21+ Best Schools for Nursing in California to get into 2022

Nursing Schools in California: Are you looking for the best nursing schools and universities with good BSN programs in southern California and Los Angeles?

Have you made up your mind to study nursing but have no iota of knowledge if you’re making the right decision to study in California?

Well, this article is here to make you understand that a consideration to study and become a nurse in California is a step in the right direction.


Following our article on the Best Nursing Schools in Dallas Texas, our readers wanted similar information for the California residents.

In order not to have a tough or failed application, we have put together the essential information to help you apply to any of the nursing programs and schools in Southern California.

Nursing is one of the professions in high demand owing to the increase in the need to supply quality healthcare services all around the globe.

Seeking to become a nurse in California is a step in the right direction. Before you are accredited with the title of a registered nurse in California, you must have earned a degree from an accredited California school as well as fulfill other prerequisites which we will discuss in this article.

Before we get into that properly, we will help you pick the right school for you. 

Without further ado, let’s get you acquainted with the best nursing schools in California from which you will make a choice in a few minutes.

Welcome aboard Scholar!!!


Become a Nurse In California

California has the most registered nurses in the US, with over 457,000 in the state alone. As the state’s elderly population grows older, there will be an increased demand for nurses in the coming years. Furthermore, California is the highest paying state for registered nurses, with an annual salary of more than $120,560.

Many licensed nurses in California aspire to advance their professions by returning to school for a higher degree. When it comes to nursing degree types, nurses have a plethora of alternatives to select from.

Studying Nursing in Southern California Schools: What is it Like?

California has a lot of reputable state schools which are a great attraction because of their low in-state tuition. 

And choosing to study nursing programs at California universities is one of the best decisions and a step in the right direction. 

Doing so will not just equip you Professionally, it will also set you up for a successful nursing career. 

Studying in California will never go wrong, hence the reason we have put this piece together to help you make a choice out of the pool of best schools for BSN and MSN nursing programs in California.

ALSO READ: 21+ Nursing Scholarships for International Students in Canada 2022

What’s the Job Outlook for Nurses in California?

Following the report made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2020, we see that California as a country employs 307,060 nurses.

This is recorded as the highest in the nation. 

However, the “not so bright side” of this is that California is one of the lowest employers of nurses per capita. 

This is so because only 18.69% of nurses are employed per 1000 jobs. However, in cities such as Florida, we see 21.69% and 26.60% in Pennsylvania. 

What Are The Types of Nursing Programs in California?

If you’re looking to do a nursing program in one of the schools for nurses in California, this section helps you know the types of programs offered in California.

This information helps you know which school to apply to and if California will do justice to the course you seek.

Here are the types of nursing programs available in southern California and Los Angeles to be precise;

#1. Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs.

  • Accelerated BSN Programs
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN/AAS)
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)
  • Direct-Entry MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

#2. Nursing Bridge Programs for Current Nurses.

  • LVN to RN 
  • LVN to BSN Programs
  • RN to MSN Programs
  • RN to BSN Programs

#3. Advanced Nursing Programs.

  • PhD Doctoral Programs
  • Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

What is the Average Salary For Nurses in Southern California?

As of 2020, Nurses in California earned an annual wage of $120,560. This unarguably makes it the highest paying state for nurses.

However, nurses who specialize in practice get to earn higher salaries.

ALSO READ: 2 Year Degree in Nursing | 21 Schools Offering a 2 Year Degree in Nursing

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Nursing School in California.

Most of the good and top-rated schools for nursing in the USA are found in both northern and southern California.

These nursing schools in California universities have some of the best BSN and advanced nursing programs. 

However, before you make a choice between these Nursing schools of repute in California Los Angeles or other California counties, you need to consider some important criteria.

It’s ideal that you note that each of these schools for nurses in California may focus on a particular nursing program. While some on the other hand have more than one program they focus on.

For the purpose of choosing the best, we have come up with a list of considerations of factors that you must consider before making a choice of school. 

When looking out for the best nursing schools in California, you need to consider factors such as;

  • NCLEX pass rate
  • The school’s reputation.
  • Length or duration of the program.
  • Distance from home and hospitals.
  • Tuition and other expenses of the school.
  • Benefits of each specific nursing program.
  • The acceptance rate for nursing programs in the school.
  • Available scholarships or grants are offered by the school.
  • Also, consider if the school is accredited. Relevant Accreditation regional and national either Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Once you have this figured out, the next step is to consider the requirements or prerequisites and ranking for the nursing schools in southern California.

All these are essential for making a choice of a school to study nursing in California.

How Do I Apply To Good Nursing Schools in Southern California?

A good nursing school in California comes at the price of crafting a good application. 

It’s one thing to know the best nursing schools as described by different University rankings in southern California and another thing to know the best way to apply to them.

When you read and find the list of best nursing schools and their BSN and MSN programs in California as we have listed below, you have to know how to apply to avoid having a failed application.

Here’s what to do apply rightly to nursing schools in Los Angeles, Southern, and Northern California;

#1. Research About The Schools Thoroughly.

The details we give you here are not enough to decide to study to go to any school. 

We often recommend that you visit the school’s website for more details about their nursing programs and what it will require you to apply.

Thorough research solidifies your pick. Therefore, spend more time researching each school to make sure it’s a good pick.

#2. Contact Each School’s Admissions Offices. 

Once you have at least a pick on the five best nursing schools in California, contact their admissions offices for answers to the questions that plague your mind on the admission process and requirements.

#3. Ready Your Requirements.

The requirements and prerequisites for nursing school in California Los Angeles may differ from that in southern California.

Therefore, you need to know what each college requires because such determine your entrance into your school and program of choice.

Therefore, you have to find out what the nursing school requirements are. Keep in mind that nursing programs usually have stricter requirements than other programs.

#4. Submit Your Application.

Once you have your requirements all set, go ahead and submit your application(s) to as many schools as possible. 

#5. Wait For a Response!!!

Now that your bid is done, await the university’s response. Usually, you will get an answer via email.

What Are The Requirements To Apply To The Best Nursing Schools In California?

No two nursing schools have the same requirements for all programs. And as such, there are no particular requirements for all nursing programs in California universities. 

This is so because each college has its own requirements for each nursing program.

However, there are requirements that are similar to all schools and that we have listed together for students who are seeking to apply to nursing programs in California universities.

Here are the requirements for nursing school in California; 

  • A good GPA.
  • High school transcript.
  • ACT and/or SAT scores.
  • College entrance essay(s)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation

Many universities may require additional information, such as volunteer experience and extracurricular activities.

Be sure to check your preferred university website for details on the prerequisites to study nursing programs in California universities.

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Top Nursing Schools in California for 2022.

Here is a list of universities that prospective nursing students can apply to in Los Angeles, Southern California, and other counties in California.

#1. California State University, Bakersfield.

  • Location: Bakersfield, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.92%
  • Online Nursing Programs: No.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $7,498 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes

California State University, Bakersfield is one of those good nursing universities with programs California prides in. 

Being one of the nursing schools in California Los Angeles, it also has an extension in San Francisco.

The nursing programs in Cal State Bakersfield have a lot of options for undergraduate students. Some of which include the traditional BSN, 15-month RN-to-BSN etc. 

#2. California State University, Fullerton

  • Location: Fullerton, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.55%
  • Online Nursing Programs: No.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $6,979.
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes

Cal State Fullerton is one of the top nursing schools in the CSU system with a student population of nearly 40,000.

This college enlists as one of the best because of its low in-state tuition rate and a great site. 

Talking about the nursing programs in Cal State Fullerton, undergraduate students majorly have two options: a direct-entry BSN and a traditional BSN. 

However, keep in mind that the traditional BSN welcomes just 5 to 10 students in a year. That’s a really low acceptance rate!!!

#3. University of California, Irvine

  • Location: Irvine, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.07%
  • Online Nursing Programs: No.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $11,442. 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes.

If you’re looking to run an accelerated nursing program, the University of California, Irvine is a good place to consider.

However, the major nursing programs at this Californian university are for undergraduates. Such includes the traditional BSN. 

Whichever one you’re trained in at the University of California, Irvine, you will be set up for an incredibly successful nursing career.

Students who graduate from the University of California, Irvine have a higher chance of getting higher salaries than the national average for recent grads. 

#4. California State University, Long Beach.

  • Location: Long Beach, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 99.25%.
  • Online Nursing Programs: No.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $6,850. 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes.

Next on the list of the top nursing schools with the best programs in California is Cal State University, Long Beach.

Beyond its great nursing programs, Cal State University Long Beach is situated in a beautiful environment with great beaches.

Majorly, the California State University, Long Beach nursing programs are focused on the traditional BSN and MSN programs. 

The BSN program runs across 3 options: a traditional track, an RN-BSN track, and an accelerated option. 

#5. California State University, Los Angeles.

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.4%
  • Online Nursing Programs: No.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $6,782 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes

One of the nursing schools in California Los Angeles is the California State University, Los Angeles.  

Studying nursing in Los Angeles exposes prospective nurses to various hospitals where students can run their clinicals.

One of the nursing programs at California State University, Los Angeles is the BSN. The accelerated BSN for non-RNs is open to recent BSc holders and graduates. Usually, it takes 15 months to complete. 

#6. University of California, Los Angeles

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.56%
  • Online Nursing Programs: No.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $11,442 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes.

Another great nursing school in our list of best nursing schools in California Los Angeles is UCLA. 

Without doubts UCLA is one of the most reputable universities in the world.

Its prowess in academics extends to the nursing programs in the university. Students can earn a BSN, master’s and doctoral degrees at UCLA.

Although the cost of studying nursing in UCLA is higher than other nursing universities offering the same BSN programs in California, it’s worth the pay.

#7. California State University, Sacramento.

  • Location: Sacramento, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.53%
  • Online Nursing Programs: No.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $7,392. 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes.

Annual In-State Tuition: | NCLEX Pass Rate: 

Being one of the most diverse schools known in California, it’s without doubt why many students apply to study at California State University, Sacramento.

The nursing program that draws the attention of many is the BSN program ideal for prospects who do not have any nursing experience. 

Also, there is an RN-BSN program also available for practicing nurses.

#8. San Diego State University

  • Location: San Diego, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.91%
  • Online Nursing Programs: No.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $8,136 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes. 

With a student population of over 36,000 San Diego State University still welcomes students from all over the world.

Studying nursing in San Diego State University has many options for Freshers and advanced nursing programs in California. 

Some of the nursing programs in this California university include the BSN, RN-BSN, master’s in nursing (MSN), and an LVN-RN. 

Deciding to study at SDSU comes with interesting add-ons such as low in-state tuition, high NCLEX pass rate and an option to study abroad. 

#9. University of California, San Francisco.

  • Location: San Francisco, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.83%
  • Online Nursing Programs: Yes
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $60,482 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes.

The University of California, San Francisco is one of the few California universities or schools that offer some nursing programs online. 

However, its cost is alarming and generally higher than other nursing schools in California. And sadly, out-of-state students are expected to pay a higher rate. 

Its cost however is synonymous with the quality of the education the University of California, San Francisco offers.

Out of all of its nursing programs, the University of California, San Francisco accelerated MSN program is the most applied for.

Also, there are bachelor’s degree programs as well.

#10. California State University, Stanislaus

  • Location: Stanislaus, CA.
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.21%
  • Online Nursing Programs: Yes.
  • Annual In-State Tuition: $7,644 
  • Available Accelerated Programs: Yes.

If you’re looking to run a nursing program online at a Californian University then the California State University, Stanislaus is a great option to consider.

Students have four BSN options such as the RN-BSN, an LVN-BSN, an online RN-BS, and a traditional BSN. 

Students go to Madeira and Stockton for clinical which gives them extra exposure and more experience. 

Other Top Nursing Schools in California

  • National University, San Diego.
  • Azusa Pacific University, Azusa.
  • Biola University LA MIRADA, CA
  • Samuel Merritt University, Oakland.
  • California State University, San Marcos.
  • West Coast University, North Hollywood.
  • California Baptist University RIVERSIDE, CA.
  • Point Loma Nazarene University SAN DIEGO, CA.
  • Stanbridge University – Orange County IRVINE, CA.
  • The Dominican University of California, SAN RAFAEL, CA.

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Nursing organizations and associations in California

Once you become a registered nurse (or even if you’re in the process), joining a nursing organization or association will give you access to networking, job opportunities, and a wealth of information shared between fellow nurses. Here are a few of the organizations and associations for nurses in California:

Golden State Nursing Foundation

The Golden State Nursing Foundation provides and promotes educational programs for nurses to improve patient care delivery. According to their website, the foundation provides scholarships and programs to help prepare nurses for the changes in the delivery of health care, supporting innovative practice in nursing, and preserving the local history of nursing.

California Nursing Students Association

This is a chapter of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) and is made up of approximately 5,000 members throughout the state. This association gives nursing students a voice on the national and state level, as well as numerous educational and professional growth opportunities to make the most of their nursing careers.

Association of California Nurse Leaders

The mission statement of this association is “We provide lifelong learning opportunities to meet the needs of current and emerging nurse leaders and serve as the primary resource for nurse leaders regarding health care issues.” What more could you want from an organization?! If you’re a nurse leader or aspiring to be one, check this association out.

California School Nurses Organization

If you’re a school nurse, this is a great resource for you. They view school nurses as “the essential link between health and academic success.” Through this organization, you can find career opportunities, advocacy for your career, and many resources for emerging and current healthcare issues.

California Emergency Nurses Association

This is the California chapter of the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA). They provide a voice for emergency nurses in the state of California, as well as a variety of continuing education opportunities and networking events to share the latest in evidence-based nursing practice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing Schools in Dallas Texas.

Why Does Nursing Schools Tuition Cost Differ By University in California?

Majorly, tuition differs based on university and the program of study applies to nursing schools as well.

The difference is that nursing schools are a little more obvious due to the following factors;

  • Transfer credits.
  • Financial aid awards.
  • Completed competency exams.
  • Amount of credits taken per year.

Therefore we often recommend you check the specific tuition cost at the University’s website.

Must A Nursing School Be Accredited?

Accreditation is the most important consideration you have to make if you’re going to use your nursing degree after graduation. 

It’s as important as that.

Without accreditation, students won’t be eligible to take the NCLEX and become registered nurses. Not only that, finding a job will be very difficult if your school is not accredited.  

Before making a choice of nursing school or program in California, don’t only consider ranking, consider accreditation as well.

A nursing school must be accredited by;

  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

If a school is accredited by one of these institutions, then its nursing program adheres to strict national standards.

How Do I Get A License To Practice Nursing in California?

First keep in mind that if you want to get an eligible license to practice in California, you must study at a California school.

The completion of a BSN program in a Californian University is the first step. 

Once that is set, here is what to do to get a license to practice in California;

  • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN.
  • Pass a criminal background check.
  • Proceed to submit your fingerprints.
  • Send your information to the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) in California.
  • Apply to become a nurse via the California Board of Nursing.
  • While waiting for the results of the NCLEX, nurses can apply for an intern permit.

What GPA is required to Apply to Nursing Schools in California?

One of the requirements or Prerequisites for nursing school in California is a good GPA. 

Most colleges in California will require a GPA of 2.0.

What is the Easiest Nursing School To Get Into in California?

The easiest university to get into in California to study nursing is the California State University, Fullerton.

Which Cal State University is Best For Nursing?

It’s without argument that the universities in the California State University Systems are great institutions. 

However, those with the Best Nursing Programs in California include;

  • San Diego State University.
  • The University of California-Irvine. 
  • California State University-Fresno.
  • University of California-Los Angeles
  • California State University-Chico. 
  • California State University-Fullerton. 
  • The California State University-Long Beach. 
  • California State University-San Bernardino. 

Is It Hard Getting Into UCLA To Study Nursing?

The nursing program at UCLA offers just 2% for incoming freshmen. Out of the 3,000 applicants, only 51 freshmen got admitted and 11 transferred.

What Kind Of Nurses Get Paid Most?

Highest Paid Nursing Jobs in California are listed below;

  • Family Nurse – $113,000.
  • Urgent Care Nurse – $113,000.
  • Oncology Nurse – $113,000.
  • Orthopedic Nurse – $115,000.
  • Cardiac Nurse – $116,000.

Which Cities Are Nurses Paid Most in California?

The top highest paying cities for Registered Nurses in California include;

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $155,230
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $151,640
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA    $146,360
  • Santa Rosa, CA    $141,440

We hope you found this article helpful in helping you pick the best nursing school in California. 

You may also want to see our guide on the Medical Schools That Don’t Require MCAT| Complete Guide 2022, or our other articles as the Easiest Nursing Schools to Get Into In 2022 | Complete Guide

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