Graduating from a nursing program can be accomplished in a number of ways. Depending on the time, budget, and educational credits already earned, the candidate may be able to start work as a registered nurse (RN) in less than a year! Most universities have nursing schools and students are able to attend prerequisite classes and apply after 2 years. These students will graduate with a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) and can apply for state licensure and ultimately be employed as an RN.

However, for some students, this isn't the best path.

Perhaps the student changed majors multiple times and now has credits which do not apply to nursing instead of credits that do. Additional classes are required to apply for nursing school and the cost is too high to start over at a 4-year university or the wait list too long.

Others may find themselves wishing to leave a career after many years to become a nurse and the traditional university setting does not appeal to them. Either the hours are not flexible enough to balance both work and family or the cost of classes to too high.

For those who wish to avoid the traditional university setting, have no fear. Bridge programs exist!

2019 Top Online LPN to RN Programs

2019 Top LPN to RN ProgramsWith 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.

#1. Allegany College of Maryland

12401 Willowbrook Road, SE, Cumberland, MD 21502 | 301-784-5568 x2

Allegany College of Maryland (ACM) offers an online LPN to RN program that culminates in an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN). This highly flexible program is designed to work around the employed LPN, with lectures and coursework delivered in a fully online format with supervised clinical rotations arranged in the student's local area. Students enrolled in ACM's program take courses in Maternal/Child Nursing, Advanced Medical-Surgical Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing, and much more to bridge the gap from practical nursing to registered nursing.

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: 18 months
  • FORMAT: Online (clinicals arranged locally)
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), Maryland Board of Nursing, Pennsylvania Board of Nursing
  • STATES COVERED: Currently authorized to offer the program to students residing in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia

Learn more:

#2 Indiana State University

200 North Seventh Street, Terre Haute, IN 47809 | 800-468-6478

Indiana State University offers an LPN to BSN transition program to help practical nurses become registered nurses via a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Students are able to take the program on either a full-time or part-time basis, with no campus trips required, for maximum flexibility and convenience. The program requires a total of 120 credits, including prerequisites and local clinical experiences. The curriculum includes courses in Nursing Leadership, Nursing Care of the Adult, Pathophysiology, and more to give students a well-rounded RN foundation.

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: 6 semesters full-time or 9 semesters part-time
  • FORMAT: Online (clinicals arranged locally)
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Indiana Board of Nursing
  • STATES COVERED: The program is approved and recognized in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin

Learn more:

#3 North Dakota State University

1400 Centennial Blvd, Fargo, ND 58105 | 800-488-6378

North Dakota State University LogoThose looking for a Spring-entry LPN to BSN program can opt to enroll in North Dakota State University's mostly online offering. NDSU's program builds upon the LPN's education and experience so that they can become baccalaureate registered nurses. Most students enroll in around 6-9 credits per semester, and the curriculum includes courses in Expanded Family Nursing, Evidence-Based Practice and Research in Nursing, and Complex Issues in Adult Health, amongst others. The clinical portion of the program is carried out in the Fargo/Moorhead area of North Dakota.

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: 6 semesters (including summers)
  • FORMAT: Hybrid (most classes delivered online, though some general education courses may not be available in an online format; clinicals delivered in North Dakota only)
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), North Dakota Board of Nursing
  • STATES COVERED: Students who reside outside of North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Montana should check with the NCSBN to see if their state accepts distance education programs

Learn more:

#4 Sampson Community College

1801 Sunset Avenue, Clinton, NC 28383 | 910-592-8081

Sampson Community College LogoNorth Carolina's Sampson Community College offers an LPN to RN pathway that currently accepts 10 lucky students each Fall. This online/hybrid program is open to LPNs with at least 2 years of employment experience in a medical-surgical hospital unit or skilled nursing facility. While most of the curriculum is delivered online, enrolled students also participate in 144 hours of clinical practice supervised by an experienced RN. In just 2 semesters of study, students will have earned an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN).

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: 2 semesters
  • FORMAT: Online/hybrid (clinicals arranged in the student's local area but must take place in North Carolina)
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), North Carolina Board of Nursing
  • STATES COVERED: Those outside of North Carolina should consult NCSBN to see if their state accepts distance learning programs. Clinical experiences must take place within North Carolina

Learn more:

#5 Hutchinson Community College

1300 North Plum, Hutchinson, KS 67501 | 620-728-8100

Hutchinson Community CollegeHutchinson Community College (HCC) of Kansas provides interested practical nurses with an LPN to RN online bridge program to transition to an associate's degree in registered nursing. The program consists of 69 credit hours, to include courses in Health Maintenance Promotion and Restoration, Human Growth and Development, and more. HCC's unique approach to the clinical portion of the program means that students can self-schedule with the help and approval of faculty, meaning that many students are able to keep working full-time through the program.

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: 3 semesters (once prerequisite courses are complete)
  • FORMAT: Online/hybrid (labs, simulations, and clinicals to be attended in-person)
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), Kansas State Board of Nursing
  • STATES COVERED: Those outside of Kansas should consult NCSBN to see if their state accepts this distance education program

Learn more:

#6 Excelsior College

7 Columbia Circle, Albany, NY 12203 | 888-647-2388

Excelsior College LogoAlbany, New York's Excelsior College offers 2 LPN to RN pathways for nurses looking to advance their degree type. LPNs can choose between an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing (AAS) or the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN/ADN). While the nursing course requirements for both pathways are the same, the general education requirements differ slightly. Students take courses designed to bridge the gap between practical nursing and registered nursing, and can choose to take the courses fully online or study independently and take proficiency exams.

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: Either 8 weeks of online study, or self-paced independent study plus proficiency exams
  • FORMAT: Online
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), National League for Nursing Center of Excellence Recognition, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, New York State Education Department
  • STATES COVERED: Students from outside of New York should consult NCSBN to see if their state accepts this distance learning program

Learn more:

#7 Davidson County Community College

297 DCC Road, Thomasville, NC 27360 | 336-249-8186

Davidson County Community College LogoNorth Carolina's Davidson County Community College (DCCC) trains LPNs to become RNs through its specialized LPN to ADN program. This hybrid program delivers most of the courses in an online format, though students will need to attend 3-4 campus days each semester for things such as orientation and tests. The goal of DCCC's program is to advance LPNs into RN leadership roles with greater responsibility who can work effectively alongside other healthcare team members.

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: 2 semesters
  • FORMAT: Online/hybrid (clinicals must take place in North Carolina)
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), North Carolina Board of Nursing
  • STATES COVERED: Those outside of North Carolina should consult NCSBN to see if their state accepts this distance learning program. Some in-person campus visits are required, and clinical learning must take place within North Carolina.

Learn more:

#8 University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville

2005 White Dr, Batesville, AR 72503 | 870-612-2000

University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville LogoThe University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) offers both a traditional in-person LPN to RN program as well as an online version. Current LPNs must complete 58 credits with a grade of ‘C' or higher to be awarded the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree. Those enrolled in the online version should be prepared to visit campus around 7-8 times throughout the course of the program. UACCB LPN to RN students take a mix of nursing theory, practicum, and seminar courses to transition them into the RN role.

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: 11 months
  • FORMAT: Traditional Classroom or Online (some campus days required, in-person clinicals required)
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), Arkansas State Board of Nursing
  • STATES COVERED: Those outside of Arkansas should consult NCSBN to see if their state accepts distance learning programs. Clinical sites are usually located in Batesville, Searcy, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Learn more:

#9 Western Kentucky University

1906 College Heights Blvd., Bowling Green, KY 42101 | 270-780-2506

Western Kentucky University LogoWestern Kentucky University offers an LPN to ASN program for practical nurses looking to advance in the field. WKU's curriculum emphasizes professionalism, evidence-based nursing care, safety, and ethical behavior to prepare skilled and caring RNs. Enrolled students take courses in Medical-Surgical Nursing, Microbiology, Maternal-Newborn Nursing, and more to total 61 program hours. Upon completion, graduates are well-prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination.

  • PROGRAM LENGTH: 3 semesters
  • FORMAT: Mostly online, with one face-to-face meeting each week
  • ACCREDITATION & APPROVAL: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), Kentucky Board of Nursing
  • STATES COVERED: Those outside of Kentucky should consult NCSBN to see if their state accepts this distance learning program. Some on-campus meetings and in-person clinical rotations required.

Learn more:

Should an LPN/LVN Become an RN?

The short answer is "Yes! Absolutely!"

Phasing out LPN?

Many healthcare facilities, including hospitals, have already started phasing out the LPN position, with the intention of making it obsolete. Some lucky LPNs already employed for many years before this started have likely been "grandfathered" into their jobs, however they may have been asked to earn the RN to keep the job. This is mostly due to many RNs seeking employment and the inability to assign patients solely to a LPN, as LPNs legally require direct RN supervision. Eventually, the LPN position is likely to be completely gone.

Career Flexibility

RNs have a lot more options for places to work versus LPNs. Hospitals, clinics, physician's offices, insurance companies, pharmaceutical sales, education, and many more options exist for RNs. Some of these may still employ LPNs but the positions will be far less common and the pay far less as well.

More Money

RN's make more money than LPN's. See the below salary table outlining the increase in pay from an LPN vs RN position by state.

State LPN Annual Salary RN Annual Salary Percent Increase
Alabama 35,570 56,470 58.8%
Alaska 54,380 85,740 57.7%
Arizona 50,760 71,300 40.5%
Arkansas 36,040 56,480 56.7%
California 51,700 98,400 90.3%
Colorado 46,780 69,600 48.8%
Connecticut 55,170 76,370 38.4%
Delaware 47,700 70,160 47.1%
District of Columbia 52,680 80,040 51.9%
Florida 41,540 62,720 51.0%
Georgia 38,010 62,350 64.0%
Hawaii 46,520 88,230 89.7%
Idaho 39,430 60,320 53.0%
Illinois 44,870 68,030 51.6%
Indiana 40,580 58,900 45.1%
Iowa 38,750 54,020 39.4%
Kansas 39,460 56,800 43.9%
Kentucky 38,090 57,980 52.2%
Louisiana 37,810 60,230 59.3%
Maine 41,750 63,320 51.7%
Maryland 50,440 72,210 43.2%
Massachusetts 53,820 85,770 59.4%
Michigan 44,310 67,180 51.6%
Minnesota 42,000 71,450 70.1%
Mississippi 36,400 56,560 55.4%
Missouri 37,660 58,040 54.1%
Montana 38,760 61,810 59.5%
Nebraska 38,760 57,550 48.5%
Nevada 52,760 80,240 52.1%
New Hampshire 47,590 65,790 38.2%
New Jersey 52,950 78,330 47.9%
New Mexico 46,360 65,790 41.9%
New York 45,660 77,110 68.9%
North Carolina 41,730 60,030 43.9%
North Dakota 39,790 58,120 46.1%
Ohio 40,790 62,490 53.2%
Oklahoma 38,320 57,830 50.9%
Oregon 48,550 82,940 70.8%
Pennsylvania 43,550 66,570 52.9%
Rhode Island 52,110 75,510 44.9%
South Carolina 39,070 59,670 52.7%
South Dakota 35,210 53,970 53.3%
Tennessee 36,420 57,030 56.6%
Texas 44,880 68,590 52.8%
Utah 43,080 61,100 41.8%
Vermont 44,420 64,320 44.8%
Virginia 40,500 63,880 57.7%
Washington 49,220 78,540 59.6%
West Virginia 35,020 56,390 61.0%
Wisconsin 42,820 65,590 53.2%
Wyoming 43,300 60,790 40.4%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data extracted on August, 2016

LPN vs RN: The Differences

The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) is a nurse who has completed nursing prerequisites plus one year of nursing school. The LPN cannot work in the same settings as a registered nurse and they often find themselves limited to only a few places for employment. However, the registered nurse can work in the same settings as the LPN, usually in a supervisory role, plus a lot more.

For this reason, LPN programs may be less desirable than RN programs, but they are usually still available in most states. Many LPN programs are being phased out of schools because LPNs are being hired less and less in the healthcare marketplace. But for the individual wishing to fast track to an Associate's degree in nursing (ADN) this may be a great option.

The LPN to RN program may be a shortcut method of being accepted into nursing school and much faster than attending traditional ADN or BSN programs. And for employment opportunities, most facilities do not require a Bachelor's degree to get hired but may require it within a set amount of years or employment. See RN to BSN.

Check out our breakdown of the two career paths with RN vs LPN.

What Are the Benefits of LPN to RN Programs?

When compared to ADN or BSN programs many benefits exist for the LPN to RN bridge program.

Short Waiting List

Attending a trade school or community college which offers the LPN program may have a shorter waiting list and be less expensive than the RN program. And once completed the LPN qualifies for the LPN to RN bridge program. Because many students do not consider becoming a LPN as a stepping stone to becoming a RN the waiting list for the bridge program is often much shorter than traditional RN programs.

Short Program

LPN to RN bridge programs are only about a year, or less to graduate with the Associate's Degree of Nursing (ADN). Because the bridge program only needs to teach the second year of nursing school, the first was completed during LPN school, and meet the state requirements for clinical hours this program is shorter than attending the traditional ADN program all at once.

Smaller Class Size

Because this is not the traditional path most students consider the class sizes may be smaller than ADN or BSN programs. This can be helpful when trying to find tutoring or asking questions to the instructor during class. Many instructors will know the students by name and be available for help when needed. Closer bonds between students is common which helps form study groups and build an understanding of material.

Healthcare Experience

LPNs are usually working in the healthcare field as a nurse while adding to their nursing education with the RN program. This experience in healthcare is priceless. School can teach a nurse how to be safe and understand the human body but nothing quite takes the place of gaining actual real world experience.

Work During School

Most LPN to RN programs are scheduled with the working nurse in mind. Whether it be shorter hours for more days a week, evenings, longer hours for less days a week, or some variation, LPN to RN programs support the LPN work schedule.

RELATEDDuring RN School & After

What Are the Requirements of LPN to RN Bridge Programs?

While requirements vary with each program and each school some similarities are likely to exist.

  • High school diploma or GED
  • 18 years old or older
  • Fluent in reading, writing, and speaking English
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Graduation from an accredited nursing school
  • GPA of 2.5 or greater
  • Prerequisite courses satisfied with LPN program or otherwise
  • LPN license in good standing with the State board of nursing

LPN to RN Classes and Curriculum

Many of the basics of nursing are learned during the first year of nursing school, which is the LPN program. So LPNs already know the basics of patient care and some critical thinking skills.

But one of the hallmark differences is teaching the LPN to become a more independent critical thinker. After all, by law, the RN supervises the LPN, so the RN needs to be able to function safely and independently as an expert nurse while under the supervision of a physician.

The LPN to RN curriculum requires graduates to be experts in:

  • Advanced physical assessment
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Advanced biology
  • Critical thinking

What Kinds of Clinical Hours Can I Expect in the RN Program?

State law requires additional clinical hours to be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN.

These hours may be totally different settings than the LPN program or may be in the same areas. This all depends on the school's and state's requirements.

RN clinical areas may include:

  • Intensive care units
  • Medical-surgical floors
  • Telemetry units
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Community health settings
  • Psychiatric care facilities
  • Neonatal ICU
  • Pediatrics

Why Are Clinical Hours Important for Nurses?

Clinical hours are intended to apply classroom teaching to the "real world." Learning about a disease in a textbook and then actually taking care of a patient who has this disease are two very different things.

Textbooks teach the nursing student about a disease process by discussing:

  • Signs and symptoms
  • Predispositions
  • Disease characteristics
  • Nursing implications of the disease process, such as,
    • Risks for skin breakdown
    • Nutritional status
    • Airway management
    • Barriers to discharge

Clinical hours are intended to apply these abstract ideas to the practical use of patient care. The nursing student will solidify learning during clinicals and put a human aspect to textbook disease processes.

What Happens After Nursing School Graduation?

Once the ADN is completed the nurse may now take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for state licensure as a RN. This allows the nurse to apply for employment.

RELATED - Working as an RN and Registered Nursing Jobs

Many students network and explore employment opportunities during RN clinicals. This is a great way to find a job post-graduation. Networking with the nurse managers by asking for contact information and permission to contact upon graduation is a great start.