Nursing Schools in Sacramento, California

Discover the best nursing schools in Sacramento, California. With top-notch education and diversity it's the ideal place to a fulfilling nursing career. Programs

Article fact-checked by our Editorial Team.

If you're considering of becoming a nurse in California, Sacramento is a city that has a lot of education opportunities as it stands out for its renowned nursing schools and flexible programs. 

The city caters to different career paths and educational goals, from community colleges to prestigious universities. Whether you aspire to become a registered nurse (RN), pursue advanced nursing degrees, or specialize in a particular area of nursing, nursing schools in Sacramento, California have diverse offerings to meet your needs. 

Read more about these schools and programs, what it's like to study in this city, and some answers to frequently asked questions.

Nursing Schools in Sacramento

1. American River College

American River College (ARC) is a community college in Sacramento, California, renowned for its comprehensive nursing programs. The college offers a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) certificate, Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program, and an LVN to RN bridge program.

With a focus on affordability and accessibility, ARC aims to provide its nursing students with a strong foundation in nursing care and clinical skills. The college's dedicated faculty and modern simulation labs contribute to a supportive learning environment, nurturing nursing students to become competent and compassionate healthcare professionals. 

  • LVN: 30-unit option program, LVNs can take the NCLEX but students taking this path to RN licensure won't receive a degree
  • ADN: 24 months, offers morning, evening, and weekend clinical experiences, cost around $7,000  
  • LVN to ADN RN: 12 months, students progress to the RN program during the third semester. 

The associate Nursing program at ARC is approved by the California Board of Nursing. 

2. California State University, Sacramento 

California State University, Sacramento, commonly known as Sacramento State, emphasizes evidence-based practice, critical thinking, and cultural competency to prepare graduates for diverse nursing roles. With experienced faculty and state-of-the-art facilities, nursing students benefit from comprehensive training combining theoretical knowledge and practical experience.

The university's partnerships with prominent regional healthcare institutions offer students ample clinical opportunities, enabling them to work with diverse patient populations and hone their nursing skills.

  • LVN to RN Certificate: 30-unit full-time, non-degree program
  • Traditional BSN: 29 units required for pre-clinical, 61 units for major, 120 total credit units for program completion
  • RN to BSN: To earn a BSN, a minimum of 120 units is needed, including 30 units taken at Sacramento State, with additional units required for unfulfilled GE requirements and upper-division Nursing major courses.
  • MSN in School Nursing: 7 courses, 22 units required

The bachelor's and master-level nursing programs at CSU Sacramento are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

3. Sacramento City College

Sacramento City College's Nursing School offers a comprehensive and reputable program for aspiring nurses in Sacramento, California. As part of the Los Rios Community College District, the nursing school provides a well-established Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program that equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become registered nurses (RNs).

The program boasts accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and approval from the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). The college also offers an LVN program.

  • LVN: 3 semesters in length, in-person, costs approximately $4,200
  • LVN to RN (ADN): 3 semesters with full-time and part-time options available, hybrid, costs approximately $6,100

The associate nursing program at SCC is accredited by the Accreditation Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (ACEN).

4. Samuel Merritt University, Sacramento 

Samuel Merritt University (SMU) has a Sacramento campus offering nursing programs for aspiring healthcare leaders. Students benefit from hands-on experiences and personalized attention, preparing them for various nursing roles.

SMU's Sacramento campus is known for its high-quality clinical education, offering students diverse opportunities to work with experienced healthcare professionals in various healthcare settings. The university's commitment to academic excellence and cutting-edge research ensures that nursing students receive a transformative education, empowering them to positively impact healthcare. 

  • BSN
    • Accelerated BSN: spans for 12 months, tuition fee for full-time is $89,128 per annum and for part-time it's $1,714 per unit
  • RN to BSN: 20 month program, part-time, up to 70 transfer credits, total estimated cost of the program is $33,416 
  • MSN Programs
    • Case Management: 27 months, on-campus mode of learning, 90 semester units, first four semesters are full-time and can be part-time after the fourth semester, $1,647 per unit
    • Clinical Leadership Education:  five semesters, hybrid program, tuition fee for full-time student is $17,000 per semester 
    • Family Nurse Practitioner: 39 months, on-campus mode of learning, tuition fee is $1,647 per unit
  • DNP Programs 

The BSN and MSN programs at SMU are accredited by the CCNE. 

5. University of California, Davis

The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) is a nationally recognized nursing education and research institution. The school offers a range of nursing programs, including Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs, a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.) program, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs, and Graduate certificates.

UC Davis' nursing programs are characterized by innovation, excellence, and a commitment to patient-centered care. The school's faculty comprises leading nursing scholars and practitioners, providing students access to cutting-edge research and mentorship. With a focus on interprofessional collaboration and evidence-based practice, UC Davis prepares nursing graduates to lead and advance healthcare practice, making significant contributions to the nursing profession and healthcare community. 

  • Graduate Certificate Programs: The graduate certificate program, focusing on specialized areas, is approved by the UC Davis Graduate Council. Two formats, UC GAC and UC Davis GAUC, utilize regular UC Davis courses for these certificate programs. It requires a minimum of 12 credit units. 
    • Health Professions Educator Graduate Academic Certificate Program
    • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
    • Family Caregiving Graduate Academic Unit Certificate Program
    • Enhancing Patient Safety and Quality Improvement in Healthcare
  • MSN Programs: 
    • Master of Science - Family Nurse Practitioner Track: 24 month program
    • Master's Entry Program in Nursing: Also known as a full-time accelerated program, it is the quickest route to registered nursing licensure for adults who already completed an undergraduate degree in another course. 13-16 units per quarter is required.
  • DNP Programs
    • Family Nurse Practitioner: 36 months, hybrid
    • Nurse Anesthesia: 36 months, hybrid
  • Ph.D. in Nursing 

The master's level nursing programs at UC Davis are accredited by the CCNE. 

Nursing Program Types in Sacramento

Many different types of nursing schools, certificates, and diplomas are available. However, the most common programs obtained by nursing professionals include:   

Undergraduate Nursing Programs

Graduate Nursing Programs

When choosing the right nursing program, it's important to match your professional goals and personal preferences with thorough research on each school.

Studying Nursing in Sacramento

Studying nursing in Sacramento, California, offers aspiring healthcare professionals a unique and enriching experience. Here's what to expect: 

  • Renowned Nursing Schools: Sacramento is home to several renowned nursing schools and universities that offer top-notch nursing programs. These institutions are known for their excellence in nursing education and research, providing students with access to experienced faculty, state-of-the-art facilities, and cutting-edge resources to support their learning. 
  • Clinical Opportunities: Sacramento's healthcare landscape is diverse and robust, offering nursing students various clinical opportunities. Students can gain hands-on experience in leading medical centers, hospitals, clinics, and specialty facilities. The city's healthcare network allows students to interact with diverse patient populations and experience various medical specialties, contributing to their holistic development as nursing professionals. 
  • Cultural Diversity: Sacramento is a culturally diverse city, and nursing students have the opportunity to interact with patients from various backgrounds and cultures. This exposure enhances students' cultural competency and communication skills, which are essential for delivering patient-centered care and promoting positive health outcomes. 
  • Emphasis on Evidence-Based Practice: Nursing programs in Sacramento often emphasize evidence-based practice, ensuring that students are equipped with the latest research and best practices in healthcare. Students learn to integrate evidence into their nursing care, preparing them to provide safe, effective, high-quality patient care. 
  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Nursing education in Sacramento encourages interdisciplinary collaboration. Students may have opportunities to work with physicians, therapists, social workers, and other healthcare professionals, fostering teamwork and a holistic approach to patient care. 
  • Networking Opportunities: Sacramento's healthcare industry offers nursing students ample networking opportunities. Students can connect with healthcare professionals, potential employers, and mentors through clinical rotations, internships, and industry events. Building these connections can enhance job prospects and career growth after graduation. 
  • Community Engagement: Many nursing schools in Sacramento prioritize community engagement and service. Students often participate in health fairs, outreach programs, and volunteer opportunities, giving them a sense of social responsibility and the chance to positively impact the local community. 
  • Supportive Learning Environment: Nursing schools in Sacramento are committed to providing a supportive learning environment. Faculty and staff are dedicated to helping students succeed by offering academic support, mentorship, and counseling services, fostering a positive and nurturing educational experience. 
  • Career Opportunities: Sacramento's healthcare sector is a significant employer in the region, providing ample job opportunities for nursing graduates. The city's thriving healthcare network ensures that nursing students have many career paths after completing their education. 
  • Quality of Life: Beyond academics, studying nursing in Sacramento offers an attractive quality of life. The city boasts a comfortable climate, numerous outdoor recreational activities, cultural events, and a welcoming community, providing students with a well-rounded experience outside their studies. 

Studying nursing in Sacramento presents an exciting and fulfilling educational journey. With a focus on academic excellence, diverse clinical experiences, and a supportive environment, nursing students in Sacramento are well-prepared to meet the demands of modern healthcare and embark on successful and rewarding nursing careers. 

Steps to Increase Your Chances of Admission to Nursing Programs

Pursuing admission to nursing programs in Sacramento requires a thorough and systematic approach. By carefully preparing your application and emphasizing your commitment to nursing, you can significantly enhance your chances of acceptance.

Admission Requirements

  • Complete Required Prerequisite Courses

    • Undergraduate: Ensure you have completed courses such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy.
    • Graduate: Hold a relevant bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field. RN to MSN options are available for those with an associate degree.
  • Achieve a Strong GPA

    • Undergraduate: Aim for a minimum GPA of 3.0 in high school and prerequisite courses.
    • Graduate: Maintain a GPA significantly above 3.0 in your undergraduate studies.
  • Prepare for Standardized Tests

    • Undergraduate: Study for exams like the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills).
    • Graduate: Some programs may require advanced tests like the GRE.

Experience Requirements

  • Gain Relevant Experience

    • Undergraduate: Volunteer in healthcare settings and engage in leadership activities through community service or student organizations.
    • Graduate: Work in professional nursing roles and obtain advanced certifications in specialized areas.

Application Components

  • Personal/Statement of Purpose

    • Undergraduate: Write a personal statement detailing your passion for nursing and career objectives.
    • Graduate: Craft a statement of purpose outlining your professional experiences, career goals, and educational motivations.
  • Resume

    • Undergraduate: Include your educational background, volunteer activities, and relevant certifications.
    • Graduate: Update your resume with work history, certifications, and any publications.
  • Letters of Recommendation

    • Undergraduate: Obtain letters from educators, employers, or healthcare professionals who can attest to your potential and character.
    • Graduate: Secure recommendations from nursing supervisors or professional peers who can vouch for your qualifications and readiness for advanced studies.

Pre-Application Activities

  • Campus Visits: Tour the facilities and meet faculty to assess the learning environment.
  • Admissions Consultation: Get personalized advice from admissions staff.
  • Interview Preparation: Practice responses to common interview questions.

Application Checklist

  • Documentation: Ensure all transcripts, test scores, and personal documents are complete and meet program standards.
  • Application Fee: Confirm that payment has been made.
  • Interview Readiness: Thoroughly prepare to articulate your qualifications and aspirations.

By meticulously preparing each part of your application and adhering to all requirements, you can greatly improve your chances of being admitted to a program that matches your career goals. Always check with each specific program for detailed application requirements to ensure you meet all standards.

How to Choose a Nursing School

The criteria for choosing a nursing school vary based on personal preferences. Some students emphasize tuition costs, while others prioritize NCLEX pass rates, academic reputation, or other considerations.

Although it will vary by individual, a survey by allnurses revealed the top 11 reasons nursing students chose their programs:

  1. Cost
  2. High NCLEX Pass Rate
  3. Location
  4. Academic Reputation
  5. Availability of Financial Aid and Scholarships
  6. Length of Time to Obtain Degree
  7. Flexibility of Schedule
  8. Curriculum
  9. Campus and Surroundings
  10. Nursing Clinicals Location
  11. Availability of Online Courses

Ultimately, prospective students should assess their needs and pick schools that best fit them.

11 Reasons Why Nursing Program Accreditation Matters

In addition to the factors previously discussed for selecting a nursing school, accreditation is a vital element to consider, especially for prospective students in Sacramento. Here's why accreditation matters:

  1. High Educational Standards: Accredited programs adhere to rigorous criteria for curriculum, faculty qualifications, resources, and clinical training.
  2. Essential for Licensure: In many states, licensure requires graduation from an accredited program.
  3. Enhances Employment Prospects: Employers typically prefer candidates from accredited programs, improving your job opportunities.
  4. Prepares for Licensure Exams: Accredited programs offer thorough preparation for the NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN exams as well as APRN NP certification exams.
  5. Facilitates Credit Transfers: Credits earned from accredited programs are more easily transferable to other institutions.
  6. Improves Professional Credibility: Graduating from an accredited program boosts your professional reputation.
  7. Qualifies for Financial Aid: Many financial aid options and scholarships are available only to students in accredited programs.
  8. Offers Superior Clinical Training: Accredited programs ensure high-quality clinical experiences.
  9. Enables Certification: Accreditation is necessary for pursuing advanced and specialty certifications.
  10. Ensures Compliance with Regulations: Accredited programs meet important federal and state educational standards.
  11. Provides Comprehensive Education: While state approval guarantees local compliance, national accreditation ensures an extensive educational quality.

For nursing students in Sacramento, selecting programs accredited by recognized agencies is crucial. The two leading accrediting bodies for nursing programs are:

Understanding the Costs of Nursing Programs: Key Considerations

Understanding the financial aspects of pursuing a nursing degree is essential. When evaluating the costs of nursing programs in Sacramento, consider the following key factors:

Tuition Expenses

  • Resident vs. Non-Resident Fees: Public universities often charge lower tuition for in-state students, while out-of-state students face higher rates.
  • Online Programs: Typically more affordable, though they may include additional technology fees.
  • Per Credit Hour Charges: These vary based on the institution, degree level, and whether the school is public or private.

Additional Financial Considerations

  • Books and Supplies: Costs can vary widely, from textbooks to medical equipment.
  • Technology and Lab Fees: Common in online or hybrid programs to facilitate digital learning.
  • Miscellaneous Fees: May include application fees, graduation costs, and other administrative charges.
  • Living Expenses: Important for those who need to relocate or reduce working hours.
  • Certification and Licensing Fees: Necessary expenses for obtaining professional certification post-graduation.
  • Opportunity Costs: Potential income lost due to reduced work hours while studying.

To effectively manage these expenses, explore various financial strategies as detailed in Best Ways to Pay for Nursing School.

Nursing Salaries: What to Expect

Nursing salaries are influenced by various factors, including educational background, work experience, location, specialty, and the healthcare setting. This guide details how these factors impact earnings and provides specific insights into the salary potential for nurses in California.

LPN Earning Potential

  • National LPN Average - Hourly $29.23
  • National LPN Average - Annual: $60,790.00
  • California LPN Average - Hourly $36.82
  • California LPN Average - Annual: $76,580.00

RN Earning Potential

  • National RN Average - Hourly $45.42
  • National RN Average - Annual: $94,480.00
  • California RN Average - Hourly $66.20
  • California  RN Average - Annual: $137,690.00

ADN RN vs. BSN RN Earning Potential

  • Average ADN Hourly Salary: $39.00
  • Average ADN Annual Salary:  $80,321.00
  • Average BSN Hourly Salary: $49.00
  • Average BSN Annual Salary:  $102,263.00

Graduate-Level Prepared Nurses (MSN/DNP RN/APRN) Earning Potential

Nurse Anesthetist Earning Potential

  • National Mean Hourly Wage: $102.98
  • National Mean Annual Wage: $214,200.00
  • California Mean Hourly Wage: $120.64
  • California Annual Wage: $250,920.00

Nurse Practitioner Earning Potential

  • National Mean Hourly Wage: $61.78
  • National Mean Annual Wage: $128,490.00
  • California Mean Hourly Wage: $77,66
  • California Mean Annual Wage: $161,540.00

Nurse Midwife

  • National Mean Hourly Wage: $63.26
  • National Mean Annual Wage: $131,570.00
  • California Mean Hourly Wage: $88.34
  • California Mean Annual Wage: $183,740.00

Nurse Administrator 

  • National Mean Hourly Wage: $64.64
  • National Mean Annual Wage: $134,440.00
  • California Mean Hourly Wage: $75.07
  • CaliforniaMean Annual Wage: $156,140.00

Listed as Medical and Health Service Managers on BLS. 

Nurse Educator

  • National Mean Annual Wage: $86,530.00
  • California Mean Annual Wage: $94,530.00

All California specific salary data from the BLS.
Remember that although some areas, such as Sacramento, may have higher salaries, the cost of living can diminish these advantages. For detailed information on salary potential by location, degree, or specialty, consult the Nursing Salary Guide.

Final Considerations

Finding the right nursing school is essential for building a successful career in healthcare. Sacramento, California, features a wide array of respected programs for both aspiring and experienced nurses. These institutions combine rigorous academics, cutting-edge research opportunities, and practical clinical experiences in a vibrant and supportive environment.

As you evaluate your options, focus on key aspects such as the range of programs, accreditation status, tuition costs, and financial aid availability. Engage with admissions offices, visit the campuses, and converse with current students to gain a comprehensive understanding. Making an informed decision will provide a solid foundation for a successful nursing career in Sacramento.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I apply to nursing school in Sacramento?

Each nursing school has its application process, but generally, you would need to submit an application, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and possibly take an entrance exam like the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) or HESI (Health Education Systems, Inc.) exam.

What are the licensing requirements for nurses in California?

To become a licensed nurse in California, you must pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses) or NCLEX-PN (for Practical Nurses) after completing your nursing program.

Explore valuable resources for identifying and prioritizing NCLEX questions at this link:

Can I work while attending nursing school in Sacramento?

Balancing work and nursing school can be challenging due to the demanding nature of nursing programs. However, some students may work part-time or find flexible job opportunities.

Editorial Team / Admin

Julia Liou has 4 years experience as a RN and specializes in Postpartum/Public Health.

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