There is something for everyone in Colorado. From the majestic snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains to arid desert landscapes, this state is the perfect choice to live, work, or go to nursing school!
Colorado boasts some of the finest nursing schools in the nation. Registered nurses (RNs) looking to enhance their qualifications with advanced degrees, or aspiring students pursuing a first nursing degree, will find Colorado offers exceptional nursing programs. Nurses who want to work in Colorado will find their dream job. According to the latest forecasts, the future is bright in sunny Colorado. ColoradoCast found that wages, employment, and economic growth were heading upwards.
We’ve ranked the top five nursing schools in Colorado to show you what makes each program great and what sets them apart.
Best Nursing Schools in Colorado
#1. University of Northern Colorado– Score 81
NCLEX pass rate: 96.19%
Annual in-state tuition: $10,947
Out-of-state tuition: $21,246
The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) offers a high quality nursing education. It has an excellent, proven track record of success. These two characteristics make a degree from UNC a tremendous value.
UNC offers a variety of degree plans to meet every career goal. Traditional bachelor’s degree programs prepare students to take the NCLEX for the first time, while the BSN 2nd Degree Program is designed for college graduates transitioning into the nursing field. The UNC doctorate level options train nurses to the highest nursing theory and practice levels. Supportive staff and innovative teaching strategies set this school apart.
CCNE-accredited programs include the following:
- Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- RN to BSN (online program available)
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
#2. University of Colorado, Colorado Springs– Score 63
NCLEX pass rate: 92.68%
Annual in-state tuition: $15,150
Out-of-state tuition: $26,640
The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences is an innovative school focusing on research, scholarship, and excellence in practice for nursing professionals. What makes this college unique is its investments in technology, research, and operations. In 2015, the school received a generous $8 million donor gift, which it invested in state of the art facilities.
The UCCS Johnson Beth-El campus is home to a Simulation Learning Center for students to practice their hands-on practical skills. The school partners with The Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences to host a Primary Care Clinic. UCCS also works with the Center for Active Living, Nutrition Clinic, and Nurse-Family Partnership where students gain real life experience. Recently, UCCS opened the new William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center with offers additional classroom space and laboratories.
The UCCS Nursing program offers an accelerated BSN program for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to earn their bachelor’s in nursing for direct entry into the profession. Courses can be completed in as little as 16 months.
The school’s CCNE-accredited programs include:
#3. University of Colorado, Denver– Score 59
NCLEX pass rate: 86.22%
Annual in-state tuition: $9,864
Out-of-state tuition: $27,360
The University of Colorado, Denver’s College of Nursing is located on the acclaimed Anschutz Medical Campus. The school received national recognition for graduate nursing, administration, and leadership programs in the U.S. News and World Report, 2022. CU’s College of Nursing boasts 4 nurse-led practices in 9 locations on the Rocky Mountain’s largest academic medical campus. This school may be best known as the home of the first nurse practitioner degree in 1965.
One program worth mentioning is Colorado, Denver’s Veteran and Military Healthcare Program (VMHC), It trains nurses on the unique needs of servicemen and women, military culture, health consequences of war, environmental exposures, and federal healthcare delivery systems. The VMHC emphasis is offered as a master’s specialty, a second master’s post-graduate certificate, and a DNP degree.
The CCNE-accredited programs offered include the following:
Tied – #4. Denver College of Nursing– Score 55
NCLEX pass rate: 90.50%
Annual in-state tuition: $12,835
Out-of-state tuition: $12,835
Denver College of Nursing pours its heart and soul into students, focusing “solely on the art and science of nursing.” The school only offers nursing degrees.
Choosing Denver College of Nursing means that you will be surrounded by peers with the same goal. Everyone on campus is there to become a professional nurse! This private college offers smaller class sizes that will feel like family. That might be one reason that this school has the highest graduation rate.
The college is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (THLC). The associate’s degree program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The associate and bachelor programs are approved by the Colorado Board of Nursing (CBON).
Programs offered at the University of Northern Colorado include the following:
- RN to BSN (online option available)
- MSN (online option available)
Tied – #4. Colorado State University, Pueblo– Score 55
NCLEX pass rate: 78.04%
Annual in-state tuition: $10,664
Out-of-state tuition: $18,862
Located in the southern part of the state, Colorado State University, Pueblo, has been nationally recognized as one of the top nursing schools in the nation. The CSU Pueblo School of Nursing offers students multiple degree entry paths. Its supportive learning environment ensures graduates have what it takes to succeed in their field.
Upon admission to the program, CSU Pueblo Nursing connects students to the professional community through its local chapter of Southern Colorado Association of Nursing Students (SCANS). This promotes community causes and seasonal activities. Junior and Senior students are invited to join the International Nursing Honor Society’s Iota Pi chapter. All CSU Pueblo Nursing students are encouraged to serve the community through events including an annual community baby shower, health halloween, and Southern Colorado health fair.
CCNE-accredited programs offered include the following:
- RN to BSN
- MSN (online program available)
|School||Rank||In-state tuition||Out-of-state tuition||Accredited||NCLEX pass rate||Graduation rate||Programs|
|University of Northern Colorado||1||$10,947||$21,246||Yes||96.19%||53%||BSN, RN-BSN, MSN, DNP, Ph.D.|
|University of Colorado, Colorado Springs||2||$15,150||$26, 640||Yes||92.68%||51%||BSN, RN-BSN, MSN, DNP|
|University of Colorado, Denver||3||$9,864||$27,360||Yes||86.22%||50%||BSN, RN-BSN, MSN, DNP, Ph.D.|
|Denver College of Nursing||4||$12,835||$12,835||Yes||90.50%||86%||ADN, BSN, RN-BSN, MSN|
|Colorado State University, Pueblo||4||$10,664||$18,862||Yes||78.04%||39%||BSN, RN-BSN, MSN, DNP|
Expert advice from nurses like you
How to choose the right nursing program
Picking the right school is a challenging task. Making a list of pros and cons can really help. To choose the right nursing program, prospective students must consider location, cost, program options, and success rates.
Colorado has four beautiful seasons, including mild summers and snowy winters. Since nursing school will require clinical simulations, lab practicums, and research, you should be close enough to campus to maximize study time. Also, consider your campus’s proximity to the library and a good coffee shop for late-night cram sessions.
When choosing a nursing program, you should check the price tag. College can be expensive. According to the Education Data Initiative, students paying out-of-state tuition in Colorado can end up paying over three times as much for the same education as residents! If you do not live in Colorado but choose a nursing program in that state, find out what financial aid you qualify for.
NCLEX pass rate
Nursing schools prepare students for the NCLEX exam. When shopping for nursing programs, check out each school’s pass rate. That number can give you an idea of how well you will do if you get your education there.
Be sure the nursing program you choose offers the right degree for you. If you want a two-year nursing degree instead of a four-year degree, then an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) might be right for you. Students who already hold a degree in another field, but want to transition into nursing, should look for a program that will credit previous undergraduate work. Practicing R.N.s who want an advanced master’s or doctoral degree must be sure the school offers specialty programs in their desired practice areas. The higher your level of education, the more you can make. If you are unsure, call the college and speak to an advisor in the nursing program to answer questions.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the graduation rate is the percentage of students who complete their 4-year degree within six years. A high graduation rate may indicate that you are more likely to finish your program without additional time and expense.
Top nursing jobs in Colorado on Incredible Health
Lone Tree, CO | $46,000 to $72,000 /year
Aurora, CO | $46,000 to $72,000 /year
Lone Tree, CO | $46,000 to $72,000 /year
Englewood, CO | $46,000 to $72,000 /year
Aurora, CO | $46,000 to $72,000 /year
To determine the best nursing schools in a state, Incredible Health compared the top schools among five categories: graduation rate, tuition, NCLEX pass rate, accreditation, and the number of nursing programs offered.
Each metric was scored on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the highest total for that category. Then we compiled the individual scores to get an overall score.
We used data from:
- University webpages
- Colorado Board of Nursing
- U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
- U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings
Now you know what factors to consider when choosing a nursing program.
Use this list to find the best school to fit your education and career goals. You have your work cut out for you, but luckily, Colorado has great options when it comes to nursing programs. Now that you know the best Colorado nursing schools for 2022, don’t hesitate, go for it! We know you’ve got this.
- “Average In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition”. educationdata.org. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- “ColoradoCast Statewide Economic Forecast”. coloradofuturescsu.org. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- “Colorado State University, Pueblo”. csupueblo.edu/school-of-nursing. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- “Colorado State University Pueblo Nursing School Handbook Spring 2020”. csupueblo.edu. Accessed April 14, 2022.
- “Denver College of Nursing”. denvercollegeofnursing.edu. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- “Federal Student Aid”. studentaid.gov. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- “UCCS Beth-El College of Nursing renamed after $8 million gift”. csbj.com. Accessed April 14, 2022.
- “Undergraduate Retention and Graduation Rates”. nces.ed.gov. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. catalog.uccs.edu. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- University of Colorado, Denver. nursing.cuanschutz.edu. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- University of Northern Colorado. unco.edu/nhs/nursing. Accessed April 5, 2022.
- Photo by Kait Herzog on Unsplash