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Online & Campus LVN to BSN Bridge Programs in California

Take your nursing career to the next level through a traditional or partially-online LVN to BSN program in California. Learn about top-ranked programs, see how much more you could earn, and get other key info in this guide.

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WRITTEN BY: Shannon Lee
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REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 09/26/2023

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The nationwide shortage of registered nurses has been in the news for years, but the desperate need for RNs is even more serious in California. To help train more RNs more quickly, LVN to BSN programs in California have become quite popular. They allow licensed vocational nurses to build upon their prior training and experience to become RNs as quickly as possible.

Completing an LVN to BSN program results in increased responsibilities as well as greater room for professional growth. It can also lead to much higher pay. This guide expands on these benefits, spotlights some of the top programs available today, and provides an overview of what to expect in an LVN to BSN program in California.

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Nursing School Spotlights: Best LVN to BSN Programs in California

LVN to BSN programs in California are a popular option for licensed vocational nurses to increase their responsibilities, pay, and professional growth potential. These programs can also be completed far more quickly than traditional or even accelerated BSN programs. We’ve identified some of the top accredited LVN to BSN programs in California, and the three highlighted below stand out in 2024 in terms of affordability, academic quality, and student support services.

West Coast University

When it comes to LVN to BSN programs in California, West Coast University’s LVN to BSN Program stands out in terms of flexibility. Much of the coursework is completed on campus, and the curriculum requires on-site clinicals for the hands-on training needed to go from working as an LVN to being a BSN-trained RN. Students choose from approximately 500 approved clinical locations spread out over the entire country. For further convenience, classes commence every 10 weeks and have multiple start dates each academic year. Students can graduate in about 34 months.

To make the shift from LVN to RN as affordable as possible, West Coast University offers various scholarships based on financial need and academic achievement. After graduating, students can take advantage of the university’s Career Services Department, which offers workshops and guidance to help its nursing students achieve their professional goals.

Cal State East Bay

Nursing students at Cal State East Bay choose from a variety of academic tracks, including the Master’s Program, Post-Licensure Program, and Pre-Licensure Program. The Pre-Licensure program consists of five semesters and 68 credits, and includes an LVN-BSN Pathway. This track is intended for incoming students with extensive experience and knowledge in the licensed vocational nursing field. Classes in the program include, among others:

  • Clinical Pathophysiology
  • Maternity Nursing
  • Transitions of Care
  • Legal Issues in Nursing Practice
  • Preceptorship Practicum

To help students manage the program’s challenging curriculum, pass the NCLEX-RN, and find nursing employment after graduation, Cal State East Bay offers its Student Nurse Mentorship Program in which each incoming student receives a professional RN to serve as a mentor. Students must formally apply to take part in the mentorship program, which begins annually each spring.

FAQs About LVN to BSN Programs in California

What additional nursing skills and knowledge will I gain in an LVN to BSN program in California?

Compared to traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, LVN to BSN programs in California take the student’s background into account. Applicants already know basic health assessment techniques and have taken many of the foundational science courses needed to earn a BSN. After LVN students confirm this prior knowledge, programs (like the one at California State University San Marcos) award them credits toward their BSN degrees. New courses provide advanced nursing skills, such as:

  • A familiarity with the evidence-based practices and decision-making strategies used to develop nutritional intervention and therapy plans.
  • The ability to successfully apply management principles and business theories, informed by scientific data, in delivering quality food and nutrition services across a wide range of settings.
  • An effective and sensitive understanding of cultural competency, diversity, and equality when working with clients, patients, and colleagues, along with an awareness of how those concerns affect healthy nutrition and dietetics.
  • A strong set interpersonal skills required to support and encourage behavioral changes necessary for increased health and wellness at all ages.
  • A comprehensive understanding of the scientific methods that undergird nutritional science and the ability to critically assess new research.

How long does it take to complete an LVN to BSN program in California?

The typical LVN to BSN program in California lasts anywhere from two to three years. Timing depends on the particular curriculum and whether the program will grant transfer credits for the LVN’s prior academic coursework. For instance, the LVN-BSN program at Azusa Pacific University takes two years of full-time study to complete. Students can expect to take longer than two years in order to complete any needed general education or other prerequisite coursework.

How much do LVN to BSN programs in California cost?

The cost of attending one of the many LVN to BSN programs in California differs based on many factors, including the type of school (public versus private), prior academic training, and program format. For example, attending a public school as a full-time student and California resident is usually less expensive than for a non-resident taking classes part-time. Here’s how tuition rates stack up at three representative schools in California with LVN to BSN bridge programs.

Azusa Pacific University

B.S. in Nursing LVN to BSN

Total Credits: 72

$825/credit

Loma Linda University

LVN to BSN in Nursing

Total Credits: 185 (quarter credits)

$83,895 (total tuition)

Point Loma Nazarene University

Nursing, LVN to BSN

Total Credits: 88-89

$21,300 per semester for 12 and 17 credits.

$1,420/credit if taking more than 17 credits

$1,775/credit if taking less than 12 credits

What are the admission requirements for LVN to BSN programs in California?

Each of California’s LVN to BSN programs has its own admissions requirements for incoming students, but most have similar core components. These include:

  • An unencumbered California LVN license in good standing
  • Application and application fee
  • Official transcripts showing completion of prerequisites with a minimum GPA

Some programs have additional requirements such as a resume, personal statement, interview, minimum score on an entrance exam (such as the TEAS), and letters of recommendation.

What should I look for in an LVN to BSN program in California?

When researching LVN to BSN programs in California, make sure the program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). This accreditation is necessary to become a registered nurse and to qualify for most forms of financial aid.

Also, look at the school’s NCLEX-RN passage rate for first-time test takers. You can often find this information on a school’s website; if not, check with the California Board of Registered Nursing. A high pass rate doesn’t guarantee you’ll pass on your first try, but it’s a strong indicator of the level of education quality offered at the school and the effort put into ensuring students are learning effectively.

Finally, look for good support services when searching for LVN to BSN programs in California. These include academic assistance, mentorship, and career development opportunities.

Can I get financial aid to help pay for my LVN to BSN program in California?

Students in LVN to BSN programs in California have many options to help pay for their education. Scholarships are often available from your school itself, and there are traditional sources like scholarships from private organizations and student loans from the federal government. The California Board of Registered Nursing also lists resources and potential financial aid opportunities for RN students.

To learn more about how to pay for your education, check out our nursing scholarship guide and financial aid guide for information on finding and applying for financial assistance.

Inside Look at Online LVN to BSN Programs in California

Fully online LVN to BSN programs in California do not exist because of requirements for hands-on learning experiences. With the coronavirus pandemic, however, some schools began offering online classes to avoid the risk of infection and have continued to offer these classes to the present day. In addition, a few programs allow students to complete prerequisite classes online. Visit our online LPN/LVN to BSN programs page for more information.

Common Questions About Online LVN to BSN Programs in California

Are hybrid and online LVN programs more affordable than campus programs in California?

In most cases, no. Schools typically charge the same tuition rates for both their online and on-campus LVN to BSN programs. However, you will likely save money taking classes online due to the savings on such expenses as the cost of transportation to attend on-campus classes.

Can I finish my LVN to BSN program in California faster by taking coursework online?

One benefit of online coursework is the ability to complete classes at a faster pace. However, many online LVN to BSN programs in California employ a cohort model in which students in the cohort progress through the curriculum as a single unit at the same pace. Additionally, labs and clinicals require in-person instruction that prohibits students from advancing more quickly through their coursework.

Will earning my LVN to BSN degree online or through a hybrid program impact my ability to get certified or licensed?

The format of your LVN to BSN coursework has no bearing on whether you meet the eligibility requirements to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and become a registered nurse. If you complete an LVN to BSN program in California that’s accredited by the ACEN or CCNE, you’ll be ready for certification and licensure regardless of whether the program is online, on-campus, or hybrid.

Will employers care if I take some of my LVN to BSN classes online?

As long as you graduate from an accredited program, obtain your RN license, and can apply what you’ve learned to your job, employers will not care if you took some of your nursing classes online. They understand that even with online coursework, the labs and clinicals must be completed in-person.

How Do I Go from Being an LVN to a BSN Nurse in California?

The two primary components of the process for going from an LVN to a BSN involve graduating from an accredited nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. During this process, students must also:

  • Report any discipline taken against them while practicing as an LVN
  • Submit fingerprints for a background check
  • Provide their social security or tax ID number
  • Authorize the California Board of Registered Nursing to request an official transcript from their nursing school
  • Complete the application (which includes providing a 2”x2” passport-type photograph)
  • Pay the application fee of $300 (if graduating from a California school) or $350 (if graduating from a non-California school)

Keep up-to-date with the latest nursing licensing information by visiting the California State Board of Nursing.

Whether you complete a traditional or online LVN to BSN program in California, expect to be in high demand after graduation. The dire need for registered nurses means you can also expect a high-paying salary. The following section looks at the potential job market and the projected compensation changes when advancing from working as an LVN to working as an RN.

How much more can I make going from an LVN to BSN in California?

After you complete your California LVN to BSN program, you could see your annual salary double. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an LVN in California can expect a yearly salary increase of 43% to 132% after becoming an RN. Also, the vast majority of annual median salaries for California RNs are well above the national average of $73,300.

LVN Median
Annual Earnings
RN Median
Annual Earnings
Annual %
Earnings Increase
California $59,210 $110,620 87%
Bakersfield, CA $56,180 $92,570 65%
Chico, CA $57,490 $82,120 43%
El Centro, CA $46,230 $88,200 91%
Fresno, CA $49,890 $93,530 87%
Hanford-Corcoran, CA $65,690 $106,260 62%
Los Angeles – Long Beach – Anaheim, CA $57,690 $105,950 84%
Merced, CA $49,420 $101,040 104%
Modesto, CA $56,680 $101,620 79%
Napa, CA $63,670 $111,510 75%
Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura, CA $55,590 $95,310 71%
Redding, CA $58,860 $109,320 86%
Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario, CA $56,250 $103,660 84%
Sacramento – Roseville – Arden – Arcade, CA $58,830 $130.580 122%
Salinas, CA $59,430 $137,950 132%
San Diego – Carlsbad, CA $61,830 $105,100 70%
San Francisco – Oakland – Hayward, CA $67,520 $141,640 110%
San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara, CA $65,710 $146,380 123%
San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles – Arroyo Grande, CA $59,600 $103,240 73%
Santa Cruz – Watsonville, CA $63,880 $142,930 124%
Santa Maria – Santa Barbara, CA $59,580 $106,060 78%
Santa Rosa, CA $66,460 $104,010 57%
Stockton – Lodi, CA $59,440 $114,770 93%
Vallejo – Fairfield, CA $66,900 $135,790 103%
Visalia – Porterville, CA $47,520 $90,540 91%
Yuba City, CA $58,880 $121,450 106%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019

What’s the job market like for BSN nurses in California vs. LVNs?

The job market for both licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses in California looks promising. Both professions have anticipated growth rates well above the national average. From 2019 to 2029, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates the national need for LVNs and RNs to grow roughly 9% and 7%, respectively. California’s projected need for both, according to Projections Central, is over 15%.

Employment
(2018)
New Jobs
(2018- 2028)
Job Growth Rate
(2018 – 2028)
Average Annual Openings
(2018 – 2028)
LVNs in California 76,600 11,600 15.10% 7,440
RNs in California 319,800 53,400 16.7% 23,850

Source: Projections Central