Becoming a Registered Nurse in California

There are more registered nurses than there are practitioners in any other health field. That’s one reason that a prospective nurse finds herself with so many choices when it comes time to choose a degree program.

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A registered nurse has more training and responsibility than a vocational nurse. There are multiple entry points, though, to the registered nursing field. One can enter with an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. All programs provide a foundation in providing nursing care across the lifespan. Some provide additional coursework in public health and nursing leadership.

Those who are up for the challenge will find accelerated/ fast track options. Not all fast track options require a previous degree or license; some are just intensive year-round programs. The master’s option, on the other hand, is intended for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field.

Approved California courses, both public and private, are listed on the Board of Registered Nursing site. Whichever route you choose, you will need to take the NCLEX exam before licensing.

California RN Education Pathways

In California, there are some alternate routes that are not available in all states. If you are already practicing as a vocational nurse, you can opt for the LVN 30 route. This is a state-approved career ladder program that can be completed in 18 to 24 months. The downside to the program is that it doesn’t grant a degree, and most other states don’t recognize it. In other words, you can practice as a registered nurse in California, but if you move, chances are that the state that you move to will only recognize you as being qualified for vocational nursing; you will need to complete a degree to practice again as an RN. The other alternative route is for corpsmen in the military who have equivalent levels of training.

Your career path depends on your age and educational background. Still in high school? The California Board of Registered Nursing lists steps to complete to make the process smoother. This entails taking rigorous college prep courses: four years of English, three to four years of math and (ideally) two years of foreign language.

Registered Nursing Career Outlook in California

Demand for RNs in California is expected to increase by 26% between 2008 and 2018, according to government figures. The AACN reports that economic conditions have had some impact on limiting hiring, but demographics should offset this in the long term. An aging population, and an aging RN workforce, means an increased demand for nursing graduates.

As in many parts of the country, job demand varies with setting. Some California facilities do experience a chronic vacancy rate of 10% or more. If you are committed to working in one of these facilities, you may even see your educational expenses paid.

The Application Process

According to CINHC, California’s nursing workforce center, the state’s schools are at capacity. This means that it takes more preparation to make oneself competitive. Until recently, legislation mandated that community colleges accept applicants without giving priority to those who had higher grades or test scores. The intent was to provide higher education for all students, even if they were from disadvantaged backgrounds. Unfortunately, there was a high attrition rate. Many students weren’t finishing programs. This didn’t help the state’s nursing shortage, and it didn’t help students. The focus has switched to selective admission, but also to providing support to students to help them meet the criteria.

Since California has such a high need for nurses, there are policies in place to ensure that those admitted have the academic aptitude and preparation to finish. State supported ADN programs have similar scholastic requirements. Your overall GPA matters, but your scores in English and biology courses are particularly important. If you have had to repeat biology courses, this can harm your chances.

Expect to take a nursing assessment test before admission. The Community College Chancellor’s Office currently recommends a score of 62.

ADN Programs Approved by the California Board of Nursing

Kaplan College – San Diego

Kaplan College in San Diego offers an Associate’s in Nursing for Students interested in becoming a Registered nurse. Graduates are eligible to sit for the NCLEX exam. This program is approved by the California State Board of Nursing and is currently accepting new nursing student applications. Request information today!

Mount St. Mary’s College Department of Nursing

School Branding

The school is approved by the California State Board of Registered Nursing. LVN Mobility Option (Allows student to take the National League for Nursing Mobility Exam. Students who score 75% or better may select to complete a BSN in three years. For those who score less, they may continue on to complete their ADN.

Programs Offered: ADN, LVN Mobility Option (LVN to ADN or LVN to BSN), BSN, Accelerated BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, ADN to MSN

Mount St. Mary’s College Department of Nursing, 12001 Chalon Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90049-1599

Allan Hancock College
800 South College Drive
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Admits LVNs Only
American River College
4700 College Oak Drive
Sacramento, CA 95841

Antelope Valley College
3041 West Avenue K
Lancaster, CA 93536-5426


Bakersfield College
1801 Panorama Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93305
Chabot College
25555 Hesperian Boulevard
Hayward, CA 94545
Butte College
3536 Butte Campus
Oroville, CA 95965
Cabrillo College
6500 Soquel Drive
Aptos, CA 95003
Cerritos College
11110 Alondra Boulevard
Norwalk, CA 90650
Chaffey College
5885 Haven Avenue
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737
Citrus College
1000 West Foothill Boulevard
Glendora, CA 91741
City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112
College of Marin
835 College Avenue
Kentfield, CA 94904
College of San Mateo
1700 West Hillsdale Boulevard
San Mateo, CA 94402
College of the Canyons
26455 North Rockwell Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91355
College of the Desert
43-500 Monterey Avenue
Palm Desert, CA 92234
College of the Redwoods
7351 Tompkins Hill Road
Eureka, CA 95501
College of the Sequoias
915 South Mooney Boulevard
Visalia, CA 93277
College of the Siskiyous
800 College Avenue
Weed, CA 96094
Contra Costa College
2600 Mission Bell Drive
San Pablo, CA 94806
Copper Mountain College
6162 Rotary Way
PO Box 1398
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Cuesta College
Post Office Box 8106
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Cypress College
9200 Valley View Street
Cypress, CA 90630
De Anza College
21250 Stevens Creek Boulevard
Cupertino, CA 95014
East Los Angeles College
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park, CA 91754
El Camino College
16007 Crenshaw Boulevard
Torrance, CA 90506
El Camino College – Compton Education Center
1111 Artesia Blvd.
Compton, CA 90221
Evergreen Valley College
3095 Yerba Buena Road
San Jose, CA 95135
Fresno City College
1101 East University Avenue
Fresno, CA 93741
Gavilan College
5055 Santa Teresa Boulevard
Gilroy, CA 95020
Glendale Community College
1500 North Verdugo Road
Glendale, CA 91208
Golden West College
15744 Goldenwest Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Grossmont College
8800 Grossmont College Drive
El Cajon, CA 92020
Hartnell College
156 Homestead Avenue
Salinas, CA 93901
Imperial Valley College
Post Office Box 158
Imperial, CA 92551
Long Beach City College
4901 East Carson Street
Long Beach, CA 90808
Los Angeles City College
855 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Los Angeles County College
of Nursing & Allied Health
1237 N. Mission+ Road
Los Angeles, CA 90033
Los Angeles Harbor College
1111 Figueroa Place
Wilmington, CA 90744
Los Angeles Pierce College
6201 Winnetka Avenue
Woodland Hills, CA 91371
Los Angeles Southwest College
1600 West Imperial Highway
Los Angeles, CA 90047
Los Angeles Trade-Tech College
400 West Washington Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Avenue
Valley Glen, CA 91401
Los Medanos College
2700 East Leland Road
Pittsburg, CA 94565
Maric College
9055 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123
Mendocino College
1000 Hensley Creek Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
Merced College
3600 M Street
Merced, CA 95348-2898
Merritt College
12500 Campus Drive
Oakland, CA 94619
Mira Costa
1 Barnard Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
Modesto Junior College
435 College Avenue
Modesto, CA 95350
Monterey Peninsula College
980 Fremont Street
Monterey, CA 93940
Moorpark College
7075 Campus Road
Moorpark, CA 93021
Mount St. Mary’s College
10 Chester Place
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Mt. San Antonio College
1100 North Grand Avenue
Walnut, CA 91789
Mt. San Jacinto College
23287 La Piedra Road
Menifee, CA 92584
Napa Valley College
2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway
Napa, CA 94558
National University
11255 N Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037
Ohlone College
43600 Mission Boulevard
Fremont, CA 94539
Pacific Union College
1 Angwin Avenue
Angwin, CA 94508
Palomar College
1140 West Mission Road
San Marcos, CA 92069
Pasadena City College
1570 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91106-2003
Rio Hondo College
3600 Workman Mill Road
Whittier, CA 90601-1699
Riverside Community College
4800 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92506
Sacramento City College
3835 Freeport Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95822
Saddleback College
28000 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692
San Bernardino Valley College
701 South Mount Vernon
San Bernardino, CA 91024
San Diego City College
1313 Park Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92101
San Joaquin Delta College
5151 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95207
San Joaquin Valley College
8400 W. Mineral King
Visalia, CA 93291
Santa Ana College
1530 West 17th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92706-3398
Santa Barbara City College
721 Cliff Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93109
Santa Monica College
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Santa Rosa Junior College
1501 Mendocino Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Shasta College
11555 Old Oregon Trail
Box 496006
Redding, CA 96049-6006
Sierra College
5000 Rocklin Road
Rocklin, CA 95677
Solano Community College
4000 Suisun Valley Road
Suisun City, CA 94585-3917
Southwestern Community College
900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910
Unitek College
4670 Auto Mall Parkway
Fremont, CA 94538
Ventura College
4667 Telegraph Road
Ventura, CA 93003
Victor Valley College
18422 Bear Valley Road
Victorville, CA 92392
West Coast University – Los Angeles
4021 Rosewood Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
West Coast University – Orange County
2461 West La Palma
Anaheim, CA 92801
Carrington College
Sacramento Campus only
8909 Folsom Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95826
Yuba College
2088 North Beale Road
Marysville, CA 95901

BSN Programs Approved by the California State Board of Nursing

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University’s BSN program is accredited by the CCNE and approved by the California State Board of Nursing.

West Coast University

The West Coast University BSN programs are approved by the California State Board of Registered Nursing and are in the accrediting process with the CCNE.

American University of Health Sciences
3501 Atlantic Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90807
Azusa Pacific University
901 East Alosta Avenue
Azusa, CA 91702
Biola University
13800 Biola Avenue
La Mirada, CA 90639
California Baptist University
8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504
California State University, Bakersfield
9001 Stockdale Highway
Bakersfield, CA 93311-1022
California State University, Channel Islands
One University Drive
Camarillo, CA 93012-8599
California State University, Chico
Holt Hall Room 369
Chico, CA 95929-0200
California State University, East Bay
Dept of Nursing-College of Science
Hayward, CA 94542-3086
California State University, Fresno
2345 East San Ramon Avenue
Fresno, CA 93740-0025
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90840-0301
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
California State University, Sacramento
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6096
California State University, San Bernardino
5500 University Parkway
San Bernardino, CA 92407
California State University, San Marcos
335 Twin Oaks Valley Road
San Marcos, CA 92096-0001
California State University, Stanislaus
801 West Monte Vista Avenue
Turlock, CA 95382
Dominican University of California
50 Acacia Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901
Humboldt State University
Department of Nursing
Arcata, CA 95521
Loma Linda University
School of Nursing — West Hall
Loma Linda, CA 92350
Mount St. Mary’s College
12001 Chalon Road
Los Angeles, CA 90049
National University
11255 N Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037
Point Loma Nazarene University
3900 Lomaland Drive
San Diego, CA 92106-2899
Samuel Merritt College
435 Hawthorne Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-4158
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
San Jose State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0057
Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
University of California, Irvine
College of Health Sciences Building 802, Room 289
Irvine, CA 92697
University of California, Los Angeles
700 Tiverton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095
University of Phoenix at Modesto
(Northern CA Campus)
3600 Sisk Rd. #5a
Modesto, CA 95356
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117-1080