If you are currently working as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you’ve likely thought about becoming a registered nurse (RN). As an RN, you will enjoy a new number of significant advantages over LPNs, including more and better job opportunities, a broader and deeper nursing skillset, and greater professional respect and autonomy. Oh, and there’s a major boost in pay. According to the most recent (May 2022) figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, the median annual salary for LPNs nationwide is $55,860, while the mean annual salary for registered nurses is $89,010, totally in 60% pay increase yearly.
To make the move from LPN to RN, however, means going back to school to get the degree you need to qualify for your registered nurse license. And there may be no faster or more affordable way to do that than by earning your associate degree in nursing through an accredited LPN to ADN program. We’ve put together this guide to the best LPN to ADN online programs available to help you in finding, gaining admission to, and succeeding in the program that’s best for you. So, if you’re ready to advance up the nursing career ladder, let’s get started by introducing you to today’s top LPN to ADN online programs.
In-Depth Look: Popular LPN-ADN Bridge Programs
Below, you will find three popular LPN to ADN programs that include an online component. This should give you some ideas of what to expect in terms of education, admission requirements, and content delivery from each program, ultimately helping you decide which type of program is right for you.
Galen College of Nursing is a private nursing school with various campus locations throughout the United States. Its LPN/LVN to ADN Bridge program at 18 of its campus locations in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The program is offered in a hybrid format with the students participating in web assisted labs online and attending classes for the first two quarters of the programs. Online classes are delivered synchronously, meaning that students are required to log in and attend their classes via live stream at specific times. Classes are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. After the second quarter, classes are only offered in-person.
The program is designed to be completed with 15 to 18 months of full-time study. All general education courses required to earn the ADN degree are included (i.e., there are no required prerequisite courses). However, students who have previously completed some or all of the general education requirements can transfer in the credits from those courses.
Located in Clinton, North Carolina, approximately 40 miles east of Fayetteville, Sampson Community College offers a hybrid-formatted LPN to ADN program that requires two semesters to complete. Didactic coursework is delivered primarily online, but students may be required to come to campus periodically (three to four days each semester) for orientation sessions and exams. Students additionally must complete a minimum of 144 clinical practice hours at an approved practice site within North Carolina during each of the program’s two courses.
Admissions requirements include a current LPN license issued by North Carolina or a Nurse Licensure Compact state, 2000 or more hours of LPN professional work experience in a medical/surgical acute care unit of an acute care hospital or skilled nursing facility, and passing an entrance exam. Applicants must also have completed 23 credits of prerequisite general education coursework. Enrollment is limited (traditionally to 10 students) with selections based on entrance exam results. All application submittals must be made by January 31st prior to the program’s fall start.
Western Kentucky University’s Online LPN to ASN Bridge Program
Flexibility is a key feature of the online LPN to ASN bridge program from Western Kentucky University. The program features a combination of online lectures and other didactic coursework with in-person clinicals that can be completed on WKU’s Bowling Green campus or at clinical facilities in the greater local area. The 61-credit curriculum includes all coursework needed to earn the Associate of Science in Nursing degree, including the general education courses that need to be completed prior to starting the degree course of study. Additionally, students may receive program credits through a number of options. For example, following completion of three specific program courses, students will be awarded 9 credits for three other required nursing courses. Additional program credits may be awarded upon passing department or CLEP exams.
Admission into WKU’s LPN to ASN Bridge Program requires a current LPN license, submission of both WKU and LPN to ASN program applications, and taking the HESI Admission Assessment Exam. The program is competitive and selective, and enrollment is limited based on the availability of faculty and clinical resources. You can apply to the program for a start in the fall, spring, or summer term.
LPN to ADN: Campus vs. Online vs. Hybrid
As touched on in the spotlights above, LPN to ADN programs come in a number of delivery content formats. There are three basic types, to be exact, each of which is described below. Each offers its own combination of benefits and requirements, so it’s in your best interest to take a careful look at each one to decide which best suits your needs and preferences.
While online study is a major trend for LPN to ADN programs, you’ll find that on-campus programs remain very popular and account for the majority of programs out there. Students in on-campus LPN to ADN programs typically attend class on weekdays, in the evenings, and/or on weekends to work in the afternoons and evenings to complete their required clinical practice hours. Additionally, students often attend classes on a part-time basis with only two or three days each week. On-campus LPN to ADN programs are a good choice for students who prefer a more rigidly structured format and face-to-face interaction with instructors and fellow nursing students.
Online LPN to ADN programs offer students the most flexibility when it comes to fitting their studies into their busy work and life schedules. Online LPN to ADN programs typically offer all didactic coursework via the internet (i.e., no on-campus classes). Some programs deliver online classes asynchronously, allowing students to log in and complete their studies at any time. However, the classes in most online programs are delivered in a synchronous format which requires students to log in and attend via live stream at specifically scheduled times. It’s important to also note that LPN to ADN programs that describe themselves as online often include some on-campus components, and all require students to complete the in-person clinical practice hours needed for state RN licensure eligibility.
Hybrid formatted LPN to ADN programs are those that combine both online and on-campus classes, as opposed to on-campus programs (all classes attended on-campus) or online programs (all didactic coursework completed online). On-campus components in hybrid LPN to ADN programs typically include both didactic classes and hands-on labs. And, as with all LPN to ADN programs, students must complete substantial clinical practice hours for licensure eligibility. Delivery of online content may be synchronous, asynchronous, or a combination of both. If you’re looking for an academic experience that mixes study convenience and flexibility with face-to-face interaction with instructors and fellow students, then a hybrid LPN to ADN program is likely the best option for you.
FAQs About LPN-ADN Bridge Programs
Want to know more about LPN to ADN online programs? Here are the answers to eight of the most common questions asked by practical nurses interested in pursuing their ADNs online and becoming fully-licensed registered nurses:
Are LPN-ADN programs accredited?
Accreditation is a process through which education institutions and programs are vetted for academic quality, and it should be one of a number of factors you consider when choosing your LPN to ADN online program. The primary accrediting body of associate degree programs in the United States is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). You can check on a program’s current ACEN accreditation status here. Not all LPN to ADN programs are ACEN accredited, so it is critical to confirm the program is approved by its state’s board of nursing before applying for the programs. In addition to this, you should also only earn your degree through a program that qualifies you to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and for state practical nurse licensure.
Are LPN-ADN programs available online?
Absolutely. But it’s important to understand just what is meant by an “online” LPN to ADN program. First and foremost, all LPN to ADN programs, online or not, require students to complete the substantial in-person clinical practice hours needed to qualify for state RN nurse licensure. Additionally, hybrid-formatted programs also typically require students to come to campus to attend some classes and other activities like hands-on labs, orientation sessions, and exams. While most programs that combine online and on-campus components are described by their schools as “hybrid”, you may find that some label themselves as “online”. So it’s up to you to determine if an online program you’re considering includes any on-campus or other face-to-face requirements.
Can I transfer credits from my LPN program?
In some cases, yes. Most LPN to ADN online programs require completion of a number of prerequisite general education courses (including healthcare-related courses in biology and psychology). These courses may have been completed during the LPN education programs, and some programs may allow you to transfer these credits. Credit transfer availability varies by program, though, so you are strongly advised to speak with an admissions counselor prior to enrollment to see if you can transfer in any previously earned credits.
How long are LPN-ADN programs?
Program lengths vary from program to program, but most students will complete their program’s requirements in 15 to 18 months. However, some LPN to ADN programs with accelerated curriculums for full-time students can be completed in as little as one year. You’ll also find a few programs with two-year lengths to accommodate especially busy students. Specific factors impacting completion times include study pace (full-time or part-time) and how many (if any) previously earned credits can be transferred into the program.
How much do LPN-ADN programs cost?
Costs for LPN to ADN programs also vary from program to program, sometimes substantially. Factors most impacting cost include program length and total credit requirements, whether the program is offered by a public or private school (private school tuitions tend to be higher than public school tuitions), and whether the program is offered by a community or four-year college (community college tuition rates tend to be substantially lower than those for four-year colleges). Also, in regard to public schools, students who are not residents of the school’s home state may be required to pay a higher tuition rate than in-state residents.
Bearing all of that in mind, LPN to ADN program costs (including tuition, books, supplies, NCLEX-RN exam prep, etc.) typically run from around $5,000 to around $15,000. Some programs are outliers, though, with total program costs as high as the low- to mid- $10,000’s. Remember, however, that many programs offer program discounts and other financial aid opportunities that can significantly lower your total program price tag.
What are the admission requirements for LPN-ADN programs?
Admission requirements for LPN to ADN online programs vary somewhat from state to state and program to program. However, there are a number of requirements practically all programs have in common. They include:
- LPN license: All applicants must possess a current, unencumbered LPN or LVN license issued by the program’s home state or a member state of the Nurse Licensure Compact.
- Work experience: Applicants must have completed a stated minimum number of clinical hours of employment as an LPN or LVN.
- Prerequisite coursework: Most programs require applicants to have completed a number of specific general education courses in subjects such as English, biology, psychology, and the humanities.
- Other requirements: Additional requirements typically include passing a school and/or program entrance exam, current CPR certification, and passing both a medical exam and criminal background investigation (including drug screening).
What are the clinical requirements for LPN-ADN programs?
The clinical practice requirements for RN licensure vary from state to state (as determined by each state’s board of nursing), so the number of clinical hours you’ll need to complete in your LPN to ADN program will vary by program as well. You can check current state licensure requirements (including minimum clinical requirements) using this NCSBN state requirements search engine. It’s critical that LPN to ADN students have a clear understanding of the specific clinical requirements for licensure in the state in which they intend to practice. This is especially true for students whose LPN to ADN program and intended nursing practice location are in different jurisdictions. You can, however, be sure that you will need to complete a substantial number of practice hours for licensure eligibility regardless of where you plan to practice.
What can I do with an ADN?
The main purpose of earning your associate degree in nursing is to become eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and qualify academically for licensure as a registered nurse. But earning your ADN and becoming a registered nurse can be just the first step in advancing your nursing career. For example, ADN degree holders often go on to earn their Bachelor of Science degrees to open the door to more and better job opportunities as an RN. Additionally, RNs with an associate degree can move directly to earning their nursing master’s through an RN to MSN bridge program, like the RN to MSN program at Arizona State University.