The Washington Coalition for Nursing has been pushing for legislation for a bachelor’s degree to be the minimal requirement for licensure. Nursing schools in Washington have responded to call and have introduced many different RN and BSN programs to help nurses meet their educational goals. These programs help prepare registered nurses for leadership and the culture shift of modern health care. There was almost a 50% increase of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the recent years. Now is the optimal time for registered nurses to seek out higher education in order to meet the needs of the constantly evolving career field.

In our Washington RN program guide, find rankings for both ADN and BSN Degree programs, tuition costs, NCLEX passing rates, and more. Research key Washington RN Program information to help you compare program metrics and to apply to best RN program for your career in nursing.

In the State of Washington, nurses are helping to change the face of healthcare. To ensure that they have the best education and preparation for future health care challenges, registered nurses need to graduate from a state-approved associate's degree in nursing program or a BSN degree program.

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.

Washington RN Program Comparisons: ADN vs BSN

Compare RN ProgramsADNBSN
Number of Nursing Programs3414
Average NCLEX Passing Rate86.86%90.57%
NCLEX Passing Rate Range50.13% to 98.64%86.79% to 93.11%
Average Net Price$6,652.62$17,988.57
Average Net Price Range$3,666.00 to $9,734.00$5,316.00 to $34,340.00
Average Student Loan$8,360.91$19,210.79
Average Student Loan Range$3,800.00 to $21,201.00$8,444.00 to $27,000.00
See Additional DetailADN Rankings for Washington StateBSN Rankings for Washington State

Best Ranked RN Programs in Washington

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

To create our rankings, we evaluated 29 ADN degree programs and 8 BSN degree programs in Washington. 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 Washington to provide our state rankings. View our methodology

WA Rank
US Rank
Offered As:
100.00 ADNBig Bend Community College11 Moses Lake

Big Bend Community College is located in Moses Lake, Washington.  They offer a career ladder program.  The program allows students to become a Nursing Assistant – Certified (NA-C) after the first quarter, an LPN after the third quarter and an ADN at the completion of the program.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
97.53 ADNPierce College252 PuyallupPublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.66 ADNWhatcom Community College382 Bellingham

Whatcom Community College is located in Bellingham, Washington.  WCC offers an ADN program.  They are proud to boast that 3 out of the past 4 years, 100% of their graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN on the first time.  Their ADN degree allows students to transfer to any university after graduation and complete their BSN in one year.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
96.23 ADNColumbia Basin College497 Pasco

Columbia Basin College is located in Pasco, Washington.  They offer an LPN and an ADN program.  The program is designed as a career ladder program – the student first earns their LPN, then can exit it they’d like, or continue for their ADN degree.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
95.61 ADNBellevue College5126 Bellevue

Bellevue College is located in Bellevue, Washington.  Their program consists of a Nursing Assistant Certified (NAC) Training Program, an ADN program and an RN to BSN program.  They also offer an RN refresher program, which is available for students who have been out of the workforce and need to brush up on their nursing skills.

PublicCampusACEN, CCNESee School Details
94.84 ADNOlympic College6160 BremertonPublicCampusACEN, CCNESee School Details
94.80 ADNEverett Community College7162 Everett

Everett Community College is located in Everett, Washington.  They have been educating nurses since 1941.  Graduates from their program earn an AAS-T degree, allowing them to easily transfer to a four-year college, as many will go on to earn their BSN degree.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
93.90 ADNPeninsula College8201 Port Angeles

Peninsula College is located in Port Angeles, Washington.  They offer an ADN program.  They offer advanced placement for LPNs, but only if spaces allow in the program – they do not have spaces available for the 2016-2017 academic year.  Peninsula College offers dozens of scholarships to its nursing students for those that apply.

PublicCampusSee School Details
93.77 ADNSouth Puget Sound Community College9208 OlympiaPublicCampusSee School Details
93.54 ADNWenatchee Valley College10219 WenatcheePublicCampusACENSee School Details
92.72 ADNBellingham Technical College11258 BellinghamPublicCampusACENSee School Details
92.17 ADNTacoma Community College12279 TacomaPublicCampusACENSee School Details
91.68 ADNSkagit Valley College13295 Mount Vernon

Skagit Valley College is located in Mount Vernon, Washington.  They offer an ADN degree.  They also offer an LPN to RN program.  The LPN to RN program is part-time.  Both degrees are designed to be transfer programs, enabling the nurse to transfer to a four-year college to earn their BSN.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
91.25 ADNCentralia College14315 CentraliaPublicCampusSee School Details
91.01 ADNWalla Walla Community College15321 Walla Walla

Walla Walla Community College is located in Walla Walla, Washington.  They offer a practical nursing program and an ADN program.  The program is a transfer degree program, where the degree transfers to certain universities and the student will only need to complete one year of schooling in order to earn their BSN.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
90.09 ADNShoreline Community College16359 Shoreline

Shoreline Community College is located in Shoreline, Washington.  They offer an ADN program with 2 options – a six-quarter option and a ten-quarter option.  The six-quarter option means that the student graduates in six semesters and the 10-quarter option means the student graduates in ten semesters.  The 10-quarter option is ideal for students who have other obligations or have not done well in a full-time nursing program.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
89.98 ADNHighline Community College17362 Des MoinesPublicCampusACENSee School Details
89.31 ADNYakima Valley Community College18390 Yakima

Yakima Valley Community College is located in Yakima, Washington.  Their program is a career ladder program; students who complete the first four semesters are eligible to take the NCLEX-PN, and then students who complete all six semesters can take the NCLEX-RN.  It is anticipated that in the near future, YVCC will have a Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA) with one or more universities, which will allow students to quickly progress to earning their BSN degree.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
89.10 ADNSeattle Central Community College19398 SeattlePublicCampusSee School Details
87.74 ADNLower Columbia College20447 LongviewPublicCampusACENSee School Details
87.15 ADNSpokane Community College21471 SpokanePublicCampusACENSee School Details
86.35 ADNLake Washington Institute of Technology22497 Kirkland

Lake Washington Institute of Technology is located in Kirkland, Washington.  The program offers a practical nursing program and an RN program; the RN program gives the student an AAS-T degree upon completion, which allows the student the ability to easily transfer to a 4-year college in order to ear their BSN.  When space is available, the program accepts working LPNs, although there is currently not space available at this time.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
86.32 ADNClark College23498 VancouverPublicCampusACENSee School Details
81.40 ADNGrays Harbor College24607 Aberdeen

Grays Harbor College is located in Aberdeen, Washington.  They offer an ADN program.  Students in the program who take the course “Personal and Vocational Relationships” within the program are eligible to take the NCLEX-PN while in the program.  There also is an LPN to RN program, but only if there is space available in the program.

PublicCampusACENSee School Details
79.37 ADNRenton Technical College25635 RentonPublicCampusSee School Details
95.33 BSNWalla Walla University1128 College Place

Walla Walla University is located in College Place, Washington.  They offer a BSN degree.  Although they do not offer specific career ladder programs, they offer individualized options for students interested in an RN to BSN degree or an LPN to BSN degree.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details
93.23 BSNUniversity of Washington2228 Seattle

University of Washington is located in Seattle, Washington.  They offer a BSN program and an accelerated BSN program; for students seeking an advanced education, they also have several lucrative post-graduate nursing options.  Their nursing department has been in existence since 1918, with their BSN program beginning in 1923.

PublicCampusACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
93.02 BSNGonzaga University3236 Spokane

Gonzaga University is located in Spokane, Washington.  They offer a BSN degree.  For RNs seeking advancement, they also offer an online RN to MSN degree.  They also offer several other online post-graduate nursing options.  They offer a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP), which readies the nurse with a BSN degree to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, Hybrid, OnlineACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
92.98 BSNPacific Lutheran University4238 Tacoma

Pacific Lutheran University is located in Tacoma, Washington.  They offer a BSN degree, in addition to several graduate degree options.  They also offer an LPN to BSN degree option.  Highly qualified high school seniors may apply for freshman entry into the program.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
90.22 BSNSeattle Pacific University5322 SeattlePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampusACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
87.88 BSNWashington State University6383 PullmanPublicCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
87.49 BSNSeattle University7399 SeattlePrivate Not-For-ProfitCampus, HybridACEN, ACME, CCNE, COASee School Details
86.79 BSNNorthwest University8413 Kirkland

Northwest University is located in Kirkland, Washington.  They are a Christian university, so they require bible and theology classes for their curriculum.  Their BSN program is unique because they offer their students the opportunity to study abroad in Kazakhstan, Kenya, Taiwan, Vietnam, India and Mexico.

Private Not-For-ProfitCampusCCNESee School Details

Become an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in Washington

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 Washington

Learn how to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) and research schools in Washington offering the following high paying nurse practitioner specialties: Learn about Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree.

Washington  RN Licensing Requirements

Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission Department of Health PO Box 47890 Olympia, WA 98504-7864 (360) 236-4703 Fees: Initial licensing fee, RN: $92 License renewal (annual), RN: $101 Continuing Education Requirements: RNs and LPNs: Seven contact hours in HIV-AIDS education

RN Licensure by Exams

Upon the completion of an approved nursing program, candidates will be required to verify program completion. This must be done before he/she can be granted authorization to take the NCLEX exam. The applicant will be responsible for an $88 nonrefundable application fee. There is a $200 registration fee that will be paid to Pearson VUE to register for the exam. When the candidate has received authorization to test (ATT), he/she will schedule the exam. After this, the candidate will verify the licensure online before receiving a paper copy.

RN License by Endorsement

Nurses who have obtained licensure in one of the other 50 states will be able to obtain licensure in Washington by endorsement. They will be required to submit a criminal background check through fingerprinting. If the registered nurse as an active license, he/she must submit verification of licensure and transcripts from an accredited nursing program. Candidates may work under a temporary permit that will allow them to work while the background check is being processed. Nurses who do not have an active license will be required to take part in a refresher course.

RN License for Nurses Educated Abroad

Registered nurses who obtained licensure outside of the United States will need to have an educational evaluation performed by an approved organization. The applicant will also be required to attest to having had AIDS training.

RN Salaries in Washington

Health care facilities in Washington are pushing for nurses that are baccalaureate-prepared. A lot of nursing schools in Washington work in collaboration with health care facilities to ensure that a high level of education is provided which will ultimately result in well educated and highly skilled nursing workforce. Nurses who have obtained a BSN have the ability to provide education resources for nursing students and newly licensed nurses. Certifications can provide nurses with unique career mobility and independent practice in areas such as oncology and nursing advocacy.

Washington Registered Nursing Salaries

Overall, Seattle has the highest number employed registered nurses along with the highest hourly mean wage and annual median wage.
Area nameEmploymentHourly mean wageAnnual median wage
Bellingham, WA1,240$37.28$74,690
Bremerton-Silverdale, WAEstimate not released$36.45$74,090
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA1,420$30.60$60,960
Longview, WA680$36.51$74,820
Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA780$36.03$71,200
Olympia, WA1,640$38.42$80,770
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division23,370$40.52$83,690
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA29,680$39.83$82,370
Spokane, WA5,000$35.14$71,190
Tacoma, WA Metropolitan Division6,300$37.27$78,580
Wenatchee-East Wenatchee, WA1,080$35.72$73,080
Yakima, WA1,690$31.27$64,110
Northwestern Washington nonmetropolitan area900$34.36$69,150
Southwestern Washington nonmetropolitan area1,130$33.73$68,020
Central Washington nonmetropolitan area980$34.71$66,130
Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area1,160$34.32$71,300
Source:, 2014 Data