Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also known as licensed vocational nurses, provide basic patient care in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. LPNs can complete their nursing training in about a year, allowing them to enter the workforce quickly with less financial burden or time commitment than a four-year degree.
Online LPN programs offer a convenient, flexible option for getting the credentials for entry-level nursing jobs. Students complete course requirements at their own pace to help maintain their work or family responsibilities.
We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best online 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 online programs, or go straight to our list of the best online LPN programs.
What Can You Do as an LPN?
LPNs directly contribute to the care and comfort of their patients. Depending on the work setting, duties may include recording vital signs, giving medications, changing wound dressings, and bathing and feeding patients.
Nursing care facilities, hospitals, mental health centers, home healthcare, and physicians' offices rank among the most common workplaces for LPNs.
LPN salaries vary by education level and type of employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), LPNs earn a median annual salary of $48,820, with the highest-paid employees working in government agencies, nursing and residential care facilities, and home healthcare.
While most LPNs have a nurse certificate, earning potential increases for those who earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or higher.
What to Look for in an Online LPN Program
With so many online LPN programs to choose from, you should carefully research different schools to find the right fit for your personal needs and career goals.
Before enrolling in an LPN program, explore these key signs of academic quality.
Admission requirements can provide an indication of the academic quality a school expects of its students. Be wary of schools with "easy" admission standards, such as low GPA requirements.
The LPN curriculum for most schools should offer basic courses in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, chemistry, and biology. The program should also allow students to choose other courses aligned with their interests.
Every LPN program requires clinical components. Online learners may complete some laboratory experiences as part of their coursework, although most programs require on-site placements.
Some schools allow online students to complete their clinical rotations at their workplace or help them find placements near their homes.
Accreditation by an independent agency, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), ensures the quality of a nursing program's curriculum and clinical experiences.
Most LPN programs require 40 credit hours and a minimum of 500 clinical hours. While most students complete training in 12-18 months, the total length of time varies by school and depends on how many credits students complete each semester.
School NCLEX Pass Rate
The reported pass rates for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) can serve as a measure of a program's overall quality. When choosing a school, consider how their pass rate compares with the NCLEX national pass rate for LPNs, which is just over 80% as of 2021.
School Graduation Rate
Graduation rates can provide a strong indicator of a school's commitment to student success. High graduation rates suggest that students receive the guidance and support they need throughout the program.
Online Learning Format and Requirements
Determine what kind of online delivery format works best for your success. Are you a self-motivated learner, or do you require some structure?
Some online LPN programs are asynchronistic which allow you to study at your own pace, while others use synchronistic models with classes scheduled on fixed days and times.
Featured Online Associate Programs
Applying to Online LPN Programs
Prospective LPNs need a high school diploma or a GED certificate before they apply to a nursing program. Because LPN certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs vary by course requirements, completion times, and cost, carefully research your options available at vocational schools and community colleges.
High school diploma or GED certificate; criminal background; entrance exam
Recommendation letters; some may also require the Test of Essential Academic Skills or American College Test scores
Why Is Online LPN Program Accreditation Important?
Accreditation for nursing programs measures the quality of the nursing program, making sure it has a rigorous set of standards to prepare graduates for nursing practice. Two independent organizations, the CCNE and ACEN, administer nursing accreditation in the United States.
Accreditation shows potential employers, state nursing licensing boards, and other schools that you have received a quality education. Most employers will not hire graduates of unaccredited programs.
If you attend an unaccredited school, you may not receive federal financial aid, and the credits earned may not transfer to another school.
Paying for Online LPN Programs
The cost of LPN online training depends on several factors. Taking LPN classes online rather than on campus may save money on housing and transportation costs, but you still must budget for tuition, distance learning fees, and books.
Public schools may offer more affordable tuition than private ones. However, some programs charge higher tuition rates for out-of-state students. If you plan on working while taking online LPN courses, consider if the program offers enough flexibility to set your own schedule.
You can apply for financial aid opportunities for nursing students to help offset the cost of a nursing education. Begin your search by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to see if you qualify for federal loans or grants.
In addition to government-sponsored programs, you may consider private loans or nursing scholarships and grants from private foundations, professional nursing associations, and schools.
Some scholarships provide funding for specific nursing specialties. Scholarships for minorities are typically based on race, ethnicity, or gender. If you are working, find out if your employer participates in a tuition reimbursement plan.
Top Online LPN Programs
#1 The Best LPN Programs Online
Lake Area Technical College
- Watertown, SD
- 2 years
- Online + Campus
Aspiring licensed practical nurses (LPNs) researching online LPN programs may find a good fit at Lake Area Technical College. The school offers a hybrid LPN (online and in-person components) that prepares graduates for the LPN examination. Enrollees take LPN classes online that cover nursing theory and complete clinical hours on campus. Topics include fundamentals of nursing, child and adult care, pharmacology, professional nursing concepts, and maternity care.
- Program: Practical nursing e-degree
- Campus: Watertown, South Dakota
- Type: Public
- Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- Tuition: $868-$1,860 per semester full-time; $496-$992 part-time
- Admission Requirements: TEAS scores; 2.5 GPA; and prerequisite coursework in anatomy, composition, algebra, general psychology, and medical terminology
- Minimum Time Commitment: 11 months
- On-Campus Requirements: Yes
Percent Online Enrollment
Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Higher Learning Commission
Frequently Asked Questions About Online LPN Programs
How long does it take to become an LPN?
Many students complete their LPN training in one year of full-time coursework. However, several factors can affect this time frame. The number of required credits varies by program, from less than 40 to over 50. The clinical requirements can range between 500 and 750 hours, depending on the school or state regulations.
Do online LPN programs have in-person requirements?
All LPN programs, including those offered online, require clinical hours and lab, although the specific number of hours varies by school and state requirements. Your program will place you in a supervised clinical experience at a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or other healthcare facility.
Some schools can help you find placements close to your home.
What career advancement opportunities are available to LPNs?
The BLS projects the employment of LPNs to grow by 9% from 2020-2030, adding over 60,000 jobs each year. For those interested in becoming registered nurses (RNs), getting LPN experience can provide a competitive edge when applying to associate or bachelor of science in nursing bridge programs.
What's the difference between an LPN and an RN?
Although LPNs work as nursing professionals, they do not take on the same duties as RNs. LPNs provide basic care to patients, such as checking blood pressure and making sure patients are comfortable.
Because LPNs do not have the same responsibilities as RNs, they do not need to graduate with a nursing degree. Instead, they can get certification after completing an LPN program.