It’s important for a person to consider what program he or she is looking for since what is the best school for nursing in California includes numerous options for nurses at different levels. If a person doesn’t have an LPN or an RN already, he or she will need to look for on-campus programs, so he or she can complete the clinical portion of his or her education. If he or she already has an LPN or RN, he or she can look for LPN to BSN or RN to BSN programs online or on campus.
There are both accredited public and accredited private nursing schools in California. Additionally, there are accredited online nursing schools in California. Accredited public or accredited private campus-based nursing schools in California as well as accredited online nursing schools in California are recognized by an educational board for having a curriculum that adequately prepares students for a job in nursing. In fact, the only way a person can take the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN is to attend one of the accredited nursing schools in California.
How We Ranked the Best Schools for Nursing in California
To rank the best nursing schools in California, Nursing School Hub editors have to consider what is important to the working nurse and the new nursing student. The thing all nursing students have in common is the desire to see their degree make an impact on their career. That’s why NSH ranks programs according to data that matters, from reputable sources including IPEDS and College Scorecard. All programs are accredited and ranked according to their tuition cost, student satisfaction, and salary potential.
The UCLA School of Nursing offers these degree options: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), MSN – Masters Entry Clinical Nurse, Masters of Science in Nursing – Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. Students develop real-world skills along with the theory and socialization. The curriculum features interdisciplinary and independent-study education. Ranked as #20 on the list of Top Nursing School by US New and World Report, the UCLA School of Nursing is one of the best schools for nursing in California.
The UCLA School of Nursing is a public school. The motto is “Fiat lux,” translated “Let there be light.” The university’s nickname is “Bruins,” and the school colors are blue and gold. UCLA is the fourth-oldest campus in the University of California university system. The nursing school is located in the Westwood neighborhood. The UCLA School of Nursing is one of the top recipients of research funding in the US, with particular emphasis as a Top 20 recipient from the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Degrees: BSN, MSN, PhD, DNP
2. Azusa Pacific University
The Azusa Pacific University offers programs for nursing bachelor’s degrees, as well as master’s and doctoral nursing degrees with online, regional, and on-campus educational options. APU’s nursing programs feature options for study abroad and internships in community health. With small classrooms and simulation labs, the goal is to support compassionate care. Azusa Pacific University is the best nursing school in California.
The Azusa Pacific University is a private, evangelical institution (inter-denominational) recognized among National Universities by US News & World Report and ranked a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The mascot is the Cougar. The school colors are black and brick. The motto is “God First.”
Degrees: BSN, MSN, DNP
3. University of California, Irvine
UC Irvine offers a BS in Nursing Science, an MS in Nursing Science, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. The focus of the nursing program is to encourage population health on a local and international level while improving the level of care for patients. UC Irvine’s Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing is one of the best nursing schools in California.
UC Irvine is a public research institution, ranked #36 in National Universities by US News & World Report, with a specialization in neuroscience and cancer studies. The motto “Fiat lux” means “Let there be light.” UCI is one of the top research institutions in the US. The university is dedicated to discovery, with the goal of improving lives.
Degrees: BSN, MSN, DNP, PhD
4. Dominican University of California
The Dominican University of California offers a BS in Nursing, focusing on clinical excellence. The goal is to facilitate mentorship and engagement, with real-world opportunities in research and study abroad. The Dominican University of California is one of the best schools for nursing in California. The program focuses on training and fulfilling the requirements for military trained healthcare professionals as well as internationally educated students.
The Dominican University of California is ranked #23 as one of the Regional Universities West, as well as #24 in the list of Best Value Schools by US News & World Report. The motto is “Veritas Fax Ardens,” translated as “Truth is a Flaming Torch.” Dominican is a private university, with the nickname “Penguins,” and the mascot “Chilly the Penguin. Appropriately enough, the school colors are black, gold and white. Students participate in important research projects, while gaining real-world experience in the dynamic Dominican community.
5. University of San Francisco
The University of San Francisco offers a BS in Nursing, a MS degree as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice, accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The University of San Francisco is the best nursing school in California. The goal of the School of Nursing and Health Professions is to prepare healthcare personnel for the demands of policy and advocacy, with a commitment to learning and innovation.
The University of San Francisco is ranked #97 in National Universities by US News & World Report. It’s a private Jesuit-Catholic institution, with a focus on service-based learning and a commitment to contributing and improving the community. The traditional motto is: “Pro Urbe et Universitate,” translated “For City and University,” but the current motto is “Change the world from here.” The more modern motto reflects the emphasis on work that contributes to the betterment of society and the world. The school colors are green and gold. USF is ranked #67 for “Best Value.” Washington Monthly ranked the university #149 for research, contribution to public good, and promotion of public service.
Degrees: BSN, MSN, DNP
6. Concordia University Irvine
Concordia University Irvine offers an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and a Undergraduate Pre-Nursing Minor. Concordia University is one of the best nursing schools in California. The program centers on teaching knowledge-based skills and delivering the right information to support compassionate, caring, and competent care by dedicated and knowledgeable nurses. Concordia students have a high pass rate of 99% for The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN® exam).
Concordia University is a private Christian university, ranked as #34 in the list of Regional Universities West by US News & World Report. Approximately 68% of students in undergraduate programs currently receive need-based financial aid for full-time status. The motto is “Developing Wise, Honorable, and Cultivated Citizens.” The university is one of the nine universities and colleges that are part of the Concordia University network/system.
Degrees: BSN, MSN, minor
7. Simpson University
Simpson University offers a BSN (pre-licensure) and a RN-BSN (post-licensure) program track. Simpson University is one of the best schools for nursing in California, with its focus on faith-based nursing education and curriculum. The core value of the Betty M Dean School of Nursing program is caring, with personalized faculty mentoring, hands-on experiences, small classes, simulation labs, and engaging discussions.
Simpson University is a private, liberal arts university with a faith-based focus, affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. The motto is “Gateway to World Service.” The nickname is “Red Hawks,” with the colors of red and black. The university encourages critical thinking and research with the goal of demonstrating the values and precepts of human dignity and social justice.
Degrees: BSN, RN to BSN
8. Biola University
Biola University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), with the mission of preparing students to take on the role of competent nursing professionals. The Biola Nursing program incorporates clinical opportunities with a theoretical (evidence-based) curriculum to support an environment for learning and growth. Biola University is one of the best nursing schools in California.
Biola University is a private Christian university. The university ties for the rank of #185 in National Universities in a list by US News & World Report. It ties for #61 for Best Undergraduate Teaching, and is ranked #88 in the list for Best Value Schools. The motto is “Above All Give Glory to God.”
9. California Baptist University
California Baptist University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an entry-level Master of Science in Nursing (which is designed for non-Nursing degree majors), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). California Baptist University is one of the best nursing schools in California, with the focus on creating highly qualified, caring, and responsible nursing candidates in a demanding field. That goal is paired with the preparation of nurses with the worldview imbued by the university, including fulfilling needs at the global as well as local levels.
California Baptist University is a private Christian institution, affiliated with the California Southern Baptist Convention. It is ranked #43 in the list of Best Colleges is Regional Universities West by US News & World Report. It ranks #28 for Best Value Schools, and #5 for Most Innovative Schools. The motto of the school is “Live Your Purpose.” The nickname is “Lancers” and the colors are blue and gold.
Degrees: BSN, MSN, DNP
10. San Diego State University
San Diego State University offers degrees for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an RN to BSN, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and an LVN to RN. The SDSU Nursing Program, BSN ranked in the top 25 for all Nursing school programs, according to the Best Health Degrees, while simultaneously ranking as #1 in the list of Hispanic-Serving programs. San Diego State University is the best nursing school in California.
San Diego State University is a public research institution. The “Leadership starts here” motto follows through with the prestige of the Nursing Program as well as the accomplishments and acclaim of the entire university. SDSU has been recognized as the #1 research university and it is classified for High Research Activity. The Aztec warrior is their mascot, and the nickname is “Aztecs,” with the bold scarlet and black colors. In keeping with that school identity, San Diego State University is committed to diversity, and it is recognized as one of the top 10 universities in the US for racial and ethnic diversity in the number of degrees that are earned by minority students as well as the overall makeup of the student body.
Degrees: BSN, MSN
How Do I Choose a Nursing School in California?
First and foremost, a person wants to search for what is the best nursing school in California. The results for this or what are the best nursing schools in California will bring up numerous options. When deciding what is the best school for nursing in California, a person needs to look for accredited nursing schools in California. A person will want to do additional research about each one of the options for what are the best nursing schools in California. He or she will want to look at how well recognized a program is by employers. Additionally, he or she will want to look at the NCLEX results from that school. An individual who is figuring out what is the best nursing school in California for him or her will want to consider the price.
How is the Nursing Job Market in California?
Before a person decides whether a nursing job in California is right for him or her, he or she will more than likely want to know about the job market for nurses in California, especially for new grad nursing jobs in California. First and foremost before looking at nurse jobs in California specifically, a person should understand that nursing is an in-demand field and will always be in need. While this isn’t specifically about nursing jobs in California, the number of jobs for registered nurses in the U.S. is supposed to increase by 12 percent from 2018 until 2028. This is faster than average.
More specifically, nursing jobs in California are greater than in any other state. The state ranks number one for the highest level of nurse jobs. As of 2018, there were 294,510 nurse jobs in California for RNs. The nursing jobs in California are only expected to grow in number throughout the years.
Some possible registered nurse jobs in California are in hospitals. These can be new grad nursing jobs in California or for experienced nurses. Registered nurse jobs in California are also found in nursing homes, outpatient care centers, and nursing hotlines. Registered nurse jobs in California are also found in doctor’s offices.
The job market for nurses in California also takes into consideration travel nurse jobs in California. Travel nurse jobs in California allow a person to go to a variety of places to care for patients. Travel nursing jobs in California may be for a hospice. Additionally, travel nursing jobs in California are found in nurse agencies.
How Much Do Nurses Make in California?
Another vital factor when deciding on whether a nursing career is for a person is evaluating the nurses salary in California. A person should look at the salary for registered nurses in California, nurse salaries in California for LPNs, and nurse practitioner salary in California to compare.
The nurses salary in California for an LPN is $56,200 on average. The lowest salary of nurses in California in terms of LPNs is $41,000 while the top salary of a nurse in California who’s an LPN is $75,050. The salary of nurses in California for LPNs is higher than the national average, which is $46,240.
The salary for registered nurses in California is the highest paying of all states. The nurse salaries in California for RNs made number one of the BLS’s list of highest paying states for nurses. The salary of a nurse in California with an RN is $106,950. In terms of nursing salaries in California, this nursing salary in California is equivalent to $51.42 per hour. The nursing salaries in California for RNs are higher on average than the national median wage, which is equal to $71,730.
Not every nursing salary in California is that high, though. The bottom salary for nurses in California is $66,440. The top salary for nurses in California is much higher. The top registered nurse salary in California is $157,160.
While the registered nurse in California salary is incredibly high, especially when compared to other areas, the registered nurse salary in California isn’t nearly as high as the nurse practitioner salary in California. The average salary of a nurse in California is much higher for a nurse practitioner. The reason the average nurse salary in California for an NP is so high is because a nurse practitioner may have his or her own practice there. Besides the increased responsibility, that’s one reason why the registered nurse in California salary isn’t as high as an NP.
The nurse practitioner salary in California is, on average, is $133,780 per year. This means that nurse practitioner salaries in California are usually around $64.32 per hour. This makes nurse practitioner salaries in California more than the national average of $107,030 annually.
Overall, the average salary of a nurse in California is higher than the national average at all levels. Even the average nurse salary in California for the lowest paying nurses is similar to the national average.
For those comparing the average nursing salary in California to determine if nursing is a career for them, the average nursing salary in California is definitely worth it for someone who’s interested in taking care of the health and well-being of people.