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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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#21: Northern Arizona University | Flagstaff, AZ
The School of Nursing at Northern Arizona University (NAU) promotes learning in a diverse range of environments, from simulation labs to healthcare facilities, traditional classrooms to online delivery. NAU undergrads have several options, including a traditional BSN at the Flagstaff, Tucson, and Yuma campuses; a 12-month accelerated BSN; an RN-to-BSN pathway; and a ten-person American Indian program offered within the Navajo Nation. The school graduates 140-150 prelicensure candidates annually, who have surpassed a 90% NCLEX exam pass rate for four years running. NAU also offers several graduate nursing programs: an MSN with two tracks (FNP and nurse generalist), a post-master’s FNP certificate, and a DNP degree.


#22: West Coast University | Dallas, TX
In 2008, West Coast University (WCU) became the first privately held university in California approved to offer a BSN degree. The school now offers nursing and allied health programs across five cities including Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Ontario, and Orange County. WCU Dallas is dedicated entirely to higher education for nurses. It offers two campus-based programs: a traditional BSN and an LVN-to-BSN bridge program. Students can join global study trips to a range of international locations such as England, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, and Moldova. WCU also offers a full complement of online degrees, including RN-to-BSN / RN-to-MSN completion programs and MSN tracks in FNP, NED, and nursing informatics.


#23: University of the Incarnate Word | San Antonio, TX
Each year, UIW’s Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions graduates a prelicensure BSN class of approximately 60-75 students. Students may enter the BSN program through regular admission (typically spring of sophomore year), as a high-performing direct admit from high school, or as a second-degree candidate. Across all pathways, prelicensure BSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at a solid 90% rate since 2010. UIW also offers two degree completion pathways (RN-to-BSN/MSN), two MSN or certificate specializations (CNL, CNS), and three DNP pathways (FNP certification, PMHNP certification, post-MSN completion).


#24: Chamberlain College of Nursing - Phoenix | Phoenix, AZ
Chamberlain College of Nursing’s BSN program enables students to earn their degree in as few as three years of year-round study. The Phoenix campus offers access to real-life training at local clinical sites, a Chamberlain SIMCARE CENTER™ that replicates the hospital setting, and a Global Health Education Program that features trips to Kenya and Brazil. Approximately 125 BSN students graduate from the Phoenix campus annually, achieving NCLEX-RN pass rates of 86-93% every year since inception. Chamberlain students also have access to an online MSN program that is ranked among the top 100 nationally by U.S. News & World Report.


#25: Texas State University | Round Rock, TX
St. David’s School of Nursing at Texas State University grants BSN and MSN degrees. Since its inaugural graduating class in 2012, the BSN program has educated ~330 new nurses with an outstanding first-time NCLEX pass rate of 97%. The school’s MSN graduates are prepared to sit for the FNP certification exam proctored by either the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Texas State students gain valuable training at the school’s five interactive simulation laboratories, and they engage in clinical experiences at area hospitals and healthcare facilities.


#26: Southern Nazarene University | Bethany, OK
Southern Nazarene University offers opportunities to specialize in many nursing areas, including community nursing, prenatal health, pediatric care, and gerontology. The School of Nursing offers clinical experiences at a variety of local hospitals and agencies, and it boasts a 90% employment rate over the past five years. Nursing students can pursue a traditional BSN, an accelerated RN-to-BSN pathway, or an MSN degree with a major in either nursing education or nursing leadership. The traditional BSN program graduates a small class of ~16 students each year, with a solid NCLEX pass rate of 86% since 2008.


#27: The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley | Edinburg, TX
The UT System Board of Regents recently formed UT Rio Grande Valley by consolidating the system’s Pan American (Edinburg) and Brownsville campuses. UTRGV’s nursing department maintains deep offerings in both locations, including a prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, and three MSN tracks (nursing administration, nursing education, FNP). The school also offers a graduate certificate for aspiring psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners. UTRGV graduates approximately 100 prelicensure BSN students each year, who have achieved a strong pass rate of 89% on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past eight years.


#28: Abilene Christian University | Abilene, TX
The ACU School of Nursing prepares aspiring nurses by offering training exercises at the school’s simulation lab, clinical experiences at community hospitals, research assistant opportunities, and medical mission trips around the world. Students are mentored by faculty and practicing nurses who help to hone their technical and critical thinking skills. The school graduated its first class of traditional four-year BSN students in 2015. Abilene Christian University also conducts a six-week certified nurse aide (CNA) course several times per year, which educates and certifies a new CNA for less than $1,000 all-in.


#29: University of Houston | Houston, TX
An institutional member of the Texas Medical Center, UH School of Nursing offers two BSN tracks (second degree, RN-to-BSN) and three MSN specializations (nursing education, nursing administration, family nurse practitioner). The second degree BSN program is offered at the university’s Sugar Land campus. Graduates of this accelerated 12-month program have posted a phenomenal 96.2% NCLEX pass rate over the past four years, including a perfect 100% in 2015. The MSN curriculum is offered at both the Sugar Land and Victoria campuses. This program’s inaugural May 2015 FNP class achieved a 100% first-time pass rate on the FNP national certification exam.


#30: The University of Texas at El Paso | El Paso, TX
UTEP Nursing has developed a wide variety of degree programs during its forty-year history. Undergraduates must first complete pre-nursing courses before progressing into either the traditional or fast-track BSN program. The school graduates more than 300 BSN students annually who have maintained an 87% NCLEX exam pass rate since 2008. Existing nurses may enroll in the university’s 100% online RN-to-BSN program or one of several graduate pathways. UTEP offers three MSN majors (nursing education, nurse practitioner, nursing systems management), an MSN-to-DNP program, and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences.


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

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