouble securing federal financial aid and finding work as a nurse after graduation. Furthermore, if you plan on attending a graduate or doctoral program, a prerequisite is a BSN from an accredited nursing program. 

Getting a License in Idaho

Idaho is a member of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), an agreement on nursing licensure between most states. As a result, earning a nursing license in Idaho is pretty straightforward. Also, as part of the eNLC, an Idaho nursing license works in any other Compact state. 

Here are the steps to becoming a licensed nurse in Idaho:

  • Study at a state board-approved program (all colleges that made our list satisfy this requirement)

  • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN

  • Submit electronic fingerprints and pass a criminal background check 

  • Pay an application fee and complete an application through the State of Idaho Board of Nursing


With a combination of excellent schools, competitive wages, and plenty of beautiful outdoor areas, Idaho is a great place to start and enjoy a nursing career. Current Idaho residents can take advantage of low in-state tuition rates at public schools, an affordable way to earn a college degree. Once you earn your Idaho nursing license, you're cleared to work as a nurse in any Compact state.

Infographic listing the top nursing schools in Idaho



Best Places

State of Idaho Board of Nursing