Top Nursing Schools in California

Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 Pasadena City College 89.00 $$$$$ 20:1 4 32%
2 Saddleback College 89.00 $$$$$ 26:1 1 35%
3 Cypress College 88.00 $$$$$ 25:1 17 36%
4 Napa Valley College 87.75 $$$$$ 21:1 17 31%
5 College of the Siskiyous 85.50 $$$$$ 15:1 17 28%
6 Columbia College 81.50 $$$$$ 17:1 4 23%
7 Mission College 80.75 $$$$$ 21:1 4 25%
8 Sierra College 80.50 $$$$$ 26:1 17 30%
9 Monterey Peninsula College 80.25 $$$$$ 24:1 17 29%
10 College of the Canyons 80.00 $$$$$ 27:1 17 36%
11 Chabot College 80.00 $$$$$ 27:1 17 28%
12 American River College 79.75 $$$$$ 27:1 17 27%
13 Cuesta College 79.75 $$$$$ 24:1 1 28%
14 Santa Rosa Junior College 79.50 $$$$$ 23:1 17 34%
15 El Camino College 78.75 $$$$$ 28:1 17 30%
16 Antelope Valley College 78.50 $$$$$ 26:1 17 24%
17 MiraCosta College 78.25 $$$$$ 29:1 4 32%
18 Copper Mountain College 78.25 $$$$$ 15:1 17 17%
19 Los Medanos College 76.75 $$$$$ 24:1 17 31%
20 Golden West College 76.75 $$$$$ 31:1 1 35%
21 Gavilan College 76.50 $$$$$ 23:1 4 26%
22 Butte College 76.25 $$$$$ 24:1 4 30%
23 Santa Monica College 76.25 $$$$$ 30:1 17 30%
24 City College of San Francisco 75.25 $$$$$ 20:1 17 27%
25 Sacramento City College 74.50 $$$$$ 28:1 17 24%
26 San Joaquin Delta College 74.50 $$$$$ 38:1 4 27%
27 Victor Valley College 74.00 $$$$$ 26:1 4 15%
28 Citrus College 73.00 $$$$$ 30:1 17 33%
29 Reedley College 72.50 $$$$$ 27:1 4 25%
30 Yuba College 72.50 $$$$$ 27:1 17 24%
31 College of the Redwoods 72.00 $$$$$ 19:1 4 11%
32 Solano Community College 70.75 $$$$$ 23:1 17 28%
33 Merritt College 70.75 $$$$$ 23:1 17 11%
34 Palomar College 70.25 $$$$$ 26:1 17 28%
35 Long Beach City College 70.25 $$$$$ 28:1 4 24%
36 Chaffey College 69.75 $$$$$ 26:1 17 21%
37 Allan Hancock College 69.50 $$$$$ 24:1 17 26%
38 El Camino College – Compton Center 68.50 $$$$$ 26:1 17 11%
39 East Los Angeles College 68.50 $$$$$ 45:1 4 30%
40 Cabrillo College 68.50 $$$$$ 25:1 17 27%
41 Merced College 69.00 $$$$$ 28:1 17 19%
Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 University of California-Los Angeles 88.50 $$$$$ 16:1 6 91%
2 California State University-Long Beach 88.00 $$$$$ 25:1 6 65%
3 University of California-Irvine 86.50 $$$$$ 19:1 6 86%
4 University of California-Davis 86.50 $$$$$ 18:1 6 83%
5 Azusa Pacific University 86.00 $$$$$ 11:1 6 67%
6 University of San Francisco 86.00 $$$$$ 14:1 2 70%
7 California State University-Fullerton 85.75 $$$$$ 25:1 12 56%
8 University of San Diego 85.75 $$$$$ 15:1 1 77%
9 Fresno Pacific University 85.25 $$$$$ 11:1 12 63%
10 California State University-Fresno 84.25 $$$$$ 25:1 12 52%
11 Point Loma Nazarene University 83.75 $$$$$ 14:1 16 73%
12 Holy Names University 82.50 $$$$$ 9:1 5 50%
13 Dominican University of California 82.50 $$$$$ 9:1 16 62%
14 California State University-Stanislaus 82.00 $$$$$ 22:1 16 53%
15 San Francisco State University 81.75 $$$$$ 24:1 16 50%
16 California State University-Dominguez Hills 81.50 $$$$$ 26:1 6 32%
17 California State University-Channel Islands 81.50 $$$$$ 22:1 32 62%
18 Brandman University 81.50 $$$$$ 15:1 2 N/A
19 California State University-Chico 81.25 $$$$$ 26:1 16 59%
20 Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science 81.00 $$$$$ 7:1 12 N/A
21 University of Southern California 81.00 $$$$$ 9:1 32 91%
22 San Diego State University 80.50 $$$$$ 28:1 16 66%
23 Vanguard University of Southern California 80.50 $$$$$ 15:1 16 55%
24 National University 79.75 $$$$$ 20:1 2 40%
25 Sonoma State University 79.50 $$$$$ 26:1 16 55%
26 California Baptist University 79.25 $$$$$ 18:1 16 55%
27 Concordia University-Irvine 78.50 $$$$$ 10:1 32 56%
28 California State University-Los Angeles 78.00 $$$$$ 27:1 16 41%
29 California State University-San Marcos 77.75 $$$$$ 26:1 16 49%
30 Simpson University 77.75 $$$$$ 11:1 32 52%
31 Lincoln University 77.50 $$$$$ 28:1 16 56%
32 Pacific Union College 77.25 $$$$$ 16:1 16 46%
33 San Jose State University 77.00 $$$$$ 27:1 16 52%
34 Biola University 77.00 $$$$$ 17:1 32 69%
35 California State University-Sacramento 76.75 $$$$$ 27:1 16 44%
36 California State University-San Bernardino 76.25 $$$$$ 30:1 16 48%
37 Humboldt State University 73.75 $$$$$ 23:1 32 44%
38 California State University-Bakersfield 73.00 $$$$$ 26:1 32 41%
39 California State University-Northridge 73.00 $$$$$ 28:1 32 47%
40 California State University-East Bay 71.75 $$$$$ 27:1 32 38%
41 Azusa Pacific Online University 71.75 $$$$$ 21:1 32 N/A

Find Nursing Schools in California

In California, there are more than 140 pre-licensure nursing programs and more than 50 advanced practice programs approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). Using the search tool below, explore the vast number of accredited California nursing programs to take the first step towards this rewarding career.

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Earning a Nursing License in California

Nursing licensure requirements in California vary depending on the type of license one is seeking. In the Golden State, the government agencies that regulate the nursing field and issue licenses for practice include the California Board of Registered Nursing, Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, and the California Medical Board. Below are the guidelines for getting an RN license in the state of California:

Eligibility Requirements

  • Complete a two-year associate degree, four-year bachelor’s degree, or a diploma program in nursing from an accredited school
  • Apply for licensure with the California State Board of Registered Nursing and submit the application fee. The application must be sent 6-8 weeks before graduation.
  • Request that sealed transcripts be sent from your school to BRN
  • Be cleared through a comprehensive background check and fingerprint clearance
  • Register to take the NCLEX-RN exam and send the $200 fee to Pearson Vue. The BRN advises new grads take the exam soon after graduation as research has shown that early test takers have higher success rates than those who wait months after completing their studies.
  • Provide proof of US citizenship or lawful presence. Non-citizens may need to provide additional documentation.
  • Those who hold a nursing license from another state or Canada, have completed an academic program that meets all California requirements, and have passed the NCLEX-RN or State Board Test Pool Examination can apply for a California license by endorsement. International applicants must supply certified transcripts from their school, translated to English if needed, and a copy of their license or diploma allowing them to practice in their home country.

License Renewal

Initial licensure is good for two birthdays (not years) and will expire on the last day of the month after one’s birthday. After that, renewal must be done every two years. Notices will be mailed out about three months before an expiration date, but RNs will still be responsible for renewing a license even if they do not receive the reminder notice. All renewal applicants must have a license in good standing and complete 30 hours of BRN-approved Continuing Education.

Certification for APRNs in California

Advanced practice RNs, such as nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, and nurse practitioners, must complete the same licensure requirements outlined above, but must also complete a few additional steps. These steps may vary from state to state, but in California applicants must do to the following:

  • Must hold an active California RN license
  • Must meet all requirements for clinical experience/certification in the specialty
  • Submit a completed application and appropriate fee

For more detailed information on advanced practice certification for RNs in California, visit the California Board of Registered Nursing

California Nursing by the Numbers

With California’s 65 and over demographic projected to double by 2030, an aging population will place greater demands on a profession where demand already outpaces supply. To address this need, legislators have passed nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in hospitals and colleges have increased educational programs.

Nationally, the demand for registered nurses is projected to increase 19 percent, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The California Board of Registered Nursing estimates that California will have 526,486 active RNs by 2030, about a 35 percent increase from 390,000 registered nurses in California in 2015. Below are details on salary and employment outlook for RNs in the state:

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in California

Area Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale Metropolitan Division $45.69 $95,040
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana $45.00 $93,590
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta $44.66 $92,880
Merced $44.36 $92,260
Stockton $43.45 $90,370
Redding $43.38 $90,240
Hanford-Corcoran $43.05 $89,550
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles $42.79 $89,010
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario $42.54 $88,480
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine Metropolitan Division $42.46 $88,310

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

California vs. National Numbers

Salary
  • California
  • National
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Employment
Total Employment (2014)
2022 occupational outlook
Avg. annual openings (2012 – 2022)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Resources for RNs & APRNs in CA

California Nurses Association

The California Nurses Association is a chapter of National Nurses United, which has close to 185,000 members across the country and is the professional organization of registered nurses.

American Nurses Association/California

The American Nurses AssociationCalifornia (ANAC) represents all registered nurses in the state regardless of specialty or practice setting. Members have access to continuing education and leadership opportunities and also enjoy support from an association that has patient and nursing rights at the forefront of its mission.

California Nursing Students’ Association

The California Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) works to advance the transition from nursing student to health care professional. It provides mentors, leadership development and education to its student members.

HealthImpact

HealthImpact, formerly the California Institute for Nursing and Health Care, analyzes workforce data to improve nursing throughout the state. Its mission is to enhance the public’s well-being by promoting nursing excellence.

Golden State Nursing Foundation

The Golden State Nursing Foundation was created in 1994 to provide scholarships and grants to nurses and works to preserve the history of nursing in the state.

California Board of Registered Nursing

The California Board of Registered Nursing is the government agency charged with providing and renewing nursing licenses in the state. It sets the educational standards and approves nursing programs across the state.

California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians

The California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians oversees licensing for Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) in California.