LPN to RN Programs

Many LPN/LVNs wish to expand their clinical skills and scope of practice by becoming RNs. Because of the current nursing shortage in the United States, and the fact that many hospital systems prefer to hire RNs, educational institutions are making it more convenient and timely for LPN/LVNs to earn an RN degree. If you are a practical or vocational nurse looking to enter the world of registered nursing, you have many options with an LPN to RN bridge program.

What Is an LPN to RN Bridge Program?

An LPN to RN program is an educational path, often delivered at an accelerated pace, that prepares LPNs to become licensed as registered nurses (RNs). These programs are in-depth and delve more into nursing theory than technical bedside tasks. They are structured to build upon the skills learned in LPN school and to prepare the student to take on more clinical responsibility, increase critical thinking and decision-making, and work in an expanded scope of practice. Students enrolled in LPN to RN programs can choose to earn either an ADN or BSN degree in preparation for their RN license.

Whether you are already an LPN, currently in school, or just interested in nursing, it can be beneficial to consider furthering your education and career by becoming a registered nurse. Registered nursing is the next logical step up from LPN. Some duties and responsibilities are similar, or even the same. However, there are also many differences between an LPN and an RN. LPN to RN programs are sometimes referred to as “bridge programs.” This is because the course of study essentially “bridges the gap” between the two career levels. Bridge programs are designed specifically for one group of nurses; in this case, LPNs wishing to become RNs. Due to this specific cohort of students, programs are streamlined to get students through the coursework relatively quickly. Furthermore, certain bridge programs may also allow students to test out of certain courses based on test scores and experience.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an LPN to RN Program?

The duration of an LPN to RN (Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse) program can vary based on several factors, including the type of program, the institution offering it, and whether you are pursuing it on a full-time or part-time basis. Generally, LPN to RN programs are designed to help LPNs advance their careers by becoming registered nurses, which involves acquiring additional education and clinical training. Below is a table that highlights the different LPN to RN educational pathways and the estimated time it takes to complete each one.

ProgramLPN to RNLPN to ADNLPN to BSN
Length1-2 years1-2 years2-4 years
Credential earnedAssociate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
CourseworkNursing theory, pharmacology, patient care, leadership, and communication skillsNursing theory, patient care, pharmacology, and communication skillsNursing theory, patient care, pharmacology, leadership, communication skills, and additional general education courses
Clinical experience requiredYesYesYes
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 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, clinical nurse leader, or nurse practitionerRNs 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 less expensive than BSN programsVaries depending on the program and location, but generally more expensive than ADN and LPN to RN programs

Credit By Exam

Another option for prospective students is LPN to RN "credit by exam". This means that students can test out of certain college classes. In other words, by passing the exams, college credits are earned. This helps to fast-track students through the bridge program.

The first step in this process is evaluation. Prior college courses are assessed, and students are given credit for certain coursework already completed. Students then enroll in a test-prep class for specific courses they will need to graduate. After that, students can enroll in courses. After an accelerated length of time (around four to ten weeks), students may take the exams for college credits.

The next step involves a clinical externship or exam. Depending on the college associated with the credit by exam, additional clinical experience may be required. Then the student is eligible to take the state NCLEX exam.

Are There Any Online LPN to RN Programs?

Online LPN to RN programs have gained popularity due to their convenience and suitability for working professionals. By offering coursework in a virtual format, these programs allow students to balance their careers, family obligations, and education seamlessly. Through interactive modules, virtual simulations, and online lectures, students can access a comprehensive curriculum that covers essential nursing concepts such as pharmacology, patient care, and healthcare ethics.

One notable feature of these programs is the emergence of hybrid options, combining online instruction with in-person practical training. This blended approach addresses the hands-on nature of nursing education, ensuring that students receive the necessary clinical experience. Hybrid programs typically incorporate on-campus lab sessions, workshops, and supervised clinical rotations at affiliated healthcare facilities. This combination of virtual and in-person learning enables aspiring RNs to refine their clinical skills under the guidance of experienced nursing educators.

As the demand for skilled nurses continues to grow, online LPN to RN programs provide a convenient avenue for LPNs to elevate their careers and contribute more comprehensively to patient care. With the integration of hybrid components, these programs ensure a well-rounded education that prepares future RNs for the dynamic challenges of modern healthcare.

LPN to RN Program Types & Options in 2024

There are two primary avenues within online LPN to RN programs: the LPN to ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) track and the LPN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) track. Each pathway offers its own set of advantages and considerations for aspiring nurses seeking to further their education and careers.


LPN to ADN programs are designed to provide a streamlined transition for LPNs to become registered nurses with an associate degree. These programs typically take around 1 to 2 years to complete, depending on factors such as prior coursework and the program's structure. The curriculum covers essential nursing skills, medical-surgical nursing, pharmacology, and community health, among other topics. The advantage of LPN to ADN programs is their relatively shorter duration, enabling quicker entry into the RN workforce. Graduates of ADN programs can choose to start their nursing careers promptly or use the degree as a stepping stone to pursue a BSN at a later stage.


LPN to BSN programs offer a comprehensive educational journey, culminating in a bachelor's degree in nursing. These programs generally take around 3 to 4 years to complete. The curriculum is more extensive, encompassing not only clinical skills but also a broader range of subjects like nursing research, leadership, and healthcare management. A BSN degree can open doors to more specialized nursing roles, leadership positions, and advanced degrees in nursing. Many healthcare institutions and organizations are increasingly favoring BSN-prepared nurses due to their expanded skill set and potential to contribute to higher-level patient care.

How Do I Find the Best LPN to RN Bridge Program Near Me?

So where should a prospective LPN to RN student start looking for a program? Starting with local community colleges is an excellent way to begin your journey. Most campuses offer some type of bridge program, and students can compare programs as well as tuition rates. School websites tend to be very transparent - tuition rates, prerequisites, admission requirements, and curriculum courses are usually posted online.

Browse LPN/LVN to RN Programs in Your State

Select the state below to see a full list of LPN/LVN to RN bridge programs.

Demand in 2024 for Campus or Online LPN to RN Programs

Remarkably, there is a great demand for LPN to RN programs. In recent years, LPNs were displaced from most inpatient settings and are working primarily in outpatient clinics, nursing facilities, and schools. Many LPNs enjoy the challenges and excitement of inpatient nursing and wish to focus their career on acute care, opting to return to school to become RNs. Additionally, some LPNs hope to advance their clinical and leadership skills, and becoming an RN helps to achieve this. Finally, RNs earn more than LPNs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earn a median salary of about $86,000 annually, compared to an LPN salary of about $59,000. See our breakdown of LPN to RN salary comparisons.

Overall demand for LPN to RN bridge programs are also a result of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s position that the number of BSN nurses in the workforce should increase significantly in the coming years. Research has shown that BSN nurses in the healthcare setting result in lower patient mortality rates as well as improved patient care outcomes. Because of this recommendation, employers are actively seeking out BSN nurses when hiring and offering an educational incentive for current nurses.

The Importance of an Accredited LPN to RN Program

When searching for a great LPN to RN program, it's highly recommended to select an adequately accredited version for licensure and future employment purposes. The two main accrediting bodies for nursing programs in the United States are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The ACEN accredits all levels of nursing degrees, while the CCNE accredits baccalaureate programs and higher. Accreditation by these bodies ensures the nursing curriculum is standardized and meets current evidence-based practice standards. Sometimes, there are local accreditation entities, but students should be aware that these may not count for licensure, especially in another state.

What Will I Learn in an LPN to RN Program?

In an LPN to RN program, students embark on a transformative educational journey that builds upon their existing practical nursing knowledge and experience. The curriculum of such programs is thoughtfully designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of advanced nursing concepts, clinical skills, and critical thinking abilities necessary for the role of a registered nurse (RN). Here's a glimpse into what students can expect to learn in an LPN to RN program:

  • Advanced Nursing Theory: LPN to RN programs delve into advanced nursing theories that form the foundation of nursing practice. Students explore concepts related to nursing ethics, evidence-based practice, patient-centered care, and cultural competence. This knowledge equips them to approach patient care holistically and ethically.
  • Health Assessment and Clinical Skills: Building upon their LPN experience, students in these programs deepen their understanding of health assessment techniques. They learn to conduct thorough physical assessments, interpret diagnostic results, and recognize signs of deteriorating health. Clinical skills training becomes more comprehensive, encompassing complex procedures and interventions.
  • Pharmacology: LPN to RN programs typically include an in-depth study of pharmacology, equipping students with the knowledge of medications' mechanisms of action, interactions, and adverse effects. This understanding enables RNs to administer medications safely and educate patients about their prescriptions.
  • Leadership and Management: As RNs, graduates often find themselves in leadership positions. Courses in leadership and management provide skills in decision-making, delegation, conflict resolution, and effective communication.
  • Evidence-Based Practice: LPN to RN programs emphasize the importance of evidence-based practice. Students learn to critically evaluate research and apply the latest evidence to inform their nursing interventions.
  • Clinical Practicum: Hands-on clinical experiences are integral to LPN to RN programs. Through clinical rotations in diverse healthcare settings, students apply their theoretical knowledge, refine their skills, and adapt to the RN role under the guidance of experienced nursing mentors.

LPN vs. RN: Compare and Contrast

Still on the fence about whether you should advance to an RN role? Take a look at the difference between both nursing roles:

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)Registered Nurse (RN)
Education1-year diploma/certificate program2-4 years: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Scope of PracticeBasic patient care (e.g., monitoring vitals, administering basic medications)Comprehensive patient care (e.g., developing care plans, administering complex medications)
Work SettingsLong-term care facilities, nursing homes, hospitalsHospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, schools
ResponsibilitiesAssist with daily living activities, report patient status to RNsConduct diagnostic tests, analyze results, educate patients and families
SupervisionTypically work under the supervision of RNs and doctorsWork independently or supervise LPNs and CNAs
Career AdvancementLimited advancement opportunities without further educationMore opportunities for advancement (e.g., Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Manager)
Average SalaryLower than RNs; approximately $48,000 per year in the U.S.Higher than LPNs; approximately $75,000 per year in the U.S.
Job OutlookPositive, especially in long-term care settingsVery positive, high demand in various healthcare settings
Continuing EducationRequired to maintain licensure; options for bridging to RN programsRequired to maintain licensure; opportunities for specialization and advanced degrees

2024 List of Online LPN to RN Programs

The list below contains programs that offer online and hybrid LPN to RN programs, please follow the website links to get more information about each program.

LPN to RN/BSN Online
Online Program - Achieve offers a fast-track program that combines the effectiveness of real classroom learning with the speed of credit-by-examination.
Allegany College of Maryland
12401 Willowbrook Road, SE
Cumberland, MD 21502
301-784-5568 x2
Hutchinson Community College
1300 North Plum
Hutchinson, KS 67501
Indiana State University
200 North Seventh Street
Terre Haute, IN 47809
Excelsior College
7 Columbia Circle
Albany, NY 12203
North Dakota State University
1400 Centennial Blvd
Fargo, ND 58105
Sampson Community College
1801 Sunset Avenue
Clinton, NC 28383
Davidson County Community College
297 DCC Road
Thomasville, NC 27360
University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville
2005 White Dr
Batesville, AR 72503
University of Arkansas
1 University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Presentation College
1500 North Main Street
Aberdeen, SD 57401

Last Updated/Verified: Jun 4, 2024