Washington Nursing Programs and Degrees Guide

The following guide provides prospective nursing students with important information on the many undergraduate and graduate nursing programs offered by Washington State’s colleges and universities. Students have the option of pursuing dual degrees, such as the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and the Master of Business Administration (MBA), at some universities while concentrations are often offered in such eclectic areas as family nurse practitioner, nurse administrator, nurse educator, and advanced population health. A viable, flexible alternative to a traditional nursing program is to opt for a bachelor’s or a master’s in nursing degree program at such online universities as the University of Phoenix.

Washington School Facts:

  • 33 colleges and universities offer an associate’s degree in nursing.
  • 13 colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • 8 colleges and universities offer a master’s or advanced degree in nursing.
  • Highest graduation rate: The University of Washington Seattle and Gonzaga University 81%.1
  • Highest transfer-out rate: Seattle Community College Central Campus 23%.1
  • Highest net price: Seattle University $31,961.1
  • Lowest net price: Seattle Community College Central Campus $3,666.1
  • Annual undergrad tuition range for schools in Washington with a bachelor’s in nursing program: $16,515 – $34,800.2
  • 3 schools in US News Best Nursing Schools (2011) Top 100: University of Washington (1), Washington State University (50), and Gonzaga University (99).

Following are several profiles of the many nursing programs offered in Washington State.

Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs in Washington

University of Washington
Students in the University of Washington’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program only enter the nursing program in the junior year, after first completing general college coursework and prerequisites in the freshmen and sophomore years. Prospective nurses can opt for one of two undergraduate nursing programs through the Nursing Department at the University of Washington: the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN). The BSN program requires a total of 181 credits and takes two years of full-time study to complete, with students completing all general college coursework before entering the nursing program. Students must enroll in the nursing program on a full-time basis and all courses are completed on campus. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field can pursue the ABSN, a full-time program that spans five quarters. Clinical experiences are scheduled for each quarter of the program, except the final summer quarter. Nursing majors may also want to participate in exploration seminars to such countries as Ecuador, India, Italy, South Korea, and Taiwan. Graduates of the BSN program possess the necessary qualifications to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The Nursing Department also features a Master of Science (MS) in Nursing and a Masters of Nursing (MN). The MS program takes between two and six years to complete part-time while part-time MN students finish in a maximum of two years. MS students complete 46 or 49 credits and choose between a thesis and a scholarly project to fulfill degree requirements. MN students must engage in clinical experiences or undertake a thesis or a scholarly project to earn the degree.

Western Washington University
Western Washington University’s RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program caters to active registered nurses who already possess an associate’s degree in nursing. Classes are held once a week with nursing majors able to fulfill degree requirements in five quarters on a full-time basis and in nine quarters on a part-time basis. The program is run in a cohort format with a maximum of 45 applicants admitted each year. In addition to mandatory clinical practicums, nursing majors will also take courses in care coordination, global health, organizational change, and policy, leadership, and U.S. healthcare. Students will also develop a portfolio of work completed during the program.

Master’s in Nursing Programs in Washington

Washington State University
Washington State University’s Master of Nursing (MN) in Advanced Population Health (APH) offers concentrations in nursing leadership, nursing education, and individualized study. The nursing leadership track requires between 43 and 49 credits with students completing a mandatory thesis or a research project while nursing education students must take between 47 and 56 credits, including the completion of a thesis or a research project. The individualized study track allows students to tailor their degree to a specific area of interest by completing an additional three to four courses to fulfill the 41 to 51 credits necessary for graduation. Scholarships through the nursing department may be available for eligible students.

Pacific Lutheran University
Pacific Lutheran University’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program allows students to concentrate in care and outcomes manager and family nurse practitioner. A dual MSN/MBA (Master of Business Administration) program is also available. Students in the care and outcomes manager concentration, which generally takes 15 months to complete, may specialize in clinical nurse educator, clinical nurse leader, advanced generalist, or nurse administrator. The family nurse practitioner concentration spans two years and prepares graduates for advanced nursing roles. The nursing department also offers the entry-level Master of Science in Nursing program for students who possess a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than nursing and the RN to MSN for active registered nurses.

Reviews of Washington Nursing Schools

Yakima Valley Community College
S 16th Ave & Nob Hill Blvd
Yakima, WA 98902
(509) 574-4600

“The YVCC (Yakima Valley Community College) nursing program provides a rigorous and challenging experience for those committed to becoming the best nurses possible. The coursework is intense and the preceptorship and clinical are serious business. I found the instructors to be committed, tough as nails, and dedicated to their work. One of the best parts about the program is that it is cohort based, meaning that roughly the same group of students stick together throughout the course of their education. This encourages lasting relationships, group learning, and camaraderie. My primary critiques of the program are that at times, it felt high stakes. One poor score on a test could yield a failing grade for a class – seriously. One few too many courses re-taken and a student is eliminated from the program altogether. In the clinical setting, instructors had far too much leeway to threaten expulsion over minor infractions. As a whole, instructors were overstretched, overworked, and too stressed out. This rubbed off negatively on the program. All and all however, I would choose YVCC once again if I had it to do over.” – Student at Yakima Valley Community College

1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Niche: https://colleges.niche.com/search/t-traditional/sm1-nursing/d-bachelor/st-wa/