California BSN Programs: The 10 Best Ranked For 2022

Best BSN Programs in California
There are an overwhelming number of BSN Programs in California. Learn which universities have the best programs here.

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Thinking about enrolling in a BSN program in California but feeling overwhelmed by all the options? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

In this article we’ve ranked the top BSN programs in California based on each school’s NCLEX pass rate averaged over the last five years. 

Whereas other sites use out of date data and questionable ranking methodology, we’ve done our homework to ensure you’re getting the crucial info you need to make your enrollment decision. 

All of the NCLEX data we collected comes directly from the California Board of Registered Nursing. We then ran some calculations to determine the average pass rate over the last five years for each school.

Keep in mind, however, that any school that didn’t have data for each of the five years is not included in our rankings. Of the nearly 150 schools we looked at, only 18 didn’t have data for each year.

Finally, keep in mind that you’re not limited to the options listed here. For example, an online degree can be a great way to advance your knowledge and career while maintaining a more flexible schedule.

With that in mind, let’s look at the top-rated BSN programs in California and see if one of them may be a good fit for you!

What Is The Best BSN Program in California?

CSU Long Beach offers the best BSN program in California.

This school has the highest NCLEX pass rate of any BSN program in the state. From 2016 to 2021, the pass rate was 99.02%.

However, just because those numbers are impressive doesn’t necessarily mean this is the perfect choice for you. There are certainly other considerations to make before choosing a school.

To learn more about CSU Long Beach and the other top BSN programs in California, keep reading.

10 Best BSN Programs in California Ranked

The table below ranks the top California BSN programs by NCLEX pass rate. Continue reading to learn more about the top 10 BSN programs in California.

Keep in mind that we are only focusing on BSN programs in this post. Therefore, schools with high NCLEX pass rates but no BSN program are not included.

SchoolNCLEX Exam Pass Rate (5 Year Average)
CSU Long Beach99.02%
Sonoma State University98.89%
CSU Stanislaus98.37%
Stanbridge University97.90%
CSU Sacramento97.40%
CSU Chico97.32%
CSU San Marcos96.92%
Concordia University (Irvine)96.59%
CSU Bakersfield96.46%
San Diego State University96.40%

1. CSU Long Beach

CSU Long Beach BSN Program

As we mentioned above, CSU Long Beach ranks number one on our list of best BSN programs in California with an NCLEX pass rate of 99.02%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 97.24%
  • 2018: 100%
  • 2019: 99.31%
  • 2020: 99.25%
  • 2021: 99.30%

This school offers a number of pathways for you to obtain your BSN. One of them is the “Traditional” Basic BSN. After completing your prerequisite courses, you then have the option of completing the rest of your education on a semester or trimester basis.

CSU Long Beach also offers a pathway for those that are already RNs, called the RN-to-BSN or ADN-to-BSN.

Finally, the school offers a Step-Up Summer Bridge Program, where current ADN students can complete non-clinical BSN courses prior to applying to the RN-to-BSN program.

According to GradReports.com:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 98%
  • Median debt after graduation is $15,250 (based on 215 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $86,010 (based on 327 students)
  • Impressively, this salary outcome earned the school a 97/100 salary score

2. Sonoma State University

Sonoma State University BSN Program

The second-highest ranking BSN program on our list is Sonoma State University. The five-year average NCLEX pass rate for this school is 98.89%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 100%
  • 2018: 100%
  • 2019: 100%
  • 2020: 94.44%
  • 2021: 100%

Sonoma State features a standard four-year track for its BSN students. The first two years consist of pre-nursing prerequisites and general education requirements. After that, you can apply for admission into the nursing major.

This school also offers post-licensure BSN degrees. These can be obtained through one of two pathways: the Traditional RN-to-BSN or the Collaborative Nursing Education Continuum Model (CNECM).

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 100%
  • Median debt after graduation is $12,500 (based on 48 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $109,020 (based on 81 students)
  • Incredibly, this salary outcome earned the school a 100/100 salary score

3. CSU Stanislaus

CSU Stanislaus BSN Program

The third California BSN program in our rankings is CSU Stanislaus, with a five-year average NCLEX pass rate of 98.37%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 98.53%
  • 2018: 97.26%
  • 2019: 100%
  • 2020: 98.21%
  • 2021: 97.83%

CSU Stanislaus offers several different pathways for getting your BSN:

  • Traditional BSN
  • RN-to-BSN
  • Accelerated BSN (for those with a Bachelor’s Degree in a different field of study)

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 100%
  • Median debt after graduation is $23,000 (based on 111 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $99,100 (based on 147 students)
  • This salary outcome earned the school a 100/100 salary score

4. Stanbridge University

Stanbridge University BSN Program

Stanbridge University is the next BSN program on our list with an five-year average NCLEX pass rate of 97.90%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 100%
  • 2018: 100%
  • 2019: 94.83%
  • 2020: 98.72%
  • 2021: 95.95%

The University offers their BSN program, in addition to other nursing degrees, at the following locations:

  • Irvine, Orange County
  • Alhambra, Los Angeles
  • Riverside

You can also enroll in their online RN-to-BSN or Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration programs.

Additionally, it’s interesting to note about this school is that it emphasizes innovative learning, featuring virtual reality, synthetic cadavers, haptic IV trainers, and telemedicine. 

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 100%
  • There is no median debt reported
  • Median alumni salary is $110,880 (based on 11 students)
  • This salary outcome earned the school a 100/100 salary score

5. CSU Sacramento

CSU Sacramento BSN Program

The next BSN program in California on our list is CSU Sacramento with an average five-year NCLEX pass rate of 97.40%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 95.10%
  • 2018: 98.64%
  • 2019: 97.39%
  • 2020: 98.53%
  • 2021: 97.33%

To get your BSN from CSU Sacramento, you must spend the first two years completing General Education requirements and prerequisites before completing two years of clinical nursing work. 

Remember, like the other programs on this list, you’ll need to apply for admission to do the clinical work. However, you can improve your chances of acceptance if you:

  • Possess bilingual skills
  • Have health-related experience
  • Are a first-generation student
  • Having no course omits for GPA calculation and/or not needing to repeat any prerequisite courses

The school also offers two additional pathways to obtain your BSN: an RN-to-BSN Traditional 15 Week Semester track and ADN-to-BSN Collaborative track. If you attend full time, these programs are designed to be completed in 12 to 15 months, and courses are mostly online.

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 98%
  • Median debt after graduation is $14,790 (based on 167 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $105,140 (based on 311 students)
  • This salary outcome earned the school a 100/100 salary score

6. CSU Chico

CSU Chico BSN Program

Number six on our list of the top BSN programs in California is CSU Chico where the five-year average NCLEX pass rate is 97.32%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 96.88%
  • 2018: 97.62%
  • 2019: 98.68%
  • 2020: 97.33%
  • 2021: 96.10%

Like most other BSN programs in California, you first need to complete your general education requirements. Then, this school provides five semesters of clinical training. 

However, after the completion of the first semester in the nursing school, students are eligible to apply as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). This allows you to get real nursing experience, which can improve your employability once you pass the NCLEX.

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 98%
  • Median debt after graduation is $18,700 (based on 134 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $92,040 (based on 141 students)
  • This salary outcome earned the school a 99/100 salary score

7. CSU San Marcos

CSU San Marcos BSN Program

Seventh on our list of top BSN programs in California is CSU San Marcos with a five-ear average NCLEX pass rate of 96.92%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 95.97%
  • 2018: 97.71%
  • 2019: 97.12%
  • 2020: 97.66%
  • 2021: 96.13%

CUS San Marcos offers four different pathways to obtain your BSN. They include:

  • Traditional BSN
  • Accelerated BSN
  • LVN-to-BSN
  • RN-to-BSN

The Traditional BSN is a pre-licensure program which leads to a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Once complete, you’re eligible for licensure and certification.

The Accelerated BSN is a 24-month program for students who hold a non-nursing degree and haven’t completed any RN or LVN coursework.

The LVN-to-BSN program is for students who hold a valid LVN license in California and want to obtain their BSN to advance their careers.

Finally, the RN-to-BSN program is designed for RNs with an Associates Degree who want to advance their education. This pathway is an accelerated, online program where you can earn your BSN in as little as 16 months.

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 99%
  • Median debt after graduation is $23,140 (based on 412 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $87,520 (based on 378 students)
  • This salary outcome earned the school a 98/100 salary score

8. Concordia University (Irvine)

Concordia University Irvine BSN Program

The school with the next-best BSN program in California is Concordia University (Irvine) with a five-year average NCLEX pass rate of 96.59%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 90.79%
  • 2018: 98.55%
  • 2019: 99.12%
  • 2020: 98.98%
  • 2021: 95.52%

Concordia University offers three different pathways for you to get your BSN. They include:

  • Undergraduate Pre-Nursing Minor
  • Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN)

The Undergraduate Pre-Nursing Minor provides you with an educational foundation which you can build on to get your BSN. Here, you earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Biology with a Pre-Nursing Minor.

Once you complete your BA and Minor, you are eligible to apply for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Degree. Both degrees can be completed in as little as five years.

The Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway isn’t technically a degree program, but it prepares you for acceptance into the ABSN program, regardless of your current major.

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is for students who hold a Bachelor’s Degree and want to transition into nursing. It offers hands-on experience and can be completed in as little as 15 months.

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 100%
  • Median debt after graduation is $20,310 (based on 125 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $87,730 (based on 129 students)
  • This salary outcome earned the school a 98/100 salary score

9. CSU Bakersfield

CSU Bakersfield BSN Program

The ninth school on our top 10 BSN Programs in California is CSU Bakersfield with an NCLEX pass rate of 96.46%.

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 96.08%
  • 2018: 92.00%
  • 2019: 98.21%
  • 2020: 97.92%
  • 2021: 98.08%

The pre-licensure BSN program at CSU Bakersfield requires one year of prerequisite courses, followed by three years of nursing courses. They also offer concentrations in areas like:

  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics
  • Critical Care Nursing

If you already have your ADN, you can also enroll in the school RN-to-BSN program. This program is online and allows you to get your BSN in as little as 15 months.

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 99%
  • Median debt after graduation is $11,890 (based on 62 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $80,960 (based on 111 students)
  • This salary outcome earned the school a 92/100 salary score

10. San Diego State University

San Diego State University BSN Program

The final school in our top 10 BSN programs in California is San Diego State University with a five-year average NCLEX pass rate of 96.40%

The pass rates for each year were:

  • 2017: 96.84%
  • 2018: 98.04%
  • 2019: 97.39%
  • 2020: 93.91%
  • 2021: 95.80%

The pre-licensed BSN program at San Diego State University is available to:

  • Incoming freshman via Direct-Entry
  • Transfer students
  • Second baccalaureate students

The school also offers an in-person RN-to-BSN program for students with an ADN or Diploma in Nursing.

According to GradReports:

  • The employment rate for graduates from this program is 99%
  • Median debt after graduation is $18,180 (based on 166 students)
  • Median alumni salary is $86,450 (based on 256 students)
  • This salary outcome earned the school a 97/100 salary score

What is the Average BSN Nurse Salary in California?

The average Registered Nurse salary in California is $120,560.

On average, California pays higher RN salaries than every other state in the US. Keep in mind, however, that the cost of living is much higher here than other states.

Is a BSN Program In California Right For You?

If you’re looking to get your BSN by attending in-person classes at a program in California, one of the programs above should be a good fit.

However, remember that online programs can often help you save time and money. They tend to offer a more flexible schedule, which can be vital if you want to continue working while advancing your education.

If you’re not sure how to begin looking for an online program, you can start your search here!

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