2 Year Nursing Programs in California – Associate’s Degree in Nursing

An Associate Degree in Nursing is a two-year undergraduate degree that serves to prepare students for a career as a registered nurse. The degree focuses on the practical aspects of the field and includes classroom work, internships, and lab sessions as part of the curriculum. Earning an ADN, as the degree is most commonly known, is the fastest way to start a career as an RN. However, it is important for students to understand that this degree is known by a few monikers, including AN, for Associate of Nursing; ASN, for Associate of Science in Nursing; and AAS, for Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. No matter what the degree distinction, an associate’s degree will help students hoping to become RNs.

Nursing programs in California, from Bay Area and Southern California, and throughout the state, are internationally recognized for both curriculum and clinical rotation opportunities. Schools who confer these diplomas are known for providing students with a solid understanding of the field as well as preparing them to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, a requirement for those who wish to practice in the state.

What to Look For

While these degrees are in demand by students, it is critical that any applicant study the schools and their programs carefully before making a decision. Not all colleges are created equal, so it is therefore important for students to take the time to research aspects of the curriculum and the department itself prior to making a decision.

Accreditation and Licensing

Accreditation and licensing remain the most important factors in choosing an ADN program. In California, all nursing departments are required to receive accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, which is also known as ACEN. Some community and private institutions may also receive accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, known as ACCJC; this accreditation is by a national body that has oversight over two-year degrees in most disciplines.

Licensing is equally important; students who do not complete a curriculum that is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing may find it more difficult to complete the requirements that will enable them to sit for licensure. The Board does, however, approve several schools for RN education, providing students with a curriculum suitable for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.

Program Outcomes

Like all other fields of study, ADN programs have specific parameters that students can use to compare similar degrees from different schools. These factors include the following:

  • Graduation rates
  • Employment outcomes
  • NCLEX-RN exam pass rates
  • Retention rates
  • Concentration opportunities
  • Student satisfaction data in the form of surveys

These factors play a large role in a student’s decision because a school with a few or all of these factors will be favorable to a school who only has one or two. The information listed above can be found on each school’s degree website page. If a student cannot find these parameters, it is advised that they begin searching for another college for their needs.

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Allan Hancock College

A degree created specifically for students who have already completed a vocational program or who have status in the state as LVNs are welcomed at Allan Hancock College. This is a two-semester program that is designed to prepare students to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. The program consists of classroom lectures and supervised practice in both lab and real-world settings. Students will learn the foundational concepts needed to sit for licensure, all from professors who have varying degrees of experience in the field. Because the program focuses on the additional responsibilities required of an RN, only students with work experience in the field are invited to apply.

800 S. College Dr.
Santa Maria, CA 93454

805-922-6966 ext. 3384

Cerritos College

The ADN at Cerritos College was designed in adherence to the NCLEX-RN licensure exam competencies. This is a 2-year degree that covers all eight major competency areas and is completed with students applying for licensure through the Board of Registered Nursing. While there are six different options associated with the degree, the most popular is the ADN as it provides a straight path forward for both further education and licensure in the state. Students will find lab opportunities, internships, classroom lectures, and tutoring options available at this school. Cerritos College also offers accelerated tracks for students who are designated LSNs or who would like to take on the ADN-BSN program.

11110 Alondra Blvd.
Norwalk, CA 90650


Chaffey College

Students who are interested in an accredited college that offers a pathway to RN licensure should consider Chaffey College. This school hosts one of the original ADN programs to be established in the state and is an intimate setting to learn about this field. This is a two-year degree that focuses on the practical applications of nursing and includes classroom lectures, labs, and clinical rotations. Students who complete the degree will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam after graduation. Along with the curriculum, students are provided with internship opportunities, a job resource setting, and academic clubs that correlate to their study. Chaffey also provides scholarship opportunities for interested students.

5885 Haven Avenue
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737


El Camino College – Compton

El Camino College – Compton is an accredited school that offers a 2-year degree in nursing. In conjunction with El Camino College – Torrance, this institution provides a degree that can be completed on two campuses, depending on an applicant’s needs. After the substantial background check and drug screening is completed, students will find a professional curriculum that focuses on experiential learning, lab sessions, and clinical rotations; the department is also home to charters for both the NSNA and the CNSA, both of which are student nurse associations recognized nationwide. After graduation, students will be eligible to apply for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.

1111. E. Artesia Boulevard
Compton, CA 90221

Los Angeles County Department College of Nursing and Allied Health

Los Angeles County owns and operates its own institution, the College of Nursing and Allied Health, that is dedicated to providing the county with professionals. Established in 1895, it is one of the oldest institutions of its kind and hosts the ADN for interested students. The two-year degree offers a classroom setting with licensed professionals but focuses more on experiential learning as well as clinical rotations. Students will find that their experiences take place at DHS facilities and allied healthcare systems. Upon graduation, all students will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.

1237 North Mission Road
Los Angeles, CA 90033

323-226-4911 ext. 6511