How Much Does Nursing School Cost in California

The cost of attending nursing school in California varies. There are a lot of factors that go into your education beyond just tuition, especially when it comes to nursing programs.

With so many different options for degrees, programs, and specialties, breaking down the cost of nursing school is mainly dependent on the schools you want to attend. To get an accurate estimate of your costs, you should start by filling out and submitting the FAFSA® application.

The FAFSA® will allow a school to understand your financial situation better and advise you on potential grants, scholarships, and loans they can make available to you.

After you know what kind of financial aid you’ll receive, you’ll have a better understanding of how much your education will cost you

What Nursing Programs Are Offered in California?

No matter what area of nursing you want to focus on, California’s universities and colleges offer a wide variety of programs to choose from. If you’re still in the process of narrowing down your degree or program type, don’t worry.

There are tons of resources online that can help you recognize what is required of each. Wherever you stand in the process, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular nursing programs in California.

This list should give you a starting point and a better understanding of some of the fundamental requirements to get your nursing degree or certificate. Keep in mind, each of these will be different depending on what your current level of education is.

If you’d like to learn more about a specific program, it would be best to get in touch with the college admissions office.

Nursing Programs in California

Registered Nurse

Required Education: ADN or BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing)

Nurse Practitioner

Required Education: MSN (Master’s of Science in Nursing)

Nurse Midwife

Required Education: MSN (Master’s of Science in Nursing)

Licensed Practical / Vocational Nurse

Required Education: Post-secondary non-degree awards

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Required Education: MSN or DSN (Doctor’s of Science in Nursing)

Intensive Care Unit RN

Required Education: ADN or BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing)

Travel Registered Nurse

Required Education: ADN or BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing)

Dental Hygienist

Required Education: ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Required Education: ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing)

Physician Assistant

Required Education: MSN (Master’s of Science in Nursing)

Pediatric Nurse

Required Education: ASN or BSN

Obstetric Nurse

Required Education: ASN or BSN

Attending nursing school comes with one caveat that doesn’t apply to most areas of education. You need to be sure that the school you choose is accredited. To ensure you can become a licensed nurse, you need to attend a program that is accredited by the California Board of Registered Nursing.

The BRN is responsible for implementing the Nursing Practice Act, which oversees the laws relating to nursing education, licensure, practice, and discipline. If you attend a school that is not accredited, you risk not being able to get your license to practice and having to repeat your education.

For the full list of colleges that are accredited in the state of California, you can view their website here.

Average Cost Per Nursing Program
in California

Due to all the varying factors that go into the cost of nursing education, there are no hard numbers. It very much depends on whether or not you’re going to a public or private school, what program you’re taking, and of course, the amount of financial aid you’re eligible for. To try and give you a ballpark figures, we gathered some information from various nursing websites online.

Keep in mind that these figures likely do not represent the amount of money you’ll need to pay. However, they might give you a good idea of how much each program could cost.

Nursing Programs

Length: Depends

Total Cost:
$18K – $40K

Nursing Assistant
(NA) Program

Length: 6 Months

Total Cost:

Bachelor’s of Science (BSN)

Length: 4 Years

Total Cost:
$40k – $200k

Licensed Practical Nurse

Length: 13 Months

Public Costs:
$5k – $25k
Private Costs:
$20k – $40k

Associates Degree in
Nursing (ADN)

Length: 13 Months

Public Costs:
Private Costs:

There is a way to get an estimated cost more tailor to your situation. The first step is to file your FAFSA® and wait for the schools you’re applying to, to process the information. Once they prepare your financial details, they’ll present you with an aid award letter that takes into account your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). It will also outline the grants, scholarships, and loans you’re eligible for.

Your award letter will give you a much better idea of what the cost to attend each school is. Just keep in mind that when a school estimates the “Cost of Attendance,” they may not be taking into account certain expenses. For instance, it might factor in tuition, but not exam fees, textbooks, living expenses, and more.

The cost of nursing school in California can get pretty spendy, but if you take the time to apply for financial aid, you might be able to lessen the financial burden.

Top 5 Nursing Schools in California
& Their Costs

If you’ve been looking at nursing schools for any given time, you’re probably aware of what the most popular nursing programs are in California. If you’re not, we’ve done some of that work for you.

The following colleges and universities are ones that come up consistently on several lists, primarily on nursing websites. Not only did we highlight the school, but we also estimated the average cost to attend their programs.

Again, if you’d like a more specific estimation from these schools, you should contact the financial aid office and be sure to complete your FAFSA®.

California State University, Bakersfield

Annual Tuition: $6,857
Programs Offered:

California State University, Fullerton

Annual Tuition: $6,560
Programs Offered:
Direct-entry BSN, RN-BSN, MSN, DNP

University of California, Irvine

Annual Tuition: $13,360
Programs Offered:

BSN, MEPN, DNP, PhD in Nursing

California State, Long Beach

Annual Tuition:
Programs Offered:

BSN, MSN, NP Certificate

California State University, Los Angeles

Annual Tuition: $6,383
Programs Offered: 


Average California Nursing
Salary by Speciality

So, you know you want to become a nurse, but want to know how much a nurse makes. While many factors can complicate that question, it’s a little easier to estimate the pay range based on data that’s been collected over the years.

When it comes to attending nursing schools in California, the added benefit is that in-state tuition is much more affordable than other nursing programs throughout the country. It also happens to be one of the states that pay the highest salary to nurses.

We collected data from PayScale and Glassdoor to put together a salary ranges for popular nursing careers in California.

Licensed Practical / Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)

California Salary Estimate:

$44k – $65k

Registered Nurse (RN)

California Salary Estimate:

$65k – $109k

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

California Salary Estimate:

$121k – $170k

Nurse Midwife

California Salary Estimate:

$121k – $170k

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

California Salary Estimate:
$85k – $138k

Intensive Care Unit RN 

California Salary Estimate:
$57k – $125k

Physician Assistant

California Salary Estimate:
$98k – $146k

Obstetrics Nurse

California Salary Estimate:
$73k – $91k

Salary potential is pretty substantial, depending on your nursing specialty. The cost of living in California is substantially higher than some other states, so that should factor into why salary is so high.

Luckily, if you have the benefit of in-state tuition, California does offer more affordable nursing programs compared to other states. One last point to consider, nursing is not a career that’s easily transferable from one state to another. If you get licensed in California, and decided to move later down the line, you will need to get licensed again in your new state.

Once you get licensed in another state, your salary potential will be different. As you’re searching for nursing schools, keep the difference in location in mind.