Best Nursing Schools And Programs In Colorado


Colorado’s demand for nurses isn’t going down anytime soon. In fact, with healthcare reforms, the increasing number of people getting healthcare services, and its growing older population, the demand is expected to continue in the next few years.

With such demand, Colorado needs more registered nurses to step in and fill the large deficit in the workforce. If you are planning on pursuing your nursing career in this state, here’s a handy guide on choosing the best nursing program in Colorado.

Requirements: How To Become An RN In Colorado

Becoming a registered nurse is way harder than you think. For you to be able to get your license and be legally allowed to practice nursing in the state, you’ll need to accomplish the following:

Complete An Accredited Nursing Program

To become a registered nurse in Colorado, the first step you have to take is to get into an accredited nursing program. You can obtain an associate degree in nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or diplomas from approved nursing programs depending on your career goals.

Every program is different. For example, a BSN degree can take up to 4 years to complete while associate’s programs can take around 2 to 3 years.

Pass The NCLEX

Like most states, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam before you’re allowed to file for your nursing license.

First, you need to submit an application to the state’s Board of Nursing and register with Pearson VUE which acts as a third-party test administrator.

After getting declared eligible, you’ll receive an ATT or Authorization to Test email which you need to take with you on your scheduled test date.

Get Your Nursing License

The Colorado Board of Nursing has two methods in granting licenses. It’s either by endorsement or examination.

To obtain your license by endorsement, you need to meet certain eligibility criteria. The list includes a current active certificate in another state, social security number, and all supporting documents related to your application.

For applicants who wish to obtain their license by examination, you’ll need to complete your application online and pay the associated fees. You’ll also be asked to present your social security number and provide information regarding any healthcare license you’ve possessed in another state or country.

Additionally, you’ll be required to attest to and give information about your lawful presence in the United States as well as your eligibility to work in the country. Complete background and fingerprint checks are also required.

ADN Programs In Colorado

In Colorado, ADN programs are accessible. Plus, they’re quite affordable.

In general, ADN programs take 2 years to complete. This allows nursing students to graduate early and begin work quickly.

The costs of ADN programs in Colorado aren’t the same for all schools or universities. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to explore and do your research about the program you wish to apply to first. Apart from the tuition fee, find out if you need to pay for materials, textbooks, or equipment so that you’ll know how much money you’ll need to set aside for your studies.

In picking the best ADN programs in Colorado, you have to look at their NCLEX pass rates. The data will help you determine if a certain program can prep you to pass the exam and get your license. You should also check its graduates’ employment data after graduation.

LPN To RN Programs In Colorado

Under this option, you’ll find different programs that are designed to help licensed practical nurses work as registered nurses in Colorado. There’s the LPN to ADN pathway which can be completed in one year or less. There’s also the LPN to BSN pathway which is considered more intensive since it provides a BSN degree.

Like most programs, the admission requirements for LPN to RN programs aren’t the same. They vary between institutions and programs. However, in general, applicants need to provide the following:

  • Proof of graduation from an accredited and approved LPN program
  • Active and current Colorado license
  • Complete criminal background check
  • Completion of prerequisite courses

BSN Programs In Colorado

best nursing schools and programs in colorado

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN degree in Colorado can take 4 school years to complete or about 8 semesters. Taking this pathway prepares students not just with more in-depth knowledge and skills but more career options, too. With a BSN degree, you can enjoy flexibility and advancement. It comes with a higher earning potential, too.

Most institutions require the following as admission requirements:

  • Completed nursing application form
  • Confirmed acceptance letter
  • Official transcripts
  • Fulfilled immunization standards

BSN tuition costs aren’t the same. The fees per credit hour aren’t the same for universities. Plus, the things they charge for are different, too.

With that in mind, it’s good to research each university’s tuition. Find out the full costs and the extra items you have to pay like room and board.

MSN Programs In Colorado

In Colorado, most programs involve 3 years of full-time coursework. With part-time commitment, they can be completed in about 5 to 6 years.

MSN programs are definitely more expensive than undergraduate programs. However, most of the time, schools’ tuition fees don’t cover textbooks, lab costs, or uniform costs since graduate students are expected to have them as practicing nurses.

Accelerated Nursing Programs In Colorado

In Colorado, you’ll find a good number of colleges that offer accelerated nursing programs. Most of them are intensive and can be completed in 12 to 20 months.

One of the things that you have to keep in mind before taking this pathway is your current employment. Since the program is quite intensive, complex, and demanding, students are highly discouraged from being employed while studying.

The requirements for accelerated BSN programs vary. However, in general, applicants are required to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a bachelor’s degree in any major to be qualified. Some programs may need applicants to complete certain prerequisite courses like microbiology and human anatomy and physiology.

Best RN Programs In Colorado

Adams State UniversityView School Profile
University of ColoradoView School Profile
Colorado Technical UniversityView School Profile
University of Colorado at Colorado SpringsView School Profile
Aspen UniversityView School Profile
Regis UniversityView School Profile
Colorado Mountain CollegeView School Profile
Colorado Mesa UniversityView School Profile
University of Northern ColoradoView School Profile
Colorado Christian UniversityView School Profile

A Closer Look At The Best Nursing Programs In Colorado

The following schools and universities have been ranked after considering a number of factors. The list includes their NCLEX pass rates, acceptance rates, reputation, and program costs.

1. Adams State University

adams state university

Adam State University has small class sizes. This means that students will be able to experience more intimate classes, allowing them to learn more. Its programs are designed to blend studies with clinical skill enhancement to boost its students’ ability to think critically and apply evidence-based assessments on patients.

The application is not complicated, considering that ASU has a clear outline of the steps which you can find here. To see the complete list of application materials, you can download it here.

Apart from the documents you need to submit for your application, you’ll also need to complete a background check.

Apart from helping you prepare for the NCLEX, the university also introduces its students to the National Student Nurses’ Association. You’ll find this group really helpful in launching your nursing career after graduation.

2. University Of Colorado

university of colorado

The University of Colorado offers several pathways for nursing students. Its traditional nursing bachelor’s program is carefully designed for students who may or may not already possess a degree. As a 24-month program, you can expect to study full-time for it.

As part of the program, you’ll be required to attend some labs or classes in a different location. However, the primary program is offered at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

The university also offers an online RN to BSN nursing program. You can apply if you’re already a licensed registered nurse. It consists of 30 credits and you can complete it in 16 months of four semesters.

3. Colorado Technical University

colorado technical university

The RN to BSN program the Colorado Technical University offers is completely online. You can complete it entirely online. Plus, its cost will depend on how much previous credit and experience you have. Considering these things, CTU’s program is an affordable and easy way for current nurses to earn a BSN degree.

4. University Of Colorado At Colorado Springs

university of colorado at colorado springs

As a student of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, you’ll get one of the most comprehensive nursing educations in Colorado. Plus, you’ll get to experience the beautiful Colorado Springs while earning your degree.

The university has partnerships with hundreds of healthcare agencies and hospitals. This gives you more opportunities as you pursue your career.

In addition to that, the university also has a state-of-the-art simulation learning center which is fully equipped to train you on how to handle real-life scenarios.

5. Aspen University

aspen university

The BSN pre-licensure program offered by Aspen University is awesome. However, before you get yourself into it, take note that the entire program is available at its Arizona Campuses even though it’s a Colorado school.

That’s not entirely a bad thing. The location actually opens up a lot of opportunities since it’s connected with some of the best hospitals in the area.

6. Regis University

regis university

The university’s 4-year BSN program is carefully designed to transform high school students and graduates to become top-notch nurses of the next generation.

As a private school, the cost of learning from its program is a bit more expensive than others. However, if you consider its low student-to-faculty ratio and high NCLEX pass rate, you can consider it as a good investment for your future.

7. Colorado Mountain College

colorado mountain college

Colorado Mountain College takes pride in its high NCLEX pass rate of over 92%. Apart from the impressive number, a lot of nursing students are drawn to it because of affordability. In-state students and students from nearby areas get to enjoy lower tuition fees.

8. Colorado Mesa University

colorado mesa university

Getting into Colorado Mesa University isn’t easy. The selection process is hard so applicants face tough competition.

The strict selection process isn’t that bad. The university has an impressive NCLEX pass rate and it offers high-quality programs, too. If you are a current registered nurse, you can take advantage of the university’s online RN to BSN pathway.

9. University Of Northern Colorado

university of northern colorado

Even though the University of Northern Colorado is mainly a graduate school, applicants can still find a quality BSN program here. The university carefully prepares its students to eventually earn a graduate degree.

Its undergraduate program is a 9-semester program that qualifies students to earn a bachelor of science degree. There are two tracks for obtaining it: the traditional full-time, on-campus program for students who do not possess a bachelor’s degree and the 2nd Degree which is for people who already have a bachelor’s degree in a different field. You can find out more about these two tracks here.

10. Colorado Christian University

colorado christian university

This university is a religious institution. As a result, it influences some of its BSN degree courses.

Nursing students are taught with a holistic approach. The program puts emphasis on morality and compassion when providing nursing care.

Despite that, the quality of nursing education you can get from Colorado Christian University won’t be affected. It can prepare you to be one of the best nurses in the field. As proof, a huge number of its graduates successfully pass the NCLEX after graduation.

The tuition rate per credit hour for its BSN Nursing courses is $597. The application fee costs $50. In addition to that, there are other things you have to pay for to qualify for the program, like background/drug screen and resource fee.