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For our 2019 rankings, the research team at Nursing Schools Almanac collected data on over 3,000 nursing schools and campuses throughout the United States. We evaluated each school 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 licensure examination

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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#1: University of Arizona | Tucson, AZ
The College of Nursing at the University of Arizona consistently ranks among the top 30-40 graduate nursing schools in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. The college currently enrolls well over 1,000 nursing students, and its prelicensure graduates have posted excellent first-time pass rates on the NCLEX exam. For example, BSN graduates have passed the licensure exam at a 94% rate over the past decade, while graduates of the MSN for entry into the profession of nursing (MEPN) program have scored a 92% pass rate since inception. The University of Arizona has online offerings for students in the RN-to-MSN, DNP, and PhD pathways. Graduate certificates are also available for aspiring NPs in the fields of family health, adult-gerontology acute care, pediatric care, and psychiatric-mental health.


#2: 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 94% graduation rate, an impressive 89% first-time pass rate on the board exam 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.


#3: Arizona State University | Phoenix, AZ
ASU’s Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation is consistently ranked among the top 30 in the nation for its graduate nursing programs by U.S. News & World Report. Graduate study is offered at the master’s and doctoral levels, with specializations that include informatics, nursing education, several nurse practitioner roles, and healthcare innovation. The college also provides traditional BSN, post-baccalaureate BSN, and online RN-to-BSN pathways. More than 200 prelicensure students graduate each year, and they have maintained a 90% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade. In addition, ASU partners with MaricopaNursing to offer the Concurrent Enrollment Program, which allows students to enroll simultaneously in an associate of applied science (AAS) program and ASU’s BSN program.


#4: Northern Arizona University | Flagstaff, AZ
The School of Nursing at Northern Arizona University 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, and they have achieved a solid 89% NCLEX exam pass rate over the past decade. NAU also offers several graduate nursing programs: an MSN with two tracks (nurse generalist and family nurse practitioner), a post-master’s FNP certificate, and a DNP degree.


#5: Creighton University | Phoenix, AZ
Creighton University is in the midst of constructing a new 180,000-square-foot health sciences campus in Phoenix. Slated for completion in 2021, the new campus will house a four-year medical school as well as programs for nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, and physician assistants. The university has already launched an accelerated BSN program for the Phoenix market in partnership with Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. St. Joseph’s was the first hospital in the Phoenix area and is nationally recognized for its quality tertiary care, medical education, and research. Applicants to the accelerated BSN program must hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or higher. The curriculum is streamlined and focused, enabling students to earn the BSN degree in just 12 months of fulltime study. Creighton offers both January and August start dates on its Phoenix campus.


#6: Chamberlain University | Phoenix, AZ
Chamberlain University’s BSN program enables students to earn their degree in as little as three years of fulltime 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 200 BSN students graduate from the Phoenix campus annually, consistently achieving NCLEX pass rates of 86-93% each year. Chamberlain students also have access to an online MSN program that is ranked among the top 150 nationally by U.S. News & World Report.


#7: Grand Canyon University | Phoenix, AZ
The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions at Grand Canyon University (GCU) connects classroom theories to working scenarios through hands-on practice, online and lab simulations, and in-depth peer discussions. This private Christian college offers a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway, an MSN degree, and a DNP degree. The MSN program has a breadth of specialties including adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, health informatics, nursing education, and public health nursing. GCU’s prelicensure BSN students have posted an 84% first-time NCLEX exam pass rate over the past decade, including an impressive 92% pass rate last year.


#8: Aspen University | Phoenix, AZ
Traditionally an online institution, Aspen University recently launched a hybrid prelicensure BSN program in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Students attend nursing core classes at one of the university’s two Arizona campus locations, while completing non-clinical courses – approximately 70% of the curriculum – 100% online. Fulltime students can complete the program in just 36 months (or nine semesters) of year-round study. The school maintains clinical partnerships with Maricopa Integrated Health System, HonorHealth, and several other healthcare institutions in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Graduates from the prelicensure BSN program have the opportunity to matriculate into Aspen University’s online MSN program which offers five distinct specializations. The school also offers a post-master’s DNP curriculum.


#9: Pima Medical Institute | Tucson, AZ
The associate’s degree in nursing program at Pima Medical Institute prepares graduates for entry-level RN positions. Students take accelerated courses in everything from anatomy to pharmacology, and they receive hands-on training in skills labs with simulation mannequins and hospital-grade equipment. Clinical externships at hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies provide students with additional real-world experience. PMI’s ADN program is offered at several campuses in Arizona and New Mexico, and it may be completed in as little as twenty months. Graduates from all campuses have achieved solid first-time pass rates on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past decade, including Tucson (87%), Mesa (86%), and Albuquerque (85%).


#10: Cochise College | Douglas, AZ
Cochise College offers associate’s degrees and certificates in the areas of art, business, education, general studies, and science. Graduates enjoy seamless transfer to all three public Arizona universities. Nursing students have access to co-op and internship opportunities at several local healthcare institutions including Canyon Vista Medical Center and Copper Queen Community Hospital. The college offers a nursing assistant certificate, a practical nursing certificate, and an associate of applied science (AAS) degree with both traditional and LPN bridge pathways. Approximately 40-60 students graduate annually from the practical nursing certificate program, with a stellar 98% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past decade. The AAS degree program graduates another 50-80 students annually, with an 86% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past decade.


#11: Brookline College | Phoenix, AZ
Brookline College offers a nursing program with many unique aspects. At the undergraduate level, the school has traditional BSN, accelerated second degree, and RN-to-BSN pathways. The traditional curriculum can be completed in as little as two and a half years of year-round study, while the accelerated curriculum can be completed in just 16 months. Since 2012, prelicensure BSN graduates have achieved a solid NCLEX exam pass rate of 87% on the Phoenix campus and 85% on the Albuquerque campus. At the graduate level, Brookline offers an online MSN that prepares students for an entry-level nurse educator position within an academic or healthcare setting. The college also provides an MSN specialization in health systems administration that can be completed online in as little as 12 months. All Brookline students use Lippincott DocuCare software for electronic medical records charting throughout the duration of their studies.


#12: Scottsdale Community College | Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale Community College serves approximately 10,000 students with more than 100 associate’s degrees and 60 certificates of completion. Programs of study range from applied technology to healthcare to the visual and performing arts. The Health and Sciences Building is the physical home for the school’s two nursing programs: a practical nursing certificate of completion and an associate’s degree in nursing. Students complete clinical experiences in a variety of local healthcare settings. The LPN program graduates a small cohort, typically five students annually. Every graduating class over the past decade has aced the NCLEX-PN licensure exam. The ADN program is much larger, graduating between 100 and 150 students annually. These students also have an excellent track record on their licensure exams, with a 95% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past decade.


#13: Chandler-Gilbert Community College | Chandler, AZ
The Division of Nursing at Chandler-Gilbert Community College offers an ADN program that provides clinical experience in a variety of healthcare settings. Approved by the Arizona State Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the CGCC nursing program prepares approximately 70 students annually to write the NCLEX exam for initial RN licensure. Over the past decade, these graduates have achieved a 93% NCLEX exam pass rate, far above the state and national averages.


#14: East Valley Institute of Technology | Mesa, AZ
East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) is a public education system of career training options for East Valley high school students and Phoenix-area adults. EVIT was Arizona’s first career technical education district. The school offers programs in aviation, cosmetology, culinary arts, fashion design, and healthcare. Aspiring nurses can pursue either a nursing assistant certificate or a practical nursing certificate. The CNA program takes 10-12 weeks to complete and prepares students to sit for the state’s nursing assistant examination. The LPN program requires 12 months of fulltime study and prepares students to sit for the NCLEX-PN licensure examination. EVIT graduates approximately 25-30 practical nursing students annually. Over the past decade, these graduates have averaged an 80% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam.


#15: University of Phoenix | Phoenix, AZ
University of Phoenix (UOPX) offers both online and on-campus programs geared towards adult learners. On its flagship Phoenix campus, the university offers both a prelicensure BSN degree and an MSN degree for aspiring family nurse practitioners. Nursing students can also pursue a range of additional MSN specializations online, including informatics, nurse administration, and nurse education. The prelicensure BSN program typically graduates 40-60 students annually from the Phoenix campus. Over the past decade, these students have averaged an 81% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination.


#16: Eastern Arizona College | Thatcher, AZ
Eastern Arizona College was designated a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing in 2018. The college’s Nursing Division was specifically recognized for its enhanced student learning and professional development. EAC students can pursue one of four nursing programs, including two certificate programs (nursing assistant, licensed practical nursing) and two associate’s degree programs (associate of applied science, associate of arts). The certificate programs prepare students for rapid entry into the healthcare profession, and they boast excellent student outcomes. For example, LPN students have achieved a 100% NCLEX-PN pass rate for at least the past ten consecutive years. The AAS program prepares students for RN licensure, while the AA program prepares them for transfer to a baccalaureate degree program. Approximately 50-70 AAS students graduate each year, with a solid 88% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past decade.


#17: Paradise Valley Community College | Phoenix, AZ
Paradise Valley Community College was originally established as the Northeast Valley Education Center, an extension of Scottsdale Community College. PVCC gained independent accreditation in 1990 and has rapidly expanded ever since in both campus size and enrollment. The college now serves 14,000 students across a broad range of associate’s and transfer degrees, certificates, and job training programs. PVCC nursing students can pursue a nurse assistant certificate, a practical nursing certificate, or an associate of applied science (AAS) degree. The AAS degree program is offered through MaricopaNursing, a consortium of eight Phoenix-area community colleges that conduct a consistent prelicensure nursing curriculum. PVCC graduates approximately fifty students annually from the AAS degree program. These students have achieved an exceptional 95% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination over the past decade.


#18: GateWay Community College | Phoenix, AZ
GateWay Community College offers an ADN program and two unique LPN programs: the Fast Track LPN and the Veterans/LPN Bridge. The Fast Track LPN may be completed in just 18 months, and the Veterans/LPN Bridge is a streamlined 12-credit program for veterans who have previous healthcare training with the military. Both programs prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam. Over the past decade, LPN candidates from GateWay Community College have achieved an impressive 93% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure examination. The ADN is GateWay’s largest nursing program, preparing more than 200 aspiring RNs annually. These graduates have maintained a first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate of 95% over the past decade.


#19: Northland Pioneer College | Holbrook, AZ
Northland Pioneer College is part of the Navajo County Community College District. The school serves around 7,000 students annually in a wide range of programs leading to a certificate or associate’s degree. The college’s Nursing Department offers a nursing assistant certificate of proficiency, a practical nursing certificate of applied science, and several pathways to an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in registered nursing. The practical nursing certificate program graduates approximately 30 students annually, with an extraordinary 99% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past decade. The AAS degree program includes entry options for licensed nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, and paramedics. Approximately 40-50 students graduate annually across all AAS tracks, with a strong 87% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past decade.


#20: Glendale Community College | Glendale, AZ
Glendale Community College is one of ten higher education institutions in the Maricopa Community College District. The school offers 44 degrees and 65 certificate programs, with more than half a million graduates to date. The Nursing Department offers a nurse assisting certificate, a practical nursing certificate, and an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in nursing. Clinical experiences in local community agencies, long-term care facilities, and hospitals allow students to gain hands-on experience in all major specialty areas. Nursing graduates have enjoyed excellent outcomes. LPN students have scored an impressive 98.5% NCLEX-PN pass rate over the past decade. Indeed, all but one class scored a perfect pass rate. The AAS program graduates 170 students per year, with a strong 91% NCLEX-RN pass rate over the past decade. The most recent AAS graduating class exceeded a 97% NCLEX-RN pass rate.