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Online Nursing Programs in Washington

By Jordan Beliles | Updated 11/3/2022

Several schools in Washington offer online nursing degrees, including University of Washington - Seattle and Gonzaga University. Gonzaga University offers online master's in nursing programs, including an RN to MSN program, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Washington-based nurses must complete 45 hours of continuing education during each renewal period of three years.

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Comprehensive List of Online Nursing Schools in Washington

School Annual Tuition NCLEX Pass Rate Locations
# Central Washington University $23,954 Not Reported Ellensburg
# Gonzaga University $45,140 98.7% Spokane
# Northwest University $32,960 93.75% Kirkland
# Pima Medical Institute $11,506 76.83% Multiple Locations
# South Puget Sound Community College $9,923 Not Reported Olympia
# Tacoma Community College $9,862 96.84% Tacoma
# University of Massachusetts Global $12,440 Not Reported Multiple Locations
# University of Phoenix $9,552 90.0% Nationwide
# University of Washington - Seattle $38,166 94.35% Seattle
# Washington State University $26,419 88.52% Pullman

Becoming a Nurse in Washington State

There are four common types of nurses that work in Washington, each of which requires a license and training. Aspiring nurses will need to complete a state-approved nursing program before pursuing a license. Many of the online nursing programs in Seattle or the nursing programs in Washington state offer tracks for students to study while working toward their license. 

Nursing licenses are awarded by the Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, which is overseen by the Washington State Board of Nursing. This organization is composed of 15 governor-appointed members, seven registered nurses (RNs), three licensed practical nurses (LPNs), three public members and two advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs). Its goal is to ensure all applicants meet the minimum qualifications for licensure so there are consistent standards of practice across the state. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 62,470 registered nurses working in the state in May of 2021. During this period they earned an average mean wage of $95,350 per year. 

Those interested in becoming a nurse can work toward these licenses: LPN, RN, or ARNP. Washington also offers certified nursing assistant (CNA) registration and certification that's regulated by the Washington State Department of Health. All students in nursing schools in Washington State need to complete a nursing program before they can become certified. Among the many nursing tracks available, there are online RN programs in Washington State as well as online BSN programs.By attending an accredited nursing school in Washington, students can rest assured that their education meets nurse licensing requirements.

How To Get CNA Certification in Washington State

Candidates who are pursuing a career as a certified nursing assistant must attend a state-approved nursing assistant program, which can be earned through various nursing programs in Washington. The program must be at least 85 hours in length. If they desire, students who are currently enrolled in an RN or LPN program may also work as a CNA — as long as they have met the minimum requirements. Once they've completed the educational portion of the nursing prerequisites online in Washington State, CNA hopefuls must pass a competency exam that's based on the CNA curriculum. The exam results are sent directly to the Department of Health for verification.

If the professional is already a CNA in another state, they must provide a history of their training and professional work experience. Additionally, they must be able to verify that they were previously on a state Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Action registry.

For all applicants, seven hours of training in HIV/AIDS is required. This training is included in all Washington CNA educational programs. The final step is to file an application, which costs $85.

CNA Certification Renewal

Once an applicant has earned their Washington CNA certification, they must renew it annually. The due date for renewal is their birthday, and they must also submit a $95 renewal fee. There are no continuing education requirements.

For practicing nurses who aren't interested in renewing their license, there are alternative careers for nurses looking for a career change while remaining in the healthcare field.

How To Get an LPN License in Washington State

There are different tracks to choose from for aspiring LPN nurses. Two options include online LPN to RN programs in Washington State, or there are standalone LPN online programs in Washington State. All aspiring LPNs are required to earn a Washington LPN license, and applicants must begin by submitting a fingerprint-based background check conducted by both the FBI and the Washington State Patrol. Next, they will have to choose either licensure by examination (for new LPNs) or licensure by endorsement (for LPNs from another state). Both applications ask about demographic information, personal data, professional education, and AIDS education and training. Applicants need to submit an $85 fee along with their application.

Examination applicants must also provide a certificate of completion along with official transcripts from their nursing program in order to be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for LPNs (NCLEX-PN). This exam costs $200, and students must pass it in order to earn a Washington nursing license.

Endorsement applicants must verify their original license by using NURSYS. If the nurse's original licensure state does not use NURSYS, there is a separate form they must submit. For nurses who have a current license that's in a different state than their original license, they must also submit proof of their current LPN license.

LPN License Renewal

Once the Washington LPN license has been earned, it must be renewed annually on the LPN's birthday by paying an $85 fee. LPNs must also complete 531 hours of active practice and 45 hours of continuing education every three years.

How To Get an RN License in Washington State

In order to become a registered nurse, students must earn a Washington RN license. Before applying for licensure, students need to complete their education, and this may include online RN to BSN programs in Washington State or an LPN to RN online program in Washington State. There are two main application methods: examination and endorsement. The examination pathwayis the method for those who have just graduated from nursing school.

Examination applicants are required to complete a fingerprint-based background check through the FBI and Washington State Patrol. Next, they fill out the application, which includes questions that concern personal identifying information, professional education, and AIDS training. A $120 fee is required with the application. In addition, students must submit a certificate of completion from a Washington nursing program or an out-of-state nursing program completion form. An official transcript that lists the earned nursing degree is also required. Finally, applicants must take and pass the NCLEX for RNs, which costs an additional $200.

Endorsement applicants must fill out the same application and background check information. Rather than submit their education verification, they must submit an RN license verification from the state of their original licensure by using the NURSYS website. If the state in which they are licensed does not use NURSYS, they must have their state's board of nursing fill out a separate form. If the nurse's current license is not from the state they were originally licensed in, they must show proof of their current active license.

RN License Renewal

Washington nursing licenses must be renewed every year. The renewal fee is $120, and it's due on the nurse's birthday. Nurses must complete 45 hours of continuing competency requirements on a three-year cycle to maintain their license.

How To Get an ARNP License in Washington State

The highest Washington nursing license one can earn is the ARNP license. All ARNPs must have an active RN license when applying; this can be renewed each year with the ARNP license.

Prospective ARNPs have usually completed a master's degree or higher in their desired nursing specialty. In addition to standard fingerprint-based background checks by the Washington State Patrol and FBI, ARNP hopefuls must also complete an application. This application requires basic demographic, personal information, professional education information and national nursing certification information, including their specialty and certifying body. If the ARNP would like to prescribe medications, they must also request prescriptive authority with a special form and provide proof of pharmacology education. Finally, an official school transcript is required, along with a $125 application fee.

ARNP License Renewal

Once the professional has earned their Washington ARNP license, they must renew it every two years by their birthday and pay a $125 fee. This process also involves sending in a copy of their recertification in their area of practice — a form that certifies at least 250 hours of independent clinical practice within the last two years and proof of 30 contact hours of continuing education credit. ARNPs with prescribing authority also need to take 15 hours of pharmacology credits.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Washington State

How Many Nursing Schools Are in Washington?

There are 10 schools in Washington that offer nursing programs. They range from small community colleges, such as South Puget Sound Community College, up to much larger, well-known institutions, like Gonzaga University or University of Washington - Seattle.

How Long Is a Nursing Program in Washington State?

Online nursing programs in Washington State generally take around two years to complete. Some programs, such as a BSN, may take up to four years. For students seeking an advanced degree, schools may offer an MSN that will add an additional one to two years of studying.

How Long Does It Take To Become an RN in Washington State?

Once students complete a two to four year nursing program, they are eligible to apply for a state nursing license and join the workforce. Some applicants can choose to study part-time while maintaining a nursing-related job, which can help accelerate the process.

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