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 West rankings: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. 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.
#31: Brandman University | Irvine, CA
Brandman University is home to the Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions. The school is known for blending advanced technology and immersive learning: most coursework is delivered online, with students gathering periodically for three- to five-day sessions at the school’s high-tech Immersive Learning and Simulation Center. Brandman offers an RN-to-BSN completion program and five NP specialties: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, family health, pediatric acute care, and psychiatric / mental health. Each NP specialty may be pursued through either a BSN-to-DNP degree program or a post-doctoral certificate program.
#32: University of Northern Colorado | Greeley, CO
The UNC School of Nursing offers online and on-campus programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate options include traditional BSN, second-degree BSN, and RN-to-BSN completion programs. UNC’s prelicensure BSN students have earned remarkably strong and consistent scores on the NCLEX licensure exam, passing at a 92-95% rate for seven consecutive years. Graduate students can pursue certification as an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AGACNP) or a family nurse practitioner through the university’s MSN degree, post-MSN certificate, or DNP degree programs. The School of Nursing also offers clinical nurse leader (MSN) and nursing education (certificate or PhD) emphases.
#33: University of Nevada, Reno | Reno, NV
The Orvis School of Nursing is the oldest nursing school in Nevada. As a land-grant institution, the school serves the people of Nevada and the professional community at large. Degree pathways include a traditional BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, five MSN tracks, a dual MSN/MPH degree, and a DNP program. Approximately 100 traditional BSN students graduate each year; they have consistently passed the NCLEX exam at a strong 91-96% rate for six years in a row. Graduate students can pursue certification as a nurse educator, a clinical nurse leader, or a nurse practitioner in either adult-gerontology, family, or psychiatric-mental health.
#34: West Coast University | Los Angeles, CA
West Coast University operates two campuses in Los Angeles – the North Hollywood nursing school and the downtown Center for Graduate Studies – with additional sites in Orange County and Ontario. The school’s modern campuses feature LEED buildings and state-of-the-art simulation centers. Traditional BSN and LVN-to-BSN degree programs are available in all three cities. The BSN program has grown rapidly since its recent launch, with over 1,000 graduates during the 2014-15 academic year. Nonetheless, students maintain solid NCLEX pass rates: 83% of the most recent class passed the exam on their first attempt. WCU also offers a wealth of online nursing programs including RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN, four MSN tracks, and an FNP certificate.
#35: Roseman University of Health Sciences | Henderson, NV
Since its 1999 founding as the Nevada College of Pharmacy, Roseman University of Health Sciences has educated more than 2,500 healthcare professionals. The College of Nursing offers an 18-month traditional BSN and 16-month accelerated BSN at its campuses in Henderson, NV and South Jordan, UT. An innovative Veteran-to-BSN curriculum and a recently launched nine-month RN-to-BSN program are also on the menu. Prelicensure BSN students from both campuses have averaged a strong 93% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate over the past five years.
#36: Mount Saint Mary’s University | Los Angeles, CA
Mount Saint Mary’s University launched the first BSN program in the state of California. Today, this women’s university offers a variety of pathways for earning an ADN, BSN, or MSN degree. The ADN program is designed for working adults, with classes and clinicals in an evening and weekend format. MSMU graduates 80-100 ADN students each year, with an 80% NCLEX pass rate since 2007. The BSN program offers three pathways (traditional, accelerated, RN-to-BSN) and enables students to earn a California Public Health Nursing Certificate as well as licensure. BSN graduates have also posted an NCLEX pass rate of almost 80%. The MSN program features specialty tracks for an aspiring adult-gerontology CNS, nurse educator, or nursing administrator.
#37: Carroll College | Helena, MT
The Department of Nursing at Carroll College offers a unique BSN program that allows students to begin clinical experiences during sophomore, rather than junior, year. This enables graduates to leave the program with three years of diverse clinical rotations to their credit. Carroll College also incorporates global outreach into its nursing curriculum: recent classes have studied abroad in India and attended the International Public Health Nursing Conference in Ireland. Approximately 35 students graduate from the Carroll College BSN program each spring. They have achieved a stellar 94% NCLEX pass rate since 2008, and several recent classes have reached 100% employment within six months of graduation.
#38: Gonzaga University | Spokane, WA
Gonzaga University’s School of Nursing & Human Physiology offers a variety of baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional prelicensure BSN; admission occurs during freshman year and is highly competitive. Not surprisingly, BSN students perform exceptionally well on the licensure exam, posting a 94% NCLEX pass rate over the past five years. Gonzaga’s MSN program is offered entirely online, featuring three entry points (traditional, post-ADN, second master’s) and four specialty tracks (nurse educator, health systems leadership, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner). The university offers two doctoral nursing programs: a doctor of nurse anesthesia practice (DNAP) ranked in the top 20 nationally by U.S. News & World Report, and an online DNP.
#39: George Fox University | Newberg, OR
The School of Nursing at George Fox University prepares students to work in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including acute care, cardiology, nursing education, and medical missions. The BSN program takes four years to complete and admission is highly competitive, with only 48 students admitted each fall semester. George Fox complements its comprehensive BSN curriculum with strong extracurriculars, including a robust student nursing club that meets biweekly and a nationally recognized study abroad program. Since 2010, School of Nursing graduates have passed the NCLEX licensure exam at a cumulative first-time rate of 90%.
#40: California State University, Sacramento | Sacramento, CA
The Sacramento State School of Nursing enrolls more than 550 students across its BSN and MSN programs. The BSN curriculum offers two pathways: a traditional four-year degree and an RN-to-BSN completion program. Approximately 100-180 students graduate from the traditional BSN program each year. They have achieved an NCLEX pass rate between 97% and 99% for six consecutive years – an amazing streak for a program of this size. The RN-to-BSN pathway includes an innovative collaboration with three local community colleges to facilitate seamless transition from ADN to BSN. Sacramento State’s MSN program prepares BSN-educated nurses for advanced practice roles in administration, clinical practice, education, and school nursing.
The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs in the West region.