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Explore Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs in California

Looking to advance your nursing career? Discover the top online NP programs in California designed with flexibility and affordability in mind.

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California is one of the highest-paying states in the country for nurses — so if you’re looking to advance your career, you’re in the right place.

Becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) is an excellent option for many reasons: It’s a high-demand field with many job opportunities and offers a high earning potential. As an NP, you’ll also have the ability to specialize in a niche that you’re passionate about, from neonatal care, to mental health, or women’s health, among others.

As you begin to consider your options, it’s important to research and compare various online NP programs in California. What are the tuition rates and associated fees? How does the curriculum set you up for success in the field?

We’ve created this guide to help answer some of your questions and get you started on your search for an online NP program in California. We’ve also highlighted three standout options in the state so you can get a better idea of what you can expect from a quality education. Your journey as a future NP in the Golden State begins here — keep reading to get started.

To begin your search, we’ve compiled three standout online NP programs in California for you to compare. You can learn more below about their curricula, learning outcomes, admission requirements, financial aid opportunities, and more below. These programs also offer diverse specializations for you to advance your nursing career.

Loma Linda University

Loma Linda University’s Family Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program equips students with the skills to provide quality primary healthcare services from infancy to adulthood. Emphasizing whole-person care and an integration of faith with health principles, the curriculum is designed for FNPs seeking to develop long-term patient relationships.

Curriculum Details: The BSN to DNP program is broken up into three parts and offers a hybrid format, allowing for flexibility in learning. You’ll spend two to five days each quarter on campus during core courses, along with online interaction. Then, you’ll engage in comprehensive clinical experiences, totaling at least 1,000 hours, facilitated by faculty in the Inland Empire region. Finally, you’ll complete a DNP project in the workplace, integrating theory with practice.

Program Length: You can earn your doctorate in just three years and nine months as a full-time student or in five years as a part-time student.

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition: $138,538 for the program; the school estimates that 70-75% of students receive financial aid.

USC Online

USC Online’s Master of Science in Nursing program dives deep into treatment and preventive care and is designed to prepare nurses for leadership roles in healthcare. It prepares aspiring family nurse practitioners (FNPs) to deliver holistic care to individuals and communities, addressing physical, social, and environmental factors affecting patient well-being.

Curriculum Details: The program offers both full-time and part-time tracks, allowing students to balance their education with personal and professional commitments. With a curriculum grounded in evidence-based practice, students explore various aspects of healthcare, including pathophysiology, pharmacology, research methods, and healthcare policy. Clinical experience is integral to the program, ensuring students develop the skills and confidence necessary for success as FNPs.

Additionally, as an online MSN-FNP student, you will be required to attend two on-campus intensives in Los Angeles.

Program Length: Full-time students can graduate in 21 months, while part-time students take 33 months.

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition: $2,244 per unit, or $33,320 per semester (12-18 units)

West Coast University

The Family Nurse Practitioner track at West Coast University (WCU) Online equips students with the necessary skills to provide primary care to families and individuals across all age groups.

This program offers an evidence-based curriculum, preparing students for careers in primary care in private practice or clinical care. You’ll benefit from specialized courses covering pharmacology, adult and geriatric care, women’s health, and pediatrics.

Curriculum Details: You can pursue the FNP track through various pathways, including the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), RN to MSN, and post-master’s certificate programs, each offering flexible online coursework and immersive learning experiences. Clinical practice is a key component of the coursework, facilitated by WCU’s Clinical Placements team, which assists students in identifying suitable preceptors and clinical sites in your local area.

Accreditation: CCNE

Tuition: $635/credit for most courses, with discounts available for military students. California residents can expect to pay about $49,000 in tuition for the program.

What to Look for in a California Online NP Program

As a nursing student in California, you have a wide range of options to pursue your education.

Though your final decision will depend on your career goals and personal needs, there are a few common qualities that you should look for in any program you consider. Some factors, like accreditation and certification exam pass rates, will ensure that you’re receiving a quality education. Meanwhile, factors like affordable tuition and flexibility in format ensure that you find a program that matches your financial needs and personal preferences.

In this section, we’ll explore what features set quality online NP programs in California apart from the rest.


Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a nursing program. Accreditation from one of the leading nursing bodies, such as CCNE or ACEN, signifies that the curriculum meets professional standards and will adequately prepare you to succeed in a full-time nursing role. Programs should clearly list their accreditation status on their website.

There are several other reasons to prioritize an accredited program. For example, you must be enrolled in an accredited program to receive financial aid. After earning your degree, hiring managers are more likely to hire a graduate who attended an accredited school.

Affordable Tuition & Fees

Finances are a huge consideration for anyone furthering their education, as it’s a significant investment in both money and time. As you begin your program search, you should have a good idea of your financial needs and where any potential gaps may be. Then as you compare schools, you can look for programs that are more affordable and fit in your budget.

Don’t be quickly intimidated by the price tag, though. You’ll find numerous scholarships available to nursing students, ranging from those offered by individual schools and local organizations to the state and national level. You can also find certain scholarships through the state of California, such as the Advanced Practice Healthcare Scholarship Program.

Certification Exam Pass Rates

In the same way you had to pass the NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse, you’ll have to pass certain certification exams according to your specialization. Pass rates are an extremely important benchmark for any program, as this signifies that the curriculum is adequately preparing students to succeed — both on their exams and in their careers. You can also visit the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners website for a more detailed look at available exams and their respective requirements.

Comprehensive Curriculum & Clinical Options

By choosing to earn an advanced nursing degree, you’re probably looking to specialize in your skillset and prepare yourself for the next step in your career. Having appropriate curriculum and clinical options to learn from is essential.

Each program you’re interested in should clearly detail examples of curriculum and options for clinical placements so you can see if they match your educational goals.

Flexibility in Format & Enrollment

As busy working professionals, finding a program that can flexibly fit around your current commitments is essential. Luckily, most programs are designed with that flexibility in mind — offering asynchronous and synchronous online courses, part-time options, and varied clinical placements. Be sure to browse various options, such as the three options listed above, to see what offerings align best with your ideal schedule and workload.

Specialization Options

A wide variety of specialties is available to future nurse practitioners, ranging from pediatric care to trauma to family medicine. Once you complete your core courses, you will likely be able to expand your scope of study to include a specialty of your choice.

Each program will offer slightly different specialty options, so be sure to find one that best suits your goals. Some examples of specializations you’ll find in California include Nurse Midwifery, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and more.

A Closer Look at California NP Degrees: Explore Your Options

Exploring your options for online NP degrees in California opens up exciting opportunities for career advancement and professional growth. Let’s delve into the various pathways available to aspiring NPs in the state.


Choosing an MSN program in California opens doors to more jobs, better pay, and a chance to positively impact the overall care of patients.

Pursuing your MSN will equip you with advanced nursing knowledge and skills, allowing you to positively impact patient care outcomes. Whether specializing in family practice, acute care, or another area of nursing, an MSN education provides the foundation for success and advancement in the healthcare field.

Featured Programs:

California State University Chico

University of Southern California


If you hold a graduate degree and seek to enhance your expertise in specialized nursing areas, enrolling in a certificate program could be an ideal choice. This option extends your knowledge beyond what you’ve gained in your master’s nursing program, delving into diverse clinical domains like adult care, pediatric care, geriatrics, women’s health, behavioral health, and street medicine.

Below, you’ll find two featured programs offering certificates: Cal State LA has five post-master’s certificate options tailored to each nursing master’s pathway, ensuring deep, specialized education; and the certificate programs at Touro University typically span four semesters with 630 clinical hours and provide online accessibility for 90% of the coursework.

Featured Programs:

Cal State LA

Touro University California


The Doctor of Nursing Practice program prepares nursing professionals by providing education in the translation of research, implementation of evidence-based practice, project management, and leadership development.

Unlike a PhD, which focuses on research, the DNP emphasizes advanced clinical skills, evidence-based practice, and healthcare policy. DNP graduates are prepared for roles as nurse practitioners, nurse executives, educators, and leaders in healthcare policy and advocacy.

Featured Programs:

California State University Long Beach

Loma Linda University

Career and Salary Insights for California Nurse Practitioners

The demand for nurse practitioners in California is booming, with an estimated 17,300 NPs employed in 2020 and a growth rate of 55.5% over the next decade, according to Projections Central.

This growth exceeds the national average, indicating a particularly favorable landscape for NPs in the state. California also offers competitive salaries for NPs, with median annual earnings of $157,160, significantly higher than the national median of $121,610.

Your earning potential will vary across the state. For instance, NPs in Santa Cruz-Watsonville command a median salary of $152,680, while those in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara earn substantially higher at $210,970. On the lower end, NPs in Visalia-Porterville earn a median salary of $136,140.

Overall, California presents lucrative opportunities for NPs, with high demand and competitive salaries.

New Jobs
Job Growth RateAvg. Annual Openings

Source: Projections Central

Location10th PercentileMedian90th Percentile
United States$87,340$121,610$165,240
Bakersfield, CA$115,980$132,780$192,940
Chico, CA$104,240$155,220$170,310
El Centro, CA$112,470$159,220$179,330
Fresno, CA$105,340$155,960$188,740
Hanford-Corcoran, CA$96,430$143,890$165,240
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$103,890$155,380$203,820
Madera, CA$130,580$158,110$170,990
Modesto, CA$94,220$152,100$197,650
Napa, CA$143,270$206,130$223,050
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA$105,280$152,930$197,200
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$95,700$137,840$185,780
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA$110,610$150,820$220,460
Salinas, CA$125,120$155,740$199,410
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$134,740$192,720$230,030
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$144,150$210,970$232,800
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA$111,750$155,580$190,470
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA$106,490$152,680$199,160
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA$119,560$134,670$170,210
Santa Rosa, CA$93,100$143,860$207,360
Stockton-Lodi, CA$100,470$138,960$178,250
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$107,380$172,840$239,200
Visalia-Porterville, CA$82,770$136,140$181,160
Yuba City, CA$129,290$158,200$220,060

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics