With a huge demand for nurses in the U.S., it’s no surprise that more college-bound students are considering a degree in nursing.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects 60,700 job openings for licensed practical nurses/licensed vocational nurses (LPN/LVNs) per year from today through 2030. This explains why nursing school graduates enjoy near universal employment, and nurses often have their pick of where they’d like to practice.
Ready to start your career in nursing? You’ll find top nursing schools across the country, but if you’re looking to study in the western U.S., we’ve put together a list of the best west coast nursing schools to help you with your search.
Types of Nursing Degrees
First, let’s look at the types of nursing degrees available. Depending on how long you want to study and what kinds of future ambitions you might have in the field of nursing, you might choose to pursue one option over the others.
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certificate – While not a degree, but rather a certificate, this is a popular option requiring a high school diploma or GED and 75 hours of training or more depending on the state.
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Certificate – Another certificate option that requires one year of training and for the individual to be licensed in their same state of practice.
- Associate Degree – Requires two years of study and grants a RN licensure in your state of practice. Often completed as an initial step toward a higher degree.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN) – Healthcare institutions consider this the preferred entry path into a career as a registered nurse. A BSN student typically studies for four years to earn their degree.
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Once you have your BSN, the MSN could be your next step. This degree prepares you for a career in advanced nursing practice and leadership roles.
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) – The highest degree for nursing practice. DNP graduates are prepared for careers in organizational and executive leadership in the healthcare sector.
- PhD in Nursing – A doctoral degree that prepares nurses for careers as researchers for healthcare institutions or as nursing faculty in colleges and universities.
West Coast Nursing Schools
When starting your search for west coast nursing schools, your first decision is to go for a private institution or a public one. There are usually differences in costs and class size between private and public schools, as well as a host of other factors that could lead you to choose one of the other.
Top private and public colleges and universities on the west coast that offer degrees in nursing include:
This private Jesuit university is located in Spokane, Washington. Founded in 1887, it has a student population of roughly 7,300 undergraduate and graduate students. Gonzaga offers BSN, MSN, and DNP programs, including some online study options. Students also might choose Gonzaga because of its Jesuit reputation, which comes with the school’s self-proclaimed “humanistic approach” to study.
This private Catholic school located in Portland, Oregon enrolls a smaller student body of approximately 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students. Individuals looking for a more intimate higher education experience might be drawn to UP’s School of Nursing and Health Innovations. There, nursing students can pursue a BSN or DNP alongside related healthcare options including a Minor in Integrative Health and Wellness or a Healthcare Management Certificate.
This public research university enrolls slightly more than 20,000 students and hosts the Orvis School of Nursing. They offer BSN, MSN, DNP, and a range of post-Master’s nursing certificates. The Orvis School of Nursing is the oldest nursing school in the state of Nevada and prides itself on serving the healthcare needs of Nevadans.
This public university located near Phoenix is a top choice for nursing students who want a world-class education alongside year-round sunny weather. ASU hosts the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, where students can earn their BSN or participate in an online RN to BSN program.
California Nursing Schools
With so many options available to degree-seekers, we’ve put California nursing schools in their own category. Here are some of the top choices for nursing majors in the sunshine state:
University of California (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Davis, and Irvine)
These four branches of the iconic University of California public education system made it into the top 50 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of the best nursing schools in the country.
Western’s main campus is located in Pomona, California, with a satellite location in Lebanon, Oregon. This is a private university dedicated entirely to degrees in the healthcare fields, including Master’s and Doctoral degrees in nursing.
This public university enrolls 30,000+ students in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. Nursing students at CSU Sacramento can pursue a BSN, MSN or RN to BSN degree.
How to Choose the Right West Coast Nursing School for You
Whether you’re interested in California nursing schools specifically, or are open to a range of west coast nursing schools, you’ll want to consider a number of factors before making your choice.
Cost is a major driving factor for many nursing students. Class size, on-campus services, athletic programs, and location might also come into play.
With nursing as one of the most in demand careers today, graduates of any of the top west coast nursing schools are extremely likely to find employment options immediately following graduation.