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For our 2019 rankings, the research team at Nursing Schools Almanac collected data on over 3,000 nursing schools and campuses throughout the United States. We evaluated each school on three dimensions:

  • The institution’s academic prestige and perceived value
  • The breadth and depth of nursing programs offered
  • Student success, particularly on the NCLEX licensure examination

We then combined these assessments into an overall score and ranked the schools accordingly. For a detailed description of our assessment methodology and dimension weights, please see here.

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#1: University of California, San Francisco | San Francisco, CA
For the past decade, UCSF School of Nursing has placed among the top two nursing schools in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The school’s master of science in nursing (MSN) program offers 15 specialty areas, including several clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and nurse practitioner (NP) roles. UCSF conducts a master’s entry program which prepares non-nurses for initial licensure; graduates have achieved an outstanding National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) pass rate of 94% since 2008. The university also has an online master’s degree in healthcare administration and interprofessional leadership, as well as doctor of philosophy (PhD) tracks in both nursing and sociology.


#2: University of California, Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA
UCLA School of Nursing has earned numerous national accolades. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the school #20 in the country for graduate nursing studies, and UCLA ranked #9 in 2016 NIH research funding for schools of nursing. Approximately 600 nursing students are enrolled across the university’s BSN, MSN, and PhD programs. The MSN program offers a direct-entry track for non-nurses which leads to CNL certification, as well as numerous advanced practice tracks in various NP and CNS specialties. UCLA students are well prepared for licensure: the school’s BSN graduates have maintained an 83% first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate since program launch, while direct-entry MSN candidates have passed the exam at an 89% clip.


#3: Samuel Merritt University | Oakland, CA
Samuel Merritt University has prepared professional nurses for a century. Undergraduates can enroll in either a traditional or accelerated BSN program. Across the two pathways, SMU graduates 350-400 BSN students each year who have passed the NCLEX exam at an 88% rate since 2008. Just as impressively, the school’s entry-level MSN program, which graduates 80-100 students annually, has a 90% NCLEX exam pass rate over that same time period. MSN students may prepare for careers as a case manager, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), or family nurse practitioner. The university also offers a DNP degree with an FNP specialization. All SMU nursing students have access to global medical mission opportunities as well as the Health Sciences Simulation Center, one of the region’s most advanced healthcare simulation facilities.


#4: University of San Diego | San Diego, CA
U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks USD’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science in the top tier of graduate nursing schools. USD offers a direct-entry MSN option for non-nurses; this pathway graduates 30-50 new nurses each year and has maintained a 91% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. Existing nurses can pursue an MSN in eight different areas of emphasis, a DNP with two entry points (post-BSN, post-MSN), or a PhD with three entry points (post-BSN, post-MSN, post-DNP). In addition to a diverse collection of graduate offerings, Hahn provides the opportunity to participate in international mission trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.


#5: Western University of Health Sciences | Pomona, CA
The College of Graduate Nursing (CGN) at Western University of Health Sciences launched the nation’s first online curriculum for family nurse practitioners. The school also established the first DNP and direct-entry MSN programs in Southern California. CGN’s direct-entry MSN students have passed the NCLEX exam at a strong 90% rate over the past decade, including a 100% pass rate during the 2012-13 academic year. In addition to direct entry, the MSN program offers a bridge option for RNs with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). MSN students can choose to specialize as administrative nurse leaders, clinical nurse leaders, ambulatory care nurses, or family nurse practitioners. A post-master’s FNP certificate is also available.


#6: Loma Linda University | Loma Linda, CA
At Loma Linda University, students have access to the largest medical simulation center in the United States. They are also proximally located to Loma Linda University Medical Center, which hosts some of the nation’s largest clinical programs. Undergraduate pathways include the traditional BSN, accelerated BSN for non-nursing degree-holders, LVN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. The prelicensure pathways have grown rapidly in recent years: LLU graduated over 150 new BSN-educated nurses during the 2014-15 academic year, and graduates have earned a solid NCLEX pass rate of 86% since 2008. The university also offers MSN tracks for aspiring CRNAs, nurse administrators, and nurse educators, in addition to DNP and nursing PhD programs.


#7: Azusa Pacific University | Azusa, CA
Azusa Pacific University School of Nursing has a nursing program for every career objective. Undergraduates can pursue a four-year BSN, an LVN-to-BSN bridge, an RN-to-BSN completion program, or the Two-Plus-Two BSN. The final option is a unique track designed for APU transfer students. Prelicensure BSN candidates have passed the NCLEX exam at a solid 84% first-time rate since 2007. The university’s MSN program includes a direct-entry pathway, and these students have demonstrated a similarly strong NCLEX pass rate of 86%. The MSN curriculum features specialties in nursing education, school nursing, two CNS areas, and four NP roles. APU also offers a DNP program, a nursing PhD program, and eight post-master’s nursing certificates.


#8: California State University, Long Beach | Long Beach, CA
The CSULB School of Nursing graduates 100-200 new nurses annually through its prelicensure BSN program, which features both traditional and second-degree pathways. These students have enjoyed a stellar 95% NCLEX exam pass rate over the past ten years. CSULB also offers an RN-to-BSN completion program and a broad range of MSN degrees and graduate nursing certificates. MSN students can specialize in one of six nurse practitioner fields, advanced public health nursing, or nursing and health systems executive management. Certificates are also available for six NP roles: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-geriatric, family, pediatric, psychiatric-mental health, and women’s health.


#9: University of San Francisco | San Francisco, CA
The USF School of Nursing and Health Professions was the first California institution to offer a DNP for working nurses. The school also offers prelicensure BSN and MSN programs, an online MSN program with two entry points (post-ADN, post-BSN), and a traditional campus-based MSN program at several locations in the San Francisco and Sacramento metropolitan areas. USF’s combined “4+1” bachelor’s and master’s program culminates with an MSN-CNL, master of public health (MPH), MS in behavioral health, or MS in health informatics. Prelicensure students consistently perform well on their licensure exams: since 2008, 87% of BSN graduates and 89% of direct-entry MSN graduates have passed the NCLEX-RN exam on their first try.


#10: University of California, Davis | Sacramento, CA
The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis offers several different nursing education pathways. Options include a master’s entry program in nursing with PHN certification, a traditional MSN program with leadership and FNP tracks, and a nursing science and healthcare leadership PhD. Graduates of the master’s entry program are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. Students in the FNP specialization have the option to enroll in a dual-track pathway which prepares them simultaneously for the professions of family nurse practitioner and physician assistant. These are the only FNP and physician assistant programs where students learn together to practice collaboratively with clinicians in a variety of settings.


#11: University of California, Irvine | Irvine, CA
The Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing offers BSN, MSN, PhD, and DNP degrees. The BSN program accepts freshman applicants and transfers from other schools. Each class is small with ~50 students, and BSN graduates have maintained a healthy 85% NCLEX pass rate since 2010. The Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) is designed for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. The program’s innovative curriculum features a desirable concentration in Community and Population Health. UC Irvine’s PhD in Nursing Science offers four broad focal areas: health promotion and disease prevention, health disparities and diversity, disease and symptom management, and health services and policy. In 2018, the university launched a DNP curriculum which provides both a post-master’s track and a family nurse practitioner (FNP) track. The FNP concentration is the first and only program of its kind currently offered by a University of California campus.


#12: San Jose State University | San Jose, CA
SJSU’s Valley Foundation School of Nursing offers several education pathways. Undergraduates may pursue a traditional BSN, an RN-to-BSN completion program, or the unique post-baccalaureate Wound & Ostomy Education Program. The latter option prepares WOC nurses for certification by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board. SJSU graduates 100-125 prelicensure BSN students annually, who have enjoyed an impressive 91% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past four years. Graduate options include a doctoral program jointly offered with CSU Fresno, dubbed the CSU Northern California Consortium DNP.


#13: University of Southern California | Los Angeles, CA
The University of Southern California conducts an online MSN. Offered through the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, the MSN is designed for RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least one year of clinical experience. This evidence-based nursing program prepares family nurse practitioners to provide comprehensive care to individuals and communities. Students will complete clinical experiences at family practices, pediatric offices, urgent care facilities, internal medicine clinics, and community health clinics. Graduates of the program are trained to offer integrative care to infants, children, adolescents, and adults throughout their lives.


#14: Stanbridge University | Irvine, CA
Stanbridge University offers LVN, ADN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs. All programs provide hands-on training in high-fidelity simulation and nursing skills labs, along with the opportunity to work in the first synthetic human cadaver lab on the West Coast. The MSN offers two potential tracks (executive and educator), and the program may be completed online. The RN-to-BSN is also available online. Stanbridge’s ADN graduates have achieved a remarkable 98% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure examination since the program’s inception. The school also graduates 150-200 LVN candidates annually. Over the past decade, these students have posted a solid 90% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure examination.


#15: California State University, Fullerton | Fullerton, CA
The School of Nursing at California State University, Fullerton has several graduate programs ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report, including nurse midwifery and nurse anesthesia. Numerous other degree options are available, including LVN-to-BSN, traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, four MSN specializations (leadership, nurse educator, school nursing, women’s healthcare), and a post-master’s DNP program. CSU Fullerton also offers a school nurse services credential (SNSC) and a post-SNSC MSN pathway for those who already hold the credential. Since 2009, graduates of the traditional and accelerated BSN programs have collectively passed the NCLEX-RN licensure exam at a solid 89% rate.


#16: West Coast University | Los Angeles, CA
West Coast University operates two campuses in Los Angeles – the North Hollywood nursing school and the downtown Center for Graduate Studies – with additional sites in Orange County and Ontario. The school’s modern campuses feature LEED buildings and state-of-the-art simulation centers. Traditional BSN and LVN-to-BSN degree programs are available in all three cities. The BSN program has grown rapidly since its recent launch, with over 1,000 graduates in each of the past five years. During that timeframe, WCU students have averaged an impressive 90% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure examination. The university also offers a wealth of online nursing programs including RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN, four MSN tracks, and an FNP certificate.


#17: California State University, Los Angeles | Los Angeles, CA
Cal State LA’s MSN program consistently ranks among the best in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. The program has specialty tracks in nursing education and four NP fields. Existing MSN-holders can also pursue a graduate certificate in any specialty area. The school recently launched an innovative collaboration with the University of Michigan to attract underrepresented populations to their nursing and social work PhD programs. Cal State LA’s undergraduates have three options: traditional BSN, RN-to-BSN, and accelerated 15-month BSN (formerly the entry-level MSN program). Since 2008, prelicensure BSN students have enjoyed a strong NCLEX pass rate of 92%. Entry-level MSN students had passed the exam at an impressive 96% rate, including several years with a perfect 100% pass rate.


#18: California Baptist University | Riverside, CA
Students at California Baptist University’s College of Nursing have the opportunity to donate their time, resources, and care through community outreach programs that provide services such as feeding the homeless. Students distribute clothing and food, participate in disaster preparedness, and travel overseas to work alongside nationals in education and health training. The college’s offerings include BSN, entry-level MSN (ELMSN), traditional MSN, and DNP degree programs. Post-master’s certification is also available in five distinct specializations. Since 2008, BSN graduates have achieved an 84% first-time NCLEX exam pass rate. Their colleagues in the ELMSN program have enjoyed an 87% pass rate over the same time period.


#19: Point Loma Nazarene University | San Diego, CA
The School of Nursing at Point Loma Nazarene University offers several unique opportunities. These include a study abroad program which Open Doors ranked #15 in the nation, the LoveWorks short-term mission program, and a Health Promotion Center which serves residents of City Heights, a low-income multicultural area of San Diego. BSN candidates can pursue a traditional, LVN-to-BSN, or RN-to-BSN pathway to their degree. Graduates of the BSN program have consistently scored well on their licensure exams, with a strong 90% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. PLNU also conducts an MSN degree program with a general track and three CNS specializations: adult / gerontology, family / individual health, and pediatrics.


#20: California State University, Fresno | Fresno, CA
The School of Nursing at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) offers a traditional prelicensure BSN program, an MSN degree, and a DNP program. Over the past decade, BSN graduates achieved a noteworthy NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 87%. The MSN has two options: CNS/NE or primary care/NP. Several credential options are also available: a post-baccalaureate school nurse services credential, a post-master’s PMHNP, or a post-master’s NP. Part of the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Nursing at Fresno State offers a variety of clinical placements at major hospitals such as St. Agnes Medical Center and the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.


#21: San Diego State University | San Diego, CA
The SDSU School of Nursing combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience at several venues. Facilities include a media lab, a health assessment lab, a nursing fundamentals skills labs, and the Sharp Healthcare Human Patient Simulation Center. Undergraduates can pursue a traditional BSN degree or an RN-to-BSN completion program. SDSU graduates 100-150 traditional BSN students each year, with a remarkable 97% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past four years. Graduate students can select an MSN concentration in either adult-gerontology advanced practice nursing or healthcare systems leadership.


#22: California State University, San Marcos | San Marcos, CA
CSU San Marcos launched its School of Nursing in the fall of 2006. The university now offers four BSN pathways including traditional, accelerated, LVN-to-BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Approximately 150-200 students complete the prelicensure BSN pathways each year. These graduates have enjoyed a stellar 94% NCLEX pass rate since 2009. CSU San Marcos also has five MSN concentrations: clinical nurse leader, clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and nursing education. In 2008, the school opened a satellite campus in Temecula which offers accelerated BSN, RN-to-BSN, and MSN programs to the expanding communities of southwest Riverside County.


#23: Sonoma State University | Rohnert Park, CA
The Department of Nursing at Sonoma State University has educated more than 4,000 nurse professionals over the past forty years. Undergraduate pathways include a traditional four-year BSN program and an ADN-to-BSN Collaborative Nursing Education Continuum Model (CNECM) offered in partnership with Napa Valley College, College of Marin, Santa Rosa Junior College, Solano Community College, and Mendocino College. The university graduates 10-40 students annually from the traditional BSN program, with an impressive 95% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate since 2008. Graduate nursing students can pursue an MSN degree or a post-master’s certificate with an FNP emphasis.


#24: Brandman University | Irvine, CA
Brandman University is home to the Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions. The school is known for blending advanced technology and immersive learning: most coursework is delivered online, with students gathering periodically for three- to five-day sessions at the school’s high-tech Immersive Learning and Simulation Center. Brandman offers an RN-to-BSN completion program and five NP specialties: adult-gerontology acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, family health, pediatric acute care, and psychiatric / mental health. Each NP specialty may be pursued through either a BSN-to-DNP degree program or a post-doctoral certificate program.


#25: California State University, Stanislaus | Turlock, CA
The School of Nursing at California State University, Stanislaus (Stanislaus State) offers seven degree pathways. Options include a traditional BSN, an LVN-to-BSN pathway, an RN-to-BSN track for local nurses with an associate’s degree, an online RN-to-BSN with 24/7 accessibility, an accelerated second BSN (ASBSN), an MSN program, and an MSN degree with FNP concentration. All nursing students will participate in the School of Nursing Simulation Program. Simulation is integrated into the School of Nursing curriculum to provide experiential learning opportunities throughout the program. Over the past decade, prelicensure BSN graduates achieved an outstanding NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 96%.


#26: California State University, Sacramento | Sacramento, CA
The Sacramento State School of Nursing enrolls more than 550 students across its BSN and MSN programs. The BSN curriculum offers two pathways: a traditional four-year degree and an RN-to-BSN completion program. Approximately 100-180 students graduate from the traditional BSN program each year. They have achieved an NCLEX pass rate of 96% since 2008, an amazing streak for a program of this size. The RN-to-BSN pathway includes an innovative collaboration with three local community colleges to facilitate seamless transition from ADN to BSN. Sacramento State’s MSN program prepares BSN-educated nurses for advanced practice roles in administration, clinical practice, education, and school nursing.


#27: California State University, Chico | Chico, CA
CSU Chico’s School of Nursing serves the rural communities of Northern California in several innovative ways. In addition to RN refresher courses, the university operates a Rural California Nursing Preceptorship Program that provides nursing students with rural and semi-rural clinical experiences. CSU Chico also administers the Rural Northern California Clinical Simulation Center Partnership, dubbed the Rural SimCenter. The School of Nursing graduates approximately eighty prelicensure BSN students in each class. These students have achieved a phenomenal 96% first-time NCLEX pass rate over the past eight years. CSU Chico also offers an online RN-to-BSN completion program and an online MSN program with nurse educator and nurse leader tracks.


#28: Concordia University Irvine | Irvine, CA
The nursing program at Concordia University has a new campus, known as Park Place Campus, which features a large skills lab, three simulation labs with sophisticated mannequins, additional classrooms, and a nursing station where students can practice hands-on nursing skills. The school offers an MSN degree and several BSN pathways, including LVN-to-BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN-to-BSN. Students in all programs will complete a curriculum designed around Dr. Jean Watson’s philosophy of caring in nursing, while working closely with faculty role models. Since 2009, prelicensure BSN graduates have achieved an excellent 93% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate.


#29: Mount Saint Mary’s University | Los Angeles, CA
Mount Saint Mary’s University launched the first BSN program in the state of California. Today, this women’s university offers a variety of pathways for earning an ADN, BSN, or MSN degree. The ADN program is designed for working adults, with classes and clinicals in an evening and weekend format. MSMU graduates 80-100 ADN students each year, with a 79% NCLEX pass rate since 2008. The BSN program offers three pathways (traditional, accelerated, RN-to-BSN) and enables students to earn a California Public Health Nursing Certificate as well as licensure. BSN graduates have also posted an NCLEX pass rate of almost 80% since 2008. The MSN program features specialty tracks for an aspiring adult-gerontology CNS, nurse educator, or nursing administrator.


#30: National University | San Diego, CA
National University is the first academic institution in the world to pursue and achieve Planetree Recognition. The School of Health and Human Services offers ten programs within the Department of Nursing, spanning the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate options include a traditional BSN, a post-bachelor’s BSN, an LVN-to-BSN pathway, and an online RN-to-BSN. Graduate offerings include traditional MSN and nurse anesthesia MSN degrees. Post-graduate FNP and PMHNP certificates are also available online. National University produces 200-300 prelicensure BSN graduates annually, and these students have achieved a noteworthy 88% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past decade.


#31: Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health | Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health has been a fully functioning training school for nurses since 1901. Each year, the School of Nursing graduates 80-100 ADN students across two tracks: a traditional two-year pathway and an advanced placement option for licensed vocational nurses. These graduates have posted a phenomenal 95% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade. Clinical nursing experiences are conducted at Los Angeles County Department of Health Services hospitals, including Los Angeles County + USC, Olive View-UCLA, Harbor-UCLA Medical Centers, and Comprehensive Health Centers and Clinics.


#32: Biola University | La Mirada, CA
Biola University’s Department of Nursing is part of the School of Science, Technology, and Health. The Department offers a traditional prelicensure BSN that was recently ranked sixth on Niche’s list of the Best Colleges for Nursing in California. Program highlights include opportunities for global health experiences in variety of countries and a state-of the-art simulation lab with multiple advanced patient simulators. The simulation lab provides the opportunity for students to experience a variety of clinical realities, from the intensive care unit to the delivery suite. Over the past decade, BSN graduates of Biola University’s Department of Nursing achieved a noteworthy NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 85%.


#33: Dominican University of California | San Rafael, CA
The Nursing Department at Dominican University of California is part of the School of Health and Natural Sciences (HNS). The largest school in the university, HNS offers a prelicensure BSN that allows students to gain invaluable hands-on experience in a mock hospital/clinic setting, housed within a state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Center. At the time of graduation, students will have completed over 1,000 clinical hours. The HNS nursing program welcomes high school graduates, transfer applicants, and those who have served in the military. Over the past decade, the program has graduated 70-130 students annually, with a cumulative NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of approximately 80%.


#34: Vanguard University | Costa Mesa, CA
Vanguard University launched its first nursing program in 2006. Since then, the school has added several additional programs including a prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway, an MSN degree, and a post-master’s adult gerontology CNS certificate. The prelicensure BSN is designed for freshman and transfer students who are not licensed RNs. The RN-to-BSN is for students currently enrolled in an ADN dual enrollment program at another institution who seek to complete a bachelor’s degree. The MSN is for licensed RNs who already hold a bachelor’s degree, while the twenty-week CNS certificate is for licensed RNs who already hold a master’s degree.


#35: San Francisco State University | San Francisco, CA
As part of SFSU’s commitment to social justice, most of the School of Nursing’s community health practicums are located in underserved San Francisco neighborhoods. The university offers three BSN pathways: a traditional BSN on the SFSU campus, a traditional BSN on the Cañada College campus in Redwood City, and an RN-to-BSN program. Since 2008, prelicensure BSN graduates have scored a solid NCLEX pass rate of 83%. The MSN program also has three pathways: entry-level, accelerated entry-level, and traditional. Entry-level students have performed even better on the NCLEX exam, with an 87% pass rate since 2008. The MSN curriculum includes CNS, administration, public health, and FNP emphasis areas.


#36: American University of Health Sciences | Signal Hill, CA
American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) is a private Christian university that prepares students for careers in the healthcare professions. The school emphasizes service to others both locally and abroad. AUHS’s nursing programs feature small class sizes, hands-on learning opportunities, and experienced faculty. A recent partnership with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science allows for additional work and learning opportunities in underserved communities. The prelicensure BSN program graduates 60-80 students annually, with a notable 81% NCLEX exam pass rate since the program’s inception. AUHS also offers an RN-to-BSN pathway for existing registered nurses to complete their baccalaureate education.


#37: California State University, Channel Islands | Camarillo, CA
California State University, Channel Islands (CSU Channel Islands) has several degree options for nurses. Pathways include the Bridge ADN-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN, and traditional prelicensure BSN. Bridge ADN students can complete the program in as little as 15 months. The RN-to-BSN pathway is administered through Extended University; it takes approximately 22 months to complete, including summers. The traditional BSN program has 2.5-year and three-year options, including summers. Since 2009, graduates of the traditional BSN program have posted an outstanding NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 95%.


#38: Simpson University | Redding, CA
The Betty M. Dean School of Nursing at Simpson University offers a prelicensure BSN and an RN-to-BSN track. The traditional BSN program combines nursing and general education courses with opportunities to work alongside community healthcare leaders. Students will complete a professional portfolio, which showcases accomplishments and leads to increased employment opportunities. Since the inception of the prelicensure BSN program, graduates have maintained an exceptional 94% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam. The RN-to-BSN program is an accelerated pathway that caters to working RNs who want to develop professional skills. The program is offered on campus, online, or in a hybrid format.


#39: California State University, San Bernardino | San Bernardino, CA
The Department of Nursing at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) offers a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway for California-licensed RNs, and a hybrid online MSN program with several specializations. For the past decade, the traditional BSN program has produced 100-150 graduates annually. These students have enjoyed a solid NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 85%. CSUSB’s graduate tracks include a population-based MSN, a nurse educator MSN, and an advanced community/public health nursing MSN. These specializations require an additional 57, 65, and 71 units of study, respectively, above the core MSN course load of 51 units.


#40: Fresno Pacific University | Fresno, CA
The School of Natural Sciences at Fresno Pacific University offers RN-to-BSN, Pre-MSN, MSN, and MSN-FNP pathways. The RN-to-BSN prepares students to take their ADN degree to the next level, with a focus on clinical decision-making, holistic care, and community and public health nursing. The Pre-MSN prepares students to obtain an MSN, which includes direct entry into the registered nursing program. The MSN program focuses on assessment, prevention, and instruction, providing a broad education for today’s evolving healthcare field. The FNP emphasis focuses on primary care across the lifespan, with practicums that prepare participants for this specialty.


#41: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science | Los Angeles, CA
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science houses the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing. Program offerings include an RN-to-BSN pathway, an entry-level MSN, a family nurse practitioner MSN, and a post-master’s certificate. The entry-level MSN is designed for students with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree who wish to prepare for initial RN licensure. The program’s graduates have achieved an 84% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past three years. Graduates of the family nurse practitioner MSN also consistently exceed the national average pass rate on the NP certification exam.


#42: Chamberlain University | Sacramento, CA
Chamberlain University has expanded with the opening of its first campus in California. Launched in spring 2016, the program at the new Sacramento campus aims to meet the state’s growing demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses. Options include an onsite BSN that can be completed in as little as three years of year-round study, instead of the typical four years with summers off. Students have the opportunity to study and learn at SIMCARE CENTER, which provides high-tech simulated patient care in clinical learning environments, and a Center for Academic Success, which delivers comprehensive academic resources and support for students.


#43: California State University, Northridge | Northridge, CA
The College of Health and Human Development at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) houses the Department of Nursing, which has a nursing curriculum geared specifically to the needs of the local community. Programs include the ADN-to-BSN Community College Collaborative, the accelerated BSN, and the RN-to-BSN pathway for existing nurses. A public health nurse (PHN) certificate is also available. The Collaborative links CSUN with designated California Community College partners to enable students to earn a BSN degree in just over 2.5 years. Applicants for all programs are eligible to receive credit for military education and experience. Since 2008, accelerated BSN graduates have achieved an outstanding NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 92%.


#44: Western Governors University | Santa Ana, CA
Western Governors University offers a prelicensure BSN with clinicals at major Los Angeles and Orange County hospitals. The program’s partners include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Huntington Hospital, Tenet Health System, and Citrus Valley Health System. The program is highly selective – students must first be accepted and enrolled into the prelicensure nursing curriculum – and takes approximately 2.5 years to complete. Admissions preference is given to those individuals with a prior college degree. Since the program’s inception, around 30-50 BSN graduates per year have averaged an 88% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam.


#45: California State University, East Bay | Hayward, CA
California State University East Bay (Cal State East Bay) houses the Department of Nursing & Health Sciences. Nursing students here may choose from two pathways within the BSN program. One is a traditional prelicensure option, which features two years of pre-nursing requirements and 2.5 years of nursing courses. The other is an RN advanced placement program, which is open only to students who hold California registered nurse licensure. This program can be completed in one year of full-time study, or two years part-time. Over the past decade, 100-125 annual graduates of the traditional BSN program have earned an 89% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#46: California State University, Dominguez Hills | Carson, CA
The School of Nursing at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) resides in the College of Health, Human Services, and Nursing. The nursing program accepts registered nurses or students who are currently enrolled in a community college nursing program. Options include a pre-BSN dual enrollment program, an RN-to-BSN pathway, and an MSN degree with administrator, educator, CNS parent-child, and FNP specializations. A post-master’s certificate in nursing education is available, as well as a specialized public health nurse certificate for RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.


#47: Touro University California | Vallejo, CA
The School of Nursing at Touro University California offers programs designed for RNs who have already earned either an ADN or BSN degree. The school’s MSN program builds upon the strong foundation of ADN-to-BSN education. Graduates of the program may sit for the CNL national certification exam and are eligible for PHN certification through the California Board of Registered Nursing. The school’s DNP program prepares graduates to conduct advanced nursing practice and to sit for the FNP national certification exam.


#48: California State University, Bakersfield | Bakersfield, CA
The Department of Nursing at California State University, Bakersfield (DON CSUB) has three active programs: a traditional prelicensure BSN, an RN-to-BSN pathway, and an MSN degree with an FNP focus. Since 1970, more than 2,400 students have completed a BSN degree at DON CSUB. The school remains the only public university in the region where students can earn a BSN. Over the past decade, BSN graduates have achieved an impressive NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 91%. Established in 1987, the MSN program has also produced hundreds of graduates who remain in Bakersfield and the surrounding Kern County area, serving as leaders in the local healthcare community.


#49: California State University, Monterey Bay | Seaside, CA
California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) offers programs for graduates of ADN programs and those who hold a current California RN license. Two pathways are available: ADN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN. The BSN degree can be obtained in approximately 12 to 15 months full-time or 18 months part-time, depending on the pathway. Courses are offered through Extended Education in a hybrid model, blending online and face-to-face in order to maximize access opportunities for students.


#50: Weimar Institute | Weimar, CA
The Weimar Institute nursing program has three pathways for aspiring nurses. The pre-nursing program offers courses for students wishing to transfer to other Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities. The four-semester ADN program is for students with no prior nursing education or experience. The LVN-to-RN program is for licensed vocational nurses looking to transition to a registered nursing career. Both the traditional ADN program and the LVN-to-RN program prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. All students engage in laboratory sessions and log clinical time in skilled nursing facilities, acute care hospitals, outpatient settings, and the Weimar Institute NEWSTART Lifestyle Program.


#51: Unitek College | Fremont, CA
The Fremont campus of Unitek College has been recognized as a School of Excellence by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. The campus offers a breadth of nursing education pathways including an LVN certificate, a postlicensure Associate of Science in Vocational Nursing (ASVN), a prelicensure BSN, and an RN-to-BSN completion program. ASVN graduates have the option to skip the first three semesters of the BSN program should they choose to further their education. The college also offers the LVN certificate program at satellite campuses in Bakersfield, Concord, Hayward, Sacramento, San Jose, and South San Francisco. Systemwide, Unitek graduates approximately 150 BSN students annually and nearly 700 LVN students. Licensure exam pass rates are strong; the most recent graduating class scored an 84% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN exam and an 88% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam.


#52: Pacific Union College | Angwin, CA
The Pacific Union College nursing program begins with the ASN degree, which prepares students for RN licensure. Students may then continue on to complete the course requirements for the BSN degree. An LVN-to-RN pathway is also available. The ASN degree is offered in a traditional two-year nursing program format, while the LVN-to-RN and RN-to-BSN programs are offered in non-traditional core week formats designed for working healthcare professionals. Over the past decade, 80-90 annual graduates of the ASN program have achieved a noteworthy NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 84%.


#53: Holy Names University | Oakland, CA
The Department of Nursing at Holy Names University prepares its graduates to advocate for health and social justice. Program offerings include a prelicensure BSN and an ADN-to-BSN pathway. Students enjoy small class sizes, a state-of-the art nursing simulation lab, and access to labs at Kaiser and Washington Hospitals. The BSN program may be completed in three years and two summers, while the ADN-to-BSN – an accelerated, hybrid program – may be completed in as little as 15 months. Recent BSN graduating cohorts have scored approximately a 70% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#54: Homestead Schools | Torrance, CA
Homestead Schools has provided education to aspiring healthcare professionals for nearly thirty years. The school offers several nursing degree and certificate programs. The nursing assistant program prepares students to take the state examination for CNA certification, while the vocational nursing program prepares students for LVN licensure. Homestead’s LVN graduates have achieved approximately a 90% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure examination over the past few years. The school also offers an RN-to-BSN program that may be completed in just five semesters.


#55: Premiere Career College | Irwindale, CA
Premiere Career College is a vocational school authorized to operate by the California Bureau for Private and Post-Secondary Education and accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. The school’s vocational nursing program is approved by the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians. LVN students enjoy one-on-one coaching, career services assistance, and hands-on experience. Upon successful completion of the NCLEX-PN licensure examination, graduates are prepared for immediate employment in the field. Over the past five years, approximately 40 LVN graduates annually have averaged a 70% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX exam, including an impressive 87% pass rate in 2015.


#56: United States University | Chula Vista, CA
United States University is a regionally accredited, student-centered university that provides professional and personal education opportunities, with a special outreach to underserved groups. The school’s College of Nursing & Health Sciences offers in-demand programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, including an online RN-to-BSN pathway and an MSN program with specializations in family nurse practitioner, healthcare leadership, and nurse education. The MSN program is conducted in an online-hybrid format, and students may also earn a certificate in health informatics.


#57: CNI College | Orange, CA
CNI College has been rated one of the top nursing schools in Orange County. Centrally located and serving all of Southern California, the college spans approximately 45,000 square feet of learning space. Facilities include spacious classrooms and fully equipped medical, pharmacy, personal training, and computer labs. CNI College offers an array of programs for aspiring healthcare professionals, including a prelicensure ADN curriculum and an RN-to-BSN completion pathway. The ADN program incorporates a mix of online learning, classroom instruction, and mandatory clinical experiences. Graduates have fared well on the NCLEX licensure exam, including a 93% pass rate for the program’s inaugural class. The RN-to-BSN program is 100% online learning with a 90-hour clinical practicum.


#58: North-West College | Los Angeles metro area, CA
Considered a leader in allied health education, North-West College has produced more than 45,000 graduates over the past fifty years. The school offers a licensed vocational nursing program that may be completed at any of its five campus locations. The program prepares students to work in medical offices, clinics, doctors’ offices, HMOs, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. NCLEX-PN pass rates vary by campus, with the Riverside location leading the pack: this campus has graduated 100-150 students annually since 2010, while posting approximately an 80% first-time pass rate on the licensure exam. Graduates of North-West College enjoy a job placement rate of 70% or higher across all locations, including an 87% job placement rate for alumni of the Pasadena campus.


#59: West Coast Ultrasound Institute | Los Angeles, CA
West Coast Ultrasound Institute is a private postsecondary vocational college with a main campus in Los Angeles and branch campuses in Ontario and Phoenix. The school’s two California campuses offer an LVN program that consists of 1,536 clock hours and 79.5 credit hours of study. This diploma program prepares students as entry-level healthcare providers who are responsible for rendering basic nursing care. Students may complete the program in just 15 months. Since 2009, the school’s LVN graduates have maintained a 77% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN national licensure exam. WCUI also offers an 18-month postlicensure RN-to-BSN program for working nurses at its Ontario campus.


#60: Glendale Community College | Glendale, CA
The Department of Nursing at Glendale Community College offers an ADN program that prepares graduates for entry-level positions at hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare environments. Sample nursing courses include Essentials of Medication Administration, Nursing Perspectives, Maternal Child Health, and Psychiatric Nursing. Graduates of the ADN program at Glendale Community College are prepared to seek positions at major area healthcare providers such as Adventist Health Glendale, Glendale Memorial Hospital, and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. Over the past decade, approximately 70-100 ADN graduates annually have achieved a strong 92% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam.


#61: Cuesta College | San Luis Obispo, CA
Cuesta College offers LVN, ADN, and ADN-to-BSN pathways. The collaborative ADN-to-BSN program allows Cuesta ADN students to enroll in nursing courses at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) during summers after their first and second years of Cuesta’s program. Students earn their BSN degree one year after completing their ADN at Cuesta College. Graduates of Cuesta’s ADN program have maintained a 96% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam over the past decade, including several recent graduating classes with a perfect 100% pass rate. Over the same time period, Cuesta’s LVN graduates achieved an 85% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN exam.


#62: Pacific College | Costa Mesa, CA
Pacific College offers a variety of nursing programs. Options include an LVN diploma, an AS in vocational nursing, an online BSN for registered nurses, and an MSN degree for aspiring family nurse practitioners. The LVN programs are designed for nurses seeking entry-level positions, while the BSN and MSN programs are for working RNs seeking advanced skills to build upon their prior education and employment. Coursework for the MSN is conducted online, and clinical experiences are completed at local facilities. Pacific College’s LVN students typically maintain NLCEX-PN exam pass rates in the 75-85% range.


#63: American Career College | Los Angeles metro area, CA
American Career College provides nursing education at four campuses in Southern California: Los Angeles, Lynwood, Ontario, and Orange County. The school’s vocational nursing program is available at all four sites. This diploma program offers an entry-level curriculum that prepares students to work as LVNs in medical offices, clinics, HMOs, acute care hospitals, and long-term care facilities. Graduates have frequently passed the NCLEX-PN licensure exam at a 75-85% rate since the program’s inception. To meet Southern California’s growing need for registered nurses, ACC also recently launched a new ADN program at the school’s Los Angeles campus. Coursework includes medical-surgical nursing, obstetrics, pediatrics, behavioral health, geriatrics, and leadership, with corequisite clinical practicums for each class.


#64: CES College | Burbank, CA
CES College is a non-profit institution that has provided quality education for twenty-five years. The school is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE) and approved by the California Board for Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT). CES College offers a vocational nursing program with clinical experiences that run the gamut of client demographics, illness stages, and healthcare settings. Job placement is an integral part of the program, with recent placements at Kaiser Permanente and the UCLA Hospitals. The vocational nursing program graduates approximately thirty students annually. The past two graduating classes have scored a 75% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-PN national licensure examination.


#65: Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts | San Mateo, CA
Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts graduates more than 600 new nurses annually. The school offers its vocational nursing certificate program at four California campuses: Concord, Fresno, Modesto, and San Mateo. LVN graduates have averaged a 75% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure exam over the past decade. The LVN class of 2018 scored a 78% first-time pass rate. Gurnick Academy also offers two associate’s degree programs through its Fresno campus and a distance-learning RN-to-BSN program through its Concord campus. The Fresno site conducts both a distance-learning associate of science in vocational nursing and a campus-based associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). The inaugural graduating class from the ADN program scored an 82% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.


#66: Marian College | Los Angeles, CA
Marian College offers a vocational nursing program of 1,534 clock hours at its two campuses in Los Angeles and Van Nuys. Students can complete the program on a weekday schedule in 14 months or on a weekend schedule in 18 months. The LVN program emphasizes nursing theory, student development, and the application of nursing skills in the basic care of individuals throughout the life span. Upon completion of the program, graduates will receive a diploma and the opportunity to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam. Marian College’s LVN students have passed this licensure exam at approximately a 75% rate over the past decade.


#67: Moorpark College | Moorpark, CA
Moorpark College offers a nationally accredited ADN that equips students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to thrive in an evolving healthcare industry. The program consists of 36 nursing-specific units as well as general education degree requirements. Sample courses include advanced nursing science, clinical nursing lab, and nursing skills laboratory. Class sizes for the program range from 33 to 55 students, and a new cohort of nursing students begins the program each spring and fall. Over the past decade, Moorpark’s ADN graduates have achieved an outstanding 92% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate.


#68: Career Development Institute | Los Angeles, CA
Career Development Institute opened its doors in 1998. The school began with courses for aspiring certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and restorative nursing assistants. In 2003, CDI became the only approved California nursing school with a mobile classroom, allowing the school to expand its reach and directly engage with the community. More recently, CDI launched an LVN certificate program that offers small class sizes, unique clinical rotations, tutoring services, and free job placement. Approximately thirty students graduate from the LVN program each year. These students have earned an impressive 95% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure exam over the past decade. The class of 2018 scored a perfect 100% pass rate.


#69: Los Angeles Job Corps Center | Los Angeles, CA
For over fifty years, Job Corps has offered the nation’s largest career education service for young people aged 16 to 24. Job Corps is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, and its Los Angeles branch is operated by YWCA Greater Los Angeles. Like all of its vocational training, the center’s LVN program is available to low-income students at no cost. LA Job Corps also provides students with comprehensive healthcare during their enrollment, offers employment and housing placement for recent graduates, and tracks its clients’ success for two years after graduation. The center produces approximately twenty new vocational nurses annually, and these students have achieved a stellar 90% NCLEX pass rate over the past decade.


#70: Saddleback College | Mission Viejo, CA
Saddleback College is the oldest and southernmost institution governed by the South Orange County Community College District. The school confers associate’s degrees, certificates, and occupational skills awards across nearly 200 programs. Saddleback College has offered an associate’s degree in nursing since 1971. The program incorporates a 46-unit nursing curriculum, clinical experiences at local healthcare facilities, and job placement assistance. Approximately 100 students graduate from the ADN program each year. Over the past decade, these graduates have posted an impressive 96% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure examination. The past three graduating classes have averaged an astonishing 98% pass rate.


#71: Glendale Career College | Glendale, CA
Glendale Career College traces its roots in vocational training back more than seventy years. The college offers a breadth of health career programs including dental assisting, medical assisting, nursing, and surgical technology. Nursing students can pursue three distinct pathways: a vocational nursing certificate, an associate of arts (AA) degree, or an RN-to-BSN completion program. The LVN certificate program has graduated 35-70 students annually for more than a decade, while the AA degree program just graduated its first cohort of 90 students. Students from both programs performed well on their licensure exams: the LVN class of 2018 scored a 91.4% NCLEX-PN pass rate, and the AA graduates scored a 91.2% NCLEX-RN pass rate.


#72: Casa Loma College | Van Nuys, CA
Casa Loma College boasts more than 10,000 graduates who have pursued professions in nursing and allied healthcare. The school offers an online RN-to-BSN program designed for registered nurses with an unencumbered California license and an associate’s degree or diploma from an accredited nursing school. The RN-to-BSN program allows students to transfer as many as 85 of the 120 credits required for graduation. Students complete the remaining 35 credits of nursing education, general education, and clinical fieldwork at Casa Loma College. This accelerated curriculum can be completed in just three semesters, or as little as 48 weeks. Nursing coursework focuses on leadership, management, research, theory, and public health. Clinical experiences are completed locally in an approved agency with a qualified preceptor.


#73: Napa Valley College | Napa, CA
Napa Valley College provides incoming freshmen a unique opportunity to graduate debt-free. A two-year program known as the NVC Promise will pay tuition and fees for all students, regardless of family income, who meet certain matriculation requirements. Napa Valley College offers two prelicensure programs for aspiring nurses: a vocational nursing certificate and an associate’s degree in nursing. The part-time LVN program accepts a new cohort of thirty students once every two years. LVN graduates have averaged a 75% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure exam over the past decade. The ADN program requires four semesters of fulltime study and typically graduates thirty students each year. ADN graduates have averaged an 87% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade.


#74: Riverside City College | Riverside, CA
Founded in 1916, Riverside City College is the seventh-oldest community college in California. The school’s initial enrollment was 114. Today, Riverside serves more than 20,000 students across dozens of degree and certificate programs. The School of Nursing offers three pathways into the nursing profession: a nursing assistant certificate, a vocational nursing certificate, and an associate’s degree in professional nursing. The CNA program is approved by the Department of Public Health, the LVN program by the Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians, and the ADN program by the Board of Registered Nursing. The LVN program graduates a relatively small cohort of 30-50 students annually. Over the past decade, they have posted a phenomenal 97% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN licensure exam. The ADN program graduates a much larger class of 160-180 students each year. Their outcomes have been similarly strong, including a 93% pass rate on the NCLEX-RN licensure exam over the past decade.


#75: Santa Monica College | Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica College is one of the top community colleges in California. The school’s Health Sciences Department offers an associate’s degree in nursing with two pathways: a traditional two-year program and an LVN-to-ADN career ladder program. Career ladder applicants must possess a valid California LVN license, IV certification, and at least one year of direct patient care experience within the past two years. The ADN curriculum requires 74 units of coursework, approximately half of which covers a wide breadth of nursing topics including community-based practice, pharmacology, and women’s healthcare. Santa Monica College typically graduates 40-70 nursing students annually. Over the past decade, these students have averaged an impressive 94% first-time pass rate on the NCLEX licensure examination.