Nursing Programs in Washington State with Course Descriptions

Jul 22, 2019

Washington State has about 50 colleges that offer nursing programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for the 10 largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Individuals who wish to begin a career in nursing can choose to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN). There are nearly 50 colleges within the state of Washington that offer undergraduate and graduate level nursing programs. LPNs typically need to complete a minimum of a certificate program, while RNs usually need at least a diploma or an associate's degree. Graduate programs are geared toward students who wish to practice advanced nursing. Several colleges offer online course options for nursing students, and evening classes may also be available.


Bellevue College

Found in Bellevue, Bellevue College offers an associate's degree program that prepares students to become RNs. The Associate in Applied Science Transfer Degree in Nursing requires two years of coursework; students may attend full-time during the day or part-time on nights and weekends. Topics of study include maternal nursing, adult client nursing, professional nursing and nursing fundamentals. The school also features a mock hospital within its Skills Training Lab, which gives students a chance to gain practical experience in a safe environment.

Clark College

Clark College in Vancouver is a 4-year school that offers an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing. Graduates of this degree program are taught how to assess and treat patients. In addition to general education courses, students can expect to take courses in family-centered nursing, foundations of professional nursing, mental health concepts and nursing care of the child. Students can take some additional courses to earn an Associate in Arts degree that can be used to transfer to the nursing bachelor's program at Washington State University.

Eastern Washington University

Located in Cheney, Eastern Washington University (EWU) shares its College of Nursing with Washington State University (WSU) and Whitworth University. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program typically takes four years to complete, including two years of prerequisite work in chemistry, biology and psychology. Students can complete their first two years at EWU, but they must finish the program at WSU in Spokane. Those who are enrolled at EWU have priority admission into the BSN program.

Edmonds Community College

Edmonds Community College is found in Lynnwood. The practical nursing program is designed for individuals who are already Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and are working in a related occupation. This program prepares students to become Licensed Practical Nurses and includes a mix of online and on-campus courses. Students participate in labs a couple times each week during the evening. Clinical experiences take place at a variety of locations, such as hospitals or long-term care facilities.

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University is a private school in Spokane. The Department of Nursing offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing. The BSN program focuses on nursing topics in the last two years of study, such as pathophysiology/pharmacology, healthcare ethics and complexity in healthcare organizations. Students who complete the BSN program should be prepared to pursue licensure as RNs.

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs may be completed entirely online. Students who only hold an associate's degree can pursue an advanced degree through the school's RN to MSN program, which requires about 66 credits of coursework. Students pursuing the MSN can choose specialization options in psychiatric mental health, nurse educator, family nurse practitioner or health systems leadership. The DNP program requires at least 30 credits and is intended for students who already have a master's degree in the field.

Olympic College

Olympic College is a school centered in Bremerton that has two associate's degree programs that may be of interest to aspiring nurses. The Associate in Technical Arts in Nursing program prepares students for entry-level jobs as RNs. Students are trained to sit for the licensure examination and should be prepared to work in a variety of different settings. The Transition to Associate Degree Nursing (TADN) is intended for students who wish to transfer to a 4-year school to pursue a BSN. This degree program allows students to complete the pre-nursing courses that are required by 4-year schools in the state of Washington. For students who are already RNs, the school has an RN to BSN program that offers a part-time flexible schedule.

Seattle University

In Seattle, this university's College of Nursing offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing. The BSN program boasts an 8:1 student to faculty ratio and focuses on community-health nursing. Students learn through hands-on experience and are prepared for the NCLEX-RN. MSN students may enroll with or without a degree in nursing. Those who don't hold a nursing degree may enter the advanced practice nursing immersion track. Specializations within the master's program include nurse midwifery, family nurse practitioner, mental health nurse practitioner and adult gerontological nurse practitioner. Students who already hold a master's degree can also pursue one of these specializations through the post-master's certificate programs. There is also a DNP program available for individuals with an MSN who wish to pursue advanced leadership positions in the field.

Tacoma Community College

Tacoma Community College in Tacoma offers two associate's degree programs for students. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN. Graduates may also choose to enroll in a 4-year school to pursue a BSN upon graduation. This degree program can be completed in two years and also features an accelerated track for current LPNs. The 2-year pre-nursing associate's degree is available for students who intend to transfer directly to a 4-year school. This option does not prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN until they've finished the bachelor's program requirements.

University of Washington - Seattle Campus

The University of Washington in Seattle is one of the oldest public institutions on the West Coast. The School of Nursing was ranked among the top graduate nursing schools by U.S. News and World Report for the last 17 years, and it was placed at number 1 in 2011. The school offers a variety of nursing degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The BSN program features a 2-year plan as well as an accelerated plan that can be finished in five quarters. Both options are conducted on-campus and are only available to full-time students.

The school features Master of Nursing and MSN programs, which both have part-time options. The Master of Nursing program includes 38-41 credits and can be completed in two years or less. The MSN program can be completed in six quarters by full-time students and requires 46-49 credits. Both programs allow students to complete a scholarly project or a thesis. The graduate certificate program is intended for students who are in a graduate program or have already completed a graduate program. Students have a variety of specialization options in the certificate program, including infant mental health, nurse educator and nurse midwifery. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program is designed for students who want nursing leadership positions, while the PhD program in nursing science is intended to prepare students for teaching and research positions.

The school also has various centers that can provide students with hands-on learning experiences, including the Barnard Center on Infant Mental Health & Development and the Center for Women's Health and Gender Research.

Washington State University

There are four Washington State University (WSU) campuses; the College of Nursing is located on the Spokane campus, but nursing classes are also available at other WSU campuses and online. All of the nursing programs are available at the Spokane campus, but the availability of each program varies at the other campuses. BSN students may pursue either a pre- or post-licensure track. The pre-licensure BSN program requires two years of study at another school for prerequisite coursework and two years of work at WSU.

Students in the MSN program get to choose a focus in nursing leadership, population health or nurse education. They may also pursue an individualized study option. Master's students must complete 41-51 credits of coursework, which may cover healthcare policy, pathophysiology and health promotion. The DNP program also features emphasis options, such as family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner or advanced population health. The school also has a PhD in Nursing program for those who wish to pursue a career in research.

Career Requirements

LPNs work under RNs or doctors and provide basic medical services, while RNs are tasked with more advanced responsibilities and may specialize in a specific area within the medical field. According to the Washington State Legislature, all aspiring nurses must graduate from an accredited nursing program to become eligible for state licensure. They must then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to begin practicing in the state. Ten of the largest schools in Washington that offer nursing programs are presented below.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Nursing Degree Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
Bellevue College 4-year, primarily associate's, public; midsize city Associate in Applied Science Transfer Degree in Nursing $3,778 in-state;
$9,144 out-of-state*
Clark College 4-year, public; midsize city Associate in Applied Science in Nursing,
Associate in Arts in Nursing
$4,287 in-state;
$9,718 out-of-state*
Eastern Washington University 4-year, public; fringe town Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Nursing,
PhD in Nursing
$7,323 in-state;
$24,444 out-of-state*
Edmonds Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Practical Nurse Certificate,
Associate of Arts in Pre-Nursing
$4,136 in-state;
$9,506 out-of-state*
Gonzaga University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; midsize city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$43,210*
Olympic College 4-year, primarily associate's, public; small city Transition to Associate Degree Nursing,
Associate in Technical Arts in Nursing,
RN to BSN
$3,771 in-state;
$4,241 out-of-state*
Seattle University 4-year, private, not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Post-Master's Certificate in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$44,610*
Tacoma Community College 2-year, public; midsize city Associate Degree in Nursing,
Associate in Pre-Nursing
$4,276 in-state;
$9,706 out-of-state*
University of Washington - Seattle Campus 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Master of Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice,
PhD in Nursing Science
$11,207 in-state;
$36,588 out-of-state*
Washington State University 4-year, public; distant town Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice,
PhD in Nursing
$11,584 in-state;
$25,820 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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