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Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Washington

11 Min Read Published November 22, 2022
Top 10 Washington Nursing Schools |

For many nurses, the most important part of their career is getting the job they want in the area they love. While becoming an RN is required for nurses, many facilities prefer to hire graduates with a bachelor’s degree in nursing  (BSN). 

However, those same nurses also know that the most important step in getting their dream job is getting the right education. In a career as demanding as nursing, education is important to show that you’re qualified.

To get the right education, nurses need to attend the right schools. For nursing jobs in Washington, one of the highest paying nursing states according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that may also mean studying in Washington state.

Washington is home to some of the top nursing programs in the nation, and each one has its own specialties. Depending on what you’re looking to get out of your nursing career, one of these schools could be the perfect fit for you!


This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,

  • Reputation

  • NCLEX-RN pass rate

  • Tuition

  • Acceptance rate, when available

  • Only ACEN or CCNE-accredited schools are eligible 

Top 10 Nursing Schools in Washington

1.) University of Washington

Annual In-State Tuition:    $32,090           Annual Out-State Tuition: $60,588

NCLEX Pass Rate: 86.52%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: No

On top of low in-state tuition, the majority of UW nursing students also receive additional support in the form of scholarships. UW is also great for acquiring grants for research projects, making this a place to keep in mind for graduate students. In fact, $1.58 million was given to new and continuing PhD students. UW also boasts world-renowned faculty: 33 faculty members were elected fellows of the American Academy of Nursing. UW offers endless opportunities for students including multiple DNP programs for nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists.

2. Gonzaga University

Annual Tuition: $49,800

NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.02%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Rooted in the Jesuit ethos, Gonzaga students will learn a humanistic approach to nursing and creating a community that will impact the world around them. 

Nursing students at all levels have the benefit of practicing on-site. That means that they’re making actual decisions that impact lives, giving them the real-world experience that most students crave before graduation. It’s a little pricey, but it’s well worth the cost for the quality of education.

3. Seattle University

Annual Tuition: $50,328

NCLEX Pass Rate: 83.55%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Established in 1935, this Jesuit school is dedicated to preparing students in value-based and compassionate education. The highlight of Seattle U’s nursing school is its adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner program.  Seattle University boasts a 20,000-square-foot clinical laboratory that is equipped with realistic patient simulators. The nursing program is located in central Seattle and students complete clinical rotations that  are internationally-known healthcare systems, clinics, and research facilities. 

4. Seattle Pacific University

Annual Tuition: $36,504

NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.71%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

As a  private Christian University, nursing students can expect to experience a holistic approach to nursing. On top of its BSN program, SPU offers DNP programs for nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. SPU offers students a minimum $5,000 merit scholarship to those students that apply prior to the November 15th deadline. 

5. Pacific Lutheran University 

Annual Tuition: $49,472

NCLEX Pass Rate: 83.70%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: Yes

Bridge: No

For students that want a cut-and-dry nursing education, Pacific Lutheran University is the school to pick. They offer three programs – a BSN, MSN, and DNP. The BSN is offered in a traditional four-year format or an accelerated fast-track program. The MSN and DNP programs are non-specialized. This is ideal for nurses that want to go on to earn certificates or don’t want to specialize.

6. Walla Walla University 

Annual Tuition: $26,280

NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.55%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated: No

Bridge: No

The traditional BSN program at Walla Walla University is broken into two parts. First, students will spend two years studying at College Place, the home of the school. Second, students will spend their final two years studying in Portland, Oregon, getting experience at the campus there while earning clinical experience.

7. Washington State University

Annual Tuition: $26,950

NCLEX Pass Rate: 86.26%

Traditional: Yes

Online: No


Bridge: Yes

Although Washington State is based in Pullman, its nursing programs aren’t available in the city. Instead, nurses can study at one of five different locations across the state, making it a little easier to find a fit for students that already live in Washington. Each campus still offers the same high-quality WSU education as well. Nursing students are awarded significant scholarships with over $255,000 during the 2020-21 academic year. The National League for Nursing has named the WSU College of Nursing a Center of Excellence for “Enhancing Student Learning and Professional Development.”

8. Whitworth University

Annual Tuition: $47,700

NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: Yes

Online: No

Accelerated:  No

Bridge: No

Whitworth University combines with Washington State University’s Spokane campus to offer its BSN program. This program combines the expertise of the faculty from both schools, allowing students to benefit from the best of both programs. Students generally study for two to three years at Whitworth before applying to the WSU College of Nursing. 

9. Northwest University

Annual Tuition: $34,500

NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.56%

Traditional: Yes

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

Northwest University, a private Christian university, prides itself on having the best equipment available for training nurses. Their program strives to stay modern while also drawing from their Christian roots. The program options are straightforward for students: BSN,  MSN, and an online RN to BSN program. 

10. Bellevue College

Annual Tuition: $4808.58

NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

Traditional: No

Online: Yes

Accelerated: No

Bridge: Yes

The nursing programs at Bellevue College are designed more for current RNs than other students. Their main program is the RN to BSN program, an accredited degree that aims to give professional nurses the education they need to advance their careers.

4 Key Factors That Affect Nursing School Tuition

Keep in mind that colleges and universities reserve the right to change tuition rates at any time. The yearly tuition rates listed here will vary for each student depending on various factors including,

  • Transfer credits

  • Completed competency exams

  • Amount of credits taken per year

  • Financial aid awards

Check with the specific school for current tuition rates.

Washington Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

  • Washington nurses earn an annual mean wage of $95,350, which is significantly higher than the national average. 

  • Washington has a location quotient of 0.90, meaning it employs fewer nurses per 1,000 workers than the national average. 

  • Washington is also a large employer of nurses with over 62,470 nurses currently employed and working. 

Next Steps:

Once you've looked over some colleges and nursing programs you're interested in, the next steps are to get in touch with each school, check admission requirements, and submit your applications. It's in your best interest to apply to more than one college in case one school decides to give you an unbeatable financial aid package. 

Here are the next steps in detail:

  • Contact each school’s admissions offices. The admissions office helps applicants learn more about requirements and application details. Before you start your applications, contact each school's admissions office to learn more.

  • Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. In addition to college admission requirements, you must meet the requirements for the nursing program. Make sure you're on track for nursing school eligibility. 

  • Submit your application(s). After you've completed your research and prepared your application materials, the final step is to submit your applications! Pay special attention to application deadlines as they vary from school to school. 

Materials you'll likely need for your application include:

  • High school transcript (GPA)

  • ACT and/or SAT scores

  • College entrance essay(s)

  • Letter(s) of recommendation

Important considerations when comparing schools: 

After applying to schools, you'll begin to receive acceptance letters in the mail! Your final task is to select a college. If the right choice isn't clear, consider comparing each school you've been accepted to. When in doubt, pick the school and program that best fits your personal wants and needs.

Factors to consider when comparing schools include:

  • Tuition cost and cost of the nursing program

  • Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered

  • Cost of living on-campus or in the area

  • School and nursing program acceptance rate

  • Direct entry vs. separate application for the nursing program

  • Daily commute to school/hospitals

  • Length of program

  • Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)

  • School’s accreditation (regional and national)

Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation  

Accrediting bodies are in charge of verifying the quality of academic programs. When looking at colleges, the two types of accreditation to look for are regional and programmatic. In Washington, the regional accrediting body is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are

If you earn a degree from an unaccredited school, you may have trouble securing federal financial aid and finding work as a nurse after graduation. Furthermore, if you plan on attending a graduate or doctoral program, a prerequisite is a BSN from an accredited nursing program. 

Getting a License in Washington

Unfortunately, Washington is not part of the eNLC. This means that nurses must obtain a state-specific nursing license and the license will only be good for Washington. Keep in mind that obtaining a state-specific nursing license may take some time so it is important to consider that when accepting a job offer. 

To get a license in Washington, you'll need to:

  • Study at an accredited institution

  • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN

  • Pass a criminal and mental health background check

  • Apply through Washington’s Board of Nursing website

Applicants have 14 days after submitting their application to upload all required documentation online through a self-service portal. Without the proper information, applications will be denied. 


Working in Washington is ideal for many nurses. Individuals that are already RNs are able to apply to bridge programs to further their education. Students interested in earning their BSN have plenty of options at some of the top nursing programs in the country. 

Find Nursing Programs

Kathleen Gaines
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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