Vocational Nursing Programs in Southern California

The Southern California area has more than ten colleges that offer training in vocational nursing. Learn about the program options, requirements and admission policies for the programs at three of the schools to make an informed education decision.

Southern California Vocational Nursing Schools

Aspiring vocational nurses have a number of educational options available in Southern California. To help you get an idea of what training in this field involves, this article highlights the courses and clinical aspects required in programs at three of the region's schools. It also includes a table of facts and figures about the featured colleges along with some details on a few other area nursing institutions.

  • The largest school on the list, Long Beach City College is a two-year public institution that offers an associate degree and a certificate program for vocational nurses.
  • Close to downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara City College allows students to complete the vocational nursing certificate program in three semesters. An associate degree in the field is also available.
  • In Chula Vista, Southwestern College offers eight nursing programs including a three-semester vocational nursing certificate program.

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

Comparison of Schools

Explore the campus settings, enrollment numbers, costs and much more for the profiled schools in the table below. The variety of stats could help you decide which college is, or is not, the right one for your goals.

Long Beach City College Santa Barbara City College Southwestern College
School Type Two-year; public Two-year; public Two-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 24,658 16,385 18,413
Campus Setting Large city Small city Large suburb
Tuition and fees (2017-2018)* $1,188 (in-state)
$7,500 (out of state)
$1,374 (in-state)
$8,326 (out of state)
$1,338 (in-state)
$6,602 (out-of-state)
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017)* 74% 40% 80%
Acceptance Rate N/A - Open Admissions N/A - Open Admissions N/A - Open Admissions
Retention Rate (2017)* 71% for full-time students 60% for full-time students 74% for full-time students
Graduation Rate (for students who began in 2014)* 19% 35% 22%

Sources: *NCES College Navigator

Long Beach City College

Established in 1927, Long Beach City College offers about 800 courses to the communities of Long Beach, Avalon, Lakewood and Signal Hill, employing over 1,500 faculty and staff. The School of Health and Science offers the vocational nursing and registered nursing programs.

Certificate of Achievement in Vocational Nursing

In order to be admitted into the vocational nursing program, students must have completed a nursing assistant program or nursing fundamentals class, as well as prerequisites in human biology and nursing pharmacology applications. Certificate program courses cover nursing care, health deviations and mental health nursing, as well as roles and responsibilities of nurses.

Associate in Arts or Science in Vocational Nursing

In the associate degree program in vocational nursing, students must complete general education requirements, as well as courses in vocational nursing. General education requirements include classes in English composition, communication, natural sciences and American history. In order to graduate, students will need to complete 12 of the 60 required units of coursework while maintaining residence at Long Beach City College. In addition, students will need to finish 12 units in their area of concentration, which includes roles and responsibilities in vocational nursing while in residence.

Santa Barbara City College

The Santa Barbara City College offers over 200 degree and certificate programs and has an average class to teacher ratio of 27:1. The School of Nursing has three nursing programs, including a vocational nursing program.

Certificate of Achievement in Vocational Nursing

The vocational nursing program offers courses in areas such as pharmacology, nutrition and caring for children. The program also teaches students about various trends in the health care system. Admission to the program requires a high school diploma or GED and fundamental courses. Students must complete a certified nursing assistant course in the first semester, and a medical terminology course is recommended.

Associate in Science in Vocational Nursing

General education courses required for students in the associate degree program include classes in the natural sciences, language and humanities. Students need to complete required courses in vocational nursing and classes in subject areas such as pharmacology, mathematics and communication. The department requirements make up 54.75 to 58.75units of the program.

Southwestern College

Located between San Diego and the Mexican border on 156 acres of land, Southwestern College has several nursing programs available to students through the Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa, including a program in vocational nursing.

Certificate of Achievement in Vocational Nursing

The 3-semester vocational nursing program enrolls students every 18 months and provides clinical experience under direct supervision in health care organizations. If students enroll in this program, they will need to attend classes and clinicals in the early morning, evenings and on weekends. Requirements include classes in pharmacology, general psychology and laboratory vocational nursing, as well as general education courses. In order to enroll in this program, students will need to be able to lift 30 pounds.

Other Schools

Students can find additional vocational nursing programs near Long Beach at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside City College in Riverside.


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