Nursing Schools in California – CA | Colleges | Degree | Education

Nursing Schools in California – CA

Nursing Schools in California – CA

Nursing is the single largest health profession in California, says a report by California Healthcare Foundation 2017. The state is home to around 300,000 actively licensed registered nurses. Job opportunities are expected to be good because of employment growth and the need to replace workers who plan to retire over the coming decade.

For an aspiring nurse, California has perhaps the biggest selection of nursing schools and programs that can set course for a rewarding career. The degree programs offered by nursing schools in California can provide you with a solid foundation in the field of nursing, combined with clinical practice and theory, which can help you take on more advanced roles. You can find general information on nursing careers, such as typical duties, as well as examples of the coursework you can expect by various degree levels in nursing at Nursing Education, Schools and Career Overview.

Whether you are a recent high school graduate, a career changer or simply looking to advance your education in nursing, explore this page for state-specific nursing school options, certification requirements and the job outlook in California.

What nursing schools are there in California?

The nursing degree program that's right for you depends on your career aspirations and how long you want to spend in a nursing school in California. However, keep in mind that employers tend to prefer candidates who have graduated from an accredited nursing school. Nursing schools in California offer you a variety of programs to match your career goals, and can usually be completed within two, four, or six years respectively. Here’s a short list of some California schools that offer various levels of nursing programs:

  • Allan Hancock College
  • Azusa Pacific University
  • California State University Bakersfield (CSUB)
  • San Diego State University
  • Stanbridge University
  • University of California Irvine (UCI)
  • University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of San Francisco

Read on to have a general idea of the nursing programs offered by these schools so you can decide on a career path that is right for you:

  • Aspiring nurses in California can begin with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) program at a school like Stanbridge University. With an ADN in hand, nurses can take continuing education courses and advanced-level degree programs for career growth.
  • Perhaps you are a registered nurse (RN) and want to advance your career to the next level. CSUB's Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program aims to provide an exceptional education in nursing, with concentrations in a variety of specialties such as pediatrics, obstetrics, and critical care nursing.
  • Online nursing programs may be attractive for nursing professionals who plan to balance work and personal interests. CSU Bakersfield, San Diego State University and Azusa Pacific University offer online RN-to-BSN programs for registered nurses who already have an ADN. These programs typically allow students to complete the baccalaureate degree in 15 months.
  • Nursing programs in California also offer the opportunity to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). Current California LVNs seeking additional credentials can consider LVN-to-ADN, LVN-to-BSN, or even LVN-to-RN certificate programs, depending on your career goals. San Bernardino Valley College, for example, offers an LVN-to-RN (ADN) program, while California State University San Marcos offers an LVN-to-BSN program.
  • UCLA and UCI School of Nursing offer Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs to students who want to become advanced practice nurses.

What financial aid can I get in nursing programs in California?

Both federal and state financial aid may be available for qualified students in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study programs, or loans. Aid may be based on financial need, your income and your family's income, or merit. Here are some examples of nursing scholarships in California:

  • California Emergency Nurses Association Scholarship — for students of the Emergency Nursing Association (ENA) who are from California.
  • California PTA Continuing Education Scholarships for School Nurses — for those who have at least one year’s experience in nursing at a California public school.
  • California Legion Auxiliary Past Presidents’ Parley Nursing Scholarship — for residents of California who are also sons or daughters of veterans.

What do I need to know about certifications in nursing in California?

Certifications ensure high-quality patient-oriented nursing care. If you wish to become an advanced practice nurse in California, you are usually required to seek national certification before applying for state certification. The California Board of Registered Nursing (CBRN) recognizes six different APN classifications in which applicants can become nationally certified:

  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
  • Nurse anesthetist (NA)
  • Nurse midwife (NMW)
  • Nurse practitioner (NP)
  • Psychiatric/mental health nurse (PMH)
  • Public health nurse (PHN)

Obtaining national certification is optional for these classifications, except NA. California recognizes the following national agencies for certification in nursing:

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACCN)
  • American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB)
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
  • National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties (NCC)
  • Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC)
  • Pediatric Nurse Certification Board (PNCB)

Each national certification agency has its own requirements for earning certification.

Do I need a license to be a nurse in California? How do I apply for it?

In California, nursing professions are regulated by two individual nursing organizations: the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians and the CBRN. Which board you apply to for licensure depends on your education and intended career path.

The California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians typically require students to do the following:

  • Complete a fingerprint background check
  • Pass the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX)

Keep in mind that both organizations do provide temporary permits to nursing students that have not yet completed the NCLEX. This is a good way to keep your skills fresh while preparing for the licensure examination.

Every RN needs to renew their licensure timely depending on the status of the license (i.e., active, inactive, or lapsed) every two years. RN license renewal reminders are typically sent about three months before expiration. Renewal can be done online.

What can I do with a degree in nursing in California?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California is among the top five states with the current highest employment rates for nurses.

While APNs in California can choose to work in hospitals or offices of physicians and clinics, various levels of degrees in nursing can lead to a number of different nursing occupations in the state, such as an emergency room nurse in Los Angeles, a pediatric nurse in San Diego, or nurse practitioner in San Francisco. The tables below provide information related to nursing careers in California.

CareerTotal EmploymentStatewide Projected Job Growth Rate
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses67,59017%
Nurse Anesthetists1,27028.6%
Nurse Midwives690N/A
Nurse Practitioners13,90035.1%
Nursing Assistants100,19015.4%
Registered Nurses302,77016.2%
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

CareerAnnual Mean WageBottom 10% Annual WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses$60,240$43,030$80,020
Nurse Anesthetists$227,290$127,700>$208,000
Nurse Midwives$154,500$103,260$204,130
Nurse Practitioners$138,660$104,890$189,950
Nursing Assistants$36,630$26,870$50,070
Registered Nurses$113,240$71,230$163,830
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,


  • American Legion Auxiliary, Scholarships, accessed June 2019,
  • Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, accessed June 2019,
  • BSN program, CSU Bakersfield, accessed June 2019,
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Registered Nurses, April 2019,
  • California department of healthcare services, accessed June 2019,
  • California ENA, Scholarships, accessed June 2019,
  • California Health Care Foundation, 2017 Edition – California Nurses, August 2017,
  • California Nursing Network, accessed June 2019,
  • California State PTA, Scholarships, accessed June 2019,
  • Master of Science in Nursing, UCLA School of Nursing, accessed June 2019,
  • Nursing program Overview, Allan Hancock College, accessed June 2019,
  • Nursing Programs, San Diego State University, accessed June 2019,
  • Nursing Programs, Stanbridge University, accessed June 2019,
  • Occupational Employment and Wages, OES, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018,
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