7 Best Nursing Schools in Arizona – 2024 Rankings

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

The nursing shortage has hit Arizona so hard that policy makers recently drafted a bill to appropriate $50 million from the state’s general fund to try and find solutions to it. That legislation, Senate Bill 1354, is in front of the state senate now. The state also passed a bill in April 2019 establishing reciprocity for professional nurses who hold out-of-state licenses as a means of recruiting more nurses to work in Arizona. The shortage is being driven by the number of aging Baby Boomers who’ve relocated to the Grand Canyon State and who will be requiring an enormous amount of medical services in the years to come. Nurses and nurse practitioners who specialize in behavioral health issues will be in particularly high demand. Hospitals are pulling out all the stops to attract graduates of accredited nursing schools in Arizona by offering perks like signing bonuses, free housing and even paid tuition.



(After closely assessing all nursing schools approved by the Arizona State Board of Nursing, based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the best accredited nursing schools in Arizona offering BSN programs.)

1. University of Arizona, Tucson

About University of Arizona College of Nursing: Whether you’re interested in nursing practice or nursing research, the University of Arizona College of Nursing will give you access to the resources you’ll need to pursue a successful career. The college was founded in 1957 as a means of addressing the Grand Canyon State’s chronic nursing shortage. Its curriculum emphasizes cross-cultural perspectives and community involvement. When not instructing students, faculty members can be found pursuing cutting-edge research into topics like health determinants and the development of informatics. Faculty research is funded through grants from sources like the National Institute of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses.

Students begin acquiring clinical skills by participating in drills at the Steele Innovative Simulated Learning Center. Once they’ve mastered nursing basics, students go on to clinical rotations at the University of Arizona Medical Center and other hospitals, clinics and community health agencies throughout the metropolitan Tucson region.

Financial Aid: A number of scholarship opportunities are available to University of Arizona students who’ve declared a nursing major; to identify these opportunities, you’ll need to register with the Scholarship Universe database. Scholarships are only awarded to students who’ve been accepted into the university and who’ve submitted a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The FAFSA is also a prerequisite for state and federal grants and loans.

2. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff

About NAU School of Nursing: At Northern Arizona University’s School of Nursing, you’ll be taught how to personalize the nursing care you give so that it meets the specific needs of the individual, family or community you’re serving. This institution is another one of those nursing programs in Arizona that was created to address critical staffing shortages in the Grand Canyon State. NAU offers the only reservation-based baccalaureate nursing program in the U.S. This program has been designed to meet the needs of Native American learners as well as the Navajo and Hopi communities they live in.

Hands-on learning opportunities on the Flagstaff campus include a sophisticated simulation lab where students respond to health care scenarios similar to the ones they will encounter in hospital environments; the only difference is that high-tech manikins fill in for human patients. NAU nursing programs also provide hands-on experiences through clinical rotations at hospitals, clinics, agencies and schools in communities like Flagstaff, Cottonwood, Sedona, Gallup and Tuba City. If you’re interested in discovering more about global health care needs, sign up for a study-abroad opportunity in the Netherlands or in East Africa through NAU’s Center for International Education.

Financial Aid: Nearly 40 scholarships are available to NAU students who’ve declared a nursing major. Some of these scholarships are designed for graduate students while others are designed for undergraduate students. All require the submission of NAU’s general scholarship application. Filling out and filing a FAFSA form will also put you in the running for needs-based state and federal aid.

3. Arizona State University, Phoenix

About College of Nursing and Health Innovation: “U.S. News and World Report” recognizes Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation as one of the finest in the nation. Its programs are designed to prepare you to deliver health care in community settings as well as in more traditional hospital environments. Research initiatives associated with this nursing school in AZ include the Center for Advancing Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research; the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the Center for World Health. Health care is a rapidly evolving field, and a degree from this school will help prepare you for whatever changes tomorrow brings.

Nursing classes are spread out over the university’s three campuses in Phoenix. The 18,000-square-foot Simulation & Learning Resources facility, located in the Mercado complex in downtown Phoenix, contains virtual hospital rooms, skills labs, a health assessment lab and a computer library commons. Clinical rotations take place at the Mayo Clinic as well as other hospitals, community agencies, clinics and schools throughout Phoenix and its suburbs. Students can also opt to participate in a two-week Peruvian service-learning experience where they’ll have the opportunity to learn more about that country’s urban, rural and traditional health care settings.

Financial Aid: Private donors have endowed an assortment of ASU nursing scholarships; more information about these can be accessed by logging onto the ASU Scholarship Application Portal. Consideration for scholarships whose criteria includes financial need will only be given once the FAFSA file has been filed. The FAFSA form is also necessary if you want to be considered for federal and state grants and loans.

4. Grand Canyon University, Phoenix

About College of Nursing and Health Care Professions: At Grand Canyon University’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, instructors work hard to translate nursing theory into real-life scenarios like the ones you’ll encounter on the job. Though Grand Canyon University no longer maintains its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention, Christian values still inform its teaching philosophy, and you can expect the professionalism and critical thinking skills you learn here to be tempered by a strong sense of accountability. This college has been singled out by the ranking site College Factual as a particularly good program for military veterans who are interested in becoming nurses.

Classes take place at GCU’s Banner Boswell campus in northwest Phoenix. In spring 2018, nursing students began learning basic clinical skills in a new, state-of-the-art simulation lab equipped with high-tech manikins programmed to respond to stressful stimuli in ways that mimic the responses of human patients. The college’s partners for clinical rotations include Banner Del Webb Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Mercy Gilbert Hospital and other acute care, ambulatory care and community care facilities throughout the Phoenix metropolitan region.

Financial Aid: Grand Canyon University offers three scholarships specifically for nursing students. Nursing students are also encouraged to apply for any other institutional or external scholarships whose criteria they meet. Submitting a FAFSA may determine additional eligibility for needs-based state and federal financial aid.

5. Chamberlain College, Phoenix

About Chamberlain College of Nursing: The Chamberlain College of Nursing got its start in St. Louis, Missouri in 1889 as the Deaconess School of Nursing; today, it’s part of a global health education consortium with 15 locations throughout the U.S. Chamberlain actively coaches its new nursing students, offering customized workshops and support plans aimed at helping students succeed. The Phoenix campus is one of the few nursing schools in Arizona that offers a “Concentration in Serving Hispanic Communities,” so if part of what has attracted you to nursing is a desire to better meet the health needs of this growing segment of the American population, Chamberlain Phoenix is definitely worth checking out.

The College of Nursing is located in downtown Phoenix. Its Simcare Center is a virtual hospital environment complete with scrub sinks, hospital beds and patient monitoring equipment. Clinical rotation partners include the Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center, Kingman Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Chamberlain also maintains relationships with community colleges throughout Arizona such as Yavapai College, Coconino Community College and Pima Community College whereby students at these schools may be eligible for reduced tuition rates.

Financial Aid: Chamberlain College sponsors seven institutional scholarships that may be applied to general expenses while a student is attending school at their Phoenix campus. The college also offers two institutional grants that can only be used to offset the cost of tuition. Chamberlain nursing students may also be eligible for state and federal grants as determined by the information contained in their FAFSA application.

6. Brookline College, Phoenix

About Brookline College Nursing Department: Brookline College understands that you don’t have a lot of time to waste. Its nursing degrees in AZ include the same coursework, simulation learning experiences and clinical rotations as other nursing programs, but because the school offers year-round enrollment, including summertime classes, you may be able to complete your nursing degree in a shorter amount of time. The college partners with Phoenix’s Head Start program to offer free child day care to nursing students who can demonstrate sufficient financial need.

Classroom learning is integrated with simulation labs where students acquire clinical skills such as IV insertion, blood draws and Foley catheter insertions. Once students have achieved requisite proficiency at these skills, they’ll have the chance to use them in practice settings such as Abrazo Health, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Banner Health, the Maricopa Department of Public Health and other hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community and public health agencies throughout Phoenix and the surrounding communities.

Financial Aid: Brookline doesn’t offer nursing students any institutional scholarships, but the school encourages students to search for scholarship opportunities from outside sources. Brookline participates in federal Title IV funding, so students may be eligible for Pell Grants, work-study and Stafford loans as determined by the information on their FAFSA form.

7. University of Phoenix, Phoenix

About School of Nursing @ University of Phoenix: While the School of Nursing associated with University of Phoenix is best known as a distance learning program, its physical campus in the southwest part of Phoenix also offers nursing degree programs. This school may be ideal if you’re trying to integrate your education into a crowded schedule because you only have to take one class at a time. Of course, if you like, you can also take more than the usual number of credits, which may allow you to complete your nursing degree in a shorter amount of time. Students also have the option of applying relevant work experience towards their college credits through an innovative program called Prior Learning Assessment (PLA.)

University of Phoenix was a pioneer in the field of simulation learning; its immersive Nursing Simulation Lab in Phoenix first opened in 2009. Here, students can acquire new skills in virtual hospital rooms where they practice on high-fidelity manikins that are programmed to respond in lifelike fashion to a variety of situations that students will encounter on hospital units. Once clinical skills are assimilated, clinical placements take place at a variety of health care settings throughout Phoenix and the surrounding areas.

Financial Aid: University of Phoenix offers several institutional scholarships that are open to all its pupils, including nursing students. Nursing students are also encouraged to look into applying for scholarships from external organizations to cover educational costs. Needs-based federal and state financial aid may also be an option if warranted by the information submitted through the FAFSA form.


Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.

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