If you are a practical nurse in Arizona, you’re likely aware of the major nursing shortage throughout the state. In fact, Arizona has suffered–and continues to suffer–one of biggest nursing shortages in the nation. This presents a tremendous opportunity for practical nurses in Arizona interested in advancing their careers by becoming registered nurses. And that opportunity is well within reach with the surprising number of community colleges and schools of nursing in Arizona offering LPN to RN bridge programs. So, if you’re an LPN ready to make the next big move in your nursing career, keep reading to learn how you can do so through a quality, accredited, and affordable LPN to RN program in AZ.
The Best LPN to RN Programs in AZ for 2023
To get you started on your Arizona LPN to RN bridge program search, we’ve spotlighted three of the very best programs currently available. These are programs that excel in providing students with the benefits most helpful to their academic success, such as quality instruction, affordability, study flexibility, and access to important student support services. Additionally, all three programs are approved by the Arizona State Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). (More on the importance of accreditation and state approval below.) Here’s who stands out in 2023.
Central Arizona College
Central Arizona College (CAC) is a public community college located near Coolidge, Arizona, approximately halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. CAC offers an LPN to RN Bridge option as part of its AAS in Nursing program, with a 2½ semester course sequence leading to a nursing associate degree, eligibility to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, and Arizona RN licensure. Admission is open to current licensed Arizona LPNs with one or more years of professional work experience. Additional eligibility requirements include completion of several prerequisite courses (in biology, English, math, and psychology) and completion of the NACE Foundations of Nursing Exam with a score of 67% or higher. Applicants must attend a nursing information session and meet with a program advisor to develop their Master Academic Plan as part of the enrollment process. Class sizes for the LPN to RN Bridge program are limited, making admission into the program highly competitive. Program starts are available each spring and fall term.
Mohave Community College
Mohave Community College (MCC) is another Arizona school that offers an LPN to RN bridge option as part of its larger AAS in Nursing program. The bridge program offers advanced placement to students entering with a current, unencumbered LPN license. As with other bridge programs, admission into MCC’s LPN to RN course of study requires completion of several prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, English, math, and psychology. LPNs admitted into the program are awarded credits for six nursing courses which, along with completion of all prerequisite coursework, allows them to complete all other AAS degree requirements in two semesters. In addition to academic coursework and labs on campus, students complete substantial clinical placement hours at program-affiliated practice facilities. The AAS in Nursing program is available on MCC’s Bullhead City, Colorado City, Lake Havasu, and Kingman campuses. Program starts are available in both the fall and spring terms.
Pima Community College
The LPN Transition to AAS program at Pima Community College (PCC) in Tucson provides current LPNs a path to skipping the first year of its AAS in Nursing program and instead entering directly into the second year. Eligibility requirements include acceptance by PCC of credits earned by the applicant in their LPN academic program, successful completion of a nine-credit transition course, and passing the National League of Nursing Pre-Admission Exam for RN and PN applicants (NLN PAX-RN). Once all prerequisites are completed, students apply for admission to the LPN Transition to AAS program, which includes submitting a letter of employer verification confirming a minimum of 576 hours of LPN employment.
The LPN Transition to AAS program length is three semesters (not including preparatory coursework and the other prerequisites described above). The total estimated cost of the program—including course fees, textbooks, lab supplies, physical exams, criminal background check, NCLEX-RN review course, licensing costs, etc., but not including uniforms, shoes, and clinical supplies—is $3,355. Program starts are available in the spring and fall.
What You’ll Learn in an LPN to RN Bridge Program in Arizona
The two primary goals of any LPN to RN bridge program are to provide students with all of the additional knowledge and skills (above those of an LPN) required for competent practice as a registered nurse and to qualify graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam leading to RN licensure. These two goals, of course, go hand in hand and are accomplished through curricula that combine general education courses (including those directly supporting nursing practice in subjects like biology, psychology, nutrition, etc.), nursing-specific courses, labs, and clinical practice experiences.
Many of the foundational nursing (as well as some general education) course requirements may be fulfilled by the courses in your LPN program and by completing the bridge program’s prerequisite coursework. The resulting core nursing competencies are likely to be similar to these from MCC and PCC.
To give you a better idea of the subjects you’ll cover, here are descriptions of five courses similar to those you’ll complete as part of your LPN to RN program in AZ:
LPN to RN Transition
A requirement of many LPN to RN bridge programs, this course is designed to introduce students to the LPN to RN course of study and to update them regarding the advances in nursing skills, the nursing process, patient care planning, etc., that have occurred since students completed their practical nurse education.
Advanced RN Practice
LPN to RN bridge programs typically include two or more courses designed to provide students with knowledge and training specifically focused on issues of complex care required for acutely and critically ill patients. These courses are sometimes titled Medical Surgical Nursing or as Nursing II, Nursing III, or Nursing IV.
Examination of microorganism structure, function, interaction with the human body, and relation to human illness and disease. Topics discussed include classification of microorganisms, microbial metabolism and growth, microbial epidemiology, viruses, immunology, and more. Lab participation is required.
Review of the current knowledge and practice of pharmacology as it applies to the patient care provided by registered nurses. Students are taught pathophysiological principles as they apply to drug classifications, dosage, therapeutic actions, interactions, side effects, and more.
NCLEX-RN Review/Test Preparation
As part of their curricula, LPN to RN bridge programs in Arizona commonly include a review course that prepares students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, the passing of which is a requirement for RN licensure in Arizona and almost all other U.S. jurisdictions.
Inside Look at Online LPN to RN Programs in Arizona
Due to the nature of nursing education, you won’t be surprised to learn that there aren’t any fully online LPN to RN bridge programs available in Arizona. In fact, you won’t find any Arizona programs that identify themselves as online. The reason is that, to qualify for RN licensure in Arizona (and practically everywhere in the U.S.) you must sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and meet RN license requirements, both of which include completion of substantial clinical practice hours attended in-person at program-affiliated healthcare facilities. Also, program courses often include lab requirements that must be completed on campus.
Nevertheless, LPN to RN students in Arizona may find that some prerequisite (i.e., non-nursing) courses are offered by their schools either fully or partially online. Additionally, many LPN to RN programs in Arizona offer a small number of their nursing courses fully or partially online, as well. We’ve listed several examples below. To learn more about online academics for LPN to RN programs, be sure to visit EduMed’s LPN to RN online programs guide.
Examples of Quality Online LPN to RN Programs in Arizona
- Gateway Community College: A number of non-nursing prerequisite courses are available online.
- Mesa Community College: One program course offered in a hybrid format and several prerequisite nursing and non-nursing courses offered in either fully online or hybrid formats.
- Mohave Community College: At least two nursing courses and a handful of non-nursing prerequisites available in either fully online or hybrid formats.
- Northland Pioneer College: Two program nursing courses available in a hybrid format and a few prerequisite courses available in either fully online or hybrid formats.
- Pima Community College: A number of both bridge nursing and prerequisite courses available either entirely online or in a hybrid format.
Frequently Asked Questions About LPN to RN Programs in Arizona
How long does it take to finish an LPN to RN bridge program in Arizona?
Completion times for LPN to RN programs in Arizona vary from program to program. This is due mainly to differences in prerequisite course requirements and the number of prerequisite courses completed by the student prior to starting their program. In most cases, LPN to RN students complete their programs with two to four semesters of full-time study, not including prerequisite coursework. Program length examples (not including prerequisites) include two semesters (MCC), 2 ½ semesters (CAC), and three semesters (PCC). The registered nursing program at Northland Pioneer College in Holbrook, AZ, offers this suggested two-year course of study for LPN to RN option students that includes all prerequisite and bridge program coursework.
What are the admissions requirements for LPN to RN bridge programs in AZ?
In broad strokes, the admissions requirements for LPN to RN bridge programs in Arizona are very much alike. The details, however, often vary, so be sure you clearly understand the requirements for any program you’re interested in before taking the time to enroll. In all cases, applicants must possess a current, unencumbered LPN license (in most cases, an Arizona LPN license). Other common requirements include:
- Prerequisite coursework: All programs require completion of several prerequisite courses in subjects such as English, mathematics, biology, and psychology. The specific courses vary by program. Applicants will also likely be required to meet a minimum GPA for all prerequisite coursework.
- Preadmission testing: Most LPN to RN programs in AZ require applicants to take and pass some form of preadmission test. Examples include CAC (the NACE Foundations of Nursing Exam), PCC (the NLN PAX-RN Exam), and Northland Pioneer College (the Health Education Systems, Inc. Admission Assessment).
- Requirements for clinicals participation: To participate in required clinical practice hours, applicants must meet several requirements, such as obtaining an Arizona Department of Public Safety Fingerprint Clearance Card, passing a urine toxicology screening test, presenting evidence of a negative TB skin test or chest x-ray for TB, presenting proof of immunization or immunity (for hepatitis B, MMR, Tdap, COVID, varicella), and providing proof of health insurance and a current American Heart Association basic life support/CPR card.
How much do LPN to RN bridge programs in Arizona cost?
Considering the typical costs associated with earning a college degree, you may be surprised to find that total costs for most LPN to RN bridge programs in Arizona are surprisingly affordable. That’s especially true when it comes to programs offered by Arizona public community colleges, which account for most programs in the state. To give you an idea of what you might expect to pay for your LPN to RN education, here are current tuition rates for three Arizona LPN to RN bridge programs. Keep in mind that your total program cost will be higher once you factor in additional fees, books, supplies, uniforms, travel costs, etc. Also, total credit figures do not include prerequisite coursework.
Central Arizona College
AAS in Nursing – LPN to RN Bridge
Total Credits: 32
$86/credit (Arizona residents); $129/credit (Western Undergraduate Education Program state residents); $172/credit (out-of-state residents)
Mohave Community College
AAS in Nursing-LPN to RN Pathway
Total Credits: 23
$81/credit (Arizona residents); $121.50/credit (Western Undergraduate Education Program state residents); $294/credit (out-of-state residents)
Northland Pioneer College
Total Credits: 25
$85/credit (Arizona residents); $68/credit (Navajo County residents)
What should I look for in an LPN to RN program in Arizona?
Along with such things as affordability, study convenience, and quality support services, there are two other important factors to look for in the LPN to RN programs in AZ that you consider: approval by the Arizona State Board of Nursing (AZBN) and programmatic accreditation. State program approval is required of all graduates of Arizona LPN to RN programs to be eligible for RN licensure. Check current state program approval status on the AZBN’s Education Programs Lists webpage. Programmatic accreditation provides an important indication that the LPN to RN bridge program you’re interested in meets certain standards of academic quality. The primary programmatic accreditor of associate degree in nursing programs in the U.S., including LPN to RN bridge programs, is the ACEN. Check the current status of ACEN-accredited programs using this approved program search engine.
LPN vs. RN in Arizona: Earnings and Job Demand Comparison
We mentioned in the introduction the current critical shortage of nursing professionals in the state of Arizona. It’s important to note that this shortage is, unfortunately, expected to continue for years to come. We also mentioned that Arizona’s nursing shortage brings with it tremendous opportunity for nurses interested in working in the state. This is clearly evidenced by the earnings and job growth figures detailed in the charts below.
How much more can I earn going from an LPN to RN in Arizona?
Along with the added prestige and responsibilities that come from being a registered nurse come higher salaries when compared to those for LPNs. As the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicate, RNs working in Arizona can expect earnings of around one-third greater than those of LPNs in the state. These figures are also closely in line with median salary figures for RNs across the U.S. overall ($77,600) and notably higher than those for LPNs nationwide ($48,070).
|LPN Median Annual Wage||RN Median Annual Wage||Earnings Increase|
|Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ||$56,240||$74,640||33%|
|Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ||$56,170||$73,620||31%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021
What’s the job market like for RNs in Arizona vs. LPNs?
The current job environment for nursing professionals in Arizona, including both RNs and LPNs, is nothing short of excellent. This is certainly borne out by the job growth figures from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Projections Central listed in the chart below. For some perspective, the nearly 40% job growth estimates for both RNs and LPNs in Arizona are over four times those for RNs and LPNs during the same time period in the nation as a whole (9% and 9.3%, respectively). So, it’s quite simple. If you’re interested in becoming a registered nurse and looking for a place to practice with great job opportunities and security, Arizona should top your list.
|Job Growth Rate|
|Average Annual Openings|
|LPNs in Arizona||2,900||38.8||960|
|RNs in Arizona||22,980||39.3||5,930|
Source: Projections Central