Imagine this scenario: You’ve worked tirelessly as an LPN, dedicating yourself to patient care and honing your skills. Now, you’re ready to take the next leap forward and expand your scope of practice as an RN. However, the key to ensuring a smooth transition lies in enrolling in an accredited LPN to RN program and eventually earning RN licensure. If you’re wondering what to do next, you’ve come to the right place: This guide will help you choose an accredited program that sets you on the best path to success. But what exactly does accreditation mean, and why is it so important? Let’s break it down.
Given the complex demands RNs face every day, you’ll want to be sure that your knowledge and skills meet a high bar. Accreditation validates the quality and excellence of the education you’re receiving in a particular program. It serves as a seal of approval from recognized accrediting bodies, affirming that an institution or program meets specific standards and delivers a comprehensive and well-rounded curriculum.
In this guide, we’ll dive further into the importance of accreditation and empower you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. We’ll explore what accreditation entails, its purpose in nursing education, and the benefits it offers to aspiring RNs like yourself.
Ultimate List of Accredited LPN/LVN to RN Programs
To help kickstart your search, we’ve gathered some options for accredited online LPN/LVN to RN programs. This isn’t a ranking list but rather a comprehensive list of accredited programs, ranging from expedited bridge programs to more lengthy tracks to earn your BSN.
Check out the program details for each to find the one that suits your needs and interests best.
The Importance of Accreditation for LPN to RN Students
Accreditation plays a vital role in shaping your educational experience and future opportunities as a nursing professional. If you’re taking the time to focus on your educational and professional development, you want to be sure that you’re enrolling in a high-quality program and setting yourself up for success. As explained by licensure administration company Pearson, “While pursuing accreditation is voluntary, the practice is recognized as a pillar of the U.S. education system.”
In this section, we’ll explore several key ways in which accreditation can have a significant impact on your journey toward becoming an RN. From financial aid eligibility to enhancing career prospects, here’s how accreditation impacts online LPN to RN students.
Employment Opportunities After Graduation
Accreditation plays a significant role in the employment prospects of LPN to RN graduates. Many employers, including hospitals, healthcare facilities, and other healthcare organizations, exclusively hire nurses who have graduated from accredited LPN to RN programs offered online or on campus. Accreditation provides assurance to employers that graduates have received a quality education and possess the necessary knowledge and skills to provide safe and competent patient care.
Programs have to demonstrate that the education they provide meets a professional and standardized expectation to receive accreditation.
To be accredited by the ACEN, for example, a school must “be able to demonstrate through the candidacy, self-study, and the peer review process its ability to meet the standards of educational quality specific to nursing education requirements set in the Standards and Criteria.” The ACEN’s standards and criteria include guidance for administrative capacity and resources, faculty, students, curriculum, and outcomes. The criteria help assess whether graduates are equipped to work in a professional setting and receive licensure.
Financial Aid Eligibility
If you’re looking for financial assistance to pay for your studies, you’ll want to be sure that your program is eligible for financial aid. Students in accredited online LPN to RN programs are eligible for various forms of financial aid, including federal grants, loans, and scholarships. nonaccredited programs may not be eligible for federal financial aid programs, limiting students’ financial options for pursuing their education.
State nursing boards typically require candidates to graduate from accredited programs to be eligible for licensure. After graduating from an accredited online LPN to RN program, you will be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to obtain an RN license.
If you’re unable to take the NCLEX because of a lack of accreditation, you’ll also be unable to receive your license and work as a registered nurse.
Transferability of Credits
Accredited online LPN to RN programs help facilitate the transfer of credits, typically because these programs have better credit transfer agreements with other schools. This means that if you want to continue your education, such as pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or other advanced degrees, the credits you earn in an accredited program are more likely to be accepted by other accredited institutions. Credits from nonaccredited programs may not be accepted by other schools, limiting your options for further education.
Types of Accreditations for LPN to RN Bridge Programs
Now that we’ve covered the significance of accreditation, let’s break down the different accrediting bodies in the nursing field. Familiarize yourself with these organizations as you start to evaluate potential accredited online LPN to RN programs.
There are four different types of accreditation, but the two below are worth paying particular attention to: institutional and programmatic accreditation.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, most hospitals hire nurses who have graduated from nursing programs that are nationally accredited through either the CCNE or the ACEN. These are the two largest national accrediting organizations and are highly respected in the field.
The ACEN and CCNE accredit thousands of nursing programs at hundreds of schools across the country. Though the agencies have the same mission, they differ slightly in terms of scope and the manner in which they evaluate and accredit nursing programs.
Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
The ACEN is recognized as the accrediting body for all types of nursing education by the United States Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation. It offers accreditation for all levels of nursing programs, from practical nursing certifications and diplomas to master’s and doctorate degrees.
Search ACEN-accredited programs here by state or country and program type (doctorate, bachelor’s, etc.). Although there’s a wide range of program types, the ACEN uses uniform standards to evaluate each for accreditation, such as the program’s mission and administrative capacity, the size and qualifications of the faculty and staff, a curriculum that reflects a progression of nursing standards, and more.
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
The CCNE is another agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Compared to ACEN, the CCNE has a narrower scope: It accredits only bachelor’s, graduate, and postgraduate programs, including advanced practice RN certificate programs and entry-to-practice residency programs.
Search for CCNE-accredited programs here. The CCNE has similar accreditation standards to the ACEN, however the CCNE places a particular emphasis on how the nursing program impacts society. These standards examine the mission, goals, and expected outcomes of the nursing program; institutional commitment and resources; achievement of program outcomes; and more.
Steps to Accreditation for LPN to RN Programs
The process of accreditation for on-campus and online LPN to RN programs involves several steps — and can take considerable time for completion. The CCNE accreditation process, for example, takes 12-18 months in advance of the on-site visit.
While the exact steps vary depending on the accrediting body, here’s a general outline of the process:
Step 1: Perform a Self-Assessment
The institution offering the in-person or online LPN to RN program conducts a comprehensive self-assessment to evaluate its readiness for accreditation. This involves reviewing the program’s curriculum, faculty qualifications, student support services, facilities, and resources to ensure they meet the standards set by the accrediting body.
Step 2: Submit an Application
The institution submits an application to the accrediting body indicating its intent to seek accreditation for the LPN to RN program. The application typically includes detailed information about the program, its objectives, curriculum, faculty credentials, and student outcomes. The application for CCNE accreditation, for example, must also include a letter of request signed by the school’s top officials, evidence that the nursing program is approved by all applicable state boards of nursing, and more.
Step 3: Arrange a Site Visit
The accrediting body conducts an on-site visit to the institution. During the visit, a team of evaluators, typically composed of experienced educators and nursing professionals, assesses various aspects of the program. They may interview faculty, observe classes, review student work, and evaluate the program’s facilities and resources.
Step 4: Wait for the Decision
After the site visit, the accrediting body will evaluate the institution’s self-assessment, application, and supporting documentation. Based on this evaluation, the accrediting body makes a decision regarding accreditation. They may grant initial accreditation, request additional information or improvements, or deny accreditation.
Step 5: Ongoing Monitoring and Reaccreditation
Once accredited, programs need to maintain ongoing compliance with the accrediting body’s standards to keep accreditation. This typically involves periodic evaluations, reporting, and renewal processes to ensure that the program continues to meet the required standards.
How to Check if Your Program is Accredited
It’s easy to get overwhelmed as you start your search for the accredited online LPN to RN program that’s right for you — but it doesn’t have to be that way. To start, check if the programs you’re looking at are accredited. There are a few simple steps to follow, which we’ve outlined below.
Look at the Accrediting Body’s Website
Once you have identified the accrediting body, visit their official website. You can find more at the ACEN and CCNE websites, including more information about their evaluation process, the latest industry news and research, and more. These sites typically have a search or directory feature that allows you to search for RN to LPN accredited programs and other programs.
Look at the Program’s Website
Accreditation information can usually be found on the program’s website, in program brochures, or by contacting the program directly. Programs often proudly displaytheir accreditation status on their site, so consider it a sign of caution if locating a school’s accreditation is difficult.
Contact the Program
If there’s still any uncertainty or if you have questions, you can always reach out to the program to get more information.
Use a Database of Accredited Institutions
The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions and/or programs. However, the department provides oversight for the postsecondary accreditation system through its review of all federally recognized accrediting agencies. The Department of Education website features the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs, where you can search for your specific school to find any record of accreditation from accrediting bodies and state approval agencies.