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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.

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#11: Oklahoma City University | Oklahoma City, OK
Kramer School of Nursing (KSN) has programs for traditional undergraduates, career changers, and existing nurses seeking advancement. Undergraduate options include traditional BSN, ABSN, and RN-to-BSN pathways. KSN also offers a unique program at Duncan Regional Hospital that provides financial aid in exchange for a two-year work commitment following graduation. Prelicensure BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at a 92% rate over the past decade. The university’s MSN program has education, leadership, and CNL tracks, and its DNP program features an FNP specialization. For the past two years, 100% of KSN’s FNP graduates passed the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) certification exam on the first attempt.


#12: Texas A&M University Health Science Center | Bryan, TX
The BSN program at Texas A&M University Health Science Center has posted an NCLEX exam pass rate above 97% every year since inception. The school has graduated more than 400 new nurses since 2008 and maintains a 95% job placement rate within three months of graduation. Texas A&M offers three BSN tracks: a traditional program in Bryan, an accelerated second degree in both Bryan and Round Rock, and an online RN-to-BSN pathway. Graduate students can pursue an online MSN in nursing education or a hybrid MSN for aspiring family nurse practitioners. Clinical locations include St. Joseph Health System and College Station Medical Center, the oldest healthcare facility in Bryan.


#13: The University of Texas at Arlington | Arlington, TX
UT Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation is the largest producer of baccalaureate-educated nurses in the state. The school has approximately 17,000 online and on-campus students, and it holds the prestigious NLN Center of Excellence™ designation. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional four-year BSN, a Veterans BSN for former military healthcare specialists, or an RN-to-BSN completion program for existing nurses. UT Arlington graduates over 400 prelicensure BSN students annually who have achieved a 91.4% NCLEX-RN pass rate since 2008. At the graduate level, nurses can pursue a number of MSN specializations including administration, education, and seven distinct NP roles. The college also offers DNP and nursing PhD programs.


#14: Texas Woman’s University | Denton, TX
Texas Woman’s University (TWU) College of Nursing has a primary campus in Denton and satellite locations in Dallas and Houston. The school offers online, on-campus, and hybrid programs across a wide breadth of nursing pathways. Undergraduates may pursue traditional, second-degree, weekend / evening, and RN-to-BSN programs. TWU’s prelicensure BSN students have maintained a stellar 94.2% NCLEX pass rate over the past eight years. Graduate students have two RN-to-MSN pathways (post-ADN and post-baccalaureate) and four choices of MSN degree or certificate (NP, CNL, NED, health systems management). Doctoral offerings include DNP, PhD, and a DNP-to-PhD bridge program. TWU’s Center for Global Nursing Scholarship provides the opportunity to study in places such as Vietnam, Peru, Turkey, and Tanzania.


#15: University of New Mexico | Albuquerque, NM
UNM’s College of Nursing offers many innovative education opportunities. The school’s massive open online course (MOOC) in rural health nursing enrolls students from more than 100 countries worldwide. UNM also offers a new post-master’s clinical DNP and a dual ADN / BSN program that allows community college students to obtain both degrees without leaving their home community. For traditional students, UNM conducts a four-year prelicensure BSN at its primary Albuquerque campus and ADN programs at its satellite Gallup, Taos, and Valencia locations. BSN graduates have averaged an 84% NCLEX pass rate since 2009, including an 87% pass rate last year. Some ADN campuses have achieved a 100% NCLEX pass rate in recent years.


#16: University of Tulsa | Tulsa, OK
The University of Tulsa’s Oxley College of Health Sciences has forged close relationships with three major metropolitan medical centers and a number of community healthcare agencies. The school’s unique BSN program begins clinical experiences during the spring of sophomore year, which provides students five semesters to develop clinical skills instead of the usual four. The University of Tulsa has produced more than 1,400 BSN graduates since 1973. The typical graduating class is small (perhaps two dozen students) and well-prepared for licensure: BSN graduates have maintained a stellar 94% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past seven years.


#17: The University of Texas at Tyler | Tyler, TX
UT Tyler’s College of Nursing & Health Sciences offers several undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. BSN students can pursue a traditional four-year, accelerated, or RN-to-BSN pathway. UT Tyler also partners with Jarvis Christian College to offer Jarvis BS candidates a dual BSN degree. Across all of its prelicensure programs, UT Tyler graduates 200-250 new nurses annually who have posted an excellent NCLEX pass rate of 93% since 2008. At the graduate level, the College of Nursing & Health Sciences offers three MSN tracks (NED, administration, FNP), a dual MSN/MBA program, and both PhD and DNP degrees.


#18: Midwestern University | Glendale, AZ
Midwestern University’s College of Health Sciences offers a 27-month master of science in nurse anesthesia (MSNA). The program is very selective, with an enrollment of just 34 per class. Recent students have enjoyed a 91% graduation rate, an impressive 92% board exam pass rate over the past decade, and a 100% employment rate. The university maintains a high-fidelity simulation and cadaver laboratory, as well as a variety of clinical sites with practice settings limited to certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). Midwestern University also offers a one-year full-time / two-year part-time doctor of nurse anesthesia practice (DNAP) completion program for existing CRNAs.


#19: Baylor College of Medicine | Houston, TX
Baylor College of Medicine offers a DNP in Nurse Anesthesia program that has produced almost 300 new nurse anesthetists since its inception. The program requires 36 months of fulltime study to complete, preparing students for the national certification exam administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). The entire Baylor class of 2015 passed the certification exam on the first try and obtained employment upon graduation. In fact, the school’s DNP in Nurse Anesthesia program was recently ranked the #2 nurse anesthesia program in the country by U.S. News & World Report.


#20: Covenant School of Nursing | Lubbock, TX
Covenant School of Nursing (CSON) is the oldest nursing school in the South Plains. A member of Covenant Health, the region’s largest health system, the school has produced more than 4,500 nurse graduates. CSON awards a nursing diploma and prepares 130-140 students annually for the NCLEX-RN national licensure examination. These students have passed the exam at a strong 91% rate over the past six years. CSON graduates have the option to enter the BSN completion program at nearby Lubbock Christian University, which requires just two additional semesters to finish.


The accredited schools below also offer highly regarded nursing programs in the Southwest region.

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