Top Private Nursing Schools in California

by NurseJournal Staff

Private nursing schools in California equip students with the skills they need to become RNs or NPs. Find the top nursing schools in California here.

mini logo
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.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Top Private Nursing Schools in California

With over 302,000 working RNs, California boasts the highest employment level for nurses in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). RNs in California also earn the highest salaries in the U.S., earning a mean wage of about $113,240.

Graduates from California RN programs can look forward to a bright job outlook. The number of RNs in the state is projected to increase by 16.7% between 2018 and 2028, according to Projections Central, compared to a projected 12.1% nationwide.

Nearly 40 private schools in California offer nursing programs, according to the state's registered nursing board. Although private schools come with higher tuition costs, students may prefer a private nursing school over a public university. Private institutions may offer certain specializations, flexible student admission requirements, or scheduling options not offered at a public school.

In order to ensure a nursing program's quality, look for accredited programs. Accreditation means the institution meets certain educational standards, and you can only apply for licensure with an accredited degree. To start your research, reference the list of the top private nursing schools in California below.

View ranking methodology here.

Applying to a Private Nursing School in California

In order to attend a private nursing school in California, undergraduate students need either a high school diploma or GED. Minimum GPA requirements vary by nursing program.

Some schools require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. Frequently, private nursing schools ask prospective students to submit TEAS scores instead. Applicants may need to submit recommendation letters and write personal essays outlining their educational and career goals.

Featured Online Programs

For private nursing schools in California offering graduate programs, the requirements differ based on program type. Master's degree admission standards require candidates to possess an undergraduate degree. Graduate programs generally look for applicants with a bachelor's degree, but RN-to-MSN or ADN-to-MSN bridge programs specifically accept individuals with an associate degree.

In addition, all prospective graduate students should hold RN licensure. Some schools require work experience, while others accept recent graduates.

Explore The Top Private Nursing Programs and Schools in California

Point Loma Nazarene University View School Profile San Diego, CA 77% 59% 22% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

A Christian college in San Diego founded in 1902, PLNU welcomes approximately 4,500 students each year.

PLNU offers several nursing degrees, including a bachelor of science in nursing, a master of science in nursing, and a doctorate of nursing practice. Working nurses can take advantage of the school’s RN-to-BSN or LVN-to-BSN programs. The university also offers a post-master’s clinical nurse specialist (CNS) certificate.

All of the school’s nursing programs blend the latest clinical knowledge and skills while focusing on the spiritual aspects of nursing. Students at all levels gain extensive hands-on clinical practice in various settings and work closely with their professors and fellow students.

  • Program: Multiple
  • Campus: San Diego, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $19,400 per semester (undergraduate) / $820 per credit (master’s) / $1160 per credit (doctorate) / $500 per credit RN-to-BSN
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by program
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 82.5%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of San Francisco View School Profile San Francisco, CA 75% 51% 5% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

A private Jesuit university established in 1855 as St. Ignatius Academy, USF enrolls more than 10,000 students annually.

The university offers a wide variety of campus-based nursing programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Options include a bachelor of science in nursing, a master of science in nursing, and a doctor of nursing practice. Interested students may also choose a 4+1 combined bachelor’s and master’s program or an affiliated master’s such as a master of public health or master of science in digital health informatics.

USF has its own clinical skills lab and simulation center. This allows students of all levels to gain hands-on experience treating various complex cases via state-of-the-art mannequins. Students also complete clinical practice rotations at nearby healthcare organizations.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: San Francisco or Sacramento, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $50,472 per year (undergraduate) / $1,510 per credit (graduate)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Full-time
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 89.86% (BSN) / 98.31% MSN
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
California Baptist University View School Profile Riverside, CA 55% 70% 54% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

A private Southern Baptist university established in Riverside in 1950, CBU serves over 11,000 students every year.

CBU offers both a bachelor of science in nursing and a master of science in nursing. The university also offers accelerated pathways for working nurses, including an RN-to-BSN, a BSN-to-MSN, and an ADN-to-MSN. Students may complete the RN-to-BSN program online, with clinical rotations at local healthcare organizations. All other programs require campus attendance. The university’s high-tech clinical simulation lab and resource center provides advanced practice to complement clinical rotations.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: Riverside, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $1,343 per credit (undergraduate) / $650 - $1,675 per credit (graduate)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Full-time, except 100% online for RN-to-BSN
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 84.57% (BSN) / 85% (MSN)
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science View School Profile Los Angeles, CA 100% 61% 7% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

A historically Black university founded in Los Angeles in 1966, CDU now enrolls roughly 750 students per year.

CDU offers several nursing program options. These include an RN-to-BSN, a master of science in nursing, a master’s level family nurse practitioner (FNP) track, a master’s level psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) track, and a doctor of nursing practice. All programs require campus attendance, while the option for part-time or full-time enrollment depends on the program. The university places a strong focus on diversity and social justice and meeting the needs of traditionally underserved communities.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: Los Angeles, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $578 per credit (undergraduate) / $924 per credit (graduate)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Full-time or part-time
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.43%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Azusa Pacific University View School Profile Azusa, CA 63% 54% 36% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

APU, an evangelical Christian university founded in 1899, serves over 10,000 students each year.

The university’s nationally-ranked nursing school offers a wide variety of nursing programs at every level. These include a traditional bachelor of science in nursing, master of science in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, and a doctorate in nursing. Additionally, the school offers bridge programs such as RN-to-BSN, LVN-to-BSN, ADN-to-BSN, and several affiliated master’s degrees and specialties. Students may complete some degrees mostly or fully online, while others require full-time campus attendance.

APU offers several innovative learning opportunities, from simulation labs to study abroad programs.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: Azusa, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $40,830 per year (undergraduate) / $461 per credit (RN-to-BSN) / $789 per credit (LVN-to-BSN or master’s degree) / $1,062 per credit (doctoral)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by program
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 83.75%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Mount Saint Mary's University View School Profile Los Angeles, CA 64% 89% 35% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

A private Catholic university established in Los Angeles in 1808, MSMU enrolls more than 2,200 students annually.

With a focus on equity, social justice, and service to others, MSMU offers both a bachelor of science in nursing and a master of science in nursing. Bachelor’s degree options include a traditional program, an accelerated program for those who already hold a bachelor’s in a different field, and an RN-to-BSN. Master’s degree students may choose a specialization in adult gerontology, nursing education, leadership, and administration.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: Los Angeles, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $44,088 per year (undergraduate) / $28,065 total (accelerated BSN) / $718 per credit (online RN-to-BSN) / $1,076 per credit (graduate)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by program
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.94%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Concordia University-Irvine View School Profile Irvine, CA 63% 60% 62% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Part of the Lutheran church’s Concordia system, CUI serves almost 4,000 students each year.

CUI’s nursing program offers an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) for those holding a different bachelor’s degree. All students must take six theology credits and a nursing core that includes maternal/newborn nursing theory, research in nursing, and bioethics and healthcare professions. Students also complete 765 clinical practice hours. CUI also offers a master of science in nursing with two tracks in leadership or nursing education.

  • Program: Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Campus: Irvine, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $895 per credit (ABSN)
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor’s degree with 3.0 minimum GPA, two letters of recommendation, personal essay, and background check form
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Full-time
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Fresno Pacific University View School Profile Fresno, CA 66% 72% 58% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Established as the Pacific Bible Institute in 1944, FPU today welcomes more than 4,000 students every year.

FPU’s nursing department offers a bachelor of science in nursing, an RN-to-BSN program, and a master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner emphasis. All three programs utilize a cohort model in which a small group of students move through the program together. The BSN program requires full-time on-campus attendance, while the RN-to-BSN and MSN programs meet in person one day each week. FPU focuses heavily on the intersection between a Christian worldview and evidence-based clinical knowledge and skills for all levels of nursing.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: Fresno, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $32,954 per year (undergraduate) / $495 per credit (RN-to-BSN) / $710 per credit (MSN/graduate)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Full-time (BSN) / one day per week (RN-to-BSN and MSN)
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: Not specified
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Brandman University View School Profile Irvine, CA 47% 92% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Brandman, a private university system headquartered in Irvine, requires bachelor’s degree applicants to hold 12 or more transferable credits. Roughly 8,700 adult students attend the university annually.

Brandman’s School of Nursing & Health Professions offers various nursing programs, including an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing, an RN-to-BSN, and three doctoral tracks. The majority of programs feature a hybrid format, combining online learning with three- or four-day on-campus sessions that provide access to the university’s immersive learning and simulation center.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: Irvine, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $500 per credit (undergraduate) / $1,175 per credit (doctoral)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by program
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: Not listed
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Holy Names University View School Profile Oakland, CA 48% 81% 5% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Established in Oakland as a Roman Catholic convent in 1868, HNU enrolls close to 1,000 students annually.

HNU’s School of Nursing focuses on strong, compassionate clinical skills, cultural diversity and communication, coordination of care, and social justice. Available programs include ADN-to-BSN, ADN-to-MSN, and a master of science in nursing with various specialization options, from MBA/MSN to family nurse practitioner (FNP). These hybrid programs allow students to take most of their courses online while also connecting with faculty and fellow students on campus.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: Irvine, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $495 per credit (ADN-to-BSN) / $1,054 per credit (all graduate tracks)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by program
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
National University View School Profile La Jolla, CA 36% 36% 61% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Founded in La Jolla in 1971, the private NU serves close to 17,000 students each year.

NU offers several different nursing programs, including a bachelor of science in nursing, an RN-to-BSN, an RN-to-MSN, a master of science in nursing, and a doctor of nurse anesthesia practice. The university offers an online option for the RN-to-BSN and RN-to-MSN programs, while all others require students to attend classes on campus. All programs feature a strong emphasis on evidence-based care, communication, and clinical judgment.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: San Diego, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $370 per credit (undergraduate) / $442 per credit (graduate)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by program
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88.85%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Loma Linda University View School Profile Loma Linda, CA 62% 16% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

A member of the Seventh Day Adventist university system and focused on the health sciences, LLU welcomes roughly 4,500 students per year. As a transfer university, applicants for nearly every program need previous college credits.

LLU’s School of Nursing offers a Christian education with a focus on whole-person care. Program options include a bachelor of science in nursing and numerous master’s and doctoral degree programs. Students may complete some programs online, while others require in-person class attendance. The university houses the biggest medical simulation center in the United States.

  • Program: Various
  • Campus: Loma Linda, California
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: Up to $32,640 per year (undergraduate) / $840 per quarter unit (graduate)
  • Admission Requirements: Varies by program, starting at a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Varies by program
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.56%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Questions About Private Nursing Schools in California

How long does it take to become a registered nurse in California? The amount of time it takes to become an RN in California depends on the educational pathway that each nurse pursues. RNs who complete an associate degree can graduate in two years, while those seeking a bachelor's degree typically graduate in four years on a full-time schedule. However, learners who enroll part time may take longer to graduate and obtain licensure.
What is accreditation and why is it important? When searching for a nursing program, accreditation is a critical component. Accreditation agencies only accredit schools that offer students a valuable education; therefore, students should avoid unaccredited programs. In fact, licensure boards include an accredited degree among the requirements to earn an RN license. Look for programs accredited by two nursing accreditation agencies: the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Is attending a private nursing school worth it? Many students find that community colleges or public universities offer the same quality of education as private schools at more affordable tuition prices. However, private nursing schools sometimes offer competitive tuition pricing and substantial scholarships. Students may also choose to attend a private nursing school with certain professional or hospital connections.
Do private nursing schools guarantee better pay? Not necessarily. Although nursing students may find employment faster through private nursing school connections, the degree does not necessarily translate to better pay. Other factors in a professional's resume -- including type of degree, location, and years of experience -- have a greater impact on salary.

Popular Resources

Resources and articles written by professionals and other nurses like you.