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Best LPN to RN Programs in Pennsylvania (PA): Online & Campus

Find out how LPN to RN programs in PA can help you increase your knowledge and skills to achieve your career advancement goals.

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WRITTEN BY: Kenya McCullum
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REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 08/07/2023

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As an LPN, you know how rewarding it is to provide care to patients on the road to recovery. You also know how busy medical facilities in Pennsylvania can be—and how challenging the nursing shortage has been. You’re probably also well aware of the lobbying efforts from nurses across the state to address this problem. The Patient Safety Act (House Bill 106), for example, is working its way through the Pennsylvania legislature. If signed into law, it would limit staff-to-patient ratios at hospitals, making it possible for nurses to more easily and safely provide quality care to patients.

These efforts also make it a good time to consider becoming a registered nurse. But if you’re still concerned about how you’ll be able to advance in your career while working in a busy medical facility, and LPN to RN bridge program can help. You can reap many benefits from making the transition from LPN to RN, including learning to provide a higher level of care, specializing in specific types of nursing, and gaining access to better job opportunities.

These programs draw on the experience you already have and provide the training you need to step into the role of a registered nurse. Continue reading to find out what schools expect from applicants, what you’ll learn, and how much you may pay in tuition. We’ll also take a look at some of the best programs in the state to prepare you for the rigors of registered nursing.

A Look at Top LPN-RN Bridge Programs in Pennsylvania

You understand the vital role that nurses play in a healthcare setting, so you don’t want to leave your education in the hands of just any school. If you’re going to advance to an RN position, you need the right training. To help you find it, we’ve put together a list of some of the top LPN-RN bridge programs available in Pennsylvania.

HACC – Central Pennsylvania’s Community College

The LPN Transitional Track offered by HACC culminates in an associate degree. Graduates go on to work as RNs in settings including surgical centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and schools. Graduates who wanted to continue their education have gone on to earn bachelor’s degrees in nursing from Pennsylvania institutions such as Harrisburg University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Millersville University.

HACC offers a curriculum that covers family, adult, holistic, and behavioral health, and the proper provision of care in each case. HACC also offers a course that addresses leadership and management concepts in nursing practice. This course will set you up for additional advancement opportunities after becoming an RN.

Jersey College

As part of its Professional Nursing program, Jersey College offers an LPN to RN bridge track that provides a holistic approach to registered nursing. The curriculum is designed to give you a wide range of skills so you can address not only patients’ physical needs, but their emotional, social, and even spiritual needs as well. By the time you finish the program, you’ll be familiar with and capable of executing the duties of RNs, from conducting assessments to administering medication to creating discharge plans.

Jersey College, which is accredited by the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education, has been dedicated to nursing instruction for the last two decades. In that time the school has graduated over 10,000 nursing students and honed its curriculum to provide the individualized support students need. The nursing department is staffed by veteran industry professionals who are passionate about teaching their craft to up-and-coming nurses.

Pennsylvania College of Technology

The LPN to RN program at the Pennsylvania College of Technology allows you to take advantage of a combination of small class sizes and experiential learning to prepare for the next stage in your career. The program, which is recognized by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing, takes about two years to complete. During that time, you’ll study pharmacology, psychosocial nursing, and adult medical-surgical nursing.

The school is extremely invested in student success. To help students make a smooth transition from LPN to RN, the Pennsylvania College of Technology provides a course outlining the specifics of the registered nursing role and its responsibilities. Students also take the “First Year Experience” course, which familiarizes them with the policies and student services at Penn College.

What You’ll Learn in LPN to RN Programs in Pennsylvania

The curriculums in LPN to RN programs in PA are tailored specifically to the needs of licensed practical nurses. Schools meet you where you are and build on your knowledge and experience. The result is a curriculum that combines classroom instruction and hands-on learning and gives students a thorough understanding of the methods registered nurses use to work with patients. Whether you’re interested in getting a job at a specific type of medical facility, or working with a certain patient population, you’ll be prepared to follow your preferred path by the time you graduate.

In addition to your nursing instruction, you’ll take general education classes as part of your LPN to RN bridge program. Classes in math, English composition, psychology, and information technology, will provide you with additional skills that will make you a more well-rounded nurse. Once you finish your coursework, you’ll go on to complete clinical experiences that reinforce what you’ve learned in the classroom.

Keep reading to find descriptions of specific courses you may study in an LPN to RN program in PA.

Common Courses

Essentials of Pharmacology

One of the new duties you’ll have as a registered nurse will be giving medication to patients. This course, offered at Pennsylvania College of Technology, helps you prepare for that task by familiarizing you with the drug therapies used for different conditions, as well as how medications are classified and dispensed.

Geriatric Nursing

Like any other patient group, geriatric patients have specific challenges and needs that RNs should be aware of. This course provides a comprehensive look at standards of care for geriatric patients, the pain management interventions they may need, and the role family dynamics can play in providing care to this age group.

Fundamentals of Nursing Practice

This course is a primer on how RNs provide safe, quality care to patients, regardless of the setting they work in. You’ll learn about the clinical decision-making process, strategies for providing compassionate care, and advice on how to avoid burnout and compassion fatigue.

Nursing Leadership

Since you’re already in an advancement mindset, you may be thinking about moving into managerial positions at some point. This course, offered as Nursing VI: Leadership and Delegation at Jersey College, teaches you about the challenges involved in nursing leadership, including the political, legal, and social issues that influence the delivery of care.

Psychosocial Nursing

This course covers the evidence-based nursing care provided to patients with psychosocial health challenges. You’ll learn the therapeutic communication involved in working with these patients, as well as the types of interventions you’ll use as a registered nurse. You may also learn how to help patients develop the skills they need to mitigate challenges they face on a daily basis.

What to Expect From Different LPN-RN Program Deliveries

One important factor to keep in mind when researching LPN to RN programs in PA is the delivery method colleges use. Although schools offer similar coursework, the way it is offered can have a significant impact on your experience, depending on your preferences and learning style. A program’s delivery method can, and should, influence the type of program you choose. Review the information below to find out what you can expect from each program delivery type.

Hybrid

Hybrid programs provide the benefits of both online and in-person learning, so you can take advantage of the best both learning models have to offer. In some cases, you will be able allowed to take certain courses online and required to take others on campus. In other cases, you will be able to take your classes through a school’s virtual learning management system, but complete labs and simulations on campus. Both offer you the convenience to take classes online, while getting valuable face-to-face time with nursing peers and instructors.

Online

As a working LPN, you may be concerned about the effect continuing your education may have on your schedule. Online LPN to RN programs in PA are much more flexible than in-person education and can make going back to school easier. This way, you can juggle your coursework and your job without compromising your commitment to either. Online programs may also save you money. In addition to saving on commuting back and forth to campus every day, schools often charge online students a per credit rate. As a result, virtual programs end up costing significantly less than traditional ones.

In-Person

While some people value the flexibility of online programs, others thrive in more traditional learning environments that allow them to communicate with students and professors face-to-face. If you’re one of these learners, an in-person program is the best option for you. Before choosing this type of program, be sure to keep in mind how attending classes on campus may affect your work schedule. Despite their benefits, traditional LPN to RN programs in PA provide less wiggle room than other options.

Answering Your Questions About LPN-RN Programs in Pennsylvania

Do you still have questions about LPN to RN programs in PA? It’s understandable that you would want more information before making a decision. That’s why we have compiled the following answers to prospective students’ most common questions about these programs. Keep reading to get the answers you need.

How long are LPN-RN bridge programs?

The length of LPN to RN programs in PA depends on a variety of factors, including what school you enroll in. Although you can generally expect to complete your degree in one to two years, different programs have different requirements. The programs offered by Pennsylvania College of Technology and HACC take two years to complete. On the other hand, the bridge program offered by Indiana University of Pennsylvania takes four years because students graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

What are the admission requirements for LPN to RN programs in Pennsylvania?

Admission standards for LPN to RN programs in PA vary, but you can expect every school to require you to prove that you have an unencumbered LPN license. Other requirements may include a certain score on standardized tests, a set amount of work experience, and/or a minimum grade in prerequisite courses.

HACC, for instance, requires applicants to submit scores from the Test of Essential Academic Skills exam, while those who apply to the LPN to RN track at the Allegheny Health Network must provide an LPN Competency Evaluation Form filled out by their work supervisor.

What is the cost for LPN to RN programs?

Schools often charge by the credit for LPN to RN programs in PA. The cost may be influenced by whether you’re a state resident or not. Pennsylvania College of Technology charges $608 per credit for Pennsylvania residents and $866 per credit for those from out of state. Wilson College also charges per credit for its LPN to BSN program but charges $450 per credit regardless of students’ residency status.

What should I look for in an LPN to RN program in Pennsylvania?

Every student is different, so you will naturally have your own unique priorities when looking for an LPN to RN program in PA. Do you want to specialize in a specific type of registered nursing? Then you’ll want to look for a school that offers coursework and clinical experiences that support your interests. Are you interested in a specific program delivery model? Do you want a school that provides the financial aid you need to make tuition more affordable? Consider everything that’s important to you and evaluate schools based on these criteria.

However, one characteristic you should always look for in a school is accreditation. When a school is accredited, you know it’s been vetted for the quality of its curriculum and the services it provides to nursing students. To ensure you get the education you need to qualify for an RN license, you must attend an accredited school.

Salary and Career Outlook for LPNs vs RNs in Pennsylvania

If you’re unsure that enrolling in an LPN to RN program in PA is a good financial decision, we have data that may help. By becoming an RN, you’ll have the chance not only to earn more money, but to find more jobs. Let’s take a look at the data that supports this.

Salary

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, LPNs in Pennsylvania earn $54,520 per year on average, while RNs make $80,630. If you want to maximize your earning potential, you may want to consider applying to openings in major cities. RNs in the metropolitan area make $87,830 and LPNs earn $59,320.

Pennsylvania nurses’ salaries are roughly on par with the national average. Registered nurses earn $81,220 on average nationally; the lowest earners make $61,250 and the highest make $129,400. Licensed practical nurses nationally make $54,620, with a range of $40,490 to $72,650.

LPN Annual Median Wage RN Median Annual WageEarnings Increase
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ$49,170$77,83058%
Altoona, PA$46,640$71,30053%
Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA$46,690$75,60062%
Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA$47,610$78,67065%
East Stroudsburg, PA$46,630$73,98059%
Erie, PA$46,590$62,39034%
Gettysburg, PA$47,670$74,62057%
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA$48,530$77,01059%
Johnstown, PA$45,780$71,83057%
Lancaster, PA$48,070$74,69055%
Lebanon, PA$50,150$75,00050%
Pennsylvania$48,220$76,94060%
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD$58,230$78,46035%
Pittsburgh, PA$48,040$75,27057%
Reading, PA$48,240$76,98060%
Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA$46,730$74,38059%
State College, PA$47,430$71,95052%
Williamsport, PA$47,240$77,14063%
York-Hanover, PA$47,890$75,64058%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

Career Outlook

The differences in LPN and RN salaries is obviously significant, but you may still be wondering if you’ll be able to find a job when you graduate from your online LPN to RN program. Data from Projections Central shows that between 2020 and 2030, there will be an additional 13,100 RN jobs added to the workforce, which is an 8.9% increase. LPNs will also see significant job growth during this time, with 11.5% more jobs, or 4,330 new positions, added.

New Jobs
(2020-2030)
Job Growth Rate
(2020-2030)
Average Annual Openings
(2020-2030)
LPNs in Pennsylvania433011.5%3440
RNs in Pennsylvania131008.9%9280

Source: Projections Central