Best Private Nursing Schools in California: Top Picks for 2023

Choosing California as the backdrop for your nursing education immerses you in a rich tapestry of diverse cultures and innovative healthcare practices. The state’s private nursing schools, distinguished by their commitment to individualized attention, cutting-edge resources, and close-knit learning communities, offer unparalleled opportunities for those eager to embark on a transformative nursing journey. 

By exploring these private options, you’ll uncover an environment where your aspirations are nurtured, your potential is limitless, and your path to becoming a compassionate and skilled nurse is guided by experienced mentors deeply invested in your success.



Enrolling in California’s best private nursing schools is like cultivating a rare and exquisite flower in a carefully tended garden. Think of yourself as a diligent gardener and these schools as the nurturing environment that provides the ideal conditions for growth. With expert faculty acting as soil and sunlight and cutting-edge resources working as nourishment, they will nurture you to blossom into a skilled and compassionate nurse. 

As you bloom and thrive, you bring a unique and vibrant contribution to the bouquet of healthcare professionals, leaving an indelible mark on patient care.

Best Private Nursing Schools in California for 2023

Let’s review the carefully curated list of California’s best private nursing schools and see what fits you best. 

Concordia University-Irvine

  • Location: Irvine, CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
    • Maintain ≥3.25 GPA every semester
    • Have at least a “B-” in science prerequisites and “C” in others
    • Complete science prerequisites at Concordia University Irvine
    • Complete non-science prerequisites at Concordia if not transferred
    • Full-time enrollment at Concordia
    • Accumulate at least 100 patient care hours pre-graduation
  • Format: In-person 
  • Graduation rate: 63%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 98%
  • Cost of tuition: $60,000

Azusa Pacific University

  • Location: Azusa, CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
    • Application for admission
    • $45 nonrefundable application fee
    • Official transcripts 
    • Two professional recommendations 
    • A one-page statement (professional goals)
    • A resume 
    • Complete prerequisite requirements
    • Current LVN license
  • Format: On campus
  • Graduation rate: 70%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 80.16%
  • Cost of tuition: $59,400

Fresno Pacific University

  • Location: Fresno, CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
    •  GPAs of 3.2-3.6
    • Apply for admission
    • Official copies of your transcripts
    • Complete the FAFSA
  • Format: On campus
  • Graduation rate: 70%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 92.62%
  • Cost of tuition: $45,696

Samuel Merritt University

  • Location: Oakland
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
    • Sixty semester/90 quarter units, incl. prerequisites (min. grade “C”)
    • Recommended GPA: 3.0 
    • Complete nine semester/14 quarter units in a term within two years
    • Acceptable HESI A2* or TEAS scores (exempt from Spring 2024)
    • Two reference letters
    • Short answer responses with the application
  • Format: On campus
  • Graduation rate: 76.6%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 85.45%
  • Cost of tuition: $133,047

Simpson University

  • Location: Redding, CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
  • Complete with a “C” or higher grade:
    • BIBL 1300 Old Testament Literature
    • BIBL 1310 New Testament Literature
    • BIOL 1310 Human Anatomy
    • BIOL 1320 Human Physiology
    • BIOL 2110 Nutrition
    • BIOL 2310 Microbiology
    • CHEM 1300 Intro to Chemistry
    • COMM 1260 Oral Communication
    • ENGL 1210 College Writing I
    • ENGL 1220 College Writing II
    • MATH 2610 Statistics
    • PSYC 1600 Intro to Psychology
    • PSYC 3016 Lifespan Development
  • Prerequisite GPA: 3.0
  • ATI-TEAS score: 78
  • Minimum age: 18
  • Format: Hybrid
  • Graduation rate: 45%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 91.30%
  • Cost of tuition: $18,490 per semester 

Biola University

  • Location: La Mirada CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE  
  • Admission requirements:
  • Hold a strong belief in the Christian faith
  • High school GPA of 3.0. The average GPA for incoming first-year students is 3.54
  • Meet specific GPA requirements for the Pre-Clinical Nursing Program if applicable
  • Graduate from high school
  • Follow the recommended high school curriculum:
    • Four years of English
    • Three years of Mathematics
    • 2-4 years of Foreign Language
    • Two years of Science
    • Two years of Social Science
  • Format: On campus
  • Graduation rate: 73%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 77.50%
  • Cost of tuition: $59,012

Western University of Health Sciences

  • Location: Pomona, CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
    • U.S. regionally accredited BA or BS degree
    • Two references (from your supervisor or faculty)
    • Minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Computer meeting technical standards
    • Proof that you are a U.S. resident, if needed
  • Format: On campus
  • Graduation rate: 87%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 89.71%
  • Cost of tuition: $92,156

Loma Linda University

  • Location: Loma Linda, CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
    • College cumulative and prerequisite GPA: 3.0
    • Prerequisites: “C” or better
    • Application with personal statement
    • Official transcripts from all colleges
    • Pre-entrance exams: TEAS & Critical Thinking
    • Three letters of recommendation (2 from instructors)
    • H.S. diploma or equivalent (official transcripts if no higher degree)
  • Format: Hybrid
  • Graduation rate: 91.7%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 79.45%
  • Cost of tuition: $40,865

National University

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
    • Take the ACCUPLACER mathematics and English evaluation (for students without prior English and/or Math college-level courses)
    • GPA 2.0 or higher
    • Complete an application for admission and enrollment agreement
  • Format: Hybrid
  • Graduation rate: 13%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 79.92%
  • Cost of tuition: $27,820 to $57,985

Vanguard University of Southern California

  • Location: Costa Mesa, CA
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Admission requirements:
    • Three of these five subjects must be completed (with a “C” or a better grade) before acceptance:
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Anatomy
      • Physiology
      • Microbiology
    • Students must complete (with a “C” or a better grade) Psychology and Statistics to graduate with a BSN degree
    • TEAS exam
  • Format: On campus
  • Graduation rate: 60.5%
  • NCLEX-RN pass rate: 66.67%
  • Cost of tuition: On campus: $50,740
  • Off-campus: $39,950

What Can You Do With a Degree From a Private Nursing School?

A degree from a private nursing school can offer numerous opportunities for a fulfilling and successful career in healthcare. Graduates can become registered nurses (RNs) and find employment in various healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, private practices, and home healthcare agencies. 

Private nursing schools often provide specialized training and advanced coursework, enabling graduates to pursue fields like pediatric nursing, senior care, critical care, or nurse anesthesia. Additionally, the smaller class sizes and personalized education often associated with private institutions can provide students with strong clinical skills and a comprehensive understanding of healthcare ethics, setting them toward leadership roles, research, teaching, and other advanced nursing positions.

What To Consider When Choosing a Private Nursing School


Considering some necessary factors when choosing a private nursing school can significantly influence your education experience, career readiness, and long-term success in the nursing profession. That said, let’s go through some of the factors you must consider, including: 


Accreditation ensures that the nursing program meets national quality standards and that the education you receive is recognized and respected in the healthcare industry. Check if the nursing school is accredited by a reputable accrediting body like the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). 

Attending a non-accredited nursing school can jeopardize your eligibility for licensure and employment, as healthcare facilities only accept graduates from accredited programs.

Admission requirements

Understanding admission criteria helps you assess whether you meet the prerequisites and increases your chances of a successful application. Review the school’s admission requirements, including prerequisites, GPA standards, test scores, and other criteria before applying so that you don’t waste your time, effort, and money.


Nursing education can be expensive, so assessing costs helps you plan financially and avoid unexpected financial strain. Compare tuition, fees, and other expenses across different schools. Also, explore scholarship, grant, and financial aid options. Ignoring costs might lead to excessive student loan debt or financial hardship during your education.

Program format

Different program formats (traditional, accelerated , online) suit different learning styles and life situations. Consider how each structure aligns with your learning preferences and existing commitments. Choosing an incompatible format might affect your ability to complete the program.


Knowledgeable and experienced faculty contribute to a high-quality education and supportive learning environment. So, make sure you research faculty credentials, expertise, and involvement in clinical practice and research. 

Program length

Program duration impacts how soon you enter the workforce and start your nursing career. Compare program lengths across schools and understand how they align with your timeline. Opting for an excessively long program might delay your entry into nursing; therefore, you must be aware of the duration. 

Curriculum and clinical hours

A robust curriculum and ample clinical hours ensure comprehensive preparation for real-world nursing challenges. Review the curriculum, courses offered, and the variety of clinical settings available. Not paying attention to this factor can lead to different issues such as insufficient clinical exposure, which results in feeling unprepared to handle actual patient care scenarios.

Graduation and NCLEX-RN pass rates

High graduation rates and reasonable NCLEX-RN pass rates indicate program effectiveness and student success. To check such data, you must research the school’s graduation rates and the percentage of graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN exam on their first attempt. And remember, choosing a program with low pass rates can hinder your ability to become a licensed registered nurse.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, you can choose from many options for the best private nursing schools in California for 2023. Remember that it’s crucial to prioritize factors such as location, accreditation, admission requirements, program format, graduation rate, NCLEX-RN pass rate, and the cost of tuition. Thoroughly researching and comparing these aspects will help you make informed decisions about your education, ensuring a solid foundation for your nursing career.


Are nurses in demand in California?

The demand for registered nurses will increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031, similar to the average growth rate across all professions. On average, there will be around 203,200 job opportunities for registered nurses each year over the next ten years.

What are the requirements to become a nurse in California?

To become a registered nurse in California, you must:

  • Enroll in college preparatory courses during your high school years
  • Decide on the specific kind of nursing school you wish to join (check various BSN programs in California)
  • Opt for a college and complete the application process for admission
  • Seek financial assistance by applying for financial aid
  • Acquire a registered nurse license

How long does it take to become a registered nurse in California?

Becoming a registered nurse in California entails completing a program that spans around four years.

How much does private nursing school cost in California?

Becoming a nurse in California can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000.

Is attending a private nursing school in California worth it?

Attending a private nursing school in California can be worth it for some students, as they often offer specialized programs, smaller class sizes, and potentially better networking opportunities. However, it’s essential to carefully consider the cost compared to public nursing schools and ensure that the chosen private school has a good reputation and proper accreditation.

What is the easiest nursing school to get into in California?

Determining the “easiest” nursing school in California can be subjective and may vary based on factors like GPA, test scores, and application requirements. Generally, community colleges might have slightly less competitive admission criteria than four-year institutions. Still, it’s important to prioritize a program that provides a quality education and prepares you well for a nursing career.

What is the shortest RN program in California?

The shortest RN program in California can vary in duration, but accelerated programs are designed to expedite the process. Some vocational schools and community colleges offer accelerated RN programs that you can complete in as little as 12 to 18 months, depending on prior coursework and individual circumstances.

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