Vocational Nursing Programs Northern California with Course Info

There are more than 15 schools in Northern California that have vocational nursing programs. Read an overview of ten of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

Vocational nursing programs usually have specific admission requirements that must be met either prior to admission or prior to starting clinicals. While these may vary by school, common requirements include a high school diploma, assessment test, completion of prerequisite courses, criminal background check, drug screening and physical examination.

Students may also be required to show proof of current immunizations (including Hepatitis B), CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification and health/liability insurance. The schools outlined below offer approved vocational nursing programs that prepare students to take the NCLEX-PN exam and apply for licensure.


Butte College

Oroville-based Butte College offers an LVN program to eligible students at least 17 years old with a minimum 12th grade education level. Students learn basic nursing duties, such as prescribing medical treatments, taking and documenting vital signs, assessing patients and providing basic daily care. To be eligible for this program, applicants must complete the following courses: human anatomy and physiology, nutrition, math and English. If there are more eligible applicants than the program allows, students are chosen based on a lottery drawing.

City College of San Francisco

City College of San Francisco in San Francisco has a licensed vocational nurse program that can be completed in 18 months. Located at the John Adams campus, the three-semester program teaches students how to provide basic nursing care to patients, while also helping students develop critical thinking skills. Combining lecture and lab studies, the courses include maternity nursing, pediatric nursing, child growth and development, pharmacology, medical/surgical nursing and nutrition. Students spend time in various areas of nursing to observe and obtain hands-on training. In addition to meeting admission requirements, applicants must attend a mandatory orientation session. Students are required to complete 44.5 credits in this program.

Hartnell College

The vocational nursing program at Hartnell College in Salinas requires completion of at least 41 units of training. The program can be completed in four to five semesters and combines theory with practical experience. Five sequential vocational nursing courses provide students with hands-on training. Students can participate in part- or full-time study, and they earn a certificate upon completion of the program.

Los Medanos College

Located in Pittsburg, Los Medanos College has a three-semester vocational nursing program designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to care for patients of all ages in various medical settings. In addition to completing didactic courses, students gain practical experience in various nursing areas, such as family-focused nursing and medical/surgical nursing.

To be eligible for enrollment in this program, applicants must complete the following prerequisite courses with a grade of 'C' or better: anatomy and physiology, algebra, reading and writing, computer literacy, medical terminology and nutrition. Admission is by random selection; candidates must satisfy prerequisite and admission requirements to qualify for entry.

Merced College

The vocational nursing program at Merced College in Merced is open to high school graduates (or equivalent) at least 18 years old. Although applications are taken year-round, class size is limited to 40 students; to be eligible, all prerequisites must be completed. Once students are accepted, they must undergo a background check and show proof of physical examinations, current immunizations, TB screenings and CPR certification. The three-semester program consists of seven courses, including a three-part sequential nursing guidance course. When students complete the program, they receive a Certificate of Completion. Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science in Vocational Nursing by completing the certificate program courses and meeting the college's other course requirements.

Mission College

Mission College, which is located in Santa Clara, has a vocational nursing program that is offered as a certificate and an associate degree program. Applicants must meet requirements set by the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, which include attending an orientation session, completing prerequisite courses and having satisfactory scores on the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills). The certificate program takes three semesters to complete.

Students spend around ten hours per week in the classroom and 18 hours in clinical rotations and gain skills in various areas of nursing. Students also learn about medication administration through three sequential pharmacology courses. General education courses are added to the curriculum for those pursuing the degree.

Reedley College

Reedley College in Reedley offers a licensed vocational nursing program at its Madera Center. To be eligible to enter this program, applicants must complete anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and nutrition courses. They must also have CPR for Healthcare Provider certification. This program has an ongoing waiting list and admits 30 students every four semesters. The seven nursing courses teach students basic nursing principles, and the three-semester program can be completed in 18 months.

Sacramento City College

Aspiring LVNs can choose from two vocational nursing programs at Sacramento City College in Sacramento. Students must complete 41 units of vocational nursing courses to earn the Certificate of Achievement. Candidates interested in earning an associate degree complete the nursing courses and general education courses. Applicants must be high school graduates or equivalent and must complete prerequisite courses to be eligible for enrollment. Both programs offer curricula that integrate lectures, lab courses and practical exercises in clinical settings. Prior to starting the clinical sessions, the student must submit to a drug screening and criminal background check.

San Joaquin Delta College

Stockton-based San Joaquin Delta College has a 46-week vocational nursing program aimed at preparing students to take the licensing exam and work as trained professionals in a medical setting. In addition to completing lecture and lab courses, students obtain hands-on training from clinical rotations at San Joaquin General Hospital and St. Joseph's Medical Center. The program admits students once a year. Selection into this program is based on a lottery drawing of all qualified applicants, and students must meet academic and health requirements before they can participate in clinical training.

Santa Rosa Junior College

Santa Rosa Junior College, located in Santa Rosa, has a vocational nursing program that has produced more than 1,000 graduates since its origin in 1955. The three-semester program has students attending lecture and lab classes around 32 hours per week. The curriculum consists of at least 665 hours of theory and 1,101 hours of clinical and lab studies. Students obtain both knowledge and hands-on training by working and observing in the following nursing areas: pediatrics, medical/surgical, mental health, rehabilitation, gerontology and maternity. Clinical rotations may take place during the day, in the evening or on weekends.

Career Information

An individual interested in becoming a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Northern California needs to complete a state-approved training program or equivalent and pass an examination. A state-approved program's curriculum consists of 1,530 hours; of these hours, 576 must be theory, and 954 hours must be clinical. When a student has completed the program, he or she needs to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Vocational Nursing Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Butte College Two-year, public; distant rural Vocational Nursing Program $1,364 in-state; $6,404 out-of-state*
City College of San Francisco Two-year, public; large city Licensed Vocational Nursing Program $1,598 in-state; $7,554 out-of-state*
Hartnell College Two-year, public; midsize city Vocational Nursing Certificate Program $1,420 in-state; $7,420 out-of-state*
Los Medanos College Two-year, public; midsize suburb Vocational Nursing Program $1,298 in-state; $7,542 out-of-state*
Merced College Two-year, public; fringe rural Vocational Nursing Certificate or Associate's Degree $1,141 in-state; $6,133 out-of-state*
Mission College Two-year, public; fringe rural Vocational Nursing Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Vocational Nursing
$1,174 in-state; $6,070 out-of-state*
Reedley College Two-year, public; distant town Licensed Vocational Nursing Program $1,194 in-state; $6,834 out-of-state*
Sacramento City College Two-year, public; large city Vocational Nursing Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Vocational Nursing
$1,104 in-state; $7,440 out-of-state*
San Joaquin Delta College Two-year, public; large city Vocational Nursing Program $1,104 in-state; $6,312 out-of-state*
Santa Rosa Junior College Two-year, public; midsize city Vocational Nursing Program $1,318 in-state; $6,637 out-of -state*

Source: *NCES School Navigator.

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