The Best Online LPN-to-RN Programs of 2022
Online LPN-to-RN programs offer an efficient, cost-effective path to an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing and an RN license. Explore our list of top LPN-to-RN online options.
Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?
A 2017 National Council of State Boards of Nursing study found that 83% of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) — known as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in some states — earned an LPN certificate to obtain their first nursing license. LPN training programs can be completed in 1-2 years, offering a relatively quick path to a nursing career. Many LPNs go on to become registered nurses (RNs) through LPN-to-RN online bridge programs.
We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best online LPN-to-RN programs, making it easy 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 online LPN-to-RN programs, or go straight to our list of the best online LPN-to-RN programs.
What Can You Do With a BSN Degree?
While some LPN-to-RN programs lead to an associate degree in nursing (ADN), others award a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). A BSN offers multiple advantages over an ADN and may be worth the extra year or two of training. Although both degrees qualify graduates to apply for RN licensure, the benefits of a BSN include higher earning potential, increased professional autonomy, and the ability to focus on a specialization.
Popular and lucrative specialization areas for BSN-holders include:
Certified Dialysis Nurse
These RNs specialize in dialysis, a procedure used to clean the blood of patients with kidney disease. Dialysis nurses take patients' vital statistics and perform assessments, administer treatment and medications, and answer patients' questions. According to PayScale data from October 2021, dialysis nurses earn an average annual salary of $74,805. Workplaces include clinics, hospitals, and home health services. According to the BLS, the projected job growth for RNs is 9% from 2020-2030.
Critical Care Nurse
Working in hospital intensive care units, critical care nurses collaborate with teams of healthcare professionals to help critically ill and seriously injured patients. Critical care nurses work in fast-paced environments and must be quick and alert. PayScale lists their average pay at $70,417 a year, as of October 2021.
Oncology specialists care for cancer patients, administering treatments like chemotherapy and formulating outpatient care plans. October 2021 PayScale data reports an average yearly salary of $75,609. Oncology nurses see patients in clinical care centers, hospitals, and home health services.
Featured Online DNP Programs
What to Look for in an Online LPN-to-RN Program
As you research online LPN-to-RN programs, pay close attention to factors like admission criteria to assure your eligibility, and focus on coursework and clinicals to confirm that the program meets your goals. Ensure that a prospective program's learning format will work for you, and consider the following points before you apply.
Application criteria may specify a GPA, test score, coursework completion, or work experience. You don't want to waste time applying to programs that are unlikely to admit you.
Make sure you have clear goals in mind, such as specializing in a certain nursing area or pursuing a graduate degree, when researching programs. Nursing school websites often post their curricula online, so you can ensure that they offer the classes you need.
Factors to consider include the format of the clinical rotations, the location of the healthcare facilities offering clinicals, and whether the program helps you find opportunities or whether you must arrange them yourself.
Make sure you apply to accredited LPN-to-RN online programs. Unaccredited programs can negatively impact your financial aid eligibility, employment prospects, graduate school admission, and transfer credits.
School NCLEX Pass Rate
You must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to earn an RN license. Check program pass rates on their websites or in this publication to ensure that a curriculum sets you up for success.
School Graduation Rate
Graduation rates inform you about a program's success in retaining students and preparing graduates for their RN careers. Most schools list graduation rates on their websites. If rates are not posted, it may be a red flag.
Online Learning Format and Requirements
Online programs feature asynchronous class recordings accessible anytime, synchronous virtual classes at set times, or both. Programs may require on-campus attendance, or offer hybrid courses that combine online and in-person learning. Be sure that any program you're interested in fits your schedule.
Applying to an Online LPN-to-RN Program
While LPN-to-RN program entrance criteria vary, the list below covers some common admission requirements. After confirming that you are qualified to apply, you should order transcripts, check prerequisite coursework and complete any necessary classes, and register for any required tests. If you have questions, admission staff are generally happy to schedule a call or videoconference.
Why is Online LPN-to-RN Program Accreditation Important?
- Accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education indicates that programs receive regular reviews and meet academic standards that prepare graduates to become RNs.
- Transfer credits from non-accredited nursing programs may not be accepted by accredited programs.
- Graduate nursing programs may not admit graduates of unaccredited BSN programs.
- Some employers may prefer or even require candidates to hold degrees from accredited nursing programs.
- You may not be eligible for federal financial aid if you attend an unaccredited institution.
- Accredited degrees can lead to better job prospects and more career advancement opportunities.
To learn more about nursing school and program accreditation, visit our accreditation page.
Paying for Online LPN-to-RN Programs
Out-of-pocket costs associated with earning an LPN-to-RN online vary by program and depend on a variety of factors, including whether distance learners pay in-state or out-of-state tuition, program length, technology fees and other costs, and whether students work while attending school. The number of available transferable credits can also affect cost and the amount of time spent earning a BSN.
Financial resources are available for candidates pursuing an LPN-to-RN online, including federal and privately funded loans, scholarships and grants, and work-study positions. Opportunities abound for specific student populations, such as adult learners, first generation college students, online candidates, and students with disabilities. Other ways to trim costs include employer tuition programs and loan forgiveness or repayment programs.
Online LPN-to-RN Program FAQs
Can you go from LPN to RN online?
LPN-to-RN online programs have become increasingly available and offer the same quality education as traditional BSN programs. Be sure to check a program's accreditation status to ensure that it meets the standards for RN classroom and clinical preparation.
What is the fastest LPN to RN program?
LPN-RN bridge programs that lead to an ADN let LPNs become RNs in as little as one year. ADN-holders qualify to take the NCLEX-RN and apply for state RN licensure. Graduates who decide to pursue a BSN later can complete an RN-to-BSN bridge program.
What is the cheapest LPN to RN program?
LPN-to-RN online programs at community colleges likely rank as the most affordable option. Online learning saves commuting costs and provides working students with flexibility. Many community colleges offer one- to two-year ADN programs, including LPN-to-RN bridge programs that fast-track the process to becoming an RN.
Can you bridge from LPN to RN?
LPN-to-RN programs bridge the gap between the two nursing professions. LPNs can usually transfer credits toward ADNs or BSNs and hold the nursing experience that many programs require. LPN work offers the chance to see if nursing is the right profession for you before investing in the RN educational and licensure processes.
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