The 10 Best Nursing Schools in California

3. UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing (Sacramento, CA)

UC Davis
Veritas117, Ucdilo, CC BY 3.0

Although the school has a shorter history than many of the other schools in this top 10 list, the Moore School of Nursing has quickly established itself as one of the best nursing schools in California. In fact, the school was not established until 2009 after receiving a $100 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which was the country’s biggest grant for nursing education at the time. The master’s program was ranked the #24 program in the country by U.S. News and World Report in 2022. 

UC Davis has five innovative nursing programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. All programs are led by an interprofessional team of faculty members from diverse disciplines, including nursing and medicine as well as sociology, public health, and nutrition. More specifically, the school has eliminated lecture-style classes and instead uses so-called flipped classrooms. That is, students are expected to review material before coming to class, where they engage in discussions about the material with their fellow classmates and faculty. This style of learning encourages collaboration and student-driven education.


2. UCLA School of Nursing (Los Angeles, CA)

UCLA School of Nursing
Rgale417, UCLA School of Nursing Building, CC BY-SA 4.0

UCLA’s School of Nursing has a national and international reputation for high standards in nursing education, applied research, and hands-on clinical experiences. The rigorous curriculum includes both classroom and clinical education settings. U.S. News and World Reports has ranked the school as #20 among graduate nursing schools. UCLA has a particularly top-notch faculty, with half of the members being fellows in the American Academy of Nursing, a prestigious academic honor.

UCLA has a very diverse student population with about a quarter of students being White, a quarter being of Hispanic descent, just under a quarter being Black, and the remainder belonging to American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander groups. The research centers are diverse, too, including the Center for Vulnerable Populations Research, the Center for American Indian/Indigenous Research and Education, and the Center for the Advancement of Gerontological Nursing Science. This range of initiatives reflects the school’s commitment to advancing health for all populations. Moreover, the UCLA School of Nursing is ranked as the number 9 institution for nursing grant research funded by the National Institutes of Health. 


1. UCSF School of Nursing (San Francisco, CA)

UCSF
Payton Chung, Mission Bay, UCSF, CC BY 2.0

The School of Nursing at the University of California – San Francisco is frequently ranked among the top nursing schools in the country. Specifically, U.S. News has declared it to be the #9 school among master’s programs in nursing and the top nursing program in California. It’s also the #1 recipient of NIH (National Institutes of Health) funding in the U.S.

The school has master’s, doctoral, and post-graduate programs for students who already have bachelor’s degrees in nursing, but options are available for students who are not registered nurses, too. And although most of the applicants are California residents, UCSF also accepts non-California residents and international students. Plus, about 40% of UCSF’s students are from underrepresented communities, and about 58% are the first students in their families to attend college.

UCLA aims to create leaders in the health profession, as demonstrated by the research and outreach activities of the diverse faculty body. For example, several UCSF School of Nursing faculty members are working to change California health care through evidence-based research. The school has also received over $18 million in grants that support public health initiatives like improving newborn health in California and ending tobacco use.

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