If you’re already a licensed practical nurse in Illinois and want to become a registered nurse, earning your bachelor’s degree along the way can be a smart move. BSN nurses typically earn more than RNs with only an associate degree, and having a bachelor’s can lead to more nursing specialization and leadership opportunities.
Fortunately, Illinois is home to several accredited LPN to BSN bridge programs that build upon on your practical nursing education and experience, saving you time and money. How do these programs work, what are some of the best programs, and are any of them offered online? We’ll answer these and other questions in this guide to help you decide if an LPN to BSN program is right for you.
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Best LPN to BSN Programs in Illinois for 2024
With multiple LPN to BSN programs to choose from in Illinois, finding the best one for you can be a challenge. To help with that search, three of the best in Illinois for 2024 are highlighted below. They were chosen based on their affordability, academic quality, learning flexibility, and student support services.
Saint Xavier University
Saint Xavier University’s LPN to BSN Option program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and intended for current college students or those who already have associate degrees. This is a degree completion or transfer program because the core curriculum consists of just 36 credits and can be completed in as little as one year of full-time study. The program is only offered on-campus, but students can begin their coursework during one of five start dates throughout the year.
One of the best features of this program is its extensive academic support. All students have access to two full-time faculty members for professional and academic guidance. They can also have one-on-one sessions with academic success coaches for advice on academic improvement in areas like test taking and studying.
Lakeview College of Nursing
Lakeview College of Nursing’s LPN to BSN Track is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. It differs from the traditional BSN track in that students with active LPN licenses can reduce the number of credits needed for graduation by completing proficiency exams. After completing two exams, LPN students are exempt from both the Foundations of Nursing Practice and Basic Concepts of Pathophysiology courses.
To begin taking classes in the LPN to BSN Track program, students need at least 60 college credits, including the prerequisite courses, general education, and introductory science and medical classes. Students choose between a traditional and accelerated pace to earn their degrees. Both options consist of four semesters of coursework, but the accelerated path requires that students take classes all year while the traditional path has no coursework during the summer session.
Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Chamberlain University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is one of the most flexible LPN to BSN options in Illinois. A full 122 credits are required to graduate, but LPN students are eligible to complete the proficiency process and bypass two courses: Lifespan Development and Fundamentals of Patient Care. Many of the required courses can be completed online.
All students have access to Chamberlain University’s Center for Academic Success, which offers tutoring, study materials, workshops, and other forms of academic support. For a more traditional campus learning experience you can balance with other responsibilities, like a full-time job, the curriculum is available in a night/weekend format. Classes are offered in the evenings and on weekends, and clinical requirements can be completed on the weekends.
FAQs About LPN to BSN Programs in Illinois
What additional nursing skills and knowledge will I gain in an LPN to BSN program in Illinois?
Besides the general education courses needed to earn a BSN degree, you can take more electives and customize your education by focusing on an area of interest. You’ll also learn more complex skills, such as critical thinking and research.
While LPN classes focus largely on what to do in the healthcare setting, BSN classes like the ones at Chamberlain University focus on why things are done a particular way. This bigger-picture understanding leads to the ability to take on greater nursing responsibilities, including supervising LPNs. Other skills you’ll learn in an LPN to BSN program include those related to leadership, advanced health assessment, management, and public health.
How long does it take to complete an LPN to BSN program in Illinois?
Depending on the program and your prior college coursework, you’ll likely take two to three years to earn your BSN degree. Chamberlain University’s BSN program takes three to four years, for example, but LPN students receive at least nine credits toward their degrees. Also, graduating in just over a year is possible at Saint Xavier University, though most LPN students can’t earn their degrees this quickly unless they already have associate degrees or extensive amounts of transferable college credits.
How much do LPN to BSN programs in Illinois cost?
The cost of an Illinois LPN to BSN program depends on how long the program lasts (i.e., how many credits are needed) and the tuition rate. LPN to BSN programs differ in how much credit they provide as well as how many transfer college credits they accept. Below are some general numbers to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for your BSN degree.
Saint Xavier University
Total Credits: 36
Lakeview College of Nursing
Total Credits: 60
Total Credits: 122
What are the admission requirements for LPN to BSN programs in Illinois?
The admissions process and requirements for LPN to BSN programs depend on the school. For example, the LPN to BSN program at Lakeview College of Nursing is a transfer or degree completion program, which means incoming students must already have a certain number of credits before beginning the program. In contrast, Chamberlain University’s BSN program is a more traditional bachelor’s degree program where students can apply with little to no prior college coursework. The program is also open to current college students and LPNs, and credit is given for this prior education and/or training.
Regardless of the type of program, expect to provide the following when applying:
- A complete application
- A personal statement
- A current LPN license
- Copies of official high school and/or college transcripts
- A completed background check
- Applicable health records
Some schools also require admissions test scores, such as the HSEI A2 or ATI TEAS.
What should I look for in an LPN to BSN program in Illinois?
When deciding among LPN to BSN programs in Illinois, be aware of two sets of requirements. First, there are the basic requirements like being approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and having programmatic accreditation from ACEN or CCNE. Next, look for ideal requirements like a high NCLEX-RN passage rate that is above the national and state averages, school scholarship availability, affordable tuition rates, and job placement assistance for graduates.
Can I get financial aid to help pay for my LPN to BSN program in Illinois?
In addition to the typical school loans, there are a plethora of grants and scholarships available, many of which are focused on Illinois student nurses. For example, several scholarships are offered by the Illinois Nurse Foundation as well as the Illinois Department of Public Health. These are in addition to any offered by a school or other non-profit organizations and companies. You can learn more about financial aid in general or begin your financial aid research and application process for nursing school by checking out this nursing scholarship guide.
Detailed Look at Online LPN to BSN Programs in Illinois
Online LPN to BSN programs in Illinois are usually offered in hybrid formats. Minimally, students should expect to complete in-person clinicals at local hospitals or other healthcare facilities. They’ll also probably have on-campus labs to attend as well. As for classroom instruction, some classes may be offered on campus, but some may be offered online. Illinois LPN to BSN programs are mostly on-campus and in person but may offer some virtual coursework for added convenience and learning flexibility. Review this online LPN to BSN programs page for more information on how these bridge programs work.
Common Questions About Online LPN to BSN Programs in Illinois
Are hybrid and online LPN programs more affordable than campus programs in Illinois?
A fully or partially online LPN to BSN program can potentially save you money in several ways. First, it can reduce travel costs to and from campus. Online programs are usually easier to self-pace, which means online nursing students may be able to accelerate their degrees and finish earlier. Some schools also offer special online or distance learning tuition rates that are lower than the on-campus rates.
Can I finish my LPN to BSN program in Illinois faster by taking coursework online?
Many online LPN to BSN nursing programs have the same course of study plans for their online and on-campus students. Other programs have more generous transfer credit policies that can reduce the number of credits yet to earn. Online programs also often make customizing your curriculum easier, which gives you the flexibility to adjust your course load around your schedule and potentially graduate sooner.
Will earning my LPN to BSN degree online or through a hybrid program impact my ability to get licensed?
If you graduate from a state-approved and accredited LPN to BSN program, you’ll be eligible to become a registered nurse. Whether you complete some or all your nursing coursework online or in a physical classroom has no bearing on your eligibility to practice nursing in Illinois.
Will employers care if I took some of my LPN to BSN classes online?
Most companies and organizations that hire registered nurses primarily want to make sure you’re properly licensed. This means you’ve graduated from an accredited and approved nursing program. If an employer cares about your nursing education, they’ll more likely look at the school you went to, your GPA, and what your professors have to say about you.
How Do I Go from Being an LPN to a BSN Nurse in Illinois?
Just graduating from an accredited and approved LPN to BSN Illinois nursing program isn’t enough to become an RN. In addition to earning your BSN degree, you also need to complete the licensing process established by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Nursing. This requires you to:
- Complete a Registered Nurse Examination application.
- Pass the required background checks by submitting fingerprints.
- Pay the necessary fees, including those set out in Section 1300.30(a)(1) of the Illinois Administrative Code.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN. You’ll register for the NCLEX-RN exam after submitting your application materials to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
After you become a registered nurse, you’ll need to renew your RN license every two years. Before renewal, you must complete at least 20 hours of approved continuing education.
LPN vs. BSN Job Market in Illinois
Enrolling in an LPN to BSN program in Illinois allows practical and vocational nurses to become registered nurses. Besides taking the next step in their careers, one of the benefits that come with becoming an RN is earning more money. To give you an idea of what that looks like, this section considers the earnings and job expectations of graduates of LPN to BSN programs.
How much more can I make going from an LPN to a BSN in Illinois?
Besides having greater responsibilities concerning patient care, one of the biggest reasons to enroll in an online LPN to BSN program in Illinois is to earn more money and have greater professional growth opportunities. The chart below shows what LPNs and RNs can expect to earn in various parts of the state, with urban areas usually paying more. Regardless of where an Illinois nurse works, RNs can expect to earn about $15,000 to $30,000 more each year compared to LPNs. Illinois nurses can also expect to earn near the national median, with a nationwide LPN earning a $48,070 median income and a nationwide RN earning a $77,600 median income.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021
What’s the job demand for BSN nurses in Illinois compared to LPNs?
Like many other states, there’s a healthy need for LPNs and RNs. The need for RNs is so strong because many current nurses are expected to retire soon with, according to the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center, 52% of current RNs being 55 and older. The job market for LPNs isn’t as strong as RNs, but they’re still very much a needed part of the healthcare workforce in Illinois. Given the job market differences between LPNs and RNs, it’s not surprising that there’s a growing popularity in LPN to BSN programs in Illinois.
Source: Projections Central