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    Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Wyoming

    Anyone who wants to become a registered nurse (RN) in Wyoming has two options: earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or an associate degree in nursing (ADN). While both programs make graduates eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN, an exam required for RN licensure, the two have a few differences.

    A BSN is a four-year degree that leads to higher paying nursing positions. An ADN is a two-year degree, and while it's a faster route to RN licensure, ADN holding RNs earn less than BSN holding RNs.

    Wyoming currently only has one accredited BSN program, but community colleges around the state offer ADNs. If you complete an ADN and become an RN, you can always enroll in an online RN-BSN program and complete your bachelor's degree while working. 

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    Methodology

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

    • Reputation
    • NCLEX pass rate
    • Tuition
    • Acceptance rate, when available
    • Only ACEN or CCNE accredited schools are eligible 

    Nurse Panel

    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 Wyoming nursing schools are ranked in no particular order. Note that because Wyoming does not have 10 accredited nursing programs, some ranked schools offer online-only degrees. 

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    Top 10 Nursing Schools in Wyoming

    1.) University of Wyoming 

    Annual In-State Tuition: $16,978 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition:  $30,718 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.49%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: Yes

    Bridge: Yes

    Founded in 1886, the University of Wyoming is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, giving students incredible views and plenty of outdoor activities near the Laramie campus. As the main institution of higher education in WY, UW offers the most options for nursing students. The Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing hosts the state's only accredited BSN program. This four-year degree allows students to complete all courses online and only show up in person for clinicals. Other nursing options at UW include an RN-BSN, a transfer program for current ADN students, and multiple masters of science in nursing (MSN), doctor of nursing practice (DNP), and Ph.D. choices. Anyone interested in earning a four-year BSN in Wyoming should apply. 

    2.) Casper College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $4,050 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition:  $9,990 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.45%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Casper College holds the distinction of being one of the largest community colleges in the region. Students travel from around the country to attend Casper College, and graduates transfer into great universities. Of course, students earning a nursing degree at Casper College don't need to transfer to earn their RN license. The ADN has an incredibly high NCLEX pass rate, and graduates become eligible to transfer into various programs around the world to finish their BSN, MSN, or DNP. Casper College also has a licensed practical nurse (LPN) to RN program for current nurses looking to advance their careers. 

    3.) Central Wyoming College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $4,200 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $10,140 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.32%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    With locations in Riverton, Lander, Jackson, and Dubois, Central Wyoming College gives students plenty of flexibility when it comes to commuting to campus. As with most accredited nursing programs in Wyoming, CWC is a community college whose only route to RN licensure is the ADN. Students who graduated in 2018 earned a high NCLEX pass rate, though the spring 2019 graduating class scored even higher with a 97% pass rate. Every single student from that spring 2019 class is now employed, too. CWC also has LPN-RN and nursing assistant programs. 

    4.) Eastern Wyoming College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $4,350 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $10,290 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 81.82%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Located in Torrington, Eastern Wyoming College teaches nearly 2,000 students, plus thousands more taking non-credit courses. EWC strives to offer an innovative education that leads to high-employment jobs. This includes offering two different associate degrees in nursing: an ADN and a pre-professional associate in nursing. The ADN is a two-year program that leads to RN licensure and is available in day and night classes. The pre-professional program prepares students to transfer into a BSN program, albeit without leading to RN licensure. 

    5.) Laramie County Community College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $4,432 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $10,372 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.41%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Located in the state capital of Cheyenne, Laramie County Community College provides the fundamentals to jump into a career after graduating. The four-semester, two-year ADN is the main nursing program at LCCC. Like most other ADN programs, LCCC's program prepares students to take and pass the NCLEX (at a high clip, too). However, LCCC's ADN also prepares students to seamlessly transfer into the University of Wyoming's BSN with only two semesters left to complete. Students who take this route could earn a relatively inexpensive BSN in as little as three years. 

    6.) Northern Wyoming Community College District

    Annual In-State Tuition: $4,290 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $10,230 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 87.50%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Northern Wyoming Community College District is technically a combination of Sheridan College and Gillette College. The combined community colleges span across the Sheridan, Campbell, and Johnson Counties, reaching a large number of students. Available at both Sheridan and Gillette College, the ADN leads to RN licensure and allows students to transfer directly into the University of Wyoming's BSN program. Along the way, NWCCD students can earn a medical assistant certificate or become a certified nursing assistant. 

    7.) Northwest College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $2,970 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $8,910 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 82.61%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    Based in the town of Powell in the valley of the Shoshone River, Northwest College teaches roughly 900 students. While NWC is far from the largest school on this list, it more than adequately prepares its students to succeed. The ADN is either a completely on-campus program in Powell or a hybrid program that uses online courses, face-to-face labs, and on-site clinicals in the town of Cody. Regardless of which option students choose, they can transfer straight into the University of Wyoming's BSN program after graduating. However, graduates can always begin their RN career and finish their BSN later. 

    8.) Western Wyoming Community College

    Annual In-State Tuition: $3,336 | Annual Out-of-State Tuition: $8,088 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 83.87%

    Traditional: Yes

    Online: No

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: Yes

    The last of Wyoming's community colleges with accredited nursing programs, Western Wyoming Community College offers plenty of two-year degrees that lead to nursing careers. Best for students who don't plan on transferring, the ADN has positive outcomes for students. However, like other programs, students can seamlessly transfer into the University of Wyoming's BSN program after earning the ADN. Western Wyoming estimates that students complete the ADN in 5-6 semesters due to prerequisite requirements, though students who meet these requirements earn their ADN in just four semesters. 

    9.) Western Governors University

    Annual Tuition: $7,090 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Wyoming has some excellent in-state institutions for students, but not many routes to earning a BSN. When RNs run into this issue, an online RN-BSN provides an affordable and flexible way to earn a four-year degree. Western Governors University is among the top online schools in the nation and hosts a popular online RN-BSN. WGU estimates that this program takes two years to complete, and students who complete the program in less time pay a lower total tuition charge.

    10.) Aspen University

    Annual Tuition: $10,550 | NCLEX Pass Rate: N/A

    Traditional: No

    Online: Yes

    Accelerated: No

    Bridge: No

    Another school well-known for its online programs, Aspen University hosts one of the best online RN-BSN options. This quick program takes just 12 months to complete thanks to the implementation of accelerated eight-week courses. Aspen also has a traditional BSN program (not available in Wyoming) and other online nursing degrees, such as an MSN, an RN-MSN, and a DNP, all of which can come with different specializations. For nurses who completed their ADN, Aspen might be the fastest, most flexible, and most affordable route to completing a BSN. 

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    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.

    Wyoming Nurse Salary and Job Outlook

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

    • Wyoming registered nurses earn a mean annual wage of $67,360.
    • Wyoming employs 5,010 registered nurses. 

    While Wyoming isn't the highest paying state for nurses, RNs there do earn more than in the neighboring states of South Dakota, Nebraska, Idaho, and Utah. Also, where nurses work significantly impacts their wages. 

    According to the BLS, the Casper, Wyoming area was the lowest-paying region for nurses ($62,920) while the Cheyenne area was the highest paying region ($77,220). If RNs are willing to relocate in Wyoming, they could significantly boost their pay rate. 

    It's also worth noting that Wyoming employs the fewest RNs of any state. Of course, fewer RNs are required relative to Wyoming's population. In reality, Wyoming employs nearly as many RNs per 1,000 workers as the national average. 

    Next Steps:

    By this point, you probably have an idea of whether you'd like to earn an ADN, BSN, or both. Deciding what you want to do is the first step to take. Next, you'll need to compile a list of schools that could help you achieve your goal, contact them, and apply. Here are the next steps broken down:

    1. Contact each school’s admissions office. College admissions may seem daunting, but don't feel scared -- every school has an admissions office to help applicants figure out the admissions process. Get in touch with every school's admissions office early on.
    2. Check to see if you meet the nursing school requirements. Nursing schools typically set their own requirements for admission. So, in addition to the college or university's requirements, you will probably need to meet tougher requirements to get into the nursing program. 
    3. Submit your application(s). After figuring out everything you need to do to boost your application, the final step is to apply! Make sure you submit all your materials before the deadline. Some materials you'll likely need to submit include:
      • High school transcript (GPA)
      • ACT and/or SAT scores
      • College entrance essay(s)
      • Letter(s) of recommendation

    Show Me Wyoming Nursing Programs

    How to Decide on the Right Nursing Program for You

    When looking at schools, factors like tuition and NCLEX pass rates are useful tools for assessing whether the college is a good match. However, some applicants overlook other important factors. Here are some factors to consider when comparing schools:

    • Total program cost, including in-state or out-of-state tuition and fees
    • BSN vs ADN options
    • Distance from home
    • Financial aid, scholarships, and grants offered
    • Cost of living on-campus or in the area
    • School and nursing program acceptance rate
    • Commute to school/hospital for clinicals
    • Program type (on-campus, online, hybrid)
    • Program outcomes (NCLEX pass rate and job placement)
    • Accreditation (regional and programmatic)

    Why You Should Care About the Nursing Program’s Accreditation  

    When a school or program is accredited, it means that an accrediting body reviewed the academic quality of the school/program and approved of it. When applying to schools in Wyoming, make sure they're regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Also, only apply to nursing programs with programmatic accreditation. 

    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. 

    Getting a License in Wyoming

    Once you've completed your nursing program, the final steps to becoming an RN are pretty simple. Go to the Wyoming State Board of Nursing website for everything you need -- they even have an instructional video for applying online! These are the basic steps to getting a license in WY:

    • Study at an accredited and approved nursing school in Wyoming
    • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
    • Pass a background check with fingerprints
    • Apply through the Wyoming State Board of Nursing

    Conclusion 

    Wyoming offers higher wages than neighboring states, and some RNs in Wyoming earn well above the national averages. While Wyoming doesn't have the most nursing school options, students can still complete their BSN and pass the NCLEX. After passing the NCLEX, the application process for an RN license is fairly simple. Lastly, Wyoming is part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC), so RNs in Wyoming can easily earn a multistate license in most other states!

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    References:

    BLS

    BestPlaces.net

    Wyoming State Board of Nursing

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    Nurse.org

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