Inside Today’s Online
LPN to RN Programs

Learn which online LPN-to-RN programs stand out, how much they cost, and why accreditation matters. Get in-the-know on one of today’s fastest-growing degree options in healthcare.

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Kathleen Curtis

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Kathleen Curtis is an American writer currently living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has developed content around education for more than a decade for both domestic and international clients.

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Norma Battaglia

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Norma is a Master’s prepared Registered Nurse with over 35 years of clinical and leadership experience. With education long being a focus of her career, she has worked teaching and coordinating programs for students, EMS providers, nurses, physicians, and community groups. Norma has been able to combine her knowledge and experience in EMS, acute care, and public health to mentor others to become part of the healthcare solution.

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Bridge programs exist to help prepare practical nurses to undertake the advanced education needed to work as a registered nurse. Heading back to school after being in the work force for couple years can feel daunting, but interested students should know that these programs often offer maximum flexibility and short time frames. Many can be completed in fewer than two years, while some accelerated paths allow learners to move from start to finish in less than a year. Upon completing all the degree requirements, graduates can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and take on new and exciting roles. Keep reading to learn what to expect.


Prerequisites exist to ensure students already possess the base level of knowledge needed to tackle more advanced courses. Some schools build these into the curriculum while others expect students to possess them upon enrollment. Some examples of prerequisite courses are:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Nutrition

Introduction to Nursing

Entry-level nursing courses help LPNs make the shift from working under the direction of RNs to giving direction. These courses help build professionalism, bedside manners, and knowledge of the tasks that they’ll be expected to complete after graduating. Students will take courses such as:

  • Fundamentals of Nursing
  • Introductory Nursing Informatics
  • Professionalism in Healthcare
  • Nursing Across the Lifespan

Professional/Advanced Nursing

During the final two semesters of an LPN to RN program, you can expect to see a shift from introductory to advanced learning. Students cover topics within niche areas, and also learn how to put their skills to work through more hands-on experiences and capstone projects. Advanced topics include:

  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Nursing in the Community
  • Nursing Practicum
  • NCLEX-RN Test Preparation

Clinical Requirements

To round out their time in an LPN to RN program, the majority of students must complete clinical hours. Learners build the hands-on skills necessary for tasks commonly required of registered nurses while still under the supervision of qualified faculty. If already working as an LPN, you may be able to complete clinical requirements at your current place of work. If not, the clinical can serve as a great networking opportunity that could potentially turn into a job offer.

If living far away from the school you attend virtually, you may need to locate a suitable location, while students who live nearby can usually take advantage of an existing list. After finding an approved site, students need to make sure they meet all the requirements. The number of hours varies by state, and the program administrator or the state board of nursing can provide this information.

Who Are These Programs For?

LPN to RN online programs appeal to individuals who have worked as licensed practical nurses for a time before realizing they want to continue moving up the career ladder by progressing their educations. When deciding whether this is the best next step for you, consider your motivations. Do you want to take on more professional responsibilities? Does a higher salary interest you? If you answer yes to both, a bridge program may serve your needs well. Other questions to consider include whether you have the time and money to undertake such a program.

How Long Are Online LPN to RN Programs?

LPN to RN programs vary in length based on a couple factors. First, it depends whether a student can afford to enroll on a full- or part-time basis based on responsibilities outside academics. Second, it depends on how many applicable credits earned from an LPN program transfer to the bridge program. Given that associate degrees typically take two years of full-time study, those with LPNs can generally shorten this time by half. With this in mind, full-time learners can usually complete the program in one year, while those enrolled on a part-time basis may need 18-24 months.

What Does an Online LPN to RN Program Cost?

The cost of online LPN to RN bridge programs can vary significantly, making it important for prospective learners to fully vet their options before accepting any letter of admittance. Private schools tend to mandate the highest rates of tuition. Public schools tend to offer more reasonable rates. Some of these schools charge different rates based on residency, allowing in-state learners to pay far less than non-residents. Other programs allow online students to pay the same rate, regardless of where they live, and others charge higher rates that mimic non-resident fees for LPN to RN programs. Carefully review all fees and charges to ensure you avoid programs outside your financial means.

Does It Prepare You for the NCLEX-RN?

When looking at prospective LPN to RN programs, students should remember that not all are created equal. When considering whether the program adequately prepares you for the NCLEX-RN exam, one of the best ways to ascertain preparedness is to ask the program administrator for the exam pass rates over the last several years. Also check to see whether the program offers a class or extracurricular option that helps students review the exam and prepare for it.

Can I Get into an Online LPN to RN Program?

Admission procedures for LPN to RN programs differ according to individual school policies, but tend to be somewhat similar. Students can expect to complete an admissions application, submit transcripts from previous schools attended, provide standardized test scores (ACT/SAT), and demonstrate that they meet minimum GPA mandates. Some schools may also require a TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) score. If the school does not build prerequisites into the curriculum, learners must also show that they’ve completed these classes already. Last, applicants must provide evidence of an active, unencumbered LPN license and documentation of clinical experience.

Are these LPN to RN Programs Accredited?

Before committing to any LPN to RN online program, prospective students should complete due diligence to better understand the institution’s accreditation status. Accreditation falls into two categories: institutional and programmatic.

Institutional accreditation divides into two further subcategories: regional and national. The latter may sound more authoritative, but in fact regionally accredited schools typically go through more rigorous evaluations and are required to maintain higher standards.

Programmatic accreditation, meanwhile, refers to discipline-specific agencies that review degree paths to ensure they adequately prepare graduates for careers. At the associate degree level, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing serves as the name to know.

Attending a properly accredited institution is an important step in the process, as those who do not may struggle to transfer credits, gain licensure, or compete against other applicants who attended accredited schools for jobs.