Skilled, competent nurses are crucial to the healthcare system. Without them, our hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities would simply cease to function. Nursing is also an extremely challenging and exhausting job that most people are not equipped for. In fact, the United States is experiencing a worsening nursing shortage that demonstrates just how tough this job really is.
But as an LPN, you already know all of this. You handle the profession’s challenges on a daily basis because you have what it takes to succeed—compassion, dedication, and above all, an unceasing desire to improve the care you deliver to your patients. This drive for self-improvement is likely part of the reason you might be considering applying to one of the many online LPN to RN programs in South Carolina. Going back to school is a great way to sharpen your nursing expertise and learn to deliver an even higher quality of care. Getting your associate degree also greatly increases your earning potential and guarantees that you are more appropriately compensated for the extremely difficult work you do. We’ve prepared this guide to help facilitate your educational journey. In it, we spotlight a few of the state’s best programs, explain their common components, and give an overview of employment and wage prospects. Continue reading to get all the details and find your path to an RN degree.
Program Spotlights: Top LPN-RN Programs in SC
South Carolina is home to several high-quality LPN-RN programs with fantastic educational and professional outcomes. We have highlighted a few of these in the section below to help you get a better idea of your options. Check them out to get started on your quest to find the program that best suits your needs.
OCtech’s LPN to ADN Flex Program
Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College has several program options available for LPNs: generic ADN, nursing transition, or flex. To be admitted to the competitive flex program, students must provide proof of current, active LPN licensure. Students are awarded advanced placement (15 credits) for meeting the following criteria: existing GPA of at least 3.0, completion of all general education courses, and completion of NUR 201 (Transition Nursing), the first course of the program study sequence, with at least an 80%. This course is delivered in a hybrid format—lectures are online, but students must attend labs and clinicals in person. The flex track allows students to complete their studies in three semesters, which is two fewer than the length of the full ADN program.
For in-county residents, the cost of the program is $205 per credit hour, while out-of-county students pay $246 per credit hour. The program is accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), and boasts a job placement rate of 95-100% annually. Students can benefit from the many scholarships available through the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College foundation. Several of these, including the Associate Degree Nursing Scholarship, First Citizens Endowed Scholarship, and Nassri Endowed Scholarship, are specifically geared toward nursing students.
Aiken Technical College’s LPN to ADN Transition Program
The LPN to ADN transition program at Aiken Technical College enables LPNs with valid credentials to finish their associate degree in two semesters after taking NUR 201 (Transition Nursing). For flexibility, the program is offered in both the daytime and the evening. To gain admission, students must have previously completed all prerequisite general education courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75. In addition to this requirement, students must pass the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) and the ATI PN comprehensive predictor exam, which is a pre-nursing aptitude test.
For Aiken County residents, the cost of the program is $189 per credit hour; for South Carolina residents outside of Aiken County, the rate is $204 per credit hour. Aiken’s nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). In 2022, students’ first-time pass rate on the NCLEX-RN was 98%, and the completion rate for the LPN to RN program was 90.9%. In order to facilitate students’ success after graduation, the school offers a variety of career services, including cover letter and resume development and updating, an online job board, and mock interviews. There are also many scholarships available to students through the Aiken Technical College Foundation.
Williamsburg Technical College’s LPN-RN Transition Program
Williamsburg Technical College offers its LPN to RN Transition program to practical nurses with valid active licenses. To gain admission to the program, prospective students must have previously passed the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) with a score of at least 62 and taken the ACCUPLACER within two years of application. Additionally, all prerequisite general education classes must be complete, and the applicant must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. The program’s courses span three semesters, and students must earn at least 79% in nursing courses to progress.
Historically, the nursing program’s NCLEX-RN pass rates have been impressively high. In fact, in 2020, the program celebrated its fourth consecutive year of having a 100 percent pass rate. The tuition rate for in-county students is $179 per credit hour, and the cost for out-of-county students is $184 per credit hour.
What to Expect From LPN-RN Programs in SC
Although there is some overlap between the job responsibilities of LPNs and RNs, an LPN to RN program prepares students to take on more responsibilities and to work with more autonomy. While LPN programs address many of the same topics that RN programs do, the scope of learning is much narrower. For example, the practical nursing program at Technical College of the Lowcountry offers courses like Beginning Nursing Skills, Basic Nursing Care Skills, and Issues in Practical Nursing. In contrast, the LPN to ADN transition program at Tri-County Technical College expands on these basics with courses such as Intermediate Nursing Concepts, Advanced Nursing Concepts, and Nursing Care Management. In addition to regular coursework, all LPN-RN programs require labs and hands-on clinical experiences that solidify students’ understandings of essential concepts.
In addition to clinicals and courses in nursing, all programs that culminate in at least an associate degree also require certain general education prerequisites. This component consists of courses such as biology, anatomy and physiology, and English composition. Most transition programs expect students to complete these courses prior to admission.
Although the specific required courses in LPN to RN programs in South Carolina may be slightly different from one another, there are a few basic courses you will likely encounter in all of them. In the section below, we have summarized five of these common courses to give you a better idea of what you will learn.
Online vs Hybrid vs On-Campus: Know Before You Go
In order to decide which LPN-RN program will fit your needs the best, it is crucial to consider the various delivery formats available. Continue reading below to learn the differences between the three main instructional formats—hybrid, online, and in-person.
Hybrid programs consist of both online and in-person components. Generally, this type of program allows students to independently complete items like tests, quizzes, assignments, and even discussions online. However, students must attend labs and clinicals in person and may also be required to show up for other specified meetings. This type of program makes it more convenient to fit academics into a busy schedule because, as long as assignment deadlines are met, learners can move at their own pace.
In the online format, all program coursework can be completed remotely without the need for any type of in-person meetings or classes. There are two major subdivisions of online programs: synchronous and asynchronous. In synchronous instruction, students are required to report to virtual classes at specified times; this usually takes the form of a video meeting in which students interact in real time with their instructor and classmates. Asynchronous instruction, on the other hand, has no such virtual meeting requirements. However, because nursing requires a great deal of real-world experience, students are required to attend in-person clinicals and practicum to gain true competency. As such, no associate nursing program can be completed 100% online.
In-person instruction is straightforward and traditional. Students attend live classes on a physical campus with other students and report in person to all labs and clinicals. This is the most common format for nursing programs in South Carolina because it allows students to maximize the feedback and real-world experience they receive, which results in graduates who are extremely well-prepared to enter the field.
Common Components of LPN-RN Programs in SC
Although each program you encounter will have slightly different requirements and specifications, there are some common factors common to all of them. For example, components like admissions requirements, cost, and length are fairly consistent across the board. Keep reading in the section below to get an idea of what these (and other) features look like in South Carolina’s LPN-RN programs.
All LPN-RN programs in South Carolina require students to hold valid licensure as a practical nurse. Beyond that, the requirements may vary a bit. Some programs, such as the one at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, require a minimum cumulative GPA from prior college studies. Another common requirement is entrance exams. For instance, Williamsburg Technical College requires students to take both the TEAS and ACCUPLACER. Finally, most programs specify that students should complete prerequisite general education courses prior to admission.
Most LPN-RN programs in South Carolina have different tuition rates based on students’ county of residence. That is, the rate for in-county students is lower than the rate for out-of-county students. For example, the total tuition cost for an in-county student attending Williamsburg Technical College is $6,802, while an out-of-county student would pay $6,992. The average total tuition of the programs spotlighted here is $6,249 for in-county students and $6,842 for out-of-county students.
One major advantage of LPN-RN transition programs is that they are much shorter than generic ADN programs. This is because past nursing experience and education allows LPN-RN students to complete their degrees at an accelerated pace. Most programs in South Carolina can be completed in about three semesters, which is about one year. However, since all associate degree nursing programs require general education courses, programs will take longer for students who have not finished their prerequisites before applying.
Prerequisites are courses or other requirements that must be completed before enrolling in or starting the substantive courses of a program. Although each school’s criteria is somewhat different, the most common prerequisites are general education courses, such as English composition, fine arts classes, college algebra, anatomy and physiology, and general psychology. Most colleges list their prerequisites along with the other courses required for the program. For example, Aiken Technical College lists courses totaling 30 credits for its general education prerequisites.
LPN vs RN in South Carolina: Job and Earnings Outlook
Making the transition from LPN to RN in South Carolina is a wise move. Not only do RNs earn significantly more than LPNs in most major metropolitan areas, but job prospects for RNs are plentiful and on the rise. Check out the specifics on earnings and job outlook in the sections below.
An examination of the average annual wages of LPNs and RNs in South Carolina’s major metropolitan areas reveals that RNs are, on average, paid 43.5% more than LPNs. The smallest increase exists in the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort area, where RNs are paid 31% more than LPNs—$47,090 for LPNs and $61,530 for RNs. Meanwhile, RNs in Columbia earn an average wage of $74,930, which is a whopping 60% more than LPNs. Statewide, RNs in South Carolina earn an impressive 55% more than LPNs. However, both LPNs and RNs in the state earn slightly less than national median estimates—$54,620 for LPNs and $81,220 for RNs.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021
Overall, the job outlook for RNs and LPNs in South Carolina is comparable. According to projections, opportunities for LPNs will grow about 11.7% over the next ten years, and RNs will see an increase of about 10.6%. According to data reported by the nursing school at the University of South Carolina, the state is also predicted to rank fourth among states that will have a nursing shortage by 2030.
Source: Projections Central