The demand for skilled nurses continues to rise in the ever-evolving healthcare landscape. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) are critical to the healthcare team, providing hands-on care and patient support. However, many LPNs aspire to expand their knowledge, responsibilities, and earning potential by becoming Registered Nurses (RNs). This transition is made possible through LPN/LVN to RN programs, often called "bridge" programs, because they offer an educational bridge between the two roles. In this article, we will delve into the details of the best online LPN to RN programs, exploring the basics of these programs, the curriculum, requirements, accreditation, degree options, program durations in 2024, and the advantages and disadvantages of online learning.

2024 - Best Online LPN to RN Programs

With many healthcare employers looking to hire registered nurses, enrolling in an LPN to RN program is an advantageous career move. While there are many LPN to RN program options, most students wish to choose the best program available to them. We have ranked our top online LPN to RN picks below, based on factors like NCLEX-RN pass rates, program attributes, and more. Whether you are an LPN looking to earn an ADN or a BSN, these highly ranked schools are sure to help you meet your RN goals. For more information on our top LPN to RN program rankings, see our Methodology Page.


Indiana State University

For LPN/LVNs who hold a current license, the online Indiana State University LPN/LVN to RN program track is an excellent way to earn a BSN degree. Students gain hands-on experience through clinicals arranged in their own community.

Quick Facts:
  • Open to U.S. residents only
  • Select courses may be satisfied by equivalency exams
  • No on-campus visits required

Western Kentucky University

LPNs can earn an ASN degree in just three semesters with Western Kentucky University's LPN to RN program. This accelerated option is offered in a part-time format so that students can continue to work while they complete their studies.

Quick Facts:
  • Program is 90% online
  • Face-to-face proctored tests are completed at the remote location of the student's choice
  • Graduates are prepared to take the NCLEX exam

Allegany College of Maryland

Those interested in a distance-learning LPN to RN program can enroll in Allegany College of Maryland's online program. This popular and competitive program consists of 15-week courses.

Quick Facts:
  • Program is authorized in 8 states
  • Asynchronous program format with 3-4 mandatory synchronous meetings per semester
  • Clinical hours arranged in the student's local area

Fairmont State University

Fairmont State University's online LPN-ASN track allows for upward career mobility in just one year (3 semesters) of study. Enrolled students get the benefits of small class sizes, simulation labs, and the ability to continue working throughout the program.

Quick Facts:
  • Classes are online, with clinicals 2-3 days per month
  • Clinicals held in the Fairmont region for the first 2 semesters
  • Students are admitted in a cohort fashion

University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Those looking for flexibility will find it in the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center's LPN to BSN program pathway. This mostly online program offers a fall-start, 9-month full-time option or a fall-start, two-year part-time option.


Quick Facts:
  • Coursework is mostly online with 160 hours per semester of in-person clinicals
  • 60 total credit hours required - 30 through advanced standing examination and 30 through the program coursework
  • Students can continue working through the program if they wish

What Is an LPN to RN Program?

An LPN to RN bridge program is designed to help LPN/LVNs advance their careers and skills by becoming registered nurses. Registered Nurses are more responsible, often overseeing LPNs and providing more complex patient care. LPN to RN programs provide the necessary education and training for LPNs to meet the requirements for RN licensure.

These programs are advantageous because they build upon the LPN's prior knowledge and training, delivering a much more streamlined and accelerated timeline for completion.

LPN vs. RN: What Are the Differences?

LPNs and RNs both play crucial roles in patient care, but there are important distinctions between the two positions. LPNs typically provide more primary care, such as:

  • Patient intake
  • Taking vital signs
  • Administering medication
  • Assisting with various daily activities

On the other hand, RNs require more education and training and are involved in more comprehensive patient care. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Developing care plans
  • Administering treatments
  • Analyzing patient data
  • Coordinating with other healthcare professionals

In addition to these differences, LPNs are legally limited in specific responsibilities. Registered nurses have the authority to administer certain high-risk medications, such as intravenous (IV) and blood products, requiring a deeper understanding of pharmacology and patient assessment. Moreover, RNs often have the autonomy to independently assess patients, create care plans, and make critical decisions based on their assessments. These legal distinctions reflect the higher level of education and training that RNs undergo, equipping them with the knowledge and judgment necessary to manage more complex patient scenarios.

Furthermore, nursing offers vast specialization opportunities, with RNs having a broader spectrum than LPNs. While LPNs can raise their salaries by specializing in high-paying areas like geriatrics or pediatric care, RNs can delve into more specialized fields such as critical care, perinatal nursing, psychiatric nursing, flight nursing, and many more. This diversity of specializations allows RNs to tailor their careers to their passions and attain more profound expertise in their chosen field.

See also: The Highest-Paying RN Specializations

LPN vs. RN Salaries

Salaries for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) vary significantly due to the differences in their roles, responsibilities, and levels of education. On average, RNs earn higher salaries than LPNs due to the expanded scope of their practice and the increased demands on their skills and expertise. The advanced education and training that RNs undergo position them to take on more complex patient care tasks, making them eligible for higher-paying roles and specialized functions. As an RN, you can expect a median annual salary of $81,220, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
LPNs, while essential in providing fundamental care, generally earn less due to their more limited scope of practice. On average, LPNs make $54,620 per year.

Below is a table demonstrating the differences of both salaries by state:

StateLPN Annual SalaryRN Annual SalaryPercent Increase
District of Columbia$53,370$92,35073%
New Hampshire$52,510$72,76039%
New Jersey$56,290$82,75047%
New Mexico$47,560$71,73051%
New York$48,770$85,61076%
North Carolina$44,610$64,85045%
North Dakota$46,410$65,74042%
Rhode Island$59,130$78,42033%
South Carolina$40,890$64,94059%
South Dakota$38,630$58,34051%
West Virginia$36,770$61,78068%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data extracted on 12/3/2020

Are LPNs Being Phased Out?

In recent years, hospitals and healthcare institutions have increasingly leaned towards hiring Registered Nurses (RNs) over Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) due to the expanding complexity of patient care and the evolving demands of the healthcare landscape. While LPNs play a vital role in delivering essential maintenance, the advanced education and training of RNs enable them to handle a broader range of responsibilities, including critical thinking, decision-making, and coordination of complex patient cases.

As a result, hospitals often prioritize RNs for roles that involve more intricate patient assessments, care planning, and multidisciplinary collaboration. While this trend reflects the healthcare industry’s pursuit of providing the highest quality care, it can inadvertently limit job opportunities for LPNs, particularly within hospital settings. This shift underscores the importance of LPNs considering various healthcare environments, such as long-term care facilities, home healthcare, or outpatient clinics, where their specialized skills continue to be invaluable and in demand.

What Will I Learn in an LPN to RN Program?

LPN to RN programs offer a comprehensive curriculum covering medical, ethical, and practical topics. The curriculum equips LPNs with the knowledge and skills they need to excel as RNs. The following is an overview of what you can expect to learn:

  • Advanced anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing leadership and management
  • Critical thinking and clinical reasoning
  • Patient assessment and care planning
  • Pathophysiology
  • Healthcare ethics and legal issues
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Community and public health nursing

What Are the Admissions Requirements for an LPN to RN Program?

While specific requirements may vary from one program to another, there are common prerequisites for applying to an LPN to RN program:

  • LPN Licensure: Candidates must hold a valid LPN license to be eligible for an LPN to RN program.
  • Work Experience: Some programs may require some work experience as an LPN.
  • Education: Candidates must have completed a high school diploma or GED equivalent and an accredited LPN/LVN training program.
  • Prerequisite Courses: Prerequisite courses in anatomy, physiology, and microbiology may be required.
  • Transcripts: Submission of official transcripts from previous educational institutions; minimum GPA guidelines may apply depending on the program.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Some programs may require letters of recommendation from supervisors or colleagues.
  • Entrance Exam: Passing an entrance exam, such as the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills), may be necessary.


When considering an LPN to RN program, accreditation is a crucial factor. Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific educational standards and provides quality education. Look for programs accredited by reputable accrediting bodies, such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

LPN to RN Bridge Program Options

LPN to RN programs pave the way for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) to embark on a transformative journey toward becoming Registered Nurses (RNs). These programs offer two pathways for career advancement: the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) route and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) option. Each pathway holds unique characteristics, catering to individuals’ aspirations, time constraints, and long-term goals. Whether pursuing a swift transition into registered nursing or seeking a comprehensive educational experience, LPNs can tailor their professional growth through these two distinctive routes.


Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs are typically shorter when juxtaposed with the more extended Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs. The hallmark of ADN curricula is their sharp focus on cultivating essential nursing skills and foundational medical knowledge. This streamlined approach caters to individuals eager to expedite their journey toward becoming Registered Nurses (RNs) and eagerly embark on their professional careers in the healthcare sector.


The LPN to BSN route is particularly advantageous for those with a vision of becoming RNs and attaining a higher degree of expertise and qualification within the nursing profession. By investing in this educational trajectory, individuals thrive in roles beyond the clinical bedside, encompassing positions such as nurse managers, educators, and even nurse practitioners. Although requiring a more extended commitment, this program opens doors to diverse career avenues within healthcare and empowers nurses to contribute to the industry’s growth and innovation in multifaceted ways.

How Long Will It Take Me to Complete an LPN to RN Program in 2024?

LPN to RN program lengths can vary based on your chosen pathway and your previous education. In 2024, here’s an estimated breakdown:

  • LPN to ADN: Approximately 1 to 2 years, depending on the program’s structure and whether you attend full-time or part-time.
  • LPN to BSN: Around 2 to 4 years, depending on the program and your enrollment status.

Additionally, some programs offer credit for prior learning or recognition by examination. For instance, if you’ve gained relevant knowledge through work experience or previous coursework, you might be able to earn credits, shortening the program’s duration.

Here’s a table summarizing the potential program lengths and various other differences between the two programs:

Length1-2 years2-4 years
Credential earnedAssociate Degree in Nursing (ADN)Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
CourseworkNursing theory, patient care, pharmacology, and communication skillsNursing theory, patient care, pharmacology, leadership, communication skills, and additional general education courses
Clinical experience requiredYesYes
Admission requirementsActive LPN license, completion of prerequisite courses, minimum GPA, passing score on entrance exam, and letters of recommendationActive LPN license, completion of prerequisite courses, minimum GPA, passing score on entrance exam, and letters of recommendation
Advancement opportunitiesRNs have more opportunities for career advancement, such as becoming a charge nurse or clinical nurse leaderBSN-prepared nurses have more opportunities for career advancement, such as becoming a nurse manager, nurse educator, or nurse practitioner. Additionally, some employers require a BSN degree for certain positions
CostVaries depending on the program and location, but generally less expensive than BSN programsVaries depending on the program and location, but generally more expensive than ADN and LPN to RN programs

Online LPN to RN Programs

The digital age has brought new dimensions to education, including nursing programs. Online LPN to RN programs offer flexibility and accessibility for working professionals or those with other commitments. However, like any learning method, online programs have pros and cons.

Pros of Online LPN to RN Programs:

  • Flexibility: Online programs allow you to study independently and fit coursework into your schedule.
  • Accessibility: You can access course materials from anywhere, eliminating the need for commuting.
  • Balance: Online learning can be easier to balance with work, family, and other responsibilities.
  • Self-Paced Learning: Some online programs offer self-paced learning options, accommodating different learning styles.

Cons of an Online LPN to RN Program:

  • Lack of In-Person Interaction: Nursing involves hands-on patient care, and online programs may lack in-person practice and interaction.
  • Self-Discipline: Online learning requires self-motivation and time management skills, which can be challenging for some.
  • Technology Dependence: Reliable internet access and technical proficiency are essential for successful online learning.
  • Clinical Component: Clinical training is a crucial aspect of nursing education, and online programs may require you to arrange clinical experiences yourself.

Are you looking to save some money on an LPN to RN program? Read about affordable LPN to RN programs available here.