California RN to BSN Programs

Earning a BSN can be a great option for a RN to get farther in their career. The question, though, often arises that a RN doesn’t see a reason to earn a BSN and even more, it is often difficult to understand the difference in RNs and BSN graduates. There is no clear information online that explains the reasons for a RN to earn a BSN, so first, this article will explain that.

A RN is a nurse that is registered to work in their state because they passed the NCLEX-RN. The NCLEX-RN is the exam that any nurse has to pass to earn the registration to work in the field. A BSN does not give a graduate the ability to work as a RN without passing the NCLEX-RN. A BSN is simply a more complete education than is required by the exam. You can become an RN with an associate’s degree or even a diploma, but you can continue your education to earn a bachelor’s degree to further enhance your abilities in your profession. This leads to a more favorable view by employers and may lead to more job offers and higher income.

California is a huge state and has a large number of medical school graduates each year. As of 2011, 1,055 students graduated from a medical program over the course of the year. Of that number, only a portion were nursing graduates, and a smaller number of those were BSN graduates. With the size of the state, that number is actually fairly small and should lead you to see why BSN graduates are in such high demand. The national average of RNs per 100,000 population in 2011 was 874, but California was significantly lower with only 664 RNs working in the field. This means that employers are scrambling to find qualified RNs and those with a BSN will be the first ones employers look at.

As you start to look at where you may want to work, you should know the places with the highest and lowest amount of competition. Madera, Hanford and Chico have the highest percentage of RNs relative to population, with Bakersfield, Redding and Santa Barbara holding the lowest number relative to population. The highest average salaries can be found in San Jose, Visalia and San Francisco. The average wage for RNs in California is just under $95,000 a year, which includes RNs with and without BSNs. Expect a higher wage upon graduation with a BSN.

You may also want to know a few places to look for employment as you get started on your career. UCLA Health System in Los Angeles, Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood and Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda rank among the top 20 employers in the state, regardless of industry. Each of these employers are a great place to start and if you start working there as a RN or another entry level position before you start school you may find that they will offer some financial assistance towards your education.


Your education is rarely easy to pay for, so finding an employer that can help is a great place to start. Individual colleges will also offer unique scholarships, grants and loans to students to help with tuition, so make sure you ask about their offering as you tour the schools. Finally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a wide range of grants, loan repayment and forgiveness programs and scholarships to nursing students. Pour over the information and find out what you may qualify for.


Because California is such a large state, listing a few colleges may not cover enough of the state for you to find the specific school that makes sense for you. While a few schools will be listed here, you should also check those schools with the California State Governments site of approved colleges for BSN programs. What you will find is that there are large and small colleges all over the state. Of special note is California State University which has campuses in Bakersfield, Camarillo, Chico, Hayward, Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Marcos and Turlock. A college of that size will give you plenty of options as you move around the state if you expect to do that throughout your education. College is a very personal choice though, so look at a few of the individually listed colleges here, then if you need, use the site listed above to look at the other options that offer BSN programs throughout the state.