Top Private Nursing Schools In California

In California, there are some 69 different private schools that have nursing programs on offer and over 200 top nursing schools including public. Below are five of the best ones, which should be able to give you a good overview of what is available. It is advisablefor students to contact at least five schools before deciding where to enroll. They should look at things such as the kinds of programs that are on offer, what they cost, how long they take to complete, where they are accredited, and other details.

In California, RNs (registered nurses) and LPNs (licensed practical nurses) have to be licensed if they want to work. Licensing is arranged through the Board of Registered Nursing and they decide which educational programs are approved and not.

Of the 69 private educational institutions, only 25 are non-profit. Here, we will look at some of the private nursing schools that exist in California. Most of these offer programs at different levels (undergraduate and graduate). Some offer specialized programs, others offer more generalized types of degrees and certificates.

University of San Francisco Online

200x100_usfHighly Recommended & Featured Partner!  The University of San Francisco was established in 1855 based on the Jesuit values of ethical responsibility, diversity, leadership in service, and creating a more humane world. Our program teaches you to evaluate, design, and implement patient care while staying at the bedside. Designed for both Associate’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree nurses, you’ll learn to deliver evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes, staff safety, and overall health care plans.

  • Campus: 100% Online
  • Type: Private, Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Per Credit Hour: Inquire
  • GRE Required: No
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Programs: BSN to MSN, ADN to MSN


1. Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University currently enrolls some 10,000 students. Their main focus is on the BSN degree, which specializes in nursing research, nursing care of adults and elderly, and mental health nursing. Besides their regular four-year BSN program, they also have RN to BSN and LVN to BSN programs, as well as options for those who already have college credits from a non-nursing related field. See additional program requirements.

Besides BSN, they also offer MSN degree programs. This covers pharmacology, patophysiology and health assessment. Students must choose a specialization of either clinical nurse specialist or family nurse practitioner.

Students may also attend one of the school’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs or its Post-Master’s Credential program. MSN students must also select an area of specialization, the options for which include family nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist.

Finally, the school offers two doctorate degrees, namely: the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing and the Doctor of Nursing Practice. These programs focus on family and community health and international health.

The school also offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. This research-based program takes about four years to complete. Students in the program may concentrate their studies on international health or health of the family and community.

  • Campus: Azusa, CA
  • Type: Private, for profit
  • Accreditation: BRN, CCNE, WASC
  • Tuition: $26,440
  • Minimum time commitment: 4 years (68 credits) for BSN, three to four years (107 credits) for MSN, 39 units for the doctorate degrees
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: Varies depending on chosen pathway
  • Programs: BSN, MSN clinical nurse specialist, MSN family nurse practitioner, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

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Capella University Online Nursing Programs

Capella University offers CCNE-accredited online nursing programs designed to meet the needs of RNs at every career stage:

  2. Brandman University

Brandman University is home to around 7,000 students. The RN to BSN program that they offer for those with an associate’s degree in nursing is delivered partially online, with students required to have two sets of four days of campus tuition. The curriculum includes hands-on, clinical practice. Some of the topics include managing health care reform, spirituality in nursing, understanding health issues, and more. Learn more about their regional accreditation.

There are also BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. They have various areas of focus and the full programs are delivered online. They also offer a post-master’s doctorate degree with various specializations. In order to complete these programs, students have to write a dissertation and take part in a residency.

  • Campus: Irvine, CA
  • Type: Private, not for profit
  • Accreditation: WASC, ANCC
  • Tuition: $500 per credit hour for BSN, $600 per credit hour for MSN, $1,040 per credit hour for doctorate degree. Discounts are provided for active military staff and their spouses
  • Minimum time commitment: 4 years for RN to BSN, 73 credits (three years) for BSN to Doctorate
  • Online availability: Partially
  • Degree requirements: BSN or MSN
  • Programs: RN to BSN, BSN to Doctorate in neonatal nurse practitioner and adult-geriatric primary care nurse practitioner, Doctorate Degree in family psychiatric and mental health or adult-geriatric acute care
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

3. California Baptist University

Some 5,000 students are currently enrolled at California Baptist University. They offer a BSN degree that looks at nutrition, physical assessments and nursing services required by child-bearing families. The curriculum is made up of both classroom learning and practicum experiences.

Additionally, they have an RN to BSN degree option. This looks at transcultural patterns of health and pathophysiology. To complete the program, students must complete a capstone project.

Finally, they offer an MSN degree program. This looks at community and public health nursing, adult health and pharmacology. The program requires students to take part in a number of different practicums.

  • Campus: Riverside, CA
  • Type: Private, not for profit
  • Accreditation: WASC, CCNE
  • Tuition: $13,806 per semester for undergraduate students. Prices vary for MSN programs
  • Minimum time commitment: 124 credits for BSN, three years for RN to BSN, 62 credits for MSN
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: Varies depending on degree pathway
  • Programs: BSN, RN to BSN, MSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

4. National University

National University currently has some 17,000 students. They offer a BSN program, as well as an accelerated RN to BSN option and LVN to BSN. Each of these programs is at least 180 quarter credits in length and looks at various topics, such as human anatomy, microbiology and nursing foundations. More about information applicable to all nursing programs including requirements.

Additionally, National University has an MSN program. Students must choose between community health care, nurse anesthesia and advanced practice nursing. Additionally, students can choose further specialization in areas like nursing administration, forensic nursing and nursing informatics.

Finally, they offer graduate certificate programs. These are nursing informatics and nursing anesthesia.

  • Campus: Various locations in Northern and Southern California, including Bakersfield, Fresno, Brea, and San Diego
  • Type: Private, non profit
  • Accreditation: WASC, CCNE
  • Tuition: $344 per quarter unit for BSN programs, $394 per quarter unit for graduate programs
  • Minimum time commitment: 180 quarter units for BSN programs, 81 quarter units for MSN
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: RN or LVN license for accelerated BSN programs, BSN for the MSN pathway
  • Programs: BSN, RN to BSN, LVN to BSN, MSN community health care, MSN advanced practice nursing, MSN nurse anesthesia, graduate certificate program in nursing informatics, graduate certificate in nursing anesthesia
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

5. University of San Diego

At the University of San Diego, some 8,000 students are currently enrolled. They have an MSN program designed for non RNs, which is quite rare. This program looks at pharmacology, fundamentals of nursing and population care. It requires completion of an internship. Jump to official recognition and accreditation.

Additionally, they offer an MSN program for BSN holders. They have seven emphasis areas, including health care informatics, family nurse practitioner and clinical nurse leader. Additionally, students can choose from various options, such as mind-body-spirit health care, Latino health care and nursing education. All MSN pathways include pharmacology in health management, pathophysiology and health care information management.

The university also offers a Master of Science in Nursing program to students who have a BSN degree. Students in this program also have the option to focus on one of seven areas of emphasis, which include clinical nurse leader, family nurse practitioner and health care informatics. The MSN program also has options for Latino health care, mind-body-spirit health care and nursing education. Offered courses in the MSN program cover topics like pathophysiology, pharmacology in health management and health care information management.

Furthermore, the school offers two doctorate degrees. The first is the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing This includes a dissertation. The focus here is on perspectives on global health, theory development in nursing and health and illness in various populations. The second doctorate program is the Doctor of Nursing Practice. This focuses on a range of subjects, including financial management in health care and pathogenesis of complex illnesses.

  • Campus: San Diego, CA
  • Type: Private, for profit
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: $42,330 per school year
  • Minimum time commitment: 21 months for MSN for non-RNs, 48 units for Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, 34 units for Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: BSN for the MSN for BSN holders, BSN or MSN for the Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Programs: MSN for non-RNs, MSN for BSN holders, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

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