Updated: November 25, 2021

Overview of Nursing Schools in Colorado

  • There are 34 nursing schools in Colorado. The CCNE accredits 11 nursing schools and the ACEN accredits 16 schools in Colorado.
  • Typically, an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) will take between 18 to 24 months to complete, and a Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN) will take about 4 years to complete.
  • The average NCLEX passing rate range for ADN students in Colorado is between 69.95% and 99.34%.
  • The average NCLEX passing rate range for BSN students in Colorado is between 68.69% and 93.86%.
  • The average annual salary for registered nurses is between $52,080 to $111,220 a year.
  • Registered Nurses (RN) throughout the country and in Colorado can expect a favorable job growth of 15 percent from 2016 to 2026 which much faster than the average for all occupations.

About Nursing Schools in Colorado

Colorado is on its way to becoming one of the most favorable states to practice as a nurse, with the average annual salary of RNs more than $78,000. There are currently more than 52000 registered nurses working in the state of Colorado, and the number is expected to rise to 68,630 by 2028, which means that there is an annual opening of almost 5000 nurses in the state to meet the healthcare needs of the people. RNs in Colorado can choose to work in acute healthcare facilities, long-term care centers, hospitals, clinics, physician's offices, residential homes, trauma centers, and more. The state also has opportunities like school health nursing.

For nurses who have completed their post-graduate degrees and want to practice as Nurse Practitioners, Colorado state has given them a Full Practice authority which means that they can take on the role of primary care providers for the patients. The laws permit all NPs to evaluate patients, diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications and controlled substances, under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. There are currently 3,080 NPs working in Colorado across multiple healthcare facilities, and the number is expected to rise to 4,400 by the year 2028. All of that, paired with the average annual salary of $144,660 for more experienced nurses, make this rocky state a great place to work and live as a Nurse Practitioner comfortably. 

Colorado is also one of the states that have implemented the eNLC (Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact), which allows nurses with a license from another state to practice in Colorado without having to acquire a new license specifically for the state. However, the eNCL is only available for RNs and LPNs, so the Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (ARPNS) are required to hold an individual license in Colorado if they wish to practice here.

To meet the apparent gaps in the nursing requirement, Colorado has multiple highly-accredited nursing schools that prepare some of the best nurses in the entire country. Most of these nursing schools are ranked as the top ones nationally, and the graduates' success is proof of that. You can study to become an LPN, RN, NP or get a DNP and Ph.D. as well in Colorado. Some of the best and most prominent nursing schools in Colorado are listed below.

Nurses who graduate from an RN program can obtain certification in over 100 nursing specialties, go on to earn an RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree.

BSN degree holders have options to earn an Advance Practice Register Nursing (APRN) degree and become a Nurse Practitioner (NP), or earn an advanced degree for a career in any number of nursing leadership roles such Nurse Educator or Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Online Nursing Programs Liked by Colorado Nurses

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities beloww.

Nursing Programs Offered by Colorado Nursing Schools

  • Registered Nursing: 32
  • Family Nurse Practitioner: 5
  • Nurse Educator: 3
  • Nursing Administration: 2
  • Administration, Research or Clinical Nursing: 1
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • CNL: 1
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • Research or Clinical Nursing: 1

Colorado Nursing Schools with the Most Degree Types

Colorado RN Program Comparisons: ADN vs BSN

Compare RN Programs ADN BSN
Number of Nursing Programs 17 18
Average NCLEX Passing Rate 85.13% 87.31%
NCLEX Passing Rate Range 69.95% to 99.34% 68.69% to 93.86%

Best Ranked RN Programs in Colorado

Best Nursing School Programs State

To help nursing students in their search for a top RN program, the education experts at RNCareers.org publish their annual findings of the best nursing schools for both Colorado and the country. Schools ranked on our list have proven their ability to educate highly competent nurses.

To create our rankings, we evaluated 15 ADN degree programs and 11 BSN degree programs in Colorado. We obtained each institution’s first-time NCLEX-RN passing rates, the number of students taking the test, the program nursing accreditation and more. We then compared the results against other nursing programs in Colorado to provide our state rankings. View our methodology

Best Nursing Schools in Colorado


Front Range Community College-Westminster

  • 3645 W 112th Ave, Westminster, CO - 80031
  • (303) 404-5000
  • Grade: (A) 99.50%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Nursing instructors at Front Range Community College prepare students to provide safe, quality, and patient-centered nursing care in a variety of healthcare settings. The nursing program is ideal for students who want to provide quality nursing care to patients while adhering to evidence-based practices. The nursing program at Front Range
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Arapahoe Community College

  • 5900 S. Santa Fe Dr., Littleton, CO - 80160-9002
  • (303) 797-4222
  • Grade: (A) 99.00%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Arapahoe Community College is located in Littleton, Colorado.  Arapahoe Community College offers an LPN program, an ADN program, and an LPN to ADN program.  They also have partnerships with three neighboring universities, which allows their graduates to easily gain entrance into a BSN program after completion of the ADN program.
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Pikes Peak Community College

  • 5675 S Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO - 80906-5498
  • (719) 502-2000
  • Grade: (A) 97.80%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Pikes Peak Community College is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  They offer an RN program and a dual enrollment RN to BSN program.  Their RN program is unique in that students enrolled may exit with their LPN at a designated point in the program rather than continuing for the full
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Metropolitan State University of Denver (TNO)

  • Speer Blvd and Colfax Ave, Denver, CO - 80217-3362
  • (303) 556-3058
  • Grade: (A) 96.17%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor
Metropolitan State University of Denver is located in Denver, Colorado.  They offer various BSN choices: a traditional nursing option (TNO), an accelerated nursing option (ANO) and baccalaureate registered nurse completion option (BRNCO).  The ANO option is designed for students with a previous bachelor's degree (non-nursing) and the BRNCO option is
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University of Northern Colorado

  • Carter Hall - Rm 4000, Greeley, CO - 80639
  • (970) 351-1890
  • Grade: (A) 93.41%
  • Programs: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, CNL, Family Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Accelerated BSN, APRN Certificate, Bachelor, BSN to DNP, MSN, MSN to DNP, Post Master's NP Certificate
University of Northern Colorado is located in Greeley, Colorado.  UNC has a diverse student population; 87% of its population is from Colorado, with 58 of its 64 counties represented.  47 out of 50 states currently have students studying there.  In addition, 34 countries are represented at UNC.  In addition, their
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Aims Community College

  • 5401 W. 20th St., Greeley, CO - 80634
  • (970) 330-8008
  • Grade: (A) 93.30%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Nursing students at Aims Community College learn the scientific and practical hands-on skills required to become a registered nurse and successfully practice as one. The graduates from the college have gone on to work in different hospitals, medical offices, home healthcare facilities, dialysis centers, healthcare agencies, and more.  In their
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Adams State University

  • 208 Edgemont Blvd, Alamosa, CO - 81101
  • (719) 587-7011
  • Grade: (A) 93.07%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor

Colorado State University-Pueblo

  • 2200 Bonforte Blvd, Pueblo, CO - 81001-4901
  • (719) 549-2100
  • Grade: (A) 91.47%
  • Programs: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator, Nursing Administration, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor, RN to MSN
The School of Nursing at Colorado State University-Pueblo is a regional nursing school for Southern Colorado. It provides its students with quality learning experiences, multiple degree entry paths, educational excellence, and a supportive and caring learning environment. The students here are capable of maintaining competencies throughout their practice, and hence
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Additional Listings of the Top Colorado Nursing Programs

Become an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in Colorado

RNs who wish to become advanced practice registered nurses will want to pursue any number of avenues to earn Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Earning a Master of Science in Nursing consists of graduate-level coursework and clinical practice for those nurses who wish to direct patient roles such as a nurse practitioner. You can also pursue indirect patient roles such as teaching or leadership roles, or become involved in policy, state-wide health initiatives or community engagement. There are many clinical and non-clinical avenues that an RN with MSN can pursue.

Become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in Colorado

Learn how to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in Colorado and research schools in Colorado offering the following high paying nurse practitioner specialties:

Learn about Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree.

Online NP Programs Liked by Colorado Nurses

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Colorado  RN Licensing Requirements

RN License by Exam

There a few different ways one can obtain licensure in the state of Colorado. One of the easy ways to gain licensure is through the NCLEX examination. Along with a passing score, you also need to provide verification of graduation from an approved pre-licensure RN nursing education program.

RN License by Endorsement

Colorado allows candidates who are licensed from one of the fifty states to gain licensure through endorsement. Colorado is also a member of a nurse license compact in other compact states. The bordering states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nebraska do not need to get a Colorado license if they take a position there. However, this changes if and when they move to the state. Nurses with license in non-compact states are not authorized to work in Colorado without first getting a new license. Out of state candidates may be required to take a refresher course. This applies to those who do not have a current license or have not taken the NCLEX-RN in the past two years.

RN License for Nurses Educated Abroad

Nurses who are not licensed in the United States must apply for license by examination. There are some steps that must be completed prior to this. First of all, all candidates need a Healthcare Profession and Science Report. This will determine if their education program meet the equivalent requirements. In countries where English is not the native language, nurses will need to demonstrate English competency.

Colorado Board of Nursing

1560 Broadway, Suite 880
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: (303) 894-2430
Fax: (303) 894-2821

RN Salaries in Colorado

There is a large expected increase of citizens who are over the age of 65. The healthcare reform will increase the patient load, which will require registered nurses to possess a high level of influence and knowledge of their skill. Hospitals are more likely to hire nurses with a BSN in order to meet the demanding needs of the industry. On average, an RN in Colorado makes more than $68,980.

Colorado Registered Nursing Salaries by City

Bolder, CO has the highest annual wage followed closely by Denver and surrounding area. And Denver, by a very large percentage, has the largest number of employed nurses in Colorado. Hourly salary range is between $31.83 and $39.80.

Area NameEmploymentHourly WageAnnual Wage
Colorado Springs5,880$36.85$76,640
Eastern and Southern Colorado Area1,370$31.83$66,210
Fort Collins3,780$37.00$76,960
Grand Junction1,860$36.62$76,160
Northwest Colorado Area1,870$37.89$78,810
Southwest Colorado Area1,950$33.16$68,980
BLS - December, 2021

Colorado Nursing Salaries by Experience Level

OccupationEmployment1 to 4 Years5 to 9 Years10 to 19 Years20+ Years
Nursing Instructors1,180$29,480.00$51,890.00$105,580.00$146,550.00
Registered Nurses52,330$55,820.00$64,580.00$90,410.00$104,070.00
Nurse Anesthetists370$113,270.00$153,390.00$202,860.00-
Nurse Midwives170$71,620.00$86,360.00$126,600.00$145,370.00
Nurse Practitioners3,080$73,680.00$92,130.00$127,890.00$144,660.00
LPN / LVN4,960$41,530.00$46,610.00$60,990.00$65,980.00
Nursing Assistants21,310$27,250.00$30,170.00$38,640.00$41,230.00

Projected Need for Nurses in Colorado

Occupation20182028Change%ChangeAvg. Annual Openings
LPN / LVN5,6806,8701,19021600
Nurse Anesthetists35046011031.430
Nurse Midwives1301704030.810
Nurse Practitioners3,0404,4001,36044.7330
Nursing Assistants21,73027,1205,39024.83,280
Nursing Instructors1,2701,70043033.9170
Registered Nurses53,00068,63015,63029.54,810

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