13 Private Nursing Schools in California

Why limit your options to public nursing schools when California has 70 private nursing schools? The fact is, private nursing schools also provide some of the best nursing programs for students seeking a career in nursing.

So, expand your education option today by attending one of the best accredited private nursing schools offering a wide variety of programs in California.

The nursing profession is one that attracts a large number of students each year. There is no saying how important nurses are to the USA and several other countries. Their importance is even reflected in their salaries, and California is one of the highest nurse-paying states in the United States. The state is the ideal location to study as well as practice nursing in the United States.

Therefore in this post, we will share with you the career outlook and salaries for nurses in California, the specialties nurses can take in California, and how to become a nurse in California. Then we will show you the best accredited private nursing schools in California for you to begin your nursing journey. But first, let’s show you why a private nursing school is attractive.

Why Choose a Private Nursing School?

Public nursing schools are popular and have made their marks over the year. That’s true. Public nursing schools also offer you a cheap alternative to getting a quality nursing education. That too is true. But you should know that these points are also true for private nursing schools.

Private nursing schools are in business to produce high-quality nurses and over the years, they’ve been successful at that. And while they may not offer their nursing programs as cheap the public nursing schools will, some are actually matching the cost of education with those of public nursing schools.

In addition to these, students are selecting private nursing schools these days because of the following;

1. Faster Completion Time

Private nursing schools offer nursing courses that you can complete between 12-16 months where community colleges and public universities will require 2 to 4 years. You will find more accelerated nursing programs in private nursing schools.

2. More Practicum Experience

Your first job as a nurse is largely dependent on how much clinical experience you’ve got. This is something the private nursing school with their programs guarantee you in excess. Nurses who have tasted both the public and private nursing education are testifying that private nursing schools offer more hands-on experience through practicums than public nursing schools.

3. Connections With Regional Hospitals

Some private nursing schools make it much easier for you to get a job as soon as you’re out of school because of the good relationship they share with a large network of regional hospitals.

4. Online Option

You’ll find more private nursing schools offering online nursing programs than public nursing schools. The online program option is a very convenient option for students or nurses who wish to study part-time, or cannot afford to move from place to place.

How Much Does It Cost To Go To Nursing School In California?

A number of factors influence how much you may need to spend while pursuing a nursing degree in California. They may include the degree program where you live, and whether you live off-campus or live on campus.

Considering some of these factors, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000+ per semester for tuition fees and then a little more on books, accommodation and other supplies.

Your total due pay may be up to $13, 000 each year.

What is the Career Outlook and Salaries for Nurses in California?

Nursing is a hot discipline anywhere in the world and its professionals are priceless. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Nurses in the USA earn $71,730 per year. This is true for Registered Nurses with at least a Bachelor’s degree.

Furthermore, there were 3,059,800 nursing jobs available in the USA in 2018 and BLS estimates job growth of 12% from 2018 to 2028. This job growth is growing much faster than the average growth for other jobs. So you see, Registered Nurses (RNs) are in high demand in the country and will continue to be.

Meanwhile, it will please you to know that RNs in California earn way above the average annual salary (and the highest for any state) of RNs in the USA. Also, California provides the largest number of jobs for Nurses in the state. Out of the 3,059,800 nursing jobs available in the USA in 2018, there were 294,510 nursing jobs in California.

On the other hand, while the average yearly salary for RNs in the United States is $71,730, RNs in California earn an average yearly income of $106,950.

Now, let’s further break this down. Let’s show you the Metropolitan areas in California that pay RNs the most.

What Metropolitan Areas in California Pay RNs the Most?

As you now know, California is the highest paying RN states in the USA. While the state has an average annual salary of $106,950, you can earn higher than this figure working as an RN in certain Metropolitan areas in California.

So, here are the top 10 CA Metropolitan areas with not just only the highest pay, but the highest employment for RNs in 2018, according to BLS.

Metropolitan AreaEmploymentAnnual Average Salary
Salinas, CA2,510$131,710
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA38,740$128,990
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 16,450 $128,610
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA1,480$127,440
Sacramento – Roseville – Arden-Arcade, CA18,830$120,530
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA3,000$115,900
Stockton-Lodi, CA4,540$111,140
Napa, CA1,890$106,060
Modesto, CA4,550$106,040
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA3,060$104,680

From the table above, it is clear that while the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Metropolitan area of CA has the highest employment levels for RNS, Salinas RNs receive the largest salary in California.

Anyway, these figures should serve as a guide to you to deciding the metropolitan areas in California to practice as an RN.

What are the Specialties of Nurses in California?

In California, like the many areas in the United States of America, licensed nurses have the liberty to specialize in any area of the field. However, this will largely depend on their level of education/ specific certification.

So, generally in California, you can become any of the following kinds of nurses:

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  • Nurse Practitioner: These nurses share almost the same job responsibilities as physicians when they have earned a graduate-level degree. But without that, they diagnose and treat illnesses, and prescribe medications alongside the physician.
  • Nurse Anesthetist: Like the name, the Nurse anesthetist administers anesthesia to patients as well as provides pain and emergency management services.
  • Emergency Room Nurse: They work in emergency rooms, using their training to stabilize and monitor patients while waiting for the doctor to fully attend to them.
  • Neonatal Nurse: These are the nurses that attend to the needs of newborns with birth defects and other malformation. Hence, you’ll mostly find them in Intensive care units of large hospitals.
  • Psychiatric Nurse: As the name announces, these are nurses in CA that evaluate, provide therapy to, and give treatments to mentally and emotionally disturbed patients. Hence, you’ll mostly find these RNs in Psychiatric Care Units of hospitals.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife: These are nurses that specialize in the safe delivery of babies as well as provide prenatal and postnatal care to the mothers of the babies.
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You can also see Types of Nursing Majors | Where can I work with a Nursing Degree? for more information about the nursing field.

Is it Hard to Get Into Nursing School in California?

Yes, nursing school admissions are usually very competitive, as a result, having good grades and a higher than average GPA is one of the very first requirements that qualifies you to be accepted into nursing school.

Are Private Nursing Schools worth it?

In the world of nursing, there is much debate over the subject of private nursing schools. Many nurses say that private nursing schools are almost never worth their high cost and recommend that prospective RNs search for a community college or another alternative educational facility instead.

Are there easy nursing schools to get into this year?

Yes. There are easy nursing schools to get into this year. Here below are some og them.

  • Drexel University.
  • Loyola University.
  • University of Rhode Island.
  • University of San Francisco.
  • Saint Louis University.

Find the full list here

How Can I Become a Registered Nurse in California?

Before we reveal to you the best private nursing schools in California offering quality nursing programs, you need to understand the career path you’re choosing. What do you need to do to become a Registered Nurse in the beautiful city of California?

In five simple steps, we will show you how to become a Registered Nurse in California.

#1. Prepare to Become a Nurse

First, you must graduate from high school after taking and passing classes in English, Maths, Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), Social Studies, and a Foreign Language. Afterward, browse the prerequisites for attending various nursing schools.

#2. Select a Nursing Program

You can become a nurse by merely completing a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN). But is that what you want?

There are several other program options in nursing such as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Entry Level Master’s Program in Nursing (ELM), LVN 30 Unit Option, and Military Corpsmen. You have to know which is right for you and go for it.

#3. Apply for and Attend a Nursing School

Whichever nursing degree or program you choose, you will need to attend an accredited nursing school or college offering them. The best way to apply for a nursing program is to visit the school’s website and check out their programs.

Actually, you have the public college, private college, and online options to choose from.

And in this post, we will show you 13 private nursing schools in California which you can apply for. Don’t limit yourself to one nursing school. Make multiple applications so as to have a wide option of schools to choose from.

#4. Apply for Financial Aid

Nursing programs can be very expensive, especially when you’re considering a private nursing school.

This is no problem, however, if the nursing school you’ve chosen has financial aid packages for your selected program. So, apply for scholarships, loans, and even loan forgiveness programs to offset the cost burden of nursing education.

Start browsing scholarships to study nursing at any level at various countries of the world.

#5. Gain an RN License

This is the pinnacle of your journey to becoming a Registered Nurse. To practice as an RN in California, you need to have a license by the Board of Registered Nurse (BRN).

To become licensed to practice in California as an RN, first, you’ll have to apply online here. After applying, send your application to the BRN a reasonable time before graduation, preferably 6-8 weeks. After this, you ask your school to send your transcript to BRN, then go complete a fingerprint background check.

You will be able to sit for the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) after the fingerprint background check. Ensure to pass the NCLEX exam to get your license to practice as an RN.

However, while awaiting your result, you can apply for the Interim Permit to work in a supervised nursing capacity.

What are the Best Private Nursing Schools in California?

If you’ve completed high school and have a nursing program in mind, then it’s time to select the nursing school you’ll attend.

Just like we promised, we will show you the best private nursing schools in California which you should apply for.

Accreditation Criteria

It is important that you understand the basis for which we have graded our best private nursing schools in California.

There are 70 private nursing schools in California offering nursing programs but we have to talk about just 13. This speaks in a volume that the 13 we’ll talk about must earn their spot.

So, what are the factors that made these 13 private nursing schools in California stand out?

Here they are:

  • Accreditation. All of the 13 schools have the relevant accreditation by a reputable accreditation body, such as CCNE, guaranteeing the quality of their program.
  • The number of program Offering. This is very important as it shows how dedicated the school is to nursing education. However, we picked schools that offer nursing degrees above those offering only certificates, irrespective of the number of their programs.
  • The Availability of Financial Aids. Because nursing is an expensive program to study in college, be it public or private, we appreciate private universities in California that provide scholarship options to its students.

Based on these criteria, we will discuss each of our 13 best private nursing schools in detail in the following sections.

#1 Loma Linda University

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Tuition Fees: $30,360 for 1st year.

Loma Linda University is a private university at Loma Linda, California. This old university which began in 1905 is affiliated to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and has over 3,200 students. One of its very vibrant schools is the Loma Linda University School of Nursing.

Due to its wide variety of program offerings, Loma Linda University School of Nursing stands as one of the best private nursing schools in California. This private nursing school in California offers 24 nursing programs of which the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Accelerated Second Degree BSN, and LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option are one of its reputable offerings.

Loma Linda’s BS in Nursing is a 2.5 years program that graduates quality nurses who will find jobs in hospitals, public health, community clinics, emergency, and schools. Also, Loma Linda reports amazing NCLEX pass rates for its nursing students, as well as prides itself in providing 70-75% of its nursing students financial aid.

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#2 Azusa Pacific University

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $39,640

Azusa Pacific University (APU) is also another old university in the USA that offers over 110 programs both on-campus and online to its students. This private university in Azusa, California began operation in 1899 and offers its academic program through three colleges and seven schools, including its school of Nursing.

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Azusa’s school of nursing ranks as one of the best private nursing schools in California due to its wide program offerings in the nursing field. At Azusa Pacific University, you can enrol for their Undergraduate, Graduate, Bachelor’s Completion, Doctoral, and Certificate Programs.

Furthermore, APU’s nursing major – BSN – is a 69 to 17 units program that provides a strong foundation to RNs for individual, family, and community healthcare.

Also, being a Christian affiliated college, APU’s nursing program allows nursing students to appreciate the relationship between the Christian faith and their nursing career.

Finally, while APU charges relatively affordable tuition for its BSN program, there is a handful of scholarship which students can apply to supplement their cost of education. Some of these scholarships include the Trustee’s Scholarship, President’s Scholarship, and the Dean’s Scholarship.

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If you’re looking for an online option to get a BSN, then check out these Top 19 Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree Programs

#3 Biola University

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $43,512

Biola University began as a private university in La Miranda, California in 1908. Like the other two private nursing schools in CA we’ve discussed, Biola University is affiliated with the Evangelical Christian, although it is nondenominational. This CA college offers over 150 programs of study to over 6,000 students through its nine academic schools.

Biola University’s Nursing Department of its School of Science, Technology, and Health offer the university’s nursing programs. And for this private university’s department of nursing to make the list, it indeed offers a good number of nursing programs. Biola’s major nursing programs are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, LVN-to-BSN Bridge Program, and the LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option.

The BSN program at Biola University is a 132.5 total unit program that will take nursing students 4.5 years to complete. This program will build you for a rewarding career as a Travel RN, Nursing Care Manager, Missionary Nurse, etc.

While the program cost is quite on the high side, Biola university offers scholarships, loans, and grants to its nursing students – international students inclusive.

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#4 California Baptist University

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $33,930

California Baptist University, Cal Baptist, or CBU, as you prefer, is a private college in Riverside, California that started operating as a college in 1950. This Riverside CA college has an affiliation with the California Southern Baptist Convention and offers academic programs to its over 11,000 students through its 11 schools and colleges.

Through CBU’s College of Nursing, you can get some of the best private nursing school programs in California. This private nursing school in California offers 7 programs in nursing, including the Accelerated Second Degree BSN and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

There’s a program for you at CBU whether you’re an undergraduate student, graduate student or working RN looking to continue education.

CBU’s BSN program is a 124 units nursing program and the most popular major at the university. It has an average total student of 800 and trains you for a career as a Forensic Nurse, Pediatric Nurse, Emergency Room Nurse, School Nurse, etc.

Also, while CBU’s BSN program is quite affordable, there are several scholarship opportunities for you – whether you are a traditional undergraduate, graduate, online and professional studies student, or international student.

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#5 University of San Diego

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $1,535 per credit unit.

The University of San Diego is another accredited private college in California where you can get the best nursing programs. Like the other CA colleges which we’ve listed, the University of San Diego (USD) is a Christian-affiliated college. It began in 1949 and has affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. USD is a popular private university in CA and thus has over 7,000 students taking its 79 undergraduate and graduate programs.

San Diego’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science offers the university’s nursing programs. Here, you can choose from 12 graduate nursing programs as the school of nursing does not offer a BSN. Instead, it offers a Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Meanwhile, USD’s graduate nursing programs are so good that the nursing school’s MSN programs rank as one of the US News & World Report Best Grad Schools.

USD’s Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) helps students with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline become RNs. The program is a 5-term program that lasts for 21 months and provides students with a general foundation in nursing. The tuition for this program is quite affordable but there are still a handful of scholarships and financial aid options for you to supplement your education cost.

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#6 Mount Saint Mary’s University

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $41,592

Mount Saint Mary’s University is another accredited private school in California where you can get some of the best nursing programs. The school began in 1808, and just like the University of San Diego, has affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church.

Furthermore, there are over 4,000 students at The Mount enrolled in the Mount’s over 40 majors, minors, concentrations, and special programs.

The Mount, located in Los Angeles, offers some of the best nursing programs you can get in CA. There are nine nursing programs for you at this private California nursing school.

Some of the most popular ones are the Accelerated Second Degree BSN, BSN, LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option, and MSN. These nursing programs may not be very affordable but there are ample financial aid opportunities for you.

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International students will always need scholarships to study nursing programs abroad, so see these Top 10 Nursing Scholarships For National And International Students

#7 Point Loma Nazarene University

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $26,928

Point Loma Nazarene University(PLNU) is another university in California to get amazing nursing programs. Just as the name suggests, Point Loma Nazarene University has affiliation with the Church of the Nazarene. Nonetheless, this private California school which began in 1902, consistently offers quality education to its over 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

The School of Nursing at PLNU believes that your work is a sacred calling, hence you’ll find your academics blended with faith-based teachings. Nonetheless, it makes for a complete RN. There are six nursing programs at this CA private nursing school, including the Nursing BS, Doctorate of Nursing Practice, and RN to BSN.

The BSN program at Point Loma Nazarene University is really affordable, yet 90% of its nursing students receive some form of financial aid.

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#8 National University

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $370/ Quarter Unit.

National University (NU) is located in La Jolla and has multiple campuses in California, as well as a campus in Nevada, and an Online School. Surely, it is a large university – with over 24,000 students – and hence speaks for its quality.

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Through NU’s College of Professional Studies, this accredited private California nursing school offers 11 nursing programs. Some of its highlight programs are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing, and Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP).

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#9 Fresno Pacific University

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $495 per credit unit.

Fresno Pacific University (FPSU) is another accredited University in California where you can get some of the best nursing programs. This private CA college began in 1944 and has affiliation with the Mennonite Brethren Churches. Nonetheless, offers a quality Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program to its home Fresno students, USA students and International Students.

Although Fresno Pacific University does not offer as much nursing program variety as the other CA private nursing schools, its two nursing programs are highly commendable.

These are the MAster’s of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner, and the RN-to-BSN Degree Completion. The Nursing RN to BSN Degree completion is a 42 credit unit program that takes 18 months to complete.

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Don’t waste so much time searching for scholarships to study nursing at the graduate level, see these 11 Nursing Scholarships For Graduate Students

#10 University of San Francisco

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $49,740

The University of San Francisco (USF) is a Private Roman Catholic Research Institution in San Francisco, California. It began in 1855 and has over 10,000 students enrolled in the university and receiving quality educational training.

Meanwhile, USF offers its nursing programs through its School of Nursing and Health Professions. Offering 11 programs in nursing, USF is one of the private nursing schools in California to bank on for specialist nursing training. There is a program for you whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student.

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#11 Dominican University of California

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $46,260

The Dominican University of California is a private university in San Rafael founded by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. It began in 1890 and offers more than 45 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to its over 1,700 students.

Through its School of Health and Natural Sciences, Dominican University offers its nursing programs through its Department of Nursing. There are four nursing programs available at this accredited private nursing school in California. They are the BSN program, LVN-RN 30-Unit Option, MSN: Clinical Nurse Leader, and the Master of Science in Nursing Program.

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#12 Holy Names University

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $39,576

Holy Names University (HNU) is a private Roman Catholic University in Oakland, California. Founded in 1868, this old CA university has recorded years of offering quality undergraduate and postgraduate programs, including its nursing programs.

Although the university has less than a thousand students taking its degree programs, HNU’s Faculty of Nursing offers 9 nursing programs. Some of its popular programs are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, and Rn-to-MSB Degree completion program.

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#13 West Coast University – Los Angeles

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition Fees: $17,030

West Coast University (WCU) is a private university in the USA with campuses at Los Angeles, Anaheim, and Ontario in California; then at Dallas, Texas, Miami, and Florida. The school began operation in 1909 and has ever since provided quality education to its undergraduate and postgraduate students.

At WCU’s Los Angeles Campus, you can take some of the best-accredited nursing programs in California. This private California nursing school offers 5 nursing programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option.

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If you need more information about the nursing profession, then you should also visit these 10 Most Useful Website Online for Nursing Students


How can I get into nursing school in California?

To get into a nursing school in California, you have to first visit the school’s website, check out their programs to see if you find the one that suits your educational need, then apply for that program. To get a comprehensive list of RN programs in California, you can check the California Board of Registered Nursing’s website, here.

How Can I become a nurse in California?

To become a nurse in California, you have to follow these steps.
1. Graduate from high school and pass relevant subjects like maths, science, and social studies.
2. Browse Nursing Programs in California.
3. Select a Nursing Program, apply for it, and attending the nursing school.
4. Complete your Program with ease by leveraging on nursing schools with financial aid.
5. Attain a Registered Nurse (RN) license by sitting for and passing the NCLEX exam.

How much is a private RN program?

Private Registered Nurse Program will vary by the kind of nursing program you’re applying for. That is to say that the cost for ADN, BSN, and MSN will vary. However, a BSN RN program in a California private nursing school will range from $17,000 to $50,000.

How long is the RN program in California?

It will take you anywhere from 2 years to 4.5 years to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in California. The Accelerated program takes less time to complete.

How much does an RN make in California?

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs in California earn an average yearly salary of $106,950 annually.


Attending a nursing school in California shouldn’t really be an issue. The argument most nursing students have when considering a nursing school is whether to attend a public nursing school or a private nursing school.

The truth is, while cost may be the outstanding factor that differentiates both, most private nursing schools provide ample financial aid to help you complete your nursing program without piling debts.

Meanwhile, private nursing schools in California have accreditation and also offer excellent quality programs. So, if you are considering a private nursing school in California, do well to attend one of our best 13 nursing schools in California.


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