Top LPN Programs and Schools in the Country

November 12, 2021 , Modified on June 24, 2022 · 3 Min Read

An LPN program is a great pathway into a healthcare career. LPNs are in demand and can get additional education to earn even more as RNs.

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Top LPN Programs and Schools in the Country
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Are you considering a career in healthcare, but you aren't sure if nursing is for you? Or are you concerned about the time and money it may take to earn an associate degree in nursing? Becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) may be the career path for you. Most LPN programs take just one year, and LPNs are in high demand.

There are differences between LPNs and registered nurses (RNs) and LPNs and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). While LPNs earn more than CNAs, they earn less than RNs. Many RNs began their careers as LPNs, leaving room for career and salary growth.

As you learn more about LPN programs, you might see references to licensed vocational nurse (LVN) programs. Except for the title, there is no difference between LPN and LVN programs.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best LPN programs, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about LPN programs, or go straight to our list of the best LPN programs.

How Do LPN Programs Work?

LPN programs typically take 1-2 years to complete. This degree is most common in community colleges, but some hospitals offer them as well.

The coursework includes topics such as taking vital signs (blood pressure and heart rate), updating medical records, administering medication, drawing blood, and using medical equipment. LPN programs also teach patient safety, nursing ethics, and effective communication in a healthcare setting.

During your LPN program, you participate in a clinical experience within a healthcare setting. You begin by observing. Then, you learn more by participating under the supervision of a licensed nurse or other licensed healthcare professional.

Clinical practice helps you apply classroom learning in a practical setting. Once you graduate, you can take the National Council Licensure Examination for LPNs (NCLEX-PN).

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Learn More About the Best LPN Programs and Schools

Applying to an LPN Program

Those applying to an LPN program need a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Because LPN certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs vary by course requirements, completion times, and cost, carefully research the options available at vocational schools and community colleges.

Typical requirements include:

  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • Criminal background check
  • Entrance exam
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Recommendation letters
  • Test of Essential Academic Skills or American College Test scores

Why Is LPN Program Accreditation Important?

Nursing accreditation means that an independent group of academics and nursing professionals reviewed the program's curriculum, teaching, and overall quality to ensure its graduates can practice safely. Because LPNs are so important to healthcare quality and patient safety, most employers won't consider hiring a graduate of an unaccredited program.

In addition, most accredited schools don't accept transfer credits from unaccredited programs. This means that if you invest your time and money in an unaccredited program, you might end up with nothing valuable to show for all of your efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions About LPN Programs


What is the shortest LPN program?

If you have a CNA, some LPN programs offer an accelerated option that lets you complete your LPN in six months. Otherwise, you can finish some programs in a year, depending on the school.

Some unaccredited programs promise a faster time line, but unaccredited programs aren't worth it.

What is the highest paying LPN?

According to Salary.com as of February 2022, the top 10% of LPNs earn $60,776 or more. LPNs earn a median of $48,820 annually, >according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Among the different specialties, the Journal of Nursing Regulation cites geriatrics LPNs as having the highest salaries at a median of $47,000.

How long does it take to become an LPN?

Most LPN programs take 1-2 years to complete. However, the time line varies by program, your schedule, and state requirements. You can take the NCLEX-PN right after you graduate, though some students prefer to study for an additional period.

Where is the best place to work as an LPN?

Four of the top-paying cities for LPNs are in California, >according to the BLS. In the San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara area, the average salary is $75,950, followed by Santa Rosa at $74,820, San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward at $74,520, and Vallejo — Fairfield at $72,350.

If you prefer a colder climate, Anchorage, Alaska, is next, where LPNs earn an average of $69,990.

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