Pursuing a medical career in the best nursing colleges in California is an opportunity every student should consider.
Nursing is essential if you’ve been looking for a fulfilling job opportunity that allows you to give back to your community. As a fast-paced career with a fantastic future outlook, it’s a sure-fire way to put your communicative, collaborative, and intellectual skills to good use.
We’ve found ten of the best nursing colleges in California and discussed each of them in this guide. Each of these schools made it to our list because they meet the following criteria:
- An average annual cost of no more than $15,000
- A median starting salary of no lower than $35,000
- Accredited programs by accrediting bodies or government institutions
We’ve ranked them from the lowest annual average cost to the highest, instead of lowest to highest quality. Read on to find out which offers the program you want to enroll in.
10 Best Nursing Colleges in California
1. College of San Mateo
2 to 4 Year; San Mateo, CA
Average Annual Cost: $1,062
Students in the nursing program at the College of San Mateo experience many benefits during their studies. It’s one of the few programs that offer multiple opportunities to work with health agencies and local hospitals.
The program is also entirely accredited by the California Board of Registered Nursing. You’ll receive an Associate in Science in Nursing when you graduate and be eligible for the NCLEX exams.
Alternatively, you can transfer to a standard four-year nursing program to obtain your bachelor’s degree. This program is two years and provides you with the fundamental skills to pursue additional schooling at a higher level.
With such a well-rounded program, you can expect to take an assortment of essential courses. It’s important to note that students must maintain a grade of C or higher in all of their classes to graduate.
Several examples of courses you can select include:
- Leadership or Management in Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
- Nursing Skills Lab
- Basic Medication Dosage Calculations for Nurses
- Psychiatric Nursing
- Maternity and Reproductive Health Nursing
- Concepts of Homeostasis in Nursing
- Pharmacology for Nurses: Practical Applications
- Career Exploration in Nursing
- Introduction to Medical Terminology
2. Moorpark College
2 to 4 Year; Moorpark, CA
Average Annual Cost: $1,636
Moorpark College is another option for students searching for a nationally-accredited nursing program. When you graduate from this school, you’ll have an Associate Degree in Nursing to help with your career.
During your studies, you’ll get the necessary knowledge to complete basic functions as a registered nurse.
You can use your two-year Associate Degree in Nursing to continue onto a four-year bachelor’s program. This is a fantastic option for individuals interested in working in medical settings with their degrees.
This program is essential for those interested in medicine, technology, science, and math.
One of the more unique concepts of Moorpark College’s nursing program is it helps with collaboration and critical thinking. You’ll work alongside your peers and professors to learn the fundamentals of health and wellness. Also, all of the courses are regularly updated to meet the needs of 21st-century medicine.
There is an assortment of fundamental courses you’ll have to add to your academic planner, including:
- Beginning Clinical Nursing
- Intermediate Algebra
- Foundations of General, Organic, and Biochemistry
- Human Anatomy
- Introduction to Psychology
- Advanced Nursing Science
3. Pasadena City College
2 to 4 Year; Pasadena, CA
Average Annual Cost: $3,703
The nursing program at Pasadena City College is a career-first approach. The school helps to ensure all of its graduates are thoroughly prepared for their future careers.
In such a fast-paced, ever-changing career field, you’ll feel more equipped to deal with any situation that comes your way.
Pasadena City College has multiple learning tracks for students to explore when entering the nursing field. You’ll find everything from registered nursing to vocational nursing, depending on the specialty you’re interested in.
The most popular program options at this school include:
- Licensed Vocational Nursing Program
- Registered Nursing Generic RN Option
- Registered Nursing Career Ladder LVN to RN Option
- Certified Nursing Assistant Course
After completing your RN coursework at Pasadena City College, you can sit for your NCLEX-RN examination. With a passing grade, you’ll legally be able to practice nursing throughout the state, allowing you to pursue your dream career.
Fortunately, this is one of the few programs with adaptable learning pathways to support you regardless of your future specialty.
4. Long Beach City College
2 to 4 Year; Long Beach, CA
Average Annual Cost: $5,323
At Long Beach City College, students will have the option to enroll in three different course options.
First, there’s the Registered Nursing (RN) program. There is also a Vocational Nursing (VN) program. As a third solution, the school offers a Career Ladder course, which allows you to transfer from the LVN pathway to the RN pathway.
Regardless of where you are in your studies, you can find the optimal solution to prepare yourself for your future career. It’s also important to note that students will receive an Associate’s Degree in Nursing after graduation.
Throughout your courses, you’ll establish a professional understanding of several tenets of nursing, including:
- Exhibiting safe practices in patient-centered care
- Using culturally competent and therapeutic communication in care environments
- Using evidence-supported reasoning in clinical practices
- Developing individualized teaching plans per patient
- Delivering professional patient care in all situations
5. De Anza College
2 to 4 Year; Cupertino, CA
Average Annual Cost: $5,394
Nursing at De Anza College has been one of the school’s most popular programs since 1967. It’s not only an affordable program but one that helps students move onto several professional careers.
With the school’s growing reputation, many graduates work in healthcare institutions statewide. One of the largest benefits of enrolling at De Anza College is they provide access to state-of-the-art technologies.
Students will be able to learn in clinical, laboratory, and classroom settings. You’ll also have access to learn from industry-leading professionals and experts in specialized fields.
Currently, the school offers three individual programs for prospective nurses:
- LVN Transition to Registered Nursing (Associate of Science)
- Registered Nursing (Associate of Science)
- Advanced Placement for Military health Providers
Additionally, students can opt for an Advanced Placement option when transferring into the RN program. If you’re coming from another nursing program, you could be placed at the same level as your previous school. However, this placement is dependent on the amount of space available in the classes.
It’s important to apply early to ensure your enrollment in your desired program. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the next enrollment period for placement. This is particularly important for those in the Advanced Placement program.
6. Bakersfield College
4 Year; Bakersfield, CA
Average Annual Cost: $5,495
The nursing program at Bakersfield College assists students throughout their learning journey. Not only does it prepare you for your current studies, but your future as well.
With life-long learning opportunities, you can reap the benefits of flexible and high-quality education.
This nursing program helps students develop the skills for daily patient care and patients who cannot care for themselves. This can be a foundation for further nursing studies or entry-level healthcare professionals.
Also, the program is ideal for students looking for entry-level Registered Nursing career options.
After graduation, you can continue onto an RN-BSN program to expand your reach beyond entry-level nursing careers. With these four-year programs, you can find phenomenal medical careers upon graduation.
During your time at Bakersfield College, students can refresh their fundamental knowledge while learning new, modernized techniques.
7. City College of San Francisco
2 to 4 Year; San Francisco, CA
Average Annual Cost: $6,382
The primary objective of the nursing program at City College of San Francisco is to prepare students for their NCLEX-RN examination. Your studies will help support you as you enter the professional nursing field.
You’ll navigate through an assortment of academic classes on campus during your studies. Also, students will get plenty of hands-on experience working in patient care facilities and on-campus nursing skills labs.
Once you’ve finished your courses and are ready for graduation, you’ll receive an Associate Degree in Nursing. The central premise of this program is to ensure all students are prepared and pre-qualified to enter entry-level nursing careers.
With your studies, you can explore a variety of fantastic career opportunities after graduating, including:
- Mental Health Nurse
- Emergency Nurse
- Registered Nurse
- Traveling Nurse
- Pediatric Nurse
Students will also have an exceptional array of courses based on their desired specialty. A few examples of the classes available at City College of San Francisco include:
- Basic Medical-Surgical Nursing
- Pharmacology in Nursing
- Intermediate Nursing Skills
- Nursing of Children
- Trends and Issues in Nursing
- Psychosocial Nursing
8. Ohlone College
2 to 4 Year; Fremont, CA
Average Annual Cost: $8,483
At Ohlone College, students will be able to transform their interests into profitable careers. Their nursing program helps to develop well-rounded medical professionals across the state. There are multiple learning outcomes they help students achieve during their studies.
At Ohlone College, you’ll learn to become a leader in an interprofessional management team. This skill is fundamental for various careers but is most important for providing top-class patient care.
Nurses will be able to put their critical thinking and empathetic skills to good use, providing phenomenal patient care across the state. All of your courses will also help you learn the legal and ethical responsibilities paired with therapeutic communication.
When a patient visits a hospital or a medical practice, you’re one of their first contact points. As such, all nursing staff must have the skills expected for world-class treatment for all patients.
You’ll have the theoretical and hands-on experience to use clinical judgment in your nursing practice by graduation. Also, it’s expected you have the skills necessary to help patients with general health and wellness promotion.
Overall, this is one of the best programs to consider for a well-rounded education to support your future career.
9. Modesto Junior College
4 Year; Modesto, CA
Average Annual Cost: $11,267
Modesto Junior College has an elevated nursing program ideal for students looking for an Associate Degree in Nursing. This school is one of the top recommended, as it is designed to offer in-class and real-world experiences to help with your future career.
Students can expect to learn in clinical settings, classrooms, skill labs, and online with hybrid learning options.
The program ensures you’re prepared for your career with the school’s in-depth learning opportunities. Upon graduation, you’ll find it quite simple to find employment in various avenues.
Many students work in hospitals, physician’s offices, health agencies, and long-term care facilities. Alternatively, you can use your ADN to transfer onto a four-year bachelor’s program for further study.
This opportunity is essential for nursing professionals looking to open more doors to rewarding healthcare-related careers. Also, with the growing demand for registered nurses, this avenue of study has never been more essential than today.
10. Napa Valley College
2 to 4 Year; Napa, CA
Average Annual Cost: $14,155
Napa Valley College is another great option for students interested in acquiring their Associate Degree in Nursing. This four-semester program is fully accredited and approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing.
All students will be equipped to pursue entry-level nursing positions statewide upon graduation.
There are multiple aspects of nursing you’ll explore during your time at Napa Valley College. Students will learn about working in community settings, hospitals, and private practices.
You’ll also become well-rounded in specialized treatments, health counseling, administering medication, and more. There’s no doubt that with this program’s help, you’ll have the skills needed to be team leaders.
Many graduates find jobs directing care provided by LVNs and nursing assistants. They may also work alongside unlicensed healthcare workers in assisting medical professionals with patient care.
As you would expect, one of the most important aspects of this learning pathway is your NCLEX-RN exam. Like other nursing programs in the state, you can sit for your exam after you’ve finished your four-semester program.
With a passing grade, you can either start work immediately or move on to a four-year bachelor’s program. You can expect to take many courses when enrolled at Napa Valley College for nursing.
A few examples include:
- Drug Dosage Calculation
- First Semester Spanish
- Introduction to Human Sexuality
- Medical Terminology
- American Sign Language
- Cross-Cultural Study of Sex Roles
- Cross-Cultural Psychology
- Critical Thinking
- Computer Literacy