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Accelerated BSN Programs in California: Online and On-Campus

Switch to a nursing career quickly with an accelerated BSN program (ABSN) in California. Learn how ABSN programs work, discover top schools, explore online and on-campus options, and more in this guide.

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Interested in switching to a nursing career but not sure where to start? Accelerated BSN programs in California, often called ABSN programs, can fast-track your path to licensure, especially if you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. With general education requirements complete, you can focus on building the nursing knowledge base needed in a fraction of the time it normally takes to earn a nursing degree.

This guide looks at how accelerated BSN nursing programs in California work, including admissions requirements and program content. It answers frequently asked questions, discusses costs and financial aid, and highlights several quality online and campus programs. You’ll find out how to get started in an accelerated BSN program in California designed for students who already have a bachelor’s in another field.

Best Accelerated BSN Programs in California

Three top-ranked BSN accelerated programs in California are profiled below to help jumpstart your search. We’ve vetted them using key criteria like affordability, curriculum, and student support to show you who stands out. Each school listed holds the accreditation and state-approval you need to obtain California licensure for working as a nurse.

California State University, Fullerton

The School of Nursing at California State University Fullerton offers a 2-year accelerated BSN program that prepares students from other disciplines for nursing work. The program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and readies aspiring nurses for RN licensure in California. California State welcomes new nursing students each fall and uses a cohort format to promote peer collaboration and enhance the overall learning experience.

Administered in part by the school’s College of Health and Human Development, the 62-credit program boasts a 96% NCLEX pass rate. It develops knowledge in health assessment and evidence-based nursing practice through core courses in pathophysiology, pharmacology, and reproductive health. It also builds key skills in patient management and cultural diversity. Students conclude their studies with an integrative capstone experience centering on practical application and patient care delivery. Most students receive clinical placements at approved sites in the greater Fullerton, CA area.

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University’s accelerated BSN program requires 54 credits that most students complete in 15 months or less. It provides the training and education necessary for entry-level nursing practice in community clinics, hospitals, home care centers, and other healthcare settings. Administered through a partnership with the school’s College of Extended Learning and College of Health and Social Sciences, the program qualifies students for further nursing study, public health nursing certification, and RN licensure through the state of California.

San Francisco State’s curriculum studies human development and health assessment using innovative lab tools and theory-based class sessions. Students learn to execute intervention treatments and provide care for groups and individuals across lifespans. Classes also build skills in chronic care, mental health, and end-of-life concerns. Students can access resources that include financial aid opportunities, nursing simulation aids, and peer networking organizations.

Mount Saint Mary’s University

Each year, Mount Saint Mary’s University welcomes up to 40 students in its accelerated BSN program. Most students graduate within 12 months and are prepared to launch careers in healthcare and patient-centered practice. The program qualifies students for California state licensure and additional public health certification. It cultivates key soft skills in critical thinking, quantitative research, and interpersonal communication. Students also learn to build a keen sense of clinical judgment and practice using it to enhance patient outcomes.

This program involves 48 credits delivered across a rigorous course schedule that includes some summer study. Classes in human nutrition, child development, and bioethics build a solid foundation complemented by practice-based offerings. Students attend regular nursing skills labs and receive expert-level instruction in medical-surgical nursing, gerontology, and palliative care. Incoming students need an accredited bachelor’s degree and some general education prerequisites.

Curriculum Components for Accelerated BSN Program in California

Most accelerated BSN programs follow a similar structure and use common curriculum elements. In general, expect to complete components like those detailed below. Each component builds the knowledge base and key skills needed to transition into nursing from another field.

1. Nursing Classes

Programs typically begin with a sequence of core nursing classes. A program with online or hybrid capabilities might offer these virtually. These courses establish knowledge foundations and introduce the nursing profession to those coming from other disciplines. They include instruction in evidence-based practice, mental health, patient recording-keeping, and health informatics.

2. Clinical Training

Upon coursework completion, you’ll move into the hands-on component of your program. For most accelerated BSN programs in California, this means in-person clinical training in supervised settings like hospitals, health clinics, community treatment centers. This component integrates theory and practice through the application of the skills and knowledge gained during coursework.

3. General Education Coursework

Accelerated BSN nursing programs in California also require general education classes in core areas like English writing and composition, critical thinking, communication, and mathematics. If you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, you can waive general education coursework requirements and focus immediately on nursing fundamentals.

FAQs About Accelerated BSN Programs in California

How long is an accelerated BSN program in California?

One of the great aspects of accelerated BSN programs in California is their fast-track to completion. Most bachelor’s degrees take around 4 years to complete, but California’s accelerated BSN programsoffer a path to completion in half that time. Individual timetables vary by school, but most students are eligible for licensure in 2 years. California State University, San Marcos, for example, graduates new nursing professionals in 24 months, while Concordia University-Irvine offers an even faster course of study lasting only about 15 months.

How many of my current bachelor’s degree credits can be transferred to my California accelerated BSN program?

Most accelerated BSN programs cater to students with significant college experience, including those with bachelor’s degrees in a non-nursing field and those looking to change careers. As a result, most BSN nursing programs in California expect incoming students to possess a substantial amount of transfer credit if not an entire undergraduate degree that satisfies core prerequisites. Azusa Pacific University’s program, for example, requires 120-125 credits for graduation and accepts up to 74 transfer credits, preferably general education courses earned at a regionally accredited institution.

How much do ABSN programs in California cost?

Cost is a big factor in any higher education endeavor, especially for students earning a second degree and making a major career change, and understanding the expenses upfront helps you make a smarter decision. Fortunately, most accelerated BSN programs in California are relatively affordable, especially when considering the pay increase possible as a licensed nursing professional (more on that in a later section). You can use the list below to gain a general picture of the costs involved in pursuing an accelerated BSN.

California State Los Angeles

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Total Credits: 53


National University

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Second Bachelor’s Degree (California)

Total Credits: 59


Concordia University Irvine

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Total Credits: 59


What are the admission requirements for accelerated BSN programs in California?

Most schools have admission requirements similar to those at Tseng College and Concordia University Irvine, which include the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Official academic transcripts indicating a competitive GPA
  • A professional resume
  • A written statement of purpose expressing program interest
  • Evidence of course prerequisites (normally in science and human anatomy)

Specific admission details, including deadlines, vary by school. Contact program administrators for the most up-to-date information on what you need to supply with your application.

How do I know if an accelerated California BSN program is high quality?

A state-approved and accredited program indicates a program is of high quality. State approval through the California State Board of Nursing, which establishes nursing standards, means you can proceed to licensing upon graduation without any additional steps. Proper accreditation, overseen by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, indicates a program is high-quality. Earning a BSN from a program with accreditation adds industry-wide value and recognition to your degree.

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

Some accelerated BSN programs in California offer financial aid for new and returning students in the form of scholarships, fellowships, grants, and loans. State entities like the California Board of Nursing and the Department of Health Care Access and Information provide financial aid opportunities and resources for BSN students as well. Also check with potential employers or other nursing stakeholders for any incentive programs. See our financial aid and nursing scholarship guides to start your search for available financial aid opportunities.

Inside Look at Online ABSN Programs in California

Hybrid and online BSN programs in California work much like other healthcare programs, but they have online opportunities usually offered within the early stages of study before clinicals begin. These online courses allow you to complete coursework entirely online through synchronous and asynchronous learning tools. Some programs require in-person attendance for lab components, while others use innovative simulations accessible in virtual learning environments. Even taking just some classes online makes it much easier to integrate your studies with other commitments.

These programs are not 100% online. After you finish coursework, you still must complete in-person clinical training to prepare for real-world work conditions. This gives vital hands-on experience before proceeding to licensure, examination, and employment. Navigate to our main online accelerated BSN program page for more information on how these online BSN programs work.

Examples of Quality Online Accelerated BSN Programs in California

Brandman University

Brandman University offers an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that takes 3 years or less. The program offers financial aid for qualified, competitive students and is led by practicing nurses. It provides preparation for the NCLEX exam and results in licensure as a registered nurse within California. The curriculum entails core coursework and clinical training experiences in patient care contexts. This accelerated online BSN programdelivers coursework using interactive technologies that maximize flexibility and convenience. After coursework, students complete clinical placements in person at approved sites across the state.

Brandman’s core nursing curriculum involves 68 credits and covers basic pathophysiology and health assessment, pharmacology and evidence-based practice, psychiatric care, and nursing ethics. The program has four separate admission periods throughout the year, holds state approval, is accredited by the CCNE, and offers additional preparation for the NCLEX exam ahead of licensure.

Holy Names University

Holy Names University administers a hybrid degree completion program that results in a BSN in just 15 months. The program, like many accelerated BSN nursing programs, has an intensive pace. Coursework and clinical instruction come in short sequences and build upon previous learning experiences. The program keeps a low student-to-faculty ratio and extends financial aid to all its full-time undergraduate students. It prepares aspiring nurses for work in healthcare agencies, physicians’ offices, and community clinics.

Like other accelerate online BSN programs in California, Holy Names provides hybrid options for students looking to take advantage of remote learning opportunities. These options apply to the coursework portion of the program, after which students complete in-person clinical rotations at an approved facility. This CCNE-accredited program also offers a free NCLEX preparation course to all students immediately following graduation.

What’s Next After Your Accelerated BSN Program in California

After graduation, you’re ready to take the NCLEX exam and pursue licensure as a nurse in California. The California Board of Register Nursing sets the requirements and eligibility criteria for this process. Before applying for your initial license, you must register for and pass the NCLEX exam, an industry-wide assessment administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing that every new nursing professional must pass. Once you have your results, you can submit a licensure application that includes the following materials:

  • Official academic transcripts
  • Fingerprint authorization (including applicable fees)
  • A passport-size photo
  • A request for accommodations form (if applicable)
  • Any additional information required by the nursing board

The nursing board normally processes applications within a few weeks, but official licensure can take 1-2 months.

Career & Salary Outlook for BSN Nurses in California

This section answers questions related to the career and salary outlook for BSN graduates in California. It discusses the demand for registered nurses in California and offers data indicating how much you might make in your new career after completing a BSN program and passing the NCLEX.

Are BSN registered nurses in high demand in California?

BSN degree-holders and licensed nursing professionals are in exceptionally high demand in California. According to a recent NPR report, the Golden State bears the brunt of a nationwide nursing shortage that has accelerated due to COVID-19 and other public health concerns. The job outlook data below supports this trend. Nursing job growth will continue increasing across the country through the next ten years, but the 16.7% growth rate in California is significantly above the national average. This bodes quite well for current students, new professionals, and those looking to transition into the nursing industry from another discipline.

Job Outlook for Registered Nurses in California

Employment (2018) New Jobs (2018-2028) Job Growth Rate (2018-2028) Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
California 319,800 373,200 16.7% 23,850
United States 3,059,800 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

How much do BSN nurses make in California?

Graduates of accelerated BSN nursing programs in California stand to benefit from encouraging pay trends overall. For registered nurses nationally, California remains the top-paying state. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data, RNs in California bring in an average annual wage of $137,690.

Nursing professionals with a BSN see similar earning potential. For example, as of April 20, 2022, ZipRecruiter reports that BSN nurses in California earn $89,529 annually on average. Top earners receive upwards of $144,516 per year. This means that once you obtain licensure, there is plenty of room for increased earning power as you gain crucial on-the-job experience.