Nursing Programs: Top Ranking Nursing College - Tucson, AZ

School and Ranking Information

Within 100 miles of Tucson, AZ, 11 colleges and universities offer nursing degree programs. Of these, four are for-profit institutions not considered in these rankings. Based on ranking information, location and program breadth, the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, and Central Arizona College are best in the area.

To become a registered nurse (RN) in Arizona, candidates apply through the Arizona State Board of Nursing. The board requires that RNs graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX - RN). For licensure as an advanced practice nurse, candidates need to graduate from a master's or post-master's program that is nationally accredited by a recognized national nursing accrediting body. All of the following schools have approved and/or accredited programs.

  • Winner: The University of Arizona offers the most options in nursing, with bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs. Its graduate nursing program has been nationally ranked.
  • Runner-Up #1: Pima Community College, which offers an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program, is the first runner-up because of its location right in Tucson.
  • Runner-Up #2: Central Arizona College is another community college option about 60 miles from Tucson. It also offers an associate degree program for aspiring RNs.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of Arizona Pima Community College Central Arizona College
Ranking(s) Graduate nursing program 32nd in the nation* N/A N/A
Location Tucson, AZ Tucson, AZ Coolidge, AZ (61.3 miles)
School Type 4-year, public 2-year, public 2-year, public
Tuition & Fees (2011-2012) $10,035 (undergraduate, in-state),
$26,231 (undergraduate, out-of-state),
$11,112 (graduate, in-state),
$26,533 (graduate, out-of-state)**
$1,652 (in-state), $7,784 (out-of-state)** $2,160 (in-state), $9,600 (out-of-state)**
Nursing Degrees and Certificates Offered Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; postgraduate certificates Associate degrees Associate degrees
Nursing Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 224** 210** 68**
Most Popular Nursing Program (2011-2012) Bachelor of Science in Nursing (196 awarded)** Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (210 awarded)** Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (68 awarded)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) 61% (for students enrolling in 2005)** 12% (for students enrolling in 2008)** 29% (for students enrolling in 2008)**
Noteworthy Ranked 58th among public national universities* Pima Community College has more than 30 student organizations to explore, including the Student Nurses Association*** In 2011-2012, 80% of first-year students received grant or scholarship aid**

Sources: *U.S. News and World Report, **NCES College Navigator, ***Pima Community College.

Winner: University of Arizona

  • The University of Arizona College of Nursing includes 16 faculty members who are fellows of the American Academy of Nursing
  • U.S. News and World Report ranked the University of Arizona 120th among all national universities in 2013
  • Ranked 7th among nursing doctoral programs by the National Research Council
  • Graduates have a 95% pass rate on the NCLEX - RN, according to the University of Arizona
  • College of Nursing conducts research in areas that include older adult health, symptom science and health equity

At the University of Arizona, there were 588 students enrolled in the College of Nursing's programs (from bachelor's degrees to doctoral degrees) in spring 2013, according to the college. Students can choose from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Systems Leadership, Doctor of Nursing Practice or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. Students may also choose a Master's Entry to the Profession of Nursing or Graduate Nurse Practitioner (NP) Certificate.

In 2011-2012, the university awarded 196 Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees, seven Master of Science in Nursing and 20 doctoral-level degrees, according to the school's website. Both the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program and Master's Entry into Nursing Practice are approved by the state nursing board. The College of Nursing is accredited through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education to grant undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Runner Up #1: Pima Community College

  • According to the NCES, nearly half of the associate degrees awarded in health professions were Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degrees in 2011-2012
  • Pima Community College is accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc., an accrediting agency recognized by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)
  • Offers an ADN-BSN concurrent enrollment program in partnership with Northern Arizona University

Located just 2.7 miles from downtown Tucson, Pima Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. The school also offers certificate programs for practical nursing as well as a transition program for licensed practical nurses to earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Nursing. In 2011-2012, the 2-year college awarded 210 associate degrees in nursing, according to NCES. The AAS requires completion of 72-88 credits, which include courses with theoretical and clinical components. Some courses are nursing processes, microbiology, developmental psychology and pharmacology.

Of all Pima students who began their studies in the fall of 2010, 60% continued their studies in the fall of 2011. The graduation rate for students beginning in 2008 is low, only 12% graduated within 150% of 'normal time' to complete their academic programs. The state board approves Pima Community College to provide educational programs in registered nursing.

Runner Up #2: Central Arizona College

  • Of students who began their studies in fall 2010, 62% returned for fall 2011, according to NCES
  • In the Division of Nursing, eight of nine staff members hold a Master of Science in Nursing, according to Central Arizona College

According to the NCES, more than 7,000 students pursue certificate and associate degree programs at Central Arizona College, approximately 60 miles from Tucson. The 2-year, public college offers an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program. Applicants to this degree program must hold a CNA license from the Arizona State Board of Nursing, complete prerequisite biology courses and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75.

The 71-credit AAS program includes core requirements in pharmacology, nutrition and nursing practices. Nursing students can join the Central Arizona Student Nursing Association. Central Arizona College is accredited through the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission to award associate degrees in nursing and is a state-approved provider of educational programs for registered nurses.

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