Best LPN-to-RN Programs

A LPN-to-RN program can be a great way to advance in a nursing career. Here, we outline the top programs available.

March 2, 2022 , Modified on March 24, 2022

Reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Edited by Veronica Freeman
Best LPN-to-RN Programs

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LPN-to-RN Programs

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) wanting to become registered nurses (RNs) do so with an LPN-to-RN program. Admittance requires an LPN license and employment in a healthcare setting. Some schools may require applicants to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills and complete general education requirements.

In an LPN-to-RN program, students learn the skills needed to climb the nursing career ladder. RNs need more training than LPNs because they take on more responsibilities, such as operating equipment and administering medicine. LPN-to-RN courses may include topics such as physiology, biology, and patient care.

LPN-to-RN degree-holders who pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) qualify to become RNs.

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Frequently Asked Questions About LPN-to-RN Programs

How long is an LPN-to-RN program?

Depending on whether the program confers an associate or bachelor's, most LPN-to-RN programs take 2-4 years to finish.

How much does an LPN make?

LPNs and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) earn a median $48,820 annually according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

How much does an RN make?

RNs earn a median $75,330 per year according to the BLS.

Why Get a RN Degree?

LPNs provide basic nursing care, while RNs provide more advanced care, educate patients, and coordinate care. Nurses wanting to advance their career and take on more responsibility do so with an LPN-to-RN degree. LPNs with prior education and experience enter an LPN-to-RN program to skip the first semesters of a regular RN program.

RNs earn more per year than LPNs. The median annual salary for RNs exceeds that of LPNs and LVNs by $26,510.

Schools offer LPN-to-RN degrees both in person and online. Students wanting to continue working while earning their degree benefit from an online program's flexibility. Online programs usually save students money by avoiding relocation and transit costs.

How Much Does a LPN-to-RN Degree Cost?

An LPN-to-RN degree's cost varies depending on program type, school type, and location. Associate degrees in nursing (ADNs) at public two-year institutions usually cost less than bachelors of science in nursing (BSNs) at private four-year institutions.

ADN programs cost $6,000-$20,000 at public schools and $30,000-$100,000 at private schools. BSN programs typically cost $40,000-$100,000. Students may pay less for online programs, or if they get a scholarship.

Learners should expect to study 1-2 years for an LPN-to-ADN program and 2-4 years for an LPN-to-BSN program.

Besides tuition, nurses should factor in costs for lab fees, books, and any necessary technology. Most programs require an in-person clinical component, which comes with costs for transit and potential missed wages.

How Much Do RNs Make?

RNs earn a median salary higher than the median for all workers, according to the BLS. Nurses in government settings earn more, with a median of $84,490. Wages vary by location and experience level. The lowest 10% of nurses earn less than $53,410, while the top 10% earn over $116,230.

Additional education often helps nurses earn more. If a nurse wishes to advance their career, they can earn a master's degree. A master's qualifies nurses to become nurse practitioners, anesthetists, or midwives, who earn a median $117,670 annually.

Courses in an LPN-to-RN Program

LPN-to-RN programs teach nurses the skills needed for more advanced patient care. Many classes cover nursing concepts and hard skills nurses use in their everyday lives. Other LPN-to-RN courses teach nurses the pharmacology, biology, and chemistry needed in an advanced medical setting. Some programs offer specialized classes for students interested in certain fields, including pediatric or mental health nursing.

Below, see a few examples of classes found in an LPN-to-RN program. Not every school offers these specific LPN-to-RN courses. The descriptions represent a sample curriculum.

How to Become a Registered Nurse

A few different education paths lead to RN licensure. Typically, nurses must earn a BSN, ADN, or associate of science in nursing (ASN) to take the NCLEX-RN. RNs usually have about four years of educational experience, which includes supervised clinical experience.

Nurses wanting to take on more responsibility at work or hold an administrative position usually need a BSN. Still, a nurse with any degree can get licensure. Some employers might prefer nurses with a BSN over those with an ASN.

Besides taking the NCLEX-RN, nurses must complete their individual state's requirements for licensure.

On a typical day, nurses work with patients to assess their conditions, record their histories and symptoms, and perform diagnostic tests. They may also administer medication and teach patients how to continue taking their medication at home.

Licensure for RNs

After completing their education, nurses who want RN licensure must take the NCLEX-RN. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers the exam. Graduates must obtain an Authorization to Test, apply for licensure, and pay the $200 exam fee before taking the exam.

After passing the exam, graduates receive licensure from their state. Every state uses different requirements and fee amounts for RNs. The Washington State Department of Health requires nurses to take a professional vocational relationship course and pay $120.

Many states require nurses to renew their license annually, which comes with an additional fee. Some states require nurses to continue their education to renew their license. For example, California requires nurses to complete 30 hours of continuing education every year for license renewal.

Several states participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows nurses licensed in one state to work across state lines. Nurses should check the NCSBN's website to see if their state is included before applying.

Interview with a LPN-to-RN Graduate

Portrait of Nicholas McGowan, BSN, RN, CCRN

Nicholas McGowan, BSN, RN, CCRN

Nicholas McGowan, BSN, RN, CCRN is a critical care nurse with 10 years of experience in cardiovascular, surgical intensive care, and neurological trauma nursing. Nicholas also puts his background in education, leadership, and public speaking to work to help other nurses. Nicholas is an online learner who builds on his foundation of critical care nursing, which he uses directly at the bedside, where he still practices. In addition, Nicholas hosts an online course at Critical Care Academy where he helps nurses achieve critical care certification.

Q. What are the benefits of attending an LPN-to-RN program?

The nice thing about LPN-to-RN programs is the ability to apply and expand your nursing experience to earn your RN license. Many LPNs return to school after working for a few years and have a solid clinical foundation to support their knowledge base. In addition, many programs allow you to continue working while going to school, which is very helpful for nurses financially supporting themselves or a family.

Q. What were your biggest challenges in an LPN-to-RN program?

My greatest challenge during the LPN-to-RN program was with time management. I was working part time in the hospital in addition to going to school full time, so scheduling became very tedious towards the end of the program. Managing work, school, family, and sleep became very strenuous. But I would do it all over again.

Q. How did you see your career/career aspects change once you graduated from an LPN-to-RN program?

Once I earned my RN license, I was able to launch my career into critical care, where I am still at today. Having a foundation with patient care as an LPN helped me focus on learning how to assess and manage patients in critical care, which requires an RN level of practice. Working at an RN level allows me to have much greater autonomy, depth of knowledge, and career mobility.

Q. What advice would you give students who are considering an LPN-to-RN program?

It's important to have clear goals in mind for what nursing specialty you want to pursue. When researching schools, be sure that they are accredited and that their clinical rotations will give you sufficient learning experience and support your desired specialty. Also, if you need to keep working while in school, look for programs that offer flexibility, such as hybrid/online classes that you can attend on your own time. If you are seriously considering your RN license, don't hesitate! There are great opportunities and high demand for nurses right now in many areas of healthcare.

Best LPN-to-RN Programs

  1. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
    Location

    Perkinston, MS

    Tuition

    $7795

    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

    $3240

    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

    $3446

    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

    $3588

    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

    $11674

    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

    $4392

    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

    $6131

    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

    $13349

    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

    $10210

    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

    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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