Best 15 RN to MSN Programs in California in 2024

January 26, 2024 | Admin

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Most graduates become an RN (Registered Nurse) upon completing a bachelor’s degree (the BSN) or an associate degree in n nursing (the ADN). However, the desire to advance and earn a master’s degree (the MSN) is always the ultimate goal for all nurses. If you’re a registered nurse and looking to advance your career with a Masters in Science in Nursing, look no more. The State of California has a plethora of incredible state schools offering the RN to MSN bridge program at unbelievable low in-state tuition. In this article, you will get sufficient information about the best schools in California offering RN-to-MSN programs. You only have to choose from either, and you are good to go. 

Top 5 RN to MSN Programs in California

Rank School Location
1University of San FranciscoSan Francisco, California
2University of San DiegoSan Diego, California
3California State University, FullertonFullerton, California
4California State University, San MarcosSan Marcos, California
5The Dominica University of CaliforniaSan Rafael, California

Why RN-to-MSN Bridge Program is Important 

Below are essential reasons why you should opt for an RN to MSN bridge program.  

  • Provides you with advanced education and expanded learning opportunities. 
  • RN to MSN bridge program enables qualified graduates to take on positions as nurse practitioners and earn substantially higher salaries. 
  • RN- to -MSN program allows registered nurses to earn master’s-level qualifications more quickly as opposed to if they pursued a BSN and MSN separately.

Need help finding the right college or university of choice? You’re in the right place. Click here to utilize our search engine to find your favorite program. Below are the best colleges and universities offering RN to MSN programs in California.

Best 15 RN to MSN Programs in California


University of San Francisco

  • San Francisco, California

Established in 1854, the University of San Francisco is one of the accredited universities that offer the RN-to-MSN bridge program in California. The program encompasses 33 credits for RNs with a BSN and 38 credits for RNs with an ASN/AND over two years of study. This program is designed to help you learn how to provide care to people of different ages and equip you with the ability to design, implement and evaluate patient outcomes at the point of care. In addition, it will help synthesize data and knowledge to evaluate the optimum outcomes for patients. Further, health professionals are prepared to address the determinants of health and promote policy and advocacy. It provides a moral compass to transform health care to further equity and influences quality, delivery, and access. As a student of nursing, you get the opportunity to acquire clinical practice in more than 200 top credited healthcare organizations such as Alameda County Health System, John Muir Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, La Clinica de la Roza, and the Francisco Department of Public Health, among others.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $1,480 per credit
Graduation rate: 75%
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University of San Diego

  • San Diego, California

The University of San Diego is a private Roman Catholic research university that has been educating students since 1949. Now home to more than 30,000 students, USD has entrenched itself as one of California’s top private schools that offers an RN-to-MSN program. The 21- month program equips students with a basic foundation in nursing and master’s level courses that cultivate the skills necessary to serve in leadership positions. It will prepare you to become a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) and an Advanced Nurse Generalist (ANG). Upon completion of this nursing program, you will also undertake the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nursing (RN) licensure. You don’t need to stress about registering with a bachelor’s degree from another specialty, for it allows you to earn a Master of Science in Nursing with a bachelor’s degree from a different field. With notable alumni such as Jim Parson and Robert Kardashian, it can only be regarded as among the best.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $21,390 per year
Graduation rate: 81%
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California State University, Fullerton

  • Fullerton, California

Unlike most universities in this list, California State University, Fullerton has an accredited RN to MSN program that offers you a Master Science in Nursing in Women Health. The MSN program includes courses in leadership, nurse educator, school nursing, and women’s health care. The program is an advanced practice nursing option that provides training in client-oriented practice and a foundation in professional issues of management and leadership. As a student, you will be trained so that you can assume a role in advanced practice, nurse midwifery, or as a woman’s health nurse practitioner. You’ll be able to grow your career options with a focus on a leadership role for positions in administration and health education and to create a work environment that promotes professional nursing.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $7,176 per year (In-state); $26,224 per year (out-of-state)
Graduation rate: 69%
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California State University, San Marcos

  • San Marcos, California

If you are looking for a university where cultural sensitivity and competence are emphasized, then California State University in San Marcos should be your number one option. The RN-to-MNS program offered at the University is designed to provide excellent graduate education to qualified scholars, leading to the Master of Science in Nursing degree and give you a strong foundation in theory and research inquiry. The CSUSM’s school of nursing prepares students for advanced practice nursing in areas such as clinical nurse specialist (CNS), family nurse practitioner (FNP), transition care management, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). The program is designed for a part-time basis only.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $3,638 per year
Graduation rate: 54%
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The Dominica University of California

  • San Rafael, California

Founded in 1890 as Dominican College by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, Dominica University is among the notable private universities offering RN-to-MSN bridge program. The College Factual ranked it as the second-best school to study nursing in California. The Nursing program offers you an associate to master’s degree program that consists of one year of bridgework. Courses offered under the curriculum include nursing research, nursing informatics, transition and leadership, statistics, and community health. Typically, you will be needed to have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above during your enrollment. You may also be asked to take a GRE. Some programs, such as pediatric nursing, will require you to have 1 – 2 years of Rn experience. Depending on how you study: full-time, part-time, on-campus, online, or hybrid, the program takes between 2 to 3 years to complete.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $47,190 per year
Graduation rate: 72%
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West Coast University

  • Irvine, California

Are you looking forward to moving from being a Licensed Nurse Practitioner (LPN) to a nurse educator or into a nursing leadership role? Then West Coast University’s online RN to MSN program is for you. Core courses offered include advanced physiology and pathology, advanced pharmacology, public health nursing, statistics, program management, education, clinical practice, research, and health policy formulation. You can complete the MSN program in just 15 months, full time.

School Overview

Estimated tuition fee per annum: $34,535 (non-military rate); $29,843 (military rate)
Graduation rate: 49%
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California State University, Fresno

  • Fresno, California

California State University, Fresno is among 23 campuses that make up the California State University system. It offers an RN-to-MSN bridge program in 8 accredited colleges. The College of Health and Human Services trains the Master of Science in Nursing practitioner or primary care/ family option, which prepares nurses for advanced practice in nurse practitioner primary care’s functional role. Also, the 40- credit family nurse practitioner program aims to develop competencies in important clinical elements of nursing, such as nurse-client relationship, teaching, and outcome-based evaluations. Further, it equips you with knowledge and skills in the management of patient health status, promotion of health and human diversity, and management of health care delivery system.

Tuition fee: $2,532 per credit 0-6 credit; $4,038 per 6+ credit
Graduation rate: 59%
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California State University, Sacramento

  • Sacramento, California

Are you looking to study in one of the most diverse universities in California? California State University, Sacramento should be your next stop. Located in the capital, students come from across California – and the United States to study at the Sac State. This institution is an excellent value for California residents since it boasts one of the highest NCLEX pass rates. The 33 – credit curriculum provides maximum flexibility and the opportunity for a self-directed study program. It includes both classroom and field experience in advanced clinical and role concepts and functional role preparations. The program is mainly designed for nurses currently employed in hospitals, long-term care facilities, health agencies, and educational institutions who require graduate preparation to qualify for the present position. The University also prepares graduates for advanced clinical practice, adult clinical roles, nursing educator, administrators, family and community, and leadership roles. Though, applicants must have a valid RN license and an accredited associate degree in nursing or a nursing diploma and a bachelor’s degree in a field related to nursing.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $2,503 per credit 0-6 credit; $3,709 per 6+ credit
Graduation rate: 55%
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California State University, San Bernardino

  • San Bernardino, California

California State University provides an advanced setting for graduates to obtain their Master of Science in Nursing. Unlike most of the universities in California, this University only admits applicants who hold a Bachelor of Science in nursing or any other related field and those with a non-nursing baccalaureate. Besides, they must present proof of employment. If you are a non-nursing degree holder, you must demonstrate competency in research, leadership, and community health, verified through coursework, testing, or professional experience. The program has three main specialty areas:

  • Advanced community/public health nursing
  • Population health for clinical nurse leaders
  • The nurse educator concentration

This 30 months program is a hybrid program. However, distance learners are required to complete courses in advanced nursing roles theory and research, population health assessment, and program planning/evaluation. Depending on the concentration, the MSN requires 57 and 71 hours.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $2,277.43 per credit 0-6 credit; $3,483.43 per 6+ credit
Graduation rate: 55%
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California State University, Bakersfield

  • Bakersfield, California

Another public university that offers RN to MSN program is the California State University in Bakersfield. The CSUB’s Department of Nursing currently offers Masters of Science in Nursing degree with a family nurse practitioner specialty. This 2-year full-time program prepares graduates to provide high-quality, evidence-based, and family-centered care for infants, children, and adults across the lifespan. Majorly, it emphasizes health promotion, disease prevention, and management of common health conditions. As an enrollee, you’ll be needed to update your registered nurse license from the California Board of Registered Nurses (BRN), American Heart Association BLS Certification, and must have been employed as a full-time RN for at least two years.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $4,292 per semester
Graduation rate: 43%
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University of California, Irvine

  • Irvine, California

University of California, Irvine is known to be the only University of California School with a faculty nursing practice. In 2021, the US News & World Report ranked the University as one of the country’s best public institutions of higher learning. Under the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing, students who have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree are granted direct entry into the MS in Nursing Science Degree program. The program prepares graduates to lead inter-professional health care teams that advocate for the expansion of health care opportunities to under-served populations. As a student, you’ll get the opportunity to achieve competencies in the research and the ability to utilize scholarly evidence in the design, delivery, evaluation, and improvement of health care.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $11,442 per year
Graduation rate: 84%
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California State University, Long Beach

  • Long Beach, California

Besides being home to beautiful beaches, California State University, Long Beach is one of the top nursing schools that offer RN to MSN bridge programs. The bridge program aims to prepare nurses to assume roles either as nurse practitioners or as nursing and healthcare systems executive managers. The program also prepares competent nurse practitioners who possess the knowledge, skills in physical diagnosis, psycho-social assessment as well as management of health-illness needs in a primary or acute environment.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $10,460 per year
Graduation rate: 74%
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California State University, Chico

  • Chico, California

California State University, Chico has a long-standing record in training students in MSN programs since 1970. With its vast experience in the RN to MSN program, graduates can acquire knowledge and skills as administrators, clinicians, and managers.  The bridge program covers public health nursing, statistics, program management, education, clinical practice, research, and health policy formulation.

School Overview

Estimated tuition fee: $24,686
Graduation rate: 59%
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San Diego State University

  • San Diego, California

As one of California’s top nursing schools, San Diego State University is an accredited school that offers RN to MSN program to incoming freshmen, transferred students, and registered nurses. The program is designed for advanced nursing students seeking leadership, teaching, or research careers. It features two concentrations: advanced practice nursing of adults and the elderly (NP/CNS) and nursing leadership in the healthcare system. As a student, you’ll be prepared for advanced professional roles as a nurse clinician, researcher, educator, and leader in global healthcare.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $20,388 per year
Graduation rate: 73%
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California State University, Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles, California

California State University, Los Angeles is part of the 23 – campus California State University system that offers an RN to MSN program. The program offered is designed to provide education to qualified students, leading to the Master of Science in Nursing degree and give them a strong foundation in theory and research inquiry. The University’s school of nursing prepares students for advanced practice nursing in areas such as clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, transition care management, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

School Overview

Tuition fee: $16,510 per year
Graduation rate: 52%
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Our Ranking Method

This ranking was based on the analysis of the software data from the US Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the respective university websites. The schools were ranked based on tuition amounts and graduation rates. Both factors were accorded 50 points, and each school was assigned points based on how it compared with others on tuition amounts and the rate of graduation. The points earned for both ranking factors were then added together to get each school’s total score. The school with the most points ranked first in the list, and the points were accorded down the list accordingly. 

We endeavor to provide current and accurate information to our readers. In case you are an affiliate to or associated with one of the schools we ranked above, and you realized an error in the information provided, please feel to contact us and let us know so we can make any necessary corrections. 

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