10 Best Nursing Schools in California [2022 Rankings]

Best Nursing Schools in California

Nursing is a rewarding career, but it has its share of responsibilities. The best Nursing Schools in California and several other nursing schools involve painstaking hard work. Nursing school is not only time-consuming and expensive, but it can also be stressful if you make the wrong choice when selecting a nursing program. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best California nursing schools available and what you should consider before making your decision.

Best Nursing Schools in California

If you’re interested in learning more about the best nursing schools in California, look no further. We’ve compiled a list of some of the top nursing schools in California to help guide you on your way to becoming a certified registered Nurse. Here are the top best nursing schools offering associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees for those looking to become registered nurses (RN) in California:

  • California State University, Sacramento
  • The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing
  • San Diego State University (SDSU) College of Health and Human Services
  • University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work and School of Nursing
  • Loma Linda University School of Nursing
  • University of San Francisco (USF) School of Nursing and Health Professions
  • San Francisco State University (SFSU) College of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing
  • California State University, Los Angeles (CalState LA), College of Health and Human Services, Department of Nursing
  • Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing
  • Azusa Pacific University 

1. California State University, Sacramento

California State University, Sacramento, is located in the California capital city of Sacramento. CSU Sacramento is a public university. The School offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. It also has accredited nursing programs that prepare students for registered nurses (RNs) careers.

The baccalaureate program at CSU Sacramento is designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in hospitals and other healthcare settings. According to U.S. News & World Report, graduates of this program are ready to work as registered nurses (RNs) across various specialties, including emergency care, pediatrics, oncology, and intensive care unit (ICU).

CSU Sacramento’s Master of Science degree in Nursing is designed for professionals seeking advanced training or career advancement within the nursing practice field. This program requires a minimum of 2 years of experience working with patients before admission into the MSN program itself. However, if you have an associate’s degree from an accredited institution, then this requirement may be waived if there is adequate proof presented when submitting your application materials including transcripts from each college attended after high school graduation until enrollment into CNCSYS/Sacramento State University nursing programs for adult bachelor degree completion programs. 

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $7,484 
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.33%
  • Online Program: No
  • Accelerated Program: Yes
  • Bridge: Yes

2. University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Nursing is one of California’s top 10 nursing schools. U.S. News ranked it as the number one nursing school in America. The School is located in San Francisco; this highly selective and prestigious School offers a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing with multiple tracks including: adult-gerontological acute care, family nurse practitioner, midwifery, community health nursing, perinatal mental health & psychiatric nursing, pediatric mental health & psychiatric nursing, women’s health/reproductive health. Two Master’s degrees are available: Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN) and Doctorate (Ph.D.). According to the School’s website, “The mission of UCSF School of Nursing is to inspire learning that advances health through excellence in teaching, discovery, and service.

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $54,980 
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 88.%
  • Online Program: Yes 
  • Accelerated Program: Yes
  • Bridge: No

3. San Diego State University (SDSU) College of Health and Human Services

The San Diego State University (SDSU) College of Health and Human Services offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, ranked as one of the best nursing programs in the country. The Accreditation Commission accredits the program for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Students who complete this program will be prepared to sit for national certification exams as well as state licensing exams.

The San Diego State University (SDSU) College of Health and Human Services offers a baccalaureate program in nursing, which the Commission accredits on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university also offers an accelerated three-year program for students who already hold an associate degree in nursing. Students must complete a minimum of 69 credits to obtain their degree with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher. The bachelor’s in nursing at SDSU consists of three primary areas: clinical studies and professional practice courses. In addition to basic science courses such as chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. Classes are offered online as well as in traditional classroom settings on campus.

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $8,174 
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.8%
  • Online Program: No
  • Accelerated: Yes
  • Bridge: Yes

4. University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work and School of Nursing

When it comes to nursing, USC is one of the best. The University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work and School of Nursing are ranked #1 in the nation for their graduate programs. This program prepares you for a nurse practitioner or administrator career in hospitals, clinics, or private practices. You will also learn how to use technology to advance your practice to provide quality care while improving patient outcomes. Many students at USC find themselves living on campus; however, there are ample off-campus housing options nearby. Students enjoy easy access to Los Angeles’ exciting nightlife, which includes world-class sports teams, great restaurants, and concerts at venues like Staples Center and Hollywood Bowl. 

  • Annual In-State Tuition:  $1,995 per credit unit
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 89%
  • Online Program: Yes
  • Accelerated: Yes 
  • Bridge: Yes

5. Loma Linda University School of Nursing

The Commission accredits Loma Linda University School of Nursing on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The nursing school is located in Loma Linda, California. It is a part of Loma Linda University and offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Loma Linda University School of Nursing has trained students to be skilled nurses since 1935. Many graduates have become leaders in their respective fields and serve as mentors at other schools around the country. 

The nursing program at Loma Linda University School of Nursing has an excellent track record with graduating students who earn National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) certification on their first attempt, which is required for anyone who wants to work as a nurse in California or anywhere else across the country.

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $33,840
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.34%
  • Accelerated: Yes
  • Bridge: Yes

6. University of San Francisco (USF) School of Nursing and Health Professions

The University of San Francisco is a private Jesuit university in San Francisco, California. The School offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs (including nursing) to over 11,000 students. USF is known for its excellent academic reputation, small class sizes, and diverse student body. The university is also a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU).

The University of San Francisco School of Nursing & Health Professions provides bachelor’s degrees as well as master’s programs for registered nurses who want to advance their careers in nursing leadership or administration. The School also offers several online degree options, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master’s Degree in Nursing with an emphasis on Leadership or Administration, and Ph.D. program with multiple options available, including Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Nurse Specialist or Healthcare Management Systems Analysis & Policy Management Program (HMSAP).

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $1,555 per credit unit
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 88%
  • Online Program: Yes
  • Accelerated: Yes
  • Bridge: Yes

7. San Francisco State University (SFSU) College of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing

The School of Nursing at San Francisco State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. The School’s mission is to provide students with a high-quality nursing education that is relevant to the practice needs of diverse communities, including urban and rural areas. The School of Nursing provides clinical experiences and research opportunities for students, as well as nationally recognized programs focused on patient care, health promotion, disease prevention, and treatment.

SFSU’s College of Health & Social Sciences is one of the top 10 colleges for undergraduate education in California by U.S. News & World Report. The faculty includes award-winning professors who have expertise in clinical practice, research, and education. Students participate in clinical experiences at various sites around San Francisco Bay Area. Kaiser Hospital Oakland/San leandro medical center, palo alto medical foundation, lucile packard children’s hospital stanford, alta bates summit medical center, veterans affairs palo alto health care system, west park healthcare center santa clara county. The School is committed to helping each student reach their personal goals through affordable tuition resulting from a low student-to-faculty ratio (12:1).

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $7,484
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.43%
  • Accelerated: Yes
  • Bridge: Yes

8. California State University, Los Angeles (CalState LA), College of Health and Human Services, Department of Nursing

California State University, Los Angeles (CalState LA) is a large public university in Los Angeles, California. CalState LA has the most extensive nursing program in the state, with over 2,000 undergraduate students and 1,300 graduate students enrolled in the College of Health and Human Services. The percentage of minorities at this School is very high compared to other universities around California. Students who attend CalState LA gain access to an excellent academic curriculum that prepares them for success upon graduation with their nursing degrees. In addition to taking courses related to their major, students can also participate in extracurricular activities such as volunteering at local hospitals or working with research professors on campus.

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $8,214 per year (in-state) and $16,530 per year (out-of-state)
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.4%
  • Online Program: Yes
  • Accelerated: Yes
  • Bridge: Yes

9. Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing

Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing is a private, accredited university in Oakland, CA. The School was founded in 1868 and is affiliated with the Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing. SMU’s nursing program offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree to registered nurses who have already earned an MSN. The DNP program prepares nurses to become expert leaders in quality improvement through clinical practice, education, and research. Students must complete six years of full-time study (45-semester units) or eight years (60-semester units) if they opt for part-time study at SMU’s Oakland campus, the program may be completed online and on campus.

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $84,880
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 84.88%
  • Online Program: Yes
  • Accelerated: Yes
  • Bridge: Yes

10. Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University is a private, Christian university in Azusa, California, United States. It was established in 1899 as Bible Normal Institute by two-time Democratic Party presidential nominee Andrew Jackson Ramos and his wife, Eliza Jane Hunt. The School was renamed Azusa College in 1901 and received its current name of Azusa Pacific University in 2007. It has an undergraduate enrollment of 6,715 and a graduate enrollment of 1,859. Azusa Pacific’s academic programs are divided into three colleges: the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Education & Psychology, and the School of Health Sciences & Nursing. Azusa is one of the best nursing schools in California. 

  • Annual In-State Tuition: $18,400
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 80.38%
  • Online Program: Yes
  • Accelerated: Yes
  • Bridge: Yes

Why Are Nursing Schools Expensive?

There are several factors to consider which affect your nursing school tuition; these factors include: 

Transfer Credits

If you are transferring to a school that is not a private school, they may accept your credits. However, if you are transferring to a private school, they may not accept your credits. You will need to check with the nursing program you want to attend and see their policies regarding transfer students and the number of accepted credits.

Completed Competency Exams

Completion of these exams is required to graduate from nursing school. These tests usually take place at the end of your final year and are designed to assess your ability in Pharmacology & medication. This is a fundamental part of the nursing process and includes administering medications, such as measuring dosages and keeping records of patients taking them. It also includes understanding how drugs interact, which could have severe consequences for patients if not administered properly. The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam verifies competence in this area.

Amount of Credits Taken Per Year

The number of credits taken per year is essential to consider when evaluating nursing schools. The more credit hours that are required for completion, the longer you will spend in School and the more money you will have to pay. While some students may be able to graduate within four years with a heavy course load, others might need five or even six years before they earn their degree. If being able to finish your studies sooner is important, consider looking for programs in schools that offer fewer than 150 credits per program (some schools only require between 120 and 140).

Financial Aid Awards

Another factor that will affect the cost of your nursing degree program is the financial aid you receive. Nursing schools offer numerous scholarships and grants to students, but these are typically limited in number and do not cover the entire tuition bill. If you’re interested in attending one of California’s top nursing programs but aren’t sure how much it will cost, contact each school directly to inquire about their financial aid policies.

Some nursing schools also offer loans through state-sponsored programs like Cal Fed or Sallie Mae so that students can pay for their education without taking out additional debt on their existing loans or credit cards.

You should also consider whether or not your preferred program accepts online classes when considering factors like the location since this may affect how far away from home they’ll allow you to go before they stop providing housing options for you. For many students, financial aid is a significant consideration when choosing a school. There are several types of awards offered to nurse students in California. They include:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Loans
  • Work-study programs (in some cases)

Other financial aid options may be available, depending on the college you’re attending and your circumstances. You can find out more about these options by visiting the website for each nursing school or searching online for information about student assistance programs.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Nursing School in California 

Before choosing a nursing school in California, you should consider the School’s location. If you are considering obtaining your nursing degree from California, then you must select a college or university that offers an accredited program. The institution should also offer numerous opportunities for hands-on training and clinical learning experiences.

In addition to location, reputation is another important consideration when choosing a nursing school. Reputation refers to the perception of how positive or negative something is based on what other people have said about it. For example: If someone says they have had a poor experience with a specific field, this may affect whether or not you choose to use the field yourself in the future. If someone says they had an excellent experience with it, this could increase your likelihood of using it. 

You need to consider the cost of nursing school in California and be sure you can afford the total training cost from your earnings, by scholarship or through a student aid program. Another thing to consider before choosing a nursing school in California is the graduation rate, successful Alumni, and the quality of the instructors at the School in question. 

The cost of nursing schools in California is a crucial factor to consider when choosing the right program. Tuition can vary between state universities, community colleges, private schools, and online programs. Remember that financial aid awards will also influence tuition costs for many of the best nursing schools in California. 

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