5 Best California Nurse Practitioner NP Programs

In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the number of Nurse Practitioners (NPs) in California. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are now around 10,000 active NPs in the state. The majority of these are employed in ambulatory care and their average annual salary is $98,970. The population in the state is incredibly diverse, and this is reflected in the health care needs that they have. As a result, there are many different specialization opportunities for nurses. Some popular areas are GI or dermatology, orthopedics, geriatrics and community health. Additionally, there is a demand for nurses in both rural and urban parts of the state.

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In order to be an NP in California, you have to find a physician with whom you enter into a practice agreement. Additionally, you must be registered with the California Association for Nurse Practitioners.

There are many nursing schools in California where you can study towards an NP degree in a variety of specializations. If you are considering taking part in such a program, you need to take the time to review at least three different schools. This will give you an opportunity to find the one that best meets your personal needs and requirements.

Below are the 5 best California NP programs for you to take into consideration.

1. Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University is a Christian-based university. They have a strong focus on their students, offering small class sizes and innovative methods of learning, including debate and discussion. Graduates are true innovative thinkers and are ready to take on positions of leadership in the field of health care.

• Campus: Azusa, California
• Type: Private
• Accreditation: CCNE
• Tuition: $592 per unit
• Minimum time commitment: 42-54 units
• Online availability:
• Degree requirements: Transcripts, BSN, RN license, resume, statement of goals, prerequisite courses
• Programs: Adult, Family, Pediatric and Psychiatric Mental Health NP
• School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

2. Samuel Merritt University

Samuel Merritt University focuses on developing excellent relationships with its students. Class sizes are small and there is a strong emphasis on diversity. Admissions are highly competitive, with only some 24 students receiving a place each year.

• Campus: Oakland, California
• Type: Private
• Accreditation: CCNE
• Tuition: $1,215 per unit
• Minimum time commitment: 49 semester hours
• Online availability: No
• Degree requirements: BSN, GPA of 3.0 minimum, 2 letters of reference, writing sample, CPR, TOEFL, TEAS, writing samples, prerequisite courses
• Programs: Family Nurse Practitioner – Entry level and post professional
• School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

3. California State University – Dominguez Hills

At California State University – Dominguez Hills, students can take part in a Family Nurse Practitioner program. The focus is on delivering true experts in the field. Additionally, students are encouraged to continue to be committed to their further professional development.

• Campus: Carson, California
• Type: Public
• Accreditation: CCNE
• Tuition: Varies, please inquire
• Minimum time commitment: 48 units
• Online availability: Yes – Some elements
• Degree requirements: RN license, GWAR, statistics course, statement of goals, resume
• Programs: Family Nurse Practitioner
• School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

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4. Fresno State School of Nursing

Fresno State School of Nursing is committed to providing high quality education to all its students. Graduates are true experts in their field. The school offers two NP specialization options: the Family Nurse Practitioner and the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

• Campus: Fresno, California
• Type: Public
• Accreditation: CCNE
• Tuition: Varies, please inquire
• Minimum time commitment: 40 units
• Online availability: No
• Degree requirements: Written essay, GRE, transcripts, letters of reference, RN license
• Programs: Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
• School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

5. California State University – Fullerton

At California State University, Fullerton, students can take part in a women’s health care MSN program preparing them to become a Nurse Practitioner or a Nurse Midwife/Nurse Practitioner. The goal of the program is to prepare students to be true leaders in their field who can set up a practice with clinical excellence. The focus is on ensuring that women can achieve optimum health across their lifespan.

• Campus: Fullerton, California
• Type: Public
• Accreditation: CCNE
• Tuition: Varies, please inquire
• Minimum time commitment: 53 semester units
• Online availability: No
• Degree requirements: Prerequisite courses, regionally accredited BSN
• Programs: Women’s health care NP/Nurse Midwife and NP
• School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

Requirements to Become a California Nurse Practitioner

In order to become a nurse practitioner in California, you must complete the following steps:

1. Earn a graduate degree that is recognized by the California Board of Registered Nursing. Those who wish to work in public health can hold a bachelor’s rather than a master’s degree.

2. Become nationally certified. This can be done through a variety of certification agencies, namely the ANCC, the AANP, the AACN, the NCC, the PNCB and the ONCC.

3. Become certified by the Board. In order to do so, you must disclose your social security number. Failure to provide your social security number means that your application won’t be processed. Those who do not have a social security number should contact the board in order to find a way forward. Nurse practitioners must then complete the proper application. This will also indicate what documentation is needed.

4. Once certified as an NP, you can apply for prescriptive authority, which is done through the NP Furnishing Number Application. Proof of specific courses and various other forms of documentation are required.

5. Renew your certificate. You must renew your RN license, which can be completed online. You will receive a reminder about three months before you are due to renew it. When your license is renewed, you will also be fingerprinted and you will have to go through a full criminal history check. To renew your RN license, you will need to demonstrate you have taken part in at least 30 hours of continuous education from a recognized provider. Your NP license will be renewed automatically when your RN license is renewed as well, and you don’t have to pay any additional fees. There are also no state continuous education requirements, although your national certification body is likely to have requirements. You must renew your prescriptive authority if you have it, which comes with a $30 fee.