LPN-to-BSN Pathway: Key Milestones
Becoming a registered nurse after serving as an LPN (known as a licensed vocational nurse, or LVN, in California and Texas) can be an attractive option for those who wish to specialize in a certain area of nursing or advance in their careers.
excelled in math and science courses; volunteered at a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare organization.
completed an associate’s degree or certificate program to become an LPN.
passed NCLEX-PN exam to obtain a state license.
worked as an LPN at a doctor’s office, hospital, or other medical center and gained valuable work experience.
took additional nursing courses and completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN)
found work as a registered nurse (RN) at a hospital, physician’s office, or other healthcare facility.
LPN-to-BSN Programs: The Online Experience
The life of an LPN can be hectic and stressful, so there may not be much time available in the individual’s schedule to dedicate to in-classroom training. If an LPN/LVN aspires to be advance his or her career as a registered nurse, he or she can enroll in an online LPN-to-BSN program that allows the student to take nursing courses on their own time. Students enrolled in these programs can study at their own pace, participate in live discussions and forums online, and interact with classmates and instructors through an online platform.
A bachelor’s degree program in nursing includes a clinical component. Even though LPN/LVs have plenty of training in the field, LPN-to-BSN bridge programs require students to work on certain projects and assignments in a lab setting and complete clinical rotations at a hospital or other medical facility. Students earning their nursing degree online will need to make time in their schedule to complete their clinical requirements, network with medical professionals, and learn about the role of a registered nurse offline. At this level, building connections by attending workshops or seminars related to nursing topics, and participating in group projects can help to round out a student’s educational experience.
Online LPN-to-BSN Learning Outcomes
The online LPN-to-BSN programs offered by many accredited colleges and universities across the country can be completed in less than a year, in most cases. Students typically complete coursework in two semesters of full-time study and four semesters of part-time study. Graduates receive a BSN degree and can sit for the state examination to become a registered nurse.
Unlike LPN/LVN training programs, the BSN program includes a broader range of subjects as well as introductory courses in certain specialty areas. Students who wish to further their career with a master’s degree or research studies can pursue an advanced degree after graduating from an online LPN-to-BSN program. BSN training teaches students how to provide nursing care to individuals and families, function as a part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team, and use the latest healthcare technologies and software programs to perform job duties.
Skills and knowledge acquired through and online LPN-to-BSN program include:
Clinical Nursing Applications
practical application of basic nursing skills, effective communication skills to address the needs of different types of patients, and implementing appropriate therapeutic interventions.
Providing Care in All Types of Settings
a BSN nurse is qualified to deliver care in a variety of settings, including private homes, neighborhood clinics, military hospitals, general hospitals, physician’s clinics, and outpatient centers.
in addition to treating patients, nurses will be well-equipped to share health care information and treatment options so that patients and community members can make the most informed decisions about their health.
a BSN nurse learns how to lead a task force, train or develop LPN/LVNs for their role, or participate in committees and management groups to lead a department or organization.
an RN is responsible for handling different types of cases, working with a team of doctors and other medical professionals, and preparing reports on a particular case for further review.
LPN-to-BSN: Typical Online Courses
LPN-to-BSN courses are centered around case management, leadership, critical thinking, research, and specialized treatments and therapies. Students learn about the latest advancements in the industry, as well as how to use different types of tools and technologies used in the modern healthcare field. Examples of online courses at the BSN level include:
|Pharmacology in Nursing
||Focuses on providing safe patient-centered care when administering different types of drugs and evaluating clients receiving various medications. This is typically a lecture-based course that may be completed entirely online.
||Teaches advanced nursing skills through evidence-based methods and teaches students how to use the latest information management systems. This may involve a laboratory or clinical component with hands-on activities and projects.
||An introduction to the scientific inquiry as applied to the field of nursing, research methods, and tools used to conduct research effectively online and offline. This may be a lecture-based course with assignments that involve group or individual projects.
||Students learn how to review health history data, perform a physical assessment, and learn the basic components of a comprehensive health assessment performed at the patient intake stage or during treatment.
||An overview of psychosocial concepts and coping strategies when caring for different types of patients and those affected by mental health conditions. Topics may include appropriate communication skills and methodology and treatment modalities for different types of patients.
Online LPN-to-BSN: Pre-Enrollment Checklist
Choosing an online LPN-to-BSN program can be challenging since there are so many accredited programs out there that are very similar in scope. Since a portion of the program does involve in-person activities, the student needs to consider the location of the campus and several other factors, including:
- Both full-time or part-time options if the LPN/LVNs has a demanding job or other responsibilities
- Prerequisites for advanced courses available at the BSN level
- Online LPN-to-BSN programs must be accredited by the same regional and national organizations as on-campus programs
- Option to speak with current online students about their experience
- Opportunities to visit the campus and locate labs and settings for clinical component of the program
- Support services available to online students
- Financial aid and tuition payment options for the program or school
Accreditation for LPN-to-BSN Programs
Completing an LPN-to-BSN bridge program from an accredited school means the student is graduating from a school that conforms to national standards. Employers often give preference to candidates that graduated from an accredited school since they know that the student completed an education with clear and appropriate educational objectives. Accrediting organizations include:
The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) is responsible for specialized accreditation of nursing education programs at all levels, including certificates, diplomas, and professional degree programs.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) works autonomously and accredits baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing across the country.
The National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA) accredits LPN and LVN programs, diploma, associate, bachelor, master’s, and clinical doctorate degree programs in nursing.
For more information about accreditation for online schools, visit our detailed guide to accreditation.
LPN-to-BSN Education Timeline
||Time to Complete
Obtain High School Diploma or GED
Complete an accredited LPN/LVN Program
Obtain additional certification (optional)
|Up to 1 year
Complete online LPN-to-BSN Program
Up to 1 year
Complete Master’s Degree in Nursing (optional)
|1 to 2 years
LPN/LVNs who wish to advance in their careers can focus on obtaining as much work experience or volunteer experience as possible before enrolling in a bridge program to earn a BSN degree. They have the option to work part- or full-time while completing their LPN-to-BSN program. Ways to prepare for a successful career in this field include:
- Volunteering during the summer months to gain further work experience in a specialty area or desired career
- Participating in workshops, seminars, and other events designed for nursing professionals throughout their educational career can help a student make professional contacts, learn more about the industry, and learn networking skills along the way.
- Joining a networking organization for medical professionals in the area
- Taking a specialized course during the final semester of the BSN program to further their educational career and explore a master’s degree program
- Collecting letters of recommendations from instructors and employers to round out the resume
Career Opportunities for LPN-to-BSN Graduates
Having a valid nursing license and a bachelor’s degree in nursing qualifies individuals for a number of attractive job options in this growing field. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA), the number of trained RNs is expected to grow 33 percent from 2012 and 2025, and nurses make up the single largest healthcare profession in the United States. Many positions require additional certification and training.
Below is a sampling of attractive career paths for registered nurses with a BSN degree:
Works with students and faculty members to perform health assessments and screenings, provide basic nursing care for those who are ill or injured, and recommend a treatment plan. May be responsible for serving as a nursing coordinator to educate patients about their health.
Nursing Home Nurse
Works with elderly patients and individuals with disabilities in a nursing home or assisted living facility. May be responsible for performing health assessments, administering medication, managing patient feeding, and providing acute care.
Home Care Nurse
Also known as a clinical nurse specialist providing home care, this nurse is responsible for providing direct patient care in the patient’s home. They may be involved with assessing the patient’s health, treating illnesses, providing basic nursing care, and educating family members or care givers about the patient’s health.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Works with patients with mental health problems and illnesses in a mental health care facility or similar organization. May be involved with prescribing medication, providing counseling services, and providing basic nursing care based on the patient’s unique needs.
Emergency Room Nurse
Works in ambulatory care or emergency services department to provide physician support and basic nursing care to patients in critical condition. Most are certified to work on emergency cases and must have sound judgment skills to work well under pressure.
||National Job Growth (2012-2022)
||National Median Annual Salary
||Nursing Degree and Specialty Certification(s)
|Nursing Home Nurse
||State RN Licensure
|Home Care Nurse
||State RN Licensure
|Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
||Nursing Degree and Specialty Certification(s)
|Emergency Room Nurse
||Nursing Degree and Specialty Certification(s)
Sources: Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)
Licenses & Certifications
Completing an online LPN-to-BSN program prepares students to sit for the licensing exam for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). All registered nurses must be licensed by their state’s Board of Nursing before they can practice. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides information about state boards across the country.
For more information on licensing requirements for RNs, visit our detailed page about online RN programs.
Completing a specialty certification program after completing an LPN-to-BSN degree can give an RN the chance to specialize in a certain area. Some positions, such as school nurses and emergency room nurses require additional certification.
For more information on specialty certifications such as pediatric and home health nursing, visit our detailed page about online RN programs.
Similar Online Nursing Programs
After taking a closer look at the requirements of an LPN-to-BSN program in this guide, some students may be wondering whether a BSN degree is right for them. Training to become a registered nurse and serving as a BSN nurse can be rewarding and lucrative career for many. However, there are other similar training programs available for those who want to explore other career paths or complete a shorter educational track. These include:
Online CNA Classes
Taking classes to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) can put an aspiring nursing professional on the fast track to entering the workforce without a degree. These programs provide basic training and job-related skills to help students develop the practical and social skills needed to succeed in this field.
Online LPN/LVN Programs
Individuals who are satisfied with entry-level positions in the field can enjoy a career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a licensed vocational nurse (LVN). These programs prepare students to sit of the NCLEX-PN exam and obtain their state license to practice. Coursework includes a combination of lectures online and clinical rotations.
Online RN Programs
Those who wish to serve as a registered nurse (RN) can complete an online RN program that covers upper level courses beyond basic LPN certification and training requirements. Students can choose between shorter, certification and diploma programs or comprehensive bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs online to become an RN. Coursework includes a combination of online lectures and discussions, and clinical rotations.