There is a high demand for nurses in Colorado, especially at some of the more rural hospitals in the state. Traveler RN programs, which permit registered nurses to complete 13-week rotations at different facilities, help distribute staff to the state’s far-flung medical centers. Some hospitals in the state, including major employer UCHealth, offer such perks as five figure signing bonuses and relocation packages to new nursing recruits.

Nursing careers in Colorado can take shape in a variety of environments, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, outpatient clinics, schools and nursing homes. If you’re looking into how to become a nurse in Colorado, read on for information on degree and diploma programs at nursing colleges, state regulations for nursing certification and licensing and more.

Best Nursing Schools in Colorado

Colorado Badge ImageWith a total of 34 schools offering nursing degree programs at different levels in Colorado, choosing the right one for you may not be an easy task. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we calculated rankings that can help you separate the best nursing programs in Colorado from the rest.

We put together two lists of schools — one for undergraduate students and one for those looking into advanced programs. The information in these lists won’t tell you everything about the best nursing schools in the state, but the statistics and descriptions below can help you make the most informed decision possible when choosing where to study.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see our full methodology, or read on below for our lists of the best nursing schools in Colorado.

Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Undergraduate tuition
$4,068
Undergraduate graduation rate
20%
Undergraduate retention rate
55%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
66%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$22,360
Undergraduate graduation rate
53%
Undergraduate retention rate
78%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
99%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$2,538
Undergraduate graduation rate
26%
Undergraduate retention rate
74%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
75%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,286
Undergraduate graduation rate
45%
Undergraduate retention rate
55%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
88%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$11,483
Undergraduate graduation rate
18%
Undergraduate retention rate
100%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
100%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,286
Undergraduate graduation rate
45%
Undergraduate retention rate
62%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
79%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Undergraduate tuition
$7,067
Undergraduate graduation rate
32%
Undergraduate retention rate
73%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
92%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$4,107
Undergraduate graduation rate
40%
Undergraduate retention rate
55%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
90%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$3,286
Undergraduate graduation rate
32%
Undergraduate retention rate
56%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
90%
Number of undergraduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Undergraduate tuition
$34,100
Undergraduate graduation rate
68%
Undergraduate retention rate
80%
Percent of undergrad students awarded financial aid
98%
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
4
Graduate Tuition
$11,250
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
4
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$6,714
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
3
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
1
Graduate Tuition
$5,026
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
3
Graduate Tuition
$9,774
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
1
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$7,164
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
0
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$9,983
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered
2
Graduate Tuition
$15,989
Number of graduate-level nursing programs offered through distance education
2

Nursing Accreditation in Colorado

Accreditation is a process by which the curriculum, facilities and quality of instruction at a given school is reviewed by a regional or national association of experts. By attending an accredited nursing school, prospective Colorado nurses can increase their eligibility for financial aid, earn credits that transfer easily and be confident that their education meets national professional standards. Major nursing accreditation agencies in Colorado include the following:

  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
  • Colorado State Board of Nursing (SBON)

Colorado Nursing Licensure

To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Colorado, an individual is required to earn an LPN degree, which usually involves one year of courses and hands-on practice. Then, they must apply for licensure with the Colorado Board of Nursing, pay an application fee, send in their transcripts, pass a fingerprint check, obtain a CPR card, and pass the NCLEX-PN.

Students who want to become registered nurses (RNs) in Colorado start the process by earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. Next, they are required to apply for licensure with the Colorado Board of Nursing, pay an application fee, and pass a fingerprint check as well as the NCLEX-RN.

Nurses who want to work as nurse practitioners (NPs) are required to hold a valid RN license, complete a master’s degree in nursing or a related field, and obtain national licensure from the the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (ANCC). To apply for state licensure, NPs must complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Nurse Practitioner, as well as an online Healthcare Professions Profile. They must also send in their official graduate transcripts, pay an application fee and pass a fingerprint check.

Colorado nurses can find the application materials they need to apply for state licensure here.

Colorado Nursing organizations

Joining a professional nursing organization can provide several benefits to a nursing career, whether you’re a student, a new nurse or an experienced practitioner. Members of professional organizations may be able to access valuable continuing education resources, exclusive newsletters, discounts on attendance at national nursing conferences and more.

Here are just a few examples of professional organizations available to Colorado nurses:

  • Colorado Nurses Association (CNA):

    CNA represents all registered nurses in Colorado and is committed to advancing the role of nurses in the enhancement of access to safe, quality care. **

  • Colorado Society of Advanced Practice Nurses (CSAPN):

    CSAPN was created to provide a forum for nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists to enrich their professional practice. It also works to raise general awareness of the role of the advanced practice nurse.

  • Colorado Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses (CAPPN):

    CAPPN was formed in 1978 for the purpose of advancing the recognition of advanced practice psychiatric nurses. It is dedicated to quality mental health service.**

Colorado-Specific Continuing Education

LPNs and RNs in Colorado are not required to fulfill continuing education requirements. However, NPs in the state must maintain their national certification. While continuing education is not required for LPNs and RNs in Colorado, it may be worthwhile for nurses who would like to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in nursing and brush up on their skills. It can also help them network with other nurses and prospective employers.

Hospitals in Colorado

Recent nurse graduates are more likely to find employment at a hospital or large medical center than any of the other common settings in the nursing profession, and having some information about major hospitals in Colorado can help you better determine where you might want to seek employment once you’ve finished your nursing program Here’s some quick detail on the three largest hospitals in the state:

  • UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital (Aurora) UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital was designated as the #1 hospital in Colorado in 2018-2019 by U.S. News & World Report. It offers specialty care in 11 areas: cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, neurology, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.
  • UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central (Colorado Springs) UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central is equipped with 413-beds and maintains the only comprehensive stroke center in southern Colorado. It’s also a hotspot for neurological medicine, with multiple teams of neurosurgeons and neuro-interventional physicians on call 24/7.
  • Penrose Hospital (Colorado Springs) Penrose Hospital is owned by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. This Colorado Springs facility specializes in the treatment of cancer, cardiac conditions, emergency trauma care and physical rehabilitation.
Sources & Methodology

Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we gathered data for 6,758 United States institutions. We then filtered that list of schools by state and analyzed the data for each state with two different methodologies, in order to create two different lists: our undergraduate list, based on 11 ranking criteria, and our graduate list, based on 9 ranking criteria.

Final data for the 2016-17 school year was used for these rankings. Schools that did not provide data for all of the required ranking criteria were disqualified from that ranking.

The 11 criteria for the undergraduate school ranking were as follows:

  1. Number of associate- and bachelor’s-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of associate- and bachelor’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of associate- and bachelor’s-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Average amount of federal grant aid awarded to full-time first-time undergraduates
  8. Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
  9. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  10. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  11. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

The graduate school ranking scored schools based on 9 criteria, different from the undergraduate list. These 9 criteria were as follows:

  1. Number of master’s- and doctoral-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
  2. Number of master’s- and doctoral-level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
  3. Variety of master’s- and doctoral-level nursing-related degree programs offered
  4. Tuition
  5. Retention rate
  6. Graduation rate
  7. Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
  8. Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
  9. Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools’ tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

 

Sources

  1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2018, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  2. American Hospital Directory, Accessed September 2018, https://www.ahd.com/
  3. UCHealth Offering Major Perks to Recruit New Nurses, K99, Accessed September 2018, http://k99.com/uchealth-offering-major-perks-to-recruit-new-nurses/
  4. Hospitals Offer Bonuses, Free Housing and Tuition to Recruit Nurses, Accessed September 2018, https://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/03/08/hospitals-recruit-nurses-incentives/
  5. Board of Nursing, State of Colorado, Colorado.gov, Accessed September 2018, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/Nursing
  6. Board of Nursing: Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact for Colorado, Colorado.gov, Accessed September 2018, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/Nursing_Compact
  7. Board of Nursing: Applications and Forms, Colorado.gov, Accessed September 2018, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/Nursing_Applications
  8. Colorado Society of Advanced Practice Nurses, eNP Network, Accessed September 2018, https://csapn.enpnetwork.com/
  9. Colorado Nurses Association, Accessed September 2018, https://www.coloradonurses.org/
  10. Colorado Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses, eNP Network, Accessed September 2018, https://cscspn.enpnetwork.com/
  11. UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, UCHealth, Accessed September 2018, https://www.uchealth.org/locations/uchealth-university-of-colorado-hospital-uch/
  12. UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, UCHealth, Accessed September 2018, https://www.uchealth.org/locations/uchealth-memorial-hospital-central/
  13. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, Centura Health, Accessed September 2018, https://www.centura.org/locations/penrose-st-francis-health-services

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