Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Oklahoma
To become a registered nurse (RN), individuals must earn a minimum level of experience and education, then take and pass the NCLEX-RN.
However, many hospitals are beginning to require nurses to have a minimum of a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). A BSN prepares students to pass the NCLEX-RN, and the higher the level of education you complete, the higher your potential pay.
If your goal is to find a high-paying nursing position in Oklahoma, the best thing to do is earn a BSN from an Oklahoma school. In-state programs satisfy state needs for licensure and help you form connections with local hospitals and nurses. This level of networking could help you land your first job as a nurse!
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 Oklahoma nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
Top 10 Nursing Schools in Oklahoma
Annual Tuition: $27,996 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%
Oklahoma Wesleyan University is a Christian, liberal arts school with campuses in Bartlesville and Tulsa. Nursing students will study at the Bartlesville campus, though nursing students also have access to international nursing mission trips. OKWU's nursing program is "taught through the lens of Biblical truth," so applicants should prepare for courses taught with religion in mind. If students are looking for a Christian school that strengthens their faith while preparing them for a career as a nurse, OKWU is worth applying to. Current RNs can complete an RN-BSN through OKWU's adult school.
Annual Tuition: $26,000 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 86.96%
Based just outside of Oklahoma City is Southern Nazarene University, a private, Christian school that emphasizes Christian learning and service. While some nursing students won't be interested in religion, the emphasis of service makes SNU's nursing program one of the best in the state. The only option for nurses is a traditional BSN, a two-year program that follows two years of undergraduate prerequisite studies. While SNU doesn't explicitly have an accelerated program, the school notes that "special circumstances" apply to anyone with transfer credits or a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field.
Annual Tuition: $23,950 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 86.96%
Another Christian school based in the Oklahoma City area, Oklahoma Christian University boasts a 200-acre campus and state-of-the-art nursing facilities. OC graduates are also connected with employers while still in school, increasing the chances of you finding a full-time job before you graduate. Nurses have two main options: a traditional, pre-licensure BSN and an online RN-BSN. Traditional BSN students may also choose to add a second major -- something most nursing programs don't allow. Nurse.org uses official 2018 NCLEX pass rates provided by the state, though OC announced a pass rate of 92% for 2019 graduates.
Annual In-State Tuition: $6,944 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.62%
The University of Central Oklahoma, also known as Oklahoma's Metropolitan University, has campuses in Edmond and downtown Oklahoma City. As a larger public school with over 16,000 students, the nursing school is one of the largest in the state. The 2018 graduating BSN class had 94 students, the vast majority of whom passed the NCLEX on their first try. On top of the traditional BSN, OCU also has an RN-BSN and a master of science in nursing (MSN) track. The MSN is a two-year program that can be finished in just four part-time semesters.
Annual In-State Tuition: $8,809 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.33%
The University of Oklahoma is one of the premier colleges of Oklahoma and among the oldest in the state. Founded in 1890, the school now spans three campuses in Norman, Tulsa, and Lawton. Nursing students can attend any of the three campuses, though most nursing students study at the main campus in Norman. As a large college, nursing students also have plenty of degree options, including a traditional BSN, RN-BSN, accelerated BSN, LPN-BSN, and MSN. Multiple doctoral programs are also available, including several BSN-DNP programs.
Annual Tuition: $31,352 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.94%
Based in the city of Shawnee, Oklahoma Baptist University another private, Christian school that boasts a tight-knit community. Just a short drive from Oklahoma City, the 1,800 enrolled students enjoy a large campus and low student-to-faculty ration. While most nursing students earn a traditional BSN, the most interesting program at OBU is the online RN-MSN. The price may seem steep compared to public schools, but OBU offers at least $7,000 in scholarships to every student and full-tuition scholarships to select students.
Annual In-State Tuition: $9,018 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.80%
Oklahoma State University is one of the top universities in Oklahoma. Located perfectly between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OSU students study in the college town of Stillwater. Technically, OSU doesn't have a traditional nursing program. That being said, students can complete a pre-professional program that satisfies the requirements to transfer to an RN program. After passing the NCLEX, students can complete the online RN-BSN. The path to a nursing degree is a non-conventional, but nursing graduates have done an excellent job on the NCLEX in the past.
Annual Tuition: $30,064 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.29%
Oral Roberts University is arguably the top private school in Oklahoma. Though students are required to pay private school tuition rates, 94% of Oral Roberts students receive some form of financial aid. The reduced cost and high NCLEX pass rate for recent grads should draw prospective nursing students to apply to the Anna Vaugh College of Nursing. Undergraduate nursing students have three options: a traditional BSN, an RN-BSN, and an LPN-BSN. After finishing the BSN, students can continue their education at Oral Roberts and earn an MSN.
Annual Tuition: $41,698 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.66%
With just over 4,400 students studying at the 200-acre campus in Tulsa, the University of Tulsa has all the benefits that come with a small, private university -- including an incredibly low 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Anyone interested in applying to the School of Nursing should note that the program is highly competitive. The 2018 graduating class was only 29 students large, meaning not many students are admitted annually. Those that are accepted to the traditional BSN program enjoy clinicals at major local hospitals and facilities, including Hillcrest Medical Center and Saint Francis Hospital.
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,728 (based on per-credit tuition rate) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.37%
Southwestern Oklahoma State University is a public school that emphasizes quality education for on-campus and online programs. Unsurprisingly, SWOSU's online RN-BSN is a popular option, though many students earn their BSN through the traditional program. The 2018 NCLEX pass rates may not be the most impressive, but the previous four years all saw pass rates above 94%. The high success rate could be due in part to SWOSU's uncommonly high clinical hour requirements.
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),
- Oklahoma RNs earn an annual mean wage of $63,080, lower than the national mean wage of $75,510.
- Oklahoma employs over 29,000 nurses.
Oklahoma's lower-than-average pay for nurses could be due in part to the many rural areas in the state. Wages for nurses who work in urban areas are higher. Here are some regional examples:
- Oklahoma City area annual median wage: $65,180
- Northwest Oklahoma area annual median wage: $59,090
- Tulsa area annual median wage: $62,430
Where you end up working in Oklahoma will significantly influence how much you could earn.
It's worth pointing out that the BLS only represents information for all registered nurses, meaning those with a BSN are lumped in with ADN holders. This means the potential wages you could earn in Oklahoma may be higher if you have a BSN.
After you've reviewed different Oklahoma schools, you should have a shortlist of different programs you're interested in. From here, your next steps should be to learn more about the school and nursing program, prepare your application, and apply to each school.
Note: if you only have one or two schools you're interested in, you should still apply to multiple programs. This increases your chances of getting accepted and receiving financial aid.
Here are the next steps broken down:
Contact each school’s admissions offices. Your first step should be to contact the admissions office of each school you're interested in. The admissions office can walk you through the admissions process and answer any application questions you may have.
Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. In addition to university admission requirements, nursing programs typically have their own set of admission requirements. Nursing schools are usually more selective, so make sure you're eligible for the nursing program before applying to the school.
Submit your application(s). Paying careful attention to complete your applications before the admissions deadline, the final step is to submit your application to each school. To ensure you meet each deadline, make sure you get started on your applications sooner than later!
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:
After getting accepted to multiple schools, the final step is selecting which school and nursing program is best for you. There are tons of factors to consider when comparing schools, and a good way to compare each school and program is by weighing the pros and cons of each option.
Here are some factors to consider when comparing schools:
- Tuition cost and cost of the nursing program
- 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
- Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
- Accreditation (regional and programmatic)
Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation
Colleges verify the quality of the institution and each academic program through accreditation. In Oklahoma, colleges and universities are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. On top of regional accreditation, make sure each nursing program is accredited.
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 Oklahoma
As a part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), a nursing license earned in Oklahoma is recognized in most US states. This also means that Oklahoma follows the same licensing standards as all other eNLC member states.
To get a license in Oklahoma, you'll need to:
- Study at a state-approved school
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Pass a criminal background check
- Pay an application fee and apply through the Oklahoma Board of Nursing
Some of the top public universities are in Oklahoma, and BSN graduates find work in high-population areas like Oklahoma City and Tulsa. While Oklahoma isn't the highest-paying state for nurses, you can increase your potential income by earning a BSN. Once you earn your nursing license, you're set to begin a nursing career in Oklahoma or in another eNLC member state.