For our inaugural rankings, the research team at Nursing Schools Almanac collected data on over 3,200 nursing schools and campuses throughout the United States. We included the following states within our Southwest rankings: Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. We evaluated each nursing school in the region on three dimensions:
- The institution’s academic prestige and perceived value
- The breadth and depth of nursing programs offered
- Student success, particularly on the NCLEX national licensure exam
We then combined these assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly. For a detailed description of our assessment methodology and dimension weights, please see here.
#1: The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston | Houston, TX
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) is located in the renowned Texas Medical Center. The School of Nursing offers bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), master of science in nursing (MSN), doctor of philosophy in nursing (PhD), and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees. UTHealth currently enrolls more than 1,000 nursing students, and it confers 290 undergraduate nursing degrees and 120 graduate nursing degrees annually. BSN students have consistently achieved National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) pass rates of 95% or better for seven consecutive years.
#2: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center | Lubbock, TX
Texas Tech’s School of Nursing holds the National League for Nursing (NLN) Center of Excellence™ (COE) designation for enhancing student learning and professional development. The university offers four undergraduate pathways: traditional BSN, second-degree web-based, Veteran-to-BSN, and a degree completion program for existing registered nurses (RNs). Graduate offerings include nine MSN specializations, eight post-master’s programs, graduate certificates in global health and rural community health, and a DNP program designed for working professionals. With an additional campus in El Paso, the school produces ~350 BSN graduates annually who have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at an 87% rate since 2010.
#3: The University of Texas at Austin | Austin, TX
The UT Austin School of Nursing was recently ranked #17 in the nation for its graduate nursing program by U.S. News & World Report. The school also ranks among the top 30 universities in nursing research funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). UT Austin enrolls nearly 1,100 students across a wealth of nursing programs, including traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, traditional and alternate-entry MSN, traditional and alternate-entry PhD, and DNP options. The school produces approximately 120 prelicensure BSN and 50 prelicensure MSN graduates annually. They consistently pass the NCLEX licensure exam at rates of 92-96% each year.
#4: The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston | Galveston, TX
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB Health) was recently ranked the #20 online graduate nursing program in the country by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers a prelicensure BSN program, which boasted a 91% graduation rate and an impressive 94% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate in 2015. UTMB Health also leads RN-to-BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD programs. Six MSN tracks are available including clinical nurse leader (CNL), family nurse practitioner (FNP), neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP), and nurse educator (NED). Post-BSN and post-MSN students can also quickly earn a certificate in nursing education by completing three focused courses. In total, UTMB Health conferred 331 BSN degrees, 167 MSN degrees, and 15 doctoral degrees during the past academic year.
#5: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio | San Antonio, TX
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the only Tier 1 research university in South Texas. The School of Nursing is home to 750 students enrolled in traditional BSN, accelerated BSN (also known as “ABSN”), MSN, DNP, and PhD degree programs. In addition, the school offers post-graduate certificates in specialty areas from FNP to NED, plus a unique alternate-entry MSN option for ADN- or diploma-educated RNs. The School of Nursing produces over 300 prelicensure BSN graduates annually who have posted an 84% NCLEX first-attempt pass rate over the past eight years.
#6: Baylor University | Dallas, TX
The Louise Herrington School of Nursing is part of the oldest Baptist university in the world, so it is based on the idea that nursing is a profession and a ministry. The BSN program has two tracks: traditional and 12-month “FastBacc.” Baylor graduates approximately 200 BSN students annually who consistently enjoy excellent NCLEX-RN pass rates of 92-97%. Graduate options include an MSN in leadership and innovation, plus three DNP specializations: family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, and nurse midwifery. These graduate programs are delivered in an online or hybrid format.
#7: University of Arizona | Tucson, AZ
The College of Nursing at the University of Arizona ranks among the top 30 graduate nursing schools in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report, and #1 in Arizona for program outcomes according to the Arizona State Board of Nursing. The college currently enrolls 1,085 nursing students, and its prelicensure graduates have enjoyed a noteworthy 93% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam since 2008. UA’s program offerings include a traditional BSN, an MSN for entry into the profession of nursing (MEPN), and online offerings in the RN-to-MSN, DNP, and PhD pathways. Graduate certificates are also available for aspiring NPs in the fields of family health, adult-gerontology acute care, pediatric care, and psychiatric mental health.
#8: Texas Christian University | Fort Worth, TX
TCU’s Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences offers both a traditional BSN and a 16-month ABSN pathway. The school graduates approximately 200 students annually across the two programs, and collectively they have achieved an 89% NCLEX exam pass rate since 2008. TCU’s online MSN program is ranked #20 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. It offers two clinical nurse specialist (CNS) foci, in addition to CNL and NED majors. The university also leads a post-master’s DNP program for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and nurse administrators, with a BSN-to-DNP family nurse practitioner option launching in summer 2016.
#9: Arizona State University | Tempe, AZ
The ASU College of Nursing & Health Innovation is ranked #30 in the nation for its graduate nursing programs by U.S. News. Graduate study is offered at the master’s and doctoral levels, with specializations that include informatics, nursing education, several NP roles, and healthcare innovation. The college also provides traditional BSN, post-baccalaureate BSN, and online RN-to-BSN pathways. More than 200 prelicensure students graduate each year, and they have maintained a 90% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. In addition, ASU partners with MaricopaNursing to offer the Concurrent Enrollment Program, which allows students to enroll simultaneously in an associate of applied science (AAS) program and ASU’s BSN program.
#10: University of Oklahoma | Oklahoma City, OK
The University of Oklahoma is home to the state’s largest nursing program. Managed by the Health Sciences Center, the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing spans three campuses in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Lawton. The college offers four BSN options: traditional, accelerated, LPN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Prelicensure students across all three campuses enjoy strong NCLEX pass rates: since 2008, Oklahoma City has posted a 90% pass rate, Tulsa 93%, and Lawton 89%. At the graduate level, OU offers MSN tracks in administration management, clinical nurse specialist, education, and family nurse practitioner, as well as DNP and PhD degrees.
The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs in the Southwest region.