Interested in a fast and affordable way to launch your nursing career in Massachusetts? Consider becoming a licensed practical nurse. LPNs play key roles in providing quality patient care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, physician’s offices, and many other healthcare settings. Your path to becoming an LPN in MA starts by completing a state-approved practical nurse diploma or certificate program—and most take less than a year to complete.
Most LPN programs in Massachusetts are offered by community colleges, nursing schools, and vocational and technical schools throughout the state. This guide walks you through how to find the one that fits your personal and professional goals. You’ll also discover lots of other helpful information, including a step-by-step guide to obtaining your Massachusetts LPN license, employment and salary trends for LPNs in the state, and much more.
College Spotlights: Best LPN Programs in Massachusetts
We’ve surveyed state-approved LPN programs in MA and spotlighted three of the very best below. Selections are based on several key elements, including accreditation, affordability, flexibility, curriculum quality, access to support services, and more. Graduates of these programs qualify to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN), a requirement for obtaining Massachusetts LPN licensure. Massachusetts has lots of great LPN programs, so these spotlights will give you a good idea of what to expect as you make your choice.
Massachusetts Bay Community College, aka MassBay, is a public community college operating on three campuses in Middlesex and Norfolk Counties. After completing MassBay’s 40-week, 44-credit Licensed Practical Nurse Program you’ll be eligible to take the NCLEX-PN exam and start your career as a Massachusetts LPN. Classes and labs are held in person during the day on the college’s Framingham campus, located east of Boston. Clinicals take place during the day at program-approved healthcare facilities in the Greater Boston area.
Admission requirements include a high school diploma (or equivalent) and prerequisite college-level English, math, and science courses, some of which are available online. Admission is selective, with acceptance based on the applicant’s GPA and performance on either the TEAS or HESI A2 Entrance exams. The program begins each fall.
Located in Gardner in Worcester County, Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) offers its 46-credit Licensed Practical Nurse Certificate Program in a three-semester (spring, summer, fall) format. Students complete six courses in psychology, biology, English composition, and nursing during the first two semesters, followed by a 13-credit Contemporary Nursing for the Practical Nurse course in the final semester. All nursing courses include clinical experiences at local hospitals and other health care facilities.
Admission into MWCC’s LPN Certificate Program is selective; for consideration, applicants must demonstrate acceptable results on the TEAS exam. Like the other two spotlighted programs, MWCC’s LPN program is approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
The Practical Nursing Certificate program available at Northern Essex Community College (NECC) is a three-semester (10-month) day program that begins each fall and continues through the following summer. Students complete a minimum of 47 credit hours of nursing theory, biology, and psychology classes; nursing labs; and clinical experiences leading to eligibility for LPN licensure in Massachusetts. Classes are held on NECC’s Lawrence campus and include some web-based components. Labs are held on campus as well. Clinical experiences are held at sites in Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, North Andover, and Tewksbury from 6:30 am to 2:30 pm on Thursdays and Fridays.
Students can apply credits earned in the Practical Nursing Certificate program to NECC’s Nursing Associate Degree program or Nursing Advanced Placement LPN to ADN program to become registered nurses.
FAQs About LPN Programs in Massachusetts
What skills do you learn in LPN programs in Massachusetts?
All state-approved LPN programs in MA are designed to qualify graduates to take the NCLEX-PN exam, which leads to practical nurse licensure. Students complete nursing theory coursework, hands-on labs, and clinical experiences in real practice settings and develop the following skills:
- Provide quality, evidence-based care to diverse patient populations across the entire lifespan and in a variety of practice settings. Specific services include proper administration of medicines, use of medical equipment, monitoring of patient health, and prevention of patient injuries.
- Apply critical-thinking skills and proper judgment to the decision-making process in providing safe and effective patient-centered care.
- Apply appropriate legal and ethical standards of practice in all practice settings.
- Demonstrate leadership skills in the practical nurse role.
- Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with patients and their families, as well as supervisory personnel, professional peers, and the general public.
How much do LPN programs cost in Massachusetts?
The vast majority of state-approved LPN programs in MA are those offered by public community colleges and vocational/technical schools. As is almost always the case with public programs, they tend to be the most affordable, particularly for Massachusetts residents. To give you an idea of what you’ll pay for your LPN education, below are the current tuition rates for three programs. Bear in mind, however, that your total program cost will be higher once you include additional costs for books, supplies, uniforms, transportation, etc.
Quinsigamond Community College
Practical Nursing Certificate
Total Credits: 46
$205/credit (Massachusetts residents); $411/credit (out-of-state residents)
Holyoke Community College
Practical Nurse Certificate
Total Credits: 46
$212/credit (Massachusetts residents); $224/credit (New England Regional Compact state residents – CT, RI, NH, ME, and VT); $418/credit (out-of-state residents and international students)
North Shore Community College
Practical Nursing Certificate
Total Credits: 43
$223/credit (Massachusetts residents); $235.50/credit (New England Regional Compact state residents); $455/credit (out-of-state residents)
Can I get financial aid to help pay for my LPN program in Massachusetts?
You certainly can. In fact, various types of financial aid are available to qualifying students in Massachusetts to fund an LPN education. These include loans, scholarships, grants, tuition assistance, employer reimbursement, work-study programs, and more. There’s also an array of valuable VA education benefits for active-duty military and veterans.
The best way to find out about paying for your Massachusetts LPN program is by contacting the financial aid office at each school you’re considering. Another great resource is the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. And to learn more about funding your LPN program, be sure to visit EduMed’s own LPN scholarships and financial aid guides.
How long do LPN programs in Massachusetts take to finish?
One of the biggest plusses of becoming a practical nurse is that the programs take less than a year. Most LPN programs in MA are full-time and almost all of them feature a 10-month course of study through fall, spring, and summer semesters, with some including brief intersession terms between the fall and spring. Most offer one start date annually, typically in the fall. Exceptions include those at Mount Wachusett Community College (spring start) and Quinsigamond Community College (begins and ends with half-sessions in consecutive summers). Another exception is Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, which offers a 20-month part-time option.
Inside Look at Online LPN Programs in Massachusetts
All state-approved LPN programs in MA are offered in traditional on-campus formats. You may be able to access some program components online, such as reading and other course materials, as well as communication with instructors and fellow students. You also may be able to complete some prerequisite or non-nursing courses partly or entirely online. Examples include LPN programs at MassBay Community College and Greenfield Community College. And with the COVID pandemic forcing many schools to move academics to distance learning formats at least temporarily, it’s likely many of the academic classes for LPN programs in MA will continue to be offered online.
LPN Licensing Information and Requirements in Massachusetts
Practice as an LPN in Massachusetts requires a current and valid practical nurse license issued by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing (BRN). There are two methods for obtaining Massachusetts LPN licensure: License by Reciprocity, which is for nurses with a current, unencumbered LPN license issued by another state or the District of Columbia; and License by Examination, for individuals seeking initial LPN licensure. Here are the major requirements for obtaining an LPN license in Massachusetts:
Education and Training
Regardless of method, anyone seeking a Massachusetts LPN license must first graduate from an LPN program approved by the BRN. Check this list of Board-approved LPN programs in MA for current approval status. Although not a Board requirement for LPN licensure, prospective nursing students may also want to consider LPN programs that are nationally accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Practical nurse program requirements include completion of a minimum of 945 hours of clinical and theoretical nursing practice covering medical, obstetrical, pediatric, and surgical practice, along with a minimum of 540 clinical practice hours in the subject of mental health nursing concepts.
Professional Nursing Examination
All applicants for LPN licensure in Massachusetts must take and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Current LPNs applying through Licensure by Reciprocity will likely have already taken the exam. Those applying for their license through the Licensure by Examination process will register for the exam (and pay the registration fee, currently $200) with Pearson VUE, the exam’s administrator. Applicants must register for the exam at the same time they submit their Application for Initial Nurse Licensure. Once confirmed that the license application and exam registration are complete, Pearson VUE will issue an Authorization to Test permitting the applicant to schedule the NCLEX-PN exam.
Proof of Good Moral Character
Along with completing a state-approved LPN education program and passing the NCLEX-PN exam, all applicants for Massachusetts LPN licensure are required to provide proof of good moral character, as defined by state law. To accomplish this, applicants must answer a series of questions concerning any criminal or disciplinary history. Affirmative answers to any of the questions will require additional documentation. Also, applicants must consent to a criminal background check conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Applicants with open criminal or disciplinary cases will not be licensed until those cases have been closed. Conduct related to some felony convictions may result in permanent exclusion from licensure.
License Renewal & Continuing Education
Massachusetts LPN licenses expire every two years on the license holder’s birthday and may be renewed up to 90 days before that date. Renew your license online through the DPH Online Licensing portal. You can also renew by mail. The renewal fee is $120.
LPNs in Massachusetts must complete 15 hours of BRN-approved continuing education within the two years immediately preceding license renewal starting with the second renewal period.
Earnings and Job Outlook for LPNs in Massachusetts
When you’re considering what career to pursue, good pay and job security are two main concerns. As the Projection Central figures in the chart below indicate, job growth over the next several years for LPNs in Massachusetts is expected to lag behind that of practical nurses in the U.S. overall. The good news is that earnings for LPNs in the state are strong, far outpacing (by more than $10,000 annually) those for LPNs in the nation as a whole. Similar figures for both job growth and salaries for the same time periods are also reported by the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance.
Job Outlook for Licensed Practical Nurses in Massachusetts (2018-2028)
Source: Projections Central
Annual Earnings for Licensed Practical Nurses in Massachusetts
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020