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Nursing Schools in Southern California with Degree Information

Southern California has over 100 schools that offer nursing programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for ten of the largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

In Southern California, nursing education is offered at undergraduate and graduate levels and varies depending on one's experience and prior education. Associate degree programs prepare students for entry-level work as registered nurses. Current nursing professionals seeking a bachelor's degree may be able to complete a fast-track RN-to-BSN program. Additionally, students who have a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing may be able to complete an accelerated course of study.

At the master's degree level, concentrations may be available in nurse leadership, education or anesthesia. Nurse practitioner programs are also offered at the master's level and may allow students to specialize in family, adult gerontological or pediatric practice. Doctor of Nursing programs are typically designed as advanced practice programs, while Ph.D. programs are research-focused. At this level, concentrations may be available in such areas as health promotion or health policy.

Career Requirements

The California Board of Registered Nurses reports that all nursing applicants must complete an approved educational program. Registered nurses (RNs) are typically required to attend a 2- to 4-year school, while licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) need only to complete about 1 year of schooling to work under RNs and doctors. Aspiring nurses must then take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Ten of the largest schools in Southern California are presented below, and all undergraduate programs mentioned train students for the NCLEX exam.


California State University - Fullerton

California State University's campus in Fullerton was the 12th college in California to be authorized as a degree-granting institution and is 1 of 23 California State University campuses. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program offers multiple entry options for individuals at different points in their careers. For example, current LVNs may choose to work toward their BSN in an accelerated program, and RNs may choose to complete the BSN program online. The traditional BSN includes courses such as nursing research, community health nursing and child health nursing.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) students may concentrate in 1 of 5 areas: leadership, nurse anesthesia, nurse educator, school nursing or women's health care. The nursing leadership concentration may be pursued both on-campus and online, and it combines the study of nursing science, teaching and learning. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is also available for those who wish to earn a practice-oriented doctorate. Graduates can enter roles of advanced practice or leadership in the nursing field.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
    Master of Science in Nursing,
    Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $6,195 in-state,
    $17,853 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; midsize city

California State University - Long Beach

The Long Beach campus of California State University is 322 acres and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. The School of Nursing offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition to general education courses, BSN students are required to take nursing classes in topics such as health deviations, maternal and newborn nursing, nursing trends and pediatric nursing. MSN students may choose from a variety of different concentrations, such as family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist and health care administration. The master's degree program is flexible and allows for students to simultaneously work as nurses. The DNP is a practice-oriented degree program and is offered through a Consortium of the Schools of Nursing at California State University campuses in Fullerton, Long Beach and Los Angeles.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
    Master of Science in Nursing,
    Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $6,052 in-state,
    $17,710 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

California State University - Northridge

California State University's location in Northridge is one of the largest single-campus universities in the nation. The Department of Nursing has a number of options for undergraduate students. The Accelerated BSN program is meant for students who already have a bachelor's degree in a different discipline. It trains students to become RNs through courses such as nursing research, epidemiology, basic pathophysiology and nursing of the elderly. There is also an RN to BSN program option that allows current nurses to work toward their degree.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $6,296 in-state,
    $17,954 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

East Los Angeles College

East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park is a 2-year school serving 14 different communities. The Associate in Science in Nursing prepares students for careers as RNs in 4 semesters. Coursework covers role transition, pharmacology, nursing fundamentals and health assessment. LVNs need only 2 semesters of coursework to earn this degree.

  • Program Offered: Associate in Science in Nursing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,220 in-state,
    $6,160 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

Mt. San Antonio College

Located in Walnut, California, Mt. San Antonio College is one of the largest community colleges in the state. The Associate Degree Nursing program prepares students for entry-level careers as RNs. Graduates are trained to work in a variety of different settings, such as hospitals, schools and clinics. Current LVNs or psychiatric technicians may enter the accelerated track to earn an associate's degree.

  • Program Offered: Associate Degree Nursing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,164 in-state,
    $6,060 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

San Diego State University

Founded in 1897, this state university in San Diego is a 4-year institution that offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in various areas of study. The College of Health and Human Services offers various nursing programs. BSN candidates complete prerequisite undergraduate coursework prior to being admitted into this upper-level nursing program. Current RNs, second-degree students and transfer students may also work towards this degree in an accelerated program. MSN students are instructed in a variety of specialized nursing careers, such as nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist and nurse practitioner.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
    Master of Science in Nursing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $6,578 in-state,
    $18,236 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

Santa Ana College

Santa Ana College began in 1915 with only 26 students. Today, it enrolls over 30,000 students. The Associate Degree Nursing program trains students to work as entry-level RNs after 2 years of study. Current LVNs may earn their degree in only 1 year. Students are required to complete courses in nursing concepts, nursing processes, role transitions and more.

  • Program Offered: Associate Degree Nursing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,142 in-state,
    $4,910 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting:2-year, public; large city

Santa Monica College

In Santa Monica, this college has the highest transfer rate to 4-year campuses of any community college in the state. The Associate in Arts in Nursing requires students to complete pre-coursework in the social sciences, humanities, behavioral sciences and more. The curriculum is easily transferrable to 4-year schools if students choose to work towards their BSNs.

  • Program Offered: Associate in Arts in Nursing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,140 in-state,
    $6,012 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

University of California - Irvine

The Irvine campus of the University of California is ranked first among national universities less than 50 years old by Times Higher Education. Both undergraduate and graduate programs are available through the Department of Nursing Science. The BSN program prepares students to enter careers as RNs or to continue on to graduate study. This program requires 2 years of basic sciences prior to beginning upper-level nursing courses.

MSN students focus on family nurse practitioner or adult gerontological nurse practitioner specialty areas. This program requires 72 units and 720 clinical practice hours. It can be completed in 2 years. The PhD in Nursing is scholarship-oriented and prepares students to work in theory, research and education upon graduation. Concentrations are available in areas such as health promotion, disease prevention, health services and policies, as well as disease and symptom management.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science,
    Master of Science,
    PhD in Nursing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $13,122 in-state,
    $36,000 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; rural fringe

University of California-Los Angeles

The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) was home to 12 Nobel Laureates, 12 Rhodes Scholars and winners of 250 Olympic medals. The BSN program focuses on students as individuals and in cohorts as they work through the degree program. In addition to being prepared to enter the workforce as RNs upon passing the licensure examination, graduates may also begin graduate study. There are 2 MSN programs available: one in advanced practice, which is post-licensure, and one in clinical nurse, which is pre-licensure. Both programs take 2 years to complete. A PhD program is also available for students who wish to focus on original nursing research. Students are trained in biobehavioral sciences, biological sciences, health disparities, vulnerable populations and health services.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
    Master of Science in Nursing,
    PhD in Nursing
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $12,692 in-state,
    $35,570 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large city

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Nursing Degree Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
California State University - Fullerton 4-year, public; midsize city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$6,195 in-state,
$17,853 out-of-state*
California State University - Long Beach 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
Doctor of Nursing Practice
$6,052 in-state,
$17,710 out-of-state*
California State University - Northridge 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing$6,296 in-state,
$17,954 out-of-state*
East Los Angeles College 2-year, public; small city Associate in Science in Nursing$1,220 in-state,
$6,160 out-of-state*
Mt. San Antonio College 2-year, public; large suburb Associate Degree Nursing$1,164 in-state,
$6,060 out-of-state*
San Diego State University 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing
$6,578 in-state,
$18,236 out-of-state*
Santa Ana College 2-year, public; large city Associate Degree Nursing$1,142 in-state,
$4,910 out-of-state*
Santa Monica College 2-year, public; small city Associate in Arts in Nursing$1,140 in-state,
$6,012 out-of-state*
University of California - Irvine 4-year, public; rural fringe Bachelor of Science,
Master of Science,
PhD in Nursing
$13,122 in-state,
$36,000 out-of-state*
University of California - Los Angeles 4-year, public; large city Bachelor of Science in Nursing,
Master of Science in Nursing,
PhD in Nursing
$12,692 in-state,
$35,570 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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