4 Best Nurse Practitioner Programs in San Diego, CA (Online & Campus) – 2024

Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

Several San Diego hospitals are ranked among the nation’s best, making this California city an excellent place to pursue an education as a nurse practitioner. You can be confident that your clinical rotations while attending accredited nurse practitioner schools in San Diego will be scheduled at hospitals and clinics that offer exposure to a wide range of learning experiences. More than 2,000 NPs practice within the greater San Diego metropolitan area, and many of them earn salaries of more than $149,960 a year. The list below brings you the best nurse practitioner programs in San Diego for 2024.


(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 4 Best NP programs in San Diego, California (Online & Campus) for the year 2024.)

1. University of San Diego

Programs Offered:

DNP (BSN to DNP & MSN to DNP) & Post-Master's Certificate

As a registered nurse do you see yourself as a clinical leader who plays a vital role in the delivery of healthcare, addressing complex problems by collaborating with an interdisciplinary team? If yes, then to achieve this goal you can consider enrolling in University of San Diego’s nurse practitioner tracks. Offered through three pathways of BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP & post master’s certificate, these are among the few faith-based nurse practitioner programs in San Diego that prepare students to serve as compassionate nurses and advocates of social justice.

BSN to DNP Concentrations:

Family Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner in Emergency Care, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Dual Adult-Gerontology/Family Nurse Practitioner, and Dual Pediatric/Family Nurse Practitioner

With this BSN to DNP, you can earn the terminal degree in nursing with a specialization in either family health, family emergency care, and mental health. Additionally, the two dual specialization degrees in gerontology-family health and pediatric-family health provides a unique opportunity to earn two NP credentials with one program. Depending on the track you select, the number of credits required to graduate range from 67 to 83 credits. Should you choose the dual-track, you will be eligible to take the certification exams in both the specialties and explore a wider range of employment options.

MSN to DNP Concentrations:

Emergency Care for Family Nurse Practitioner

This MSN to DNP program is open to MSN graduates who are certified as an FNP. Additionally, an unencumbered RN license in CA and work experience of at least one year as an FNP is also required. As an emergency nurse practitioner, you will be responsible to treat individuals of all age groups with an emergency health condition. Upon completing the 49-credit coursework you will be eligible to take the certification exam for emergency nursing care.

Post-Master's Certificate Concentrations:

Emergency Care for Family Nurse Practitioners

You can enter this post master's certificate nurse practitioner program in San Diego as an FNP who has completed either an MSN or a DNP. Additionally, you also require to have an unencumbered, active California RN license. To graduate you must earn 15 credits in specialization-specific courses and complete 540 hours in a clinical practicum.

2. San Diego State University

Programs Offered:


If you are exploring nurse practitioner programs in San Diego to pursue advanced nursing education that emphasize better healthcare for the rural and urban population, then your search may end with the San Diego State University School of Nursing. Its accomplished faculty actively engages in diverse research activities, including health improvement of the rural and Hispanic population which can provide for enriching learning opportunities for you to closely understand rural and urban healthcare delivery systems. The MSN program it offers has been producing evidence-based nurses since 1982.

MSN Concentrations:

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Do you enjoy spending time with the elderly and also have the ability to make them feel cared for? If this sounds like you, then you must think over enrolling in this MSN-Nurse Practitioner program in San Diego that not only builds up on your baccalaureate nursing education but also trains you to offer specialized primary care to adults & the geriatric population. You can complete this 50-credit program either on a part-time or full-time basis. The first-year entails completing courses in health assessment & promotion, theoretical & research bases, pathophysiology in adults & the elderly, and pharmacology, ending with a primary care practicum. The second-year takes you through courses in information systems for nursing, quality improvement, and two clinical experiences - one in the primary and the other in acute, critical care of adults and elderly patients.

3. United States University

Programs Offered:


As a nurse practitioner in San Diego, you can expect to find a plethora of job opportunities and earn some of the highest salaries in the country. United States University trains you for this promising career advancement through a convenient online medium that is delivered by a well-experienced faculty. The academic environment it offers goes much beyond graduation, fostering lifelong learning by building strong connections with faculty and peers. Like most other nurse practitioner programs in San Diego, this MSN is typically a California based nurse practitioner program, making you eligible to apply for the state board registration for a nurse practitioner licensure.

MSN Concentrations:

Family Nurse Practitioner

You must be a BSN graduate with a minimum GPA of 2.50 to stand eligible for this MSN-FNP program. The program requires completion of 48 credits over a period of 24 months. Besides, during the second year of your coursework, you must complete 540 hours of clinical experience which is usually held during the day, through the week. The coursework starts with 14 credits of core courses, followed by 10 credits of advanced practice courses and 24 credits in FNP courses. Upon completion of this coursework, you will graduate as an evidence-based nurse leader who is capable of providing advanced nursing care to individuals and families across the lifespan.

4. National University

Programs Offered:

MSN and Post-Graduate Certificate

The largest private non-profit university in San Diego, National College was proudly founded by a veteran in 1971. So, if you are a service member or a dependent, you can avail of tuition discounts through its veteran-friendly funding policies. As an aspiring nurse practitioner, the school trains you in providing evidence-based nursing care to either individuals and families of all ages or to mental health patients. The programs are designed not only to achieve success on the certification exam but also to meet the challenging & diverse healthcare needs of California as well as the nation.

MSN Concentrations:

Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

This MSN-Nurse Practitioner program in San Diego is a combination of online and on-campus learning. Depending on your interest you can either choose the FNP or PMHNP specialty and earn your certification. Regardless of the track, the program takes 12 to 18 months to complete. You start the program with core courses and progress to complete the specialization-specific courses. Core topics are strengthened by taking courses in advanced practice nursing, biomedical statistics, theory in advanced practice, health policy & finance, project management, and evidence-based advanced practice. You also complete courses in advanced physical assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology before moving forward to the FNP or PMHNP courses.

Post-Graduate Certificate Concentrations:

Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

This post-graduate certificate is perfect if you want to expand your skills and knowledge in another advanced nursing specialty. To meet the admission requirements of this program you must have earned either a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing. The program is offered in the hybrid format, requiring you to visit the campus only for immersions and engage in clinical preceptorship at an approved site. This certificate can be completed in either the FNP or PMHNP specialty, with classes being offered on a full-time basis.


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