Nursing Schools in California

As of November 23rd, 2017 we have programs across 55 nursing schools in California. You’ll be able to find different courses that cover an extensive range of topics that include but not limited to PhD, Accelerated BSN and MSN. You can take these and a range of other course/degree options from schools that include Grand Canyon University - Online, Seton Hall University - Online, West Coast University - Online. If you’re looking for other states to start or further your studies we cover programs across the U.S. such as Nevada, Oregon and Arizona.

State Nursing Board: California State Board of Nursing

State Nurses Association: California Nurses Association

State Hospital Association: California Hospital Association

Find Nursing Programs in California:

Whether you live in one of California's biggest cities or one of its outlying communities, you could have plenty of opportunities when it comes to the field of nursing. California is home to over 50 nursing schools. While some focus on entry-level degrees like the LPN, ADN and RN, there are also schools with BSN, MSN and DNP programs. By comparing California nursing schools, you can find out which degree is the best fit for you and which school suits your needs.

To provide care to the people of California, you’ll need to get a high-quality education from one of the best nursing programs in California. Luckily, there are plenty of options, no matter where you live in this state.

You may look into becoming a licensed practical nurse and providing much-needed assistance to registered nurses and physicians. If you’re ready to spend a bit more time in school, you might want to look into the best BSN programs in California.

Already have a Bachelor’s degree and looking for a way to expand your scope of practice? Definitely consider one of the many Master’s-level nursing programs in your community.

California has long captured the imagination of millions the world over, with its sunny beaches, beautiful landscapes and rich history. In 1964, it surpassed New York as the nation's most populous state. People still flock to the state, including immigrants for whom California is the number one destination.

Nurses in California are at the forefront of healthcare change, despite the impact the state's economic difficulties have had on the profession. The powerful California Nurses Association has negotiated some of the most lucrative collective bargaining agreements for RNs in the country, and has set the stage for many other states to follow suit.

If you are looking to become a nurse in California, or if you are already a nurse and are looking to expand your education, you have found a great resource in We have compiled a list of all the nursing school programs in California, and you will find links on this page to each one, as well as additional information about the profession.

Nursing Education in California

With over 230 nursing schools in the state, prospective nurses have many opportunities to pursue their vocation whether they want a practical nursing diploma or a doctoral degree. Students also have their pick of educational environments that run the gamut from small private colleges to large state universities. Scholarships are available through businesses, universities, health care facilities, and other organizations for California residents. Some are offered for specific nursing specializations such as the California Emergency Nurses Association Scholarship.

Nursing Education & Career Information in your City

2017 Career Outlook for Nursing Professions

California has a population that’s growing rapidly. As the population grows in all demographics, the need for healthcare providers continues to expand at an above-average rate.

This is true for different types of programs and nursing licenses. If you want to earn your degree from a school that offers licensed practical nursing training, you may see a 21% boost in LPN job openings between 2014 and 2024 (O*Net, 2017). You may also note that the average salary for a licensed practical nurse is $52,670 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). This is well above the national average for LPNs.

Registered nurses may have Associate’s degrees or Bachelor’s degrees. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree may allow you to enjoy a higher earning potential, depending on which type of nursing role you pursue. By 2024, O*Net anticipates a 17% boost in job openings for registered nurses (2017). California registered nurses earn an average of $101,750 per year (BLS, 2017).

Many students who attend Master’s in nursing training programs choose to become nurse practitioners. The average salary for a nurse practitioner in California is $124,330 per year (BLS, 2017). From 2014 through 2024, job openings for nurse practitioners may jump a surprising 39% (O*Net, 2017).

No matter which type of degree you earn, you must go through the California Board of Registered Nursing to become a licensed nursing professional. Your career can take many different paths, and it all starts with your education. The type of school you select may determine what jobs you qualify for and where you start building connections, so don’t rush the decision.

Becoming a nurse and attending one of the best colleges in California for nursing may give you the chance to become involved in one of the state’s largest industries. The medical industry employs over 1.6 million people in California (CA Economy, 2017). Learning more about the best nursing schools in California may help you take the first step.

Some of the top employers of Registered Nurses in California include Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Laguna Honda Hospital, Loma Linda University Medical Center, and Sutter Memorial Hospital

Nursing Degree Programs in California

Nursing Bridge Programs

Graduate Nursing Programs

Entry Level Nursing Programs

California LPN Programs

  • Must have a high school diploma, clean health record, and clean background check prior to beginning classes
  • Programs include between 30 and 45 credits
  • Although some courses may be finished online, in-person clinical hours are mandatory
  • Must pass the NCLEX-PN after graduating with a certificate or diploma

At vocational nursing programs, you learn basic nursing skills while learning the importance of healthcare ethics. You may learn how to work under the guidance of RNs and physicians.

BSN Programs in California

  • Need a high school diploma, a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher, and a criminal history free of felonies
  • 120 credits are mandatory for graduation
  • Blended programs combine online study and in-person clinical work, but clinical hours are required
  • Must pass the NCLEX-RN before receiving your license

With a Bachelor’s in nursing, you may have the chance to explore a great variety of career paths and nursing specialties. Some BSN graduates go on to work in pediatrics, OB/GYN, oncology, or gerontology.

California MSN Schools

  • Need a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a current nursing license in California
  • 30 to 55 graduate credits mandatory for graduation
  • Certain programs are available online, primarily those that focus on administration over clinical work
  • Required tests depend on which nursing role you pursue and which clinical specialty you select

A Master’s degree may permit you to start working as a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist. As a nursing school California graduate, you may also qualify for careers in nurse education, nurse leadership, and nursing informatics.

DNP and PhD Nursing Programs in California

  • Must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a current nursing license, and at least one to two years of nursing experience
  • Up to 100 credit hours required for graduation
  • Some programs are available in a blended format, but clinical or lab experience is required in every program
  • Testing requirements vary based on area of clinical specialty and expertise

DNP and PhD graduates tend to have the same options as those who attend Master’s nursing programs in Northern California. However, you may be able to teach at a higher level or take on more prestigious research roles with a doctoral degree. Compared to a Master’s degree, which may take two years, a PhD or DNP may take up to six years.

Nursing Colleges in California with Nursing Bridge Programs

If you already have an Associate’s in nursing, a Bachelor’s in nursing, or a Bachelor’s in another field, you may be curious about your options. After all, it’s smart to make use of the credits you’ve already earned and the nursing experience you’ve gotten as an Associate’s-level registered nurse. To choose a bridge program, you have to first look at the degree you have and the degree you want to earn.

If you have an Associate’s degree in nursing, you may choose to bridge to a BSN or an MSN. The BSN option can be completed in as little as 18 months. At many nursing colleges in California, RN to BSN programs are primarily online. This permits you to enjoy more flexibility in your education and continue working as needed. RN to MSN programs have more extensive clinical requirements, so you cannot do as much of your training online. However, blended study options are still available.

Students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing are generally well-equipped to move on to graduate or doctoral study. A bridge BSN to MSN program is a common option, while BSN to DNP programs permit you to move straight into the benefits of doctoral study.

Other options focus on the needs of Bachelor’s graduates who have not studied nursing. An accelerated BSN program gives you the option to work extremely hard for 12 to 18 months and come out with a BSN. Direct entry MSN programs let you earn a nursing license while making progress toward a Master of Science in Nursing.

Tips for Choosing the Top Nursing Schools in California

Ready to choose a nursing school in California? You should be well on your way with your knowledge of different nursing degrees.  There are many small factors that differ between the best nursing schools in Southern California and Northern California. Doing your research may pay off and help you choose the best fit for you.

If you’re not sure where to start, begin exploring your options by thinking about the options below.

Factors to Consider While Comparing Nursing Schools in California

  • Size of each graduating class
  • Average size of a nursing course
  • Student to instructor ratio
  • Amount of clinical rotations and hours
  • Diversity in clinical settings
  • Advanced study options
  • Review courses for students preparing to take the NCLEX
  • Nursing equipment and technology
  • Connections to local facilities and healthcare institutions

Choosing the right nursing school is an art, not a science. As you communicate with local colleges and get more information on your options, you may start to get a feel for which programs suit you. Visiting schools in person is another great step to take; as a student, you may spend up to four years at a school. You want to make sure you are comfortable on campus!

MSN Programs from California Schools

Listed below are all of the nationally accredited MSN programs with campus locations in California.

Online programs may not be available in all areas

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American University of Health Sciences (Signal Hill, CA)
Program Name: Master's in Clinical Research for CCRN (Clinical Research RN)
Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, CA)
Program Name: Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist and Adult Nurse Practitioner, Parent-Child Clinical Nurse Specialist and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Parish Nursing, School Nurse Services, School Nurse Services Credential and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
California State University-Dominguez Hills (Carson, CA)
Program Name: Clinical Nurse Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner (online), Nurse Administrator (online), Nurse Educator (online), Parent-Child Clinical Nurse Specialist (online)
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
California State University-Fresno (Fresno, CA)
Program Name: Clinical Nurse Specialist/Nurse Educator, Primary Care/Family Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care/Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
California State University-Fullerton (Fullerton, CA)
Program Name: CRNA, Nursing Leadership, School Nursing, Women’s Health Care - Nurse Midwifery, Women’s Health Care - Nurse Practitioner
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
California State University-Long Beach (Long Beach, CA)
Program Name: Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, MSN/MHA, MSN/MPH, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
California State University-Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Program Name: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner - Primary & Acute Adult, Nurse Practitioner - Primary & Acute Pediatric, Nurse Practitioner - Psychiatric & Mental Health, Nursing Administration, Nursing Case Management, Nursing Education, Psychiatric/Mental Health CNS, School Health
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
California State University-Sacramento (Sacramento, CA)
Program Name: Advanced Clinical Role, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, Nursing Education, School Nursing
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
California State University-Stanislaus (Turlock, CA)
Program Name: Gerontological Nursing, Nursing Education
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Dominican University of California (San Rafael, CA)
Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing - CNS, MSN Clinical Nurse Leader
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Holy Names University (Oakland, CA)
Program Name: Administration/Management, Clinical Faculty, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), MSN/MBA
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Loma Linda University (Loma Linda, CA)
Program Name: Adult and Aging Family CNS, Adult and Aging Family Nurse Educator, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Growing Family CNS, Growing Family Nurse Educator, MS/MA in Nursing and Clinical Ethics, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
MiraCosta College (Oceanside, CA)
Program Name: Certified Nursing Assistant
Mount Saint Mary's College (Los Angeles, CA)
Program Name: Clinical Nurse Specialist Track, Community/Public Health Track, Educator Track, Leadership & Administration Track
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, CA)
Program Name: Clinical Nurse Specialist
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Samuel Merritt College (Oakland, CA)
Program Name: Case Management (CM) (online), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Nurse Anesthesia (CRNA)
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
San Diego State University (San Diego, CA)
Program Name: Advanced Practice Nursing of Adults and Elderly (Acute Critical Care Nursing NP/CNS CNS or Nurse Educator), Community Health Nursing - School Nursing, Community Health Nursing (Nurse Midwifery), Community Health Nursing (Nurse Midwifery/Women’s Health Care NP), Community Health Nursing (Women’s Health Care NP), Nursing Education (Adult Health Maternal-Newborn or Nursing Leadership), Nursing Leadership in Health Care Systems
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
San Francisco State University (San Francisco, CA)
Program Name: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Community Public Health Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administrator
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
San Jose State University (San Jose, CA)
Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Administrator, Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator, Master of Science in Nursing - School Nurse CNS
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
United States University (National City, CA)
Program Name: MSN-Administrator, MSN-Educator, MSN-FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner)
University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Program Name: Acute Care (CNS and/or NP), Family Nurse Practitioner, Gerontology (CNS and/or NP), Master's Entry Clinical Nurse (MECN), MBA/MSN, Nursing Administration, Nursing Administration/Occupational & Environmental Health, Occupational & Environmental Health Nurse Practitioner, Oncology (CNS and/or NP), Pediatric (CNS and/or NP)
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
University of California San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
Program Name: Acute Care NP, Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Adult NP, Advanced Community Health & International Nursing (ACHIN), Cardiovascular Nursing (CNS), Critical Care/Trauma Nursing CNS, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Gerontological Nursing (CNS or NP), Health Policy Nursing, Leadership Nursing & Health Systems (Administration), Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Occupational & Environmental Health Nursing (NP or CNS), Oncology Nursing (CNS or NP), Pediatric NP (PNP), Perinatal Nursing Advanced Practice (CNS), Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing Advanced Practice (CNS or NP)
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
University of California-Davis Health System (Sacramento, CA)
Program Name: Family Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant (FNP/PA) Program, Master of Science in Nursing - Health Care Leadership
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
University of California-Irvine (Irvine, CA)
Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing - FNP or Adult/Geriatric NP
University of Phoenix (Multiple Locations)
Program Name: Nurse Practitioner (online)
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)
Program Name: Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist, Adult Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nursing (CNL), Executive Nursing Leader, Family Nurse Practitioner, Masters in Nursing - Psychiatric/Mental Health NP/CNS, MSN/MBA, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
University of San Francisco (Cupertino, CA / San Francisco, CA / San Ramon, CA / Santa Rosa, CA)
Program Name: Clinical Nurse Leader (online)
Accreditation: CCNE accredited
Western University of Health Sciences (Pomona, CA)
Program Name: Ambulatory Care, Clinical Nurse Leader (online), Family Nurse Practitioner (online), Leadership & Management (online)
Accreditation: CCNE accredited