Find a program that’s right for you.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work alongside registered nurses and other medical professionals to provide patient care. Nearly 40% of LPNs work in residential treatment centers such as nursing homes. These facilities require round-the-clock staffing, so many LPNs work nights and weekends.

Aspiring LPNs can pursue a diploma or an associate degree. Applicants to either type of program need a high school or GED diploma. Learners pursuing a practical nursing degree take courses such as introduction to nursing and the principles of pharmacology. During a client-centered care class, degree-seekers complete clinical rotations.

View Our Rankings List Here

Frequently Asked Questions About Practical Nursing

true Q. What do practical nurses do?

LPNs record patients' vital signs and keep patients clean. They may also assist RNs and doctors with medical procedures.

true Q. What's the difference between a practical nurse and a registered nurse?

Although RNs and LPNs share some job duties, RNs need more education and training. This qualifies RNs to perform tests and administer medication.

true Q. How long does it take to become a practical nurse?

Most students earn an LPN degree or diploma in about 12 months. Candidates must complete coursework and pass the NCLEX-PN exam.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Why Get a Degree in Practical Nursing?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for LPNs to increase 9% from 2020-30, meaning graduates should enter a strong job market. LPNs earn a median salary of $48,820 per year, about $7,000 higher than the median annual salary for all occupations. Additionally, graduates can use their practical nursing degree and professional experience to earn a BSN.

Many LPN degree-seekers choose online programs, especially those with children or full-time employment. Online programs typically provide more scheduling flexibility than on-campus options. For example, students may complete coursework asynchronously. Distance learners can choose from programs nationwide and often pay lower tuition rates.

How Much Does a Practical Nursing Degree Cost?

The cost of a practical nursing degree depends on many factors, including residency status. Out-of-state tuition rates at public schools are much higher than in-state tuition rates. A degree's cost also includes transportation to clinical rotations, lab fees, and textbooks.

Students can reduce out-of-pocket expenses by applying for institutional and private financial aid, such as scholarships. Learners can also reduce the cost of earning an LPN degree by attending an online program. Students can work part time while in school, and some schools offer tuition payment plans.

How Much Do Practical Nursing Majors Make?

According to BLS data, LPNs earn a median annual salary of $48,820. However, earning potential for practical nursing degree-holders varies by geographic location. LPNs in California, Alaska, and Massachusetts earn significantly more than those in other states, according to the BLS. However, these states' costs of living exceed the national average.

LPNs can increase their salary potential by advancing their education and exploring related job opportunities. For example, occupational therapy assistants and physical therapists earn significantly higher median salaries than LPNs. These positions require an associate or bachelor's degree. Practical nursing degree-holders in these programs often graduate faster than their peers.

Courses in Practical Nursing

LPN degree-seekers gain academic knowledge and master essential skills such as communication, emotional coping, and analysis. These skills prepare people to work alongside other medical professionals and effectively treat patients. Degree-seekers hone these skills during clinical rotations in healthcare settings.

Although curricula vary by program, core coursework typically includes human anatomy and physiology, perspectives in nursing, and general psychology. Graduation requirements may also include a capstone course and a minimum GPA. Learners should consult their prospective school's academic or admissions advisors for details about the student experience.

  • General Human Anatomy and Physiology

    LPNs must understand how the human body works to treat patients. This course covers various body structures and systems, such as the skeleton, the nervous system, and circulation. This introductory course provides an academic foundation for upper-division courses.
  • Perspectives in Nursing

    Degree-seekers in this class learn about nurses' roles in healthcare settings. Topics include nursing professionalism, healthcare policies and rules, and trends affecting the nursing profession. The course prepares students to collaborate with healthcare peers and positively impact the field.
  • General Psychology

    Psychology plays a significant role in the nursing profession. Illness and injury can affect patients' mental states. In this course, practical nursing degree-seekers analyze mental processes. Learners explore psychological theories, research methods, and treatments for mental health conditions. The class prepares learners to identify psychological disorders.

How to Become a Practical Nurse

LPNs need an associate degree or an undergraduate certificate. Aspiring LPNs can earn these credentials from a community or junior college. Unlike undergraduate degrees, certificate programs do not require general education courses. Most learners complete certificate programs in about one year, depending on academic requirements and their enrollment status.

During clinical rotations, schools pair LPN degree-seekers with hospitals and clinics. Learners develop in-demand skills in practical settings. To earn state licensure, graduates take a certification exam. Some professionals supplement their license by earning professional certifications in areas such as phlebotomy.

Licensure for Practical Nursing

To qualify for licensure, prospective LPNs must first complete an approved academic program, such as an associate degree or undergraduate certificate program. This program must hold accreditation from the state board of nursing.

Completing an LPN program qualifies graduates to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam. This computer-adaptive national examination includes 85-205 multiple-choice questions. The exam covers topics including safe care environments, health promotion and maintenance, and psychosocial integrity. Candidates must submit an initial license application and create a Pearson VUE account to sign up for the exam.

Licensure fees vary by state and may exceed $200 for the initial LPN license. States also charge fees for delinquent licenses, reinstatement, and license verification. LPNs maintain their license by taking continuing education courses. Most states require 15-30 contact hours every two years. Some states, including Arizona, Colorado, and Connecticut, do not require continuing education.

Practical Nursing

  1. Yale University
    Location

    New Haven, CT

    Tuition

    $18748

    Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale offers practical nursing degrees at the master's and doctoral levels. The on-campus MSN degree features concentrations in diabetes care, oncology, and gender and sexuality health justice. The university's Ph.D. program attracts learners with a background in research and prepares them for a career in academia.

    Yale offers specialized career resources for nursing degree-seekers, including a custom resume and cover letter guide, an employment outlook, and job-hunting tips. Students can also visit the Office of Career Strategy to learn networking skills.

    Applicants must submit three recommendation letters, GRE scores, and multiple essays. Prospective doctoral learners need a master's degree and transcripts that reflect a minimum 3.5 GPA. Yale covers tuition costs for students who require additional help after exhausting federal grants and loans.

  2. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $21220

    Columbia's on-campus practical nurse degrees include an MSN with concentrations in advanced clinical management and mental health nurse practitioner. Courses vary by program, but they may include health promotion, physical assessment, and deviations from health. Students can also pursue a DNP program at Columbia.

    Columbia's School of Nursing offers Stellic, an online platform that allows academic advisors to track their students' academic progress. Degree-seekers can also visit the Center for Career Education to perform practice interviews and receive resume critiques.

    Prospective students without a nursing background can apply, as Columbia offers bridge courses that give learners foundational knowledge and skills. Admission requirements vary by degree, but they typically include prerequisites and recommendation letters. Columbia awards numerous scholarships and grants, none of which require a separate application.

  3. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $26266

    Penn's on-campus practical nursing programs include bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Students learn on the university's Philadelphia campus. Master's degree-seekers can choose from multiple specializations, including neonatal, pediatric primary care, and women's health.

    Penn offers many career services exclusive to nursing degree-seekers, including workshops covering networking skills, resume writing techniques, and internships. The university's Career Services (CS) website features resources that students can access 24/7, including how-to guides and career interest communities. Learners can also review CS articles covering topics like top nursing employers and academic success tips.

    Application requirements for the master's program include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Some graduate concentrations do not admit applicants without 1-2 years of professional experience. Penn's School of Nursing offers departmental financial aid to qualifying learners.

  4. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $19785

    Duke offers four practical nursing degrees on its Durham, North Carolina, campus: an accelerated BSN, an MSN, a DNP, and a Ph.D. program. Learners who possess an associate in nursing can complete the BSN in just 16 months. Coursework covers topics like health assessment, the principles of pharmacology, and gerontological nursing. Master's learners can select one of eight specializations in areas such as palliative care.

    Learners approaching graduation can visit the School of Nursing's Career Services website to access information on upcoming job fairs, new job postings, and resume assistance. They can also access an extensive alumni network that allows recent graduates to learn from experienced peers.

    Application requirements at the graduate level include three recommendations, GRE scores, and an active nursing license. Duke prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate or graduate GPA. Both incoming and current graduate degree-seekers can apply for institutional financial aid by submitting the FAFSA.

  5. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $16856

    U-M's on-campus practical nurse degrees educate recent high school graduates and experienced nurses who want to advance their career. The four-year bachelor's program features courses in introduction to psychology, human anatomy, and the context of care. The school also offers MSN and DNP programs. MSN students who plan to pursue the school's DNP should choose the MSN program's leadership track.

    The School of Nursing offers all Career Center (CC) resources through Handshake. Students can log in to Handshake to make a counseling appointment and explore other CC resources, such as career guides and information regarding on-campus and virtual career fairs.

    Admission requirements vary by degree. Prospective MSN degree-seekers must apply to the program and a specialty simultaneously. The university covers tuition for undergraduate learners who enroll in the Honors Program.

  6. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $23596

    Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt offers a variety of on-campus practical nursing programs, including master of science in nursing, DNP, and Ph.D. programs. The master's program offers specializations in areas such as adult-gerontology acute care, emergency, and nursing informatics.

    Career services advisors provide students with links to top nursing job boards and maintain the school's vast alumni network on LinkedIn. Counselors also offer various virtual resources, such as coaching appointments and workshops. Degree-seekers can learn more on the Career Services website or by downloading the DoreWays mobile app.

    Prospective MSN degree-seekers should possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, complete undergraduate prerequisites, and submit three recommendation letters. The DNP program admits applicants with either a bachelor's or master's in nursing. Vanderbilt awards $7,000 per year to full-time MSN students with financial need.

  7. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $27868

    Johns Hopkins' practical nursing programs include MSN, DNP, and Ph.D. programs. The MSN program offers three specializations: entry into nursing, advanced nursing practice, and healthcare organization leadership.

    The School of Nursing's Career Lab works with students to network with potential employers, identify relevant skills, and reflect on career goals. The university's career services advisors provide additional resources, including virtual events and webinars. Additionally, free software, such as Handshake and Vault, allows learners to hone job-hunting skills at any time of day.

    Johns Hopkins accepts applications for the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Degree-seekers pay a flat per-year tuition rate. Approximately 90% of MSN students receive institutional aid, ranging from $10,000 to full tuition.

  8. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $39935

    NYU's practical nurse degrees help experienced nurses attain the latest best practices and advance their career. Learners in the RN-to-BSN program can graduate in just 16 months. They study topics like adult and elder nursing, acute care psychological nursing, and contemporary issues in healthcare. Master's learners can specialize in one of nine areas. They can also further their studies by earning an optional certificate in advanced practice.

    NYU's Wasserman Center for Career Development offers on-campus and virtual career fairs, an internship and job board, and resume critiques. Students can also use the university's Violet Ready website to build 11 essential skills, including networking, resilience, and career awareness.

    Prospective graduate students should possess a New York state nursing license, a minimum 3.0 undergraduate or graduate GPA, and work experience. Other admission requirements include two recommendation letters and a 2-3-page personal statement. NYU awards institutional aid packages to bachelor's and master's students who demonstrate financial need.

  9. Emory University
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $26804

    Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing features a variety of practical nursing programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Undergraduates can earn a traditional or accelerated bachelor's. Master's students can specialize in one of 13 areas, including neonatal, family nurse, or women's health. Although most students attend courses on Emory's Atlanta, Georgia, campus, the accelerated BSN and DNP programs both offer a fully online curriculum.

    On-campus and online degree-seekers can use the School of Nursing's Career Services (CS) website to sign up for resume webinars, research job openings in and around Atlanta, and complete mock interviews. Learners can find nearly all CS resources by logging into Handshake.

    Admission requirements for all master's degrees include a Georgia nursing license and a resume. Doctoral applicants must submit two professional references. Emory's institutional scholarships award aid to incoming learners based on past academic performance, military service, and Peace Corps participation.

  10. University of Rochester
    Location

    Rochester, NY

    Tuition

    $35452

    Rochester's practical nursing opportunities include an online RN-to-BSN, multiple nurse practitioner degrees, and an MS-Ph.D. accelerated program. On-campus learners can gain hands-on experience at the Rochester Medical Center or at one of 600 clinical sites throughout New York. Specializations at the master's level include family, pediatric, and adult-gerontology.

    Current students and recent graduates can take advantage of the Green Center's (GC) extensive career resources, including self-discovery tools, career communities, and podcasts. Virtual learners can access GC services through Slack, Zoom, and Handshake.

    Each degree uses different application deadlines, and some degrees admit new learners only once per year. Prospective graduate degree-seekers need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate or graduate GPA, an active nursing license, and at least 1-2-years of clinical experience, depending on the program. New York residents may qualify for a 50-55% tuition reduction.

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

See All Posts

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Shape your future with an online degree

Connect with a community of peers, and find a program that will allow you to continue your education in a fast and flexible way.