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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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#41: Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing | Abilene, TX
Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing (PHSSN) is a consortium of Hardin-Simmons University and McMurry University, making it the only intercollegiate nursing program in the nation that serves two private universities. PHSSN offers several nursing degree pathways including a traditional BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, and an MSN with functional tracks for education and family nurse practitioner. The school also offers a highly regarded CNA program, available for enrollment to the broader Abilene community. PHSSN’s prelicensure BSN students have passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a solid 81% first-time rate over the past eight years. All of last year’s CNA graduates passed the state certification exam.


#42: Texas A&M University - Texarkana | Texarkana, TX
Texas A&M University - Texarkana (TAMUT) is home to the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Nursing. The college offers two programs for existing registered nurses: an RN-to-BSN completion program and an MSN degree in nursing administration. In addition, TAMUT is currently developing a prelicensure BSN program slated to launch during the summer of 2017, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing. The school delivers its RN-to-BSN program in eight-week blocks rather than across the semester, allowing working students to better focus their efforts and manage their time. Students in all programs meet in the STEM Building which houses the new Innovation Lab, a multidisciplinary research environment.


#43: Texas Lutheran University | Seguin, TX
Texas Lutheran University’s Department of Nursing offers a BSN program with two pathways: a prelicensure BSN track and an RN-to-BSN degree completion track. TLU just recently launched both programs after receiving official approval from the Texas Board of Nursing in April 2014. The prelicensure pathway features an average class size of 30 students (or less) and clinical groups of just six to eight participants, ensuring personalized instruction and hands-on practice. The RN-to-BSN pathway can be completed in 12 months of full-time study, but it also includes a part-time option and hybrid online courses to provide flexibility for working professionals.


#44: Oklahoma Baptist University | Shawnee, OK
Oklahoma Baptist University launched the state’s first baccalaureate nursing program in 1952. In addition to the traditional BSN, OBU College of Nursing offers an accelerated second-degree pathway and an LPN-to-BSN bridge program. Across the three options, the college graduates approximately 40 BSN students annually who have maintained an average NCLEX pass rate of 85% over the past eight years. At the graduate level, OBU offers an RN-to-MSN bridge program and two MSN specializations: nursing education and global nursing. Post-master’s students can pursue a brief certificate in either specialization. All graduate coursework is completed online.


#45: South Texas College | McAllen, TX
STC’s Division of Nursing and Allied Health offers an ADN program with three entry points: a traditional two-year pathway for non-nurses, a three-semester pathway for EMT paramedics, and a 12-month pathway for existing LVNs. STC also offers a three-semester LVN certificate program that provides classroom instruction and clinical practice in the nursing care of four populations: adults, mothers / newborns, children, and the elderly. The college graduates 100-120 new LVNs and nearly 200 new RNs annually. Students of all programs have exhibited strong licensure exam pass rates: since 2008, LVN students have achieved an NCLEX-PN pass rate of 85.2%, while ADN students have achieved an NCLEX-RN pass rate of 85.4%.


#46: University of Central Oklahoma | Edmond, OK
Since 1972, more than 3,000 men and women have graduated from University of Central Oklahoma’s nursing program. The Department of Nursing offers a robust BSN program and recently launched one of just three public MSN programs in Oklahoma. The MSN is designed for working professionals with early evening classes, part- and full-time options, and a centrally located campus. The BSN offers three pathways: traditional four-year (the core of the program), LPN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. UCO graduates ~100 prelicensure BSN students annually, and they have passed the NCLEX exam at a very strong and consistent rate of 90% over the past decade.


#47: Oklahoma Christian University | Edmond, OK
Oklahoma Christian University’s School of Nursing offers several unique learning opportunities. The school’s mission of Christian service is embodied in its coursework, with classes like “Health Care Missions & Christian Service Strategies” and “Contemporary Christian Nursing Leadership.” OC also provides medical mission opportunities like HonduraServ, a service trip to Honduras, as well as domestic rotations in local hospitals and clinics. The university offers two BSN pathways: a traditional four-year program and an online RN-to-BSN with flexible class scheduling. Graduates of the traditional program have achieved an 86% average pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past three years.


#48: Northern New Mexico College | Española, NM
NNMC’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences has educated nurses since 1973. The college offers a career ladder program that prepares candidates sequentially for the roles of CNA, LPN, and ADN. Practical nursing students have passed the NCLEX-PN exam at an 86% average rate since 2009, including two classes with perfect pass rates. Aspiring RNs have also done well: the most recent ADN class passed the NCLEX-RN exam at a 94% first-time rate. NNMC also leads an innovative RN-to-BSN program on holistic nursing practice. This program was recently awarded the Excellence in Holistic Education Award by the American Holistic Nurses Association.


#49: Vista College | El Paso, TX
Vista College offers healthcare education across nine campus locations in Texas, New Mexico, and Arkansas, as well as online. Aspiring LVNs can pursue a vocational nursing diploma at four Texas campuses: El Paso, Amarillo, Beaumont, and Lubbock. The vocational nursing curriculum provides real-world instruction in a broad range of pertinent topics, including health science, professional development, maternal newborn nursing, child health nursing, and pharmacology. Vista College graduates 100-150 LVN students annually with solid licensure test scores: the LVN classes of 2014 and 2015 scored NCLEX-PN pass rates of 89% and 87%, respectively.


#50: Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi | Corpus Christi, TX
TAMUCC’s College of Nursing & Health Sciences launched the first accredited RN-to-BSN program in an upper-level university during the early 1970s, and the first accredited online BSN program in 2003. Today, the school offers numerous BSN pathways including traditional, accelerated, two online options, and an RN-to-BSN completion program. The prelicensure tracks graduate ~200 students each year who have scored an 85% NCLEX pass rate since 2008, including an 89% pass rate last year. TAMUCC is also home to the fourth-largest MSN program in Texas, which has twice ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s top ten online MSN programs nationally. Master’s degree candidates can specialize in FNP, NED, or leadership. Finally, the university is approved to begin a post-master’s DNP program in the fall of 2016.


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

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