Best Nursing Schools in Oregon: Top Online & Campus Programs

Learn how to launch or advance your RN nursing career by earning a quality degree or certificate from one of the best nursing schools in Oregon.

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Michael Hoffman

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A former practicing attorney, Michael Hoffman has years of experience as a freelance journalist specializing in the research and writing of higher education content – from online learning to financial aid, and everything in between. Michael is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara College of Law. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael practiced for several years as a civil litigator in Los Angeles and worked in Santa Monica, California as a development executive for a major film producer.

last updated

02/02/2022

If you live in Oregon and interested in joining the nursing profession, now may be the best time to act with a major shortage of qualified nurses both in Oregon and across the United States. That shortage means employers are raising salaries and offering signing bonuses to attract RNs and other nursing professionals.

Before getting your Oregon nursing license and moving into one of those high-paying jobs, you’ll need a nursing degree. Below, you’ll discover how to locate a best-in-class nursing degree program from among the top nursing schools in Oregon. We’ve also included information and advice on starting and advancing in your Oregon nursing career.

2022’s Best-in-Class Nursing Schools in Oregon

While all the Oregon nursing schools featured in this guide provide quality, fully-accredited nursing programs, they’re not all the same. We’ve surveyed all the nursing schools in Oregon and spotlighted three of the very best. Our selections are based on important elements like affordability, curriculum comprehensiveness, program options, study flexibility, and availability of student support services.

Central Oregon Community College

Central Oregon Community College offers two options for obtaining an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, the three-year AAS-RN and the Nursing Advanced Placement (LPN to RN). Graduates of these programs qualify to sit for the (NCLEX-RN), which they must pass to obtain an Oregon RN license.

Other COCC nursing programs include the three-semester nursing assistant area of study that prepares students to become certified CNAs and the two-year Practical Nursing Certificate that qualifies students to take the NCLEX and become RNs. There’s also an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) degree that readies graduates for a university-based BSN program at one of six Oregon nursing schools.

Admission to COCC’s nursing programs takes place once a year in the fall, and applicants are selected based on a point system. The school boasts an NCLEX pass rate above the national average.

Linfield University

Linfield University, a historically Baptist-affiliated private institution, offers several undergraduate and graduate nursing degree programs. All programs teach not only essential nursing skills but also effective communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills as well.

The school has two nursing bachelor’s degree options for students interested in earning a BSN degree and taking the NCLEX-RN. The Prelicensure BSN is a two-year, transfer-only program for students with most of their general education and nursing prerequisite coursework completed. The Prelicensure Accelerated BSN is a one-year online program for applicants with bachelor’s degrees and completed nursing prerequisites.

Current RNs can advance their careers through the RN to BSN program that combines online coursework with an in-person clinical service-learning experience. Linfield also offers an MSN in Leadership in Healthcare Ecosystems.

Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health & Science University hosts the most comprehensive package of nursing degree and certificate programs of any school in the state, public or private. Its nursing degrees are offered online, at its main campus in Portland, and at five other public university campuses throughout the state. As a member of the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education (OCNE), a partnership between OHSU and 11 Oregon community colleges, it also offers a shared competency-based curriculum and support services that allow students to prepare for careers as RNs while transitioning into their BSN degrees.

Undergraduates at OHSU choose from among a Traditional BSN consisting of three semesters of upper-division nursing courses with lower-division coursework completed as a prerequisite at another institution; an Accelerated BSN for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees; and an online RN to BS Completion program. Graduate programs include an online MSN with Nursing Education and Health Systems and Organizational Leadership track options and DNP and PhD nursing programs, both with post-bachelor’s and post-master’s options.

Find Oregon Nursing Programs in a City Near You

Types of Nursing Programs Available in Oregon

Oregon nursing schools provide a range of degree and certificate programs for students with specific career goals and at different points in their career paths. With so many different programs available, sorting through them all can be overwhelming. We’ve put together the following descriptions of the most common types of nursing programs in Oregon, along with examples of each, to help you find the best program for you.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Oregon

ADN Programs

The ADN provides a quick and affordable path to eligibility for the NCLEX-RN exam. ADN degrees are offered almost exclusively at Oregon community colleges and typically require two to three years to complete. ADN curriculums include both the nursing theory courses and in-person clinical hours required for RN licensure.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

With an increasing number of employers preferring to hire RNs with the additional knowledge and training that come with bachelor’s degrees, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is quickly becoming the pre-licensure degree of choice. The traditional BSN is designed for students with little or no college experience and typically requires four years of full-time study.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated (Second Degree) BSN programs are for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees interested in starting new careers as RNs. These programs normally require 1 ½ years of full-time study and consist of the nursing theory courses and clinical practice hours required for NCLEX-RN and Oregon RN licensure eligibility.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in Oregon for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and sometimes other related professionals like EMTs can become RNs through an LPN to RN or LPN to BSN program. LPN to RN programs typically take three semesters while LPN to BSN programs normally require three years or more to complete. Walla Walla University-Portland currently offers Oregon’s only LPN to BSN program.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

RN to BSN programs provide current RNs a time-efficient and cost-saving path to advanced nursing skills. One-year (full-time) and two-year (part-time) programs are quite popular and a staple of most four-year nursing schools in Oregon. Many programs are available 100% online.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

Most nursing leadership jobs require applicants have MSN degrees. RN to MSN programs offer current RNs without BSNs an efficient route to obtaining their MSNs. These programs take 2 ½ to three years, sometimes longer, depending on the choice of specialization and whether full-time or part-time study pace.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in Oregon

MSN Programs

Current RNs with BSNs can opt for a traditional MSN program. MSN programs sometimes offer multiple specialization tracks, the most common being nursing leadership and nursing education. Some feature fully-online curriculums. Program length varies from 1 ½ to two years, but many allow substantially longer completion times to accommodate working professionals.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with This Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

There are two doctoral degree options for nurse leaders intent on reaching the highest echelons of their profession. The most common is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), which prepares graduates to take on top-tier leadership roles in advanced nursing practice and healthcare administration. The PhD in Nursing prepares graduates for senior positions in advanced research and post-secondary education.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with This Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Post-graduate certificates in nursing are designed for individuals with MSNs or nursing doctorates who wish to add a specialized area of practice to their professional knowledge base without earning another degree. Specializations available are often the same as those offered as part of MSN programs. Program length varies, but one to two years is common.

Examples of Oregon Nursing Schools with This Program

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Oregon

Most nursing schools now integrate distance learning into their programs. You’ll probably not find a nursing program in Oregon without an online component. Some programs are even 100% online, at least for the didactic coursework. In most cases, online classes are accessed asynchronously at times most convenient to you. Some classes, though, may require attending at specific times. Any clinical rotation hours are still completed at hospitals or other healthcare facilities. Below are spotlights of three Oregon nursing schools leading the way in online education.

Best Online Nursing Programs in Oregon

Bushnell University

A private Christian-affiliated school, Bushnell University offers two nursing degrees featuring online coursework. Its RN to BSN includes 100% online coursework and project-based practice experiences completed in the student’s local community. Both full-time (12 months) and part-time (20 months) options are available. Bushnell’s MSN program is 100% online and asynchronous, allowing students to complete their degrees while maintaining their current nursing careers. Bushnell also offers a 100% online Post-Master’s Nursing Education Certificate program that can be completed with 12 months of part-time study.

Tuition rates for Bushnell’s online nursing programs are surprisingly competitive with similar programs at other Oregon nursing schools, public and private alike. Students may be eligible for in-house nursing scholarships and other financial aid opportunities as well.

Sumner College

Sumner College is a private postsecondary institution specializing in healthcare degree and certificate programs. It offers three nursing programs through its Portland campus, including an online RN to BSN. This degree requires 180 quarter credits that include 36 credits of prerequisite coursework and 72 nursing core credits from an RN nursing program and possession of an RN license. There are also 72 quarter credits of upper-division nursing coursework consisting of 780 clock hours of instruction. The entire program is 100% online and can be completed in 13 months. Total program cost is only $14,710, making it quite affordable particularly for a private college.

Warner Pacific University

Christian-affiliated Warner Pacific University offers an RN to BSN program with 100% online coursework. Designed with working nurses in mind, the accelerated curriculum consists of 40 credit hours of upper-level nursing courses. All degree requirements are completed in 16 months.

Admission requirements include completion of an accredited RN program and a current unencumbered Oregon RN license. Applicants must have also completed at least 48 credits of college-level coursework from an accredited college or university, or ACE, CLEP, PEP, or other standard evaluations. Warner Pacific’s RN to BSN program is nationally accredited by CCNE and approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing, so graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN and meet the academic requirements for Oregon RN licensure.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Oregon

If you’re like the majority of prospective nursing students, you’ll need help funding your degree program. Fortunately, there’s a lot of it available in the form of scholarships and grants, fellowships and assistantships (mainly for grad students), employer tuition assistance, and work study programs. For active and retired military, there are also VA education benefits. Another valuable resource for Oregon nursing students is the state’s Office of Student Access and Completion, which awards millions of dollars in scholarships and grants to Oregon students annually.

Almost all college-bound students, however, use student loans to fill funding gaps. Student loans are available from many public and private sources, but the biggest source by far is federal student loans. The federal government sponsors several student loan repayment opportunities through the Health Resources and Services Administration as well.

To learn more about funding a nursing program in Oregon, check out EduMed’s nursing scholarship guide, financial aid guide, and guide to graduating from nursing school debt-free.

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

The RN licensure process in Oregon is administered by the Oregon State Board of Nursing (OSBN). There are two ways to meet the OSBN’s requirements for RN licensure. Applicants with current RN licenses from another U.S. state or jurisdiction will likely obtain their Oregon RN licenses through endorsement. If you’re applying for an RN license for the first time, you’ll obtain your license by examination. Here’s a look at the steps you’ll take to do that:

Step 1

Complete your pre-licensure RN nursing degree program

To qualify for the NCLEX-RN and Oregon RN licensure, you must complete an OSBN-approved or non-Oregon state-approved RN degree program. For many students this will be an ADN or BSN program offered by one of the Oregon nursing schools mentioned in this guide. Check any current program’s approval status against this list of OSBN-approved nursing programs.

Step 2

Submit your RN license by examination application

Start the application process via the OSBN Licensing Portal. The process includes submitting a complete application form, providing fingerprints for a criminal background check, and paying the application fee. You’ll also need to supply a copy of your nursing program transcript to the OSBN upon graduation. Students about to finish their RN degree programs should begin the application process four to six weeks before graduation.

Step 3

Register for and schedule your NCLEX-RN

You’ll register for the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE, the exam’s exclusive administrator. Once you complete the registration process and your RN license application is processed, Pearson VUE will email you an Authorization to Test (ATT). You can then schedule your exam via your Pearson VUE online account.

Step 4

Take and pass the NCLEX-RN

The NCSBN provides helpful advice for preparing to take the NCLEX-RN. You’ll sit for your exam at any of Pearson VUE’s domestic or international testing locations. Official exam results will be forwarded to you by the OSBN approximately six weeks after taking the exam. However, you can access unofficial results two business days after the exam.

After you pass the exam and meet all other licensure requirements, you’ll receive a notification email from the OSBN with your RN license number. The OSBN does not issue a physical license. If you did not pass, you can retake the exam every 46 days. You must, however, re-register with Pearson VUE and re-apply with the OSBN each time.

Step 5

Keep your Oregon RN license current

Oregon RN licenses expire at midnight on the day before the licensee’s birthday every two years (odd-numbered years for those born in odd-numbered years and even-numbered years for those born in even-numbered years). There’s a one-time requirement of seven continuing education hours on the subject of pain management with no other CE requirements needed for license renewal.

Job Outlook for RNs in Oregon

The current nursing shortage has created a high demand for qualified RNs and other nursing professionals across the U.S. and Oregon. Job growth for registered nurses in Oregon looks substantially stronger than for the nation. Figures from the State of Oregon Employment Department also predict that growth to be much greater than for all occupations combined during the same period.

Employment Projections for RNs in Oregon

New Jobs
(2018-2028)
Job Growth Rate
(2018-2028)
Average Annual Openings
(2018-2028)
Oregon6,30015.2%3,010
United States371,50012.1%210,400

Source: Projections Central

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

The most current U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics earnings figures for RNs in the seven largest metro areas in Oregon as well as for the state and the U.S. overall indicate that you can expect a healthy paycheck both at the beginning of and throughout your career as an Oregon RN. Keep in mind that these are median figures, so how much you’ll actually earn depends on several factors, including your employer, job title and duties, geographic location, etc.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Oregon

10th PercentileMedian Earnings90th Percentile
Oregon$70,860$96,790$126,470
United States$53,410 $75,330$116,230
Albany, OR$68,180$92,150$127,390
Bend-Redmond, OR$69,290$92,540$121,510
Eugene, OR$73,140$96,620$128,790
Grants Pass, OR$69,890$89,280$116,450
Medford, OR$71,490$92,920$120,070
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA$72,230$99,570$128,180
Salem, OR$68,550$93,740$120,520

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020