7 Best Nursing Schools in Colorado – 2023 Rankings
Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Colorado’s 65-and-older demographic is growing at a rate that’s three times that of the nation as a whole. As a result, Colorado will soon be seeing a spike in demand for exactly the type of health care services that nurses are best at providing—and that means a spike in demand for RNs. Complicating this scenario is the fact that nearly one-third of Colorado’s nurses are older than 55 and will themselves be retiring soon. By 2025, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is anticipating that nearly 13,000 nursing jobs in the Centennial State will be left unfilled. Graduates of accredited nursing schools in Colorado should have no difficulty landing a great job, particularly if their specialty is primary care.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ACCREDITED NURSING SCHOOLS IN COLORADO?
(After closely assessing all nursing schools approved by the Colorado State Board of Nursing, based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the best accredited nursing schools in Colorado offering BSN programs.)
1. University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
About Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences:
If you want an education that will prepare you to stay at the forefront of nursing practice throughout your career, then the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing should be on your short list. “U.S. News & World Report” gives this nursing school in CO top marks for its focus on health promotion as well as on disease care and prevention. When it was founded in 1904, the Colorado Conference Deaconess Hospital and Training School for Nurses (as it was then known) occupied five tents in the middle of what is now downtown Colorado Springs; for many years, it functioned as a training school for nurses who went on to work at Memorial Hospital. In 1997, Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College merged with the University of Colorado where today, it occupies the 87,000-square-foot University Building, which is located half a mile east from the main campus.
The Simulation Learning Center is a place where nursing students can learn essential assessment skills and bedside techniques like drawing blood and starting IVs in a safe environment. Students go on to pursue clinical rotations at hospitals and other health care facilities throughout Colorado Springs. Students also have the opportunity for unique hands-on experiences at the health care consortiums associated with the University of Colorado such as the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences in the Center for Active Living, the Peak Nutrition Clinic, the Nurse-Family Partnership and the Primary Care Clinic.
Financial Aid: Thirteen dedicated scholarships
are available to students enrolled in the Beth-El College of Nursing. Most of those scholarships require a separate application, and the deadline for those applications is March 1. Students may also qualify for needs-based federal and state financial aid by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
RECOMMENDED ONLINE NURSING SCHOOLS
2. Regis University, Denver
About Loretto Heights School of Nursing:
For 10 years straight, “U.S. News & World Report” has chosen Regis University as one of the top schools in the western United States. The university’s Loretto Heights School of Nursing adheres closely to a 450-year-old Jesuit tradition that prepares its students for lives of service to others. The school offers a unique Global Health Pathway concentration through which students may participate in immersion experiences in Peru and Nicaragua. The American Society of Registered Nurses includes this school on its list of the top 75 American nursing colleges.
Small class sizes provide students with many opportunities for faculty mentoring. Nursing classrooms and the Loretto Heights School of Nursing Clinical Learning Center are located in St. Peter Claver Hall on the north side of campus. The Clinical Learning Center is equipped with high-fidelity simulators, which facilitate clinical competence and the development of critical thinking skills. The school partners with some of the finest acute care hospitals, ambulatory care clinics and community agencies in the Denver metropolitan area to provide students with clinical rotation experiences that will further hone their nursing expertise.
Though Regis University offers no scholarships specifically for nursing students, undergraduate nursing students are invited to apply for the university’s institutional merit scholarship
, and graduate students may qualify either for a RegisInspired Scholarship or an Alumni Scholarship
. Federal and state financial aid may also be available upon completion of the FAFSA form.
3. University of Colorado College of Nursing, Aurora
About CU College of Nursing:
The College of Nursing associated with the University of Colorado campus in Aurora is another one of the nursing programs in Colorado that “U.S. News & World Report” deems outstanding. The college is one of six professional schools on the Anschultz Medical Campus, so opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and collaboration abound. This school is known for its top-notch research as well as for its superlative educational quality; faculty members pursue a wide range of projects that aim to translate empirical findings into practical improvements in bedside nursing care.
The UCHealth Simulation Center is located in the Leprino Building; it features high-tech manikins that can mimic practically every variety of clinical experience, from heart attacks to allergic reactions, with a high degree of verisimilitude. Nursing students don’t have to travel far for their clinical rotations, many of which are scheduled at medical facilities such as the University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital Colorado and the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center that are within boundaries of the Anschultz Campus.
Both undergraduate and graduate students at this nursing school may be eligible for some type of institutional scholarship assistance
. Applications must be submitted either between September 15 and October 15 or between March 1 and April 1. Students may also qualify for Pell Grants, work-study and other types of federal and state financial aid after they file a FAFSA form.
4. University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
About UNC School of Nursing:
The School of Nursing at the University of Northern Colorado is highly respected for its rigorous academic standards and for its commitment to patients’ rights. If you want to be the type of nurse who helps empower patients to participate in their own health decisions, then this is a school you may want to learn more about. The school has a dual enrollment arrangement with Aims Community College in Greeley that enables Aims students who’ve earned two-year nursing diplomas to continue their education at the UNC School of Nursing.
Simulation labs that use programmed manikins to replicate strokes, heart attacks, seizures and other medical emergencies play an important role in preparing students for the real-life situations they will encounter once they begin working in hospital settings. After they’ve mastered fundamental skills, students will perform clinical rotations in a range of health care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, industry, schools and community clinics, throughout northern Colorado.
While the UNC Office of Financial Aid doesn’t list any nursing-specific scholarships on its webpage, it does offer links to third-party scholarships
intended for student nurses. Students in UNC’s nursing programs may also qualify to receive state and federal financial aid depending on the information they submit in their FAFSA form.
5. Colorado State University, Pueblo
About CSU-Pueblo School of Nursing:
CSU’s School of Nursing in Pueblo prepares students to become safe, competent practitioners who are sensitive to the health needs of diverse populations in both rural and urban population centers. CSU is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution. The university’s nursing programs were only recently aggregated into a separate school; before 2017, it was a department within the College of Education, Engineering, and Professional Studies. Nursing students are deeply involved with Pueblo community events such as the KOAA 9Health Fair, which offers free health screenings, and Healthy Halloween events, which provide health education to parents.
Classes are supplemented by experiential learning in practice labs that simulate virtual outpatient and hospital environments so that students can rehearse selected bedside skills and demonstrate competency in them; these labs are equipped with high-tech manikins that are programmed to mirror human physiological responses. Once students gain experience and confidence, they perform clinical rotations at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center, Parkview Medical Center and other acute-care hospitals, community clinics and medical facilities throughout central Colorado.
While Colorado State University offers no scholarships for nursing students per se, nursing students are encouraged to apply for any of CSU’s 100 plus institutional scholarships
. Merit scholarships are automatically awarded to all entering CSU freshmen who meet certain academic criteria. Students may also qualify for state and federal grants and loans if the information submitted in their FAFSA forms indicates eligibility.
6. Colorado Christian University, Lakewood
About CCU's School of Nursing and Health Professions:
Nursing students at Colorado Christian University will be asked to sign a “Lifestyle Covenant” before they begin taking classes, signifying their commitment to the integration of their education and their Christian faith. The CCU School of Nursing is one of the nursing schools in Colorado that regards nursing as a spiritual ministry as well as an evidence-based practice. The school strives to equip the next generation of Christian nurses with the practical skills they will need to become moral leaders as well as competent practitioners. CCU’s School of Nursing is located on the university’s Lakewood campus just west of Denver.
The school partners with more than two dozen hospitals and health care facilities throughout all parts of Colorado so that nursing students can receive hands-on, clinical experiences. The university opened its new 4,600-square-foot Simulation Center in January 2019. This facility includes classroom space as well as two high-fidelity simulation rooms where students have access to hospital equipment and computerized manikins.
Though Colorado Christian University offers no internal scholarships for aspiring nurses, the CCU Financial Aid Office will help you track down external scholarship opportunities
for which you may be eligible. The university is a federal Title IV partner, so students who submit a FAFSA form may also be eligible for needs-based state and federal aid.
7. Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction
About Colorado Mesa University Department of Health Sciences:
Colorado Mesa University was founded as a junior college in 1925 and began offering four-year degrees in 1974. Nursing is one of four professional programs under the aegis of the university’s Department of Health Sciences. While this department focuses upon remedying the nursing shortage that’s hit rural parts of the Centennial State particularly severely, student nurses pursuing nursing degrees in CO at this institution receive an education that will prepare them for whatever health care arena they enter. Nursing students participate in the MASH Camp for middle school students, a unique educational program designed to create interest among young teens in pursuing a health care career by teaching them basic skills such as First Aid, infection control and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR.)
Nursing students learn and refine fundamental patient skills in the university’s clinical and simulation labs. They learn side by side with fellow students studying phlebotomy and emergency medical response. Clinical rotations are scheduled at inpatient and acute care sites, long-term care facilities, community-based agencies and primary care providers throughout northwestern Colorado.
Donors associated with Colorado Mesa University have endowed 17 scholarships
specifically for nursing students. The school accepts scholarship applications between October 1 and December 31 for the semester beginning the following fall. Students may also be eligible for federal and state grants and loans as determined by the information contained in their FAFSA forms.
VIEW OUR RANKING METHODOLOGY
Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Nursing Schools in Nearby States
Nursing Schools in other States
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.