Last Updated on May 26, 2022
Nursing schools in California are probably the easiest to get into compared to most other states in the United States. Many of them do not require the typical science prerequisites that most universities and colleges around the country require before you can even step foot through their doors. Therefore, many students will find it easy to enter these programs because they have already completed pre-requirements towards the nursing degree.
California is home to some of the best nursing schools in the country. And you can easily get into one of the best nursing schools with high acceptance rates in California if you do your research, and prepare for admission well. This article will give you guidance for locating the best nursing schools in california.
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Why Study Nursing
Nurses play a key role in ensuring every individual receives adequate healthcare. People also literally trust nurses with their lives believing they’ll do what is right.
According to a recent survey by Goodwin, Americans consider nursing to be the most trusted, honest, and ethically-sound profession in the United States today.
Nurses are hard-working, supportive and passionate professionals who are always ready to lend a hand. They are highly respected by their patients and their medical teams alike and work diligently in efforts to improve the health of others.
Nursing as a career path teaches a range of interpersonal and communication skills which are necessary for surviving in our everyday world.
Requirements to Get into a Nursing School in California
Below are the requirements to get into nurse school;
- Minimum CGPA of 2.5 or 3.0
- A credit score in Anatomy, Physiology, and Nutrition
- Personal Statement of Intent
- A bachelor degree
- High School Diploma
How to Gain Admission to nursing schools with high acceptance rates in California
It may not be easy, but there are ways to improve the chances of getting into nursing school. Here are a few tips and suggestions to try out.
Clarify Your Personal Statement
Many nursing schools ask for an admissions essay. Or, you have to submit to an interview. For these things, you need to be able to explain why you want to become a nurse. What your goals are and any stories you have.
For example, you volunteer at blood drives or at a local hospital. Enrollment counselors often look for a well rounded candidate. So, be clear, focused and make it personal as well as professional.
Review Admission Requirements
Each nursing school sets its own standards for admission. These also vary by degree level and program. And, may be lax at some schools and more detailed at others.
It is common for schools to set an acceptable GPA range, ask for SAT or ACT scores, and prerequisite courses. You may also need recommendation letters, written by a teacher, mentor or employer. A CPR certificate and up to date flu shot too. Review school standards against your own achievements. Then try to apply to ones that line up to boost the odds of getting an acceptance letter. For instance, if you have a 2.75 GPA, apply to schools with a 2.0 or 2.5 range to stand out.
Apply to Lesser Known Schools Too
Many lesser known schools have approval from their state board, and accreditation. But, being lesser known than popular ones, may get fewer applications.
If you meet the admissions requirements, they may be worth looking into. At the end of the day, getting accepted into a few schools means you can pick the perfect one for you.
Pursue a Nursing Degree Online
Many lesser known programs are available at online nursing schools. Often, these schools have state approval, national accreditation and high NCLEX pass rates too. Some online programs are available at traditional colleges. These may use a cohort model where you enter with the same group. Most also use video conferencing and a set schedule to foster interaction. But you won’t have to move which may make them an affordable option.
Other programs are from online schools with nursing programs. In these schools, classes are available on a learning management system (LMS). The LMS may feature discussion boards, Wiki, and other digital tools. You may also have the flexibility to set your own pace, study from wherever you have high speed internet and so on. As far as clinical and hands on experiences, each school handles them in their own way. So, it is important to speak with an administrator to get full details.
Are you open to some legwork? A self-starter? If so, many online programs have lax admissions requirements (E.g. GPA of 2.0). And again, applying to a broad pool of nursing schools may help you get into one.
Scout Locations and Cast a Wide Net
Your chances of getting into a nursing program may be higher in some states than in others. This may be because there are more nursing programs in that state. Or, a wider range of nursing jobs that need filling.
The schools may also have an open admissions policy making them accessible. Applying to schools in these states may increase your odds of getting into nursing school. Assess the school as well as the potential to land a job after you graduate.
A few states with the highest number of registered nurse jobs are:
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
Areas like New York, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina also report high concentrations of RN jobs.
Start Preparing Before You Apply
Some nursing schools look at the whole candidate. Beyond your grades, they may want to see what kind of person you are and what type of nurse you would be. Things like volunteer work can help a professional resume stand out. Especially if in a health care setting.
Check out your local hospital, nearby camp, or emergency dept. Doing so may provide valuable experience. And, might help you form a professional network as you start your career.
Best nursing schools in california
1. California State University, Bakersfield
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,498 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.92%
California has a plethora of incredible state schools, and residents can take advantage of low in-state tuition. California State University, Bakersfield is no exception. Located roughly midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Cal State Bakersfield has the feel of a college town. The nursing program offers plenty of options for undergraduate students, from a traditional BSN to a 15-month RN-to-BSN. Like most California schools, Cal State Bakersfield has a high NCLEX pass rate and is a nationally recognized university.
2. California State University, Fullerton
Annual In-State Tuition: $6,979 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.55%
Located just north of Anaheim is another excellent school in the CSU system, California State University, Fullerton. Home to nearly 40,000 students, this ethnically diverse school has a low in-state tuition rate and a great location. Nursing students interested in a BSN have two main options: a direct-entry BSN and traditional BSN. The direct-entry BSN is for incoming freshman, and you’ll being your nursing degree your freshman year. The traditional CSUF pathway is for current students that want to become RNs. The CSUF pathway only admits 5-10 students per year, so this is a tougher program to enter.
3. University of California, Irvine
Annual In-State Tuition: $11,442 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 91.07%
Considered by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s top public schools, the University of California, Irvine is an all-around high-quality school. UC Irvine has also been recognized for its commitment to diversity, and graduates tend to have higher salaries than the national average for recent grads. The main undergraduate nursing program – a traditional BSN – also boasts high graduate employment and salaries, but only 2.5% of all applicants are admitted. If students are lucky enough to count themselves among those selected, they’ll be set up for an incredibly successful nursing career.
4. California State University, Long Beach
Annual In-State Tuition: $6,850 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 99.25%
California State University, Long Beach is home to beautiful beaches and beaches, along with one of the top nursing programs in the state. CSULB’s nursing program has a lofty goal of becoming the premier nursing program, so nursing students can rest assured that they’re getting one of the best educations available.
The main focus of the nursing school are the traditional BSN and MSN, the first of which has three different track options: a traditional track, an RN-BSN track, and an accelerated option. The NCLEX pass rate of the recent graduating class speaks to the student outcomes.
5. California State University, Los Angeles
Annual In-State Tuition: $6,782 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.4%
Los Angeles, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation, is home to various hospitals where California State University, Los Angeles nursing students can complete their clinicals. Of the nursing programs offered, the accelerated BSN for non-RNs is perhaps the most interesting. Intended for current bachelor’s degree holders and recent grads, this program can take as little as 15 months to complete. By the end of the program, students will be ready to take the NCLEX-RN – something which most grads pass on their first try.
6. University of California, Los Angeles
Annual In-State Tuition: $11,442 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.56%
One of the most recognized institutions in the world, the University of California, Los Angeles. So, it should come as no surprise that UCLA is also home to one of the top nursing schools in California. Most students are going to be interested in earning their BSN before anything else, although the master’s and doctoral level degrees offered by UCLA are among the top in the state, too. The price is higher than other state schools, but in-state students will still pay a low tuition rate.
7. California State University, Sacramento
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,392 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.53%
Located in the state capitol, California State University, Sacramento is one of the most diverse schools in the nation. Students come from across California – and the US – to study at Sac State. One of the university’s top draws is the BSN program, perfect for incoming freshmen that don’t have any nursing experience. An RN-BSN program is also available for current nurses that want to complete a degree. Along with other state schools, Sac State is an excellent value for California residents, and they boast one of the highest NCLEX pass rates on this list.
8. San Diego State University
Annual In-State Tuition: $8,136 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.91%
San Diego State University, home of the Aztecs, has been educating students since 1897. Now home to more than 36,000 students, SDSU has entrenched itself as one of the top public schools in California. The nursing school at SDSU has four main programs: BSN, RN-BSN, a master’s in nursing (MSN), and an LVN-RN.
Nursing students at SDSU also have the rare option of studying abroad! With the low in-state cost, high NCLEX pass rate, option to study abroad, and the chance to live in San Diego, this is a school that will be on most students’ lists.
9. University of California, San Francisco
Annual In-State Tuition: $60,482 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.83%
Yes, the in-state tuition at the University of California, San Francisco is incredibly high considering out-of-state students will be required to pay a higher rate. However, that’s the cost of studying at one of the nation’s best nursing schools.
UCSF’s most interesting nursing track is the accelerated MSN. This three-year program is for current bachelor’s degree holders, and the bachelor’s degree can be in any field. Keep in mind that the tuition rate can change depending on which nursing option you choose.
10. California State University, Stanislaus
Annual In-State Tuition: $7,644 | NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.21%
California State University, Stanislaus has two campuses – one in Turlock and the other in Stockton. Of course, not all students will study on campus. Through the nursing school, four BSN options are available: an RN-BSN, an LVN-BSN, an online RN-BS, and a traditional BSN.
When it’s time for clinicals, CSU Stanislaus states that students will be placed “as far south as Madera and as far north as Stockton.” This is meant to give nurses extra exposure and more experience. Of course, the low tuition and high NCLEX pass rate are reasons to look at CSU Stanislaus, too.
Best Private Nursing Schools In California
#1 Loma Linda University
Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Tuition Fees: $30,360 for 1st year.
Loma Linda University is a private university at Loma Linda, California. This old university which began in 1905 is affiliated to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and has over 3,200 students. One of its very vibrant schools is the Loma Linda University School of Nursing.
Due to its wide variety of program offerings, Loma Linda University School of Nursing stands as one of the best private nursing schools in California. This private nursing school in California offers 24 nursing programs of which the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Accelerated Second Degree BSN, and LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option are one of its reputable offerings.
Loma Linda’s BS in Nursing is a 2.5 years program that graduates quality nurses who will find jobs in hospitals, public health, community clinics, emergency, and schools. Also, Loma Linda reports amazing NCLEX pass rates for its nursing students, as well as prides itself in providing 70-75% of its nursing students financial aid.
#2 Azusa Pacific University
Tuition Fees: $39,640
Azusa Pacific University (APU) is also another old university in the USA that offers over 110 programs both on-campus and online to its students. This private university in Azusa, California began operation in 1899 and offers its academic program through three colleges and seven schools, including its school of Nursing.
Azusa’s school of nursing ranks as one of the best private nursing schools in California due to its wide program offerings in the nursing field. At Azusa Pacific University, you can enrol for their Undergraduate, Graduate, Bachelor’s Completion, Doctoral, and Certificate Programs.
Furthermore, APU’s nursing major – BSN – is a 69 to 17 units program that provides a strong foundation to RNs for individual, family, and community healthcare.
Also, being a Christian affiliated college, APU’s nursing program allows nursing students to appreciate the relationship between the Christian faith and their nursing career.
Finally, while APU charges relatively affordable tuition for its BSN program, there is a handful of scholarship which students can apply to supplement their cost of education. Some of these scholarships include the Trustee’s Scholarship, President’s Scholarship, and the Dean’s Scholarship.
#3 Biola University
Tuition Fees: $43,512
Biola University began as a private university in La Miranda, California in 1908. Like the other two private nursing schools in CA we’ve discussed, Biola University is affiliated with the Evangelical Christian, although it is nondenominational. This CA college offers over 150 programs of study to over 6,000 students through its nine academic schools.
Biola University’s Nursing Department of its School of Science, Technology, and Health offer the university’s nursing programs. And for this private university’s department of nursing to make the list, it indeed offers a good number of nursing programs. Biola’s major nursing programs are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, LVN-to-BSN Bridge Program, and the LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option.
The BSN program at Biola University is a 132.5 total unit program that will take nursing students 4.5 years to complete. This program will build you for a rewarding career as a Travel RN, Nursing Care Manager, Missionary Nurse, etc.
While the program cost is quite on the high side, Biola university offers scholarships, loans, and grants to its nursing students – international students inclusive.
#4 California Baptist University
Tuition Fees: $33,930
California Baptist University, Cal Baptist, or CBU, as you prefer, is a private college in Riverside, California that started operating as a college in 1950. This Riverside CA college has an affiliation with the California Southern Baptist Convention and offers academic programs to its over 11,000 students through its 11 schools and colleges.
Through CBU’s College of Nursing, you can get some of the best private nursing school programs in California. This private nursing school in California offers 7 programs in nursing, including the Accelerated Second Degree BSN and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
There’s a program for you at CBU whether you’re an undergraduate student, graduate student or working RN looking to continue education.
CBU’s BSN program is a 124 units nursing program and the most popular major at the university. It has an average total student of 800 and trains you for a career as a Forensic Nurse, Pediatric Nurse, Emergency Room Nurse, School Nurse, etc.
Also, while CBU’s BSN program is quite affordable, there are several scholarship opportunities for you – whether you are a traditional undergraduate, graduate, online and professional studies student, or international student.
#5 University of San Diego
Tuition Fees: $1,535 per credit unit.
The University of San Diego is another accredited private college in California where you can get the best nursing programs. Like the other CA colleges which we’ve listed, the University of San Diego (USD) is a Christian-affiliated college. It began in 1949 and has affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. USD is a popular private university in CA and thus has over 7,000 students taking its 79 undergraduate and graduate programs.
San Diego’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science offers the university’s nursing programs. Here, you can choose from 12 graduate nursing programs as the school of nursing does not offer a BSN. Instead, it offers a Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Meanwhile, USD’s graduate nursing programs are so good that the nursing school’s MSN programs rank as one of the US News & World Report Best Grad Schools.
USD’s Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) helps students with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline become RNs. The program is a 5-term program that lasts for 21 months and provides students with a general foundation in nursing. The tuition for this program is quite affordable but there are still a handful of scholarships and financial aid options for you to supplement your education cost.
#6 Mount Saint Mary’s University
Tuition Fees: $41,592
Mount Saint Mary’s University is another accredited private school in California where you can get some of the best nursing programs. The school began in 1808, and just like the University of San Diego, has affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church.
Furthermore, there are over 4,000 students at The Mount enrolled in the Mount’s over 40 majors, minors, concentrations, and special programs.
The Mount, located in Los Angeles, offers some of the best nursing programs you can get in CA. There are nine nursing programs for you at this private California nursing school.
Some of the most popular ones are the Accelerated Second Degree BSN, BSN, LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option, and MSN. These nursing programs may not be very affordable but there are ample financial aid opportunities for you.
#7 Point Loma Nazarene University
Tuition Fees: $26,928
Point Loma Nazarene University(PLNU) is another university in California to get amazing nursing programs. Just as the name suggests, Point Loma Nazarene University has affiliation with the Church of the Nazarene. Nonetheless, this private California school which began in 1902, consistently offers quality education to its over 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
The School of Nursing at PLNU believes that your work is a sacred calling, hence you’ll find your academics blended with faith-based teachings. Nonetheless, it makes for a complete RN. There are six nursing programs at this CA private nursing school, including the Nursing BS, Doctorate of Nursing Practice, and RN to BSN.
The BSN program at Point Loma Nazarene University is really affordable, yet 90% of its nursing students receive some form of financial aid.
#8 National University
Tuition Fees: $370/ Quarter Unit.
National University (NU) is located in La Jolla and has multiple campuses in California, as well as a campus in Nevada, and an Online School. Surely, it is a large university – with over 24,000 students – and hence speaks for its quality.
Through NU’s College of Professional Studies, this accredited private California nursing school offers 11 nursing programs. Some of its highlight programs are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing, and Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP).
#9 Fresno Pacific University
Tuition Fees: $495 per credit unit.
Fresno Pacific University (FPSU) is another accredited University in California where you can get some of the best nursing programs. This private CA college began in 1944 and has affiliation with the Mennonite Brethren Churches. Nonetheless, offers a quality Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program to its home Fresno students, USA students and International Students.
Although Fresno Pacific University does not offer as much nursing program variety as the other CA private nursing schools, its two nursing programs are highly commendable.
These are the MAster’s of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner, and the RN-to-BSN Degree Completion. The Nursing RN to BSN Degree completion is a 42 credit unit program that takes 18 months to complete.
#10 University of San Francisco
Tuition Fees: $49,740
The University of San Francisco (USF) is a Private Roman Catholic Research Institution in San Francisco, California. It began in 1855 and has over 10,000 students enrolled in the university and receiving quality educational training.
Meanwhile, USF offers its nursing programs through its School of Nursing and Health Professions. Offering 11 programs in nursing, USF is one of the private nursing schools in California to bank on for specialist nursing training. There is a program for you whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student.
#11 Dominican University of California
Tuition Fees: $46,260
The Dominican University of California is a private university in San Rafael founded by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. It began in 1890 and offers more than 45 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to its over 1,700 students.
Through its School of Health and Natural Sciences, Dominican University offers its nursing programs through its Department of Nursing. There are four nursing programs available at this accredited private nursing school in California. They are the BSN program, LVN-RN 30-Unit Option, MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader, and the Master of Science in Nursing Program.
#12 Holy Names University
Tuition Fees: $39,576
Holy Names University (HNU) is a private Roman Catholic University in Oakland, California. Founded in 1868, this old CA university has recorded years of offering quality undergraduate and postgraduate programs, including its nursing programs.
Although the university has less than a thousand students taking its degree programs, HNU’s Faculty of Nursing offers 9 nursing programs. Some of its popular programs are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, and Rn-to-MSB Degree completion program.
#13 West Coast University – Los Angeles
Tuition Fees: $17,030
West Coast University (WCU) is a private university in the USA with campuses at Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Ontario in California; then at Dallas, Texas, Miami, and Florida. The school began operation in 1909 and has ever since provided quality education to its undergraduate and postgraduate students.
At WCU’s Los Angeles Campus, you can take some of the best-accredited nursing programs in California. This private California nursing school offers 5 nursing programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option.