California Nurse Practitioner Licensure Steps - 2022

AKA: CRNP License, APRN Licensure

Last Reviewed: October 1st, 2022

Nurse Practitioner Licensure Requirements in California

Follow below to learn how to become a nurse practitioner (NP) in California.

Initial Registered Nurse (RN) License

Already have your RN License?Skip to the next section

All prospective NPs are required to hold a valid RN license to practice in California which is issued by the California Board of Registered Nursing. There are two types of application for this license: RN by Examination and RN by Endorsement.

RN by Examination

Graduates of nursing programs in or out of California are required to apply via this route if they have never been licensed to practice as RNs in any state.


  • The minimum academic qualification for RNs is an Associate’s degree. However, for those intending to transition into an NP career in the nearest future should choose a bachelor’s degree from an accredited nursing program.
  • This route requires applicants to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This examination is for nurses after they have been trained. Prospective applicants for an RN license are required to register for the examination with PearsonVue for a fee of $200. This registration must be done at least 48 hours before applying for the license to enable the board to notify PearsonVue of your eligibility for the examination. After this, an Authorization to Test (ATT) is sent to eligible candidates.
  • The application process is done predominantly online. However, people can also choose the paper application method. If you have applied using the paper method, do not send multiple applications via paper and online.
  • Application involves first opening a BreEZe account unless you have opened one before. On the homepage of your account, you are to select the “Start a New Application or Take an Exam” option and click on “RN Initial Exam Application” on the drop-down menu. On this page, you will provide the information required.
  • All applicants are required to provide proof of their nursing education via transcripts. Graduates of institutions in California have theirs sent to the board by their institutions as routine practice. For graduates from other states, you need to contact your school or work with a third-party electronic transcript vendor. Electronic transcripts are to be sent to For international nursing programs, have yours sent by mail.

RN by Endorsement

This is the route for holders of a valid single-state RN license from another state, district, or territory in the US or Canada.


  • Applicants must have already completed an accredited nursing program, passed the NCLEX-RN or State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE), and been considered to be eligible for an RN license according to other requirements in their state.
  • The board recommends the online application method for all applicants. However, if you have submitted a paper application, you do not need to reapply.
  • Application process also starts with opening an account on BreEZe. On the homepage, you click on “Start a New Application or Take an Exam” and select the “RN by Endorsement” option from the drop-down menu.
  • All applicants are required to verify their current license from their state of verification. This verification can be obtained using the Nursys platform. Note that all Nursys verifications are only valid for 90 days. Hence, be careful to only apply for the verification after you have submitted your application so that it does not expire before you can use it.

All transcripts must be submitted in English and sent by the institution where the program was completed. The transcript must contain the date of graduation and the type of degree obtained. All applicants are required to submit their fingerprints for a background check either by LiveScan or Hard Card. The fee for RN by Examination for California graduates is $300. The fees for RN by Endorsement and RN by Examination for graduates from another state, district, or territory is $350. Finally, the fee for both routes for international graduates is $750. All fees are to be paid with a valid credit card.

Advanced Education Requirements

Prospective NPs are required to complete postgraduate training from a program that results in the conferment of at least a master’s degree (MSN).

The program must be approved by the National League of Nursing (NLN) or any other agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE). Programs are approved by participating voluntarily in an accreditation program by the board.

Here you can find all schools offering nurse practitioner degree programs in California. The programs should equip those who complete them with the requisite knowledge, skills, and experience to practice as NPs serving one or more population foci. They should include coursework and clinical components and should cover advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, and clinical management.

National Certification

Following your postgraduate nursing education, you must be certified as an NP in a given specialty area. This is done by national certifying agencies with the authority to verify the quality of your nurse practitioner education. The board recognizes the following agencies for nurse practitioner certification:

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
  • National Certification Corporation (NCC)
  • Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB)
  • American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

Certifying agencies either hold certification programs or examinations for nurses willing to be certified as NPs in a given specialty area. You should contact any of the above agencies that certify professionals in the area that you want to practice in.

Getting Licensed to Practice as a Nurse Practitioner in California

The CA Board of Registered Nursing receives applications all year long. The application process is to be completed online for a fee of $500. Applicants are expected to hold a valid RN license to practice in California, have completed a board-approved postgraduate nurse practitioner preparatory program, and obtained national certification from board-approved national certifying agencies.

For people who had their nurse practitioner training in a California-based institution, they only need to request that verification of their nurse practitioner program and national certification be sent to the board by their institution and the applicable certifying agency. Those who completed their program in another state or territory, are to apply for certification and submit the same documents as above.

If your nurse practitioner training did not meet California standards, verification of clinical competency as a nurse practitioner forms must be submitted for you by a physician and a nurse practitioner. Verification of clinical experience as a nurse practitioner must also be submitted by a physician/or a nurse practitioner for you. The forms can be found here. Processing times vary for many reasons hence there is no fixed duration for when to expect your license.

The NP license does not come with prescriptive authority. NPs who intend to prescribe and dispense medication must apply for an NP furnishing number for $400. This application is also completed online. If you intend to handle controlled drugs, you are required to obtain a permit for such from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).