ADN Programs San Diego, CA

Nurses diagnose and treat patients of diverse cultural backgrounds and ages for real or potential health problems. Practice requires the application of knowledge from the arts and sciences combined with technical skills. Nurses work in a variety health care settings and communities as primary caregivers, counselors, advocates, coordinators of care, educators, and decision makers. Through collaborative efforts with patients, they are able to meet the health care needs of individuals, families, and communities and promote optimal health.

The ever-changing health care system requires nurses to use clinical judgment and evidence-based practice to make complex decisions that impact the lives of patients. Registered nursing programs foster the development of critical thinking, technical skills, ethics, and professionalism that will propel graduates towards disease prevention, health maintenance, wellness promotion, and the restoration of vitality. Students will learn the application of technology and the importance of continuous learning in successful practice and patient outcomes.

The Associate Degree Nursing program requires approximately two years of study. Graduates must pass the State Board Examination (NCLEX) for Registered Nurses to practice nursing. They are expected to embrace continuous education, and documentation of completing nursing related courses must be submitted to renew the nursing license every two years. The California Board of Registered Nursing oversees the licensure and renewal of registered nurses. ADN prepared nurses might choose to enroll in a transition program to obtain a Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) or the Master of Science Nursing (MSN) for certification in a specialty for advanced practice. Some advanced practice categories include Registered Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Certified Nurse Midwives.

San Diego City College

The nursing program at San Diego City College prepares students to care for individuals of all ages. The curriculum will cover knowledge from the biophysical, behavioral and nursing sciences. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing so graduates will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX for licensure as a Registered Nurse. There are three options for entry. The generic associate degree nursing program is a two-year curriculum. The LVN-RN option is open to LVNs who are completed an accredited LVN program and completed a transition course. The LVN 30-unit option is open to LVNs who want to complete the minimum number of units to take the licensure exam. Graduates of this option will take the NCLEX-RN as a non-graduate to practice in California. There may be difficultly in transferring to another state or territory and applying for an advanced degree in a college/university. Persons interested in enrolling in the program will need to attend an Information Workshop to learn general information related to the program including the degree requirements, criteria for admission, evaluation of transcripts, and the TEAS. The application period is September 1 to November 1.

Program Outline

Semester credits: 67 -71
Duration: 4 semesters

Course titles:
Prerequisite courses – Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Microbiology

Core courses – Foundations of Nursing, Pharmacology for Nursing, Medical/Surgical Nursing I, Medical Surgical Nursing II, Maternal Child Health Nursing, Medical Surgical Nursing III, Psychosocial and Gerontological Nursing, Medical Surgical Nursing IV, Leadership in Nursing, Electives include Pharmacology 2-7 and Nursing Skills Laboratory, Reading and Composition, Principles of Sociology or Contemporary Social Problems, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, General Psychology, Oral Communication or Interpersonal Communication

Admission criteria:

  • Submit an application to SDCC online
  • Submit transcripts for evaluation – deadline for evaluation is August 1 every year
  • Review the Multi-Criteria Point System
  • Complete the prerequisite courses with a minimum grade C or better and a combined GPA of 2.5 or better
  • Take the ATI TEAS test and request transcript results to be sent electronically to the SDCC Nursing Education Department
  • Purchase an American Data Bank/Complio subscription and upload results of immunizations into the system. Include copy of immunizations and titers with dates clearly printed with the application
  • Current CPR certification from the American Heart Association
  • Successfully complete a background check and urine drug screen
  • Strongly recommended: Complete all the general education requirements before admission to the nursing program

Program Cost
The estimated cost for the 2-year ADN program is $7,800. The physical exam, immunizations, laboratory tests, background check, and drug screen must be completed at students’ expense. Other costs include uniforms, textbooks, instructional supplies, ATI test, and transport to the clinical site.

Address: 1313 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101-4787
Phone: (619) 388-3400
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98.08%

Grossmont College

The Associate Degree Registered Nursing Program at Grossmont College prepares adults for licensure to practice as professional nurses in acute, long-term, critical, ambulatory, and home health settings. Students who are new to nursing will complete the requirements in four semesters – not including the time it takes to complete the prerequisite courses. The curriculum coordinates nursing theory with laboratory experiences, and supervised rotations in local hospitals. Experienced nursing faculty will direct students during the clinical component of the course. Students must also complete the general education requirements, which include courses in natural, behavioral, and social sciences. Candidates must complete the prerequisite courses before submitting an application to the program. Licensed Vocational Nurses are eligible to apply to program and complete the degree in three semesters using the LVN to RN transition schedule. Program graduates will be eligible to apply to take the NCLEX for licensure as a Registered Nurse.

Program Outline

Semester credits: 70-72
Duration: 4 semesters

Course titles:

Core courses – Nursing Pharmacology I, Nursing Pharmacology II, Introduction to Nursing: Theory and Practice, Perioperative Nursing, Maternal/Newborn and Child Nursing, Nursing Management in Nutritional Metabolic Disorders, Neurologic and Psychiatric Nursing, Nursing Management in Cardio-Pulmonary and Circulatory Disorders, Precepted Patient Care Management, Anatomy and Physiology I, Anatomy and Physiology II, Paramedical Microbiology, Public Speaking, College Composition and Reading, Introductory Psychology, Introduction to Sociology of Minority Group

Admission criteria:

  • Complete the prerequisite courses before applying to the Nursing Program. Courses include English Composition, Intermediate Algebra, General Psychology, Introductory Sociology, Public Speaking.
  • Provide proof of high school graduate, GED certificate, and college degree
  • Submit official transcripts of the completed prerequisite courses. Foreign applicants must have the transcript evaluated by a credentialing evaluation service
  • Submit official TEAS exam score sent directly from the ATI website to Grossmont College. Score must be a minimum of 62%.
  • LVN applicants must submit LVN college transcripts
  • Documentation of current immunization – MMR, Hepatitis B, Tdap, Varicella, TB
  • A satisfactory physical exam report
  • Read and sign the Essential Functions of the Nursing Student form
  • Have a current American Health Association CPR card for Healthcare Providers
  • Provide evidence of malpractice insurance
  • Complete an ADB background check and drug screen

Program Cost
The approximate cost of the program is $6,178. Additional fees include health fees, immunizations, parking, uniforms, admission requirements, insurance, and CPR certification. Financial aid is available for qualifying students.

Address: 8800 Grossmont College Drive, El Cajon, California 92020
Phone: 619-644-7000
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98.53%

MiraCosta College

The MiraCosta College Nursing Program educates adults to provide safe, competent, and professional care to a diverse patient population in a variety of health care settings. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX for Registered Nurses. They will also have the foundational education for lifelong learning, personal growth, and to advance their studies. Credits are transferable to a 4-year college or university to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. The curriculum follows a full-time schedule and may be completed in four semesters. There are two tracks available – Track I and Track II. Track I is the generic nursing program that is designed for students who are new to nursing. Track II is open to California Licensed Vocation Nurses only. Applicants must have an active and unencumbered LVN license to be considered. The Step-Up program can be completed in one year, as eligible candidates will receive first-year nursing course work credit. The must complete a transition course offered during the summer. The application deadline is February 28 for the Fall semester and August 31 for the Spring Semester.

Program Outline

Semester credits: 67.5-72.5
Duration: 4 semesters

Course titles:
Prerequisite courses – Introductory Biology: Preparation for Pre-Health Professions (Lecture/Lab), Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Composition and Reading, Intermediate Algebra

Core courses – Public Speaking or Interpersonal Communication, Fundamentals of Nursing, Medical Surgical Nursing I, Maternal Child Nursing, Medical Surgical Nursing II, Medical Surgical Nursing III, Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, Medical Surgical Nursing IV, Contemporary Nursing Practice and Leadership, Preceptorship Lab, Pharmacology Review and Update, (3 units from one of the following): Child and Adolescent Growth and Development, Introduction to Aging, Psychology of Personal Growth, General Psychology, General Psychology (Honors), Social Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Contemporary Social Problems, Comparative Cultures

Admission criteria:

  • Apply to MiraCosta College and obtain a student ID number
  • Complete the five prerequisite courses before applying to the program. Must obtain a grade C or better
  • Submit official transcript in a sealed envelop from each college or university attended
  • Take and pass the ATI TEAS
  • Complete a satisfactory health exam
  • Submit results of lab tests for TB
  • Must be free from communicable diseases and infections
  • Complete a background check and urine drug screen
  • Attend an Orientation and Advisement Session
  • Be able to perform the essential requirements of the program
  • LVN applicants must submit LVN college transcripts and have a current license
  • Have current American Health Association CPR card for Healthcare Providers
  • Provide evidence of malpractice insurance

Program Cost
The enrollment fee is $46 per unit for resident students. Additional expenses include immunizations, parking, uniforms, admission requirements, insurance, and CPR certification. Financial aid is available for qualifying students.

Address: 1 Barnard Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056
Phone: 760-757-2121
Phone: 888-201-8480
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.5%

Palomar Community College District

The Associate Degree in Nursing program offered by the Nursing Education Department at Palomar College includes theoretical and clinical learning experiences so graduates will be ready to adapt to the changing world of health care. They will function as competent entry-level practitioners of care in diverse health care settings. Those who complete the requirements will be prepared to take the NCLEX-RN. There are two Associate Degree options – The Associate in Arts and the Associate in Science. The AA degree requires completion of additional general education units in American History and Institutions. Licensed Vocational Nurses will be eligible to apply to the program and complete the requirements for an associate degree in just two semesters.

Program Outline

Semester credits: 67 -71
Duration: 4 semesters

Course titles:
Prerequisite courses – Fundamentals of Microbiology, Anatomy, Physiology

Core courses – Nursing I, Nursing Foundation I, Nursing II, Nursing Foundation II, Nursing III, Nursing IV, English Composition

Admission criteria:

  • Complete the five prerequisite courses before applying to the program. Must obtain a grade C or better
  • Complete the ATI TEAS with a score of 62% or higher
  • Complete the Palomar College RN Application
  • Submit a copy of high school diploma, GED, CHSPE, or college degree
  • Submit unofficial transcripts of course work
  • Submit unofficial copies of TEAS attempts
  • Have a valid Palomar student ID before submitting an application
  • Complete an acceptable background check
  • Submit documentation of required immunization

Program Cost
The approximate cost for the program is $5,504. It includes tuition, textbooks, enrollment gee, health fee, parking, immunization screening, ADB background check, uniforms, shoes, supplies, name badge, ATI test, graduation pin, and NCLEX exam.

Address: 1140 West Mission Road, San Marcos, California 92069
Phone: (760) 744-1150
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.00%

San Diego State University School of Nursing

San Diego State University offers a 30-unit option for Licensed Vocational Nurses to prepare for licensure as a registered nurse. The LVN to RN program does not lead to an Associate degree but it grants students the eligibility to take the NCLEX for RN licensure in California. Other states may not recognize the state’s LVN-RN 30-unit option and may not issue a license to graduates. Therefore, an ADN program may be preferable for those who want the option to secure an RN license in other states. Graduates may receive credit for the coursework completed in the LVN program. Students will need to enroll in the coursework on a space available basis through Open University with the SDSU College of Extended Studies. The nursing courses are reserved for the matriculated students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

Program Outline

Semester credits: 30 units
Duration: 2 semesters

Course titles:
Courses – Fundamentals of Microbiology, Human Physiology, Clinical Pharmacology in Nursing Practice, Nursing Care of Complex, High Acuity, or Critically Ill Patients, Nursing Care of Complex, High Acuity, or Critically Ill Patients Lab, Gerontological Nursing, Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, Nursing Management and Leadership, Nursing Management and Leadership Lab

Admission criteria:

  • Register for classes through Open University – space availability basis
  • View deadlines for each academic term
  • There is no application process required

Program Cost
The cost is $281 per unit. Additional fees may apply.

Address: 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182
Phone: (619) 594-2540
Fax: (619) 594-2765
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 88.4%

Southwestern College

The Nursing program at Southwestern College leads to an Associate Degree. The curriculum centers on the goals students must accomplish during the program as well as their level of competency after graduating from the program. The Student Learning Outcomes for each course emphasizes the goal to students and teaching strategies and evaluations are aligned with each goal. Graduates of the program will have the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the role and function of a registered nurse. They will demonstrate and promote high standards in practice, provide safe and competent care to a diverse patient population, use sound decision making in practice, and demonstrate leadership on the health care team. Students are expected to develop a commitment to lifelong learning by developing an educational plan to progress to the BSN and MSN degrees in nursing. Students are accepted based on a Multi-Criteria Points System. Students will be accepted based on ranking points. Those with the highest points will be given preference for day or evening/weekend schedules. The deadline for applications is the last business day in January every year. New students are admitted in August annually.

Program Outline

Semester credits: 67 -71
Duration: 4 semesters

Course titles:
Core courses – Pathophysiology/Pharmacology I, Fundamentals of Nursing, Fundamentals of Nursing Clinical/Lab, Pathophysiology/Pharmacology II, Maternal and Child Nursing, Maternal and Child Nursing Clinical/Lab, Adult Nursing, Adult Nursing Clinical/Lab, Nursing Supervision/Leadership, Gerontology, Gerontology Clinical/Lab, Nursing Supervision/Leadership II, Lifespan Development, Humanities, Communications, Psychology

Admission criteria:

  • Complete the prerequisite courses before applying to the program. Must obtain a grade C or better
  • Complete the ATI TEAS with a score of 62% or higher
  • Complete the Southwestern College Application Packet
  • Submit unofficial transcripts of course work completed
  • Complete the Nursing Department physical exam and immunization form
  • Submit official transcript – when requested – directly from the educational institution to the SWC Admissions and Records Office
  • Have a current SWC Student ID #

Program Cost
Students who meet the residency requirements will pay approximately $6,100 to $6,500 for the ADN program. First semester expenses will be the greatest for administration and fees. Major costs include uniforms, textbooks, and instructional supplies. Additional expenses include TEAS exam, transportation to the clinical site, diagnostic tests throughout the program, and NCLEX for RNs. Financial assistance is available for eligible students. 

Address: 900 Otay Lakes Rd, Chula Vista, CA 91910-7297
Phone: (619) 421-6700
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 89.83%

How Much Does an ADN Nurse Make in San Diego?

The ADN nurse is at the lower end of the nursing payscale – BSN nurses typically earn more due to additional responsibilities. However, ADN nurses still earn a substantial income of $75,125 annually. Registered nurses in San Diego earn 35 percent more than the national average for registered nurses. Continuing your education to the BSN through an RN to BSN program will improve your opportunities to earn more.

How Long is the ADN Program in California?

Like other associate degree programs, the Associate Degree in Nursing program may the completed in 24 months – not including the time required for the completion of any prerequisite coursework.

What Are Some Nursing Schools in San Diego with no Waiting Lists

Due to the volume of applicants for nursing school and the limited spots available, most nursing schools utilize a wait list of potential candidates. Public unersities are most noted for wait listing applicants. Palomar College does not maintain a waiting list but encourages applicants to reapply if they are not admitted in their first attempt. You can improve your chances of direct admission upon application by completing the prerequisite courses and obtaining healthcare experience before applying to the program. Good TEAS scores will also improve your chances of success.

How Much Does Nursing School Cost in California?

Expect to spend approximately $6,500 to complete an associate degree in nursing program at public universities in California. The cost at private universities is 3 to 4 times as much. Expenses for prerequiste coursework, books, uniforms, supplies, background check, admission exam, immunization, CPR certification, and insurance are not included in the estimate.

What Is The Fastest Way to Become a Registered Nurse in California?

The fastest route to becoming a registered nurse depends on your starting point. If you’re new to nursing and healthcare, you can consider the associate degree in nursing program, like those outlined above, which takes 24 months to complete.

If you’re a licensed practical nurse or paramedic, enrolling in a bridge program such as an LPN to RN bridge program will get you a bachelor degree to start practicing as a registered nurse in 12 to 18 months.

If you’re considering nursing as a career after completing a bachelor’s degree in another field, your fastest path would be through the accelerated bachelor of science degree (ABSN) degree program. The ABSN program is a 12 to 18-month program.

If you’re begin your nursing career as an associate degree nurse, you should plan to continue your studies to complete the BSN degree to enjoy a wider scope of practice and improve your earning potential.

You can enroll in the online RN to BSN program and get a BSN degree in one year.



Crystal is a certified Registered Nurse (RN) with a passion for writing about nursing education. Through her articles, Crystal shares insights and tips to help fellow nurses enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest developments in the field. With a focus on practical advice and relevant topics, Crystal's writing is a valuable resource for nursing professionals seeking to advance their careers.