Best Online RN to BSN Nursing Schools in California

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.

If that’s not enough of a push, think about this: 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. By the year 2020, the BSN will be the standard education level for nursing. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition program requires that hospitals be staffed by 80% BSN-holding nurses by 2020 – just a few years from now.

RN to BSN in California: The Online Option

Working RNs don’t have a lot of time to go back to school. But, in the near future it will be a necessity. That’s why TopRNtoBSN has put together the 15 Best Online California RN to BSN Programs ranking. This to-the-point, no-nonsense ranking lets California’s busy working nurses know their options for a convenient, affordable online degree (including some of the most affordable online RN to BSN programs in America). Most programs are accelerated, and even though BSN programs require clinicals, all coursework is online. The top 15 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)

All nursing programs are accredited by the CCNE (except for California Southern University, which is still in the application stage). 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).

1. California State University, Chico – Chico, CA

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 who identify as Hispanic. Chico is also tuned in to the needs of working adults; the average age of Chico’s undergrads is 23. Chico is also surrounded by rural areas where students cannot always easily reach campus. For that reason, Chico State has worked to create some of California’s best online degree programs, reaching out to working professionals through many fully online programs.

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. The online RN to BSN is designed for the challenging schedules of working nurses, with a flexible format and constant support. For working, licensed RNs, Chico State’s program can be completed in just 15 months, running from June to the following August. Nurses never stop, and neither does Chico State’s online RN to BSN program.

2. California State University, Fullerton – Fullerton, CA

A public university serving southern California, California State University, Fullerton is the largest college in the CSU system, with more than 40,000 students. As a major research institution, CSUF has a major footprint in Orange County, generating over $1 billion to the economy. 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. CSUF is proudly designated a Hispanic-serving institution and an Asian American-Native American-Pacific Islander-serving institution.

Cal State Fullerton’s School of Nursing has been educating nurse leaders for more than 40 years, and continues its mission using the most modern means. CSU Fullerton’s online RN to BSN degree program is a perfect example of how the college is meeting 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.

3. Azusa Pacific University – Azusa, CA

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 has become especially well-known in the 21st century for combining evangelical faith with market-ready professional and technical education. With more than 200 on-campus and online degrees, certificates, and other programs, APU is committed to modern education. That includes the School of Nursing, which is built on Christian principles of compassion, ethics, and service.

Azusa Pacific’s online RN to BSN degree program is intended to give busy working nurses the same quality of education without the burden of an on-campus program. 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 get 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 California’s nurses.

4. Concordia University Irvine – Irvine, CA

Part of the Concordia University system – a respected system of 10 Lutheran colleges spread throughout the midwest and western US – Concordia University Irvine was founded in 1976 to bring the trusted Concordia name to southern California. Like other schools in the Concordia system, Concordia Irvine has become known for its excellent online degree programs and outreach to nontraditional students. It’s this touch that has led Concordia Irvine to be recognized as one of the fastest-growing colleges in California, as a top regional college according to U.S. News & World Report, and as a Money magazine best value.

Concordia Irvine’s online RN to BSN degree program combines two of the university’s greatest strengths – 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, as a way of helping nurses keep on track and encouraged. With Concordia’s reputation, the online RN to BSN is an obvious choice for California’s busy nursing professionals.

5. California Baptist University – Riverside, CA

California Baptist University was founded by the California Southern Baptist Convention in 1950 as a small bible college. Though the college steadily grew throughout the second half of the 20th century, CBU really came into its own in the 21st century, especially after it embraced online education. CBU has grown to nearly 10,000 students, many of them nontraditional, working adults and professionals drawn to the university’s many, highly-ranked online programs. CBU has been ranked one of the top 10 online undergraduate educators in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

California Baptist University’s online RN to BSN degree program is a CCNE accredited, fully online degree completion program. Based on CBU’s “human becoming” philosophy – which defines quality of life from the patient’s perspective, rather than a clinical standard – the CBU RN to BSN prepares nurses for a career rooted in 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.

6. California State University, Stanislaus – Turlock, CA

California State University, Stanislaus, dates back to just 1960, when the regional college was founded on the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Intended to provide an 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 50% Hispanic and composed of many other ethnicities, is dedicated to opportunity, providing a full slate of options. Stanislaus State has been recognized by Washington Monthly as one of the best colleges in the nation for social mobility, and as a best value as well.

The CSU Stanislaus online RN to BSN degree program is intended for working, licensed RNs. This 26 credit program is available fully online, except for clinicals. 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 uses asynchronous lectures, tests, and other methods to give students a full experience, and the program can be completed in just a 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.

7. Pacific College – Costa Mesa, CA

Pacific College is a young institution, founded in 1993, and totally 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.

Pacific College’s online RN to BSN degree program is accredited by the CCNE and 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 of an equivalent. With its focus on critical thinking, leadership, and health promotion, the Pacific online BSN is designed to send graduates into managerial positions, or to graduate study.

8. California Southern University – Irvine, CA

California Southern University 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 associate’s to doctoral degrees.

California Southern University’s online RN to BSN degree program is intended for working nurses who already have a current RN license. The CSU program will accept 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 from Behavioral Sciences and Business, giving students a background in mental health and in management, to their advantage on the job market.

9. West Coast University – Los Angeles, CA

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 had built a wide range of programs, from engineering to humanities, 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, and set out becoming a nationally-recognized online educator. In the past 20 years, WCU has cemented its reputation as one of the most reputable, reliable health sciences schools in California.

WCU’s online RN to BSN degree program started in 2015, and since that time has developed into an impressive, convenient means 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, and offers discounted CEs for nurses to retain the RN license. It’s a lot of value for a reasonable tuition rate.

10. Brandman University – Irvine, CA

A private, regionally-accredited college specializing in learning for working adults, Brandman University began in 1959 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 for military personnel, and then for any student in need of flexible scheduling and practical, career-centered programs. Today, Brandman serves students online and on-campus in more than 50 degree programs, as well as diplomas and certificates. Brandman is especially known for its AACN-accredited nursing programs.

Brandman’s online RN to BSN degree program 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, who already have their RN license, or who 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 been doing flexible education for working adults for more than half a century, making it a trusted expert in the field.

11. California State University, Dominguez Hills – Carson, CA

Founded in 1960, California State University, Dominguez Hills, serves the South Bay area, and southern California more widely. Dominguez Hills was created to reach the people of Los Angeles county, a highly diverse region, and CSUDH is one of the most economically and racially diverse schools in the nation. More than half of Dominguez Hills’ students are first-generation college students, and CSUDH graduates more African-American students than any other college in California. Dominguez Hills has also been cited by Washington Monthly for its impact on social mobility, and frequently named a best value.

Dominguez Hills is known for its outreach to working adults, minorities, and other nontraditional students, including nationally-recognized online programs. The CSUDH online RN to BSN degree program is a prime example. For working RNs, or nursing students nearing the end of their associate’s program, the online BSN provides a flexible, convenient option. All courses are online, except for a two-day on-campus lab, and all clinical work can be completed in the student’s home area. Dominguez Hills’ tuition is widely known for affordability, and the online RN to BSN degree is a smart choice for California nurses.

12. Unitek College – Fremont, CA

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 career, including technical and professional programs. The curriculum at Unitek is designed for working adults, with flexible, 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 degree program is a degree completion program intended for working, licensed RNs who already have an associate’s degree. This CCNE-accredited program keeps classes capped at 20 students, and provides opportunity 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, and a flat semester rate keeps costs up-front and affordable. Unitek College is made for working adults, and knows how to meet their needs.

13. Loma Linda University – Loma Linda, CA

Loma Linda University is a private, Seventh-Day Adventist college dedicated to health sciences. Founded in 1905 as a sanitarium – a facility for long-term, chronic illness, including tuberculosis – Loma Linda developed quickly into a college focused on nursing and medicine. Loma Linda is particularly known for the Loma Linda University Medical Center, a teaching hospital complex that is 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 degree program provides an affordable and 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 a 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, most convenient choices available.

14. United States University – San Diego, CA

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 its health sciences programs proved to be the most popular offering. So, the United State University gradually focused its energies on nursing, healthcare, and business. Today, USU is regionally accredited by the WASC, with CCNE-accredited nursing degrees.

The United States University online RN to BSN degree program is designed to help California-licensed RNs earn the credentials they need for a bachelor’s degree quickly and conveniently. Programs are entirely online, and with 2 courses every 8 weeks, students can complete the BSN in only 12 months. Students must complete two clinical experiences. With a curriculum designed around the Caring Science model, BSN students are prepared for leadership positions as well as clinical practice founded on evidence-based theory. RNs in California may also complete a public health certificate during the program for added value.

15. Simpson University – Redding, CA

Founded in 1921 as a small bible college, Simpson University’s first mission was training Christians for local and foreign missions. Its original location, Seattle, WA, was chosen because it was the farther western location in the US. The city was also a stop in the trade route where Christian missionaries could leave for China. With growth, though, the college began focusing on professional careers, especially after relocating to Redding, CA, in 1989. This emphasis helps Simpson prepare Christian professionals for 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. For working nurses with an associate’s degree, Simpson’s BSN can be completed in a carefully-planned 12-month sequence. All courses are taught weekly, on Thursday nights, and students can choose the fully online or hybrid options. Five-week courses help increase retention and give students a way to apply what they’ve learned right away. In addition, an extra term can allow students to complete a certification in public health as well.

Sandra Janowicz

Keeley Jones
Registered Nurse

Carrie Sealey-Morris