Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Idaho
To work as a nurse in Idaho, students must first become licensed as a registered nurse (RN). Idaho has specific requirements to become an RN, including a minimum amount of education and experience.
However, if you want to find higher-paying nursing positions in Idaho, it's best to earn a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN). While a BSN takes at least four years to complete, nurses with a BSN earn tens of thousands more than non-BSN holding RNs.
On this page, we cover the top schools in Idaho for a BSN or an associate of science in nursing (ASN), both of which satisfy state requirements to become licensed. We also cover considerations when choosing a school, salaries and employment for nurses in Idaho, and steps to become licensed.
This is a panel-reviewed selection based on a number of factors including,
- NCLEX pass rate
- Acceptance rate, when available
- Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible
Our selection panel includes 4 Registered Nurses with over 55 years of combined nursing experience and 7 nursing degrees.
- Tracy Everhart, MSN, RN, CNS
- Tyler Faust, MSN, RN
- Kathleen Gaines, BSN, RN, BA, CBC
- Leah Helmbrecht, BSN, RN
Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Idaho nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
Top 10 Nursing Schools in Idaho
Annual In-State Tuition: $6,982 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $19,978 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96%
The Lewiston-based Lewis-Clark State College is relatively small for a public school with just 3,750 students. However, this allows LCSC to achieve a low 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio, meaning plenty of one-on-one time between students and teachers. Combine the low student-to-teacher ratio with the state-of-the-art labs for nursing students, and you have one of the best nursing programs in Idaho. Available nursing degrees include a traditional BSN, online RN-BSN bridge program, and an LPN-BSN.
Annual Tuition: $30,550 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96%
Primarily a school for continuing education, Northwest Nazarene University has as many undergraduate students (2,000) as it does high school students earning college credit. However, the non-traditional structure of NNU doesn't detract from the quality of the College of Nursing. The main program is a traditional undergraduate BSN, though an RN-BSN, master of science in nursing (MSN), and MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner are all available online. NNU is a private school meaning no in-state tuition, but the NCLEX pass rate is much better than most schools.
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,872 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $24,168 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
Idaho State University is home to nearly 13,000 students but has a low 13:1 student-to-teacher ratio, giving this larger public school a small school vibe. ISU's main campus in Pocatello, though additional campuses are in Meridian, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls. The main nursing degree, a traditional BSN, has highly competitive entry, though 40 students are admitted each semester. While the BSN is offered in Pocatello, most courses are hybrid, meaning they're a blend of face-to-face and online learning. Other nursing options include an accelerated degree, online BSN completion programs, and multiple graduate-level programs.
Annual In-State Tuition: $8,068 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $24,988 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
With over 25,000 students, Boise State University is one of the largest schools in the region, offering a large campus with state-of-the-art buildings and a prime location in a growing city. Also growing is the School of Nursing which is increasing the number of admitted nursing students to the traditional BSN to 80 each semester. Like other schools, Boise State doesn't disclose NCLEX pass rates, though its graduates "consistently achieve higher pass rates" than the national average.
LDS Annual Tuition: $4,208 | Non-LDS Annual Tuition: $8,416| NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
A private school founded by followers of Latter Day Saints, Brigham Young University - Idaho has over 34,000 on-campus students, plus an additional 15,000 online students. Right off the bat, applicants should note the tuition rates; a lower rate is offered to LDS members, rather than following an in-state and out-of-state structure. BYU-Idaho one option, a traditional BSN, ever since the online RN-BSN was discontinued. Regardless of your religious affiliation, this is an incredibly affordable BSN.
Annual In-State Tuition: $4,528 (based on per-credit tuition) | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $11,648 (based on per-credit tuition) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%
Not every accredited nursing school in Idaho offers a BSN, but schools like North Idaho College offer two-year degrees that lead to RN licensure. Based on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene, NIC's location is pretty much unbeatable. Again, the only nursing program offered by NIC is the associate degree in nursing which leads to licensure. However, every student in the program over the past four years passed the NCLEX on their first try. With low in-state tuition, NIC can be a great place to start your nursing journey, ending with an RN-BSN elsewhere.
Annual In-State Tuition: $3,336 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $7,344 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.55%
The College of Western Idaho is another small, two-year school that has affordable tuition. With over 31,500 students earning credits last year, CWI is far from a small school. The only nursing program -- an associate in nursing RN -- has excellent outcomes and consistently sees over 90% of graduates pass the NCLEX on their first try. Additional tuition rates are available for students from other districts in Idaho, or those from nearby states like Washington, so some out-of-state students might pay a lower tuition rate than what's listed.
Annual In-State Tuition: $3,360 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $6,840 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
The College of Southern Idaho is fast-growing, continually adding more students and improving their academic programs. More nursing programs may be offered in the future, but currently CSI only has an associate in nursing that leads to RN licensure. There are two routes to entering this program: the traditional route (no previous experience) or as a licensed practical nurse, so there technically is a bridge option. CSI doesn't disclose NCLEX pass rates, but the program wouldn't be growing if students weren't successful.
Annual Tuition: $23,906 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
Technically a chain with locations across the nation, Carrington College has a location in Boise that offers one nursing program: a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) to RN bridge program. Of course, students must first become LVNs before entering this program, though it's one of the only of its kind in Idaho. NCLEX pass rates aren't disclosed for the Idaho campus, though graduates from Carrington's other campuses tend to do well on the exam.
10. Aspen University
Annual Tuition: $10,550 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
Aspen University is actually based in Colorado, though its online programs -- including various nursing options -- are among the best that online schools offer. The top option for Idaho is the online RN-BSN bridge, a 12-month program that uses accelerated eight-week courses. Other online options are available, such as an RN-MSN bridge. Tuition rates vary depending on the program you choose, but the short time it takes to complete each program is unbeatable.
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.
Nurse Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),
- Idaho RNs earn an annual mean wage of $67,110, lower than the national mean wage.
- Idaho employs 13,790 nurses, equal to 19.53 nurses for every 1,000 workers.
Idaho's annual mean wage for RNs is lower than the national mean wage of $75,510, though there are a few factors to consider. First, the cost of living in Idaho is lower than the national average. Second, RNs can find higher wages in certain parts of Idaho.
Here are a few regions in Idaho and the annual mean wage for RNs:
- Boise City: $68,990
- Coeur d'Alene: $75,030
- Idaho Falls: $61,570
So, where you live and work in Idaho can greatly influence your potential wages.
Idaho is also on par with the national average for employing RNs. However, more nurses are always needed, especially as seasoned nurses begin to retire or transition into other roles.
Reviewing potential colleges and universities is the first step to earning a nursing degree. Next, you need to narrow down your list, gather all materials needed for each application, and submit your applications.
Here are the next steps broken down:
Contact each school’s admissions offices. Every school has an admissions office. The admissions office is your point of contact if you have any questions about the application process. They might even help you create a stronger application to increase your chances of admissions!
Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. On top of college admissions, most nursing schools have their own set of requirements for admission. These are usually harder to meet, so make sure you're on track to be nursing school eligible before applying to -- or committing to -- a college.
Submit your application(s). You've learned more about the admissions process, found out everything you need to be nursing school eligible, and prepared all your materials for your application. The final step is to send in each app!
In your application, be prepared to submit:
- High school transcript (GPA)
- ACT and/or SAT scores
- College entrance essay(s)
- Letter(s) of recommendation
Important considerations when comparing schools:
Eventually, college acceptance letters will start coming in! This is an exciting moment that leads to the final step in the college process: picking where you want to study. Choosing a college is a big decision, and there are many factors to consider -- some of which might not seem obvious at first.
Some of the factors you'll want to consider include:
- Tuition cost and cost of the nursing program (these might be different)
- Type of school (public or private)
- Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
- Cost of living on-campus or in the area
- Distance from home
- School and nursing program acceptance rate
- Distance to clinicals (and transportation to get to clinicals)
- Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
- Accreditation (regional and programmatic)
Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation
Accreditation proves that a school or program meets rigorous academic standards. Any school you apply to in Idaho should be regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, or have national accreditation. Also, only apply to a nursing program that has programmatic accreditation.
The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
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.
Getting a License in Idaho
Idaho is a member of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), an agreement on nursing licensure between most states. As a result, earning a nursing license in Idaho is pretty straightforward. Also, as part of the Compact, an Idaho nursing license works in any other Compact state.
Here are the steps to becoming a licensed nurse in Idaho:
- Study at a state board approved program (all colleges that made our list satisfy this requirement)
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Submit electronic fingerprints and pass a criminal background check
- Pay an application fee and complete an application through the State of Idaho Board of Nursing
With a combination of excellent schools, competitive wages, and plenty of beautiful outdoor areas, Idaho is a great place to start and enjoy a nursing career. Current Idaho residents can take advantage of low in-state tuition rates at public schools, an affordable way to earn a college degree. Once you earn your Idaho nursing license, you're cleared to work as a nurse in any Compact state.