Best WUE Schools for Nursing

Best WUE Schools for Nursing in 2024

Last Updated on June 1, 2024 by II Editor

Have you dreamed of becoming a nurse but worried about college costs? Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) programs offer an affordable option for out-of-state nursing students. With reduced tuition at top-ranked schools, WUE opens doors to excellent nursing programs nationwide.


In this post, we’ll explore some of the best WUE schools for nursing. We’ll define key terms, compare programs and costs, and give tips for applying. By the end, you’ll have a shortlist of affordable yet high-quality options to kickstart your nursing career. Are you sticking with me? Let’s get started!

What is WUE and How Does it Work?

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) is a regional tuition reciprocity program for students in 16 Western states. It allows students to attend participating public colleges and universities in other WUE states and pay a reduced rate of 150% of resident tuition versus full out-of-state tuition. The 16 states in the WUE program include Alaska, Arizona, CaliforniaColorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. 


The 163 participating WUE schools offer competitive nursing programs seeking talented students regardless of residency. With WUE, you can study nursing in another state at significant cost savings compared to private colleges in your home state.

While WUE criteria vary by school, programs are usually limited to 150% of resident tuition. For example, if in-state tuition is $10,000 annually, your WUE rate would be $15,000 rather than $30,000 for non-residents. That’s a substantial savings!

To qualify for WUE, you must be a resident of a participating state and meet the school’s admission standards. The application process is the same as for in-state applicants. Once accepted, you can receive the discounted WUE tuition rate. 

WUE Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for WUE tuition rates, students must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a resident of a WUE participating state.
  • Be accepted for admission at a WUE participating public college or university in another WUE state.
  • Meet the institution’s minimum GPA requirement, usually 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Standardized test score requirements may also apply.
  • Be enrolled full-time in a baccalaureate degree program. WUE tuition rates do not apply to graduate programs or part-time enrollment.
  • Continue to meet satisfactory academic progress requirements the school sets to maintain WUE eligibility.
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Applying for WUE is usually part of the general admission application process. Individual schools may have additional requirements and limits on how many WUE students they accept annually. Always check directly with your school of interest regarding program-specific WUE guidelines.

Best WUE Schools for Nursing

Now, let’s explore some of the top WUE nursing programs. All are ranked highly for their nursing programs and offer generous tuition discounts to qualified residents.

#1. University of Utah – Salt Lake City, UT

The highly-regarded nursing school at the University of Utah is a premier choice for WUE students. It’s consistently ranked in the top 50 nationwide by U.S. News and offers a highly supportive learning environment for future nurses.

With an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio, you get hands-on learning and mentorship from experienced nursing professors. Clinical rotations are a strength, providing real-world experience in the hospital setting. Graduates are well-prepared for RN licensing exams and entry-level nursing roles.

For qualified WUE residents, tuition is just 150% of in-state rates, totalling $13,655 per year compared to $38,400 for non-residents. This huge savings makes a Utah education very accessible. The beautiful campus is also a plus in dynamic Salt Lake City.

#2. University of Colorado Denver – Denver, CO 

As Colorado’s largest nursing program, the University of Colorado Denver is another excellent choice. Ranked in the top 100 nationally, it has a 95% first-time NCLEX pass rate to help you launch your career efficiently.

Students praise the extensive clinical opportunities and support from faculty with decades of nursing experience. A wide range of specializations are offered, from cardiac nursing to women’s health. You also gain experience in the level one trauma centre on campus.

With WUE eligibility, out-of-state residents pay just $20,925 per year rather than $39,162. With comparable in-state tuition of $11,463, WUE saves thousands annually. Denver’s thriving job market is a bonus post-graduation.

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The urban campus location is also convenient for commuters. Professors are recognized for their research and teaching excellence to keep coursework cutting-edge. This program is among the most affordable routes to a top Colorado nursing degree.

#3. University of Nevada, Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV

Ranked among the best in the West, UNLV’s nursing program is situated in the dynamic city of Las Vegas. With over 4,000 students, it has size and resources yet maintains a personalized learning focus.

WUE residents pay 150% of the $7,536 in-state tuition for a reasonable $11,520 annually. With Nevada’s affordability and UNLV’s national calibre, this program stands out as an incredible value for aspiring nurses.

Clinical partnerships place you in some of the city’s top hospitals for hands-on experience. Courses emphasize community health concepts particularly relevant to diverse Las Vegas. Small class sizes of 20-25 students foster close guidance from professors.

Graduates cite UNLV’s excellence in online and hybrid learning options as superior preparation for the digital nursing field. This WUE school proves that affordability need not come at the cost of quality education.

Additional Notable WUE Nursing Schools 

While the above stands out, many other top programs offer WUE discounts. Consider these additional affordable options:

  • Washington State University: Nation’s #17 program with a WUE rate of $16,693 vs $38,130 non-resident tuition.
  • Northern Arizona University: Consistently top 50 with a diverse curriculum and Phoenix clinical sites. WUE tuition is $14,619 instead of $36,348.
  • University of Alaska Anchorage: The WUE tuition is $12,543 rather than the $33,302 sticker price.
  • Dickinson State University: WUE lowers costs to $9,544 instead of $23,352.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a WUE Nursing School

Now that you have a list of potential schools, how do you choose? Several factors are worth evaluating as you narrow it down:

#. Program Rankings and Reputation 

Consider the school’s national ranking by U.S. News or other evaluators. Also, research things like NCLEX pass rates and alumni success stories for insights into the quality of education. Top programs better prepare you for your career.

#. Specializations and Areas of Focus

Nursing fields like paediatrics, women’s health, oncology, or critical care may interest you more. Check each school’s options and requirements to find a strong fit. Clinical placement sites are also important.

#. Cost Savings from WUE Discount 

Of course, tuition rates matter greatly. Compare net costs factoring in scholarships, loans and living expenses realistically. Significant WUE discounts are your priority. Consider multi-year costs, too.

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#. Location and Campus Experience 

Urban, suburban or small-town settings appeal differently—research surrounding areas and student life quality. Clinical sites should be conveniently located from the university as well.

#. Program Rigor and Support Systems

Course load, faculty attention, academic support services, graduation rates and more speak to the school’s commitment to student success. Personalized guidance is vital in nursing.

Weighing these areas will lead you to identify one or two optimal programs that meet your preferences at affordable WUE price points. It’s worth thoroughly vetting your top options.

Tips for Applying to WUE Nursing Schools 

Now that you have target schools in mind, here are application tips to maximize your chances of admission:

  • Check WUE eligibility and deadlines for your state of residence on each school’s website. Meet all criteria to qualify.
  • Take prerequisite sciences like A & P, Microbiology and Chemistry with a B or higher. Nursing programs are competitive.
  • Study for the necessary entrance exams (GRE/MCAT waived at most, but check requirements). Score well above averages.
  • Request letters of recommendation from science professors who know your abilities and work ethic.
  • Write compelling personal statements highlighting your “fit” for each program and passion for nursing.
  • Maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA through your prerequisites if your target schools are very selective.
  • Apply early, well before priority deadlines, to increase consideration for the application cycle.
  • Follow up by emailing the nursing advisors for each program if you have specific questions. Make your interest known.

Maximizing your application in these ways boosts your chances of gaining that rewarding yet affordable WUE nursing education. Let hard work and preparation pave your path to a bright future in patient care.


For dedicated students, nothing should hold back bright futures in nursing—not even out-of-state costs. WUE schools at the nation’s top universities make high-calibre nursing education financially available for passionate learners from participating states.

By researching options, strategically considering appeal factors and planning applications, you can earn life-changing degrees from any excellent programs highlighted here. Affordable student loans often supplement WUE discounts for even greater cost-effectiveness than private colleges.

The WUE path leads to profound healthcare careers helping communities nationwide. With diligence and focus, you can maximize your chances of admission and take advantage of this remarkable opportunity. 


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