Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Updated May 3, 2024
Edited by
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Licensed practical nurses (LPN) know the value of nursing in the healthcare system. Nurses put patient care first and improve health outcomes, and LPNs, who can hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), can expand their scope of practice while boosting their earning potential by becoming a registered nurse (RN).

In an LPN-to-RN program, sometimes known as a bridge program, you can meet RN licensure requirements in as little as one year and advance your nursing career through flexible, affordable online programs. Our ranking of the best LPN-to-RN programs can help you find an option that fits your schedule and budget.

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Top 10 LPN-to-RN Programs

#1 Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

University of Arkansas

  • Location-markerFayetteville, AR
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,666
  • Out-of-state$25,420
  • Retention Rate86%
  • Acceptance Rate79%
  • Students Enrolled30,966
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment35%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

Kent State University at Kent

  • Location-markerKent, OH
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$12,471
  • Out-of-state$21,578
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate88%
  • Students Enrolled25,636
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment89%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

Excelsior College

  • Location-markerAlbany, NY
  • 2 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled14,584
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health

  • Location-markerOmaha, NE
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,869
  • Out-of-state$14,869
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate91%
  • Students Enrolled1,054
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment77%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

Missouri Valley College

  • Location-markerMarshall, MO
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$20,500
  • Out-of-state$20,500
  • Retention Rate47%
  • Acceptance Rate66%
  • Students Enrolled1,776
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment17%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

Southwestern Oklahoma State University

  • Location-markerWeatherford, OK
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$6,368
  • Out-of-state$13,478
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate94%
  • Students Enrolled4,648
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment70%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

Wilson College

  • Location-markerChambersburg, PA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$25,200
  • Out-of-state$25,200
  • Retention Rate69%
  • Acceptance Rate94%
  • Students Enrolled1,405
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment75%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)-to-Registered Nurse (RN) Programs of 2024

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

  • Location-markerBelton, TX
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$27,020
  • Out-of-state$27,020
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate96%
  • Students Enrolled3,571
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationYes

Did You Know…

RNs earn a median salary of 44% higher than LPNs, according to BLS data.

Reasons to Pursue Your LPN-to-RN

Becoming an RN can boost earning potential, job responsibilities, and advancement opportunities. Key reasons to pursue your LPN-to-RN degree include:

  • Increased Earning Potential: LPNs earn a median pay of $59,730 per year, according to 2023 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In contrast, RNs earn $86,070
  • Scope of Practice: RNs have greater autonomy than LPNs, who often work under the supervision of an RN. By becoming an RN, you can expand your scope of practice and nursing responsibilities.
  • Specializations: RNs specialize in areas, such as critical care, pediatrics, and cardiology. Advancing your education gives you more opportunities to pursue nursing specializations.
  • Advancement Opportunities: After earning a BSN, nurses can pursue graduate-level training as a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nurse administrator. These roles offer a significant increase in earning potential, with nurse practitioners reporting a median salary of $126,260, reports the BLS.

How LPN-to-RN Programs Work

LPN-to-RN bridge programs help licensed practical nurses expand their nursing skills and qualify for a registered nursing license.

During an LPN-to-RN program, you take courses in health assessment, nursing practice, and evidence-based care. You also complete clinical requirements to expand your nursing skills.

Depending on the program, you typically graduate with an ADN or a BSN. You can complete an LPN-to-ADN program in as little as one year, while an LPN-to-BSN option typically takes around three years. Timeframes for completion vary based on a variety of factors, including the program itself and whether you are taking classes on a full- or part-time basis.

While the admission requirements vary by program, most include an active LPN license and prerequisite coursework in anatomy and physiology. You may also need to meet a minimum NCLEX-PN score or pass a nursing pre-admissions exam.

Why Accreditation Matters for LPN-to-RN Programs

Accreditation can impact your access to financial aid, transfer credits, licensure, and, ultimately, employment. At an accredited college, you know your professors meet high standards and that employers will value your degree.

Institutional accreditation should come from an agency approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.

Programmatic accreditation also matters. High-quality nursing schools demonstrate their ability to educate future RNs by maintaining accreditation. Plus, you must attend an accredited nursing school to receive your RN license.

Look for programs accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

How Much Do LPN-to-RN Bridge Programs Cost?

The cost of an LPN-to-RN program varies significantly. In general, in-state, public institutions charge the lowest tuition rates.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual undergraduate tuition ranged from $4,000 at two-year public schools to $38,800 at four-year private schools in 2021-2022.

An LPN-to-RN program’s degree level and length play a big role in its cost. For example, Florida Gateway College offers a one-year LPN-to-RN associate degree program that costs $103 per credit for Florida residents. The program estimates a total cost, including fees and clinical expenses, of $10,600.

Programs that grant a BSN often cost more. The University of Arkansas LPN-to-BSN program costs $329 per credit, plus fees and expenses. While you receive transfer credit for your LPN courses, a BSN requires a minimum of 120 credits.

How Much Money Can You Make as an RN?

RNs report a strong earning potential. As of May 2023, RNs earned a median annual salary of $86,070, BLS data shows. That’s significantly higher than the median LPN salary of $59,730 per year.

Earning potential varies depending on your degree, geographic location, and experience, among other factors. For example, RNs with a BSN typically earn more than those with an ADN. BSN nurses earn an average annual salary of $94,000, according to 2024 Payscale data, while ADN-trained nurses earn about $77,000 per year.

Location plays a large role in nursing salaries. For example, RNs in California earn an average salary of $137,690, according to BLS numbers, while RNs in Kentucky earn $81,770 per year on average.

How to Become an RN in 3 Simple Steps

At a minimum, RNs must complete an approved two-year nursing program to receive a state-issued license. As an LPN, you already have a head start on becoming an RN. Here are three steps to becoming an RN as an LPN.

  1. 1

    Complete an LPN-to-RN Bridge Program

    You can complete your RN coursework in as little as one year if you’re an LPN. In an LPN-to-RN bridge program, you will meet the coursework and clinical requirements for a nursing degree and licensure.

    These programs award an ADN or a BSN. While you can become an RN with an associate degree, employers may prefer candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. ADN programs offer the fastest path to an RN career, typically requiring less than two years. BSN programs generally take 2-3 years, depending on your transfer credits and other potential factors.

    You can complete an LPN-to-RN program online or on campus. In an online program, you’ll meet clinical requirements in your local area.

  2. 2

    Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

    You must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse. Developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the NCLEX-RN tests your knowledge of nursing practices and procedures. You’ll also demonstrate critical thinking and decision-making abilities on the exam.

    LPN-to-RN programs do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to preparing you for the exam. If you need more prep, you can access study guides and practice tests online and in NCLEX-RN prep books.

  3. 3

    Apply for Licensure

    After you graduate with an ADN or a BSN degree and pass the NCLEX-RN, you will apply for licensure with your state’s nursing board.

    According to NCSBN, the licensing process typically requires you to:

    • Complete an ADN or a BSN program
    • Take and pass the NCLEX-RN
    • Pass a criminal background check

    Every state maintains its own education and clinical requirements for RNs, so be sure to check your state’s nursing board requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions About LPN-to-RN Programs

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Accredited Schools Online. Page last reviewed April 21, 2024.

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