Considering LPN School

What is the Difference Between LPN and RN School? Work?

At times, it may seem that there is little difference between these two very important nursing roles. But there are some significant differences, and knowing those differences will help you decide which schooling and role are right for you. Research our in-depth guide about LPN vs. RN.

The RN schooling is traditionally of longer duration with courses that provide education on team leadership, pharmacology, research, and legal/ethical issues. LPN schooling is shorter and consists of different courses. At work, the RN usually organizes the patient’s broad plan of care, which is something the LPN then helps to carry out. RNs make more money than LPNs. An LPN with experience can be promoted to a supervisory role in a nursing home or office setting. However, hospital leadership roles are typically held by RNs, usually with a Bachelor’s degree.


  • Shorter schooling – around 18 months
  • Courses focus on “doing” skills necessary to care for patients
  • Make less money than RNs
  • Are supervised by RNs and physicians
  • Usually not promoted to supervisory roles over RNs


  • Longer schooling – typically 2 years (for an associate's degree) or 4 years (for a bachelor's degree)
  • Courses focus on the “thinking” skills necessary to direct patient care
  • Make more money than LPNs
  • Are independent caregivers – no direct supervision required
  • Often promoted to supervisory roles

Read more about LPN to RN programs.

LPN Schools Near Me

We have developed individual state profile pages for students looking to find the right practical nursing school. To get started, click your state below.

  • LPN to RN/BSN Online - Achieve Test Prep

    *Must Be a LPN/LVN

    LPNs earn your ADN or BSN degree online in up to 1/2 the time and cost of traditional programs. With No Waiting List to get started, Free Books, and Low Cost financing options available, this is the perfect way for LPNs, LVNs, and Paramedics to earn your Associates Degree in Nursing and your RN license. Our convenient, instructor led test-out program allows you to learn at an accelerated pace and earn college credit-by-examination which then is eligible to be transferred to an ACEN accredited nursing school or 100's of universities nationwide.

Also, visit the website for each state's Board of Nursing or other regulatory agency responsible for nurse licensure. Listed on each state’s site is a link to all approved LPN/LVN programs in the state. View the State Boards of Practical and Vocational Nursing for All 50 States.

How Do I Choose a Good LPN School?

Many factors will play into your selection of an LPN school, including:

  • NCLEX-PN “Pass Rate” - One of the best ways to determine a program's quality is to look at the published “pass rate” for students taking the state examination. The board of nursing maintains data for each school on how many students took the LPN state examination, how many students have passed the exam, and how many have failed. You'll want to choose a school that has a high “pass rate.”
  • School Accreditation - The National League of Nursing Accrediting Agency (NLNAC) is the main accrediting organization. This accreditation status means that the school meets the standards for LPN education set by the agency. This may be important to you in the future – many bachelor's and master's degree programs in nursing require that you have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Online Classes - Would you prefer to take part in classroom learning online? Does the school offer the program online?
  • Learning Management System - How does the school organize the materials it asks you to read? How do they organize their handouts? Is everything organized online, or do they provide paper copies? Are you expected to find all your own articles in class, or do they provide you with links to articles? Are textbooks actual books, or are they provided on a Kindle or iPad? Textbooks may be the same price in both formats but are much heavier to carry than having everything electronic.
  • Cost - An LPN program can range in price from $4,000 - $20,000 for the entire program. Depending on your circumstances, cost may be more or less of an issue. You get what you pay for, but not always!
  • Location - If you wish to keep costs low or have transportation issues, you may want to choose an LPN program near your home or consider an online option.
  • Tuition Assistance -  What percentage of students in the LPN program receive non-loan scholarship assistance? Learn more about ways to pay for your program.
  • Course Taken Credit - Have you taken advanced high school classes or college credits that you can receive credit for in the program?
  • Clinical Practicum Locations - Each LPN program has its “preferred provider” for clinical rotations.  It is very important where you complete your clinical rotations. If you want experience in trauma care, there may be only one or two LPN programs in town that partner with a hospital that provides trauma care. Where do you get your pediatric rotation? For pediatrics, it is important to rotate through a pediatric hospital – not just a pediatric clinic or long-term care facility.
  • Overall Feeling - When you walk into the building, do you feel “sterility” or warmth? Do you feel it is an environment where you can take the needed risks to learn and make mistakes? Do the instructors communicate well, or do they use poor grammar? Can the faculty (not just the people you meet during the application process) relate to you?
  • Word of mouth - Go to the LPN school’s Facebook page. What are current students or recent graduates saying about the program? Can you meet with someone who has been through the program? It will be important to compare and contrast what students of various programs say. We've developed a ranking system based on first-time NCLEX-PN test takers pass rates.

student loanPaying for LPN School

Vocational school is expensive – no getting around it. There are five basic ways to pay for LPN school:

  • Cash - If a parent or student can swing it, tuition may be paid this way. It is also possible for the student to work during high school to save a portion of the cost.
  • Loans -  Student loans available through the government or school. They are usually need-based, with income limits restricting eligibility.
  • Scholarships -  Scholarships are available that are merit-based (based on your grades) or need-based (based on financial need). Many excellent scholarships are available, but be aware that applications and deadlines must be met. You can usually recognize a legitimate scholarship when contact information is available, the scholarship is not guaranteed, and there is no required application fee. You can recognize a possible scholarship scam when you receive an award for which you didn’t apply, they guarantee you will win, or they require a credit card number or money to apply. Remember to think twice and do your research if a scholarship seems too good to be true!
  • Grants - Research government programs that pay for school in exchange for the graduate agreeing to work in a job and/or area of the country in need for a specific period of time after graduation.
  • Work-Study Programs - These are sponsored by the school you are attending. In exchange for reducing a portion of your tuition, you work at the school for a specific number of hours per week.

Read further into the various ways of paying for your LPN program.

LPN Course Prerequisites

In most cases, your LPN program will not require college courses before entrance. However, it will be valuable for you to have taken high school classes emphasizing proper English grammar, reading, math, and science.

LPN Entrance Requirements

Most schools require a high school diploma with a GPA of at least 2.0 or a GED certificate to be accepted into an LPN program. You will need to show proof of citizenship, and if English is your second language, provide official results of your TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test. The TOEFL test is available on paper or online. The program may also require a clean criminal background check.

LPN School Application Process

The application process will take quite a bit of time to complete, so start early! First, you will need to complete an application, which may be on paper or online. The application will have statements you will need to read regarding acceptance and continuation in the program – you will need to sign that you understand and agree. There may be questions about criminal history or disciplinary action from a state regulatory agency. You must provide information about your educational background, school transcripts, and employment history. Programs usually require several letters of recommendation from a non-family member. There is also a required essay for you to complete on topics like your recent life experiences, the reason for selecting the LPN career track, or your plans and aspirations for the future. The essay's purpose is for evaluators to feel your passion for becoming a licensed practice nurse. It also shows them your command of language, organization skills for writing, and spelling abilities, so take your time to write well and be passionate.

The Test of Essential Academic Skills – Most LPN schools require you to complete a test showing basic academic abilities. The test covers knowledge of math, science, grammar, and spelling – limited to the aspects of each that will be needed to function well as an LPN. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure of how well you will do, you can purchase preparatory study material or online practice tests. The test itself, depending on your location, costs around $100. It will cost you to have an official test result score sent to your intended LPN school. You may be required to travel in order to take the test, so plan to register early. Each nursing school requires a specific entrance test, so check the program requirements. The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is one of the most common entrance exams. The school also may have an application fee ranging from $25 to $250. Once all the required documents are gathered, send them along with the application fee to the program address.

Each LPN school has enrollment due dates, notification of acceptance/denial dates, and start dates. Once you feel your application should have been received by the school, give them a call or email and make sure they received it. Also, ask if it looks like all the documents are in order and if any are still needed from you. Find out when you can expect an email or phone call regarding an application interview.

Application Interview. If you have been asked to come in for an application interview, there are a few important things to keep in mind.  First, do some online research about the school you are applying to. What type of health care programs do they have there? Why do you want to be an LPN? Why not an EMT, nurse’s aide, or RN? Why did you choose this school of all the schools you could have applied to? Practice potential questions and answers with a friend. Prepare for questions you may want to ask about the courses you will be taking, the clinical practicums, and grade expectations.

It will be important for you to wear the appropriate attire for the interview. There are many resources for dressing well for an interview, but here are a few suggestions:

General Interview Tips

  • Limit jewelry and avoid anything too dangly or flashy
  • Clean hair - pulled back if possible


  • Clear or no nail polish
  • A suit is good but not necessary
  • No sandals, tennis shoes, or extremely high heels
  • No heavy perfume
  • No jeans or shorts; nice pants, a dress, or a skirt are ok
  • Collared shirt (freshly ironed) or quality sweater


  • Collared shirt, freshly ironed (no t-shirts)
  • Clean, short nails
  • No heavy cologne
  • No jeans, nice pants are ok
  • A suit is good but not necessary
  • A tie is good but not necessary
  • No sandals or tennis shoes

At the end of the interview, be sure to understand when a decision will be made regarding acceptance into the school and how they will inform you one way or the other. Once home, send a handwritten note or email to the school thanking them for the opportunity to interview for the program.

Letters: Acceptance or Denialsuccess

Schools will notify you by mail or email of your acceptance into the program. The school will have published dates when letters or emails will be sent to let you know. When you receive your letter or email of acceptance, the school will also provide you with an important school handbook if you do not already have one. This school handbook is their manual that describes the dress code, attendance policy, smoking policy, inclement weather, health requirements, appointments with instructors, class and clinical time, parking, transportation, graduation requirements, grievance procedure, and student probation and dismissal procedures. Read over the manual carefully, making notes if needed.

You may be placed on a waiting list if you do not get into the program initially. Sometimes, a potential student may need to turn down going to school for financial and/or personal reasons. As they drop off, you move up on the waiting list and may have a chance of getting admitted. If you are not accepted into the school, contact the school regarding suggestions to improve your application for next time. Was it a difficult interview that made the difference? Poor TEAS score? Commit to turning it around for the next application cycle.

Waiting for LPN School to Start

waitingThis is a very important time to get your personal and home life organized so that you can best dedicate your time to school in the near future. Suggestions may include organizing your clothes in your closet or cooking some freezer meals for your family. As you wait for school to start, this is a good time to work overtime! Make those extra dollars you will need. Organize a study area in your house for books, papers, and a computer. Do a thorough job cleaning your house. It may also be a good time to take your car in for a quick once-over so breakdowns are less likely while in school. In other words - set yourself up for success!

Next Guide: How Much Does LPN School Cost? > During LPN School & Obtaining Licensure

Last Updated/Verified: Jun 5, 2024