The Best Nursing Schools in Colorado

The Best Nursing Schools in Colorado

It is important to weigh your options carefully when determining where to go to nursing school. Colorado is often touted as one of the best places to live in the United States, thanks to their beautiful landscapes, climate, and endless things to do. Turns out, it also isn’t a bad place to go to nursing school.


Scenic view in Colorado
Sophia M.


April 17, 2023

With plenty of competitive universities, Colorado offers several great options for nursing school. Below, I will share some of the best nursing schools in Colorado and some information to help compare them.

How I Picked

When determining the best nursing schools in Colorado, I looked at the following factors: NCLEX® pass rate, cost, location, and types of programs offered. 

NCLEX® pass rate

Going to a school with a high NCLEX® pass rate can give you a sense of security, confirming that you’re getting all of the necessary tools and resources to help you pass the boards.

Remember, nursing school itself may take up the bulk of your time spent becoming a nurse, but ultimately it’s passing the boards that open the gates to your employment opportunities and your ability to actually practice. 

When compiling this list, I looked for schools with higher than average NCLEX® pass rates since this is an important consideration. Some schools have lower pass rates than others. It is still okay to settle for a nursing school with a slightly lower NCLEX® pass rate, but it’s just important to be aware of what you’re getting into, since this may require you to take more accountability in preparing for your boards when the time comes. 


Most of us expect college to be expensive, that’s a given. However, not every tuition rate is created equal. For this reason, I focused on the cost of attendance when compiling this list of schools. 


Let’s be honest, most parts of Colorado are beautiful, but some locations are more sought after than others.

Also, some students will desire a more rural location while others may prefer a cityscape. So I made sure to consider the location when putting this list together and share where each school is located to help rank the best schools. 

Type of programs offered

Not everyone goes to a traditional four-year nursing program to get their RN license. Some people already have college degrees and return to school, doing an accelerated nursing program. Others may start with an associates degree in nursing, get their RN license then go back to school to get their bachelor’s later. 

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Best Nursing Schools in Colorado

1) Metropolitan State University of Denver

  • Tuition estimate: roughly $10,000 per year
  • NCLEX® pass rate: 97%
  • Location: Denver, CO

I picked Metropolitan State University of Denver as my top choice for the best nursing school in Colorado because it has an impressively high NCLEX® pass rate and it is in a great location. The tuition isn’t exactly cheap but it is about average when compared with other schools. MSU estimates that the total cost of completing their four-year nursing program would come out to around $40,000, which translates to about $10,000 per year. The cost of tuition at MSU is the same for in-state and out of state students. MSU offers a traditional nursing program or an accelerated option. 

This school is located in Denver which is a great city to live in. Denver is one of the sunniest cities in the United States, offering the best of all climates–snow in the winter and mild sunny weather in the summer. You’re surrounded by mountains while also living in the hustle and bustle of a city. It really has so much to offer! 

2) University of Northern Colorado

  • Tuition estimate: $10,947
  • NCLEX® pass rate: 96%
  • Location: Greeley, CO

University of Northern Colorado boasts a competitive NCLEX® pass rate of 96%–so it is safe to say that you’ll be in good hands if you choose this school. Their tuition rates are comparable to many of the others at roughly $10,947 per year. The location is Greeley Colorado, which offers some of the best outdoor recreation that Colorado has to offer and it is only about an hour outside of Denver, so you’re not too far from the city. University of Northern Colorado offers a traditional BSN program as well as several graduate programs for nurses. 

3) Adam’s State University

  • Tuition estimate: $9,560
  • NCLEX® pass rate: 92%
  • Location: Alamosa, Colorado

Adams State University has a reasonable tuition rate and an NCLEX® pass rate of 92%. They also claim to have small class sizes to make learning more accessible. Going through a BSN program in a smaller learning environment can be beneficial. Adams State University is located in Alamosa, Colorado which is a growing town that offers small businesses and local restaurants. This is a great option for someone who is looking to move to a smaller town that is close to the mountains. Adam’s State University offers a traditional four-year nursing program. 

4) Denver College of Nursing

  • Tuition estimate: $12,835
  • NCLEX® pass rate: 90.5%
  • Location:  Denver, CO 

Denver College of Nursing is solely dedicated to nursing degrees. It’s pretty cool that the college is fully devoted to nursing, so all of your peers will also be working on the same degree path as you. This school is private so the tuition is a bit higher than some of the other options but it does offer a high graduation rate and a good NCLEX® pass rate. Denver College of Nursing offers a Bachelor’s program in nursing and an Associates degree in nursing. 

5) University of Colorado (Colorado Springs)

  • In-state tuition estimate: $15,150
  • NCLEX® pass rate: 92%
  • Location: Colorado Springs, CO

There is more than one location for the University of Colorado. The Colorado Springs location offers unique benefits in terms of their nursing program. They place a strong emphasis on offering their students a state-of-the-art facility for learning. This UC campus has a modern simulation lab for nursing students—a valuable resource for learning about patient care. UCCS offers a traditional nursing degree, as an accelerated option for students who already have a bachelor’s degree, and an RN-BSN program for nurses who have an associates degree. 

6) Colorado Christian University

  • Tuition estimate: $38,516
  • NCLEX® pass rate: 91%
  • Location: Lakewood, CO

Colorado Christian University is a private school, meaning it has a higher tuition rate than the others. This college is a religious-based school so this means that there may be some variation in their curriculum, including emphasizing compassion, morality, and taking a more holistic approach to nursing. This college is located in Lakewood, Colorado which is a suburb outside of Denver. Colorado Christian University offers a traditional BSN program. 

7) Colorado Technical University

  • Tuition estimate: $12,529
  • NCLEX® pass rate: n/a
  • Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado Technical University’s nursing program is fully online. They exclusively offer an RN-BSN program for nurses who already have a nursing license but want to go from associates to bachelor’s degree. The tuition rate will vary depending on your past work experience and how much previous school credit you have. 

How Many Schools Should You Apply to?

It is totally up to you how many schools you apply to. There is nothing wrong with only applying to one if you have your heart set on it, but applying to more than one could increase your odds of getting into one, and could make for a faster acceptance. 

Since it may take more than one try to get into nursing school, it’s not a bad idea to apply to more than one nursing school to increase your chances of getting accepted. You may also be interested in more than one school, in which case  it makes sense to apply to more than one so that you have more options. 

I personally think it is a great idea to apply to more than one school since nursing school is competitive. If you have your heart set on one specific school, then you may have to be okay with waiting a semester to reapply if you don’t get in on your first try. 

The only downside to applying to more than one school is that it requires more work and will probably cost you some money. You usually have to pay an application fee when you apply to nursing school and there may be added costs involved with sending test scores and transcripts. However, these aren’t big expenses and are usually worth it. 

Final Thoughts

Picking a good nursing school can help set you up for success when you sit for the boards and when you go out into the world to work as a nurse. Nursing school is what you make of it, but having a high-quality learning environment can help improve your experience. Going to nursing school in Colorado leaves you with many options for great nursing schools.

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