Top Louisiana Nursing Schools and Programs

by NurseJournal Staff

Top Louisiana Nursing Schools, Colleges & Degree Programs There is a very significant shortage of nurses in Louisiana. Fortunately, there are serious efforts in place across the state to address this. Most of the efforts are currently in New Orleans...

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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

The path to a rewarding career in nursing begins with the right training program and degree. This guide compiles information for individuals looking to pursue careers as certified nurse assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs) through on-campus and online nursing programs in Louisiana.

Both formats offer high-quality educational opportunities, though many students find that online programs provide greater flexibility while allowing them to continue to work in nursing. Read on to learn more about the steps to earning your Louisiana nursing licensure, along with salary and job growth expectations in the state and region.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Louisiana?

Louisiana offers students many nursing education opportunities, with 30 schools approved by the Louisiana Board of Nursing to offer diploma, association, and undergraduate nursing degrees, and 15 with approval for graduate programs. Louisiana employers face a challenge recruiting new nurses to join their ranks, with 17% of current RNs over age 60.

Online nursing programs in Louisiana offer students the chance to expand their knowledge and advance their careers. Many schools offer programs that allow LPNs to transition to RN positions, and RNs who started their careers with associate degrees in nursing (ADNs) can advance by earning bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees. These online programs allow students to continue working while gaining clinical experience through their jobs in healthcare facilities across the state.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Louisiana

Many states include similar requirements for nursing education programs, such as adequate clinical and hands-on practice and a demonstration of knowledge. Prospective nurses must pass the NCLEX for RNs, a rigorous six-hour test, and supply the Louisiana State Board of Nursing with all required transcripts and documentation, including fingerprints for a criminal background check.

  • 1. Choose the Path That's Right for You

    Students can begin their nursing careers in two years through one of the many RN programs in Louisiana. Many nurses turn to online RN-to-BSN programs in Louisiana to earn a more advanced degree and find more opportunities. Nurses who wish to specialize in a particular area, such as pediatrics, or become stand-alone medical providers or nurse educators must consider online master of science in nursing (MSN) programs and doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degrees. Accelerated nursing programs in Louisiana can shorten the time it takes an RN to complete a bachelor's and master's program.
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    A BSN requires at least four years of study. Master's programs require an additional two years, while a doctorate takes another 3-5 years to complete. While online nursing degrees offer students greater flexibility than traditional on-campus programs, students must still complete hands-on learning. Many schools begin with a pre-nursing curriculum that includes general education courses in English, history, and math, along with foundational courses, such as anatomy, physiology, and biology. Because nursing programs receive more applicants than schools can accommodate, students seeking admission to Louisiana nursing schools must focus on pre-nursing classes to ensure they complete all required prerequisites. Many programs may ask for personal or academic references and require interviews with applicants.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    All nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN exam before receiving a license to practice nursing. The test utilizes the five-step nursing process with multiple-choice questions, covering student's knowledge and testing their ability to judge and evaluate information, along with applying it to specific patient needs. Students receive six hours to complete the test, with two short breaks. The test costs $200.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Louisiana

A nurse's education includes an understanding of anatomy, biology, and chemistry. It also ensures nurses communicate effectively and can make important decisions using critical-thinking skills. About 60% of RNs in Louisiana hold a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing. These nurses often qualify for leadership positions as managers, community health advocates, or case managers.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Louisiana?

While the state sets broad standards for curriculum and instruction of nurses, each school develops a distinct degree path. The classes listed below offer a selection of courses common to undergraduate nursing programs.


Nurses play a vital role in educating patients about how their diet can affect their health. This course familiarizes nurses with healthy nutrition, including medical nutrition therapy, disease management, food safety, and cultural variation.

Health Assessment

Nurses must ask patients questions, record vital statistics, and make note of variations to provide physicians with a comprehensive medical assessment. This course helps nurses differentiate between normal and abnormal findings and how their assessment techniques may vary, depending on their patient's age and condition.

Nursing Research

As medical professionals, nurses depend on evidence-based principles. This course introduces students to research methodology and helps them interpret results. It also discusses the ethical and legal ramifications of research involving human subjects.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Online nursing programs provide students with the same rigorous curriculum they would complete in on-campus programs. Because nursing requires demonstrating clinical competency in many care situations, each enrollee should expect to spend time in a healthcare setting under the supervision of a qualified nurse preceptor. Both online and on-campus programs require applicants to meet minimum requirements for GPA and prerequisite courses. Some schools may also require completion of a general education curriculum before accepting learners to the nursing program.

Most CNA, LPN, and RN programs may only offer a few online courses, with much of the clinical and nursing coursework completed on campus. Many schools offer bridge programs that help RNs advance their education to a BSN. These programs provide credit for prior training and work experience. Many schools require some work experience to gain admission to the online program.

Because nursing requires demonstrating clinical competency in many care situations, each enrollee should expect to spend time in a healthcare setting under the supervision of a qualified nurse preceptor.

Students may need less time to complete an online program versus an on-campus program if their school offers accelerated scheduling. Learners can take 1-2 classes in an eight-week semester. Over the year, they earn more credits than might have been possible in a traditional semester format.

Many online courses feature asynchronous scheduling, which allows enrollees to complete coursework without having to log in at specific times. Some schools organize nursing students into cohorts, allowing learners to move through classes together. Because classes often build on earlier work, some schools may not allow students to adjust schedules.

Even online programs may require on-campus attendance. Some schools use weekend or week-long sessions to cover critical clinical skills. Students should verify any on-campus requirements before applying.

Nursing Licensure in Louisiana

Louisiana has long recognized the importance of professional standards for nurses, first proposing a nursing practice act in 1904. Though that initial effort failed, the state soon put in place the framework for a licensing program that serves more than 64,000 RNs today.

Three agencies handle the four nursing licenses. The Louisiana Department of Health registers CNAs, and the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners ensures that LPNs meet the state's competency requirements. The Louisiana State Board of Nursing administers RN and NP licensure. The state does require each NP to practice in collaboration with a licensed physician or dentist and offers separate prescriptive authority for these medical personnel.

In addition to certifying nurses to meet state requirements, these agencies also review nursing preparation programs to ensure that they provide a high-quality education.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

Louisiana's nurse licensing requirements vary depending on the level of care provided by the nurse. The table below explains four primary types of nursing licensure.

Certified Nurse Assistant The Louisiana Department of Health maintains standards for CNA training programs, the Louisiana Nurse Aide Registry, and the Direct Service Worker Registry. Individuals at least 16 years old can seek a CNA license, administered online by Prometric. The course must include a minimum of 80 hours of instruction, 40 hours of which must be hands-on clinical training. Colleges, vocational schools, hospitals, or nursing facilities all offer approved courses. Facilities must use an independent examiner to verify applicant competency. Students enrolled in LPN or RN training programs can also seek CNA registration after completing some introductory courses. The state also recognizes relevant military training. The state requires a background check. The CNA exam includes a 60-question multiple-choice exam and 30-minute skills exam, with a $125 exam fee. Registration automatically renews every two years, provided the CNA records at least eight hours of work reported to the registry. Individuals from other states may apply for registration if they hold an active license in good standing in their current state. They must apply online and pay a $35 fee.

Louisiana Licensure Requirements

  • Education: 80-hour program with at least 40 hours of clinical education
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: Written exam and skills assessment
  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years
  • Continuing Education: None
Licensed Practical Nurse The Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners sets standards for LPN training and administers state laws for licensing and professional practice. Applicants must complete an approved program of at least 1,500 hours, with 800 hours of clinical experience. The curriculum encompasses body structure, principles of diet and nutrition, introduction to microbiology and pharmacology, and professional nursing coursework. After graduation, LPNs must apply for a Louisiana or multistate license. The online application includes a review of transcripts, background check, and a $125 fee. Louisiana issues candidates an authorization to register for the NCLEX-PN, a five-hour test that includes up to 205 multiple-choice questions and costs $200. Prospective nurses can receive unofficial results in as little as 48 hours, though official results require 7-10 days to process. Licensing expires on January 31 each year. Louisiana charges $60 for renewal, with a $1.08 online fee. Late charges can add $100 or more to the payment. Individuals seeking licensure by endorsement must hold a valid license in another state and meet Louisiana standards for training, exams, and background checks, and pay a $60 fee.

Louisiana Licensure Requirements

  • Education: 1,500-hour program with 800 hours of clinical education
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-PN
  • Renewal Frequency: January 31 each year
  • Continuing Education: None
Registered Nurse The Louisiana State Board of Nursing administers the licensing of RNs and advanced practice nurses, along with granting permission to take part in clinical nursing courses. The process includes a $50 fee, background checks, transcript review, and verification that students meet prerequisites for each school's admission policies. Nursing programs must maintain their approval to offer nursing preparation programs with high-quality classroom and clinical instruction. Students graduating from two- or four-year colleges can apply to become licensed RNs. The state charges a $100 application fee and requires a background check, transcripts, and recommendation from the director of the candidate's school of nursing. The board reviews applications before granting permission to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Applicants pay a $200 exam fee. Nurses from other states may apply for a license by endorsement. They must provide evidence of a current, valid nursing license from another state, graduation from an approved nursing program, and a background check. Louisiana takes part in the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC). RN licenses expire on December 31 each year. Nurses must pay the $100 fee by January 1 and provide evidence of continuing education. Requirements depend on the nurse's employment the prior year, with full-time nurses needing only five contact hours. Earning a specialty certification can also satisfy this requirement.

Louisiana Licensure Requirements

  • Education: ADN or BSN
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program
  • Exams: NCLEX-RN
  • Renewal Frequency: January 1 each year
  • Continuing Education: Up to 15 hours annually
Nurse Practitioner RNs looking to offer advanced services must complete several requirements for education, testing, and licensing before starting their practice. First, each applicant must hold a valid RN license in good standing. Advanced clinical education includes a graduate degree in a nursing specialty from an accredited program. Next, applicants must seek professional certification in advanced practice nursing from a certifying agency approved by the Louisiana Board of Nursing. The certification process varies among agencies but often includes a combination of education, clinical experience, and passing an exam. Certification often includes a fee and ongoing educational requirements. Louisiana charges a $100 fee for application as an advanced practice nurse. The state also requires NPs to establish a collaborative agreement with a licensed physician or dentist for consultation and patient referral. Nurses wishing to prescribe medication must apply separately for prescriptive authority. That license requires completing graduate-level coursework in pharmacotherapeutics, pathophysiology, and health assessment. They must also maintain clinical practice guidelines with a collaborating physician. The RN, NP, and prescriptive authority licenses all renew annually, with a $100 renewal fee. NPs must maintain national certification to renew their advanced practice nurse licenses.

Louisiana Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Graduate degree and national certification
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Determined by certifying agency
  • Exams: Determined by certifying agency
  • Renewal Frequency: January 1 each year
  • Continuing Education: Maintain certification

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Louisiana FAQ

How Should I Choose What Nursing Field to Go Into? Nursing allows you to work with many types of patients, but some nurses choose to specialize in a particular type of care, such as neonatal or orthopedic. Medical-surgical nursing is the most popular nursing specialization in Louisiana, with more than 6,000 RNs working in the field.
Is Louisiana a Good State For Nurses? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects almost 8,000 openings each year in a nursing profession in Louisiana, with the highest anticipated growth in RN employment. RNs in Louisiana also earned a mean annual wage of $63,970 in 2018 and can increase earnings with additional education, training, and licensure as an NP.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Nursing School in Louisiana? Candidates must meet minimum academic standards for admission to nursing school. These standards include GPA minimums and specific course prerequisites. The state also screens all nursing students before granting permission to register for clinical courses, including a background check.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Louisiana Nursing License by Endorsement? The Louisiana Board of Nursing may need several weeks to process an application for a license by endorsement. The process includes verifying current licensure, reviewing transcripts and NCLEX scores, and completing a background check.
Is Louisiana a Nurse Compact State? Yes. Louisiana takes part in the eNLC with 30 other states. This multistate license allows nurses who meet standard requirements to practice in other states without applying for a separate state license.

Louisiana Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

Your Louisiana nursing license ensures that you qualify for several rewarding job opportunities, and employment projections point to continued growth in nursing employment across the state. Currently, more than 67,000 RNs hold licenses to practice in Louisiana, with about 60% of those nurses holding BSNs or higher. But as the state looks ahead, the Louisiana Center for Nursing found 17% of licensed nurses report an age of 60 or higher. The age of nursing faculty also concerns nurse advocates, with 26% of nurse educators older than 61 years old.

The table below compares nurse salary and projected job growth in Louisiana and neighboring states. All nursing professions, except LPNs, show higher projected job growth than overall employment growth, driven by aging patients and a focus on preventative care. Salary and job growth depend on several factors, including location, cost of living, education, and experience. While your degree prepares you for your career, it does not guarantee employment or salary.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Louisiana, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $22,750 10.1%
Licensed Practical Nurse $39,480 3%
Registered Nurse $63,970 13.6%
Nurse Practitioner $105,340 27.4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
Texas $27,030 $46,990 $72,890 $111,060
Arkansas $25,770 $39,570 $60,780 $104,300
Mississippi $23,100 $37,930 $58,490 $109,700

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant

While the CNA salary in Louisiana falls below the mean annual wages of surrounding states, BLS data indicates a 10.1% projected employment growth from 2016-26. Nurse assistant programs require only a few weeks to complete, allowing individuals to begin working quickly. Most nurse assistants work in nursing care facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and specialty hospitals. The northeast Louisiana nonmetropolitan area reports the highest concentration of jobs in the county, with 30.78 nurse assistants per 1,000 jobs.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Louisiana boasts the highest concentration of LPN jobs in the nation, with 10.16 LPNs employed per 1,000 positions. Within the state, northeast and central Louisiana have high employment concentration, with 19.58 jobs and 16.55 jobs, respectively, per 1,000 positions. Nursing care facilities employ the most LPNs in the nation, followed by physician's offices, hospitals, and home care services. The BLS projects employment growth of only 3% for LPNs in Louisiana from 2016-26.

Registered Nurse

BLS data indicated a projected 13.6% growth in RN employment from 2016-26 in Louisiana. Wages range from $43,840 in the bottom 10th percentile to $83,020 in the 90th percentile, with a mean annual wage of $63,970. Most nurses in Louisiana (81%) report providing direct patient care. More than 60% of RNs in Louisiana worked for hospitals in 2018. Top specialty areas include medical-surgical and acute care. Top employers nationally include hospitals, physician offices, and home healthcare services.

Nurse Practitioner

Central Louisiana offers one of the highest paying regions for NPs in the country, with a mean annual wage of $141,380 in 2018. Across the state, mean wages range from $66,620 to upwards of $149,220. Most advanced practice nurses in Louisiana specialize in adult and family health, followed by anesthesia. Louisiana requires NPs to apply for separate licenses to prescribe medication, and 67% of the practicing NPs hold this authorization. Nationally, most NPs work in physician offices, though many find employment in hospitals and outpatient care centers.

Nursing Resources for Louisiana

  • LSNA promotes professional development and health policy. Its website provides members with resources for continuing education, community service, and legislative advocacy. LSNA also offers approved professional development courses.
  • This organization provides a career center with state job listings, a directory of approved preceptors for clinical nursing education, and news about NP legislation and advocacy. Members receive discounted rates to conferences, educational tools, and practice resources.
  • The board administers the state's licensing rules and regulations, approves nursing preparation programs, and enforces disciplinary actions. The website includes links to license applications, approved educational programs, and relevant laws for nursing practice.
  • This organization connects the next generation of Louisiana nurses through educational conferences, leadership development, and professional networking. The annual convention promotes mentorship, leadership, and professional stewardship.
  • This organization's members serve more than 750,000 children enrolled in Louisiana schools. The website offers an online discussion board to share best practices and distributes essential health alerts from the state health department or other agencies. Membership includes subscriptions to The Journal of School Nursing, professional development resources, and job listings.

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