The 10 Best Nursing Schools in California

6. University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions (San Francisco, CA)

University of San Francisco
Jallen8307, USF School of Nursing and Health Professions, CC BY-SA 4.0

The University of San Francisco offers a private liberal arts education in the Jesuit tradition, stressing justice for all and an understanding of diverse global perspectives. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #53 among the best master’s programs in nursing. 

In addition to classroom instruction, students participate in activities that expand their viewpoints and help them reach underserved groups. As just one example, the school collaborates with the Department of Veteran Affairs Northern California Health Care System to provide care to veterans at the school’s Sacramento campus. Additional clinical rotation locations include Mercy San Juan Hospital and the Shriners Hospital. 

USF students are also encouraged to be active inside and outside the classroom. As a result, the school has several student organizations that help cohorts create networks, build leadership skills, and become advocates in the ever-changing healthcare industry. These associations also work to make changes on campus and advocate for additional training that nurses need. For instance, the Nursing Student Association saw the NEED for more certification classes on campus. As a result, students at USF can receive certificates in areas like Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support, Basic Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and more.


5. University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science (San Diego, CA)

Unlike most of the other schools on this list of the best nursing schools in California, the University of San Diego does not offer an undergraduate bachelor’s program. Instead, this private, Catholic-based school offers several advanced degrees, including the DNP and MSN. However, students at USD can also pursue a Master of Science in Health Care Informatics and even a Ph.D. in Nursing, making USD somewhat unique in its offerings. Often ranked among the best nursing schools in the country, U.S. News and World Reports ranked the University of San Diego as the #46 best nursing school in the country; the doctoral program is also nationally ranked

Most of the students who come to the University of San Diego are already working nurses looking to further their career opportunities. And since the school caters to advanced professionals, there is a strong emphasis on research. Specifically, faculty research initiatives span from working with returning veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome to the depression often experienced among low-income mothers.


4. UC Irvine School of Nursing (Irvine, CA)

UC Irvine
Coolcaesar, UC Irvine Medical Center, CC BY-SA 3.0

U.S. News ranks the School of Nursing at the University of California at Irvine as the #45 master’s program in nursing in the country. Through bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and post-graduate programs, students receive an interdisciplinary education that ranges from biology to the behavioral, social, and pharmaceutical sciences. As such, the school has received over $17 million in grant funding to study diverse health care needs in HIV/AIDS management, mental health, health policies, pediatrics, and even promoting self-care.

The school’s focus on leadership development and community health is woven throughout the curriculum. In fact, faculty and students devote a combined 10,000 hours annually to work with local vulnerable groups, like the homeless, older adults, community members with mental health illnesses, and children attending schools in low-income neighborhoods. 

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