Updated: May 3, 2017

Nursing is one of those professions which many of us probably do not appreciate the importance of to our wellbeing until we or someone we know and care about is hospitalized.

As the U.S. population grows and ages, becomes ill and heals, nurses are even more important to the collective health of the whole country.

So it should be no surprise that the expected increase in jobs for registered nursing alone in the USA is estimated at 16% growth between 2014 and 2024. That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

BLS data shows that California employs 255,010 registered nurses (data valid as of May 2015), making it rank as #1 in the USA. The hourly mean wage for registered nurses working in the state is $48.68 ($101,260/ year).

There are initiatives to encourage nurses to increase their level of college education, which in turn increases career opportunities. One such initiative is recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which aims to have 80% or more of registered nurses in the United States hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

What are the most affordable nursing degrees in California?

If you are interested interested in entering the nursing profession for the first time, or want to upgrade your education to align with the IOM initiative, read on for our list of the top ten most affordable bachelor’s of nursing degree programs in California, based on NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) published data for average in-state tuition. While our list is dominated by nursing schools from the California State system, we filtered it down from the 41 colleges/ universities listed in NCES for this state. You can start your college search here, and check other California institutions later, if necessary. (Programs listed below were active at time of publication.)

1

California State University-Monterey Bay

Average Tuition: $6,119

Program Website

California State University Monterey Bay

California State University-Monterey Bay (CSUMB) is part of the public California State University System. It receives institutional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Nursing programs are offered via the Department of Nursing, which is part of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services (CHSHS). the undergrad programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). CSUMB is a residential campus that offers the charms of Monterey Bay’s scenic shores a mile distant.

CSUMB offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. One track is for students who are already licensed as Registered Nurses (RNs) and hold an associate’s degree in nursing. The second track is for new nursing students, and it is a dual enrollment ADN-BSN program that is a collaboration between CSUMB and select community colleges. After two years in the ADN program, students enter the BSN program.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ADN-BSN Collaborative Pathway/ Dual Enrollment)

Students are prepared towards sitting for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam, and thereafter towards careers as leaders in public / global health. CSUMB’s program offers the opportunity for students to take a Health Assessment course in Spanish, in order to better serve Latino communities in California or other parts of the United States. CSUMB’s first-time pass rate for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam has been in the 86.67%-100% range for academic years 2011-12 to 2015-16. Students who graduate from the BSN program are also eligible to complete the Public Health Nursing Certificate (California).

Graduation from the BSN program at CSUMB requires 120 credits. Students in the RN track will take 36 credits of upper division nursing courses over 12-15 months full-time, or 18 months part-time. Fourteen credits is granted for NCLEX licensure, and 70 credits granted for transfer from previously completed coursework (associate’s degree). Students in the ADN track will have the same credit breakdown, and also spend 12-15 months full-time (includes Summer terms).

Sample courses include:

  • Pathophysiology for Nursing Practice
  • Health Assessment and Promotion Across Lifespan
  • Case Management and Care Coordination Across the Lifespan
  • Healthcare Policy and Population Health
  • Information Management for Nursing in Health Care

Campus or HQ: Seaside, California.

2

California State University-Dominguez Hills

Average Tuition: $6,213

Program Website

California State University Dominguez Hills

California State University-Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) is part of the public California State University System. Institutionally accreditation is provided by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and are offered by the School of Nursing (SON), which is part of the College of Health, Human Services & Nursing (CHHSN). The campus is situated on a “park-like” 340+ acres in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County. It boasts open green spaces, an award-winning student union building, an expanded library, a 250-seat lecture hall, and mediated-instruction classrooms/ computer labs, amongst other amenities.

CSUDH offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with one entry/ completion path. This is an RN track for licensed Registered Nurses who have an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). Alternately, RNs with a non-nursing bachelor’s or master’s degree might be eligible for CSUDH’s MSN program. There is also a Pre-BSN dual-enrollment program for students accepted into an ADN at select colleges. This is for students accepted into an ADN program (at a regionally accredited college) and acts a bridge into CSUDH’s RN-BSN degree program. As well, students who have their RN licensure but hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree may be interested in the school’s RN-MSN Non-Nursing BA/BS program.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN, hybrid)

The SON’s focus is on adult learners seeking nursing education. The BSN program prepares them for leader roles in the nursing profession, through coursework, labs and clinical experiences. SON ranked in a 2014 U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) college review listing Best Online Programs.

Students in the RN track should note that courses are online although some require on-campus lab or clinical hours. Six credits are awarded for holding NCLEX licensure. Also, either 60-70 transfer credits (2-year college) or 96 credits (4-year college) for prior relevant coursework. See site or contact school for full credit requirements based on your academic and professional status. The total required credits needed for graduation from the BSN program is 120, including awarded experience and transfer credits.

Sample courses include:

  • Concepts of Professional Nursing Practice
  • Cultural Diversity in Healthcare
  • Professional Collaboration in Nursing Practice
  • Pathophysiology
  • Health Care Informatics and Technology

Campus or HQ: Carson, California.

3

California State University-Fresno

Average Tuition: $6,311

Program Website

California State University—Fresno

California State University-Fresno (Fresno State), part of the public California State University System, is home to the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), which hosts the School of Nursing. Institutional accreditation is provided by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Undergrad nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Fresno State has a double designation from the the U.S. Dept of Education as being both an HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) and an AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution). On-campus amenities include a 16,000-seat concert and sports venue, as well as several green-conscious initiatives, including pedestrian-friendly paths.

Fresno State offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. Students should choose a track/ option that suits their level of previous nursing education (none or some). New, transfer or on-leave students who qualify will be interested in the basic track. Currently licensed Registered Nurses who hold an an associate’s degree should apply to the RN track. This includes an option for those who also hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree — in which case slightly different curriculum requirements apply. A non-degree LVN option (30 units) is available, for which Fresno State recommends discussing with an advisor.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • RN to BSN

Both tracks of the Fresno State BSN program are “impacted” and thus have far more applicants than available seats, resulting in competitive admissions. So apply early. (Note: preference is given to qualified U.S. military veterans.) Courses taken at the upper division level, regardless of track, focus on evidence-based methods, leadership and management, and population focused community health. Upon completion of the full track, students are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam and the California Public Health Nurse (PHN) Certification exam. CHHS’s first-time NCLEX pass rates are 77%-91.43% for the academic years 2011-12 to 2015-16.

This BSN degree requires a minimum 121 credits. For the full track program, nursing curriculum is spread over six semesters and comprises 57 credits of courses. Courses are online, but a 90-hour clinical is mandatory and only has placement in and around Fresno State.

Sample courses include:

  • Nursing Theories and Research
  • Concepts of Community Health Nursing
  • Leadership, Management, and Healthcare System
  • Applying Professional Nursing Principles
  • Nursing Theories and Research

Campus or HQ: Fresno, California.

4

California State University-Los Angeles

Average Tuition: $6,355

Program Website

California State University ​Los Angeles

California State University-Los Angeles (Cal State LA) offers nursing programs through its School of Nursing (SON), which is hosted by the College of Professional and Global Education (PaGE). The university is part of the public California State University System and is institutionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Undergrad nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The campus, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2017, received a #1 ranking from the New York Times for the upward mobility of its graduates, in terms of their career potential.

Cal State LA offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with four entry/ completion paths. The Basic track is for new, pre-licensure nursing students. The RN to BSN track is for currently-licensed registered nursing with an associate’s degree in nursing (AA or AAS). The ADN track is a dual-enrollment option that collaborates with community college partners to allow students that complete an ADN with the latter to transition to the BSN program. The Accelerated track is for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree who are seeking a BSN (2nd degree).

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • BSN (Basic/Pre-Licensure)
  • RN to BSN
  • ADN-BSN Collaborative Program
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN)

The CSULA BSN programs prepare students for nursing practice as a generalist as well as a leader. The Basic track is an “impacted program,” meaning that seats are limited and admission is competitive. Follow application rules carefully and apply as early as possible. Pre-licensure tracks also prepare students towards sitting for the NCLEX-RN professional licensure exam after graduation. The SON’s first-time NCLEX pass rate has been 86.84%-96.1% for academic years 2011-12 to 2015-16 (95% for 2016).

CSULA’s Basic track BSN requires a total of 195 quarter units (qu), which consists of 84qu General Education and 111qu of Nursing and related requirements. The Accelerated track is a 15 month program that allows for entry to the MSN program after graduation, if a student is qualified. Credits granted for prior coursework and/or NCLEX licensure will vary by track. See site or contact Cal State LA for details.

Sample courses include:

  • Fundamentals of Nursing
  • Nursing Care of Women, Child-bearing Families and Infants
  • Nursing Care of Children
  • Medical Surgical Nursing
  • Introduction to Pathophysiology for Nursing Practice

Campus or HQ: Los Angeles, California.

5

California State University-Fullerton

Average Tuition: $6,437

Program Website

California State University Fullerton

California State University-Fullerton (CSUF) offers nursing programs through its School of Nursing (SON). Part of the public California State University System, CSUF receives institutional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). CSUF’s achievements include top rankings in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report for graduate-level nursing programs. The nursing school celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014.

CSUF offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with four entry/ completion options. One is a traditional four-year pre-licensure track for new undergrads. The LVN-BSN track is also pre-licensure and intended for Licensed Vocational Nurses. The RN-BSN track is for currently licensed Registered Nurses seek a bachelor’s nursing degree. Finally, the Accelerated track is for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree who are seeking a BSN.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN, Pre-Licensure Entry-Level Freshmen or CSUF Student Pathway)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (LVN-BSN, Pre-Licensure)
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN, Pre-Licensure)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN completion program)

CSUF’s BSN program prepares students towards nursing careers as generalists, as well readiness for graduate programs such as an MSN or DNP degree. (The latter qualifies you to teach in nursing programs in California community colleges, as well as at Cal State.) The SON’s first-time pass rates for the NCLEX exam is 66.67%-93.02% for academic years 2011-12 to 2015-16.

The BSN program, regardless of track, have a requirement of 120 credits in total. The full four-year track has 23 required nursing courses in the curriculum, including a Capstone and several labs. See CSUF Web site for requirement details for the other tracks.

Sample courses include:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Nursing Research/ Evidence-Based Practice
  • Health Assessment
  • Concepts of Professional Nursing
  • Integrated Pathophysiology and Pharmacology

Campus or HQ: Fullerton, California.

6

California State University-Long Beach

Average Tuition: $6,452

Program Website

California State University—​Long Beach

Nursing programs at California State University-Long Beach (CSULB) are offered through the the School of Nursing, which is part of the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). CSULB is part of the public California State University System, receiving institutional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). CSULB offers several on-campus amenities and attractions, including a performing arts center, a student wellness center with a rock climbing wall, an art museum, a Japanese garden and even a shark lab.

CSULB offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with two entry/ completion paths. One is a Basic four-year track for new nursing students. The other is an ADN/ RN track for currently-licensed Registered Nurses holding an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Basic
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Registered Nurse (RN-BSN/ ADN-BSN)

CSULB’s BSN program provides the skills necessary for professional nursing roles in a range of health care settings. Students are readied towards writing the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam after graduation. The SON’s first-time NCLEX pass rate was 89.38%-98.31% in academic years 2011-12 to 2015-16. It has also had pass rates of mostly 100% in earlier years (Spring 2004 to Sp 2013 cohorts). Graduates can also pursue the California Public health Nursing (PHN) certificate, to add to their nursing credentials. As well, graduates will be prepare to enter an advanced program of nursing, such as an MSN or DNP degree.

All three BSN tracks require a total of 120 credits for completion. Depending on the track taken, students may be granted transfer credits for previous coursework completed for an associate’s degree in nursing. Even for the Basic track, students will first need to complete prerequisite courses before admission into the Nursing major.

Sample courses include:

  • Foundation of Professional Nursing
  • Intermediate Medical Surgical Nursing
  • Foundations of Clinical Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology for Nurses
  • Health Care of the Childbearing Family

Campus or HQ: Long Beach, California.

7

San Francisco State University

Average Tuition: $6,476

Program Website

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University (SFSU), part of the public California State University System, receives instiitutional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Nursing programs are offered through the School of Nursing, which is hosted by the College of Health and Social Sciences (CHSS). Undergrad nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

SFSU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with two entry/ completion paths. One track is for pre-licensure students, including transfer students and those holding a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Freshmen students will be admitted as Pre-Nursing students or to a non-nursing major to complete lower-division prerequisite courses before applying to the actual BSN program. The other track is for currently-licensed RNs (Registered Nurses) holding an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing. (An exception on licensing is for exempt military personnel.) An additional track that is essentially the same as the traditional track currently allows students to study at Cañada College in Redwood City, California (Silicon Valley area). This is being redeveloped as an Accelerated track. Contact SFSU for admission details.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Pre-licensure BSN)
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN)

The prelicensure BSN track is an “impacted” program (since 1992), and due to seat limitations and waiting lists, SFSU students desiring to transfer into nursing cannot apply if they have earned 96+ quarter credits. (CHSS receives 10 times as many applications as there are available seats.) Students should apply as early as possible, else consider completing a non-nursing bachelor’s degree first and applying for the RN track later. The program prepares students towards the writing the NCLEX professional licensure exam, as well as for entering graduate nursing studies. The CHSS’ NCLEX pass rate has been 76.98%-87.39% for academic years 2011-12 to 2015-16. Graduates of the BSN program at SFSU can pursue entry level roles as professional nurse in health care environments such as community clinics, hospitals, long term care facilities and elsewhere. Program grads are eligible for PHN (Public Health Nurse) certification in California. Actual SFSU grads are employed in numerous nursing specialties including gerontology, maternity, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, psychiatric/ mental health, public/ community health and other areas.

The Pre-licensure track BSN consists of 56 credit units of nursing courses, taken over four semesters. The RN track consists 30 credits of nursing courses and can be taken either part-time (five semesters) or full-time (three semesters).

Sample courses include:

  • Human Development and Health Assessment Theory
  • Research and Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing
  • Health Promotion in Nursing
  • Reproductive Health Theory
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Theory

Campus or HQ: San Francisco, California.

8

California State University-Channel Islands

Average Tuition: $6,547

Program Website

California State University Channel Islands

California State University-Channel Islands (CSUCI) is the youngest member of the 23-campus (main) public California State University System. It receives institutional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Nursing programs are offered through the university’s nursing department, with undergrad programs additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The campus offers a number of amenities is conveniently located minutes from downtown Camarillo, CA, and from the beach.

CSUCI offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with two main tracks, plus additional options. Track I is the Generic/ Basic track for pre-licensure students, with two campus options and slightly different entry requirements and timelines. Track II is for either recent ADN (associate’s degree in nursing) students who want a Fast-Track to a BSN, or for currently-licensed Registered Nurses (also with an associate’s degree).

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Generic/ Basic)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ADN to BSN and RN to BSN options)

Students in the CSUCI BSN program learn through coursework and labs. The campus has a “state-of-the-art” Simulation Lab with audiovisual recording, adult and baby mannequins, simulators for clinical skills building, bar-coded medication dispensing system, and more. Students are readied for the NCLEX professional licensing exam for after graduation. CSUCI’s first-time NCLEX-RN pass rates are 91.55%-100% for academic years 2011-12 through 2015-16. Graduates of the BSN program may find nursing careers in the following areas and more: acute care; ambulatory; assisted living; case management; emergency; extended care; home health; managed care; nursing education; nursing management; occupational health; public health; specialty units; staff development

Students in this BSN program will complete 120 credits for graduation. Basic-track students can choose to study at this CSUCI campus or the Goleta Satellite campus, although different entry requirements and durations apply. (See site or contact CSUCI for details.) The ADN track takes 15 months (including two summer terms), while the RN track requires 22 months (also including summers).

Sample courses include:

  • Introduction to Professional Nursing
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Psychiatric and Mental Health
  • Nursing Care Adults Acute and Chronic

Campus or HQ: Camarillo, California.

9

California State University-East Bay

Average Tuition: $6,564

Program Website

California State University East Bay

Nursing programs at the California State University-East Bay (CSUEB) are offered through the Department of Nursing, which is hosted by the College of Science. The university is a member of the public California State University System and gets its institutional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university has been recognized as a Top 10 college in the West for diversity by the Wall Street Journal. As well, CSUEB has received a HEED award from “INSIGHT Into Diversity” magazine for three straight years.

CSUEB offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with four entry/ completion paths. The full program track is for students who are both freshmen and new to nursing, and seeking a BSN and licensure. The LVN track is for Licensed Vocational Nurses seeking a BSN and licensure. Current LVN students can also apply to the full program (with transfer credits). Students who are currently licensed Registered Nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) should apply to the RN track. Students who have recently completed or are completing an ADN at a partner college can apply to the ADN-BSN track.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Pre-Licensure BSN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Pre-Licensure LVN-BSN Pathway)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ADN-BSN)

The BSN program at CSUEB is designed to aid students toward professional nursing practice roles as a generalist, as well as to enter graduate studies, such as an MSN program. Students learn through a combination of courses and labs/ clinicals, both on campus and various local health care settings. BSN graduates are readied towards siting for the NCLEX professional licensure examination. CSUEB’s NCLEX-RN pass rates for pre-licensure programs ranges from 82.79%-91.74% for the academic years 2011-12 to 2015-16.

CSUEB is changing from a quarter-credit to a semester-credit system, at time of this writing. For credit requirements in each track, check site updates or consult an advisor. Pre-licensure track students can apply for Fall admission to study at the Hayward main campus, or for Spring entry to study at the Concord campus.

Sample courses include:

  • Foundations of Professional Nursing – Nursing Interventions
  • Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing
  • Clinical Pathophysiology
  • Nursing Care of Adults
  • Pharmacology for Nursing Practice

Campus or HQ: Hayward, California.

10

California State University-Northridge

Average Tuition: $6,569

Program Website

California State University Northridge

California State University-Northridge (CSUN) offers nursing programs through its Department of Nursing, which is part of the College of Health and Human Development (CHHD). Institutional accreditation is provided for this member of the California State University System by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE); California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN).

CSUN offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with two entry/ completion paths. One track, ADN-BSN, is for students who have recently completed (or are soon to complete) an associate’s degree in nursing at one of four partner colleges and who want to transition to a BSN degree, followed by the NCLEX-RN licensure exam and RN designation. The other is an RN track is for currently-licensed Registered Nurses who have an associate’s degree in nursing. A third Accelerated track for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree is currently on hold.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ADN-BSN Pathway/ Community College Collaboratives)

CSUN’s NCLEX-RN licensing exam pass rate has been 87.27%-97.06% for the academic years 2011-12 to 2015-16. Students who complete either track of the BSN program are eligible to apply for PHN (Public Health Nurse) certification in California, as the curriculum has been approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (CBRN).

This BSN degree requires 120 credits for completion, with 58 credits allotted for the Major, of which 39 credits are upper-division. The latter are taken as part of the RN track. A maximum of 60 credits can be transferred (32cr in Nursing) for RN-track students, to acknowledge their prior associate’s degree coursework and RN license.

Sample courses include:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Professional Nursing
  • Supportive/ Educative Nursing Systems
  • Family Systems Nursing
  • Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice

Campus or HQ: Northridge, California.

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