5 Best LVN to BSN Programs in California

Nursing is a fascinating profession and only the right type of person is cut out to work in this field. To be a nurse, you must be empathic, have vast scientific knowledge and amazing intuition. When working as an LVN (licensed vocational nurse), which also known as LPN (licensed practical nurse) in some states, the work experience you have gained can make the transition to becoming an RN (registered nurse) far easier than if you were to start from scratch. You will already have a good background in caring for patients and you will be able to shape your skills by taking theoretical and practical courses in advanced nursing. The duties of LVNs and RNs are very similar, but RNs have much more accountability, responsibility and knowledge. Naturally, this reflects on their salaries as well.

Let’s take a look at the five LVN to BSN programs available in California. It is often advisable to contact at least a couple schools before making a decision where to enroll. It is important to find a school that meets not just your needs and interests, but also your capabilities. Tuition, for instance, can vary greatly and you must be aware of the cost of your program. The same is true for the amount of time spent before completion.


1. West Coast University

200x100_WestCoastUniversityFeatured & Highly Recommended + 100% Online Option! West Coast University offers a highly acclaimed LVN to BSN program. It has been designed to allow students to earn a BSN in as little as three years. Start dates are flexible and there are no waiting lists for the different classes, which makes this one of the more interesting programs in the state. The curriculum offers students all the experience and skills they need to work as an RN. This includes standard nursing practice and also the necessary management and leadership skills expected of a nursing professional.

  • Campus: Online option + Anaheim, Los Angeles and Ontario, CA
  • Type: Private, for profit
  • Accreditation: WASC, ACICS, CCNE
  • Tuition: Affordable. Inquire Direct.
  • Minimum time commitment: 3 years. There is also an unlicensed 30 unit option
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: LVN license, HESI, TEAS V, SAT or ACT
  • Programs: LVN to BSN

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2. Azusa Pacific University

Azusa is a Christian university, and this shines through in their LVN to BSN program. Graduates become true leaders in the field of health care and they are particularly adept at developing collaborative practices. The faculty members are all experts in their fields and innovative approaches are used to deliver the program. Hence, students build mentoring relationships, take part in challenging debates and discussions, and receive hands-on experience in simulation labs that are truly state-of-the-art. There is also a strong focus on cultural diversity, which is why students are encouraged to take part in global research opportunities and to study abroad if they can.

Graduates become truly compassionate healers who help those in need through a variety of services. They are trained to think in strategic terms and to be able to lead the health care system through transformation and change. The foundations of the degree are Christian values and ethics.

LVNs can take part in two different programs, namely, the LVN to BSN and the LVN to RN programs. Evaluation of prospective students is done individually and transferable courses are highly valued. If an LVN is licensed, then the first year nursing course can be fully waived.

  • Campus: Azusa, CA
  • Type: Private, not for profit
  • Accreditation: BRN, CCNE, WASC
  • Tuition: $722 per unit
  • Minimum time commitment: 67-71 units (2 years)
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: 60 units of transferable credits, work experience, LVN license, transcripts, two letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume
  • Programs: LVN to BSN and LVN to RN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

3. California State University San Marcos

At California State University San Marcos, students have to hold a valid LVN license in order to earn their BSN degree. Students can also apply if they already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing related field. Only four students are admitted to each cohort, which means competition is fierce. Applications start in fall and the deadlines are set in stone.

  • Campus: San Marcos, CA
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: WASC, CCNE
  • Tuition: $5,472 per year for residents, $14,400 per year for non-residents
  • Minimum time commitment: 3 years
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: LVN license, pre-nursing core, GPA of 2.0 minimum, IV certification, LVN nursing skills assessment
  • Programs: LVN to BSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

4. California State University East Bay

At California State University East Bay, students can take the LVN-BSN pathway, which is a pre-licensure program. It is available to anyone who currently is an LVN and therefore already has extensive nursing knowledge. Once students have graduated from the program, they can sit for the NCLEX-RN examination and become certified with the California Public Health Nursing Board.

  • Campus: East Bay, CA
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: California State Board of Registered Nursing
  • Tuition: Varies
  • Minimum time commitment: 3 years
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: LVN license, transcripts, prerequisite courses, TEAS
  • Programs: LVN-BSN Pathway
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

5. California State University Fullerton

The California State University Fullerton offers an LVN to BSN program which has the purpose of making sure that the graduates have the attitudes, skills and knowledge that are required from them to work as a nurse. It focuses on general nursing practice, which means graduates can work in a variety of fields where they will hold professional and scientific accountability for their actions. Graduates are able to work independently and interdependently in the full spectrum of health care settings. It gives them the foundations they need to become the best they can be and the school also encourages students to choose a specialization that they can follow for their future education. There is a strong commitment to lifelong learning, something that is expected of all registered nurses.

  • Campus: Fullerton, California
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: WASC,
  • Tuition: $6,196 for 9 months
  • Minimum time commitment: 56 credits
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: 60 transferable credits, GPA of 3.25, LVN license
  • Programs: LVN-BSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

More About LVN to BSN in California

Working as an LVN is rewarding in itself. However, making the transition to an RN adds a new dimension to your career. In California, some 250,000 RNs are currently employed and the median salary is $91,300, which is one of the highest in the country. Consider this compared to the state average salary for an LVN, which currently stands at $51,100, and it quickly becomes clear why gaining a registered nurse license would be a worthy endeavor. The majority of RNs are currently employed in hospitals but some work in home health or in ambulatory care. The third highest level of employment for RNs is in Los Angeles. There is still a nursing shortage throughout the state, but this is actually improving. However, since many registered nurses are baby boomers, they will soon retire, once again widening the gap between supply and demand.

To become an RN, you have a number of degree pathways available. California offers some of the best schools in the country in terms of curriculum, technological advancement and overall program outcomes, so it is certainly a good idea to study these pathways and choose one that is right for you. If you are already employed as an LVN, it is also a good idea to speak to your employer to see whether they have any reimbursement programs in place. Unfortunately, studying nursing is not cheap, but there are generally financial aid packages and scholarships available.

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