Accelerated Campus Nursing Programs in California 2020

Nurses help patients reach their health goals. This profession emphasizes core values including integrity, altruism, and social justice. Nurses often provide direct preventive, restorative, and therapeutic health guidance and treatment. However, nurses can also pursue careers in research, teaching, and administration.

Students with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field can typically complete accelerated nursing programs in California and other states in one to two years. These second-degree BSN programs often deliver courses year round and require only 50 to 65 core nursing credits. Applicants to such programs must have completed prerequisite courses and must typically have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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Graduates of nursing programs often work in settings such as community health and emergency care. Nursing salaries vary depending on geographical area, employer, and position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) registered nurses earn a median salary of $73,300 per year. Additionally, the BLS projects employment for RNs to increase 7% from 2019 to 2029. This guide explores accelerated nursing programs in California and common career paths for graduates.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Nursing?

Nursing professionals apply general and specialized skills to promote patients' health, prevent illnesses, and provide diverse medical care to individuals of all ages. Graduates of the best nursing schools in California typically obtain an RN license. Many nursing jobs in family nursing, public health nursing, critical care nursing, and surgery nursing require licensure. Nursing graduates can also pursue careers as paramedics, nurse case managers, nursing informatics specialists, and legal consultancy nurses.

BSN graduates can work in local medical offices, clinics, labs, and hospitals. Others work in the field as rural, home health, and travel nurses. Some students pursue graduate degrees and professional certificates, and nurses can specialize in fields such as dermatology, pediatrics, hospice, and radiology. A graduate-level nursing degree can qualify holders for roles in research, management, and teaching.

Graduate Degree Options for a Career in Nursing

After earning their BSN, graduates often pursue additional degrees or certificates to specialize their skills. These credentials can also lead to advanced career opportunities and increased earning potential. Learners who pursue a master of science in nursing (MSN) often specialize in an area such as family nursing, nursing education, psychiatric nursing, or gerontology. Many accredited MSN degrees meet the educational requirements for a nurse practitioner license.

BSN-to-MSN programs typically require two years. Learners cultivate skills in health assessment, research, and patient care. In addition to coursework, students complete clinical practice requirements and may pursue a specialization. An MSN can qualify graduates for positions in nursing research, leadership, and academia.

BSN graduates can also complete certification programs, which are generally faster and less expensive than master's programs. Earning a certification can prepare RNs for specialized roles and can lead to advanced career opportunities.

Accreditation for a Degree in Nursing

The top nursing schools in California hold regional accreditation, which indicates that their programs meet set standards of academic quality. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversees the accreditation process in the United States. The best nursing schools in California boast regional accreditation from the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Regionally accredited schools typically only accept degrees and credits from other regionally accredited institutions. Additionally, requirements for nursing licensure typically include a degree from an accredited school. Students at nationally or regionally accredited schools can qualify for federal financial aid.

In addition to institutional accreditation, nursing students can look for programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Prospective students can search the Department of Education's online database to find the accreditation status of prospective schools and programs.

FAQ

Question Answer
How do I become a nurse in California? To become a nurse in California, candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. To qualify to sit for the exam, candidates must have completed one of three types of pre-licensure programs or one of two alternative routes specified by the California Board of Registered Nursing.
Are nurses in demand in California? Like many states, California is currently experiencing a nursing shortage. Some state organizations fund nursing students' education in exchange for 1-2 years of service in an approved nursing shortage area.
What is the yearly salary for a RN? According to the BLS, registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $73,300 in 2019. Individual salaries vary based on the nurse's employer, geographic area, and credentials.
How much do nurses earn in California? California is the top-paying state for nurses. According to the BLS, registered nurses in California earned an annual mean salary of $113,240 in 2019.

What Are the Requirements for a Degree in Nursing?

Accelerated BSN programs in California typically include a core nursing curriculum of about 60 credits. Coursework builds on foundational knowledge gained during nursing prerequisites prior to admission. Learners explore topics including mental health nursing, public health nursing, family nursing, and gerontology. The top nursing schools in California emphasize hands-on practice through supervised clinical rotations and practicum experiences.

Applicants to accelerated BSN programs must typically hold a bachelor's degree in another discipline. The best nursing schools in California generally require applicants to have a minimum 3.0 GPA and strong grades in nursing prerequisite courses. Some programs also require a minimum score on the Test of Essential Academic Skills examination.

Courses in a Nursing Program

Many accelerated nursing programs in California prepare students to obtain licensure through a core curriculum emphasizing crucial general nursing skills. Nursing students develop skills in critical thinking and decision-making. Learners may also study major nursing fields such as gerontology, family nursing, acute care, and psychiatric nursing.

Many core nursing courses include both a classroom component and an applied clinical rotation. Clinical rotations help nursing students cultivate the interpersonal, critical-thinking, and technical skills necessary to succeed. Many programs also include nursing leadership courses, which focus on professional development and often include practicum experiences. Although curricula vary by program, the classes below are common to many of the top nursing schools in California.

Nursing Foundations

Programs often require a nursing foundations course during the first term of a BSN program. This introductory class explores nursing philosophies, ethics, and clinical skills. Students examine best nursing practices for treating patients with diverse backgrounds, and they learn how to foster safe environments for patients. Coursework may also emphasize skills in health education and promotion.

Mental Health Nursing

This course typically includes classroom and clinical components. Learners prepare to care for patients with mental illnesses. Topics include psychopharmacology, psychopathology, and community resources. Learners also examine collaborative aspects of a nurse's role in caring for patients' mental health. All California RNs must demonstrate competency in this area.

Family Nursing Care

This field encompasses reproductive nursing, pediatrics, and parenting. BSN curricula often include multiple family nursing courses and corresponding clinical experiences at community facilities. Learners examine various sociocultural perspectives on families and develop key skills for supporting families' well-being and addressing health problems.

Practicum/Internship

The best nursing schools in California require BSN students to complete a supervised practicum. This experience helps learners hone their nursing skills, often in a particular context, population, or field. Degree-seekers typically complete their practicum or internship near the end of their studies, in an approved setting and under the supervision of registered nurses. Practicum and internship requirements vary by program.

Older Patient Care

An essential and in-demand nursing field, geriatrics focuses on caring for older patients. Courses in this field explore relevant research, skills, and evidence-based practices. Students learn about aging, corresponding risk factors, and prevention strategies. This class often emphasizes a holistic nursing approach that considers sociocultural, gender, behavioral, and biological factors. Learners also study the ethics and legality of geriatric care.

Certifications and Licensure for Nursing Majors

Obtaining licensure and certifications can help graduates of nursing programs qualify for jobs, promotions, and specialized nursing positions. Most California nursing jobs require either the licensed practical nurse credential or a registered nurse license from the C Board of Registered Nursing. Additionally, obtaining voluntary nursing credentials can help candidates stand out in the job market.

Licensed Practical Nurse

LPNs can work as nurses, aides, and medical assistants in various healthcare settings. To become an LPN in California, candidates must either complete a program approved by the state nursing board or demonstrate alternative pathway qualifications. LPN candidates must pass the NCLEX-PN examination.

Registered Nurse

RNs must hold a license to practice. Candidates for RN licensure must have completed a state board-approved BSN program and must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Depending on the nurse's experience and credentials, licensed RNs may provide direct care in nursing or case management. RNs may also serve as nurse consultants, nursing managers, or teachers.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certification in Adult Gerontology

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses offers this advanced practice board certification. The credential is ideal for individuals with a nurse practitioner graduate degree. This certification can lead to specialized positions in gerontology nursing and acute nursing for chronic and terminal illness. Candidates must pass the association's licensure examination.

Professional Organizations for Nursing Students

Professional organizations in the field support nurses and nursing students through career development, networking, and continuing education opportunities. These organizations often host conferences and disseminate relevant news and publications to help members stay updated on new developments in the field. Below are a few nursing organizations that accept California BSN students.

The California Association for Nurse Practitioners

Boasting 28 local chapters across the state, this California organization supports nurse practitioners through events, continuing education, and leadership opportunities. Members can access nursing publications, and the association works to educate the public and advocate for nurses.

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The American Nurses Association

This major nursing association establishes practice standards and advocates for nurses and patients. ANA oversees the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nursing, and the American Nurses Foundation. The association also provides career development resources and online mentorship opportunities for nursing students.

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The National League for Nursing

Founded in 1883 as the first professional nurse organization in the United States, the NLN focuses on nursing-related public policy and professional development. The NLN provides networking opportunities, research grants, career resources, and testing services.

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The National League for Nursing

Founded in 1883 as the first professional nurse organization in the United States, the NLN focuses on nursing-related public policy and professional development. The NLN provides networking opportunities, research grants, career resources, and testing services.

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The National Student Nurses' Association

This nonprofit organization offers career development and licensure guidance and support NSNA delivers mentorship and emphasizes professional standards and ethics. The association also hosts conferences, provides resource guides and publications, and advocates for accessible high-quality healthcare and nursing education.

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Scholarships for Nursing Students

BSN students can apply for scholarships based on merit, financial need, and group membership. Many private donors, professional and nonprofit organizations, corporations, and schools offer scholarships for nursing students. Scholarship awards often cover tuition and expenses, and they do not require repayment. The scholarship programs below accept applications from students attending nursing programs in California.

Career Mobility Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The American Nephrology Nurses Association offers six scholarships for undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Applicants must have held membership with the association for at least two years and must have nephrology-related healthcare experience. Scholarship applicants must also hold current certification from the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission.
Amount: $1,000 to $4,000

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Bachelor of Science Nursing Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: The Health Professions Education Foundation offers this scholarship through the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Recipients must provide direct patient service in a medically underserved community for at least 12 months after graduation. Applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and must be accepted to or enrolled in a BSN program.
Amount: Up to $10,000 annually, renewable for up to three years

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National Association of Hispanic Nurses Scholarships

Who Can Apply: NAHN administers several scholarship programs to support its members. Applicants must be Hispanic nursing students attending an accredited nursing program full time. Candidates need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must have been in good academic standing for at least six months. Scholarship amounts vary, but all awards include an expenses-paid trip to the United Health Foundation Diverse Scholar Initiative Forum and the NAHN Annual Conference Gala.
Amount: Varies

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National Black Nurses Association Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Candidates for this award must hold general and chapter membership with NBNA. Applicants must be in good academic standing and must have at least one year remaining in their nursing program. Applicants submit recommendation letters, an essay, a professional headshot, and evidence of participation in the African American community and student nursing activities.
Amount: $1,000-$5,000

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Nurse Corps Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Health Resources and Services Administration offers this scholarship, which covers tuition and living expenses. Recipients must commit to serving in an approved critical-shortage facility upon graduation. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. nursing program and must submit a resume, a short essay, recommendation letters, and additional paperwork.
Amount: Usually covers tuition, fees, books, and supplies, plus a monthly living stipend

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Accelerated Campus Nursing Programs in California

Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
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1 California State University-Fullerton Fullerton, CA Tuition $15,002 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

One of the best nursing schools in California, Cal State Fullerton's accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) serves students with a prior bachelor's degree. Students can complete this full-time, five-semester program in two years, starting during the fall semester and moving through the program with a cohort. Eligible applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school with a 3.25 minimum GPA.

The accelerated BSN's lock-step curriculum begins with courses in health assessment, pharmacology and pathophysiology, and foundations of nursing practice. Learners then study topics like mental health, adult medical/surgical, and culturally diverse nursing care. The final spring semester focuses on nursing leadership and management, and it includes a capstone with a clinical component.

CSUF is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

2 San Diego State University San Diego, CA Tuition $15,014 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

SDSU offers one of the best nursing programs in California. The 55-credit second-degree bachelor of science in nursing serves students with a prior bachelor's degree. Learners study topics like pharmacology and pathophysiology, client assessment, pediatric and family nursing, and community health nursing. Participants also complete courses on acute care and gerontology, nursing research and evidence-based practice, and professional formation. 

All BSN enrollees must complete an international experience involving at least a two-week residency in another country. Processed as transfer students, second-degree BSN students need a minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA, an 80% minimum score on the TEAS examination, and successful performance in eight nursing prerequisite courses.

SDSU is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

3 San Jose State University San Jose, CA Tuition $8,274 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Serving new nursing students, SJSU's pre-licensure BSN program emphasizes self-care and evidence-based practice for nursing professionals. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the program qualifies graduates to take the RN licensure examination and obtain public health nursing certification in California.

One of the best accelerated nursing programs in California, the program takes two years of full-time study to complete. The program covers topics like community health and mental health nursing, geriatric nursing theory and practice, and mental health nursing theory and practice.

Applicants must apply to the university before applying to the nursing program. Eligible second-degree BSN applicants must demonstrate successful performance on the TEAS examination, completion of nursing prerequisites, and a 2.5 minimum GPA in their last 60 undergraduate credits.

SJSU is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

4 University of California-Davis Davis, CA Tuition $9,477 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

UC Davis' Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is one of the best nursing schools in California. The school offers an accelerated master's entry program in nursing focused on quality, safety, leadership, and advocacy in nursing care.

Graduates qualify for public health nurse certification in California. They are also eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination. Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree and satisfactory performance in nursing prerequisites.

Led by a special graduate team, this program emphasizes technology, case-based learning, and systemic and interdisciplinary perspectives. Enrollees can complete the 92-unit program in 18 months of full-time attendance. Learners complete a three-day leadership immersion experience the week before the program starts. The program culminates in a required capstone portfolio and comprehensive exam.


UC Davis is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

5 California State University-San Marcos San Marcos, CA Tuition $14,568 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

CSUSM offers a 24-month accelerated BSN program that emphasizes cultural sensitivity and self-care. Serving new nursing students with a prior, non-nursing bachelor's degree from an accredited school, this program qualifies graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination.

The 78-credit, cohort-based program includes 27 local clinical credits. Clinical rotation schedules vary and may require weekend shifts. Coursework covers major nursing fields, such as mental health nursing, family nursing, community health nursing, and acute care nursing.

New cohorts begin in the fall and spring in San Marcos and in the summer at the Temecula campus. Students must complete eight prerequisite courses before enrolling. Prerequisite course topics include human anatomy and physiology, chemistry, statistics, and critical thinking and communication.

CSUSM is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

6 Mount Saint Mary's University Los Angeles, CA Tuition $14,156 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

A private, Catholic liberal arts university serving mostly women, MSMU provides an accelerated BSN program for students with non-nursing bachelor's degrees. Focused on the adaptation nursing model theorized by Sister Callista Roy, this unique curriculum includes courses on bioethics and integrative theory and practice.

The program admits 40 students per cohort and offers summer and fall start options. The first semester covers pharmacology and pathophysiology, adaptation nursing fundamentals, and adult surgical nursing. The second semester delves into palliative care, mental health nursing, and children and family care. The last semester includes courses on gerontology, community health, leadership, and professional practice.

Applicants need a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, a C or better in 10 nursing prerequisite courses, and satisfactory performance on a basic math exam.

MSMU is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

7 California State University-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Tuition $12,285 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Cal State LA's College of Professional and Global Education offers an accelerated BSN for non-nursing bachelor's degree-holders seeking RN licensure. This 53-credit program starts in June and takes 15 months to complete.

During the first term, enrollees complete courses on topics like nursing fundamentals, health assessment, adult and geriatic care, and psychiatric nursing. During the winter intersession, learners take just one pharmacology course. Spring and summer terms cover child, family, and community health nursing; nursing leadership; and cooperative education.

Cal State LA admits one cohort each year and does not accept recent college graduates (within the last six months). Candidates must successfully complete prerequisites in science, statistics, and critical thinking. Eligible applicants need a 3.0 minimum GPA, with a C or higher in non-science prerequisites, and a B or higher in science courses.

Cal State LA is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

8 San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA Tuition $8,586 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Offered through the College of Extended Learning, SF State's 15-month, accelerated BSN program prepares students for RN licensure, public health nursing certification, and graduate programs in nursing.

Enrollees study pediatric, adult, geriatric, and acute nursing care. They also study psychiatric and mental health nursing, medical-surgical nursing, and public/community health nursing. Additional course topics include health assessment, nursing research, health promotion, and a nursing practicum.

Applicants need a 3.0 minimum GPA, a 78% or higher TEAS score, and a C or higher in all prerequisite coursework. Candidates must undergo an interview prior to admission.

SF State is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

9 Holy Names University Oakland, CA Tuition $6,771 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

A private, nonprofit Catholic University in Oakland, California, HNU offers an accelerated generic BSN program. This versatile degree can support careers in specialized nursing fields such as intensive care and pediatric surgery. Enrollees qualify for a free emergency management preparedness certificate program, a free NCLEX-RN prep course, and a Sigma Theta Tau leadership certificate.

This four-semester, accredited BSN program begins in May. Coursework covers major nursing areas such as geriatrics, family nursing, and mental health nursing. HNU's onsite simulation center and 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio enhance student learning. The BSN program also includes internships, volunteer opportunities, and a pediatric immersion experience at a diabetic children's camp.

HNU is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.

10 National University La Jolla, CA Tuition $14,519 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

A private, nonprofit university based in San Diego, California, NU offers a second-degree BSN program that serves learners with prior bachelor's degrees. The program focuses on building skills in patient-centered and culturally sensitive nursing care.

The program requires 180 quarter units, including 70.5 prerequisite units and 59 nursing core units. Some credits may transfer, but enrollees must complete at least 45 credits in residency at NU. NU's monthly start times and accelerated, four-week courses allow students to enter and move through curriculum rapidly.

Nursing prerequisites include health assessment, nursing research, nursing foundations, and nursing theories and models. The core curriculum covers medical-surgical nursing, pediatric and family nursing, psychosocial nursing, and community healthcare. Learners also complete courses in pharmacology, nursing leadership, and professional issues in nursing.

NU is regionally accredited by the Western States Commission on Colleges and Universities.