Best LPN to RN Programs 2021

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Registered nurses (RNs) administer care to patients and collaborate with physicians. RNs work in clinical settings and act as the first point of contact for patients. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for RNs to grow 7% from 2019-2029, a rate faster than the average for all occupations.

According to the BLS, RNs earn a median salary of $73,300 per year. However, earning potential varies based on factors such as geographic location. Nurses in California, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia earn the highest salaries, according to the BLS data. Nursing program graduates can also increase their earning potential by completing an MSN program, which can qualify them for nurse practitioner roles.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can become RNs by completing an LPN-to-RN program. These specialized programs allow LPNs to continue working while in school, and students can apply new knowledge and skills to their current position. Typical admission requirements include an LPN license and employment in a healthcare setting.

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The Transition from LPN to RN: Frequently Asked Questions


  • What is the difference between a LPN and an RN?

    LPNs and RNs maintain different job responsibilities. LPNs perform basic tasks, such as keeping records and ensuring patient comfort. RNs typically operate advanced medical equipment and administer medication.


  • How many years is an RN degree?

    Most associate-level LPN-to-RN programs take 18 months to complete. Programs that confer a bachelor’s degree typically require an additional 1-2 semesters.


  • Do RNs get paid more than LPNs?

    According to the BLS, RNs earn a median annual salary $25,820 higher than the median annual salary of LPNs. This increased earning potential can make pursuing an LPN-to-RN degree a sound financial investment.


  • What type of education do you need to be an RN?

    RNs need an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing. LPN-to-RN programs may confer a bachelor’s or an associate degree. Bachelor’s degree-holders in the field often benefit from higher earning potential than RNs with an associate degree.


Purpose of an Online LPN-to-RN Program?

Prospective students select a nursing program based on their prior healthcare experience and career goals. Associate-level LPN-to-RN programs emphasize topics such as nutrition, mental health, and pediatric nursing. Bachelor’s programs typically feature coursework in leadership and community-focused nursing.

Some nursing programs allow students to customize their educational experience by selecting a specialization. Learners complete a specialization by taking upper-division electives in a nursing subfield. Common specializations for bachelor’s-level nursing students prepare individuals to become cardiac nurses, ER nurses, and geriatric nurses.

Why Become a Registered Nurse?

Common benefits of completing an LPN-to-RN program include increased career prospects and earning potential. Nursing students may also experience personal benefits, such as improved confidence. The list below describes typical reasons for pursuing an RN degree.

Earn More
RNs earn a higher median salary than LPNs. This increased earning potential can lead to a more stable financial future, allowing graduates to eliminate debt and save for retirement.
Build Skills
Students earning an RN degree gain in-demand skills they can apply to work in the field. These skills often make RNs more competitive for positions.
Explore Different Career Paths
LPN-to-RN programs often feature specialization options that prepare learners for certain careers. Students work with academic and career advisors to select a specialization.
Graduate Quickly
Because of their prior education and experience, LPNs can graduate sooner than first-time college students. LPNs can quickly advance their career by earning an RN degree.
Become a Leader
Many supervisory positions require an RN license and a bachelor’s degree. These nursing professionals oversee other RNs and LPNs, and they help colleagues hone their skills and improve patient outcomes.

What Are the Requirements for a LPN-to-RN Program?

Applicants to LPN-to-RN nursing programs typically need proof of employment, professional experience, an LPN license, and one or more recommendation letters. Schools may require applicants to have completed undergraduate prerequisites, such as general education classes. Admitted students may need to take placement tests before beginning coursework.

Graduation requirements vary by school. However, most programs prepare learners to take the NCLEX-RN exam. All states require candidates for nursing licensure to pass the exam. Students must also complete supervised clinical experiences. Supervisors provide feedback and deliver reports on each student’s work.

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Professional Organizations for Nursing Students

Professional organizations provide resources and services for nursing students and professionals. Many of these organizations offer job boards, mentorship programs, and continuing education courses. Additional benefits may include virtual and in-person networking events, which can lead to career opportunities. Professional organizations often provide discounted membership rates for students.


  • American Nurses Association Founded in 1911, ANA supports registered nurses through webinars and a career center. The association also runs a year-long mentorship program, which accepts applications each summer. ANA maintains an online community for nursing degree-seekers, allowing learners to network with peers nationwide.

  • National Student Nurses' Association NSNA provides resources for nursing students preparing to obtain initial RN licensure, along with those enrolled in bachelor's degree-completion programs. Members receive liability insurance, access to a health insurance marketplace, and NCLEX-RN preparation materials. Additional benefits include a digital portfolio and discounts on surgical scrubs.

  • Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses AWHONN represents thousands of nurses specializing in OB/GYN and neonatal health. The organization provides scholarship opportunities, discounts on auto and liability insurance, and professional development courses. Members can post their resume and explore job opportunities through the organization's private career center.

Scholarships for Nursing Students

Although students in LPN-to-RN programs often work full time while earning their nursing degree, learners may need financial assistance to avoid debt. Fortunately, many companies and organizations offer scholarships for degree-seekers training to become RNs. The following awards accept applications from nursing students.

A Nurse I Am Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Workwear manufacturer Cherokee Uniforms delivers this scholarship to five nursing students each year. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited nursing program and may be studying full time or part time. Students must apply by April 15, and Cherokee Uniforms announces scholarship recipients on May 15.
Amount: $2,500

AISES A.T. Anderson Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society supports undergraduate and graduate students preparing for a career in a STEM field, such as nursing. Applicants must hold membership with a federally recognized Native American tribe and need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Learners should apply by May 31.
Amount: $1,000

Barbara Rhomberg Nursing Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Full-time students pursuing a bachelor’s-level RN degree can apply for this award from B4 Brands. Applicants must demonstrate at least a three-year gap between their high school and college education. Candidates apply in April, and B4 Brands announces scholarship recipients on May 1. The award goes directly toward the recipient’s fall tuition.
Amount: $1,000

Best LPN-to-RN Programs



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  1. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
    Location

    Perkinston, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A two-year college based in Perkinston, MGCCC offers an LPN-to-RN program designed for summer entry. Students receive 14 credits at the completion of the summer introductory course, bypassing the first year of required nursing courses for the typical associate degree.

    Required nursing coursework includes advanced concepts of nursing practice, transition to professional nursing practice, mental and behavioral health, and adult health. Students receive training in foundational science topics and also complete general education courses and electives. Learners complete clinical requirements at an approved location, allowing students to provide direct patient care and receive mentoring.

    Applicants need at least one year of LPN work experience and must complete the enhanced ACT with a minimum score of 18 to qualify for admission. Without the ACT score, students may also apply with a minimum GPA of 2.5 on at least 21 completed credits. The department also requires the TEAS exam.

    MGCCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  2. Mississippi Delta Community College
    Location

    Moorhead, MS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Moorhead, MDCC offers an accelerated LPN-to-RN program that students can complete in 12 months. Students complete nursing coursework and finish with an associate degree.

    Required coursework includes human growth and development, anatomy and physiology, medical terms, and a series of nursing review courses that lay the foundations for advanced work in registered nursing. Students complete clinical requirements at an approved location for hands-on training and to demonstrate skills mastery. Students must also complete general education courses required for the associate degree.

    Applicants to the program need an unencumbered LPN license in the state of Mississippi with a minimum ACT score of 18 to qualify for admission. Students must also take the TEAS test.

    MDCC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  3. Eastern Gateway Community College
    Location

    Steubenville, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Steubenville, Ohio, EGCC offers an LPN-to-ADN program for students wishing to transfer to a bachelor's degree program in the state of Ohio. Credits align optimally for transfer, and graduates gain eligibility for registered nurse licensure.

    Required courses include advanced medical-surgical nursing, principles of microbiology, maternal health nursing, and nursing leadership and management. Students complete the general education courses and electives designed for the associate degree. Required clinicals occur at an approved location and provide students with hands-on experience in direct patient care.

    Applicants must complete prerequisite courses in algebra, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology before starting the required courses. The program requires students to submit placement test scores, such as the ACT. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 2.0, and a competitive TEAS score to qualify for admission.

    EGCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. Pima Community College
    Location

    Tucson, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Tuscon, Arizona, PCC offers an LPN transition to an AAS in nursing program. The pathway requires just three semesters, excluding prerequisite and preparatory courses, making it an accelerated program for nurses with extensive work experience.

    Students take required nursing courses and work with local institutions to provide direct patient care within a clinical setting and receive mentoring from those working in the field. Licensed practical nurses with sufficient field experience may enter the second year of the nursing degree upon successful completion of nine credits of prerequisites.

    The program chooses applicants based on a combination of GPA, HESI admission scores, work experience, and volunteer experience. Students must complete all prerequisites — including chemistry, biology, writing, and the ACCUPLACER reading assessment — at the college before applying for admission to the nursing program.

    PCC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  5. Arkansas Tech University
    Location

    Russellville, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Russellville, ATU offers an associate of science in nursing. Students take half of the required nursing theory courses online and half in person, making the degree flexible for everyone.

    Students take courses such as lifespan development, introduction to professional nursing, theories and concepts for professional nursing, and pharmacology. Along with general education courses and electives, students complete foundational science courses in chemistry and microbiology. The program requires clinical rotations for hands-on experience in direct patient care. The program provides a clear pathway to transfer to the bachelor of science in nursing program at the Russelville campus.

    Applicants must possess current unencumbered licensure as an LPN and must complete prerequisites with a cumulative GPA of 2.75 to qualify for admission. Applicants also need a passing score on the HESI PN exam.

    ATU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  6. Wharton County Junior College
    Location

    Wharton, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Wharton, Texas, WCJC offers a path for licensed vocational nurses to complete an associate degree in nursing.

    Required nursing courses in the LVN-to-ADN program include life span growth and development, transition to professional nursing competencies, concept-based transition to professional nursing practice, and professional nursing concepts. Students take general education courses and electives in addition to nursing courses to complete the associate degree requirements. Clinical requirements occur at an approved location and provide the opportunity for hands-on experience in direct patient care.

    Applicants must possess current unencumbered nurse licensure and complete prerequisite courses with a minimum GPA of 2.5 to qualify for admission. Students must also take the TEAS test with a preferred minimum score of 70% in reading, 70% in math, and 70% in science.

    WCJC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation.

  7. New Mexico State University-Dona Ana
    Location

    Las Cruces, NM

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Las Cruces, New Mexico, DACC offers an opportunity for licensed practical nurses to complete their registered nurse licensure with an associate degree in nursing. Students complete courses on campus with the DACC faculty.

    Students take required nursing courses such as foundations of nursing practice, maternal child nursing, nursing leadership and management, and foundation of nursing skills and assessment. Clinical rotations offer hands-on experience in direct patient care and allow students to demonstrate skills mastery. Associate degrees include general education and elective courses, but students may transfer those into the program to graduate faster.

    Applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.75 in all seven prerequisite courses and a satisfactory score on the PN-ADN mobility exam to apply for the program. The program requires current LPN licensure for eligibility.

    DACC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  8. Idaho State University
    Location

    Pocatello, ID

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Pocatello, ISU offers an opportunity for licensed practical nurses to complete an associate of science in nursingand sit for the registered nurse certification.

    The program requires two semesters of prerequisites before starting required nursing courses. The required nursing core coursework includes medical and surgical nursing, health assessment and lab, clinical foundations of nursing, and mental health nursing. The associate degree includes necessary general education courses and electives as well as clinical requirements for hands-on experience. Students must complete all required general education courses before graduation.

    The program requires licensure as an LPN in the state of Idaho, completion of prerequisite courses with a "C" grade or higher, and a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 2.5 for program eligibility.

    ISU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  9. North Dakota State College of Science
    Location

    Wahpeton, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Wahpeton, NDSCS offers a one-year associate of science in nursing designed for licensed practical nurses to earn licensure as registered nurses. Students completing the program can transfer into the BSN program of their choice.

    Students complete foundational science courses such as microbiology and anatomy and physiology before moving on to required nursing courses. Notable nursing requirements include principles of nutrition and diet therapy, community and mental health nursing, complex nursing care, and maternal child care. The associate degree requires credits in general education and elective core as well as clinical options to gain hands-on experience. The program trains leaders in nursing and provides a pathway for transfer to a four-year program.

    Applicants need active and unencumbered licensure as an LPN with a "C" grade in foundation courses and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 to qualify for admission.

    NDSCS is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  10. Sinte Gleska University
    Location

    Mission, SD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Mission, South Dakota, SGU offers an associate of applied science in nursing for licensed practical nurses looking to expand their education.

    Students take courses in general education and electives before beginning nursing requirements. Notable nursing core coursework includes an overview of practical nursing, professional development for practical nursing, nursing basics, and anatomy and physiology for licensed practical nurses. The program requires a clinical preceptorship totaling 180 or more hours, offering students the opportunity for hands-on work providing direct patient care. Students must also complete Lakota language and history courses due to their strong cultural influence in the area.

    Applicants need a minimum ACT score of 18 or ACCUPLACER scores to qualify for admission. Students must also possess LPN licensure and a minimum GPA of 3.0 GPA to apply.

    SGU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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