Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Oregon
In nearly every industry, higher education is often connected with higher pay and employability. Nursing is no exception, and with a national nursing shortage, earning a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and becoming a registered nurse (RN) sets you up for a long, high-paying career.
While earning a BSN is important, where you earn a BSN may impact your career options. Each state has its own set of requirements for licensing nurses, so if you want to enjoy a nursing career in Oregon, you should consider earning a BSN at an Oregon school.
However, not all Oregon nursing programs offer a BSN, and some only offer an associate degree that prepares you for the NCLEX. If you choose one of these programs, you can always continue your education later, potentially through an online RN-BSN program.
Before selecting a nursing school in Oregon, check out the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE). This 17-school consortium has standardized nursing education, and studying at an OCNE community college puts you on track to end up with a BSN from a four-year OCNE institution.
Because nursing careers take different forms, the top 10 Oregon nursing schools are ranked in no particular order.
This is a panel-reviewed selection based on several 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
Top 10 Nursing Schools in Oregon
Annual Tuition: $14,850 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A
As a private school, Oregon residents won’t receive access to in-state tuition at Bushnell University. However, they do not charge any fees in the nursing programs, so students pay only for tuition and books. Courses are in a condensed 8-week format and are designed for working nurses. Students also won’t be able to complete a traditional nursing program, though NCU is home to one of the top RN-BSN programs in the state. The RN-BSN is available entirely online, and current RNs who study full-time can complete this program in one to two years.
Annual Tuition: $36,750 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.18%
George Fox University has just over 4,100 students spread across four campuses in Portland, Salem, Redmond, and Newberg, though students enrolled in the traditional BSN will study at the Newberg campus. This four-year program accepts transfer students through Running Start, a program that allows Oregon high schoolers to complete college courses. After finishing the program, students find positions in a variety of nursing fields including acute care, cardiology, obstetrics, oncology, and pediatrics.
Annual Tuition: $29,390 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.3%
Located near downtown Portland is Concordia University, a private, Lutheran school. Students won’t receive access to in-state tuition, but 98% of Concordia’s students receive some form of financial aid. This can make the nursing program much more affordable than it seems on paper. The entirety of the BSN’s coursework takes place in the junior and senior years, but through the Freshman Advantage Pre-Nursing program, freshmen can begin working on foundational biology and chemistry courses early.
Annual Tuition: $43,560 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.27%
With just over 2,500 enrolled students, Linfield College is one of the smaller four-year institutions on this list. However, the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing is one of the highlights of the college, so nursing students are guaranteed to get an excellent nursing education. The traditional BSN program boasts clinical class sizes of no more than eight students, and theory courses never have more than 40. Other nursing options include an online RN-BSN and a 15-month accelerated second-degree program.
Annual In-State Tuition: $12,791-$14,114 (depending on location) | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.91%
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) has several campuses across Oregon at other institutions, so nursing students can choose the region of Oregon they want to study in. Each campus offers the same three choices: a traditional BSN, an accelerated BSN, and RN-BSN completion program (which can also be completed online). OHSU is also an excellent graduate school, so nursing students interested in a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) or a Ph.D. can complete their entire schooling through OHSU.
Annual Tuition: $47,478 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.33%
With an incredible location on a bluff that overlooks Portland and the Willamette River, nursing students may be drawn to the University of Portland for its campus. But UP is also one of the top schools in the region and offers an incredible BSN program. The traditional BSN is the only option for undergraduate nursing students, though transfer students are regularly admitted into the program. Also, UP’s partnership with Providence Health and Services led to the creation of the Providence Scholars Program which covers over 80% of the BSN’s cost while guaranteeing student employment after graduation.
Annual Tuition: $27,936 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.43%
Before applying to this private school, students should note that the first two years of schooling are completed at Walla Walla University’s campus in College Place, Washington. After two years, traditional BSN students enter the nursing school and complete their junior and senior years at Walla Walla’s campus in Portland, Oregon. If you already have an associate degree or have finished two years of schooling elsewhere, you can transfer directly into the program and begin your studies in Portland. An RN-BSN and LPN-BSN are also available, though neither is online.
Annual In-State Tuition: $3,802 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.74%
While Portland Community College is a two-year institution, it has almost 73,000 full-time students. That makes PCC the largest post-secondary education institution in Oregon by a longshot. Students interested in becoming nurses could benefit from PCC’s associate of applied science in nursing (ASN). Students that complete the ASN are eligible to complete a BSN either through OHSU or Linfield College, so this can be an affordable way to begin your journey toward a BSN. In any case, ASN graduates are also on-track to become RNs and could join an RN-BSN program as well.
Annual In-State Tuition: $5,400 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.67%
Treasure Valley Community College is a regionally-accredited two-year institution in Ontario, Oregon. With just 3,000 students TVCC is one of the smaller OCNE community colleges, but student outcomes are incredibly positive. From 2015-2017, 100% of the associate degree program graduates found a job. Upon finishing the three-year associate in nursing, students are eligible to transfer into OHSU to finish their BSN. Students can also choose to take and pass the NCLEX-RN then complete an RN-BSN program elsewhere.
Annual In-State Tuition: $4,230 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%
While the in-state tuition at Chemeketa Community College is low, many students end up attending the school without paying tuition. So, students looking for an affordable way to earn a BSN might want to start at Chemeketa, complete the two-year nursing associate degree, then either transfer into a BSN program or pass the NCLEX-RN and enter an RN-BSN program. Chemeketa even connects graduates to reduced-tuition online RN-BSN programs at Linfield College and University of Wisconsin at Green Bay.
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),
- Oregon nurses earn an annual mean wage of $92,960.
- Oregon employs 36,660 nurses equivalent to 19.23 nurses for every 1,000 workers.
With a high annual mean wage, the BLS shows that Oregon is the fifth highest-paying state for nurses in the nation. The national annual mean wage for nurses is $77,460, well below what Oregon nurses earn on average.
Oregon also employs more nurses per capita than neighbors Washington and California, meaning it could be an excellent place to start your career.
Unlike other states, the wages for nurses is relatively constant from area to area. While nurses in the busy Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro OR-WA region have a mean annual wage of $95,420, nurses in the Medford area earn a mean annual wage of $90,000. So, you can earn an excellent wage no matter where you work in Oregon.
Once you’ve picked some schools you’re interested in, it’s time to begin the application process. While application deadlines may seem far away, time can fly – so make sure you’re finishing your applications on time!
Here are the steps to take when applying to colleges:
Contact each school’s admissions offices. The admissions office helps students complete their applications and provides valuable information throughout the process. These experts will tell you what materials you need to submit and when they’re due.
Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Nursing programs commonly have stricter admissions requirements than colleges. Keep in mind that admission into a college does not guarantee nursing school admission! Also, note that most nursing programs make you apply after one or two years of undergraduate study. Make sure you’re on track to be eligible for nursing school.
Submit your application(s). Once you’ve gathered all the necessary materials, the final step is to submit your applications. While you may have a dream school, it’s always a good idea to apply to multiple schools. You never know who might offer you the best scholarship!
Materials you need to submit include:
- High school transcript (GPA)
- ACT and/or SAT scores
- College entrance essay(s)
- Letter(s) of recommendation
Some schools and nursing programs may require additional materials. If you ever have a question, contact that school’s admissions office.
Important considerations when comparing schools:
No two schools are alike, and you may find yourself split between multiple schools. Picking one school over another is a tough decision, but it’s one that needs to be made. When in doubt, choose the school that fits you and your personal goals best.
Factors to consider when comparing schools include:
- Annual tuition and total nursing program cost
- Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
- Cost of living on-campus or in the area
- Distance from hospitals
- School and nursing program acceptance rate
- NCLEX pass rate
- Type of program (BSN or associate degree)
- Program outcomes
- Accreditation (regional and national)
Why you should care about the nursing program’s accreditation
Accrediting bodies are tasked with evaluating the quality of schools and programs. Along with choosing a regionally or nationally accredited school, you should pick a program that’s been accredited by a nursing accreditation organization.
The two nursing accreditation organizations to look for are
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Degrees from unaccredited schools and programs might make you ineligible for federal financial aid, and you could have trouble finding a job after graduation.
Getting a License in Oregon
Oregon may not have many BSN programs, but the state accepts a variety of nursing programs as prerequisites for licensure – including some that are not accredited by a nursing accreditation body.
While Oregon may accept these schools as adequate choices to become licensed, not all states may agree. When in doubt, always choose an accredited institution and program.
To get a license in Oregon, you’ll need to:
- Study at an approved nursing school
- Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
- Pass a criminal background check, submit your fingerprints, and pay an application fee
- Apply online through the Oregon State Board of Nursing
Every school on our list is accredited and approved by Oregon. Completing the nursing program puts you on track to sit for and pass the NCLEX-RN.
As one of the highest paying states for nurses, Oregon is a top destination for all types of nurses. Oregon also employs more nurses per capita than some of its neighbors, so it could be easier to find a position in Oregon than in nearby states. While Oregon doesn’t have many BSN programs, the ones it does have are certainly high-quality. If you earn an associate degree and become an RN, you can always complete your BSN online.