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Nursing Colleges in Denver with Degree Program Summaries

Feb 13, 2019

The Denver area has several colleges that offer nursing programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools, all within 20 miles of downtown, and make an informed education decision.

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Denver Schools with Nursing Programs

Students interested in nursing programs in Denver have several schools from which to choose. This article looks at three institutions and the undergraduate and graduate programs they offer. There is also a table of information about these schools with figures on enrollment, tuition and graduation rates. At the end of the article is a listing of some other Denver-area schools that offer nursing programs.

  • Metropolitan State University of Denver , less than a mile from downtown, offers a bachelor's completion program for nurses with associate's degrees and an accelerated program for individuals with degrees in other fields.
  • About a mile from downtown, the University of Colorado Denver, offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs.
  • Front Range Community College - Westminster, 16 miles from downtown Denver, has two certificate programs, an associate's-level program and an LPN-to-ADN program offered in conjunction with Metropolitan State.

Comparison of Schools

Aspiring nursing students need to consider many factors when choosing a school. The following table displays important statistics.

Metropolitan State University of Denver University of Colorado Denver Front Range Community College - Westminster
School Type Four-year, public Four-year, public Two-year, public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 20,304 24,839 19,259
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large suburb
Tuition & Fees (2017-2018)* Undergraduate:
$7,352 in-state;
$20,149 out-of-state
Undergraduate:
$9,107 in-state;
$25,259 out-of-state
Graduate:
$7,839 in-state;
$23,499 out-of-state
Undergraduate:
$3,908 in-state;
$14,783 out-of-state
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2017)* 71% 74% 65%
Undergraduate Acceptance Rate (2017)* 64% 65% Open admissions policy
Retention Rate of 1st-Time Students (2016-2017)* 63% full-time;
47% part-time
67% full-time;
44% part-time
59% full-time;
44% part-time
Undergraduate Graduation Rate* 28% (27% transfer out) (Students began in 2011) 45% (32% transfer out) (Students began in 2011) 23% (17% transfer out) (Students began in 2014)

Source *National Center for Education Statistics, College Navigator

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Metropolitan State University of Denver was established in 1965 and currently serves nearly 24,000 students annually through both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. MSU is the most diverse and affordable among 4-year universities in Colorado, with approximately 75% of graduates remaining in the state. The university offers accelerated and completion bachelor's nursing programs through the School of Professional Studies.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Completion

Students with an associate's degree or diploma in nursing, as well as RN licensure in Colorado, can enroll in MSU's 120-credit bachelor's completion program. Schedules are designed to allow students to continue full-time work while attending school. Courses explore topics such as health assessment, community health nursing, ethics, nurse leadership, gerontology and advances in clinical practice. Labs and a practicum are required. The degree can be earned in one year of full-time study or in two years if attending part-time.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing - Accelerated

Students who have a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing can apply for MSU's accelerated nursing program to earn a BSN. This 17-month program requires students to complete a handful of prerequisites before applying and accepts just 44 students per year. Coursework includes classes such as foundations of professional nursing, clinical pharmacology, mental health nursing, leadership and management, nursing research and medical-surgical nursing. Clinical practice and lab work are required. Graduates will be ready to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado Denver can trace its roots to 1883, when the School of Medicine was established on the Boulder campus; the Denver campus was founded in 1912. UC Denver now combines the Denver extension of the University of Colorado Boulder with the Anschutz Medical Campus, enrolling nearly 25,000 students annually. The School of Nursing opened on the Denver campus in 1924 and changed its name to the College of Nursing in 2008. The college awards both undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The College of Nursing has several options for students interested in earning a BSN: a traditional or accelerated curriculum, an online program for RNs and a program through the Community College of Aurora (CCA). The traditional and accelerated options consist of 66 credits, with coursework such as nursing practice essentials, mental health nursing, professional nursing and public health nursing. The traditional option runs for six semesters beginning in the summer, while the 4-semester accelerated option is geared towards students who already hold a bachelor's degree.

The 30-credit online program is designed for RNs who want a more advanced degree for professional development purposes. Students take five courses, including nursing research, case management and nurse leadership, over four semesters or 16 months. Finally, the integrated pathway bachelor's program allows CCA students to work towards a BSN at UC Denver while completing an associate's degree.

Master of Science in Nursing

UC Denver's MSN program is rated one of the best in the nation, preparing students to become advanced practitioners in a variety of specialties, including adult clinical nurse specialist, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, healthcare informatics, nurse-midwifery, pediatric nurse practitioner, i-LEAD nursing leadership and healthcare systems, veteran/military health and women's health. A BSN is required for entrance to the program. The school also has two transition programs that allow students to work towards a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD while earning an MSN.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

This 41-credit DNP program is for nurses who already hold a BSN or MSN. The focus is on clinical practice and research, preparing students for a variety of employment opportunities, including clinical nurse educator, healthcare program developer, executive or clinical administrator. Courses include epistemology, applied evidence-based practice, designing theory-guided models of care, foundations of healthcare informatics and leadership. Additionally, all students must participate in a supervised clinical experience at one of UC Denver's many affiliated healthcare sites.

PhD in Nursing

The PhD nursing program provides practicing nurses with the research skills and overall knowledge for work as scientists, educators, researchers, healthcare policy analysts or administrators. Students take courses online, in addition to weeklong intensive sessions each semester at the Denver campus. In addition to core courses such as qualitative and quantitative methods, nursing metatheory and science inquiry, the 42-credit program features emphases in healthcare systems research and biobehavioral science. Students must also complete a dissertation. Those with a BSN can graduate in 2-3 years.

Front Range Community College - Westminster

In 1968, FRCC became the first community college approved by Colorado's State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education, and today is the largest community college in the state. The Westminster Campus was the first established, with the school adding a handful of additional locations throughout Northern Colorado over the years. FRCC - Westminster sees nearly 20,000 students through its doors annually and offers a wide range of certificate and degree programs, including several nursing options. In addition to an associate's-level nursing program, FRCC teams with Metropolitan State to offer a BSN completion program.

Practical Nursing Certificate

There are two options for this program, a typical certificate program and an exit option program, which is for those who want to be eligible to take the NCLEX-PN exam. The total credit hours for the former program is 36 nursing credits with an additional seven general education credits, while the latter is 47.

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

Students interested in gaining licensure and seeking employment as RNs may be interested in FRCC's AAS in Nursing. This 2-year program prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN and work in a variety of settings in the healthcare field, including home health agencies and clinics. The 71.5- to 73.5-credit program requires students to complete 17 nursing courses, including pharmacology, fundamentals of nursing and advanced concepts of medical-surgical nursing. Upon completion of the program, students will be prepared to pursue an advanced nursing degree or obtain entry-level employment.

LPN-to-ADN Completion Program

Offered jointly through FRCC's nursing department and Metropolitan State's Extended Campus, this program is geared towards nursing students at FRCC who are interested in pursuing the ADN. Students take classes at the Westminster Campus part-time and complete the program in two years. In addition to clinical training, students become knowledgeable about nursing topics such as community health, nurse management and health assessment.

Other School Options

There are several schools in the Denver area that offer nurse training. The Community College of Denver has options for becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a certified nurse aide. Regis University offers a BSN, MSN and DNP, while Arapahoe Community College awards an associate's nursing degree. Finally, Colorado Christian University features an online BSN as well as an RN-to-BSN completion program.

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