15 Best California Online RN to BSN Nursing Schools
April 2023

15 Best Online RN to BSN Programs California

15 Best California Online RN to BSN Nursing Schools

California Online RN to BSN

The best online RN to BSN programs in California offer nurses a chance to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and advance their careers. Now is the time for working registered nurses in the Golden State to consider a California RN to BSN degree program. Job growth in the healthcare field is incredible. Many states are experiencing growth rates of 15 and even 20%, with just 10 states accounting for half that growth. One of those states, of course, is California, making it even more important for nurses to make the jump to a BSN now.

How We Ranked the Best Nursing Schools in California

TopRNtoBSN has the 15 Best online California RN to BSN Programs ranking for you. This to-the-point, no-nonsense ranking lets California’s busy working nurses know their options for a convenient, affordable online degree Most programs are accelerated, and even though BSN programs require clinicals, all coursework is online. The top15 are ranked evenly by 3 qualifications:

  • Reputation (the institution’s U.S. News & World Report overall score)
  • Cost (per online credit)
  • Success Outcomes (from College Scorecard)

1. California State University Chico

The second-oldest college in the California State University system, CSU Chico has been part of life in northern California since 1887. Chico State is home to a highly diverse student body, almost all of whom come from California, and a third of them identify as Hispanic. This CA school is also surrounded by rural areas where students cannot always easily reach campus. So, Chico State developed online degree programs to reach working professionals.

Chico State’s School of Nursing is an integral part of the college, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees. CSU Chico’s online RN to BSN degree program brings together the quality of Chico’s online system and the proven expertise of the School of Nursing. Working nurses with challenging schedules find the format flexible. Licensed RNs can complete it in just 15 months from June to the following August.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the school website for more about nursing at this California State University.

2. California State University Fullerton

A public university serving Southern California, California State University Fullerton is the largest college in the CSU system, with more than 40,000 students. Fullerton is also one of the nation’s biggest colleges for community college transfers, reflecting its commitment to the needs of nontraditional students and working adults. Additionally, California State University Fullerton is designated a Hispanic-serving institution and an Asian American-Native American-Pacific Islander-serving institution.

The School of Nursing at Cal State Fullerton offers an RN to BSN online degree that is a perfect example of how the college meets the needs of busy working nurses in California. For licensed RNs, the RN to BSN program requires 41 semester units, and students can pursue their degree part-time or full-time. All courses are online, but two clinical lab courses can only be completed in Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, or San Bernardino counties. Cal State Fullerton is one of the top names in California, all the better for a competitive job market.

Degrees: BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this California State University.

3. Azusa Pacific University

A private, evangelical Christian liberal arts university, Azusa Pacific University is one of the largest and most prominent Christian colleges in the nation. Founded in 1899, Azusa Pacific is well-known in the 21st century for combining evangelical faith with market-ready professional and technical education. APU’s 200 on-campus and online degrees, certificates, and other programs demonstrate its commitment to modern education. That includes the School of Nursing, which is built on Christian principles of compassion, ethics, and service.

The online RN to BSN degree at Azusa Pacific University gives busy working nurses the same quality of education without the burden of an on-campus program. BSN students work through the program in a cohort, building a sense of community and cooperation, while the accelerated format of 5 to 10-week courses gets students through quickly. Some students may complete their BSN in as little as 15 months. Orientation and clinics are required on location. With a reputation for strong student support, even online, Azusa Pacific is one of the best options for a Registered Nurse in California.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the school website for more about its BSN degree completion program.

4. Concordia University Irvine

The Concordia University system is a respected system of 10 Lutheran colleges in the Midwest and the Western US. Concordia University Irvine started in 1976 to bring the trusted Concordia name to southern California. It’s one of the fastest-growing colleges in California, is a top regional college according to US News and World Report, and is a Money Magazine best value.

Concordia Irvine’s online RN to BSN degree combines two of the university’s greatest strengths in nursing and online education. Working nurses with an ASN degree and an RN license can complete the program in as little as 1 year if they enroll full-time. Online California RN holders are eligible, and clinical placements can be arranged close to the student’s home. All students who continue from fall to spring are eligible for a $2000 scholarship as well. With Concordia’s reputation, the online RN to BSN is an obvious choice for California’s busy nursing professionals.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs in California.

5. California Baptist University

California Baptist University was founded by the California Southern Baptist Convention in 1950 as a small bible college in Riverside. CBU students are nontraditional working adults and professionals drawn to the university’s many, highly-ranked online programs. Additionally, it is one of the top 10 online undergraduate educators in the nation according to US News and World Report.

California Baptist University’s online RN to BSN is a CCNE-accredited program and is a fully online degree completion program. It is based on CBU’s human becoming philosophy which defines the quality of life from the patient’s perspective, rather than a clinical standard. This California RN to BSN prepares nurses for a career rooted in the Christian faith. Alongside critical thinking and health promotion, CBU focuses on ethics and responsible service, drawing on current science and biblical concepts. The average time to completion is 20 months for the 30 credit program. CBU nurses are trusted throughout California, and the CBU online RN to BSN is equally suited for practice or further schooling.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this school.

6. California State University Stanislaus

California State University Stanislaus dates back to just 1960 when the regional college started on the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. It provided affordable, practical education for the people of the Central Valley region. In just over 5 decades Stan State has grown into a major university with more than 40,000 students. This highly diverse university, with a student body of 50% Hispanic and composed of many other ethnicities provides a full slate of options. Stanislaus State is in Turlock and is one of the best colleges in the nation for social mobility and also value.

The California State University Stanislaus online RN to BSN degree is for working, licensed RNs. This 26-credit program is available fully online, except for clinical. California State University students work through the courses in a cohort format, working through a sequence of classes with the same classmates to develop a support network. Accelerated 10-week classes use asynchronous lectures, tests, and other methods. Thus, students have a complete experience and can also finish the program in just one year full-time. Stan State is a trusted entity in California, and the online RN to BSN takes nurses onto the job market and into their jobs with confidence, competence, and compassion.

Degrees: BSN program

More: Visit the school for more about the California State University program.

7. Pacific College

Pacific College in Costa Mesa is a young institution (1993) focused on preparing workers and leaders in the health sciences. In just over 20 years, Pacific has gone from a tiny training program to a regionally WASC-accredited and CCNE-accredited nursing and health sciences college. Pacific College offers diploma, associate’s, and bachelor’s programs in nursing and healthcare administration. Just like the nursing profession itself, Pacific College is diverse and inclusive, with a curriculum emphasizing teamwork, responsibility, and compassion.

The Pacific College online RN to BSN degree is a CCNE-accredited program that uses the most current delivery methods available. Information literacy is a key component of Pacific’s mission, and the online RN to BSN underscores the college’s commitment to modern learning. Applicants must have a current RN license and have an associate’s degree or an equivalent. With its focus on critical thinking, leadership, and health promotion, the Pacific online BSN sends graduates into managerial positions and also graduate study.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this school.

8. California Southern University

California Southern University in Irvine is a regionally-accredited, for-profit college associated with the Assemblies of God church. Founded in 1978, CSU was never a traditional, campus-based college; instead, it began as a correspondence school, first through the mail. The dawn of the internet age transformed California Southern University, bringing the little correspondence school to greater prominence with fully online programs. Today, CSU is entirely online, with comprehensive programs ranging from the associate to doctoral degrees.

The online RN to BSN degree at California Southern University is for working nurses who already have a current RN license. This program accepts up to 90 transfer credits, making the degree completion program as little as 30 credits, all fully online. This up-to-date curriculum combines theory and practice, with an emphasis on professionalism, leadership, and patient care. The BSN also incorporates courses in Behavioral Sciences and Business, giving students a background in mental health and in management, to their advantage in the job market.

Degrees: Rn to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this school.

9. West Coast University

A WASC-accredited, for-profit college in Los Angeles, West Coast University dates back to a small ophthalmology school founded in 1909. While its predecessor built a wide range of programs, in 1997 WCU defined its focus strictly to health sciences. WCU built the first regionally and CCNE-accredited BSN program ever from a for-profit school in California. As a result, the school is a nationally-recognized online educator.

WCU’s online RN to BSN degree is for California nurses to earn their bachelor’s. Students can transfer up to 84 credits. In addition, accelerated courses starting every 8 weeks helps students complete the program in as little as 12 months. WCU’s RN to BSN curriculum also includes a certificate in Sigma Theta Tau International’s Nurse Manager Program. Additionally, they offer discounted CEs for nurses to retain their RN license. It’s a lot of value for a reasonable tuition rate.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this school.

10. Brandman University

A private, regionally-accredited college specializing in learning for working adults, Brandman University began in 1959. The school began as an extension campus of Chapman University and remains part of the Chapman University System. Education for nontraditional students was Brandman’s original purpose. First, the school served military personnel, and then any student in need of flexible scheduling and career-centered programs. Today, Brandman is in Irvine and serves students online and on campus. Additionally, the school offers more than fifty programs, diplomas, and certificates. Brandman is known for its AACN-accredited nursing programs.

The Marybelle and S. Paul Musco School of Nursing and Health Professions at Brandman offers several options for nurses. Its online RN to BSN degree provides a convenient and affordable way for working nurses to complete their BSN. There are different entry options for students who already have an ADN or ASN, have their RN license, or are completing their associate’s in a community college program. Those who already have their associate’s degree and RN can complete the program in as little as 12 months, with accelerated 8-week courses. Brandman has had flexible education for working adults for more than half a century, making him a trusted expert in the field.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this school.

11. California State University Dominguez Hills

Founded in 1960, California State University Dominguez Hills serves the South Bay area, and southern California more widely. Dominguez Hills started in Carson to serve the people of Los Angeles County. CSUDH is one of the most economically and racially diverse schools in the nation. More than half of California State University Dominguez Hills students are first-generation college students. In addition, California State University DH graduates more African-American students than any other college in California. Dominguez Hills has also impacted social mobility and is frequently named the best value.

Dominguez Hills has extensive outreach to working adults, minorities, and also other nontraditional students, including nationally-recognized online programs. The California State University online RN to BSN degree is a prime example. For working RNs, or nursing students nearing the end of their associate’s program, the online BSN provides a convenient option. All courses are online, except for a two-day on-campus lab. In addition, all clinicals take place in the student’s home area. Also, Dominguez Hills is affordable and the online RN to BSN degree is a smart choice for California nurses.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the school website for more about nursing at California State University.

12. Unitek College

Unitek College

Unitek College is a for-profit career training school in northern California, with campuses across the region from Fremont to Sacramento. Accredited by the CCNE, Unitek primarily focuses on healthcare and nursing careers, including technical and professional programs. The flexible curriculum at Unitek is for working adults with accelerated courses and both online and on-campus locations. Unitek also helps students with clinical placement, professional development, and employment opportunities.

Unitek’s online RN to BSN is a degree completion program for working, licensed RNs with an associate degree. This CCNE-accredited program keeps classes capped at 20 students, and provides opportunities for students to interact and develop their networks. Students can transfer up to 90 credits. This policy makes it possible to complete the BSN in only 12 months. Additionally, a flat semester tuition rate keeps costs up-front and affordable. Unitek College is for working adults and knows how to meet their needs.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this school.

13. Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University is a private, Seventh-day Adventist college also dedicated to health sciences. Founded in 1905 as a sanitarium facility for long-term, chronic illness, including tuberculosis, Loma Linda developed quickly into a college focused on nursing and also medicine. The Loma Linda University Medical Center is a teaching hospital complex and also one of the most prominent medical centers in the Inland Empire region. Loma Linda offers more than 100 degrees and certifications in health-related areas, as well as in religion.

The Loma Linda online RN to BSN provides an affordable and also reputable way to get a BSN from one of the most trusted names in California health. With access to a top teaching hospital and highly educated faculty, Loma Linda offers students full preparation for higher levels of nursing practice and education. They call it a “hybrid,” but in fact, the only on-campus requirements for the RN to BSN are two clinical labs in Public Health and Community Mental Health. For California nurses, Loma Linda is one of the best and also most convenient choices available.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this school.

14. United States University

A private, for-profit college in San Diego, CA, United State University began in 1997. The school has an unusual mission to help educated immigrants transfer their degree credits for an American degree. While the school continued with immigrant education, over time the health sciences programs proved to be the most popular offering. So, the United States University gradually focused its energies on nursing, healthcare, and business. Today, USU has regional accreditation from the WASC and CCNE-accredited nursing degrees.

The United States University online RN to BSN helps California-licensed RNs earn the credentials they need for a bachelor’s degree both quickly and conveniently. Programs are entirely online with 2 courses every 8 weeks so students can complete the BSN in only 12 months. Additionally, students must complete two clinical experiences. The curriculum design is the Caring Science model. So, it prepares BSN students for leadership positions and also clinical practice founded on evidence-based theory. In addition, RNs in California may also complete a public health certificate during the program for added value.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about BSN programs at this San Diego CA school.

10 Best Nursing Schools in San Diego

15. Simpson University

Founded in 1921 as a small bible college, Simpson University’s first mission was training Christians for local and also foreign missions. This emphasis helps Simpson prepare Christian professionals for both service and missions in their careers. It also helps to build Christian leadership throughout healthcare, business, and other fields.

The Simpson University online RN to BSN degree program is open to licensed RNs from around the US, not just California. Furthermore, working nurses with an associate degree can complete Simpson’s BSN in a carefully-planned 12-month sequence. In addition, if they successfully complete the Community Health clinical course graduates are eligible to apply for a California Public Health Nurse (PHN) Certificate.

Degrees: RN to BSN program

More: Visit the website for more about the Simpson University programs.

15 Best California Online RN to BSN Nursing Schools
15 Best California RN to BSN Nursing Schools

What is a California RN to BSN?

These post licensure programs are for California RNs who hold an active license and want to earn a bachelor’s degree. Many participants attended local community colleges and completed an ADN program. These current nurses enter a four-year college as transfer students with nursing prerequisite courses already completed. Additionally, many programs offer credit for nursing work experience which can also reduce the program length.

BSN graduates earn higher salaries than RNs with an associate degree. And many employers prefer to hire a nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). So, the investment offers a great return for RNs who successfully complete a BSN program.

Other CA Schools

  • California State University San Marcos
  • San Diego State University
  • University of San Francisco
  • National University
  • University of La Verne
  • Western Governors University
  • University of San Diego
  • CSU campuses in San Bernardino, Monterey Bay, East Bay, Sacramento, and Long Beach
  • Cal State Los Angeles Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing
  • University of Southern California

Admissions Requirements for a California RN to BSN Program

The admissions requirements for California RN to BSN Programs may be slightly different at each school. However, most of the admissions requirements are similar.

  • Possess a valid, unrestricted California RN license.
  • minimum GPA – have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Hold a diploma or Associate Degree in Nursing from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Be able to provide official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended, including nursing programs.
  • Submit a completed application form, along with an application fee.
  • Provide a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit a statement of purpose, a personal statement, and a writing sample.
  • Have verification of current CPR certification.
  • Provide three letters of recommendation.
  • Complete a criminal background check and drug screening.

RN to BSN in California: The Online Option

Some of the most affordable RN to BSN programs in America are also in California. These programs consist of online courses and clinical hours that nurses complete in a local setting.

All nursing programs are accredited by the CCNE. In addition, all are regionally accredited by the WASC, except for Unitek College, which as a career school is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges or ACCSC. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) encompasses the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

What Do You Learn in a California RN to BSN Program?

A California RN to BSN program typically covers topics such as nursing leadership, health assessment, health promotion, care coordination, and community health. Students also learn about topics related to healthcare policy and the legal and ethical aspects of nursing practice. Courses may also include topics related to nursing research and evidence-based practice. Clinical experience is also a part of many RN to BSN programs.

  • Nursing Leadership and Professional Issues
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Nursing Case Management of Vulnerable Populations 

California RN Licensure

In California, registered nurses must obtain a license issued by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). To obtain a license, applicants must complete an approved nursing program, pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and pass a criminal background check. Applicants must also provide proof of completing a course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The BRN accepts applications online and by mail.

Nursing Salary in California

California has 5 of the highest-paying metro areas for nurses, including the highest, San Francisco, at $113,000. But those highest-paying jobs aren’t going to RNs. It takes at least a BSN to get into leadership and managerial positions that carry the most responsibility and salary. Soon, BSN will be the standard education level for nursing. In addition, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition program requires that hospitals be staffed by 80% of BSN-holding nurses.

Additional Resources for Nursing Students in California

  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation CHEA
  • US Department of Education US DOE
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing AACN
  • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing ACEN
  • Federal Student Aid US Department of Education Student Aid


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