The Best California Online Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2020

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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.

For students looking to pursue an online nurse practitioner (NP) program, California offers plenty of opportunities. The Golden State ranks second for highest employment level of NPs, and tops the list of highest-paying states for NPs with an annual mean wage of $138,660. Our ranking methodology selects the best online NP programs in California.

Most learners complete an online NP program in 2-3 years. Graduates earn their master of science in nursing through a curriculum that features online coursework, along with in-person clinical practicums and on-campus intensives. Course delivery may consist of synchronous live online lectures, or asynchronous pre-recorded class content that students access on their own schedules.

MSN-holders enter the job market as highly-trained nursing professionals prepared for an NP career in a specialty area, such as family nurse practice (FNP) — an area in which 65.4% of NPs focus. Other specializations include acute care, adult-gerontology, pediatrics, and women’s health.

Read about our ranking methodology here.
Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Top Online NP Programs in California 2020

Rank School Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
2 California State University, Dominguez Hills Carson, CA
3 Samuel Merritt University Oakland, CA
  1. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California was founded in 1880. The school graduated its first class in 1884, which consisted of three students. Today, nearly 50,000 students study at USC, with retention and six-year graduation rates staying above 90% in recent years. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits USC.

    The university delivers a master of science in nursing that focuses on family nurse practitioner concepts. Candidates take classes in pathophysiology, pharmacology, research, and health policy and complete 784 hours of clinical work. Learners must earn 49-51 credits and participate in two resident intensives to earn this degree.

    Campus: Los Angeles

    Type: Private

    Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; California Board of Registered Nursing

    Tuition: $1,928 per unit

    Admission Requirements: Bachelor of science in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license; 12 months of clinical fieldwork; prerequisite statistics course; resume or CV; personal statement; recommendation letters

    Minimum Time Commitment: 21 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Program: Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  2. California State University, Dominguez Hills
    Location

    Carson, CA

    Founded in 1960, California State University, Dominguez Hills now enrolls over 14,000 students annually. The university also holds accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and ranks 33rd for top public schools and 72nd for regional universities in the West on U.S. News & World Report's lists.

    CSUDH students may earn a master of science in nursing for family nurse practitioners by completing 48 units and 576 clinical hours with a certified nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, or doctor. Since the degree focuses on outpatient care, students cannot complete clinical experiences at hospitals. Graduation also requires at least one campus visit every semester.

    Campus: Carson, CA

    Type: Public

    Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; California Board of Registered Nursing

    Tuition: $2,082 for 0-6 units; $3,588 for six or more units

    Admission Requirements: RN license; two years RN experience; bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; interview; prerequisite courses in statistics, nursing research, health assessment, and pathophysiology

    Minimum Time Commitment: 36 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Program: Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

  3. Samuel Merritt University
    Location

    Oakland, CA

    Located in Oakland, Samuel Merritt University was founded in 1909 and currently educates around 2,000 learners. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits SMU.

    Its master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner specialization requires 49 units, including coursework in advocacy, health assessment, and acute care. Degree-seekers also complete three, 210-hour practicums and participate in on-campus intensives.

    Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia accept this program for in-state nursing practices. Graduates may qualify to take national certification exams for family nurse practitioners. Online students and alumni benefit from virtual events provided by SMU, such as the post-professional graduate nursing webinar.

    Campus: Oakland, CA

    Type: Private

    Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

    Tuition: $1,387 per unit

    Admission Requirements: RN license with experience; bachelor's in nursing; two references; prerequisite course in statistics; goal statement; criminal background check

    Minimum Time Commitment: 20 months

    On-Campus Requirements: Yes

    Program: Master of science in nursing - family nurse practitioner

    School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Applying to an Online Nurse Practitioner Program in California

Admission requirements for NP programs in California typically include a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) with a 3.0 GPA, a current registered nurse (RN) license, 1-2 years of clinical fieldwork or RN experience, and interviews with faculty.

Common course prerequisites include health assessment, nursing research, pathophysiology, and statistics. Applicants submit transcripts, personal statements, resumes or CVs, and recommendation letters. Programs often require criminal background checks.

For graduates of NP and FNP programs, California requires licensing as advanced practice nurses, along with national certification in a specialty area. The state requires NPs to work under the supervision of a physician, and NPs must develop a collaborative agreement with their supervising physicians that details the procedures and protocols for providing treatment and prescribing medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to become a nurse practitioner in California?

    California NPs must hold a BSN, which usually takes four years to earn, followed by 1-2 years of RN experience or nursing fieldwork. Completing an NP program takes an additional 2-3 years. Overall, the time span for becoming an NP totals 7-9 years of study and clinical hours.

  • What is accreditation and why is it important?

    California requires NPs to earn their MSN from state nursing board-approved programs that hold accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Accreditation demonstrates that NP programs meet high educational standards and prepare graduates for licensing. Many employers require their employees to hold an NP degree from an accredited program.

  • Is a nurse practitioner a good job in California?

    California NPs earn the highest salaries in the nation, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area and other northern California locations. As highly-skilled professionals, NPs can look forward to job growth due to the fact that qualified advanced practice nurses continue to be in demand.

  • What can I do as a nurse practitioner in California?

    Graduates of nurse practitioner schools in California provide primary care to specific patient populations, such as older adults, children, pregnant women, cancer patients, and those undergoing psychiatric care. NPs perform many of the same tasks as doctors. They find employment in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers.

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