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2024's Top LPN Programs in North Carolina: Online and Campus

Explore LPN programs in NC (including convenient online options) that can put you on the fast-track to a rewarding career in nursing.

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One of the quickest ways to enter the nursing field is as a licensed practical nurse, and most LPN programs in North Carolina can be completed in about a year. To make things as convenient as possible, some programs even offer evening and online classes to give you the flexibility to learn at a time and place that’s most convenient for you.

With so many North Carolina licensed practical nursing programs to choose from, figuring out which school to attend can be difficult. This guide will help you in your search for a quality, affordable North Carolina LPN program. Below you’ll find a list of top-rated accredited schools along with other helpful information about becoming an LPN in North Carolina. Keep reading to get started on your LPN education and career journey.

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About the ranking

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Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS. 

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted. 

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

Institutional Aid – Percent of full-time undergraduate students who are awarded institutional grant aid, as self-reported by the school.

Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# School Name Type Tuition Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 South Piedmont Community CollegePolkton, NC Public $ 1

LPNs looking to become registered nurses in North Carolina should consider the associate degree from South Piedmont Community College. In this program, students take a mix of foundational science courses like anatomy and courses to continue their nursing education. There's also some room to explore students' areas of interest, such as mental health or gerontology nursing. By the end, students are prepared to sit for the NCLEX exam and become licensed RNs.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, LPN to RN

  • Credits: 73
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $76/credit in-state | $268/credit out-of-state
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation:North Carolina Board of Nursing
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
76%

College Spotlights: Popular LPN Programs in NC

With a wide array of LPN programs in North Carolina, you’re certain to find one that is able to well prepare you to pass the NCLEX-PN exam and begin your career as a practical nurse. Below are three schools that stand out in terms of affordability, learning flexibility, NCLEX-PN passage rates, and student support. They’re also all fully-approved by the NC Board of Nursing and accredited, so you can feel confident that you’re getting a quality education. See if one of these programs meets your needs or, if not, use these spotlights as a quality benchmark when considering other programs.

Durham Technical Community College

Durham Technical Community College’s Practical Nursing Diploma Program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Classes are available on the college’s main campus in Durham, its Orange County campus, and online. Coursework includes the theory-based instruction necessary to practice as an LPN and builds upon the areas of healthcare, nursing practice, and the holistic individual. Practical skills and hands-on learning requirements are completed in-person at a variety of healthcare facilities in the Durham area.

Clinical learning experiences begin during the first semester. The entire curriculum takes about one year to complete, consists of 44 credits, and ensures students are well-prepared to pass the NCLEX-PN. In fact, Durham Technical Community College’s NCLEX-PN pass rate is well above the national and North Carolina averages.

Forsyth Technical Community College

At Forsyth Technical Community College, students enrolled in the Practical Nursing diploma program receive their instruction in three primary formats: Classroom lectures focus on basic scientific and medical theories and principles; labs provide hands-on instruction for the skills needed as practicing LPNs; and clinicals allow students to apply what they’ve learned in class and labs with real patients while under the supervision of medical professionals. The entire program consists of 41 credit hours and is accredited by the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA).

To accommodate students who have other professional or personal responsibilities, Forsyth Technical Community College has day and night/weekend academic track options. A strong basic math and algebra background along with computer literacy and proficient communication skills are important for success in this program.

Wayne Community College

Wayne Community College’s ACEN-accredited Practical Nursing program prepares students to not only pass the NCLEX-PN but also to effectively deliver healthcare services to patients. The curriculum combines classes in nursing theory and practice fundamentals with coursework in essential skills such as critical thinking, communication, and mental alertness. The 42-credit hour curriculum consists of a total of semesters, with students taking two to three classes (12 to 17 credits) per semester. Students receive tailored instruction with most classes consisting of fewer than 20 students each.

For those wishing to take the next step in their nursing careers, Wayne Community College also offers an Advanced Standing program for current LPNs who already have a Practical Nursing Diploma. This program results in an associate degree in nursing and qualifies graduates to take on advanced clinical responsibilities by becoming registered nurses.

FAQs About LPN Programs in North Carolina

What skills do you learn in LPN programs in NC?

The bulk of what an LPN student learns in an accredited LPN program in NC involves nursing medical theory and nursing practice. Theoretical topics cover scientific concepts relating to processes of the human body including what happens to the body under the stress of illness or injury. Wake Tech’s LPN program, for example, includes a Health-Illness Concepts class that teaches topics like oxygenation, infection, cellular regulation, and metabolism. Students also learn hands-on skills such as taking vital signs and conducting patient assessments. Finally, nursing practice instruction includes policy and rules-driven topics, such as ethics, professional behaviors, and healthcare delivery systems.

How much do LPN programs cost in North Carolina?

With base tuition rates set by the state legislature, one of the biggest benefits of attending an LPN program in NC is the low cost. North Carolina residents attending one of the many community colleges, like Guilford Technical Community College, can expect to earn their practical nursing diplomas for about $5,000. Students attending community colleges in North Carolina also pay their tuition by the semester and not with a one-time payment for the entire program.

Wake Tech

Practical Nursing

Total Credits: 36-48

$5,472 (total program tuition for in-state residents)

$19,296 (total program tuition for out-of-state-residents)

Craven Community College

Practical Nursing Diploma

Total Credits: 45

$76/credit (in-state)

$268/credit (out-of-state)

Gaston College

Practical Nursing Diploma

Total Credits: 44

$76/credit (in-state)

$268/credit (out-of-state)

Can I get financial aid to help pay for my LPN program in North Carolina?

There are several types of financial aid available for LPN students in North Carolina, including grants, scholarships, and student loans. Most grants and scholarships are offered by nonprofits and corporations. However, some schools have special scholarships exclusively for their nursing students. Most student loans are funded and/or administered by the federal government. To learn more on financial aid options for LPN programs, check out EduMed’s own LPN scholarships guide and main financial aid guide.

How long do LPN programs in North Carolina take to finish?

Most traditional and online LPN programs in NC consist of 42-45 credit hours. With full-time study, the typical student can graduate in about one year by taking courses year-round during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Lenoir Community College provides one example of a typical LPN program in NC. Accelerated and part-time learning options aren’t common, though some schools offer courses during evenings and weekends.

Inside Look at Online LPN Programs in NC

There are no fully-online accredited LPN programs in North Carolina, though some schools (like Cape Fear Community College) offer a hybrid curriculum allowing students to take classes on-campus and online. In this type of program, students can take their general education and foundational science courses completely online with nursing courses and clinical experiences completed in-person. Most clinical-related classes are held at medical facilities located close to the school’s campus.

LPN Licensing Information and Requirements in North Carolina

North Carolina is like most other states with regard to LPN licensing. Its general requirements include:

  • Graduating from an approved LPN program.
  • Passing the NCLEX-PN.
  • Passing a criminal background check.

The precise eligibility and licensing requirements are provided by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Below is a general overview of what it takes to obtain your LPN license in North Carolina.

Education and Training

Before you can earn your license, you must first graduate from an LPN program that’s approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Programs that are accredited by either the ACEN or NLN CNEA are likely also NC Board of Nursing approved. You can check current LPN program state approval status by visiting this North Carolina Board of Nursing website.

Professional Nursing Examination

The license by examination process includes taking the NCLEX-PN and is how new LPNs become licensed in North Carolina. To take this exam, you’ll first register with Pearson VUE, the test’s administrator, at least two weeks before finishing your LPN program. The current registration cost is $200.

Application with NC Board of Nursing

The LPN license application process starts with by signing up on the Nurse Gateway and providing your background information, and by paying the $75 application fee. You’ll then verify the completion of your LPN program by submitting copies of your official transcript or completing the electronic school verification process.

Passing a Criminal History Check

The last major component of the licensing process is the criminal background check. This consists of passing both the state-based and FBI criminal history checks. If you’re a North Carolina resident, you can usually complete this by submitting with electronic fingerprint scans through the Live Scan process at your local sheriff’s office. If you reside outside of North Carolina, you’ll be mailed a fingerprint card and will need to make arrangements with your local law enforcement agency or department to complete the fingerprinting process.

License Renewal & Continuing Education

LPNs in North Carolina must apply for a license renewal every two years with a deadline of the last day of the applicant’s birth month. The application process is completed online and includes paying a $100 renewal fee. During the renewal process, LPNs certify they’ve completed North Carolina’s continuing competence requirements over the past two years. Requirements can be met in multiple ways, but most LPNs do it by completing either 30 contact hours of continued education or 15 contact hours of continued education plus 640 hours of active practice.

Salary and Job Outlook for LPNs in North Carolina

While the projected growth rate for LPNs in North Carolina isn’t as high as the rest of the nation, it’s still solid. Wages are closely in line with the national average. Also, wages for LPNs in NC are higher than LPNs in neighboring states like South Carolina and Tennessee even though the projected long-term need for new LPNs in South Carolina and Tennessee is higher at 10.2% and 14.2%, respectively.

Job Outlook for Licensed Practical Nurses in North Carolina (2018-2028)

New JobsJob Growth RateAvg. Annual Openings
North Carolina 1,010 5.4% 1,550
United States 78,100 10.7% 66,300

Source: Projections Central

Annual Earnings for Licensed Practical Nurses in North Carolina

10th Percentile Median Earnings 90th Percentile
North Carolina $36,530 $47,080 $59,750
United States $34,560 $47,480 $63,360
Asheville, NC $36,990 $49,070 $61,140
Burlington, NC $42,000 $49,430 $63,240
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC $35,920 $47,370 $60,650
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC $40,030 $49,850 $63,290
Fayetteville, NC $35,500 $48,000 $59,230
Goldsboro, NC $34,240 $42,900 $51,970
Greensboro-High Point, NC $35,730 $46,210 $58,940
Greenville, NC $35,760 $45,740 $55,840
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC $34,810 $46,300 $59,790
Jacksonville, NC $33,350 $43,160 $60,010
New Bern, NC $34,700 $44,570 $59,280
Raleigh, NC $40,950 $48,220 $59,940
Rocky Mount, NC $36,790 $47,810 $63,430
Wilmington, NC $40,050 $47,270 $59,540
Winston-Salem, NC $35,610 $45,850 $59,100

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020