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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in Washington

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 7/5/2023

Several schools in Washington offer online nursing degrees. The top colleges in Washington offer online nursing programs at every degree level, from an associate in nursing to a master's in nursing. This page showcases some of the best accredited online nursing programs in Washington. Learn about licensure and how to become a nurse in Washington once you've earned your degree.

Our 2023 list includes colleges in Washington that offer online nursing programs and have available NCLEX data, so you can easily determine which online nursing program results in graduates with the best pass rate.

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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in Washington

School NCLEX Pass Rate Online Enrollment
Washington State University 83.52% 3,574
University of Washington - Bothell 78.72% 41
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Becoming a Nurse in Washington State

There are four common types of nurses who work in Washington. Each career path requires a license and specific education 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. 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 64,920 registered nurses working in the state in May of 2022. During this period they earned annual median salaries of $101,108. 

Those interested in becoming a nurse can work toward Washington licenses as licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), or advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs). Washington also offers nursing assistant registration and certification, which the Washington State Department of Health regulates. 

To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below:

Nursing Degrees by State

How To Get Nursing Assistant Certification in Washington State

Candidates pursuing a career as a nursing assistant must attend a state-approved training program. The program must last at least 85 hours. If they desire, students who are currently enrolled in an RN or LPN program may also work as a nursing assistant as long as they have met the minimum requirements. 

Nursing assistant hopefuls must pass a competency exam that's based on the training program curriculum. The exam results are sent directly to the Department of Health for verification.

Applicants can earn certification by endorsement if they're already a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in another state. In this case, they must provide a history of their training and professional work experience. 

All applicants must take seven hours of training in HIV/AIDS procedures. This training is included in all Washington nursing assistant educational programs. The final step is to file an application and pay associated fees.

CNA Certification Renewal

Nursing assistants must renew their certification annually. The due date for renewal is their birthday. Candidates must pay a renewal fee each year. There are no continuing education requirements for renewal

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

To become an LPN in Washington, candidates need to earn a Washington LPN license. The process begins by graduating from a state-approved practical nursing training program. 

The next step is submitting a fingerprint-based background check conducted by both the FBI and the Washington State Patrol. Next, applicants 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. 

Examination applicants must 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 practical nursing (NCLEX-PN). Prospective nurses must pass it in order to earn a Washington LPN license.

Endorsement applicants must verify their original license by using NURSYS. The LPN must submit if their original licensure state does not use NURSYS. 

LPN License Renewal

Washington LPN licenses are renewed annually on the LPN's birthday. 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

Candidates must earn a Washington RN license to become an RN. Before applying for licensure, students need to complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. 

There are two main application methods: examination and endorsement. The examination pathway is the method for those who have just graduated from nursing school. 

Examination applicants are required to complete a fingerprint-based background check. Next, they fill out the application, which includes questions that concern personal identifying information, professional education, and AIDS training. A fee payment 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-RN for RNs.

Endorsement applicants must fill out the same application and background check information as examination candidates. They must then 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. 

RN License Renewal

Washington nursing licenses must be renewed every year. The renewal fee payment is 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. Most other states refer to these professionals as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) rather than ARNPs. All would-be ARNPs must have an active RN license when applying. 

Prospective ARNPs need to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in their desired nursing specialty. ARNP hopefuls must complete an application that includes a standard fingerprint-based background check. This application asks for basic demographic information, professional education, and national nursing certification information, including candidates' specialties. 

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.

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 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 must 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, to much larger such as Gonzaga University or the University of Washington - Seattle

How Long Is a Nursing Program in Washington State?

CNA and LPN diplomas typically take less than a year to complete. ADNs can take as little as two years to finish at a full-time pace. BSNs are designed to last four years if a students doesn't already have an ADN. Finally, advanced nursing degrees can take anywhere from one to four years for students who take a full course load. 

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

Washington residents could become RNs in as little as two-and-a-half years after high school. This is the case for nurses who opt for an RN license after graduating with an ADN. 

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