Nursing programs approved by the California Department of Health are found throughout Southern California and offer degree programs that prepare students to apply for state licensure as registered nurses (RNs) or certification as advanced practice nurses. Community colleges in this region offer associate's degree programs in nursing. Admission to these programs typically requires the completion of a basic skills exam and prerequisite coursework. Bachelor's degree programs are available at 4-year universities and colleges. These programs are offered in traditional and accelerated formats for pre-licensure students and practicing RNs seeking further education. Master's programs available in Southern California offer several concentration options for students seeking certification in an advanced practice nursing field.
The state of California's Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) determines the requirements for various levels of nursing licensure, and programs to train for state licensing exams are widely available throughout California. Summaries of the ten largest schools in Southern California that offer nursing programs are found below.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Clinical Nursing
- Critical Care Nursing
- Direct-Entry Midwifery - LM, CPM
- Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
- Mental Health Nursing
- Neonatal Nursing
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
- Nursing Administration
- Nursing for Adults and Seniors
- Nursing Science
- Occupational Health Nursing
- Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
- Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
- Registered Nurse
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Nursing Programs Offered||Estimated Tuition & Fees|
|California State University - Fullerton||4-year, public; large suburb|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
| $6,437 undergraduate, in-state,
$17,597 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year, 2015-2016)*
|California State University - Long Beach||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Graduate and Post-Master's Nursing Certificates,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
| $6,452 undergraduate, in-state,
$17,612 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year, 2015-2016)*
|California State University - Northridge||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
School Nurse Public Health Certificate,
Nurse Educator Certificate
| $6,569 undergraduate, in-state,
$17,729 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year,2015-2016)*
|East Los Angeles College||2-year, public; small city|| Associate in Science in Registered Nursing,
| $1,220 undergraduate, in-state,
$6,810 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year, 2015-2016)*
|San Diego State University||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing
| $6,976, undergraduate, in-state,
$18,136 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year, 2015-2016)*
|Santa Ana College||2-year, public; large city|| Associate Degree Nursing,
| $1,142 undergraduate, in-state,
$6,902 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year, 2015-2016)*
|Santa Monica College||2-year, public; small city|| Associate Degree in Nursing,
| $1,136 undergraduate, in-state,
$8,078 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year, 2015-2016)*
|University of California - Irvine||4-year, public; mid-size city|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing,
Post-Graduate Nurse Practitioner Certificate
| $13,252 undergraduate, in-state,
$37,960 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year, 2015-2016)*
|University of California - Los Angeles||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
| $12,763 undergraduate, in-state,
$37,471 undergraduate, out-of-state (per year, 2015-2016)*
|University of Southern California||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city||Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia||$39,984 graduate (per year, tuition only, 2015-2016)*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator
California State University - Fullerton
Fullerton is home to this California State University, which enrolls more than 38,000 students each year. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) are all available at this school and each degree level provides varying levels of instruction in healthcare ethics, patient communication, and critical thinking. Additionally, each program includes a clinical practice element. Prerequisites for admission to these degree programs vary by prior experience and education; the entry-level BSN program is geared for first-time students, the accelerated BSN program is an option for students who hold a bachelor's degree in another field, and the LVN-BSN and RN-BSN programs are appropriate for currently employed licensed practical nurses or registered nurses who want to supplement their training with a BSN. Furthermore, there are several graduate programs for licensed RNs who want a more specific career focus. Graduate nursing programs offered at Cal State - Fullerton include the MSN nurse educator, MSN school nurse credentials, MSN women's health care, and MSN certified registered nurse of anesthesia (CRNA).
California State University - Long Beach
This California State University, located in Long Beach, enrolls close to 37,000 students each year. CSULB offers certificates, undergraduate, and advanced degrees in its School of Nursing. There are 2 paths that lead to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and students in this program will pursue the curriculum plan that follows prior academic and professional experience. Graduates who successfully complete the BSN program should be prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN, and may also want to pursue some of the graduate program options offered at CSULB. There are 8 specialized areas in which students can pursue the Master of Science in Nursing, and there are 2 choices for those seeking a graduate certificate, including nursing education and nurse practitioner. The Doctor of Nursing Practice program offers further opportunity for registered nurses seeking training for career advancement or to qualify for faculty positions in nursing schools.
California State University - Northridge
Northridge is located northeast of Los Angeles, and it is home to this branch of the California State University system. CSUN serves around 40,000 students in its undergraduate and advanced degree programs. The nursing department, which recently was established as an academic department in 2011, currently offers several nursing programs - including 2 paths to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. For those who have earned an associate degree in this field, the RN-BSN program may be appropriate, and the accelerated BSN program is an option provided for students who have previously earned a bachelor's degree in another field. There is also an option for those seeking future employment as a school nurse: individuals working as LVNs can enroll in the 30-unit public health nurse certificate program, which aims to provide preparation for jobs in educational or community healthcare settings. Additionally, the post-baccalaureate nurse educator certificate program may prepare nurses to work in nursing programs in some colleges in this state.
East Los Angeles College
East Los Angeles College is located in Monterey Park, serves more around 36,000 students, and has a student-to-teacher ratio of 45:1. This school offers an Associate of Science - RN degree program, which requires the completion of 79.5 units. Also available is a 30-unit non-degree certificate program for LVNs seeking preparation for the NCLEX-RN. According to the California BRN, ELAC had a 62% pass rate for this exam in 2014-2015 - a rate that comes close to, and in some cases exceeds, those reported for graduates of more advanced degree programs at larger universities.
San Diego State University
San Diego State University is located in San Diego, and it serves more than 33,000 students. There are 6 programs related to nursing at SDSU. These programs include 2 transition programs for currently licensed health care workers seeking career advancement: the LVN-RN and RN-BSN programs offer training that aims to prepare students to sit for the NCLEX-RN. For individuals seeking a 4-year entry-level program to prepare for a career as a registered nurse, there is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Furthermore, advanced study is also available for registered nurses seeking a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in areas including adult nursing, community health nursing, nursing leadership and women's health.
Santa Ana College
Santa Ana is home to this 2-year community college, where more than 29,000 students are enrolled. There are 3 program options for prospective RNs at Santa Ana College. The Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) - a 72-unit program - may take 2 or more years to complete, but the 30-unit accelerated LVN-RN program option and the standard LVN-RN program can be completed in as little as 1 year. The latter 2 programs are provided for those with prior training and experience in this field, whereas the ADN program is appropriate for those seeking an entry-level course of study. All of these programs require basic skills testing and other pre-requisites, and all programs aim to prepare students to pass the NCLEX-RN. According to the California BRN, nursing program graduates from this school had an 84% pass rate for this exam in 2014-2015.
Santa Monica College
Santa Monica is home to this community college, which offers programs in around 20 disciplines. Among these offerings is the 60-unit associate degree in nursing. This degree typically takes about 2 years to complete, and it aims to prepare future nurses for careers in this field. The California BRN reports an NCLEX-RN pass rate of 100% for this school in 2014-2015. Preparing for this exam can be done through 1 of 3 routes at SMC: in addition to the ADN program, LVNs can enroll in a 30-unit non-degree program to prepare and qualify to sit for the NCLEX-RN, or they can work towards completing an associate degree in the LVN-ADN program. Course requirements for these programs can vary based on previous experience, but all programs include training in specific nursing skills like medical dosing, universal safety precautions, and patient communication. Furthermore, nursing students are also required to take courses like psychology, speech, global citizenship, and math.
University of California - Irvine
Irvine is located south of Long Beach, and it is home to this branch of the University of California system that serves more than 30,000 students in its undergraduate and advanced degree programs. Additionally, though this school is situated in a rural setting, the large cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles are close by. There are 3 progressive program levels offered in nursing science at UC Irvine, as well as a post-graduate nurse practitioner certificate. For those seeking an entry-level path to becoming an RN there is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, and there are a number of advanced practice master's degree and post-graduate certificate programs for those already employed as RNs. These programs include training for nursing specializations like adult gerontological nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner. Additionally, the Ph.D. program at UC Irvine is available for nurses interested in pursuing a faculty post or other types of leadership positions in this field. At all program levels, the University of California Irvine's nursing department aims advance the clinical practice of nursing by preparing qualified educators, researchers, and clinicians in this field.
University of California - Los Angeles
The University of California - Los Angeles is located in Westwood, and it is the largest university in this state with almost 42,000 students enrolled yearly. Among the degree offerings at this school are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Master of Science in Nursing. These 2 programs are most appropriate for students seeking RN licensure and entry-level preparation for state licensing. Furthermore, the MSN advanced practice program option is available for licensed RNs seeking training in 1 of 8 specializations. For those seeking a terminal degree in nursing, UCLA provides the Ph.D. program, which is a research-oriented course of study focusing in biological sciences, bio-behavioral sciences, health services, and health disparities in vulnerable populations.
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is located in downtown Los Angeles, and it offers several undergraduate and advanced degree programs. The Keck School of Medicine at USC provides training to more than 1,200 students in a variety of healthcare fields. Master's degree programs including nurse anesthesia, academic medicine, public health, and global health are offered, and though there are no undergraduate programs for individuals seeking nursing training, the CRNA program offers currently employed RNs an opportunity to advance into this field through training in several different clinical settings. Through study and clinical experience, this program aims to prepare students to pass the certified registered nurse anesthesia licensing exam. Students in the nurse anesthesia program will work closely with CRNAs and physician anesthesiologists and, throughout the program, will be required to perform anesthesia services for at least 550 cases.