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. Many schools are responding with exceptional programs and affordable online options as well.
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.)
See our rankings methodology page.
California State University-Monterey Bay
Average Tuition: $6,119
California State University-Monterey Bay is more than just a cheap nursing school in California. The institution administers flexible RN-BSN and ADN-BSN programs that benefit part-time and community college students. Full-time students in the RN-BSN pathway can obtain their BSN degree in 12 months. The ADN-BSN collaborative partnership serves students enrolled at one of CSU-Monterey Bay’s partner schools. After completing two semesters at the partner school, students enroll at CSUMB to begin a dual-enrollment program. This partnership enables students to graduate with a BSN in 12 months. To further enrich the nursing experience, CSUMB encourages students to travel abroad for the Global Health and Socio-Cultural Constructs of Health and Illness course.
California State University-Dominguez Hills
Average Tuition: $6,213
The School of Nursing at CSU-Dominguez Hills values “innovative instructional delivery, informational technology, and collaborative partnerships with the community.” CSU-Dominguez Hill’s College of Health, Human Services, and Nursing manages a student services center that advises students to ensure they are on track to graduate. The school offers online Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing degrees. CSUDH also delivers an MSN pathway program to students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major. The Pre-BSN program allows students admitted to a California ADN program to take courses at CSUDH through extended education. This dual-enrollment program places students in cohort groups until they formally apply for CSUDH’s RN to BSN pathway.
California State University-Fresno
Average Tuition: $6,311
California State University-Fresno’s School of Nursing heads five programs for nursing majors. The 30-unit option aids licensed vocational nurses on their journey to becoming registered nurses. Applicants speak to the School of Nursing department chair to review course requirements. Students intrigued by school nursing can enroll in the school nursing services credential program. Divided into two phases, the 27-credit program teaches learners with a BSN degree community and public health principles. In the second phase, which lasts 12 months, students enter a cohort group and take online courses. The undergraduate BSN program is worth 21 credits with five semesters dedicated to nursing courses.
California State University-Los Angeles
Average Tuition: $6,355
The Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing at California State University-Los Angeles is rated as one of the affordable nursing schools in California. In addition to degrees, the school provides certifications such as the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Applied Gerontology. To obtain the certificate, students must complete at least 60 units of bachelor’s-level coursework or receive permission from the Director of the Applied Gerontology Institute. The school also oversees a dual-enrollment program between themselves and 13 nearby community colleges to integrate ADN students into CSULA’s BSN program. Typically, students in the program earn their BSN one year after graduating with their ADN from community college.
California State University-Fullerton
Average Tuition: $6,437
California State University-Fullerton School of Nursing’s mission is to “provide quality nursing programs which are accessible to a diverse student population”. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing, the baccalaureate and master’s pathways vary depending on the student’s needs. Five tracks exist for entry-level candidates including the Traditional BSN CSUF Student Pathway. Students enroll full-time in cohort programs to complete their degree in three years. Graduates students choose a concentration in school nursing, nurse education, or leadership. Master of Science in nursing students can enroll part-time in the program and take online courses. For the post-graduate program, CSUF partners with the Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia to offer clinical education for the DNP Nurse Anesthesia program.
California State University-Long Beach
Average Tuition: $6,452
Students at California State University Long Beach enroll in one of three tracks to receive the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Tracks accommodate semester/trimester nursing students with no prior experience or registered nurses seeking additional education. Both programs require 120 units. Registered nurses interested in administrative positions enroll in the Master of Science nursing program and choose one of two concentrations: Nurse Practitioner or Nursing and Health Systems Executive Management. The school also works with Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian through a collaborative partnership that allows hospital employees to take courses at CSU Long Beach. Certificate programs include Post-Masters Nurse Practitioner Certificate for MSN degree-holders.
San Francisco State University
Average Tuition: $6,476
As part of the California State University System, San Francisco State University offers the same Bachelor of Science in Nursing and ADN-BSN programs found at other state university campuses. Additionally, the school administers graduate and certificate programs like the Accelerated Entry-level Master of Science in Nursing. In this two-year program, students become part of cohort groups that take classes year-round. SFS developed the program for learners with baccalaureate degrees in other fields. Similarly, the entry-level Master of Nursing program assists students with no prior nursing experience or licensure. In the traditional MSN program, students select a concentration in specialties like women’s health, pediatrics, or administration.
California State University-Channel Islands
Average Tuition: $6,547
The California State University-Channel Islands campus crafts Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs that use the behavioral, life, and social sciences to teach students the basic tenets and values of nursing. Graduates go on to work in acute care, public health, and various other healthcare specialties. Their Track I Generic Bachelor of Science in Nursing pre-licensure program, held at the Camarillo campus, instructs pre-nursing students that have yet to complete their nursing prerequisites. The program lasts for three years. Students interested in the ADN to BS or RN to BSN tracks must currently be enrolled in a BRN program or hold a valid California nursing license. These programs take two and a half years to complete.
California State University-East Bay
Average Tuition: $6,564
Based in Concord, CA, California State University-East Bay offers pre-licensure and post-licensure programs for Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree candidates. One of the pre-licensure pathways, LVN-BSN, tailors its content to licensed vocational nurses seeking a Bachelor of Science. For two years students take prerequisite courses before delving into nursing courses which take an additional two and a half years to complete. Enrollees can receive credit for prior nursing courses by undergoing a portfolio or transcript review. The post-licensure RN-BSN program educates nurses with a California RN license. The post-licensure collaborative ADN-BSN helps students from one of the six local community colleges to fulfill their BSN requirements at CSU-East Bay. All BSN programs require 120 credits.
California State University-Northridge
Average Tuition: $6,569
California State University-Northridge serves students in the San Fernando Valley area. The school works closely with local community colleges to administer nursing programs that help students transition from community college to their university. The ADN-BSN Collaborative Program is a partnership between CSU-Northridge and community colleges to enable students to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Students begin their career journey at the community college, graduate with their ADN, and enroll at CSU-Northridge. The traditional RN to BSN program teaches nurses with a state license the tools needed to understand complex nursing systems and theories. For students with a degree in another field, the California accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing program allows them to obtain a BSN degree in 15 months.