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A Guide to Online LPN to RN Programs

An online LPN to RN program is ideal for licensed practical nurses who wish to advance their career opportunities and nursing knowledge base. Online programs offer the benefits of flexibility and convenience, while at the same time providing an advanced nursing education that meets more of the demands of 21st-century health care employers. The following guide dives into the specifics of the program, including coursework, timeline, skills learned, and profiles of individuals who would be ideal for this type of nursing program.

Best Online LPN to RN Programs 2018-2019

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Rank School Name Location Tuition Financial Aid Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate # of Online Programs Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Fairmont State University Fairmont, West Virginia$5,21630%Yes Yes Yes School website
2 College of Central Florida Ocala, Florida$1,91022%Yes Yes Yes School website
3 Oklahoma Panhandle State University Goodwell, Oklahoma$4,31268%No Yes Yes School website
4 University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, Alaska$5,93630%No Yes Yes School website
5 University of Cincinnati-Blue Ash College Blue Ash, Ohio$5,27445%Yes Yes Yes School website
6 Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology Okmulgee, Oklahoma$3,90077%Yes No Yes School website
7 Palm Beach State College Lake Worth, Florida$2,42413%Yes Yes Yes School website
8 Olympic College Bremerton, Washington$3,3938%Yes No Yes School website

Meet the Expert: Keith Carlson

Keith Carlson writes an award-winning blog called “Digital Doorway” and has been a nurse since 1996. He is also a Board Certified Nurse Coach who works under the auspices of Nurse Keith Coaching, helping nurses and other healthcare professionals create satisfaction in their professional and personal lives. Nurse Keith is also the co-founder and co-host of the leading nursing podcast RNFM Radio.

Featured Online Programs
Achieve Test Prep Online LPN to RN

LPNs earn your ADN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs. With No Waiting List to get started, Free Books, and Low Cost financing options available, this is the perfect way for LPNs, LVNs, and Paramedics to earn your Associates Degree in Nursing and your RN license. Our convenient, instructor led test-out program allows you to learn at an accelerated pace and earn college credit-by-examination which then is eligible to be transferred to an ACEN accredited nursing school or 100’s of universities nationwide.

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LPN to RN Degree Search Tool

The bridge education from LPN to registered nursing status can take as many as two years of full-time academic work and practical experience. With that kind of time commitment, it’s important to find the program with the best curriculum to meet your professional nursing goals. The custom search tool below can streamline your search by sorting prospective online LPN to RN programs by the type of school, program, tuition, accreditation and more.

Who Earns an Online LPN to RN Degree?

These programs are primarily designed for people who have experience in the health care industry and are also seeking professional advancement. Here are four profiles of students who would benefit from an online LPN to RN degree.

Student profile #1

Cory is an LPN who likes his job but doesn’t love it. He really enjoys spending time at the beach or on the ocean while aboard a friend’s boat. He also loves warm weather and the Caribbean.

One day at work, Cory learns that a popular Caribbean cruise line is hiring cruise ship nurses. He knows that he would love that job, however, he needs to be a registered nurse in order to qualify for such a position. Cory decides to enroll in an online LPN to RN program with an eye towards one day becoming a cruise ship nurse.

Student profile #2

Scott is an LPN who absolutely loves his job and enjoys a great professional relationship with his co-workers. However, he recently found a study online showing that RNs earn quite a bit more money than he does.

Scott would like to keep his current job while working his way towards becoming a registered nurse. He does some more research and discovers a few great LPN to RN programs that he can take online. Scott can continue to work in his current capacity as an LPN with a team that he loves while pursuing the online program. When he’s done with the coursework, he’ll have the opportunity to become an RN, earn more money, and enjoy increased professional mobility.

Student profile #3

Sheila is living from paycheck to paycheck as an LPN. She’s tried to be as responsible with her money as possible, but the bills keep mounting. Now, she has an expensive air conditioning repair bill that will place an even greater strain on her personal finances.

A friend recently advised Sheila that she can earn more money as a registered nurse. Since she’s already a licensed practical nurse, her friend informed her that she can take the necessary coursework online, along with local clinical internship placements. While some financial investment will be necessary, her friend told her that the higher salary she would earn as a registered nurse would more than make up for the cost, enabling her to live more comfortably in the future, with wider career opportunities.

Student profile #4

Janet is a full-time LPN. She is also a single mom, and is often required to work third shift. Between her career responsibilities, her obligations as a parent, and the general demands of life, Janet simply doesn’t have a great deal of free time. However, she loves nursing and would really like to grow professionally. An online LPN to RN program is ideal for Janet because it will give her the flexibility to earn college credits towards becoming a registered nurse. She’ll be able to learn from the convenience of her own home, so she won’t have to relocate in order to attend classes.

The fieldwork that she’s required to complete would be located at a local facility that’s just a five- minute drive from her home. The courses she takes online will offer a level of flexibility with her schedule, so she won’t be required to attend an 8:00 AM class every day right after working third shift. Finally, and most importantly, she’ll still be able to spend time with her children, while creating a much more secure future for her family.

LPN to RN Tools

Students who enroll in an LPN to RN online program will not only receive advanced education specific to their profession, but they’ll also learn how to transition from an LPN role to an RN role.

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Prospective enrollees can expect a “bridge” education that covers the basics of moving into the position of a registered nurse. Students will learn about the role of a registered nurse as compared with other members of the health care team, the skills and principles needed to be a successful nurse, and how to apply basic nursing principles, skills, and concepts in practice.

Students can also expect to learn about advanced adult nursing techniques. This provides a greater understanding of care for adult clients, a better awareness of adult physiological issues and conditions, and the requirements necessary to restore psychological stability to patients as part of the nursing process.

Online coursework will also offer specific instruction on children and family nursing. This will include information about enhancing the overall health of children, working with children from culturally diverse families, and employing clinical best practices in a pediatric environment.

Enrollees will also learn about trends and issues in nursing. This instruction will cover current controversies and prevailing practices within the nursing community. The subject matter will be dictated by ongoing current events in the health care industry.

Upon completion of the LPN to RN program, graduates will be able to:

skills gained

Properly apply nursing diagnoses for patients based on various sources of collected data

Consider alternative strategies for patient care and select the best options

Work with entire families to achieve specific health care goals

Manage multiple patients in an environment with competing priorities

Appropriately incorporate available resources to maximize patient health care

Communicate effectively with patients and their family members as well as with other members of the health care team

Effectively and appropriately supervise practical nurses, nursing assistants, and other personnel

Incorporate legal, ethical, and professional behavior into every aspect of patient care

Provide nursing care to a variety of patients from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds

Evaluate and apply recent findings from nursing research

Use information systems to enhance health care efficiency and compare information from numerous sources


The full suite of coursework varies from school to school. However, there are certain courses that all nursing students should expect to take if they enroll in an online LPN to RN program:

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Human Anatomy and Physiology

Covers the basic structure and function of the human body. It also may cover various diseases. Students should expect an equal amount of lecture and laboratory work each week.

General Microbiology

Covers basic microbiological principles. It includes an introduction to prokaryotic and eukaryotic viruses and microbes, microbial genetics, infection mechanisms and related defenses. The course will also address specific microbial diseases. Associated labs will cover safe handling of microbes, the aseptic technique, and a survey of specific organisms.


Covers contemporary practices of diagnosis and treatment of disease. It also covers the recognized symptoms, signs, and etiologies associated with those diseases.

Nursing Core Values

Provides an introduction to fundamental nursing values. The course will cover key concepts of human care through values such as autonomy, human dignity, altruism, social justice, and integrity.

General Psychology

An overview of the basic principles of human behavior. The course will approach the subject from historical, perceptual, social, emotional, motivational, learning, and development perspectives.

Human Growth and Development

An overview of current research into the psychological development of humans. The course will focus on the various changes the people experience in the physical, mental, and social-emotional aspects of life.

Online LPN to RN Timeline

Typically, students can expect to complete approximately 70 credit hours of coursework during an LPN to RN program, which can take 1.5 to 2 years of full-time study to complete. However, the overall length of time required for graduation depends on the individual’s educational history, the demands of the particular program, and the personal circumstances of the student.


This is when the prospective student takes the time to research the various available online programs and determine which one is the best match. The student will also complete the application and go through the admissions process, which can vary from program to program and school to school, but most likely involve the following elements:

Submission of official transcripts

Completion of placement testing or entrance exams

Submission of supporting documents such as letters of recommendation (personal and professional), employer verification letter, proof of LPN licensure, and copies of a signed, current CPR card from the American Heart Association or American Red Cross

Completion of prerequisites coursework, usually with a GPA of 2.5 or better

First Year

During this time, the student will take numerous foundation classes that are required to complete the program. The student will learn about human anatomy, microbiology, psychology, and chemistry. This will also be the year that the student begins to take the first of his or her “bridge” classes that cover the transition from being an LPN to being an RN.

Second Year

Student learns about specialized health care, such as pediatrics, obstetrics, and adult health. This year will also cover advanced topics specific to registered nurses, such as crisis care and leadership in nursing.

Upon completion of the LPN to RN program, the student may wish to pursue a full Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which can advance the student’s career options even further. It’s important to keep in mind that many facilities now require at least a BSN in order to apply for many nursing positions. Additionally, the Institute of Medicine is calling for the majority of all nurses to be bachelors-prepared by 2020.

What to Look For in an LPN to RN Online Program

Although online nursing programs offer a great deal of flexibility and convenience, they also present challenges to those unfamiliar with remote education. However, most schools that offer online LPN to RN programs have provided online educational opportunities for quite some time, learning from experience how to implement program that maximize student benefits.

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Students who are part of an online program will find that most of their interactions occur within an online educational platform/portal, as well as via email. Individual, one-on-one interactions with professors and classmates are typically very limited, if not lacking completely. This is why it’s important for prospective students to find a program that allows them to ask very specific questions of faculty members and administrators, so that expectations are addressed prior to application and enrollment.

Prospective enrollees should be certain that the programs that they’re evaluating are properly accredited. An online LPN to RN program should be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or both. In some cases, students may find that their particular professional needs require enrollment in a program that has been specifically accredited by one of these two organizations. That’s why it’s imperative that LPNs who are considering a program perform the due diligence necessary to ensure that their career goals will be met.

Further, students who are on the fence about whether or not to pursue a full BSN may wish to consider whether the prospective college offers that degree as an online option as well. Once the LPN to RN program is completed, it’s likely that the student will qualify for admission to a BSN program. Students who wish to retain the flexibility of remote education will want to be certain that the school offers a BSN program online.

It’s also a great idea for prospective students to consider the placement rates of different colleges. The placement rate is expressed as a percentage of those who have completed the program and successfully been “placed” in a job related to the degree of the graduate. In this case, candidates will want to examine the placement rates for those who have already completed the LPN to RN program. Prospective enrollees may want to avoid colleges with low placement rates, or those that do not provide placement data.

Those individuals considering an LPN to RN program might want to research potential fieldwork locations prior to enrollment. Even though a great deal of online learning is academic in nature, there will still be required fieldwork for successful completion of the program. If the location for that fieldwork requires a long commute, then the length of time required for that commute could limit the expected flexibility associated with online learning. However, a college offering an online education with fieldwork at a nearby location could be very attractive. Again due diligence and research cannot be recommended more strongly prior to enrollment.