For our 2022 rankings of direct entry MSN programs, the research team at Nursing Schools Almanac compiled an extensive database of student performance on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Aspiring registered nurses in the United States must pass this examination before they may commence practice. Thus, student performance on the NCLEX-RN exam provides an excellent benchmark for comparing the relative quality of prelicensure programs.

We used our database to calculate each program’s NCLEX-RN pass rate among first-time test-takers. This is the standard program assessment metric reported by the California Board of Registered Nursing and the test’s administrator, Pearson Vue. Whenever possible, we calculated this first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate over an extensive period of time, typically the past decade of student performance. We then used this metric to rank all of California’s direct entry MSN programs accordingly.

  1. #1: University of California, San Francisco
    94.0% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    Two Koret Way
    San Francisco, California 94143
    https://www.ucsf.edu

    94.0% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 66 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2020-21

  2. #2: University of San Diego
    92.4% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    5998 Alcala Park
    San Diego, California 92110
    https://www.sandiego.edu

    92.4% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 46 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2020-21

  3. #3: Western University of Health Sciences
    91.8% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    309 East Second Street
    Pomona, California 91766
    https://www.westernu.edu

    91.8% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 55 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2019-20

  4. #4: University of San Francisco
    89.8% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    2130 Fulton Street
    San Francisco, California 94117
    https://www.usfca.edu

    89.8% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 84 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2020-21

  5. #5: San Francisco State University
    89.6% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    1600 Holloway Avenue
    San Francisco, California 94132
    https://www.sfsu.edu

    89.6% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 31 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2020-21

  6. #6: University of California, Los Angeles
    89.1% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    700 Tiverton Avenue
    Los Angeles, California 90095
    https://www.ucla.edu

    89.1% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 66 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2020-21

  7. #7: Samuel Merritt University
    88.1% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    3100 Telegraph Avenue
    Oakland, California 94609
    https://www.samuelmerritt.edu

    88.1% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 89 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2020-21

  8. #8: California Baptist University
    85.1% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    8432 Magnolia Avenue
    Riverside, California 92504
    https://www.calbaptist.edu

    85.1% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 32 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2020-21

  9. #9: University of California, Davis
    83.8% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    2570 48th Street
    Sacramento, California 95817
    https://www.ucdavis.edu

    83.8% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Direct Entry MSN
    Average of 37 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2017-18 through 2020-21

  10. #10: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
    71.4% first-time NCLEX pass rate

    1748 East 118th Street
    Los Angeles, California 90059
    https://www.cdrewu.edu

    71.4% first-time NCLEX pass rate
    Entry Level MSN
    Average of 45 students graduated per year
    Data analyzed from 2011-12 through 2020-21