Updated: November 25, 2021

Overview of Nursing Schools in Washington

  • There are 47 nursing schools in Washington. The CCNE accredits 10 nursing schools and the ACEN accredits 28 schools in Washington.
  • 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 Washington is between 50.13% and 98.64%.
  • The average NCLEX passing rate range for BSN students in Washington is between 86.79% and 93.11%.
  • The average annual salary for registered nurses is between $52,080 to $111,220 a year.
  • Registered Nurses (RN) throughout the country and in Washington can expect a favorable job growth of 15 percent from 2016 to 2026 which much faster than the average for all occupations.

Online Nursing Programs Liked by Washington Nurses

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

About Nursing Schools in Washington

Washington state is looking at a steady rise in the need for the nursing workforce to uplift the health status of its citizens. The nurses find employment across various areas including home health, school health, long-term care facilities, acute care, residential homes, community health facilities, and more. Among these, the fresh graduates are earning $65,400 annually, while the ones with more than 20 years of experience make a whopping $125,970 on average. There are some 59,300 registered nurses working in the state, and the number is expected to rise to 70,240  by 2028. As such, the state is going to need to employ 5,820 nurses annually to meet this demand and fulfill this prediction. 

Similarly, this diverse state is also a great destination for both experienced and freshly graduated Nurse Practitioners. The annual average salary of the 3,720 NPs working here is a comfortable sum of $90,980, with the more experienced ones earning up to $162,080. You could see these figures on your paycheck, too, as Washington will surely need 5,180 NP by 2028, which means that the state will employ 480 NPs annually to meet this number. 

To put the cherry on the cake, the Nurse Practitioners working in Washington state are granted Full Practice authority, as per the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. A full practice authority means that the NPs are permitted to evaluate patients, diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic tests. They can initiate and manage treatments, including prescribing medications and controlled substances, under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. 

As of 2020, Washington is yet to implement the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), which allows nurses to work across states without having to obtain a license of each state. However, since the eNLC isn’t implemented here, nurses wanting to come to Washington to practice from another state must pass the NCLEX examination here and obtain their license again. 

There are multiple highly ranked nursing colleges in Washington state that can help you reach your goals and set new standards in healthcare practice. The graduates of these colleges are highly compassionate, research-focused, and uphold the values of holistic healthcare practices. The NCLEX pass rates are exceedingly high, and the employer satisfaction also speaks for the quality of care these nurses provide across all health sectors.

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 Programs ADN BSN
Number of Nursing Programs 34 13
Average NCLEX Passing Rate 86.86% 90.57%
NCLEX Passing Rate Range 50.13% to 98.64% 86.79% to 93.11%

Nursing Programs Offered by Washington Nursing Schools

  • Registered Nursing: 47
  • Family Nurse Practitioner: 6
  • Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: 4
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: 4
  • CNL: 3
  • Nursing Administration: 2
  • Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing: 2
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: 1
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: 1

Washington Nursing Schools with the Most Degree Types

Best Ranked RN Programs in Washington

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 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


Pierce College

  • 1601 39th Ave SE, Puyallup, WA - 98374-2222
  • (253) 840-8400
  • Grade: (A) 97.53%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
At Pierce College, students interact with the faculty and staff in the teaching and learning process so that they are empowered to build upon the assimilation of nursing knowledge, scholarships, and skills that lead to the provision of competent and compassionate nursing care.  The college aims to promote excellence in
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Bellingham Technical College

  • 3028 Lindbergh Ave, Bellingham, WA - 98225-1599
  • (360) 752-7000
  • Grade: (A) 95.60%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
At Bellingham Technical College, nursing students learn high-demand skills needed for a successful and rewarding career in the challenging, highly technical, and rapidly advancing world of healthcare and wellness.  Nursing graduates from Bellingham Technical College have found employment in a number of areas such as hospitals, clinics, wellness centers, and
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Gonzaga University

  • E 502 Boone Ave, Spokane, WA - 99258-0001
  • (509) 328-4220
  • Grade: (A) 95.05%
  • Programs: Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor, BSN to DNP, MSN, MSN to DNP, RN to MSN
Nursing education at Gonzaga University School of Nursing and Human Physiology focuses on humanity, intention, and heart. The University offers a humanistic, Jesuit approach across all degrees and multiple programs. The education delivery occurs through faculty members with more than 30 years of experience in teaching face-to-face as well as
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Tacoma Community College

  • 6501 S 19th St, Tacoma, WA - 98466-6100
  • (253) 566-5000
  • Grade: (A) 94.90%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Tacoma Community College proudly introduces its graduates who are competent, skilled nurses that excel in all areas of healthcare services. Students are prepared to pass their NCLEX and get employed as generalists RNs in a variety of healthcare facilities. The college boasts the highest numbers in the state in terms
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Skagit Valley College

  • 2405 E. College Way, Mount Vernon, WA - 98273
  • (360) 416-7600
  • Grade: (A) 94.20%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Through its rigorous and detailed curriculum, Skagit Valley College prepares students for a lifelong career in nursing practice. Skagit Valley College has one of the best nursing programs in the entire state, and its high NCLEX pass rates and the graduate employment rates are testimonials to the quality education provided
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Northwest University

  • 5520 108th Ave NE, Kirkland, WA - 98083-0579
  • (425) 822-8266
  • Grade: (A) 94.16%
  • Programs: Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursingg, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor
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.

Whatcom Community College

  • 237 W Kellogg Rd, Bellingham, WA - 98226
  • (360) 383-3000
  • Grade: (A) 93.00%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Located in Bellingham, WA, Whatcom Community College has one of the best nursing programs in the entire state. Owing to the rigorous full-time classes and other skill-building activities, it is no surprise that the NCLEX pass rates of Whatcom Community College are higher than the national average. The students here
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Olympic College

  • 1600 Chester Ave, Bremerton, WA - 98337-1699
  • (360) 792-6050
  • Grade: (A) 92.80%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate, Bachelor
Nursing students at Olympic College undergo rigorous training and instruction to become qualified professionals who can deliver quality nursing care. The college fosters an interactive environment that encourages growth and maximizes the potential of each individual student so that they can achieve high academic and ethical standards.  The highly skilled
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Walla Walla University

  • 204 S College Ave, College Place, WA - 99324-1198
  • (509) 527-2615
  • Grade: (A) 92.61%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor
At Walla Walla University, students are taught a faith-based perspective on patient care by an engaging and clinically experienced faculty. The students focus on holistic care as they prepare for NCLEX from the preparation course included in the curriculum. The graduates have praised the research aspect of the curriculum and
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Bellevue College

  • 3000 Landerholm Cir SE, Bellevue, WA - 98007-6484
  • (425) 564-1000
  • Grade: (A) 91.90%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
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
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University of Washington

  • 1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, WA - 98195-4550
  • (206) 543-2100
  • Grade: (A) 91.64%
  • Programs: Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, CNL, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursingg, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Accelerated BSN, APRN Certificate, Bachelor, BSN to DNP, BSN to PhD, MSN, MSN to DNP
University of Washington is located in Seattle, Washington. Their nursing department has been in existence since 1918, with their BSN program beginning in 1923. Ranked as one of the top public nursing institutions in the nation, the University of Washington School of Nursing aims to address the healthcare needs of communities
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Seattle Pacific University

  • 3307 3rd Ave W, Seattle, WA - 98119-1997
  • (206) 281-2000
  • Grade: (A) 91.59%
  • Programs: Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, CNL, Family Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor, MSN, Post Master's NP Certificate

Wenatchee Valley College

  • 1300 Fifth St, Wenatchee, WA - 98801-1799
  • (509) 682-6800
  • Grade: (A) 91.30%
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate
Nursing graduates of Wenatchee Valley College are apt in technological advances while demonstrating the value of human caring. They provide teachings related to health promotion and encourage people to do the same.  Nursing students at Wenatchee Valley College get a chance to practice in hands-on clinical environments in a variety
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Washington Rank
88.70 Columbia Basin College 14 ADN
88.40 Centralia College 14 ADN
85.40 Lake Washington Institute of Technology 15 ADN
85.20 Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom 16 ADN
84.20 Highline Community College 17 ADN
81.00 Grays Harbor College 18 ADN
72.60 Renton Technical College 19 ADN
88.21 Pacific Lutheran University 6 BSN
87.50 Washington State University 7 BSN
86.11 Seattle University 8 BSN

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.

MSN Programs Recommended by Our Education Experts

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

Washington  RN Licensing Requirements

Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission
Department of Health
PO Box 47890
Olympia, WA 98504-7864
(360) 236-4703

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, the Seattle area has the highest number employed registered nurses with 33,660 RNs and the highest annual wage of $95,120.

AreaEmploymentHourly WageAnnual Wage
Eastern Washington1,43040.03$83,260
Mount Vernon-Anacortes1,22042.48$88,360
Spokane-Spokane Valley6,57043.21$89,890
Walla Walla76043.88$91,280
Western Washington2,36042.98$89,400
Yakima, WA1,86035.63$74,100

Source: BLS, Department of Education, State Board of Nursing, Nursing School Websites.

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