Best Nursing Schools in Arizona: Top Online & Campus Programs for 2021

Thousands of new nursing jobs will be open in Arizona over the next several years. Get the training you need to move into the field of nursing or to advance your skills and benefit from those exciting, challenging, and well-paying opportunities.

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Last Updated: 09/21/2021
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Are you thinking about entering the field of nursing in Arizona? Are you an Arizona nurse considering ways to advance your career and earn more doing what you love? Outstanding nursing schools in Arizona are ready to make your goals a reality. Whether you’re interested in studying online or in a traditional classroom setting, these Arizona nursing programs provide a quality education to get you where you want to go. Continue reading to learn about the best nursing schools in Arizona, program options, an update on nursing salaries, and the latest news on Arizona’s strong job growth in the nursing field.

2021’s Best-in-Class Nursing Schools in Arizona

Whether you’re a new or experienced nurse, you’ll need to find the right school to meet your educational and career goals. To help, we’ve compiled a list of the best nursing programs in Arizona that offer undergraduate and graduate education, both online and on campus. Keep reading to find descriptions of standout schools, chosen for their curriculum, student services, and affordability.

The University of Arizona

The University of Arizona College of Nursing has trained nurses since the school was established in 1957. The BSN program boasts a 96.36 percent NCLEX-RN pass rate. And it’s no wonder: The school offers multiple programs to contribute to student success, including academic advising, academic success coaching, and writing coaching services. In addition, The University of Arizona is the home of Arizona Nursing Inclusive Excellence (ANIE), which is a program designed to help underrepresented groups learn professional skills and obtain mentoring from faculty members and other nursing students.

In addition to its BSN program, The University of Arizona also offers several graduate degrees. Master’s students can enroll in the online master of science in nursing program or the accelerated master’s entry to the profession of nursing program, and doctoral students can earn a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).

Arizona State University

The Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University offers a traditional BSN degree and an accelerated program. In the traditional program, students complete their studies in 16 or 24 months, depending on if they take classes in the summer or just the regular academic year. In the accelerated program, students complete their studies in 12 months. Although both programs are designed for those who don’t have previous nursing experience, the accelerated program is specifically for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline.

For those who want to earn a graduate level degree, Arizona State University offers a general MS program, an MS program that focuses on nursing education, and a PhD in nursing and healthcare innovation. Also, graduate certificates are available for those who want to pursue a career as a pediatric nurse practitioner or a women’s health nurse practitioner.

Arizona College of Nursing

Arizona College of Nursing offers a three-year BSN program that provides a comprehensive education through classroom learning, simulations, case studies, guest speakers, field trips, and practical patient care through clinical experiences.

Students start with general education classes, such as biology, human development, cultural diversity and global health, and psychology. During the second year, they move on to learn about the tenets of nursing care, such as health assessments, legal and ethical nursing care, patient safety, and interprofessional communication. In last year of the program, students take advanced classes that include community health nursing, maternal health, pediatric health, and leadership for patient safety.

Throughout their studies, students participate in simulation labs where they become accustomed to different healthcare environments, such as delivery rooms, nursing homes, and acute care facilities. Students are required to complete 630 clinical hours to graduate..

Common Traits of the Best Nursing Schools in Arizona

Finding the right college or university is never easy. To ensure that you have the best experience during your nursing education–and that you are primed for success when you finish your degree–look for these qualities shared by the best nursing schools in Arizona.

  • Nationally Accredited and State Approved

    One of the first things to look for in a nursing school in Arizona is whether it has been accredited, because that ensures you will receive a quality education. Nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which means they have been evaluated for their curriculum, research, faculty, and student outcomes. Arizona nursing programs also need a seal of approval from the Arizona State Board of Nursing so graduates can qualify for their license.
  • Specialties

    Nursing is such a broad field that students can pursue numerous avenues throughout their career. If you’re interested in working with a particular type of patient, in a specific setting, or focusing on a specific topic, it’s important to find nursing schools in Arizona that have coursework dedicated to that specialty.
  • NCLEX Pass Rates

    Since passing the NCLEX examination is required to receive a license, you want to choose a nursing school in Arizona that has a high pass rate. That tells you that the curriculum is truly preparing students for the rigors of the nursing profession and the expectations the state has for its nurses.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Arizona

Since the nursing profession is such a broad field, students can choose from multiple paths to get the education they desire, from associate degrees to PhDs. The following section will familiarize you with Arizona nursing programs at each academic level; consider which options are the best match for your career goals and lifestyle. /p>

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Arizona

ADN Programs

An ADN program, which takes two years to complete, is designed for those with no previous nursing experience who want to get the foundational knowledge needed for an entry level position. These programs in Arizona are entirely focused on nursing core classes and hands-on clinical work.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

Students who have never studied nursing before can enroll in a traditional BSN program to get a well-rounded education that includes nursing coursework and general education classes. These Arizona nursing programs, which take four years to finish, also require that students participate in clinicals to get hands-on experience.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated BSN degrees, which take one to two years to complete, are for students who have earned a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and want to transition into the nursing field. These programs focus on nursing-specific coursework since students can transfer their previous general education classes.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Arizona for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN programs are for licensed practical nurses who want to further their education and move up to a registered nurse position. These Arizona nursing programs, known as bridge programs, take two to four years to finish. Students generally earn credits for their previous education and experience.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

Registered nurses who want to continue their education can enroll in a bridge program to get a more advanced education. RN to BSN programs are about a yearlong and focus on higher level nursing concepts. Generally, they do not require clinicals.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

RN to MSN programs are for registered nurses who want to fast-track their career and perhaps focus on a specialization by earning a graduate degree. These programs are intense and cover both bachelor’s and master’s level content.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Arizona

MSN Programs

Master’s degrees in nursing help current nurses get advanced knowledge so they can enter a specialization or pursue a leadership role, as well as help those with a non-nursing degree train to become an advanced practice nurse or registered nurse. Nurses who enroll in an MSN program may be able to complete their degree and about two years, while non-nurses usually finish in about three years.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

For those who want to earn the highest level of education in the field, DNP programs focus on evidence-based clinical practice and leadership skills. Graduates can go on to become managers in a healthcare setting or provide advanced care to patients. Those interested in becoming researchers or teachers will want to pursue PhD programs, which focus on nursing research and how studies are conducted.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Postgraduate certificate programs are for those who have already earned a master’s or doctorate in nursing and want to get a credential to specialize in a subsection of the field. These programs usually can be completed in about two years; specializations offered by nursing schools in Arizona include nursing informatics, healthcare policy, neonatal nursing, and nurse midwifery.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with this Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Arizona

Online nursing programs in Arizona give students the best of both worlds: the opportunity to obtain a quality education and the convenience that comes with distance learning. Depending on the program, students take some or all of their coursework online, including nursing classes or general education coursework. In addition, online nursing programs in Arizona may still require students to come to campus to participate in labs. When students finish the curriculum, they’ll get hands-on training at a healthcare facility approved by their college. Continue reading to find out more about some of the top online nursing programs in Arizona.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Arizona

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers an online accelerated BSN program, which takes 16 months to complete. In this online nursing program in Arizona, students learn nursing fundamentals and theories remotely and then immerse themselves in simulation experiences on campus. As a result, students gain critical thinking skills, become effective at communicating with patients and peers, and understand diverse patients’ cultural differences. Students also do clinical rotations that provide experience in the real world of healthcare.

To be admitted into this online nursing program in Arizona, prospective students must have at least a 3.0 GPA in their previous bachelor’s degree program, a 3.25 GPA in nursing prerequisite classes, a high score on the HESI A2 entrance examination, and a background check. Students can enroll in the fall, spring, or summer sessions.

Pima Medical Institute

Pima Medical Institute offers an entirely online RN to BSN program that trains students to work in long-term-care facilities, hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and community health organizations. Students gain an understanding of nursing theories and concepts, leadership principles, and the legal, political, financial, and clinical trends that nurses face today. Specific courses in this online nursing program in Arizona include nursing informatics, transcultural nursing practice, healthcare management, integrated health assessment, and community-oriented nursing. Students also participate in an externship at a partner medical facility. The program takes 16 months.

To help students succeed in this online nursing program in Arizona, Pima Medical Institute offers various student support services, including academic planning resources, tutoring, childcare assistance, and even a food bank for students dealing with food insecurity. Also, the school has job placement services that teach students valuable resume and job interview skills and help students find employment after graduation.

Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College has an associate in applied science nursing degree program that requires 62 to 75 credit hours. During this online nursing program in Arizona, students learn to provide professional nursing care based on legal and professional standards, understand the macro and micro issues that impact patient care, work effectively with members of a medical team to achieve the best patient outcomes, and use evidence-based practices. During the clinical part of the program, students get hands-on training that helps them understand the duties of a nurse and the challenges and stresses that come with the job. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED, successful completion of the program’s prerequisite courses, and a passing score on a nursing program admissions examination.

Mesa Community College also offers a one-semester certificate in nurse assisting program. This online nursing program in Arizona includes classwork and labs to prepare students to work as nursing assistants.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Arizona

Can I earn my nursing degree in Arizona completely online?

Some online nursing programs in Arizona allow you to take all of your coursework remotely. You’ll also find hybrid schools that require some coursework online and some on campus. However, even when coursework is offered completely online, you’ll still be required to participate in hands-on training through lab sessions and clinicals at a healthcare facility approved by the program.

Will my online Arizona nursing degree be considered less valuable by employers?

Not at all. Online nursing programs in Arizona are just as rigorous as traditional ones, as long as you choose a school that has been accredited by the ACEN or CCNE and has been approved by the state. Arizona employers understand that online nursing programs make it easier for prospective nurses to complete their education; these employers won’t be concerned if you attended an accredited online school.

Are online nursing programs in Arizona more affordable than campus programs?

Not necessarily. In terms of tuition, an online nursing program in Arizona costs around the same amount as a traditional school, depending on if the program is offered through a public or private institution. However, you can save money on transportation to campus every day, which helps keep the cost down.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Arizona

If you’re concerned about how you’re going to pay for your education, rest assured that there are several options available to you. For example, you may be able to receive a scholarship or grant through your nursing school and grants or loans from federal financial aid programs. In addition, Arizona students have access to funding from the Arizona Foundation for the Future of Nursing.

For more information about financial aid options for your nursing school in Arizona, visit our nursing scholarship guide and financial aid guide.

How to Become an RN in Arizona: Licensing Information and Requirements

Before you can start working, you need a license from the state of Arizona. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

Step 1

Complete Your Degree Program

To qualify for an Arizona RN license, students must complete a state-approved diploma, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree program.

Step 2

Pass the NCLEX-RN

After completing your degree program, prospective nurses must register for and pass the NCLEX-RN licensing examination.

Step 3

Request School Transcripts

To verify that you have completed your nursing program, applicants must have their school send transcripts directly to the nursing board.

Step 4

Provide Proof of Citizenship

Arizona requires that registered nurse applicants upload documentation proving U.S. citizenship or alien status.

Step 5

Submit Fingerprint Card

Applicants must submit a fingerprint card as part of a federal and state background check. A $50 fee is required with the fingerprint card.

Step 6

Pay Application Fee

Your license application fee of $150 is required.

Job Outlook for RNs in Arizona

This is a great time to become an RN in Arizona because the profession is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years. In fact, Projections Central reports that between 2018 and 2028, there will be a 35 percent increase in jobs for registered nurses, with an average of 2,110 new jobs created annually. This is much higher than the national average, which is a 12.1 percent increase in jobs and 371,500 new jobs added to the profession.

Employment Projections for RNs in Arizona

Employment (2018) New Jobs (2018-2028) Job Growth Rate (2018-2028) Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
Arizona 21,620 7,570 35% 2,110
United States 3,059,800 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

Nursing Salaries in Arizona: How Much You Could Make as an RN

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, on average, Arizona registered nurses earn $76,820–slightly higher than the $73,300 median income of RNs in the United States. The highest earners in Arizona work in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area, where they average $78,390. The Sierra Vista-Douglas area has the lowest average in the state, at $67,790.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Arizona

10th Percentile Median Earnings 90th Percentile
Arizona $56,020 $76,820 $101,870
United States $52,080 $73,300 $111,220
Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ $50,570 $68,850 $94,660
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ $56,520 $78,390 $102,790
Prescott, AZ 54,940 $78,230 $104,840
Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ $52,530 $67,790 $94,970
Tucson, AZ $55,980 $73,520 $95,490
Yuma, AZ $52,400 $74,930 $98,640

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019

Arizona Student and Professional Nursing Resources

Arizona State Board of Nursing

This website includes information from the Arizona State Board of Nursing on the licensing process, regulations that apply to nurses, and education opportunities

Arizona Nurses Association

Members of the Arizona Nurses Association receive access to journals and other publications, networking events, and leadership training.

Scholarships and Resources for Nursing Students

This page provides an overview of the different scholarships that nursing students can pursue. In addition, you’ll find information about student and professional nursing organizations and resources to help nursing students as they complete their degrees.

School Nurse Organization of Arizona

Promoting the interests of school nurses around the state, the School Nurse Organization of Arizona hosts an annual conference and provides resources and continuing education.

Arizona Association of Nurse Anesthetists

This association helps to advance the work of nurse anesthetists by providing education, information on careers, and a peer assistance program