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The Best Nursing Schools in Northern California

The Best Nursing Schools in Northern California

From the hilly San Francisco to its hundreds of gorgeous vineyards, northern California is known for its beautifully diverse landscape and diverse population. Residents can live near the Pacific coast or inland near the bustling tech hub of Silicon Valley. Whatever your preference, northern California is a fabulous place to live and work. Registered nurses can earn anywhere between $71K to $120K per year depending on their education and experience. RNs that have a BSN degree will start on the higher end of the pay scale and with more hospitals and healthcare agencies requiring a BSN degree, more nursing schools in northern California are offering a variety of pathways to enable students to earn their BSN degree.

Whether you are seeking to begin your nursing career or desiring to advance it, many schools offer affordable and accredited programs to help you begin a successful career in nursing.

Best Nursing Schools in Northern California

1. Sonoma State University

As one of the smaller colleges in the California State University System, Sonoma State University has one of the highest graduation rates in the state. Nursing programs are available in a variety of formats and all the programs are fully accredited by the ACEN. With a well-known reputation for preparing professional and well-qualified nurses, Sonoma State University remains among the top nursing schools in northern California.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $7,388
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 23:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

2. California State University-Chico

The second oldest university in California, California State University-Chico, has held top rankings for over 20 years as one of the top regional universities in the west by U.S. News and World Report. CSU Chico is also recognized for making marketable degrees readily available for non-wealthy students. Among those degrees is the BSN degree from the school of nursing. Students can participate in the basic BSN program, an RN to BSN accelerated program or those seeking advanced degrees can earn their MSN from CSU-Chico as well.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $7,040
  • Graduation Rate: 59%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 23:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.6%

3. California State University – Sacramento

Serving a richly diverse student body and community, California State University – Sacramento is located, obviously, in Sacramento. With a richly diverse student body, CSU Sacramento offers hands-on experience for aspiring nurses to become knowledgeable about and culturally aware of caring for a diverse population. The nursing school is fully accredited by the CCNE and provides theory and evidence-based knowledge to prepare students to care for a diverse population across their life span. Students can earn their BSN through the school of nursing.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $6,900
  • Graduation Rate: 43.7%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 25:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 97.3%

4. American River College

Located in Northern Sacramento county, American River College is a community college offering accredited two-year degree and transfer programs for students desiring to further their education upon graduation from American River. Sitting on a beautiful 153-acre campus, American River is one the largest community colleges in the state of California and one of the most affordable colleges with a student body of over 42K. Aspiring nurses can earn their associate of nursing degree at American River College and qualify to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Upon passing the exam students can practice as an RN or transfer to a university and further their education to earn a BSN degree.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,104
  • Graduation Rate: 9.7%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 29:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

5. Merritt College

Merritt College is a community college with three different campuses to serve the students throughout the Oakland area. The ADN program has received top rankings for being among the best in the state of California. Students will attend the courses on campus and participate in clinical experiences to help them learn the skills needed to earn their RN certification.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,232
  • Graduation Rate: 9%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 25:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

6. Contra Costa College

Contra Costa College has had a long-standing pass rate for the NCLEX-RN exam. Students that have completed the courses for the ADN program can earn their RN licensure upon passing the NCLEX-RN exam. The nursing program is available at three different campuses.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,308
  • Graduation Rate: 16.8%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 40:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

7. Reedley College

In the agricultural region of San Joaquin, Reedley College provides quality education for an affordable cost. Students desiring to begin a career in nursing can earn their LPN certification or if they already have some education and experience they can participate in an LPN to RN program. With the rising demand for well-educated and highly trained nurses continuing to climb, this is a great place to begin your career in health care.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,304
  • Graduation Rate: 31.5%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 40:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 100%

8. Sacramento City College

Located in the heart of Sacramento, Sacramento City College offers a variety of degrees and programs for a diverse student body. SCC offers numerous outreach centers and locations to meet the needs of and to enable more students to achieve success through their educational pursuits. Students of the nursing program will learn nursing theory and practice their skills in local hospitals in the region to earn their clinical hours. Students can earn their ADN and enter the health care system as an entry-level nurse or transfer to a larger university to earn their BSN.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,104
  • Graduation Rate: 7.5%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 25:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 98.2%

9. Evergreen Valley College

A community college in San Jose, Evergreen Valley College, offers a successful ADN program for students desiring to become nurses. Upon completion of the program, students are adequately prepared to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Since 1964, EVC has provided a highly regarded nursing program for the community.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,343
  • Graduation Rate: 8.6%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 29:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 96%

10. Ohlone College

A public community college in Fremont, Ohlone College has been serving the community for over 50 years. Students receive expert faculty training throughout their time learning nursing theory, practical skills, and clinical experiences. Graduates can care for patients of a diverse population across their life span.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,162
  • Graduation Rate: 5.8%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 47:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 96.8%

11. De Anza College

Recognized for student success rates after graduation in the heart of Silicon Valley, De Anza College is a two-year community college that offers a great start for career success. Many graduates of De Anza transfer to a university to further their education. Students desiring to start a career as a nursing professional can earn their associate degree in nursing and either begin as an RN or they can transfer to a university and enroll in an accelerated BSN program. The technology and lab experiences students will participate in at De Anza will prepare them for the many aspects of nursing care for patients of all ages and backgrounds.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,549
  • Graduation Rate: 67.8%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 28:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 95.9%

12. Samuel Merritt University Oakland

Located on the Summit campus of the Alta Bates Medical Center in Oakland, Samuel Merritt University is a premier health sciences university. Samuel Merritt has been graduating nursing professionals for over a century and continues to prepare innovative leaders in the field of nursing. Students can earn their BSN, MSN, or DNP degrees through programs available on campus, online or a hybrid of each. Graduates are trained to be knowledgeable, compassionate, and skilled in their field of nursing. Whether students are entry-level nurses or advancing their careers through the DNP programs, Samuel Merritt will provide the quality education and clinical experiences necessary for success.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $49,977
  • Graduation Rate: 99%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 8:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.1%

13. West Hills College Lemoore

A community college in the San Joaquin Valley, West Hills College Lemoore, provides affordable education for students desiring to earn an associate degree. Graduates can either enter the healthcare field with an entry-level position or transfer to an institution for an advanced degree. Students can earn an associate degree in nursing.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,380
  • Graduation Rate: 11.2%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 13:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 94.4%

14. City College of San Francisco

The City College of San Francisco is one of the most important nursing schools in northern California and a very important institution for the city of San Francisco, enrolling nearly 70,000 students each year across its many campuses in the Bay area. CCFS embraces the diversity of its student body and community. One-way CCFS does this is through offering free English classes for everyone. As a two-year community college, many professionals start here and can transfer or begin their careers upon graduation. Students desiring a career in the nursing profession can earn their associate degree in nursing and become an RN upon passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,598
  • Graduation Rate: 7.1%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 25:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.3%

15. California State University – Fresno

Serving a richly diverse student body and community, California State University – Fresno is located in the central Californian city of Fresno. With a distinction for serving Hispanic, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders, diversity is part of what makes CSU-Fresno such a culturally diverse experience for students attending the university. The nursing school is fully accredited by the CCNE and provides theory and evidence-based knowledge to prepare students to care for a diverse population across their life span. Students can earn their BSN, MSN, and DNP through the school of nursing.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $6,313
  • Graduation Rate: 52.4%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 23:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.9%

16. University of California San Francisco

Consistently ranking among the best in the country, the University of California San Francisco is driven to offer the best research, the best teaching, and the best patient care in the nation. UCSF is the premier institution for higher learning for the health sciences and continues to lead the nation with the most advanced health care practices and discoveries, obviously making it onto our list of the best nursing schools in northern California. With dedicated faculty that are the leaders of nursing research and education, students receive an education that will prepare them to be the next leaders in the field of nursing.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $47,550
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 13:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 93.7

17. Simpson University

A private, faith-based university, Simpson University has been graduating professional nurses for years. The art of caring is at the core of the nursing curriculum and practice taught at Simpson. The nursing programs are fully accredited by the ACEN. Those programs include a fast track for an RN to BSN, as well as a traditional BSN track. Students receive valuable hands-on experience in state-of-the-art simulation labs.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $25,950
  • Graduation Rate: 79%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 10:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 92.8%

18. Unitek College

A very reputable healthcare and nursing college, Unitek College has prepared nurses to heal hearts, minds, and bodies for almost 20 years. Utilizing the latest technology and providing state of the art labs for students to practice in, graduates are well prepared to be leaders in the health care system. Unitek offers seven different facilities across the state of California for the convenience of students.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $32,865
  • Graduation Rate: 77%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: Information Not Available
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 90.1%

19. San Jose State University

As a transformational university of Silicon Valley, San Jose State University recognizes the critical role it will play in utilizing leading cutting-edge technology in every degree. Aspiring nursing professionals will receive a liberal and professional education from San Jose’s school of nursing. Graduates are enabled to be knowledgeable clinicians, leaders, and educators in their communities. Students can earn their BSN, MSN and DNP degrees from San Jose, a fully accredited nursing school through the CCNE.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $7,418
  • Graduation Rate: 51.6%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 26:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.7%

20. University of San Francisco

Nestled between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Golden Gate Park is the University of San Francisco, a private Jesuit University. Embracing the unique surroundings of San Francisco, USF shows that it is a university with unmatched opportunities for students. With many international companies and a dense and diverse population, students at USF have unmatched learning experiences with many internships and externships to hone their skills. Students pursuing a nursing career will learn to embrace progressive thought built upon the Jesuit mission.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $44,494
  • Graduation Rate: 70%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 13:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 89.9%

21. Allied Health – Butte College

Allied Health – Butte College offers three paths to help students enter the field of nursing at an entry-level. Students can participate in the LVN, RN, or LVN to RN bridge program available. This serves as an affordable way to begin a career in healthcare and provide experience for those seeking to advance their careers in the future if they desire to earn their BSN from another accredited university.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: Information Not Available
  • Graduation Rate: Information Not Available
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: Information Not Available
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 89%

22. San Francisco State University

Located in the beautiful and vibrant city of San Francisco, San Francisco State University is part of the California State University System. What opened up as a teacher training college is now a large competitive university offering over 100 undergraduate degrees and many post-graduate degrees. The mission of the nursing school is to meet the healthcare needs of individuals, families and the larger community. The nursing program is fully accredited by the CCNE. Students are placed in various hospitals and healthcare settings for their clinical experiences to optimize their skill set and prepare them to practice as nursing professionals upon graduation.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $6,484
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 23:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 87.64%

23. Dominican University of California

As one of the oldest universities in California, the Dominican University of California offers a large-scale university education with small classes. With an ethnically diverse student body and a location just minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, Dominican University has been a private institution since 1890. Students will get unique opportunities for clinical experiences in acute care, long-term care, and community settings. Graduates also receive faculty mentoring throughout their educational experience.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $43,400
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 16:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 85.7%

24. Fresno City College

As the first community college of California, Fresno City College has had a long history of offering the largest nursing program in California. Fresno City College is one of the most affordable nursing schools in northern California. Nursing students will be prepared to enter the field of nursing with a basic nursing understanding and clinical experience for entry-level ADN positions or transfer to a university to further their education and earn their BSN degree to maximize their earning potential.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $1,304
  • Graduation Rate: 26.1%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 27:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 84.9%

25. Fresno Pacific University

As the only accredited private Christian university in the region, Fresno Pacific University has been educating students for over 100 years. With a dedicated faculty and a challenging curriculum to help students excel, FPU prepares graduates to become leaders in their professions. Currently, there are both traditional campuses, online, and hybrid paths available for students to receive their BSN degree. Students that currently hold an RN license can participate in an accelerated BSN program.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $29,320
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 13:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 83%

26. University of California – Davis

Located in the heart of northern California, the University of California – Davis is within two hours of Sacramento, the bay area, and Lake Tahoe. Founded in 1908 with a reputation of solving problems and leading out as a competitive university on a large 5,300-acre campus, UC Davis continues to graduate tomorrow’s leaders. The Betty Irene School of nursing has been known for its creative approach to teaching and preparing nurses by breaking previously held boundaries and developing innovative partnerships. There are BSN, MSN and DNP programs with paths for specialization.

At A Glance

  • Tuition: $14,046
  • Graduation Rate: 83.2%
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: 20:1
  • NCLEX Pass Rate: 78.9%

Methodology

With a growing need for well-educated and qualified nursing professionals climbing in the next ten years, students desiring to enter the field of nursing will benefit from quality education and mentoring from leaders in nursing. Browse the many nursing schools in northern California to find what program fits your needs and apply today to prepare for a career that is in high demand that offers a lot of opportunities for growth and leadership.

These schools were ranked using a matrix of the cost and the NCLEX-RN pass rate. Other factors such as the number of nursing programs and student to teacher ratios were taken into consideration after cost and pass rate.

Whether you are seeking to begin your nursing career or desiring to advance it, many schools offer affordable and accredited programs to help you begin a successful career in nursing.

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