California Nursing Programs and Degrees Guide

The following guide is designed to provide you with essential information on the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs offered at California’s colleges and universities. The numerous programs available allow students to concentrate in a vast range of areas, including family nurse practitioner, health care administration, and pediatric nurse practitioner. Students who require a more flexible and convenient alternative to earning an undergraduate or graduate nursing degree may want to consider an online program.

Schools with Nursing Programs

  • 91 colleges and universities offer an associate’s degree in nursing.
  • 53 colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • 36 colleges and universities offer a master’s or advanced degree in nursing.
  • 4 schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2015 (top 100): University of California-Davis (41), University of California-Irvine (39), University of California-Los Angeles (23), University of San Diego (89).
  • 9 schools ranked in US News Best Nursing Graduate Schools in 2016 for Master’s in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs: California State University-Los Angeles (#52, MSN), Point Loma Nazarene University (#168, MSN), San Jose State University (#142, MSN), University of California-Davis (#58, MSN), University of California-Los Angeles (#12, MSN), University of California-San Francisco (#3, MSN), University of San Diego (#34 MSN; #34 DNP), University of San Francisco (#142, MSN; #85, DNP), Western University of Health Sciences (#142, MSN; #103, DNP).

Institutional Facts for Schools with Nursing Programs

  • Highest graduation rate: University of California-Los Angeles, 92%.1
  • Highest transfer-out rate: Pacific Union College, 41%.1
  • Highest net price: American University of Health Sciences, $66,743.1
  • Lowest net price: California State University-Dominguez Hills $2,990.1
  • Annual undergrad tuition range for schools in California with a bachelor’s in nursing program: $6,300 – $44,463.2

Continue reading to learn more about undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in California’s leading colleges and universities.

NCLEX Pass Rate and Accreditation Information for Nursing Schools in California

The following table allows you to easily compare not-for-profit California nursing schools on a variety of factors. Click on the arrows in the top row to sort the table. In addition to seeking a program that leads to licensure in your desired area of nursing, it’s advisable to consider accreditation as a factor in your decision. If you are considering education beyond the associate’s level, know that a degree from a school that holds accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is a common requirement for admission to master’s degree, ADN/LVN and RN to BSN, and specialized certificate programs. You should also check to ensure that the school you are considering is approved or accepted by the California Board of Nursing.

SchoolADN or LVN ProgramBSN ProgramGraduate Nursing ProgramACEN/CCNE Accredited*NCLEX-PN First Time Pass Rate**Number TakingNCLEX-RN First Time Pass Rate***Number TakingNet Price****
Allan Hancock CollegeYesNoNoNo97%3380%36$6,192
American River CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A94%67$7,838
Antelope Valley CollegeYesNoNoNo62%1382%99$6,019
Azusa Pacific UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A84%276$31,587
Bakersfield CollegeYesNoNoNo100%3591%125$4,953
Bethesda University of CaliforniaYesNoNoNo35%26N/AN/AN/A
Biola UniversityNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A77%44$32,087
Blake Austin CollegeYesNoNoNo83%60N/AN/A$38,370
Brandman UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/AN/AN/A$13,830
Butte CollegeYesNoNoNo88%1781%83$5,929
Cabrillo CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A69%49$9,635
California Baptist UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A83%130$25,752
California State University-BakersfieldNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A83%49$5,690
California State University-Channel IslandsNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A93%47$12,423
California State University-ChicoNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A95%69$11,781
California State University-Dominguez HillsNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A69%23$1,640
California State University-East BayNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A84%127$8,723
California State University-FresnoNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A77%100$5,599
California State University-FullertonNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A88%49$5,542
California State University-Long BeachNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A95%116$7,672
California State University-Los AngelesNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A95%64$2,735
California State University-NorthridgeNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A89%55$7,654
California State University-SacramentoNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A97%112$7,446
California State University-San BernardinoNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A78%127$5,993
California State University-San MarcosNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A97%170$7,725
California State University-StanislausNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A96%81$6,340
Casa Loma College-AnaheimYesNoNoNo52%89N/AN/A$30,771
Casa Loma College-Van NuysYesNoNoNo66%73N/AN/A$30,771
Cerritos CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A87%70$8,234
Cerro Coso CollegeYesNoNoNo77%13N/AN/A$15,144
Chabot CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A100%38$7,410
Chaffey CollegeYesNoNoACEN67%4685%65$9,589
Charles Drew UniversityNoNoYesCCNEN/AN/A55%87$19,338
Citrus CollegeYesNoNoNo85%4089%28$4,333
City College of San FranciscoYesNoNoNo65%6288%100$4,865
College of MarinYesNoNoNoN/AN/A97%38$9,020
College of San MateoYesNoNoNoN/AN/A84%50$4,639
College of the CanyonsYesNoNoACENN/AN/A85%121$6,846
College of the DesertYesNoNoNo62%2991%53$8,683
College of the Redwoods-Del NorteYesNoNoNo100%183%48$6,163
College of the Redwoods-EurekaYesNoNoNoN/AN/A83%48$6,163
College of the SequoiasYesNoNoNoN/AN/A90%96$1,424
College of the SiskiyousYesNoNoNo100%2198%42$8,095
Concordia University-IrvineNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A94%70$25,694
Contra Costa CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A76%33$11,123
Copper Mountain Community CollegeYesNoNoNo91%1182%22$10,299
Cuesta CollegeYesNoNoNo96%28100%30$11,738
Cypress CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A86%66$6,993
De Anza CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A91%55$5,615
Dominican University of CaliforniaNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A62%103$34,384
East Los Angeles CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A62%120$8,600
El Camino College-TorranceYesNoNoNoN/AN/A89%71$9,936
El Camino College-ComptonYesNoNoNoN/AN/A59%54$7,548
Eastern Sierra College CenterYesNoNoNoN/AN/AN/AN/A$16,843
Evergreen Valley CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A94%53$11,444
Feather River College-Fall River MillsYesNoNoNo100%1N/AN/A$19,362
Feather River College-QuincyYesNoNoNo88%8N/AN/A$19,362
Fresno City CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A67%367$5,374
Fresno Pacific UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/AN/AN/A$16,325
Gavilan Community CollegeYesNoNoNo94%1769%26$7,279
Glendale Community CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A90%72$4,188
Golden West CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A91%85$9,752
Grossmont CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A95%61$3,041
Hartnell Community CollegeYesNoNoNo86%1492%25$10,206
Holy Names UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A42%33$26,502
Imperial Valley Community CollegeYesNoNoNo100%1N/AN/A$3,503
Lassen Community CollegeYesNoNoNo78%989%44$15,536
Loma Linda UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A86%154$50,109
Long Beach City CollegeYesNoNoACEN75%5290%83$5,668
Los Angeles City CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A81%72$6,752
Los Angeles Harbor CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A97%64$9,523
Los Angeles Pierce CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A85%40$8,568
Los Angeles Southwest CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A70%30$7,156
Los Angeles Trade-Tech CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A76%25$6,315
Los Angeles Valley CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A95%80$8,471
Los Medanos Community CollegeYesNoNoNo82%2282%33$9,691
Mendocino CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A100%15$9,194
Merced Community CollegeYesNoNoNo92%3787%55$9,870
Merritt CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A100%15$11,041
Mira Costa Community CollegeYesNoNoNo100%17100%44$7,294
Mission Community CollegeYesNoNoNo95%6176%37$9,725
Modesto Junior CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A89%97$8,851
Monterey Peninsula CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A93%30$9,075
Moorpark CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A90%61$4,379
Mount St. Mary’s University (ADN)YesYesNoCCNEN/AN/A71%78$27,334
Mount St. Mary’s University (BSN)YesYesNoCCNEN/AN/A86%105$27,334
Mt. San Antonio CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A86%105$4,294
Mt. San Jacinto Community CollegeYesNoNoNo100%195%43$6,923
Napa Valley Community CollegeYesNoNoNo60%573%33$11,318
National UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A94%235$22,058
Ohlone CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A89%28$12,083
Oikos UniversityYesNoNoNo67%6N/AN/AN/A
Pacific Union CollegeYesYesNoACENN/AN/A83%78$22,738
Palomar CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A88%33$5,110
Palo Verde Community CollegeYesNoNoNo33%18N/AN/A$10,519
Pasadena City CollegeYesNoNoNo63%2480%138$6,652
Point Loma Nazarene UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A91%45$30,171
Porterville Community CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A67%9$3,345
Rio Hondo Community CollegeYesNoNoNo96%2491%77$5,740
Riverside Community CollegeYesNoNoACEN100%5092%160$7,375
Sacramento City CollegeYesNoNoNo86%2894%69$7,659
Saddleback CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A94%100$11,278
Samuel Merritt UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A86%378$44,166
San Bernardino Valley CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A79%58$7,655
San Diego City CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A88%56$6,531
San Diego State UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A93%151$10,085
San Francisco State UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A87%109$9,356
San Joaquin Delta CollegeYesNoNoACEN0%179%97$9,947
San Jose State UniversityNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A81%104$10,729
Santa Ana CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A84%88$6,024
Santa Barbara City CollegeYesNoNoACEN97%3393%68$10,718
Santa Monica CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A100%54$7,435
Santa Rosa Junior CollegeYesNoNoNo100%189%124$8,297
Shasta Community CollegeYesNoNoNo50%285%53$5,746
Shepherd UniversityYesYesYesCCNE29%1730%64N/A
Sierra CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A100%11$8,759
Simpson UniversityNoYesNoCCNEN/AN/A100%32$18,275
Solano Community CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A64%42$8,405
Sonoma State UniversityNoYesYesACENN/AN/A83%12$12,914
Southwestern CollegeYesNoNoACEN59%2291%57$5,931
State Center Community College District-Madera CenterYesNoNoNo33%3N/AN/AN/A
University of California-DavisNoNoYesCCNEN/AN/AN/AN/A$16,231
University of California-IrvineNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A80%49$12,072
University of California-Los AngelesNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A75%51$12,510
University of California-San FranciscoNoNoYesCCNEN/AN/A90%52$51,466
University of San DiegoNoNoYesCCNEN/AN/A91%34$32,482
University of San FranciscoNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/A85%168$32,867
Vanguard University of Southern CaliforniaNoYesYesCCNEN/AN/AN/AN/A$24,229
Ventura CollegeYesNoNoACENN/AN/A90%88$4,431
Victor Valley CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A98%63$8,502
Western Governors UniversityNoYesYesNoN/AN/A67%42$11,475
Western University of Health SciencesNoNoYesCCNEN/AN/A86%58$22,930
West Hills College-LemooreYesNoNoNoN/AN/A95%41$8,048
Yuba Community CollegeYesNoNoNoN/AN/A82%56$6,175

*The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits ADN/ASN/BSN programs. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits BSN/MSN/DNP programs.5,6
**NCLEX-PN pass rates reported are for first-time undergraduates testing between August 1 2014-May 30 2014.7 You can compare these pass rates to the national average through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
***NCLEX-RN pass rates reported are for first-time undergraduates testing between July 1 2014-June 30 2015.8 You can compare these pass rates to the national average through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
****The National Center for Education Statistics calculates net price from the total estimated cost of attendance, including includes tuition, books, room and board, and other expenses, for in-state students minus the average financial aid award (such as grants and scholarships).

Schools in California with Nursing Degrees

Associate’s in Nursing Programs

Cerritos College
Cerritos College offers an Associate in Arts in Nursing program on its campus in Norwalk, California. Program graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN and become licensed registered nurses. Current Licensed Registered Nurses (LVNs) and Licensed Psychiatric Technicians (LPTs) may be eligible for advanced standing in the program, which reduces the total time required to complete the associate’s degree program. Current LVNs may also complete the school’s LVN+30 non-degree program to become eligible for registered nurse licensure. To be eligible for admission to the program, candidates must achieve satisfactory scores on placement tests in mathematics, English, and reading as well as a grade of at least “C” in prerequisite courses. Candidates must also have a minimum 2.5 GPA for all college coursework taken. The ADN program at Cerritos College holds approval from the California Board of Registered Nursing and accreditation from the Accreditation Commission For Education In Nursing (ACEN).

Santa Monica College
Santa Monica College awards the Associate in Science – Nursing Major degree to students who successfully complete its four-semester associate nursing program. Graduates are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam in California and become licensed registered nurses. An LVN to ADN option that awards eligible students with advanced standing in the degree program is also offered. Admission to the program is based on a screening process that utilizes points for academic achievement, professional and life experience, and other criteria. Admission decisions are made each semester and candidates who are not accepted on initial application are encouraged to re-apply during the following admissions period. The associate degree nursing program at Santa Monica College holds approval from the California Board of Registered Nursing and accreditation from the Accreditation Commission For Education In Nursing (ACEN).

Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs

California State University-Sacramento
California State University-Sacramento, more familiarly known as Sacramento State, offers a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that includes two years of intensive clinical training for aspiring nurses. Flexible scheduling allows working students to complete their degrees while accommodating other commitments. Program graduates are professionally prepared to pass the California licensing exams and enter the workforce with theoretical as well as practical nursing knowledge and are also prepared to pursue graduate study. The program is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing and holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In addition to the BSN program, Sacramento state offers RN to BSN, LVN to RN, and Master of Science in Nursing degree programs.

University of California at Irvine
The University of California at Irvine features a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nursing Science program designed to prepare graduates to become registered nurses. Undergraduates complete four years program requirements, with the first two years dedicated to core university courses and the final two years focused on the nursing program. Nursing majors will gain hands-on experience through required work placements at clinical locations. The nursing program is competitive, accepting only 50 students each year due to limited clinical opportunities. Applicants who are not initially accepted to the program may reapply the following year as the school does not maintain a waiting list.

University of San Francisco
Nursing majors at the University of San Francisco must successfully complete a four-year, 128 credit program to earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Graduates of the program will have met the necessary requirements to sit for the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) and to earn a California Public Health Nursing Certificate. In addition to general college and major requirements, nursing majors must also complete clinical labs covering such areas as community and mental health nursing and applied assessments in health and wellness. Students are encouraged to become involved on campus by joining the Nursing Students Association, the Male Student Nurses Society, and the Nursing Student Multicultural Interest Group.

Master’s in Nursing Programs

University of California-San Francisco
The University of California-San Francisco School of Nursing provides a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program that prepares graduates to assume various roles in advanced practice nursing. The program’s multidisciplinary approach to theoretical and practical nursing study allows students to contribute to the advancement of nursing theory and understand and deploy practical and theoretical applications in nursing practice. MS students may pursue a minor in such areas as health policy and HIV/AIDS. The program requires between 30 and 36 credits with a mandatory clinical experience and either a comprehensive exam or a thesis. Students may choose from over 10 nursing specialties and 6 minor areas of study to fit individual career goals and interests. Though the MSN program is developed for nurses with a baccalaureate degree in nursing and work experience, UCSF offers two bridge programs for students interested in pursuing an advanced degree: the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) and the ADN-to-Master’s Pathway Program. The MEPN spans three years and is for those students who hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing and have no training or experience in the field. Graduates of the program earn expert status in their particular area of specialization. The program combines weekly courses and clinical work with students taking courses and doing clinical work in all quarters of the year, including the summer session. The ADN-to-Master’s Pathway program caters to registered nurses who possess only an associate’s degree. Students first earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing by taking courses at Golden Gate University or John F. Kennedy University, which takes up to two years to complete. Upon finishing the bachelor’s degree requirements, students begin the MS in Nursing Program at the University of California at San Francisco. Graduates of any of these programs may be interested in pursuing UCSF’s PhD in Nursing, which prepares graduates to work as scientists in nursing research and development. The graduate nursing programs at UCSF are regularly ranked among the best in the nation by US News & World Report.

California State University at Long Beach
California State University at Long Beach confers the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in nine concentrations, including family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, adult-geriatric nurse practitioner, women’s health nurse practitioner, health care administration, and public health. Applicants who hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing may apply for the BSN to MSN program. Each concentration requires graduate students to complete core courses, clinical specialty courses, and a culminating event course. The culminating degree experience consists of a directed nursing project, a thesis, or a professional literature project. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing will be considered, although the program prefers to admit applicants who hold a BSN.

Samuel Merritt University
Graduate students at Samuel Merritt University may pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in one of three areas: case management, certified nurse anesthetist, or family nurse practitioner. Full-time graduate students concentrating in case management generally fulfill degree requirements in five semesters or two full years. The certified nurse anesthetist concentration requires 60 credits over seven semesters, including the summer. Courses cover such areas pharmacology, analysis of health policy issues, and professional aspects of practice. The family nurse practitioner concentration consists of 49 credits with students completing approximately 630 hours of clinical experience to fulfill degree requirements.

Student Reviews

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

California State University, Chico
400 W 1st St
Chico, CA 95929
(530) 898-4636

Student Review: I am quite disappointed in the nursing program at California State University, Chico. As a second degree student I opted for a campus-based program under the assumption that I would be provided with adequate classroom instruction; I was wrong. Had I known the primary pathophysiology instructor refused to lecture, I would have pursued an online program such as WGU’s instead. Most members of my graduating class gave this particular instructor scathing reviews yet our concerns were never addressed. CSU Chico uses ATI for NCLEX preparation–after our first pathophysiology class during our 2nd semester we took an ATI exam that showed our class to have a 75% predicted pass rate, a far cry from previous classes (who were taught in a traditional lecture manner). Despite the evidence, we faced this instructor a second time during our 4th semester for advanced pathophysiology–after our first exam, the majority of the class earned grades between Cs and Fs. As Chico’s program admission is relatively competitive, this was a class full of over-achieving students. We were not failures; the nursing school failed us by dismissing our concerns. However, we did have a number of instructors who were great, particularly those who taught maternal/child and psychiatric nursing. Several of the clinical instructors were also very good.” – Student at California State University, Chico

Mission College-Santa Clara
3000 Mission College Blvd
Santa Clara, CA 95054
(408) 988-2200

Student Review: I was initially admitted into [Mission College-Santa Clara] as an international student. I was one of the few blacks on campus and I can boldly say I have never been discriminated against by any professor. Despite being a community college, there are standard facilities that made things go smoothly for students on campus. I would stay in the library til 6pm as the place is so conducive. The instructors are so effective that you’ll fall in love with all of them. I met people of various backgrounds and I can boldly say I became a better person with Mission college. I took some classes that were so difficult I thought I was going to give up, but once I talked to the professors during office hours, every problem will get solved at least to an extent and new hope would be renewed. I would recommend Mission college a million times to anyone who bothers to listen.” – Student at Mission College- Santa Clara

Mt. San Jacinto College
1499 N State St
San Jacinto, CA 92583
(951) 487-6752

Student Review: Mount San Jacinto College has a wonderful nursing program. The professors are what make the program here; there are some amazing teachers. They give you enough knowledge and critical thinking skills to succeed, especially compared with other nursing schools in the area. There is a new administration in place which is very positive and pro-student. There is lots of help when needed, most especially through the peer mentoring/peer tutoring program. It really feels like a community where they want you to succeed. I especially liked the online portal interface, Blackboard, to see my grades and download lectures. They also have a state-of-the-art simulation lab. My only recommendation for improvement would be to lower equipment costs.” – Student at Mount San Jacinto College

San Joaquin Delta College
5151 Pacific Ave
Stockton, CA 95207
(209) 954-5151

Student Review: I am currently enrolled in San Joaquin Delta College’s nursing program and I just can not believe the greatness of the program. A lot of people think community colleges are not good schools, but I’m spending close to nothing at SJDC while people at UOP, which is right down the street, are spending thousands for the exact same education. It’s crazy. Anyways, I feel SJDC is really helping me put my foot in the door into the world of healthcare. My favorite part of the program would have to be the clinicals. Sure, I learn some things sitting in the classroom, but I’m a hands on learner. I feel I learn twenty times as much in one day of clinicals than I do in a week of theory days. The only thing I would improve about the nursing program is make it easier to get into, but I guess it’s hard to get into any nursing program.” – Student at San Joaquin Delta College

1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Niche College Search: https://www.niche.com/colleges/?degree=4-year&state=CA&sort=best
3. US News & World Report National Universities Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/search
4. US News & World Report Best Nursing Grad Schools Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/search?program=top-nursing-schools
5. Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN): http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm
6. American Association of Colleges of Nursing Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE): http://www.aacn.nche.edu/ccne-accreditation/accredited-programs
7. California Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians: http://www.bvnpt.ca.gov/
8. California Board of Registered Nursing: http://www.rn.ca.gov/education/passrates.shtml