A Look at Top LPN to BSN Programs Online

Which schools offer the best LPN to BSN programs online? How do they work and how much do they cost? Get the inside scoop on these growing opportunities in healthcare education.

Best LPN to BSN Programs Online in ‘20

For LPNs looking to move up, it can be hard to find the time for education. Going to school while working requires dedication from the student, and flexibility from the program. To help, more and more schools are beginning to offer LPN to BSN bridge programs with online components. These opportunities allow you to take advantage of online learning for the academic portions, and schedule the hands-on elements on campus or a nearby third-party site. But which online LPN to BSN programs stand out?

EduMed.org has researched and analyzed online program data from more than 7,700 accredited schools across the U.S. The goal was to identify the LPN to BSN programs with the best combinations of online coursework, affordability, and student and career services. The following schools made top marks for 2020.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2020 Rankings

To be considered for this ranking, each school must have the following:

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Program(s) offered at least partially online.

School Metrics Explained

EduMed.org data scientists analyzed government higher education data and created a proprietary algorithm to rank each U.S. postsecondary institution and its online programs using 5 primary factors:

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Online Program Availability: Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to Department of Education.
  • Academic Counseling: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid: Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Most recent data pull: February 2020

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Indiana State UniversityTerre Haute, IN Public $$ 1

Indiana State University offers students a quick path to career advancement through its online BSN bridge program. Designed for licensed practical or vocational nurses interested in taking the next step, this program prepares students for the national registered nurse licensure exam (NCLEX-RN). ISU offers the program entirely online. Students access course material and complete assignments through accommodating learning tools and receive clinical placements within their own community. Graduates study human anatomy, mental health, and health assessment. They stand fully prepared to provide direct and indirect nursing care in a variety of healthcare contexts. ISU also accepts up to 90 transfer credits earned at an accredited institution.

Program Overview

LPN/LVN to BSN Program:

  • Credits: 77
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $325/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); ACEN (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
64%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2 University of ArkansasFayetteville, AR Public $$ 1

The University of Arkansas’s online LPN to BSN program gives students a clear pathway to broader job opportunities and increased earning power. The course of study offers instruction designed to expand knowledge in key nursing concepts that expand healthcare services in clinics, hospitals, and assisted care facilities. UA delivers all coursework entirely online through 8-week terms and places students in clinical rotations in their own geographical area. Qualified applicants need at least 48 credits in prerequisites, an active LPN license, and 2,000 hours of work experience within the last two years. Most students complete the program in 2-3 years.

Program Overview

Online LPN to BSN Program:

  • Credits: 120
  • Length: 24-36 months
  • Cost: $298/credit
  • Mode: Fully online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
41%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
3 University of MaryBismarck, ND Private, Not-for-Profit $$$$ 1

The University of Mary offers a blended LPN to BSN program that helps students and working professionals advance their healthcare skills in a fast-paced and growing industry. Most full-time students complete the program in 24 months or less and go on to land careers as nursing administrators, health educators, public health nurses, and case managers. Students receive expert instruction in clinical assessment, mental health, and nutrition entirely online through flexible learning platforms. The program also involves a few residential learning experiences that take place on the school’s main campus in Bismarck, North Dakota. Students must pass a competency exam near the end of the program.

Program Overview

LPN to BSN Degree:

  • Credits: 124
  • Length: 24 months
  • Cost: $605/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); CCNE (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
99%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission

Profiling LPN to BSN Programs Online

When it comes to online learning in healthcare, so many questions come up. How does it work? How long will it take? Can I afford to go back to school? The best way to answer these questions is to dive into the details of a program. To help, we’ve collected information on two of the most popular LPN to BSN online programs available today.

The University of Oklahoma: Fran & Earl Ziegler College of Nursing

oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing was founded in 1911. It holds the distinction of being the state of Oklahoma’s largest nursing program. The College of Nursing offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate level degrees, including its LPN to BSN program.

Like many other online LPN to BSN programs, the curriculum is provided in a hybrid format. However, unlike many other hybrid programs, students must travel to campus once a month on a Saturday for in-person class sessions. The program provides flexibility in other respects, including three campus locations in Lawton, Tulsa and Oklahoma City and two start dates (spring and fall).

There are three tracks available, allowing completion in two semesters (over nine months), three semesters and two years, which provides even more flexibility for busy students. The exact length of time for completion will depend on whether the student is enrolled in full-time or part-time status, as well as their start date.

The program consists of 127 total credits, 60 of which are exclusive to the LPN to BSN curriculum. However, the University of Oklahoma allows for easy transfer of credits, so most incoming LPN students shouldn’t have to take all 127 credits to graduate. At this school, you’ll be in a cohort full of nurses who know their stuff; incoming students must have at least 1,000 hours and one year of practical nursing experience and pass four National League for Nursing challenge exams.

North Dakota State University

Kent State University

How Online LPN to BSN Programs Work

Online LPN programs work by allowing practical nurses to leverage their existing training and experience. This allows them to obtain a bachelor’s degree and become registered nurses more quickly than a student without a nursing background. But since many LPNs will want to continue working while in school or have family obligations to honor (or both!), online programs offer the flexibility busy students demand. Even if some hands-on work is required, the bulk of the courses can be completed online. Many schools go a step further and design their curriculums so that they can be completed at either a full-time or part-time pace. Here’s a look at a full program, from prerequisites to graduation.

Prerequisites

All LPN to BSN programs will require students to complete certain prerequisites by the time they enroll or at the very least, before they take their first major course. Despite being mostly similar courses that any other college students may take, they are nonetheless important because they teach principles that later nursing courses will rely on.

  • Class #1: College Writing  
  • Class #2: Introduction to Psychology
  • Class #3: General Chemistry
  • Class #4: Introduction to Microbiology

Introduction to Nursing

Entry-level nursing classes begin immediately after completion of prerequisites. At this level, the courses mostly focus on general health and medicine concepts that many students in a healthcare related field will probably end up taking. In fact, some of these courses might be quite easy for LPNs who already have a solid amount of work experience. Many of these courses will be available fully online.

  • Class #1: Human Anatomy
  • Class #2: Human Physiology
  • Class #3: LPN to BSN Transition
  • Class #4: Mental Health Nursing

Professional/Advanced Nursing

Late in the LPN to BSN program, students will take a deep dive into advanced nursing coursework. Many of these classes discuss types of care for serious or unique patients, judgment-based decision making and theory-based nursing care. There will also be a greater emphasis on completing clinical work during this phase of study.

  • Class #1: Parent & Infant Nursing
  • Class #2: Leadership & Management in Nursing
  • Class #3: Critical Care Nursing
  • Class #4: NCLEX-RN Prep

Clinical Requirements

These crucial hands-on requirements can be completed at healthcare providers that have been approved by the nursing program. In many programs, these include hospitals and clinics near the campus. However, fully online programs will often allow distance learning students to find healthcare providers within their own community, thus alleviating the need for a long commute. As an added bonus, some students might currently work in an approved facility, meaning that their everyday work can apply toward the clinical work requirement.

How Long Are LPN to BSN Online Programs?

How long a program lasts depends on two major factors: the type of program a student chooses – whether full-time or part-time – and the number of credits a student has when they come into the program.  

In most full-time LPN to BSN programs, students should expect to take about 18 months to earn their bachelor’s degree, assuming they have already completed all of their general education and prerequisite courses. However, this time frame will lengthen to two or more years if the student is only taking courses part-time.

In some instances, students may be able to earn their BSN in less than a year, depending on which semester they begin, if they pass the programs nursing entrance exams (allowing them to skip over certain nursing courses) and have previously completed the prerequisite and general education courses.

How Much Do These Programs Cost?

There is no general rule when it comes to calculating how much it will cost to complete an LPN to BSN program. Each school has its own tuition policy concerning tuition and fees for online nursing students. Some schools will charge them a special online rate, while others may charge them a rate based on their state of residency, such as a lower in-state rate or a higher out-of-state rate. Some schools might also offer financial aid that is more robust than what students will find elsewhere, which can change the bottom line quite a bit. Therefore, students interested in a particular school’s program should be extra careful when calculating cost of attendance and never assume a certain tuition rate applies to them, and should never discount the opportunities for financial aid. The best bet is always to speak to a financial aid advisor before enrollment.

Does the LPN to BSN Online Bridge Prepare You for the NCLEX-RN?

The vast majority of LPN nursing students enrolled in a BSN program will want to become registered nurses. Any quality LPN to BSN online bridge program will fully prepare its graduates to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which is a requirement to earn the right to work as a Registered Nurse.

However, this may not be important for those who want a BSN, but don’t wish to become registered nurses. Regardless of the future career path, it’s important that these students still look for an LPN to BSN program that will provide adequate training and instruction to pass the NCLEX-RN. That’s because preparing students for this very important exam is a mark of a high-quality program, and any job that requires a BSN will probably expect the BSN holder to have received a level of instruction that is adequate enough to pass the NCLEX-RN.

What Are the LPN to BSN Admission Requirements?

The precise admissions requirements will vary based on the specific LPN to BSN program. But for most prospective nursing students, they should expect to comply with the following admission requirements:

  • Completion of an admission application.
  • Up-to-date resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Copy of the applicant’s LPN or LVN license.
  • Graduation from an accredited or approved practical nursing program.
  • A short list of professional references.
  • Completion of certain nursing-based prerequisite courses with a minimum GPA.
  • Pass one or more school specific nursing entrance exams, such as the National League for Nursing (NLN) Acceleration Challenge Examinations.
  • A minimum amount of practical nursing experience.

Are Online LPN to BSN Programs Accredited?

Accreditation refers to the independent review of a school’s curriculum to determine if it meets the standards of a solid, high-quality education. In other words, it confirms a degree is more than a piece of paper. It helps ensure a graduate’s hard work doesn’t go to waste.  

When it comes to accreditation, there are two primary types. There’s regional, which refers to accreditation of the school itself. Then there’s programmatic, which deals with the accreditation of a specific program. When it comes to LPN to BSN bridge programs, there are two accrediting bodies, either of which will ensure graduates are prepared to pass the NCLEX-RN and practice as registered nurses after graduation. The first is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE. The second is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN.

To become a licensed registered nurse, applicants must graduate from a nursing program approved by their state nursing board. In many instances, accreditation will ensure the program meets this requirement. Additionally, accreditation helps students obtain financial aid. Most private scholarships and government-based aid requires attendance at an accredited post-secondary institution.

What Can You Do After an LPN to BSN?

When it comes to earning a BSN, many people might think it means they’re locked into a future career as a registered nurse. While it’s true that many BSN graduates will start their career as a registered nurse, there are a number of different careers available that can be just as challenging and fulfilling. Here are a few of the options:

Nurse case manager – After a few years of experience as a registered nurse, a nurse can work directly for patients to coordinate the entirety of their medical care.

Legal consultant – Legal consultants give advice to attorneys (and can testify in court as expert witnesses) as to how a given healthcare process should work.

Insurance claims consultant – They can help insurance companies make healthcare-related decisions such as medical malpractice liability and workers’ compensation claims.

Pharmaceutical representative – Prior relationships from work as an LPN will provide an edge when trying to sell drugs for pharmaceutical companies.

Nurse educator – Nurse educators can teach the general public about staying healthy and assist individuals in understanding the healthcare system.

Health coach – Someone who has worked in the healthcare field can provide a unique perspective when giving health-related advice to clients.

Lobbyist – Healthcare lobbyists with nursing experience can be very persuasive when lobbying government officials on behalf of clients.

Medical journalist – An LPN’s professional background in the healthcare system allows them to effectively analyze newsworthy events.

Life care planner – Life care planners coordinate with medical providers and insurance companies to get necessary medical services for their clients.

Nurse navigator – An LPN’s prior experience will come in handy when helping clients navigate the healthcare system.