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25 Best Associate Degrees in Nursing (ADN) 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 4/1/2020

These are the top 25 schools for an associate degree in nursing, based on median salary one year after graduation. Students who graduated with an associate degree in nursing from Yuba College have the highest median salary, at $97,900. The lowest median student debt on the list is $3,500, at Fresno City College. In many states, an associate degree in nursing qualifies students to apply for RN licensure, though it is becoming increasingly common for registered nurses to attain a bachelor's degree in nursing first. Most of the colleges on this list are located in California, which has the nation's highest salaries for RNs.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Marysville (CA) Marysville (CA) $7,488 Not Reported $97,900
#2 #2 Sacramento (CA) Sacramento (CA) $10,768 Not Reported $91,500
#3 #3 Santa Rosa (CA) (and 1 other) Santa Rosa (CA) (and 1 other) $9,310 $13,800 $89,700
#4 #4 Oroville (CA) Oroville (CA) $7,816 $14,050 $86,900
#5 #5 Merced (CA) Merced (CA) $7,890 Not Reported $86,000
#6 #6 Multiple Locations Multiple Locations $13,975 - $54,125 $30,464 $85,300
#7 #7 San Francisco (CA) San Francisco (CA) $12,244 Not Reported $83,100
#8 #8 Modesto (CA) Modesto (CA) $7,308 Not Reported $82,800
#9 #9 Los Angeles (CA) Los Angeles (CA) $46,740 $18,334 $81,500
#10 #10 Fremont (CA) Fremont (CA) Not Provided $17,663 $80,200
#11 #11 Visalia (CA) (and 1 other) Visalia (CA) (and 1 other) $8,338 $6,381 $78,700
#12 #12 Santa Clarita (CA) Santa Clarita (CA) $9,322 $10,500 $77,600
#13 #13 San Luis Obispo (CA) (and 1 other) San Luis Obispo (CA) (and 1 other) $9,348 $13,899 $77,100
#14 #14 Victorville (CA) Victorville (CA) $10,125 Not Reported $76,300
#15 #15 Grants Pass (OR) Grants Pass (OR) $6,192 $21,656 $76,000
#16 #16 Sacramento (CA) Sacramento (CA) $10,768 $15,750 $75,700
#17 #17 Kentfield (CA) Kentfield (CA) $9,864 $17,425 $74,800
#18 #18 Lemoore (CA) Lemoore (CA) $10,110 $10,500 $74,100
#19 #19 Cypress (CA) Cypress (CA) $9,090 $10,000 $74,000
#21 #21 Fresno (CA) Fresno (CA) $8,890 $3,500 $73,100
#22 #22 Riverside (CA) Riverside (CA) $10,000 $12,309 $72,700
#23 #23 Moorpark (CA) Moorpark (CA) $8,146 $10,500 $72,100
#24 #24 Lancaster (CA) Lancaster (CA) $7,724 $9,250 $72,000
#25 #25 Mission Viejo (CA) Mission Viejo (CA) $9,814 $11,750 $71,800

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Associate in Nursing degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

Marysville (CA)
Median Salary $97,900
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $7,488
Graduation Rate 23%

Established in 1927, Yuba College is the main campus of the Yuba Community College District and is located in Marysville, California. The institution offers an associate degree nursing program, which is a full-time, four-semester program that requires 15–20 hours of study each week. Students applying for the degree should already have completed courses in subjects like nutrition, general psychology, sociology, speech, mental health, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.

A total of 36.5 units are required to complete the degree. The first semester is focused on classroom instruction and nursing lab practice. Semesters two and three combine theory with clinical instruction, and the final semester includes theory, clinical rotations, and preceptoring in local hospitals. Students must satisfactorily complete each semester before moving on to the next. The program is designed to prepare graduates to enter the workforce as entry-level registered nurses (RN). The instruction meets the requirements of the California Board of Registered Nursing. YU also offers a licensed vocational nurse to RN career mobility program.

Visit Yuba College's website.

Sacramento (CA)
Median Salary $91,500
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $10,768
Graduation Rate 28%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

Located in Sacramento, California, American River College is a California Community College that was established in 1955. The college’s associate degree nursing program is designed to prepare eligible graduates for licensure as registered nurses. The full-time program combines general education courses, nursing courses, and lab experience in local health agencies. Students study a variety of subjects, such as anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and public speaking; they can expect to devote at least 40 hours per week to lectures, study time, clinicals, and preparation for clinicals. Students study over four consecutive semesters; the degree can thus be completed in two years.

Upon completion of the degree, graduates can take the National Licensing Examination to become registered nurses (RN). Many graduates of ARC’s Associate Degree Nursing Program transfer to a four-year college to earn their BSN. ARC also offers a one-year licensed vocational nurse-to-RN career mobility program; students complete a summer bridge course and then enter the RN program in the third semester.

Visit American River College's website.

Santa Rosa (CA) (and 1 other)
Median Salary $89,700
Median Debt $13,800
Annual Tuition $9,310
Graduation Rate 35%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

Established in 1918, Santa Rosa Junior College is a public community college located in Santa Rosa, California. The associate degree in nursing has been a regular feature of the college’s curriculum since 1959, and the school has established a good working relationship with numerous clinical agencies in Sonoma County. The four-semester program can be completed in two years, and students can expect to spend approximately 32 hours per week in classroom instruction and clinical. An additional 25–30 hours per week are spent studying. Classes are held four to five days per week.

The program includes subjects such as general psychology; child and adolescent psychology; theories of personality; aging, dying, and death; American folklore and folklife; modern social problems; and race and ethnic relations. Clinical rotations take place days and evenings and are held on both weekdays and weekends. A total of 78 units (including prerequisites) are required to complete the degree. SRJC has an agreement with Sonoma State University School of Nursing to offer ADN students the opportunity to pursue advanced nursing education (BSN/MSN) through a number of different programs.

Visit Santa Rosa Junior College's website.

Oroville (CA)
Median Salary $86,900
Median Debt $14,050
Annual Tuition $7,816
Graduation Rate 31%

A community college located in Oroville, California, Butte College offers an associate degree in nursing as a two-year program. Applicants must have completed a number of prerequisite courses, but there are no recency requirements. Some required courses can be taken concurrently during the first year of study. Students take such subjects as medical surgical nursing, clinical nursing, maternity nursing, pediatric nursing, pharmacology, gerontology, nursing leadership, mental health, and others.

The program provides both theory and clinical content and is designed to prepare students for licensure as registered nurses (RN). Many graduates of BC’s associate degree nursing program transfer to a four-year college to earn their BSN. The college has partnered with Chico State to provide ADN graduates with an easy pathway to transfer to the Chico State Nursing Program and earn their bachelor’s degree in less time. A total of 86–87 units (including prerequisite courses) are required to complete the degree. BC also offers a licensed vocational nurse-to-RN program, which counts vocational nurse training and prerequisite classes as the first year of the traditional two-year ADN Program.

Visit Butte College's website.

Merced (CA)
Median Salary $86,000
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $7,890
Graduation Rate 25%
Student Reviews None (Add review)

The Registered Nursing Program at Merced College, a public community college located in Merced, California, is designed to prepare students to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses and become licensed registered nurses (RN). After completing the prerequisite courses, students entering the program can choose from non-nursing subjects such as interpersonal communication, sociology, marriage and family, psychology, and human development.

A total of 41 units are required for nursing courses, which include foundations of nursing, pharmacology in nursing practice, acute medical/surgical nursing, mental health nursing, and pediatric nursing. In order to complete the degree, students must have a total of 71-72 units (this includes prerequisite courses) over four semesters. During the final six weeks of the fourth semester, students complete a preceptorship to gain practical experience and training. MC also offers a licensed vocational nurse-to-RN pathway, where students who have completed the prerequisite courses can earn their RN degree in one year. Those who wish to pursue further education and earn their BSN or MSN can transfer credits earned in MC’s Registered Nursing Program to California State Universities.

Visit Merced College's website.