Best Nursing Schools in Arizona | 2024

From entry-level nursing programs to graduate degrees equipping students to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), discover the best nursing schools in Arizona. Articles Programs


If you're considering a career in nursing and looking for the best undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in Arizona, you've come to the right place.

We've meticulously evaluated nursing institutions in Arizona based on factors like NCLEX pass rates, graduation rates, student-faculty ratios, affordability, program duration, and admission rates, and ranked the top schools by degree types.

Dive into the world of nursing education in Arizona and discover the best programs, whether you're pursuing an Associate in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). We've also compiled everything you need to know about studying in Arizona, salary expectations after graduation, and answered frequently asked questions.

Best Undergraduate Nursing Programs in Arizona

The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most while selecting schools with the addition of NCLEX pass rates (when applicable), graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rate of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.

Discover the best undergraduate nursing schools by program:

Best Associate in Nursing Programs in Arizona

ADN programs in Arizona are typically offered by community colleges and vocational schools. These programs generally span two years and provide students with the foundational knowledge and clinical skills required for nursing practice. Upon completion, graduates earn the title of RN by passing the NCLEX-RN and are eligible to work in entry-level nursing positions, delivering direct patient care. ADN programs serve as a practical starting point for those seeking a nursing career. Below, we've ranked the top 15.

1. Central Arizona College

Central Arizona College boasts an ACEN-accredited Associate in Nursing program (AAS) situated in Coolidge, Arizona, offering an affordable pathway to future nurses. With a budget-friendly annual tuition of $5,491 and an impressive 92% NCLEX pass rate, graduates are well-prepared to embark on a successful nursing career.

2. Estrella Mountain Community College – Maricopa Nursing

Estrella Mountain Community College, located in Avondale, Arizona, distinguishes itself with a remarkable 97% NCLEX pass rate for its Associate in Nursing (AAS) program, which holds ACEN accreditation. With a cost-effective tuition of $9,708 and a small class size of 44 students in 2022, aspiring nurses can access a high-quality education while preparing for a successful healthcare career.

3. Pima Community College – West Campus 

Pima Community College's West Campus in Tucson, Arizona, presents an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program at an affordable tuition rate of $3,409. Featuring a commendable 89% NCLEX pass rate and ACEN accreditation, students receive a robust education that paves the way for a fulfilling nursing career at below-average costs. 

Score School Program City Estimated Students (2022) NCLEX Pass Rates Accredited
98.91 Central Arizona College AAS Coolidge $5,491 - 92% Yes
98.38 Estrella Mountain CC Maricopa Nursing AAS Avondale $9,708 44 97% Yes
97.69 Pima CC – West Campus ADN Tucson $3,409 0 89% Yes
96.91 Northland Pioneer College AAS Holbrook $6,123 47 91% Yes
95.87 Scottsdale CC Maricopa Nursing AAS Scottsdale $11,286 112 96% Yes
95.87 Paradise Valley CC Maricopa Nursing AAS Phoenix $9,743 53 94% Yes
95.69 Yavapai College AAS Prescott $7,144 76 91% Yes
95.16 Mesa CC Maricopa Nursing AAS Mesa $10,850 21 95% Yes
94.87 Glendale CC Maricopa Nursing AAS Glendale $9,717 167 93% Yes
94.10 GateWay CC Maricopa Nursing AAS Phoenix $10,356 29 93% Yes
93.09 Chandler-Gilbert CC MaricopaNursing AAS Chandler $9,824 74 92% Yes
90.36 Eastern Arizona College AAS Thatcher $9,776 54 99% No
88.39 Arizona Western College AAS Yuma $10,135 68 87% Yes
87.26 Cochise College AAS Sierra Vista $7,124 - 83% Yes
84.28 Phoenix College Maricopa Nursing AAS Phoenix $10,118 128 83% Yes

Best BSN Programs in Arizona

In Arizona, BSN programs are commonly found in universities and colleges. These programs typically span four years, though accelerated options may be available for those with previous education or experience. BSN programs offer a comprehensive nursing education that includes coursework in leadership, research, public health, and more. Graduates are well-prepared for a wide range of nursing roles and often have better prospects for career advancement.

1. Arizona State University 

Arizona State University, located in Tempe, offers a BSN program at an estimated annual tuition of $12,814. This ACEN-accredited program boasts an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 92%, ensuring students receive a top-quality education and solid preparation for their nursing careers. ASU's comprehensive curriculum and accreditation make its BSN program a promising pathway for aspiring nurses to excel in the healthcare field.

2. Northern Arizona University 

Northern Arizona University, situated in Flagstaff, provides a BSN program with an estimated annual tuition of $14,636. The program holds ACEN accreditation and reports a notable NCLEX pass rate of 94%, underscoring its dedication to producing highly competent nurses.

3. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona, located in Tucson, offers a BSN program with an estimated annual tuition of $15,601. This program maintains ACEN accreditation and showcases an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 94%, demonstrating its commitment to delivering high-quality nursing education.

4. Grand Canyon University – Tucson 

At Grand Canyon University's Tucson campus, prospective nurses can enroll in the BSN program, which features an estimated annual tuition of $21,176. With an outstanding NCLEX pass rate of 98% and ACEN accreditation, the program equips students with a top-tier education and readies them for successful nursing careers.

5. Grand Canyon University – Sun City 

Embark on your nursing journey with the BSN program at Grand Canyon University's Sun City campus. This ACEN-accredited program showcases an impressive NCLEX pass rate of 96%, preparing students for prosperous careers in nursing. With an estimated annual tuition of $14,636, it offers an affordable and promising opportunity for aspiring nurses.

Score School Program City Estimated
NCLEX Pass Rates
(Avg. 2018-2022)
99.63 Arizona State University BSN Tempe $12,814 92% Yes
99.29 Northern Arizona University BSN Flagstaff $14,636 94% Yes
98.43 University of Arizona BSN Tucson $15,601 94% Yes
96.02 Grand Canyon University
BSN Tucson $21,176 98% Yes
94.73 Grand Canyon University
Sun City
BSN Sun City $21,176 96% Yes
92.79 Grand Canyon University
BSN Phoenix $21,176 93% Yes
88.72 Arizona College of Nursing BSN Tempe $27,892 96% Yes
86.79 Arizona College of Nursing
BSN Tucson $27,892 93% Yes
84.63 Chamberlain University - Arizona BSN Phoenix $35,174 92% Yes

Best Graduate Nursing Programs in Arizona

The main degree options for graduate nursing education in Arizona include:

Best MSN Programs in Arizona

MSN programs in Arizona are graduate-level nursing programs, often requiring a BSN as a prerequisite. These programs offer specialized tracks, such as nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nurse administrator, allowing nurses to deepen their knowledge and skills in specific areas. MSN graduates often pursue advanced practice roles and leadership positions within healthcare organizations, contributing to improved patient care and nursing practice.

1. Arizona State University

Arizona State University's CCNE-accredited online MSN program focuses on three key areas:

  • Evidence-based practice
  • Patient safety
  • Healthcare quality and leadership

Graduates are prepared to advance in their field as nurse leaders and impact patient quality and safety. Students are required to take 12 classes for seven and a half weeks each, for 30 total credit hours.

2. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona offers two MSN Tracks:

  • Entry to the Profession
  • Clinical Systems Leadership

The Entry to the Profession MSN is an accelerated 15-month program tailored for students holding university degrees in other fields who want to become RNs, while the Clinical Systems Leadership program is designed to strengthen patient care and leadership abilities.

3. Grand Canyon University

GCU offers seven MSN tracks:

  • Health Care Quality and Patient Safety
  • Health Informatics
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
  • Public Health Nursing
  • Adult-Gerontology
  • Family Nurse Practitioner

Each of the programs prepares aspiring APRNs to positively contribute to their specialty, improving patient safety, quality care, and healthcare delivery.

Best DNP Programs in Arizona

DNP programs in Arizona are terminal practice-focused doctoral programs designed for experienced nurses who seek to advance their clinical practice and leadership abilities. These programs emphasize evidence-based practice, healthcare system improvement, and advanced nursing skills. Graduates with a DNP can become nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or healthcare executives, playing pivotal roles in transforming healthcare delivery and policy.

1. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona offers eight DNP tracks:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGAC-NP)
  • Executive Health Systems Leadership
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Anesthesiology
  • Nurse-Midwifery
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Post-Master's DNP

The DNP programs offer students a foundation of education preparation in advanced care of the selected specialty population, nursing theories, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement methods.

2. Arizona State University

Arizona State University's DNP is offered in eight tracks:

  • Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (ACP-NP)
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (FPMH-NP)
  • Innovation Leadership
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care (PNP-PC)
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
  • Post-Master's DNP

All programs are offered in hybrid iCourse and in-person formats that require students to travel to the Phoenix campus for up to a week of orientation at the beginning of the program.

3. Grand Canyon University

GCU's DNP program is ideal for nurse leaders, including APRNs and nurse informaticists with the goal of remaining at the forefront of innovative patient care.

Coursework includes:

  • Emerging Areas of Human Health
  • Scientific Underpinnings
  • Patient Outcomes and Sustainable Change
  • Leadership for Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Health Care Informatics

Studying Nursing in Arizona

Studying nursing in Arizona offers a unique blend of educational opportunities, a diverse healthcare landscape, and the allure of the Southwestern United States. Here's what to expect:

  • Academic Excellence: Arizona is home to several reputable universities and colleges with nursing programs that offer high-quality education.
  • Clinical Opportunities: Arizona's healthcare system provides a wide range of clinical experiences for nursing students. You can gain practical experience in diverse settings, from urban hospitals in Phoenix to rural clinics near the Mexican border.
  • Diverse Patient Populations: Studying in Arizona exposes nursing students to a diverse patient population, including various ethnicities and cultures. This diversity enhances cultural competency, a vital skill for healthcare professionals.
  • State-of-the-Art Facilities: Many nursing schools in Arizona boast modern, state-of-the-art facilities, simulation labs, and cutting-edge technology, offering students a hands-on learning experience.
  • Natural Beauty: Arizona's natural beauty is a major draw. The state is known for its stunning landscapes, including the Grand Canyon, Sedona's red rocks, and the Sonoran Desert. Exploring these natural wonders can be a great way to relax and recharge from the demands of nursing studies.
  • Growing Healthcare Industry: Arizona's healthcare sector is expanding, providing ample job opportunities for nursing graduates. The state's healthcare facilities are continually seeking well-trained nurses to meet the healthcare needs of the growing population.
  • Cultural Diversity: The state's diverse culture extends beyond the healthcare setting. Arizona's vibrant cities like Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff offer a mix of cultural events, festivals, and dining experiences, enriching your life outside of academics.
  • Nursing Associations: Arizona has active nursing associations and professional organizations that provide networking opportunities, support, and resources for nursing students and professionals.
  • Cost of Living: The cost of living in Arizona can vary depending on the city or region. Some areas, like Phoenix and Tucson, are more affordable compared to major metropolitan areas in other states.

Arizona offers a balance between academic excellence, diverse clinical experiences, the opportunity to explore natural wonders, and a growing healthcare industry. It's an attractive destination for those aspiring to start or advance their nursing careers.

Salary Expectations

Several factors can affect salary expectations for nursing professionals in Alabama, including education, experiences, healthcare facility, employer, demand for specialty, shift and hours, and more. The following averages are from the latest data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS). To develop the best understanding of potential salaries, it's important to conduct further research relevant to yourself and your employer.

RN Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs in Arizona in 2022 earned:

  • Mean Hourly Wage: $41.70
  • Annual Mean Wage: $86,740

Unfortunately, the BLS does not specify whether this is an associate-prepared RN or BSN-prepared RNs; however, given that a BSN is likely to increase earning potential, this is likely to be representative of slightly lower than the average BSN-RN salary.

RN salary in Arizona is 3% lower than the national estimates for 2022, as the BLS reports RNs across the U.S. earning:

  • Mean Hourly Wage: $42.80
  • Annual Mean Wage: $89,010

With the highest-paying states being:

  • California: $133,340
  • Hawaii: $113,220
  • Oregon: $106,610
  • Massachusetts: $104,150
  • Alaska: $103,310

The BLS collected the Arizona RN wage data from over 56,040 nurses.

Advanced Practice Salaries: MSN- and DNP-Prepared Nurses

For advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with an MSN or DNP, the BLS reported the average salaries in Arizona are:

  • Nurse Practitioners: $121,410
  • Nurse Anesthetists: $179,730

Compared to the national averages of:

  • Nurse Practitioners: 124,680
  • Nurse Anesthetists: $205,770

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What are the entry requirements for nursing programs in Arizona?

Entry requirements vary by program, but generally, you'll need a high school diploma or equivalent for ADN and BSN programs. For BSN programs, many schools require the completion of prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, and math. MSN and DNP programs typically require a BSN and an active RN license.

Q: What is the cost of nursing education in Arizona?

Tuition costs vary depending on the type of program and the institution you choose. Public universities and community colleges tend to have lower tuition rates for in-state residents. Scholarships, grants, and financial aid opportunities are available to help offset tuition costs.

Q: Are there opportunities for clinical experience in rural areas of Arizona?

Yes, Arizona's healthcare landscape includes rural and underserved areas. Many nursing programs provide clinical placements in these regions to expose students to a diverse patient population and address healthcare disparities.

Edited by Tim Kraft

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