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Top LVN to RN Bridge Programs in California: Online and Campus

Explore convenient online LVN to RN bridge programs that can help you take the next step in your nursing career in California.

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Are you currently an LVN in California with work experience in hospitals, clinics, or physician’s offices? Maybe you’ve spent some time working in nursing homes or home care services. Wherever your experience has taken you as an LVN, you’re ready to take your nursing skills and career to the next level with additional training and licensure as an RN. Not only does the RN credential open the doors to more rewarding healthcare responsibilities, you’ll also be entering a profession that’s continuously in demand and where you can make a great living.

One of the most efficient and affordable ways to get there is by enrolling in an online LVN to RN program in California. These fast, flexible bridge programs offer a portion of their classwork online, letting you keep working as an LVN while you earn your associate degree in nursing and work your way to becoming an RN.

Keep reading to find top-ranked programs, get answers to the most common questions about online LVN to RN programs in California, and learn more about job demand and salaries for RNs compared to LVNs in the state.


California’s Best LVN to RN Online Programs for 2024

In these spotlights, we offer a more detailed look at some of the top LVN to RN programs in California. We’ve included only accredited schools here that offer both affordable and flexible RN programs with excellent student support. Each school has particular strengths, so keep an eye out for those that will best serve your academic interests. The right school for you will help you take your nursing career to the next level. Have a look at these three LVN to RN programs that really shine in 2024.

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College

PCC is a two-year public institution. This midsize school serves approximately 27,000 students. Established in 1924, the PCC today offers an on-campus program that awards an associate in nursing with a certificate of achievement in registered nursing upon graduation. Graduates are also eligible to sit for the National Council Licensing Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). During the 2021-2022 school year, 89.58% of its nursing students passed the NCLEX-RN exam.

In most cases, this program takes full-time students three semesters to complete. PCC considers this a “career ladder program” that helps licensed vocational nurses add to their existing skill set and become competitive candidates for careers at clinics, hospitals, private physician offices, long-term care facilities, and in other skilled nursing roles. The curriculum at PCC places emphasis on building students’ understanding of nursing theory and reinforcing advanced concepts to provide better care for patients throughout the human lifespan.

Students choose between a degree path and non-degree path. The associate degree requires at least 60 units for graduation, while the non-degree path requires only 30 units.

Non-degree students receive a certificate of achievement and are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. If they pass the exam, they can then apply for licensure in California. Associate degree-seekers will be taking prerequisites and additional courses in English, statistics, history, speech, chemistry, sociology, and more. Required nursing classes for the major in both paths include psychiatric mental health nursing, intermediate medical-surgical nursing, advanced medical surgical nursing, and a series of recommended electives.

Los Angeles Southwest College

Los Angeles Southwest College

LASC is a public community college established in 1967. The school offers an LVN-to-RN Bridge program that qualifies graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure as a registered nurse in California. During the 2021-2022 school year, 79.07% of nursing students passed the NCLEX-RN exam.

Required courses for this 30-unit program include psychiatric nursing, maternal and child health nursing, advanced medical and surgical nursing, and a senior seminar. LASC’s nursing program prides itself on helping young nursing students develop critical thinking skills and high standards for effective patient care in hospitals, clinics, and other facilities. Students also develop the social skills and bedside manner needed to be culturally-sensitive professionals that respect patients and clients beliefs and values.

Prospective students must complete all prerequisites and general elective requirements before they apply to the bridge program. LASC expects nursing applicants to possess a 2.5 or higher GPA on all previously taken college and high school coursework. Applications must include official transcripts and documentation of a passing score on the HiSET exam.

Mt. St Jacinto College

Mt. St Jacinto College

MSJC is a public community college in Riverside County. Established in 1962, the school today serves approximately 27,000 students. MSJC is part of the California Community College system and features five campus locations. Accredited by the California State Board of Registered Nursing, MSJC offers an associate of science degree in nursing for LVNs. This program prepares students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and positions them for RN licensure in California. At MSJC, 95.83% of its nursing students passed the NCLEX-RN exam in 2018-2019.

Full-time students can complete the associate program in two years. Students can also choose a 30-unit degree path, but this credential does not qualify nursing students to move on to bachelor’s degree studies if they choose to do so.

Students can enter the nursing program after completing all of the prerequisite courses including anatomy and physiology, microbiology, composition, and psychology. This pre-nursing curriculum usually takes two semesters to complete. Learners then transition into nursing-focused training in their third semester. Required classes for the nursing major include intermediate medical surgical nursing, gerontology, community nursing, mental health nursing, and three courses of lab work.

FAQs About LVN to RN Online California Programs

What’s it like to be in an LVN to RN online program in California?

There are fewer online and hybrid LVN-to-RN programs in California than many other states at the moment. The good news is that these convenient programs are continuing to grow in number in the state and across the U.S. You’ll find many programs today that offer on-campus learning opportunities coupled with some online components, including both nursing and general education classes. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many colleges and universities vastly expanded their fully online and hybrid options, which have continued to the present and been made a permanent part of their course offerings.

For online nursing students looking to earn RN licensure, there’s plenty of training and coursework that lends itself to the flexibility of online learning. The curricula of RN programs are designed to prepare you to sit for the RN licensing exam through training in the necessary nursing practices and policies. Some programs even let you select concentration areas like pediatrics, obstetrics, and gynecology. In-person visits to campus or local healthcare facilities for hands-on training and clinicals are additionally required. Check out EduMed’s main online LVN & LPN to RN program page for more information on how online and hybrid LVN to RN programs work and what students can expect to learn in the valuable programs.

How much time do LVN to RN online programs in California take to complete?

The duration of your online LVN-to-RN program depends on your level of education, how many prerequisites you’ve completed, and training before you enter the program. Your school’s requirements for graduation also affect your trajectory through the program, especially when it comes to prerequisite classes and in-person requirements.

With that in mind, most LVN-to-RN programs require about one year for full-time students to complete. Part-time students, especially those who are working outside of school, can expect to spend up to two years in their LVN-to-RN programs, depending on their availability and the school’s requirements.

Can I get into an LVN to RN bridge program in California?

Application requirements vary among LVN-to-RN bridge programs in California, but there are a few standards you’ll likely have to meet. Some programs have pre-nursing prerequisite classes built into the program while others expect you to have prerequisite requirements completed before you apply.

Colleges and universities that offer this program often expect applicants to:

  • Possess a competitive high school GPA, usually a 2.5 or higher
  • Submit documentation of completing an accredited LVN program and California LVN license
  • Take an assessment of academic aptitude
  • Possess a successful history of coursework in the required prerequisites
  • Complete required health, immunization, and laboratory tests
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Possess CPR certification, including adult, child, and infant airway management information

California LVN vs. RN: Salary and Job Outlook Comparison

When nursing professionals want to climb the career ladder, additional education is one of the best ways to make progress. Going from LVN to RN can help position you for better-paying, higher-demand jobs where you’ll have more responsibility. In the sections below, we offer a detailed comparison of LVN and RN job demand and salaries across the state of California.

How much more can I earn moving from an LVN to RN in California?

By completing an online LVN to RN program in California, you stand to make almost double the annual median salary of LVNs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Review the table below to learn more about what kind of pay raise you can expect in California’s biggest metro areas when you advance from LVN to RN.

LVN Annual Mean Wage RN Annual Mean Wage Annual Earnings Increase
California $61,600 $125,340 +$63,740
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim $61,300 $120,240 +$58,940
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward $73,680 $157,860 +$84,180
San Diego-Carlsbad $61,680 $110,910 +$49,230
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara $74,260 $159,860 +$85,600

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

How’s the job market for RNs in California vs. LVNs?

While the job outlook for both LVNs and RNs in California looks bright, the edge goes to RNs. Job opportunities for RNs in the state are projected to grow at about 1.6% faster than for LVNs. When it comes to the number of available positions in the field, RNs should see 41,800 more new positions available between now and 2028 compared to LVNs. According to a study completed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2017, there will still be a shortage of approximately 44,500 RNs by 2030 in California.

Employment (2018) New Jobs (2018-2028) Job Growth Rate (2018-2028) Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
LVNs in California 76,600 11,600 15.1% 7,440
RNs in California 319,800 53,400 16.7% 23,850