Southern California Nursing Programs with Course Descriptions

Research nursing programs in Southern California, which has more than 40 colleges that offer programs. Read an overview of degree programs, tuition information, and program options for the 10 largest schools and decide which program is right for you.

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Essential Information

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.

Career Requirements

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 (2017-2018)*
California State University - Fullerton 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
LVN-BSN,
RN-BSN,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$6,850 undergraduate, in-state,
$18,730 undergraduate, out-of-state
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
$6,730 undergraduate, in-state,
$18,610 undergraduate, out-of-state
California State University - Northridge 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
RN-BSN
School Nurse Public Health Certificate
$6,875 undergraduate, in-state,
$18,755 undergraduate, out-of-state
East Los Angeles College 2-year, public; small city Associate in Science in Registered Nursing,
LVN-RN
$1,220 undergraduate, in-state,
$7,016 undergraduate, out-of-state
San Diego State University 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
LVN-RN,
RN-BSN,
Master of Science in Nursing
$7,460 undergraduate, in-state,
$19,340 undergraduate, out-of-state
Santa Ana College 2-year, public; large city Associate Degree Nursing,
LVN-RN
$1,142 undergraduate, in-state,
$8,032 undergraduate, out-of-state
Santa Monica College 2-year, public; small city Associate Degree in Nursing,
LVN-RN,
LVN-ADN
$1,142 undergraduate, in-state,
$8,558 undergraduate, out-of-state
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,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$13,738 undergraduate, in-state,
$41,752 undergraduate, out-of-state
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
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$13,261 undergraduate, in-state,
$41,275 undergraduate, out-of-state
University of Southern California 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia,
Master of Science in Nursing
$43,200 graduate

Source: *NCES College Navigator


California State University - Fullerton

Fullerton is home to this California State University, which enrolls around 41,000 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 vocational 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 leadership.

California State University - Long Beach

This California State University, located in Long Beach, enrolls close to 37,000 students each year. CSULB offers certificates and 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 six specialized areas in which students can pursue the Master of Science in Nursing, and there are two 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 41,000 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 34,000 students, and has a student-to-teacher ratio of 30:1. This school offers an Associate of Science - RN degree program, which requires the completion of 80.5 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 75% pass rate for this exam in 2017-2018 - 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 35,000 students. There are four 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 28,000 students are enrolled. There are three program options for prospective RNs at Santa Ana College. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) - a 70-unit program - may take two 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 one year. The latter two 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 a 91% pass rate for this exam in 2017-2018.

Santa Monica College

Santa Monica is home to this community college, which offers programs in around 20 disciplines. Among these offerings is the 74-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 96% for this school in 2017-2018. 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 35,000 students in its undergraduate and advanced degree programs. There are three progressive program levels offered in nursing science at UC Irvine. For those seeking an entry-level path to becoming an RN, there is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Another entry-level path, for those who have a bachelor's in a non-nursing field is the MS in Nursing Science. 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. The DNP is more clinical-based and meant for leaders in nursing. At all program levels, the University of California Irvine's nursing department aims to 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 Los Angeles, and it is the largest university in this state with around 44,000 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 two 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 one of four specializations. For those seeking a terminal degree in nursing, UCLA provides the Ph.D. program, which is a research-oriented course of study focusing on how biologic and psychosocial factors as well as patients' physical environments impact their health. The DNP can also be earned with hands-on experience for those who want to continue their degree to the doctoral level in practicality.

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 students in a variety of healthcare fields. Master's degree programs including nurse anesthesia, academic medicine, preventative medicine, and global health are offered, and though there are no undergraduate programs for individuals seeking nursing training, the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (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. The MSN for nursing can be taken full-time or part-time online. It can be completed in as few as 21 months and lead to the family nurse practitioner distinction.

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