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Top 5 Nursing Schools in the San Francisco Bay Area

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

The nursing school rankings below are based on statistics sourced from nursing student surveys, SAT/ACT scores, the percentage of nursing undergraduates, and the percentage of total nursing graduates from each school.

Evaluative ratings for this article come for 2018 come from:

  1. (2018 Best Colleges for Nursing in the San Francisco Bay Area)
  2. (San Francisco Area Nursing Schools)

The criteria for the Niche study in particular, the most recent ranking of best nursing schools, includes not only the subjective "best student experience," but also the total student experience.

The Jesuit University of San Francisco was established in 1833.

The Jesuit University of San Francisco was established in 1833.

1. University of San Francisco

Aside from being ranked number one in the Bay Area for its nursing program, this school is the second highest-rated nursing school in all of California. Over 70 percent of all entrance applications are accepted, which includes people of all faiths or no faith at all, despite the school having been founded by Jesuit priests.

The degrees offered at USF include

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Master of Science Nursing (MSN) Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN)

A combined five-year BSN-MSN program is also becoming more popular. The school has created new curricula designed specifically for nurses, and have made programs for nursing students who have no health or medical credentials.

The Niche evaluation used nearly 2,000 completed nursing student surveys to accurately rank the university. This institution ranked high in every category, but student's average SAT and ACT scores were notably high.

USF Nursing Website

A residence hall at the Dominican University of California

A residence hall at the Dominican University of California

2. Dominican University of California

This nursing school is private, non-profit, and faith-based (Catholic), but students of any faith or no faith are readily accepted.

DUC offers a BSN in nursing, a degree that encompasses the RN degree and additional training. It can be completed in just six semesters.

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Special consideration and advanced placement is offered to healthcare personnel trained in the US military and international students trained in their own countries.

The Niche evaluation received 773 completed student surveys for this training facility, the majority of them positive.

Dominican University of California Website

California State University, East Bay

California State University, East Bay

3. California State University, East Bay

Over 1,600 reviews were submitted to the Niche evaluation for 2018. Most nursing students rated this program with very positive feedback.

The university celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017 with an uptick in student recruitment and a new, advanced nurse's training program.

The degree offered at this university is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, with additional courses offered after the student has become a licensed RN.

The Master of Science (MSN) curriculum was developed in 2018, with its first class taking place during the fall 2018 semester. This program has attracted increasing numbers of students, especially those with high SAT and ACT scores.

CSU East Bay Nursing Website

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University

4. San Francisco State University

This school received almost 3,100 student reviews in the Niche evaluation.

The university has been particularly progressive in recruiting new nursing students in an effort to not only prepare skilled employees for the San Francisco medical workforce, but to allow a greater number of people to get well-paying jobs. They also aim to reduce the overwhelming deficit of nursing professionals that is currently crippling the city and nation.

The administration and governing board have expanded their system of nursing programs to include new specialties like

  • Robotics
  • 3D printer usage
  • Genetic testing

The nursing program at this university believes that instruction, research, and utilization of the best nursing practices make for the highest quality nurses. It delivers advanced programs to professional nurses holding associate’s degrees, speeding them toward bachelor's and master's degrees in an efficient way, and beginning in 2017, SFSU initiated an accelerated RN to Master's in Nursing program. A Nurse Practitioner's Certificate is also offered as a post-graduate program.

Ongoing research opportunities with this institution give nursing students greater expertise when it comes time for them to enter the professional medical workforce.

Ongoing Research at SFSU's Nursing and Health Schools

  • Aging Processes and Illnesses: Geriatrics and Gerontology (This includes chronic illnesses.)
  • Clinical Best Practices: Nursing Simulation Program (This is part of a consortium in the Bay Area.)
  • Emergency and Critical Care
  • Family and Pediatric Development
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Health and Environment
  • Health Promotion Education and Disease Prevention
  • Services to the Incarcerated and Urban Populations
  • Symptom Management (This includes tobacco-related issues, substance abuse, pregnancy and postpartum, sleep cycles, incarceration and health, and more.)
  • Women's Health (This includes health equity across all demographics.)

With a full lineup of degree programs, from associate to doctoral, and opportunities to conduct stimulating research aiming to solve humanity's most pressing health issues, this is one of the finest nursing schools in the San Francisco Bay Area.

SFSU Nursing Website

5. City College of San Francisco

This college received 789 Niche student reviews.

CCSF prepares nursing students to become licensed registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses. The school of nursing is within the School of Health, Physical Education, and Social Services, which offers additional degree programs in medical technologies, dental technology, health care technologies, and even gerontology services.

The RN degree at this school is an AS, or Associate of Science. It consists of 11 courses that include classroom learning, labs, and practical training experience in local hospitals and other care facilities.

CCSF School of Health and Physical Education Website

Career Prospects for Nursing Students

Nurses at all levels are in high demand in America. This greater demand is because of the increasing number of baby boomers who are retiring from workforce.

Also, a lot of nurse practitioners are accepting jobs as physician assistants or entering research professions, reducing the number of nurses available for actual nursing services for patients.

Another career option is travel nursing, which takes nurses all over the world and offers higher wages, covers travel expenses, and can even pay for rent or a mortgage.

But nursing is still a rewarding profession in California, and the San Francisco Bay Area is a perfect place to receive outstanding training.

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

— Registererd Nurses; US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nursing Programs Offered in the Bay Area

Students enrolled in Bay Area nursing schools can choose from a variety of specialties as they prepare for a rewarding and high demand career. These programs include

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Legal Nurse (LN)
  • Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN)
  • Master of Science Nursing (MSN)
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Hospice Care
  • Nursing Data Informatics
  • Midwifery
  • Pediatrics
  • Geriatrics
  • Adult or Family Nursing

Nursing students may also pursue paths in medical research or health care administration.

The Bay Area's Largest Employers of Nurses

  1. Kaiser Permanente: Kaiser has hospitals, laboratories, and other health and bio-related facilities located all around the Bay Area. The headquarters are located in Oakland at Kaiser Plaza.
  2. Sutter Health: The headquarters are located at 2200 River Plaza Drive, Sacramento CA 95833.
  3. University of California at San Francisco (UCSF): UCSF includes a medical complex and nursing school, both of which are leading receivers research funding since 2011. Health research staff and nurses are in the highest demand. The complex is located at 505 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94143.

These additional Bay Area hospitals and medical centers have received good consumer ratings, and may be great places to work for nurses.

  • California Pacific Medical Center
  • Chinese Community Health Resource Center (CCHRC)
  • Golden Gate Healthcare Center
  • Hayes Convalescent Hospital
  • Nineteenth Avenue Healthcare
  • St Francis Memorial Hospital
  • Saint Mary's Medical Center
  • Saint Luke's Hospital
  • Veteran's Affairs Medical Center


  • American Health Council. American Health Council Names Top Ten Nursing Schools for 2017. October 30, 2017.
  • employment search engine.
  • Inglish, Patty. Retirement of 34 - 40% of RNs Increases Outlook For US Nursing Jobs to 2020. Retreived. October 30, 2017.
  • Nursing Schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  • US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Registered Nurses. Retrieved October 30, 2017.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can a BSN gained at an American University be utilized in Australia and the UK?

Answer: The best course of action is to contact a Travel Nursing Agency ( near you and ask their advice. Ask how to can register your BSN in other nations and whether the agency can help you do that. Travel nursing is quite popular throughout the USA, UK, and Australia, as well as in other nations.

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Additions

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 21, 2015:

My pleasure Patty!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 21, 2015:

Great! Students sometimes come to HubPages for information, so I hope a few will see this. Thanks for posting a comment!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 21, 2015:

Great list of the top five nursing schools in California. This would be useful for any high school student who wants to be a nurse. Voted up!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 25, 2013:

The school ranks very high on several lists of top schools and I doubt if the information in phony or that all the medical, educational, and business entities that research and write the lists decided to skew the findings purposely.

Rachel on November 25, 2013:

I'm about to move to San Francisco from my birth state of sc and I'm not used to big cities. I've been looking at colleges and I really can't decide which is best for me. I think this helped a little but it sounds kind of like there is bias on ucsf

Thea on August 15, 2010:

Thanks, this is very useful info for LA nurses.

Lyssa Bachler RN on June 10, 2010:

Very interesting. A lot of good data here. I lived in this area in 1968!

Twin XL on May 09, 2009:

Interesting stats. Thanks for sharing.

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