Nursing Schools in Los Angeles: Traditional + Online Programs

Find out what top nursing schools in Los Angeles have to offer, whether you’re a new student, a practicing nurse looking for advancement, or looking for a career change.

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Last Updated: 09/22/2021
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Nursing programs in Los Angeles offer multiple starting points to help launch a new nursing career or advance an existing one. The sheer number of options can be overwhelming, though, and you may wonder which one to choose. Is a campus-based, direct-entry program right for you, or would you benefit more from an online bridge program that can take you from an RN to a BSN or MSN nurse while you continue working?

This guide details the various types of Los Angeles nursing programs (including online programs) and profiles some top-ranked nursing schools offering them to help you find the best option for your needs. After reading it, you’ll feel confident knowing which programs and schools are right for you, know where to find financial aid, and understand more about the job market for nurses in the Los Angeles area.

Best Nursing Schools in Los Angeles for 2021

The nursing schools and programs profiled below rise above the competition by offering multiple pathways to completion and accommodating delivery options. They are also accredited and state-approved, affordable, and have high NCLEX pass rates. Narrowing down the possibilities can be challenging, so we’ve selected nursing schools in Los Angeles offering the programming and resources you need. Find out which programs set themselves apart in 2021.

University of California, Los Angeles

A public land-grant institution founded in 1882, the University of California, Los Angeles operates nearly 20 different schools and colleges in science, engineering, and the liberal arts. Its School of Nursing extends a standard bachelor of science in nursing for prelicensure students along with four different graduate programs. The BSN program accepts new students and transfers alike and requires at least 180 credits, including general education classes, pre-nursing instruction, and core nursing coursework. Like other nursing programs in Los Angeles, this program includes hands-on clinical training placements with regional partners in Southern California.

UCLA’s graduate programs include MSN offerings in clinical nursing and advanced nursing practice, a PhD program, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The school uses in-person learning modalities for all its programming and is accredited by the Commission on College Nursing Education (CCNE). It is also approved by the California nursing board and boasts a 95% NCLEX pass rate.

California State University, Los Angeles

The Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing at California State University, Los Angeles administers a standard BSN program, an MSN course of study, a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), and several post-graduate certificates. The BSN program offers three pathways. New and transfer students complete their degree through the traditional track in about three years. Completable in just 15 months, the accelerated BSN attracts students with bachelor’s degrees in non-nursing fields. Cal State also offers an RN to BSN bridge program for working nurses with active licenses.

The MSN and certificate programs provide opportunities for specialization in mental health, adult gerontology, nursing education and administration, and family nurse practitioner. All nursing students enjoy access to Cal State’s innovative simulation center and its hands-on tools for skills labs and health assessment modules. The fully accredited programs prepare nursing personnel for a range of evidence-based practice opportunities in hospitals, clinics, and community treatment centers.

Mount Saint Mary’s University

Mount Saint Mary’s University offers three undergraduate nursing programs in Los Angeles with accreditation from the CCNE. Its RN to BSN program caters to nursing professionals with associate degrees. Its hybrid approach delivers a 3-semester course of study that furthers competency in key areas like palliative care and community public health. Aspiring nurses with undergraduate degrees in a different field can enroll in the school’s accelerated BSN program, which readies candidates for licensure within one year.

Students with little to no college experience can enter the nursing field through Mount Saint Mary’s traditional BSN program. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can enroll in the BSN program with special provisions recognizing previous experience, and transfer students can bring in up to 32 credits. Clinical rotations for each pathway occur near the end of study and focus on adult medical practice and surgical nursing.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in or Near Los Angeles

Whether you’re an active nurse or new to the field, Los Angeles nursing schools offer a variety of programs to meet your individual needs and education level. Here are some of the most common options available to prospective nursing students and working nursing professionals.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in Los Angeles

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

ADN programs offer the fastest and most basic path to entry-level nursing employment. Most programs can be completed in two years or less. They offer a working introduction to the field, combining theory-based courses with clinical training. Graduates fulfill all eligibility requirements for initial licensure by examination.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with this Program

Los Angeles City College
American Career College

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (Traditional BSN)

A BSN results in a bachelor’s degree. Designed for incoming freshmen interested in a traditional higher education experience, these programs expand on the training offered to ADNs. BSN students receive training in clinical reasoning and patient-centered care, ultimately opening a wider range of employment opportunities for those with RN licensure.

Learn more about BSN programs in Los Angeles

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with this Program

American University of Health Sciences
Biola University

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated BSN (ABSN) programs offer an expedited path to RN licensure and employment for those with some college experience, ideally bachelor’s degrees in non-nursing fields. They waive general education requirements based on previous coursework and focus on the skills and knowledge you need to get your RN license.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with this Program

Concordia University, Irvine
California State University, Los Angeles

Direct-Entry MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

Direct-entry MSN programs offer a path similar to an ABSN course of study. They accept students with previous bachelor’s or master’s degrees in disciplines other than nursing and administer courses resulting in a Master of Science in nursing. Some offer specializations in areas like family nurse practitioner and prepare graduates for licensure.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with this Program

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
Western University of Health Sciences

Nursing Bridge Programs in Los Angeles for Current Nurses

LVN to RN and LVN to BSN Programs

LVN to RN and LVN to BSN pathways recognize and build upon previous training. They offer professional development options for vocational nurses with active licenses, giving them a way to obtain RN credentials or BSNs without starting over. These bridge programs typically last four semesters.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with this Program

Pierce College
Cerritos College

RN to BSN Programs

Licensed RNs with ADNs or similar can advance their careers through this bridge program that leads to a BSN. These programs expand your skillset and deepen your technical nursing knowledge. Because they offer advanced placement and opportunities for transfer credit, most students graduate in as few as 12 months.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with this Program

Glendale Career College
University of Antelope Valley

RN to MSN Programs

If you’re interested in graduate-level study and have an active RN license backed by a BSN, consider an RN to MSN program. Unlike direct-entry MSNs, these programs do not require training in nursing fundamentals. Instead, they offer a focused course of study that recognizes your background and encourages specialization.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with this Program

West Coast University
Western University of Health Sciences

Advanced Nursing Programs in Los Angeles

Traditional MSN Programs (Master of Science in Nursing)

Traditional MSN programs are designed for licensed nurses with BSNs. They provide high-level educational opportunities that qualify you for advanced practice in areas like adult gerontology, nursing education, nursing informatics, and leadership and administration. They offer flexibility in delivery and pacing and accept students on a full or part-time basis.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with This Program

Mount Saint Mary’s University
University of California, Los Angeles

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD Doctoral Programs

The highest level of nursing education, doctoral nursing programs further verify your professional status and qualify you as an expert. Completion timeframes vary widely, and degrees include either a PhD or a DNP. A PhD focuses on research and education, while a DNP second focuses on advanced clinical practice.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with This Program

Azusa Pacific University
California State University, Los Angeles

Post-Graduate Nursing Certificates

If you already hold an MSN, post-graduate certificates can help you develop additional expertise. Not only do they broaden your employment opportunities and increase your earning power, but they offer a variety of specialization topics. Most programs require 30-35 credits that most working professionals complete in two years or less.

Examples of Los Angeles Nursing Schools with This Program

Western University of Health Sciences
Mount Saint Marys’ University

Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in Los Angeles

Online nursing programs in Los Angeles use hybrid delivery methods. This means that while you fulfill many requirements online, you still need to complete some in-person components. Programs like the ones spotlighted below typically use online modalities for all didactic coursework where students receive instruction within a virtual environment through innovative and responsive digital tools. The shift to in-person learning comes for your clinical training.

The combination of hybrid (i.e., online and in-person) requirements differs by program and pathway. Generally, programs with fewer remedial requirements are easier to complete online. Bridge programs, for example, offer greater freedom in delivery because they build on previous training and experience.

Best Online Nursing Schools in Los Angeles

Azusa Pacific University

Located in the San Gabriel Valley, Azusa Pacific University (APU) operates a top-ranked School of Nursing that administers several online nursing programs in Los Angeles. Its Bridge to BSN program accepts ADN students interested in getting a head-start on undergraduate nursing coursework through sequential enrollment. It entails 40 core credits administered during summer sessions. The RN to BSN program, also available online, gives licensed nurses the opportunity to develop additional professional skills at higher levels of practice. APU also has two graduate nursing programs online. The MSN in nursing education and a Doctor of Nursing practice use low-residency formats to accommodate working professionals.

Each program delivers coursework in virtual environments using asynchronous tools. This means students and busy individuals can access material, complete assignments, and interact with instructors with flexible convenience. Students move through programs using a cohort model, which provides additional support and opportunities for interaction.

Stanbridge University

Stanbridge University’s School of Nursing holds CCNE accreditation, state approval, and offers two online pathways. Its RN to BSN program requires 180 total credits, and most students bring in up to 90 transfer credits and complete the remaining instructional requirements in two years or less. Stanbridge uses a cohort model for coursework and delivers all curriculum components entirely online using flexible tools. Students receive instruction in role transformation in nursing, pharmacology, health informatics, and other areas designed to deepen skills and broaden professional competency.

Licensed RNs with BSNs can take advantage of Stanbridge’s 100% online MSN program, which builds specialization in areas like nursing education. The 46-credit program typically lasts 18-19 months and delivers courses in contemporary nursing trends, integrative technology, curriculum design, and teaching techniques for nursing educators. Like other online nursing programs in Los Angeles, both the MSN and the RN to BSN offerings at Stanbridge conclude with hands-on practicum components.

West Coast University

West Coast University’s online nursing programs in Los Angeles include pathways for RNs to obtain either BSNs or MSNs, a traditional MSN course of study, a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program, and five post-graduate certificates. Most students complete the RN to BSN bridge program in just 12 months, receiving knowledge foundations in pathophysiology, healthcare ethics, and disease prevention. The MSN completion option takes 24 months and offers specializations in family nurse practitioner, advanced generalist, nurse educator, nurse leader, and nursing informatics. The DNP program adopts a similar 24-month timeframe.

The school structures each program to fit the circumstances of busy working professionals and administers coursework entirely online. Courses typically last 8 weeks and include multiple delivery and pacing options. Each program holds CCNE accreditation and includes hands-on practical experiences in applied settings.

FAQs About Online Nursing Schools in Los Angeles

Can I earn my nursing degree in Los Angeles completely online?

You can complete all coursework requirements using online modalities, but you will still need to complete clinical training components in person. Most online nursing programs in Los Angeles offer a great deal of flexibility in course delivery and pacing to accommodate the busy lives of actively working nurses.

Will my online Los Angeles nursing degree be considered less valuable by employers?

Potential employers are less concerned with how your degree is delivered and more interested in the skills and qualifications you receive. As long as you complete an accredited program approved by the state board of nursing, employers won’t care about the learning modality used.

Are online nursing programs in Los Angeles more affordable than campus programs?

This depends on factors like the type of school, where you live, and how you enroll. Tuition rates fluctuate year to year, even for the cheapest schools. Overall, online nursing programs in Los Angeles fall in the same price range as traditional offerings.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in Los Angeles

Scholarships, grants, and other awards can help reduce overall costs. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for nursing students in Los Angeles. Most nursing schools in Los Angeles extend some form of financial aid to new and returning students. If you don’t see those opportunities advertised, ask a program administrator about the possibilities.

Other organizations or government entities like the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development offer scholarships to qualified nursing students. The California Board of Nursing also keeps an active list of available financial aid opportunities. For more information on awards like these and tips on how to secure them, see EduMed’s nursing scholarship guide and main financial aid page.

How to Become an RN in Los Angeles: Licensing Requirements

All aspiring nurses in California must satisfy the licensure requirements outlined by the California Board of Nursing before they can obtain employment. Your license validates your credentials and authorizes you to work as competent, qualified nursing professional. This involves completing an approved and accredited program, passing the NCLEX to assess your competency, and complying with other government requests and regulations. For more on this process, see EduMed’s guide to California nursing programs.

Job Opportunities for RNs in Los Angeles

California tops the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current list of states with the highest levels of RN employment. For metropolitan areas, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region ranks behind only New York City using those same criteria. When combined with long-term projections from the U.S. Department of Labor, trends show that graduates of nursing schools in Los Angeles stand to benefit from a vibrant and thriving job outlook. The nursing profession in California will see a growth rate of over 16% in coming years, adding over 25,000 new jobs available to graduates. By comparison, the average growth rate for all occupations nationwide currently rests at just 4%. California’s Employment Development Department lists nurse practitioners employed in hospital systems, clinics, and community treatment centers among the fastest growing occupations through 2025.

How Much You Could Make as an RN in Los Angeles

Whether you’re a new nurse or an experienced RN, additional education can expand your job prospects and increase your earning potential. Enhancing your professional standing by obtaining RN licensure, for example, opens new doors and significantly increases your salary.

RNs in Los Angeles receive an annual wage consistent with larger statewide numbers and over 40% higher than the national RN average. By contrast, licensed practical nurses in LA without the extra education bring home $64,090, almost half what RNs make. Advanced nurse practitioners holding a master’s degree from nursing schools in Los Angeles earn more than both, enjoying an annual mean wage of $145,970.

Earnings for Registered Nurses in Los Angeles

Median Hourly Wage Mean Hourly Wage Annual Mean Wage
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $54.50 $54.38 $113,120
California $56.93 $57.96 $120,560
United States $36.22 $38.47 $80,010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020

Los Angeles Nursing Resources for Students and Professionals

National Association of Hispanic Nurses – Los Angeles

This local NAHN chapter supports Hispanic nurses and community health. It engages in collective action to increase access to education and quality care. It also offers scholarships and grants, hosts conferences, and sponsors local events.

California Board of Registered Nursing

The Board of Registered Nursing is empowered by the state of California to both license nurses and establish education requirements. It provides detailed information on the licensure process, establishes guidelines for professional conduct, and oversees continuing education.

California Nursing Students’ Association

This organization supports aspiring nurses in California by extending financial aid and recognizing outstanding achievement. It implements a mentorship program to advance its mission and maintains local chapters within nursing schools in Los Angeles.

Association of California Nurse Leaders

This association maintains an active career center to support new nurses and aggregates relevant local and industry-wide news. It advances nursing leadership efforts throughout California and has a local chapter serving the greater Los Angeles area.

California Nurses Association

Headquartered in Oakland, this professional association has a local office just outside Los Angeles. It advocates for improvement in healthcare delivery and offers assistance to active nurses by posting open jobs and sponsoring continuing education opportunities.