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Online RN Programs California

Many public and private California colleges offer online nursing programs for aspiring RNs or existing RNs looking to advance their education. These can lead to ADN, BSN, MSN, DNP and more.

In this article, we delve into the considerations, benefits, and some of the best online RN programs in California.


  • Ensure program is approved by CA Board of Registered Nursing
  • Check if any in-person clinical hours are required
  • Research career prospects and salary outlook

Benefits of CA Programs

  • High grad employment rates and salaries
  • Flexible online class formats
  • Frequent enrollment cycles/starts
  • Scholarships and financial aid opportunities

Best Online RN Programs in California

California State University

  • Large public state university system with 23 campuses
  • In-state graduate tuition around $7,000-$10,000 per year
  • Varies by campus but most CSU nursing programs have 80%+ NCLEX pass rates

California State University (CSU) offers online nursing programs through Professional and Continuing Education. Some key programs include:

  • Online RN to BSN: For registered nurses looking to advance their education. Some financial aid may be available.
  • ADN/RN-to-BSN Programs: Students can earn an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) from a California community college, then continue on to earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) from CSU.
  • CSU campuses like CSU Stanislaus, CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU San Marcos, and Cal State LA offer online RN to BSN programs specifically.

To apply for CSU nursing programs, students use the Cal State Apply application portal. The CSU system also offers many online degrees and courses through Cal State Online.

Azusa Pacific University

  • Private Christian university
  • Higher tuition around $42,000 per year
  • Nursing NCLEX pass rate is 95%

Azusa Pacific University (APU) has several nursing programs, including:

  • Online RN to BSN: For registered nurses looking to complete their bachelor’s degree. Designed for adult learners.
  • RN to BSN Integrative Enrollment Pathway: Online option for students already enrolled in the ADN program at Pasadena City College to transition to APU’s BSN program.
  • BS in Nursing Transfer: Allows transfer students to leverage prerequisite credits and benefit from APU’s clinical opportunities.
  • Entry-Level Master’s in Nursing (ELM): Graduates new nurses at the master’s level prepared for professional nursing practice.

California Baptist University

  • Private Christian college
  • Tuition is $37,000 per year
  • Nursing NCLEX pass rate is 98%
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – Traditional 4-year on-campus program
  • RN to BSN – Online program for licensed RNs to complete their BSN
  • MSN in Healthcare Simulation Leadership – Online graduate program

So while CBU has online options for current RNs to advance their degrees, incoming pre-licensure students must complete the traditional BSN program on CBU’s campus.

Admission requirements include prerequisite courses, TEAS test scores, CPR certification, letters of recommendation, and more. The CBU School of Nursing website has further details on applying and getting accepted.

National University

  • Private non-profit focused on working adults
  • Graduate tuition around $12,000-$15,000 per year
  • Nursing NCLEX pass rate is 93%

National University (NU) offers several accredited online and on-campus nursing programs in California:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – Generic Entry: Traditional 4-year Bachelor’s program to become an RN
  • RN to BSN: Online degree completion program for licensed RNs
  • Master’s in Nursing degrees: Fully online MSN options
  • RN to MSN Pathway: Allows RNs to transition directly into a Master’s program


  • NU has online and on-site course options to accommodate different learning styles
  • Their nursing programs meet Board of Registered Nursing standards
  • Graduates qualify to take the NCLEX-RN exam to gain licensure
  • Program lengths range from 11 months (RN to BSN) up to 2 years

NU focuses on flexible online and on-campus nursing program offerings across California for earning various nursing degrees.

West Coast University

  • Private for-profit college with career-focused programs
  • Estimated tuition is $35,000 per year
  • Nursing NCLEX pass rate is 92%

West Coast University (WCU) offers the following online nursing programs for registered nurses:

  • RN to BSN: Allows RNs to earn their Bachelor’s degree fully online in as little as 8 months with the accelerated program.
  • RN to MSN: RNs can transition directly into the Master of Science in Nursing graduate program through WCU’s online offering.
  • MSN: Master’s in Nursing Leadership and Management available 100% online.
  • DNP: Doctor of Nursing Practice program with flexibility for working nurses.

WCU has on-campus options as well for earning a BSN and ADN. But they facilitate online continuing education and advancement for licensed RNs through RN to BSN completion, RN to MSN pathways, and other remote nursing programs.

Biola University

  • Private Christian college, higher tuition
  • Nursing tuition is $44,000 per year
  • Nursing NCLEX pass rate is 99%
  • BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing): Traditional 4-year, on-campus program to become a registered nurse. Includes rigorous coursework, simulations, labs, and clinical rotations.
  • Online Courses: Some general education and bible/theology courses can be taken online. But the nursing curriculum itself is completed in-person.
  • Post-Licensure Offerings: No clear online RN to BSN or MSN programs for those already licensed as RNs.

Biola University facilitates strong clinical nursing preparation through its on-campus program. Students integrate Christian values and develop skills for professional practice. But nursing courses don’t seem to be offered online.

Insights and Analysis: Best Online RN Programs in California

When exploring the realm of online nursing programs in California, several key factors come into play:

1. Program Approval and Accreditation: Before enrolling in any program, ensure that it is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing. Accreditation is a vital marker of program quality and adherence to industry standards.

2. Clinical Requirements: While online coursework is a central component of these programs, many require in-person clinical hours to provide students with crucial hands-on experience. Prospective students should be prepared to fulfill these requirements locally.

3. Career Prospects and Salary Outlook: Conduct thorough research on career prospects and salary potential for your chosen nursing path. Different degrees may lead to varying job opportunities and earning potential.

Benefits of California Programs: California’s online nursing programs come with several advantages, including:

a. High Graduate Employment Rates and Salaries: Graduates from these programs often enjoy strong employment rates and competitive salaries, making them attractive choices for those pursuing a nursing career.

b. Flexible Learning Formats: Online classes offer flexibility, allowing students to balance their education with work and other commitments.

c. Frequent Enrollment Cycles: Many programs offer multiple enrollment periods throughout the year, accommodating the needs of working professionals and those seeking career changes.

d. Scholarships and Financial Aid: Students can explore scholarship and financial aid opportunities to ease the financial burden of pursuing their nursing education.