RN degree programs are most often offered at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels, although master's and doctoral programs are available for RNs who want further education. Undergraduate nursing programs are designed to prepare graduates to take the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN). Students gain an understanding of nursing practice and then apply their skills during clinical rotations. Some schools offer specialized bachelor's degree programs for those already possessing RN licensure.
Graduate programs are designed for licensed RNs who want to advance their careers as a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, clinical administrator, researcher or policymaker. Nurse practitioner programs are most often master's programs, while both master's and doctoral programs are available for aspiring leaders and scholars.
University of Colorado - Denver
Located in Aurora, just outside of Denver, the university's College of Nursing offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate nursing degrees and was the first U.S. school to offer nurse practitioner training. Its bachelor's degree in nursing program includes coursework and clinics that focus on health assessment and the basics of nursing. In-depth classes include nursing care for children, adults, the elderly and the mentally ill. This program has three options, including traditional and accelerated tracks that qualify graduates to sit for the RN certification exam and another track for those already working as RNs.
The master's-level nursing program is for RNs who want to move into advanced nursing roles, management or policy making. There are 10 specialty options, such as pediatric nursing leadership and family nurse practitioner. RNs have two options for a doctoral degree: the Doctor of Nursing is for nurses who wish to become nursing teachers or take leadership roles and the PhD in Nursing program prepares them to be researchers, educators and policy analysts.
University of Northern Colorado
Nursing is one of 200 programs offered at the University of Northern Colorado, located in Greeley. Degree programs are available from the bachelor's through doctoral level. Students in the bachelor's program obtain an overview of the nursing profession and fundamentals of health assessment. In-depth courses include professional foundations and practice based on nursing theory. Program graduates are qualified to take the RN certification exam. An accelerated RN-to-BSN track is also available for current registered nurses.
Graduate students can earn a master's degree in nursing or pursue a doctoral degree in nursing education or nursing practice. The master's program has options for a family nurse practitioner or nurse educator emphasis. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program prepares graduates to do policy work at the organizational level, while the PhD in Nursing Education prepares graduates to do research or teach nursing.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School||School Type & Setting||Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|University of Colorado - Denver||4-year, public; large city|| BS in Nursing
MS in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing
PhD in Nursing
|$8,692 (in-state), $23,704 (out-of-state)*|
|University of Northern Colorado||4-year, public; small city|| BS in Nursing
MS in Nursing
PhD in Nursing Education
Doctor of Nursing Practice
|$8,166 (in-state), $19,752 (out-of-state)*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator