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.
#41: Brigham Young University - Idaho | Rexburg, ID
The Department of Nursing at BYU Idaho (formerly Ricks College) began in 1957, when the school launched its ADN program. Since then, the institution has educated thousands of aspiring nurses. Today, BYU Idaho offers a prelicensure BSN program and an RN-to-BSN completion pathway. Admission is very competitive: the Department of Nursing admits just 48 students per semester, typically accepting 30% of applicants. Not surprisingly, graduates consistently perform well on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, with an 88% pass rate over the past three academic years. The RN-to-BSN program is conducted entirely online, requiring three to six consecutive semesters of coursework depending upon the student’s academic background.
#42: University of California, Irvine | Irvine, CA
UC Irvine’s program in nursing science was established in 2006 and launched in 2007. The university offers BSN, MSN, and PhD degrees. The BSN curriculum accepts freshman applicants, transfers from other schools, and second-degree seekers. Each class is small with ~50 students, and BSN graduates have maintained a healthy 82% NCLEX pass rate since the program’s launch. UC Irvine offers two MSN concentrations: family nurse practitioner and adult gerontological primary care nurse practitioner. A post-graduate certificate is also available in either area, and the school has enjoyed a 100% national board certification pass rate for recent NP graduates. Nursing PhD research focuses on four areas: health promotion and disease prevention, health disparities and diversity, disease and symptom management, and health services and policy.
#43: San Francisco State University | San Francisco, CA
As part of SFSU’s commitment to social justice, most of the School of Nursing’s community health practicums are located in underserved San Francisco neighborhoods. The university offers three BSN pathways: a traditional BSN on the SFSU campus, a traditional BSN on the Cañada College campus in Redwood City, and an RN-to-BSN program. Over the past six years, prelicensure BSN graduates have scored a solid NCLEX pass rate of 84%. The MSN program also has three pathways: entry-level, accelerated entry-level, and traditional. Entry-level students have performed even better on the NCLEX exam, with a 90% pass rate over the past six years. The MSN curriculum includes CNS, administration, public health, and FNP emphasis areas.
#44: Utah Valley University | Orem, UT
Utah Valley University emphasizes holistic nursing and collaborative care throughout its nursing curriculum. The UVU Department of Nursing enrolls approximately 250 students across its ADN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs. Prelicensure candidates must begin by completing the ADN program. Approximately 75-100 students do so annually, with a strong NCLEX pass rate of 91% since 2010. Nurses may then progress to the RN-to-BSN program, which is offered entirely online to accommodate both full-time and part-time schedules. BSN-educated nurses can enroll in the university’s MSN program, which prepares students for a nurse educator role in either an academic setting or a healthcare institution.
#45: San Jose State University | San Jose, CA
SJSU’s Valley Foundation School of Nursing offers several nursing education pathways. Undergraduates may pursue a traditional BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, or a unique post-baccalaureate Wound & Ostomy Education Program. The latter option prepares WOC nurses for certification by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board. More broadly, SJSU graduates 100-150 prelicensure BSN students annually who have enjoyed an impressive 90% NCLEX pass rate since 2010. Graduate options include a doctoral program jointly offered with CSU Fresno, dubbed the CSU Northern California Consortium DNP.
#46: University of Wyoming | Laramie, WY
University of Wyoming’s College of Health Sciences is home to the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing. For the past 13 years, the school has conducted health brigades to Agua Salada, Honduras, in order to build a sustainable healthcare system for its community. UW offers three BSN options: a traditional four-year program, an online RN-to-BSN bridge, and a fast-track Bachelor’s Reach for Accelerated Nursing Degree (BRAND) for non-nursing baccalaureate degree-holders. Since 2012, traditional BSN and BRAND students have posted 86% and 88% NCLEX pass rates, respectively. The graduate division has two MSN tracks (nurse educator and nurse leader), two DNP tracks (FNP and FPMHNP), and an interdisciplinary PhD program.
#47: California State University, Chico | Chico, CA
CSU Chico’s School of Nursing serves the rural communities of Northern California in several innovative ways. In addition to RN refresher courses, the university operates a Rural California Nursing Preceptorship Program that provides nursing students with rural and semi-rural clinical experiences. CSU Chico also administers the Rural Northern California Clinical Simulation Center Partnership, dubbed the Rural SimCenter. The School of Nursing graduates 70-100 prelicensure BSN students in each class. These students have consistently achieved a stellar NCLEX pass rate of 92-97% in each of the past five years. CSU Chico also offers an online RN-to-BSN completion program and an online MSN program with nurse educator and nurse leader tracks.
#48: Northwest Nazarene University | Nampa, ID
Northwest Nazarene University’s Department of Nursing provides undergraduate, degree completion, and graduate programs in professional nursing. NNU’s traditional BSN program includes clinical experiences throughout the Treasure Valley, state-of-the-art equipment in the Thomas Family Health and Science Center, and an annual medical mission trip to places like Ghana, Nicaragua, Peru, and the Ukraine. The school boasts a 96% first-time NCLEX pass rate. Existing RNs may pursue either a BSN degree or an MSN degree entirely online. The MSN curriculum places an emphasis on leadership and education, and it accommodates the entry of both BSN- and ADN-educated nurses.
#49: California State University, San Marcos | San Marcos, CA
CSU San Marcos launched its School of Nursing in the fall of 2006. The university now offers four BSN pathways including traditional, accelerated, LVN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Approximately 150-200 students complete the prelicensure BSN pathways each year. These graduates have enjoyed a stellar 94% NCLEX pass rate since the program’s inception. CSU San Marcos also has five MSN concentrations: clinical nurse leader, clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and nursing education. In 2008, the school opened a satellite campus in Temecula which offers accelerated BSN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs to the expanding communities of southwest Riverside County.
#50: Walla Walla University | College Place, WA
Walla Walla University offers a four-year prelicensure program leading to a BSN degree. Students spend the first two years of the program at the university’s College Place campus, where they complete general studies, nursing cognates, and nursing courses. The final two years are centered at the Portland nursing campus, where students integrate advanced nursing coursework with clinical experience. Walla Walla University graduates a BSN class of approximately 60 students each year. These nurses have consistently outperformed state and national averages on their licensure exams, posting a 92% NCLEX pass rate since 2008.
The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs in the West region.