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Explore Arizona's Top BSN Programs for 2023: Online & Campus

Whether you’re applying to college, changing careers, or building on existing knowledge, a BSN program can help you gain the skills you need to start — or jumpstart — your career as a nurse. This guide will walk you through some of the best programs available in Arizona today and help you find the best one for you.

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Is service to others the primary factor driving your career search? Then becoming a highly valued member of your community as a registered nurse may be your perfect career fit. And there’s no better way to qualify for RN licensure in Arizona than through one of the many excellent, fully accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs available in Arizona today.

Colleges and universities throughout the state offer a variety of BSN degree options, each one designed to make earning the degree as easy and affordable as possible. So whether you’re just heading to college, already hold a degree, or are a practicing nurse interested in career advancement opportunities, there’s a BSN program made for you.

This guide will spotlight quality Arizona BSN programs, provide an overview of the current local job market for BSN graduates (hint: it’s really good!), and a whole lot more.

Ready for a great career in service to others? Then keep reading to discover how you can become a valued nursing professional by earning your bachelor degree through one of the top Arizona BSN programs in 2024.

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About the ranking

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Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS. 

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted. 

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

Institutional Aid – Percent of full-time undergraduate students who are awarded institutional grant aid, as self-reported by the school.

Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# School Name Type Tuition Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff, AZ Public $$ 1

Northern Arizona University's Bachelor of Science in Nursing prepares students to provide care for individuals, families, and communities in a variety of healthcare settings. The curriculum uses innovative instructional methods including face-to-face experiences in the traditional classroom setting, online learning, simulation laboratories, and clinical experiences. Students must travel to sites throughout the state for clinical coursework. Graduates are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses.

Program Highlights:

WBachelor of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 4.5 years
  • Cost: $460 per credit
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
21/1
Online
Student %
55%
2 Arizona State University-OnlineTempe, AZ Public $ 1

Arizona State University's Online RN to BSN Concurrent Enrollment Program allows students to earn bachelor's degrees in nursing while pursuing associate degrees in nursing at the same time. Students are prepared for the demands of a rewarding nursing career and to become advocates for patients and experts in bedside care. The required coursework to become an RN occurs in person at a community college. Simultaneously, students complete coursework 100% online to earn a BSN at Arizona State University.

Program Highlights:

Online RN to BSN -- Concurrent Enrollment Program

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $521 per credit
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: Arizona State Board of Nursing (ASBN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
25/1
Online
Student %
100%

A Look at a Popular BSN Program in Arizona

The easiest way to start your search for the right Arizona BSN program is to take a look at what popular programs have to offer. That’s why we’ve spotlighted a popular BSN program that will help you see what other students just like you look for in a BSN program.

Grand Canyon University

Phoenix-based, Christian-affiliated Grand Canyon University offers three options for BSN-seeking students, including both accelerated BSN and RN to BSN programs that feature online coursework. The Accelerated BSN is a pre-licensure program for students who hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree that can be completed in 16 months. The course of study is delivered in a hybrid learning format, which combines online didactic coursework with hands-on immersive simulation experiences and nursing skills labs attended on campus. Students additionally complete in-person clinical rotation hours at local program-approved healthcare facilities.

GCU’s RN to BSN program allows current RNs with a previously earned ADN or nursing diploma the ability to earn their nursing bachelor’s in as few as 14 months. Nursing theory coursework is delivered and completed entirely online. However, students are required to complete practicum hours in a clinical setting in the student’s local community. The RN to BSN program’s current per-credit tuition rate is a notably affordable $340.

GCU additionally offers a campus-based Pre-Licensure BSN that is completed with four years of full-time study.

A Look at the Benefits of Earning a BSN Degree in Arizona

We noted earlier that there’s no better way to qualify for your RN license than by earning a BSN degree. That’s because a BSN comes with a number of important academic and career benefits that you simply won’t gain any other way. Here are three of the most valuable of those benefits.

Research and Innovation Opportunities

Major providers of higher education are often described as “research universities” because they prioritize and support the research efforts of faculty members. Nursing faculty often employ the services of both graduate and undergraduate students in conducting their research. As a result, BSN students at top Arizona nursing schools (such as Northern Arizona University) often have access to research opportunities that can play an important part in advancing their careers.

Strong Professional Associations

There’s likely no profession that can boast as many professional associations and organizations as nursing. There are literally dozens of national, state, local, and even school-specific nursing-focused associations in operation today. Check out Arizona State University’s Student Life page to see a sampling of the student and professional organizations accessible to students. These groups offer a wide range of valuable resources to nursing professionals that can be tapped into at any point in their careers.

Diverse Population

Top nursing programs in Arizona today strive for diversity and inclusion in their academics as well as their student populations. The reason is simple, but significant: Diversity in learning mirrors the diversity in patient populations and provides students countless opportunities to encounter a wide range of health conditions and challenges. It also encourages the development of cultural sensitivity in nursing practice, something that’s particularly important in a state as racially, economically, and culturally diverse as Arizona.

To learn more about the importance of diversity in nursing and nursing education, visit the University of Arizona College of Nursing page on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion.

Criteria to Consider When Choosing BSN Programs in Arizona

When you first start looking into potential Arizona BSN programs, you’ll find differences in areas of specialization, academic philosophies, and delivery methods. Nevertheless, there are a number of foundational components that every program you consider must have. Here are three of the most important:

Accreditation

An important component of any Arizona BSN program you consider is proper accreditation. Accreditation ensures the program meets critical standards of academic quality, and it’s one way that employers can feel confident that the BSN graduates they hire have received a quality nursing education.

During your BSN program search, you’ll want to confirm institutional and programmatic accreditation. BSN programs in the U.S. are programmatically accredited by two major organizations: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

NCLEX Preparation & Pass Rates

A critical component of any pre-licensure BSN program is how well it prepares its students for success in passing the NCLEX-RN exam, a foundational requirement for RN licensure in Arizona and all other states. It’s important to check the current exam pass rates (available through the Arizona State Board of Nursing) for each of the BSN programs you’re considering. A high pass rate is one solid indication of a program’s academic quality.

Well-Rounded Curriculum

A well-rounded BSN curriculum is one that prepares graduates for holistic nursing practice — that is, practice that incorporates both specific nursing knowledge and skills with broader skills in leadership, critical thinking, evidence-based decision-making, and care and treatment that takes into consideration the whole patient.

Types of BSN Programs in Arizona

Nursing schools are keenly aware that their BSN students come from a variety of backgrounds. They have different education and career goals, as well as different needs in terms of fitting their studies into their busy work and life schedules. As a result, most schools offer a variety of BSN program options. We’ve described below the most common of these BSN program types to help you determine the one that best works for you.

Accelerated BSN Programs

Students with a previously earned non-nursing bachelor’s degree can save time and money in obtaining their BSN through an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program, which allows students to apply general education coursework earned in previous bachelor’s degree to the ABSN program. This allows them to focus on nursing courses and earning a degree in just 12 to 16 months. Didactic coursework may or may not be offered online. Nevertheless, ABSN students will likely complete required hands-on labs on their school’s campus and clinical practice hours at program-approved healthcare facilities.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with This Program

Direct Entry BSN Programs

A direct entry BSN program is a pre-licensure program in which the student is admitted directly into the BSN program as an incoming freshman and begins nursing coursework in their freshman year. Direct entry BSN programs differ from many traditional entry-level BSN programs that require students to complete some or all general education requirements before being admitted into the nursing program and starting their nursing coursework in their junior year. Admission into these programs is typically limited to highly motivated applicants who meet pre-established criteria as determined by the program.

Learn more about direct-entry BSN Programs

LPN to BSN Programs

LPN to BSN programs allow currently licensed practical nurses to complete the didactic coursework and clinical rotation hours needed for NCLEX exam and RN license eligibility along with the additional general education and advanced nursing classes required to earn the BSN. Students may be able to complete general education and some nursing courses online. However, LPN to BSN students, like those in all other pre-licensure BSN programs, will be required to attend hands-on labs on campus and complete their clinical rotations at program-approved healthcare facilities.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with This Program

Online BSN Programs

Online programs offer lots of valuable benefits, including study flexibility and cost savings from not having to travel to campus to attend classes. However, almost all pre-licensure Arizona BSN programs are campus-based. Nevertheless, pre-licensure students in other Arizona BSN programs — like the ASU program linked below — will likely be able complete some of their general education courses online. Additionally, as described in the next section, most RN to BSN programs in Arizona are offered fully online.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with This Program

RN to BSN Programs

Employers prefer to hire registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree, so it’s no surprise that current RNs are returning to school to earn their BSNs. The result is the very popular RN to BSN program. Because these students have licenses and thus have already completed clinical practice hours, most RN to BSN programs in Arizona today are delivered in fully online formats. Full-time students may be able to complete their degrees in a few as two years. However, most programs accommodate full-time working RNs by offering part-time options designed to be completed in four years or more.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with This Program

Traditional BSN Programs

Traditional BSN programs are designed for incoming freshmen with no nursing experience and little or no previous college experience. Like most standard bachelor’s degrees, the traditional BSN typically takes four years of full-time study to earn (the three-year Arizona College of Nursing program linked below is an exception). Traditional BSN programs in Arizona are campus-based, but some offer online general education and nursing courses. All of these programs additionally require completion of the in-person clinical rotation hours needed to qualify for the NCLEX exam and RN licensure.

Examples of Arizona Nursing Schools with This Program

FAQs About BSN Programs in Arizona

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of the benefits of earning your BSN — as well as the various types of BSN programs offered in Arizona — you likely have a few more general questions about nursing bachelor’s programs. Here are the answers to four of the most frequently asked of those questions.

Can I work while pursuing a BSN in Arizona?

It’s important to keep in mind that practically all pre-licensure Arizona BSN programs are full time, making part-time employment an attractive option. Most BSN programs strongly discourage their students from substantial (more than part-time) employment while pursuing their degrees. On the other hand, RN to BSN programs in Arizona (like the one at Arizona State University) offer courses of study designed to allow RNs to continue to work while earning their degrees.

Are there specific prerequisite courses I need to take?

Practically all Arizona BSN programs, both pre-licensure and RN to BSN, require some prerequisite coursework to be completed for admission. Specific course subjects vary from program to program but typically include statistics along with nursing-related science subjects like biology, chemistry, nutrition, and psychology. Examples of programs with prerequisite course requirements include the University of Arizona’s traditional BSN program, the ABSN program at Grand Canyon University, and the RN to BSN program at Northern Arizona University.

Are online BSN programs in Arizona accredited?

Online BSN programs in Arizona are accredited in the same way and by the same accrediting agencies as campus-based programs. That includes both institutional and programmatic accreditation. Examples of online BSN programs in Arizona that are programmatically accredited by the CCNE include Chamberlain University’s hybrid BSN program and the online RN to BSN program from the University of Arizona’s Global Campus. Remember, if you can’t confirm a BSN program’s proper accreditation, scratch that program off your list.

How do BSN programs differ from other nursing programs?

The BSN has become the clear degree of preference of employers for RN applicants, and salaries for BSN degree holders are higher than non-degree holders at an average of $90,072 per year. However, you can become an entry-level nurse in Arizona through other pathways, including:

  • Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA); average hourly wage in Arizona is $18 per hour, which roughly translates to $37,440 per year.
  • Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse; average hourly wage in Arizona is $32 per hour, which roughly translates to $56,160 per year.
  • Earning an ADN; average hourly wage in Arizona is $36 per hour, which roughly translates to $72,800 per year.

The career prospects for graduates of Arizona BSN programs are strong and expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future. That conclusion is evidenced by the most recent salary and job growth figures from the U.S. Department of Labor presented in the two sections below. Let’s take a closer look.

Earning Potential as a BSN in Arizona

Earnings are an excellent indicator of supply and demand in the job market. That’s certainly true for registered nurses in Arizona, as illustrated by the state and metro area salary figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in the chart below. As you review the figures, keep in mind that the actual salary you earn will depend on several variables, including your specific job title and employer, your specific job duties, and your level professional nursing experience.

AreaOccupation10th PercentileMedian90th Percentile
ArizonaRegistered Nurses$60,750$78,260$100,200
Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZRegistered Nurses$58,370$74,640$94,800
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZRegistered Nurses$61,340$78,670$100,360
Prescott, AZRegistered Nurses$60,550$77,030$110,160
Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZRegistered Nurses$59,320$73,620$94,690
Tucson, AZRegistered Nurses$59,650$76,250$96,430
Yuma, AZRegistered Nurses$60,810$77,320$98,350

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

The Job Market for Arizona BSN Nurses

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Projections Central website places Arizona in the top position among all states in the U.S. for expected job growth for registered nurses. That’s troubling news for the state’s healthcare industry, but it’s good news for BSN degree holders in Arizona. What it means is that, as an Arizona RN with a BSN degree, you’ll be in the driver’s seat when it comes to career security and access to the very best RN jobs in the state for years to come.

New Jobs (2020-2030)Job Growth Rate (2020-2030)Average Annual Openings (2020-2030)
RNs in Arizona2298039.3%5930

Source: Projections Central