EDUCATION
January 9, 2018

2018 Top 10 Best Nursing Schools In California

Anyone who wants to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) knows that the school you attend will have a huge impact on your future as a nurse.

When it comes to nursing schools, California has perhaps the biggest set of options. Narrowing your search down to a few schools might seem impossible, but with a little research you can find the perfect fit for your studies.

California is the number one employer of nurses in the United States, employing over 270,000 nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is also home to the highest average wage for nurses in the country with nurses earning an average of $101,750.

The outlook for nursing is great nationwide since healthcare will always be important. Despite already employing the most nurses, California is also projected to see an increased need for capable nurses.

Attending nursing school in California is a good way to get your foot in the door to a position as a nurse in California, as well as the rest of the country. Upon graduation at most California universities, nursing students will be eligible to receive a California Public health Nursing certificate, as well as take and pass the exam to become an RN.

Choosing the Right School

While conducting your school search, it’s important to keep in mind what type of nursing program you are interested in. While it’s common for nurses to study toward a BSN, some want to push their education further, meaning grad school.

Depending on your interests, certain schools can offer a better path to what you’re looking for. If you desired nursing position requires grad school, it’s important not only to find a school that offers a graduate program but one that has the specific courses and programs necessary to get the experience.

Some programs also work with local hospitals, and that can lead to getting hired right out of school.

Before filling out endless applications to different schools, here are some things to keep in mind:

What might my career goals be as a nurse?

  • Do I want to study to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN)? Do I want to earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN)? Do I want to do an accelerated program to earn my degree, or do I want to take my time?
  • Do I want to go to a big/small school, a school in a big/small city, a school near the coast, a school near the mountains, a school closer to family, etc.?
  • Is graduate school something I’m interested in and is there a school that can offer a great program for both an undergraduate and graduate degree?
  • If college is expensive, what schools are in my price range, and how do I afford those that aren’t?

10 best nursing schools in California

Every nursing school has its benefits, but some schools seem to rise above the rest. Most schools offer in-state tuition to current California residents, making the cost of attendance much lower. Even with in-state tuition, many nursing students still use financial aid to help pay for college. Scholarships continue to be a great way to finance your education while earning a degree in nursing.

Here are the 10 best nursing schools in California:

University of California - Los Angeles

In-state Tuition: $13,749 | School Admission Rate: 18%

Known by most for its athletic programs, the nursing program at UCLA should not be overlooked. The program has won numerous awards, and it places an emphasis on a strong faculty to give students the best opportunity to succeed. It’s tough to get in and a little pricier than other schools, but the education is well worth it.

California State University - Sacramento

In-state Tuition: $7,204 | School Admission Rate: 72%

Located in the state capital of California, Sacramento State has education paths for both a traditional BSN or those who are registered nurses and want to earn a BSN. Sacramento State also has masters degree programs to help with nursing specialization.

San Francisco State University

In-state Tuition: $7,254 | School Admission Rate: 68%

San Francisco State University has one of the best nursing programs in the state, but that means that there’s plenty of competition. Typically, only 60-80 nursing students are selected each year, making this program particularly difficult to get into.

California State University - Fullerton

In-state Tuition: $6,830 | School Admission Rate: 48%

While the graduate degree programs in nursing get most the national attention at Cal State Fullerton, their BSN program is also impressive. For future nurses who are interested in anesthesia or midwifery, Cal State Fullerton should definitely be on your list.

University of California - Irvine

In-state Tuition: $15,516 | School Admission Rate: 41%

Located in sunny SoCal, UC Irvine offers nursing programs ranging from BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice. A top-ranked school, UC Irvine has a very competitive BSN program with only 88 freshmen being accepted in 2017. 

San Diego State University

In-state Tuition: $7,460 | School Admission Rate: 35%

SDSU boasts impressive numbers from students that earn a BSN. Their exam pass rates are nearly perfect over the past decade, meaning that their nurses know their stuff. They also have a direct entry program for incoming freshman, something that not all schools on this list can say they have.

Mount Saint Mary’s University

Tuition: $39,608 | School Admission Rate: 86%

Not to be confused with any other Mount St. Mary’s in the country, Mount St. Mary’s University is located in LA.Since this is a private school, there is no in-state tuition available - however, a vast majority of students who attend Mount St. Mary’s receive financial aid. The highlight of their undergrad nursing program is the accelerated BSN program which is completed in just one year.

California State University - Long Beach

In-state Tuition: $6,794 | School Admission Rate: 32%

If nothing else, California State Long Beach is simply a good all-around nursing school. There are programs available for all levels of nursing, each of which prepares nurses for their careers in the great state of California.

Sonoma State University

In-state Tuition: $7,724 | School Admission Rate: 76%

All students at Sonoma State University are required to become RNs before they can apply for the nursing program. Fortunately, the school splits their traditional BSN program into two parts - becoming an RN then earning your BSN. This well-respected school is young, but it is quickly becoming even more well-known in the nursing community.

California State University - Bakersfield

In-state Tuition: $7,142 | School Admission Rate: 100%

While Cal State Bakersfield might not pop out as a dream destination, their nursing program is pretty comprehensive. With well over 200 students earning a BSN, this nursing program isn’t as tough to get into as other California schools. However, they’re still one of the better nursing schools in the state.

Paying for school

After researching schools and finding the right fit for you, the next question is probably “how am I going to pay for this?”

While California residents benefit from in-state tuition, out of state nursing students still need to find a way to pay for school. Even those receiving in-state tuition find that having some financial aid is helpful.

Fortunately for nursing students, there are plenty of nurse-specific scholarships available. The majority of nursing students at these 10 schools have financial aid, so there’s no shortage of places where you can receive some help with tuition and costs.

Check out some of the scholarships that are available to nursing students.

Final Evaluations

Just because a nursing school is one of the best in California doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for you. Anything can look good on paper, but once you attend the program things could be much different than you anticipated.

Before committing to any school, consider the following:

  • The cost of school over the course of the program
  • The acceptance rate of the school
  • The acceptance rate of the nursing program
  • How this school can benefit you in the short/long run
  • Any potential drawbacks this schools has compared to others

Once you feel you’ve spent enough time considering which school (or schools) is best for you, it’s time to take the leap, apply and begin your journey toward becoming a nurse!

Next Up: Top 5 Nursing Schools for 2018 And How To Decide On A College

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