The Best Nursing Schools in Colorado

We all know that nursing is one of the world’s essential professions. But did you also know it’s one of the most stable and well-paying?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for nurses will grow by 7% over the next year. The average salary of nurses is only expected to grow, reaching $75,300 annually. 

That rate of pay may seem surprising, but it’s clearer once you consider all that nurses do. More than any other healthcare professional, nurses serve as the primary point of contact for the patient and their family, caring for the whole person. 

For those reasons, future nurses must do thorough research when choosing the school where they’ll learn their trade. In addition to its beautiful scenery and cultural variety, the Centennial State has some of the best nursing programs in the United States. 

With so many fine options, it can be challenging to choose a school. There are lots of factors that go into that decision, including location, faculty, and concentration. One of the best resources for making that decision is the rankings published by the highly respected outlet, U.S. News & World Report

You can also get help in making your decision by reading this article. This list follows the rankings provided by U.S. News (in the case of a tie, the editorial team at College Gazette judges the tiebreaker). But we’ve built on their work by giving you a full description, complete with all the information you need to make your first steps toward a financially and personally rewarding career in nursing.


6. Colorado Christian University School of Nursing and Health Professions (Lakewood, CO)

Every school on this list provides the future nurses of Colorado with all the knowledge and experience they’ll need to care for their patients. But Colorado Christian University’s School of Nursing and Health Professors offers something unique: access to nurses outside of Colorado. With its one-of-a-kind online master’s degree in nursing program, CCU Nursing allows nurses who already have a nursing degree to gain the accreditation to take on greater roles, without ever having to come to the school’s Lakewood campus. 

For those in the Lakewood area, CCU Nursing provides even more. Students working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing can choose between a traditional pathway designed for freshmen and sophomores coming from high school or community college, and the adult student pathway, for working adults who need some online classes to accommodate their schedules. Along with their traditional Master of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing degrees, CCU Nursing has options for every learner. No matter which goals you have for your career, CCU Nursing gives you the tools and experience you need to succeed. 

CCU Nursing provides a range of possibilities because it is committed to offering high-quality education to anyone who wants it. As part of the largest Christian university in the state, CCU Nursing has all of the resources and support of a college that consistently ranks among the top 2% of institutions in Colorado.  


5. Regis University Loretto Heights School of Nursing (Denver, CO)

Regis University
photo via Wikimedia Commons

At Regis University’s Loretto Heights School of Nursing, students learn the fundamentals of the profession from a Jesuit perspective, following the emphasis on critical thinking and social action taught in that religious tradition. Since its founding in 1916 as the Loretto Heights School for Women, the institution has blended compassion and diversity with Christian instruction, teaching students to care for others. 

As indicated in the school’s philosophy statement, those values still drive Loretto Heights. Their missions states that they “challenge students of all cultural backgrounds to seek excellence in academic pursuits, and to think logically, critically, and creatively in formulating a global view of nursing and health care.” To this end, Loretto Heights provides ample resources to those working toward the many undergraduate and graduate degrees the school confers. 

Those resources include a fully appointed Simulated Health Center, allowing students to gain hands-on experience running through scenarios in hospital, outpatient, and home care scenarios. Under the guidance of faculty members, students use the Simulated Health Center to prepare for situations they’ll face in their regular practice. While working in the Center, students get the chance to hone their identity as nurses, gaining the confidence they’ll bring into their future careers. 

Loretto Heights’s devotion to creating well-rounded nurses has earned the school national recognition. The Nursing Schools Almanac places Loretto Heights within the top 100 nursing programs in the nation, and the American Society of Registered Nurses has ranked the school #25 in the West.  


4. Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, CO)

Colorado Mesa University
photo via Wikimedia Commons

With its Department of Health Sciences, Colorado Mesa University understands that great nurses come from all walks of life. To accommodate as many learners as possible, CMU has designed a Bachelor of Nursing degree with several different tracks.

In addition to a traditional BSN degree, in which students take four years to gain the education and experience necessary for their degrees, CMU also has two multipart programs. Students can study for one year to become a licensed nurse practitioner; when they’re ready or able, they can enter the three-year LPN-BSN program, which builds off knowledge already acquired to earn a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, students can earn an Associate of Arts degree in nursing in two years to become a registered nurse and later enroll in CMU’s online two-year RN-BSN program. 

Just as importantly, CMU strives to make the college experience as affordable as possible. Their program supports students in applying for scholarships from the National Student Nurses Association. Furthermore, students can apply to the Public Health Nurses Association of Colorado scholarship fund, which provides $1000 in support each academic year. 

CMU graduates move into their new careers following the footsteps of thousands of alumni committed to community service. These nurses go on to serve in some of the biggest hospitals in the state, as well as in specialty services. Thanks to the work done by CMU’s faculty and staff, Colorado is a healthier and safer state. 


3. Colorado State University School of Nursing (Pueblo, CO)

No matter how impressive they may be, every medical school needs to grow and evolve to face the needs of new generations. Colorado State University has had an excellent nursing program since it first began awarding the major in 1964. But in 2017, CSU renewed its commitment to the field by reorganizing the programs as part of its official school of nursing. In no more than five years, CSU Nursing has established itself as one of the best places in the state to learn the profession. 

With this new program, CSU Nursing gains new and essential resources, including first-class nursing labs. Open to both undergraduate and graduate students, these nursing labs include all of the equipment that practitioners will be sure to use in their everyday practices, as well as practice mannequins in adult, pediatric, and infant models. Under the supervision of faculty, students can practice various simulations within these labs, including those designed for scenarios in emergency rooms, intensive care clinics, and medical-surgical units. 

With these excellent resources, it’s no surprise that CSU Nursing has been lauded by national observers. Study.com included the program on its 2020 list of top 50 nursing programs, while RegisteredNursing.com ranked CSU Nursing’s BSN degree #4 in the nation. Perhaps even more importantly, CSU Nursing was named a Best Value Nursing School by GraduateNursingEDU.org, recognizing the school for its excellent resources and low cost. 


2. University of Northern Colorado School of Nursing (Greeley, CO)

As this list has shown, simulation programs are a standard of nursing schools. Every nurse needs the opportunity to learn and make mistakes in a safe and supervised environment. 

But the University of Northern Colorado’s School of Nursing gives a unique twist on the practice with its poverty simulation kit. These poverty simulation kits help students understand the stresses experienced by those under the poverty line and better see how that situation affects their health. With this knowledge, nurses become better trained to meet the needs of those who too often go unrecognized in the healthcare system. 

The poverty kit is just one example of UNC Nursing’s progressive approach to the subject. According to the school’s mission statement, UNC Nursing strives to prepare compassionate, courageous, and competent nurses who can improve the health of society. 

To its credit, UNC Nursing sees first-rate teaching and resources as central to its goal. To that end, the program features not only a faculty staffed by student-focused experts in the field but also state-of-the-art labs and equipment. 

So impressive is UNC Nursing that U.S. News & World Report places the school within the top 100 in the nation for its Masters and Doctorate programs. With these supports in place, UNC Nursing has trained nurses who now serve as professors and fellows in some of the most respected institutions in the nation. 


1. University of Colorado College of Nursing (Aurora, CO)

As the flagship institution in the University of Colorado system, it’s no surprise that UC’s College of Nursing tops this list. In fact, the school ranks near the top of every national list, with U.S. News & World Report putting UC Nursing’s online MA program at #17 and their iLEAD MA program at #14. Best Health Degrees goes further, putting the school’s online program at #2 in the nation. 

Part of UC Nursing’s current success can be attributed to its history of innovations in the field, including founding the country’s first nurse practitioner program. In the intervening years, nearly every nursing school has instituted its own nurse practitioner program, recognizing that the degree brings more caring and qualified people into the profession, even if they cannot commit to a longer degree path. 

However, the other secret to UC Nursing’s success is its Anschutz Medical Campus. A world-class research and teaching campus, Anschutz features not one, but two of the top hospitals in the nation: the University of Colorado Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Colorado. These hospitals give students real-world and hands-on experience working with a wide variety of scenarios, all under the watchful eye of the school’s top-ranked faculty. Additionally, the Anschutz Medical Campus houses cutting-edge research projects, thanks to its $550 million endowment. 

Together with an impressive research endowment, cutting-edge resources, and dedicated faculty, UC Med is the best place for Colorado’s next generation of nurses to earn their degrees.

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