RN Programs in Orange County with School Summaries

Research nursing schools in Orange County, which currently has nine colleges offering programs. Read an overview of degree programs, tuition info and program options for these nine schools and decide which program is right for you.

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Essential Information

Students in California have many schools from which to choose when searching for registered nursing (RN) programs and those in Orange County are no exception. Programs range from certificates to bachelor's degrees. Some programs are designed for individuals who already hold nursing awards and are seeking to advance their careers through transition and bridge programs; some are available on accelerated schedules. All nursing programs include practicum elements.

Brandman University

Irvine-based Brandman University offers an online RN to BSN degree program for those individuals who are licensed registered nurses who wish to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This 7-semester degree program includes summer session attendance, during which students complete an internship and a practicum to gain hands-on experience in nursing. Required courses include training in cultural diversity awareness in nursing, healthcare delivery systems and nursing leadership.

California State University - Fullerton

At the Fullerton campus of California State University, students have multiple options to choose from for training to become a registered nurse. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) has two pathways: the entry-level BSN (EL-BSN) or an associate's degree to BSN option (ADN-BSN).

In the entry-level BSN degree program, prerequisite courses include chemistry, human anatomy, math and English. This 3-year program includes both theoretical and clinical nursing courses. Courses in professional development, geriatric care and healthcare policy are other topics that students examine. Upon successful completion of this program, students are qualified to take the RN licensure exam.

Designed for students who have an associate's degree in nursing and a current RN license, the ADN-BSN degree program can be finished in just two years. Students in this program join their entry-level counterparts in the junior- and senior-level clinical and theoretical courses. A distance-learning option is also available for this program.

Concordia University - Irvine

The Irvine campus of Concordia University offers three options for individuals who seek licensure as registered nurses: an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the RN to BSN and an LVN to BSN certificate. The accelerated BSN degree program includes 90 clinical hours in public health in addition to theoretical and lab-based courses in topics like adult medical-surgical nursing, nursing for obstetric and pediatric patients and mental health nursing. The accelerated BSN is a 3-semester degree program.

The RN to BSN option is a 120-credit-hour program with transferable credits from an accredited ADN program from a California college. Required courses include alternative therapies, pathophysiology, leadership and community health. Among the 34 credit hours specific to the nursing curriculum, students complete clinical rotations in leadership and management as well as community health nursing.

The LVN to BSN certificate is a non-degree option, commonly called the '30-unit' option, which is unique to California nursing. This program may not lead to licensure in other states.

Cypress College

Students at this Cypress 2-year public college can pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing. There are two tracks: one for individuals who are licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) who wish to advance their education and one for psychiatric technicians (PTs) who wish to pursue licensure as registered nurses. In the 2-semester LVN track, topics of study include pharmacology, medical-surgical nursing and nursing for geriatric or mentally ill patients. The 3-semester PT track requires completion of courses in nursing for families and children, geriatric patients and medical-surgical nursing. General education courses are also required.

Golden West College

Huntington Beach-based Golden West College offers an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), an LVN-ADN, or a Certificate of Achievement designed for licensed vocational nurses or psychiatric technicians who seek an ADN. The ADN curriculum includes study of issues in nursing and skills needed for nursing, like patient assessment, treatment of acute medical-surgical problems and both basic and advanced pediatric nursing. Students can complete the ADN in 2 years, including general education study.

In the career ladder LVN to ADN track, students complete a course that introduces the transition from vocational nursing to professional nursing and pharmacology, as well as the skills courses in the ADN curriculum. Students can complete the LVN to ADN in a single year.

The Certificate of Achievement is what is often referred to as the '30-unit option.' It is a non-degree program, and while it can lead to licensure as a registered nurse in California, it does not qualify for licensure in other states. Requirements for this program depend on whether an individual is a licensed vocational nurse or psychiatric technician and what courses they've already completed.

Saddleback College

Students at Mission Viejo's Saddleback College can pursue an RN-BSN degree or the LVN-RN degree. In the 2-year RN-BSN degree program, students take courses in mental health nursing, care of children and families, cardiac issues and intravenous therapy techniques. To enter this program, an individual must have a valid license as a registered nurse and have completed prerequisite courses like human anatomy and microbiology.

The LVN-RN degree program is a 2-semester program that includes courses in women's health, mental health nursing and the fundamentals of aging. Program prerequisites include the LVN-RN clinical lab, anatomy, microbiology and psychology.

Santa Ana College

At Santa Ana's 2-year public college, students can pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing through one of three pathways. The first option is a general registered nurse program. It is a 2-year program and requires four prerequisite courses. These courses are human anatomy, physiology, microbiology and English. The second option is a 1-year program designed for students who are already licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). To be admitted into the program, students must have completed the four prerequisite courses and 18 units of LVN courses.

With the third option, students can earn their associate's degrees in nursing in less than a year. To qualify for this option, an applicant must already have been licensed as a vocational nurse and have experience working as a nurse. The number of units needed to complete the program is determined on an individual basis. Common required courses cover topics like nursing roles and pharmacology. Students also learn about caring for individuals across the lifespan and for those with mental illnesses.

University of California - Irvine

At the Irvine campus of the University of California, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. During the first two years of study, individuals concentrate on general education requirements and begin major-specific courses in the third year. That year, students begin taking courses that deal with topics like the foundations of professional nursing, care for patients across the lifespan and healthcare leadership. Students must complete a clinical preceptorship during the final year of the program.

Vanguard University of Southern California

Students at Costa Mesa's Vanguard University of Southern California can pursue an RN to BSN degree program designed for registered nurses who have current licenses and associate's degrees and want to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Required courses cover topics like nursing research, health assessments, community health nursing (with a preceptorship) and leadership in nursing. Students can complete this degree program in two years.

Career Requirements

To work as a registered nurse (RN), an individual must have at least an associate's degree in nursing and complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Applicants to nursing degree and certificate programs must undergo a criminal background check and submit health records as part of their application.

In the Orange County region, there are nine universities and colleges that offer nursing degree programs. Below, read summaries of the programs at those schools, including tuition information and program requirements, before making a decision.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Nursing Degree Programs and Certificates Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)
Brandman University 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing $12,240*
California State University - Fullerton 4-year public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Nursing $6,437 (in-state),
$17,597 (out-of-state)*
Concordia University - Irvine 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
RN to BSN,
LVN to RN certificate
Cypress College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate Degree in Nursing $1,138 (in-state),
$6,154 (out-of-state)*
Golden West College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate Degree in Nursing,
Certificate of Achievement
$1,176 (in-state),
$5,616 (out-of-state)*
Saddleback College 2-year, public; large suburb RN-BSN,
$1,326 (in-state),
$5,750 (out-of-state)*
Santa Ana College 2-year, public; large city Associate Degree in Nursing,
30-unit LVN option
$1,142 (in-state),
$6,902 (out-of-state)*
University of California - Irvine 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Science in Nursing $13,252 (in-state),
$37,960 (out-of-state)*
Vanguard University of Southern California 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city RN to BSN $30,050*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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