10 Best Accredited BSN Programs in California – 2023
Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org
A BSN or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is one of the most common pathways for becoming an RN in California. If you possess qualities such as patience, a strong work ethic, and the desire to help others, a BSN program is right for you. RNs with BSN degrees in CA earn an average of $139,250 annually and their demand will continue to grow with more than 20,000 jobs becoming available each year between 2023 and 2027. To help you get started on your path of becoming an RN, we are providing a list of 10 best out of the 41 California Board of Registered Nursing approved BSN programs.
Why BSN is the Most Preferred Nursing Program for RNs in California?
Per a 2015-2016 California New Graduate Hiring Survey
conducted by Health Impact
, nearly 88.5% of all RNs holding BSN degrees in the state of California were employed. This compares to 83.4% of RNs with ADNs and 63.6% with Master's Entry degrees. Employers prefer candidates with BSN degrees as they indicate better overall patient outcomes thanks to more knowledge and experience. Students aspiring to nursing careers often pursue BSN degrees in order to earn higher salaries, to be more competitive in the workplace, and to prepare themselves to further their careers later down the line.
RECOMMENDED ONLINE RN TO BSN PROGRAMS
| California Annual Salary|| BSN ||ADN|| Difference|
|$139,250 ||$121,350 ||+$17,900 |
|(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)|
What Will I Learn During my BSN?
As you progress through your BSN program, you will learn how to provide ethical patient care that fits within California state laws. Your program will provide you with a solid foundation through general education courses, then move you into the more specific courses designed to fulfill your nursing major. You will learn laws and ethics as they apply to treating patients in California, and you will also get hands-on experience in both simulated labs and clinicals. This will help you put the information you learn in the classroom to work and prepare you for your career.
Typical California BSN Program Information
It will take you four years to complete a BSN program in California, though some schools may offer fast-track programs that can be completed in roughly three years.
The amount you will pay to complete a BSN program in California will vary based upon the type of school you choose. Private not-for-profit schools tend to be the most expensive, while private for-profit schools tend to provide the most affordable opportunities. For example, if you choose to attend a public school, you may pay as little as $30,133 for your education. Conversely, if you choose a private not-for-profit institution, you could pay as much as $191,944.
(Source: In-House Research)
|Item || Type of Nursing School|
| Public || Private Not-For-Profit || Private For-Profit |
| Tuition & Fees || $26,189-$31,578 || $52,387-$182,474 || $19,722-$149,774 |
| Books & Supplies || $3,944 - $9,470 || $3,944 - $9,470 || $3,944 - $9,470 |
| Total Cost || $30,133 - $41,048 || $56,331 - $191,944 || $23,666 - $159,244 |
When you go through your coursework to obtain your BSN in CA, courses will be divided into two categories. Some of these are general education courses that are required for obtaining your degree, but the majority are related directly to your nursing major to prepare you for the NCLEX-RN exam in California. Each course focuses on an area of expertise you will need to fulfill your duties as an RN in CA.
| General Courses ||Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Intro to Psychology, Introduction to Chemistry, Lifespan Development, Literature of Old & New Testament, Microbiology, Nutrition, Oral Communication, Principles of College Writing, Service Seminar, Statistics and World Civilization |
| Core Courses ||Evidence Based Practice & Informatics for Nurses, Foundations of Nursing & Professional Seminar, Health Assessment & Nursing Skills, Health Promotion, Leadership & Management in Nursing, Nursing Capstone & Professional Seminar, Nursing Care for Mental Health & Professional Seminar, Nursing Care for the Community & Public Health, Nursing Care of Children & Adolescents, Nursing Care of Maternal & Newborn, Nursing Care of the Adult, Nursing Care of the Critically Adult, Nursing Care of the Older Adult, Nursing Research & Professional Seminar, Pathophysiology for Nurses, Pharmacology for Nurses, and Preparation for Professional Practice |
Clinical training is a requirement in all California Board of Registered Nursing-approved Bachelor of Science in nursing programs. Though the number of clinical hours varies from program to program, the California BRN requires three hours of clinical practice each week
through a semester or quarter. During your clinical training, you will work in medical facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient clinics in the local area. While you will be expected to provide hands-on care to patients, you will be directly supervised by doctors and nurses licensed to practice in CA.
NCLEX-RN Exam Preparation:
BSN programs prepare you to pass the NCLEX-RN examination by giving you classroom knowledge and hands-on clinical experience that helps you understand how to provide ethical high-quality patient care in various healthcare settings.
Each California BSN program's admission requirements will vary, but on average, you must have all of the following before your application will be considered:
• A high school diploma or GED;
• A cumulative GPA of at least 2.75;
• A clear criminal background and drug screen;
• Completion of two-year general education requirements (this is only for more prestigious BSN programs and does not apply to every school);
• A TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) of at least 65; and
• Letters of recommendation, preferably from teachers or professional colleagues (for highly competitive nursing programs).
Three Important Factors You Must Pay Attention to While Selecting a BSN Program
1. Approved by California Board of Registered Nursing:
When choosing a BSN program in CA, it is vital that you select a program that is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). Graduating from an approved program will allow you to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination.
2. ACEN or CCNE Accreditation:
The BSN program you choose should also be accredited by Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
(ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
(CCNE). This will allow you to attend other accredited schools in the future if you want to pursue advanced studies, and it also helps make you a stronger competitor in the job market.
3. NCLEX-RN Pass Rate:
To work as an RN in the state of California, you must pass the NCLEX-RN examination. Without passing this examination, you cannot receive your RN licensure. For this reason, it is vital that high-quality programs provide you with the education you need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination. The average 2021 NCLEX-RN pass rate in the state of California is 86.73% which is slightly higher compared to the national average of 86.07%. When it comes to choosing a bachelor of science in nursing program, you should look for schools with the highest NXLEX-RN exam pass rates, as this is a good indicator of a program's quality.
|BSN Graduates NCLEX-RN Pass Rates|
| Year ||California|| National |
| Taken || % Passed || Taken || % Passed |
| 2013 ||4,905||82.53%||65,402||85.18%|
| 2014 ||5,267||82.89%||68,166||84.94%|
| 2015 ||5,361||87.65%||70,889||87.48%|
| 2016 ||5,548||89.91%||72,668||87.8%|
| 2017 ||5,865||91.59%||75,977||90.05%|
| 2018 ||5,873||91.47%||79,233||91.58%|
| 2019 ||6,336||91.70%||84,282||91.24%|
| 2020 ||6,596||90.78%||88,635||90.28%|
| 2021 ||7,496||86.73%||94,305||86.07%|
| (Source: NCSBN) |
WHAT ARE THE BEST BSN PROGRAMS IN CALIFORNIA (ONLINE & CAMPUS)?
Based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the 10 best BSN programs in California (Online & Campus).
CSU at Long Beach prepares you for a career as a professional nurse in a variety of healthcare settings. Aside from simply preparing you to pass your licensure exam, the BSN program here will help you build a solid foundation for continuing development, whether you plan to pursue a graduate degree, or you want to work in nursing management.
The BSN here takes four years to complete, and it combines general education courses with nursing courses in the classroom. Clinicals take place during all eight semesters, which gives you the opportunity to put your classroom learning to the test in a real-world environment. This program is one of the most comprehensive in the state, and it can prepare you for an entry-level career in one of many exciting healthcare settings.
When you graduate with your BSN, you will be eligible to obtain the California Public Health Nursing certificate, as well, which prepares you to work in community health settings. CSU-Long Beach is known not only for its outstanding NCLEX-RN pass rates, but also for its ability to help you develop outstanding critical thinking skills via the stimulation of your own intellectual curiosity.
The BSN program at CSU-Stanislaus in Turlock, California is another traditional pre-licensure program designed to help you prepare for the NCLEX-RN and a career as a registered nurse. CSU-Stanislaus requires students to complete at least four prerequisite courses before applying to the pre-licensure bachelor of science in nursing program; two of these must be science-based courses, and two must be non-science-based. Science-based prerequisites include Chemistry & Biochemistry for Nurses, Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology for Nursing. Non-science courses include First Year Composition, Public Speaking or Group Discussion, Critical Inquiry or Philosophical Inquiry, and Statistics.
Unlike many of the other nursing schools in California
offering BSN programs, CSU-Stanislaus's program takes only three years to complete. However, the three-year timeframe does not include completion of the prerequisite courses. The timeframe including prerequisites is four years. Clinicals in this program start at the end of the first semester. The first round of clinicals is considered “general” and gives you basic experience on how to keep yourself safe as you work with patients.
CSU-Stanislaus is a perfect option if you want to pursue a career in public health. Everyone who graduates from this BSN program also receives Public Health Nurse Certification, which can help you secure gainful employment immediately after you graduate. Stanislaus focuses heavily on small class sizes and developing close relationships with other students, and the caring faculty provides outstanding support throughout your journey.
Sonoma State University is located in Rohnert Park, California. It offers a basic BSN with a pre-licensure option for nurses who have no previous experience in nursing. It is a four-year program track. For the first two years, you will focus on pre-nursing science courses along with your general education requirements. After these have been completed, you may then apply for admission to the Nursing major.
The nursing curriculum for the last two years of the program will give you both classroom and clinical experience designed to prepare you for your career as an RN and give you the knowledge you need to successfully pass the NCLEX-RN examination. You will receive training in various medical fields ranging from obstetrics and gynecology to leadership and more.
Aside from its outstanding nursing programs, Sonoma State University offers some 160 different clubs and organizations for students to provide them with real-world experience, support, and friendship. Per US News and World Report, it is number 10 in the list of best public regional universities in the western US, and it is also ranked as the 34th most beautiful campus in the country.
At CSU-Sacramento, the BSN program is one of the most intense in the country. In fact, CSU faculty highly recommends that you complete corequisite courses before application because many students struggle with the workload otherwise. There are five corequisite courses, and these include Basic Biological Concepts, Introduction to General Chemistry (or Chemistry for Nurses), Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II, and Microbiology for Allied Health Students.
Students will take introductory nursing courses and general education courses during the first two years of the program, and there is time built in to complete corequisites if you wish to apply prior to completing them. Following the second year of study, you will need to apply to be enrolled in the remaining courses that will ultimately lead to your BSN. Because the workload can be tremendous, especially for students who enroll before completing corequisites, CSU-Sacramento offers optional winter and summer intersessions.
Your clinicals will take place alongside your classroom courses and you are limited to 16 weeks of clinical practice or less per week. You must schedule your clinicals, and you must schedule them in such a way that they do not interfere with your classroom studies. Clinicals start at the beginning of the second semester and continue through the rest of the program.
California State University at Chico offers a BSN program that is set up very similarly to other CSU locations. Here, you will need to take the first semester of pre-nursing courses and then reapply for the rest of the nursing program afterward, which takes place over four more semesters. CSU-Chico offers a unique group advising session that can help you make better decisions about the courses you take and the path you choose to become a nurse. These sessions will also prepare you for the rigorous studies combined with clinical hours. If you live more than 50 miles from Chico, you can attend a virtual advising session.
CSU-Chico only admits 40 students each spring and fall into its five-semester bachelor of science in nursing program not including students enrolled in their online RN-BSN program. Classroom and clinical studies are grouped in such a way that you can immediately practice what you learn during lectures in the real world. Clinicals (practicums) take place in acute care, maternity and childcare, and other specialized settings, which means students who are interested in a specific career choice can truly benefit.
CSU also partners with the Rural SimCenter which gives students the opportunity to utilize groundbreaking technology to provide simulated healthcare. Simulations include emergencies, such as transporting patients from helicopters and ambulances, to more routine healthcare services such as labor and delivery, acute illness, and acute injury.
The BSN program at California State University - San Marcos is a traditional pre-licensure program that is set up a bit differently from other programs in the state. Whereas other schools spread the eight-semester program over the course of four years, the BSN program at CSU-San Marcos is a three-year program thanks to the incorporation of summer semesters.
The first two years of study introduce you to the nursing career, and each is three semesters long. You will be required to participate in a Fall, Spring, and Summer semester. During the third year of study, you will take more specialized courses which include Community Health Nursing, Nursing Case Management, Nursing Leadership, and more. Clinical hours are required, as well, but CSU-San Marcos provides optional Senior Externship opportunities which can better prepare you for your career.
CSU-San Marcos also provides you with the opportunity to take non-nursing courses that, while elective in some cases, are still required for graduation. Required non-nursing courses include Cultural Anthropology, Culture and Medicine Healers & Healing Practices, Bioethics and Medical Ethics, American Institutions, and elective language, humanities, and arts courses that you can choose on your own.
The BSN program at San Diego State University in sunny San Diego, California teaches you to focus on the care of both the individual patient as well as his or her family. SDSU believes in practicing nursing as both a science and an art, and the courses and clinical experiences provided here reflect this mission. The BSN program here gives you a chance to learn in both natural and social sciences, which helps you not only memorize information vital to providing quality healthcare, but also helps you hone your ability to think critically and make split-second decisions that could very well save lives.
Unlike programs at many of the other schools, students who are accepted into SDSU's nursing program need not reapply after completing the first one or two years of study. Here, as an incoming Freshman, you are assigned to one of two different courses of study, and you will follow that course throughout the entire program. The four-year program has built-in time to complete general education requirements, as well.
Though you need not reapply to the nursing program in order to be considered a nursing major, you will need to complete eight general education and pre-nursing courses over the first three semesters to earn that designation. You will also need to complete clinical hours each semester, starting in your second year, in order to earn your BSN from SDSU.
California State University - Los Angeles offers a traditional BSN program for pre-licensure nursing students. It provides opportunities to complete general education, pre-nursing courses, nursing courses, and nursing clinicals over the course of four years.
CSU-LA has several prerequisite courses that you must complete in order to be accepted into the bachelor of science in nursing program, but you may complete some of these during your first year of study. These include Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Fundamentals of Chemistry, Accelerated College Writing, Microbiology for Health-Related Sciences (and Labs), and Oral Communication. You must also complete one three-unit course in statistics and quantitative reasoning, and another in critical thinking and composition.
In total, the entire program requires 120 units to graduate, and 39 of these are general education units. Clinical labs take place after the completion of the first year and after entry into CSU-LA's nursing major. Clinicals are general in nature and take place alongside Fundamentals in Nursing, Medical Surgical Nursing, Nursing Leadership and Care Management, and Nursing Care of Adults and Older Adults classroom courses.
The BSN program at CSU-Channel Islands is designed for the pre-licensure nursing student. The program here is unique in that students follow a “cohort model”, which means they will attend classes and clinicals with the same small group of peers throughout the entire program. It will take you four years of full-time study to complete the program.
During your first year of study at CSU-Channel Islands, you will take various pre-nursing courses designed to prepare you for entry into the nursing program. Once you have completed your first year, you will need to apply for acceptance into the nursing program. Only after you are accepted can you complete the final three years of nursing courses and graduate the program with your BSN. Summer sessions are available for the first two years to help students who may need additional units.
Clinicals begin in the second year, and they take place at the same time as your classroom courses. For example, during the second year of study (the first year in the nursing program), you will take Introduction to Professional Nursing classroom courses and follow these with Introduction to Professional Nursing Labs (clinicals). This will help you put classroom information to the test, which can better prepare you for your career.
Simpson University is located in Redding, California and offers a very traditional pre-licensure BSN program. The program lasts a total of four years and is designed to prepare you for careers in emergency, public health, mental health, and neonatal nursing, among others. Simpson University's BSN program is also a great choice if you plan to further your education by attending graduate school in the future. It is a Christian faith-based program, so if you are interested in learning how to incorporate your faith into your professional practice, Simpson University is a phenomenal choice.
The BSN program at Simpson University focuses heavily on nursing leadership, so if you are interested in a career in management or even nursing education, this program is a fantastic choice. Leadership clinicals are optional, but if you choose to participate, you will be paired with leaders in the healthcare industry within the local community in order to gain real-life experience in nursing.
Over the course of the four-year program, you will work with faculty advisors who will help you research your post-graduation opportunities. You will also take humanities and bible courses throughout the program, complete a professional portfolio that can provide better employment opportunities, and participate in senior capstone courses.
VIEW OUR RANKING METHODOLOGY
How to Get My California RN License
To work as a RN in the state of California, you must be licensed through the California Board of Registered Nursing. The process for obtaining your licensure requires the following steps.
• Complete an RN education program approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing.
• Apply for licensure
with the California Board of Registered Nursing.
and pay for the NCLEX-RN examination through Pearson Vue.
• Wait until you receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) from the Board.
• Schedule your examination.
• Take the examination, pass, and receive your license to practice as an RN in the state of California.
What Can I Do with a BSN in CA?
After passing the BSN and receiving your RN license, you will be eligible to work as a RN across the state of California. You may choose to work in any number of healthcare settings, including nursing homes, hospitals, trauma centers, outpatient clinics, and even in patients' homes as a home health nurse. Most of the RNs across the state of California are employed in hospitals, and some of the biggest recruiters include Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and Sharp Memorial in San Diego. At either location, job responsibilities include assisting doctors in creating care programs, providing medications, and tracking patients' progress, among others.
A BSN is also a great start to other careers in the medical field across California. You might choose to return to school later to pursue an MSN, which opens the door to other careers like nursing education, nursing management, and even research. You may also choose to pursue the FNP degree in CA, which would allow you to work as a nurse practitioner. A nurse practitioner has more responsibilities than an RN but receives higher pay.
BSN Salary in California
RNs who have earned a BSN in California tend to earn more than in any other state. The average annual salary is $109,900, which is the same as $52.84 an hour or $9,160 a month. This is almost 42.60% higher than the average BSN salary in the country. California is home to some of the country’s most prestigious research hospitals, which pay much higher salaries than most. Other factors that may affect your salary include work experience and even work environment; RNs working in trauma centers tend to earn more than those working in home health, for example.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
|Type||Salary Range||Average Salary|
|Hourly||$40.72 - $85.42||$52.84|
|Monthly||$7,060 - $14,810||$9,160|
|Annual||$84,700 - $177,670||$109,900|
California Earnings Vs National Earnings
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
|California BSN||National BSN ||Difference||% Difference |
Demand for BSN Graduates in CA
Today, more people in CA than ever before are interested in careers in the healthcare field, so even entry-level careers are highly competitive. As a result, employers often seek the most highly-qualified RNs. A BSN is a strong indicator of excellent education and hands-on practice. Employment for a BSN in the field is expected to climb quite quickly registering a growth of over 19.06% over the next decade due to the aging population, advances in healthcare and technology, and wider access to health insurance for Californians.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
(BSN Degree Holders)
|10 Year New|
PROJECTED ANNUAL JOB OPENINGS FOR BSN GRADUATES IN CA (2023-2027)
BSN Programs in Other States
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
| Year || New Jobs || Replacement|
| Annual Job Openings|
(New + Replacement)
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