Finding the perfect nursing program can feel a lot like shopping for the perfect pair of jeans: get one element right, the rest are off. If the waist fits, the butt’s all wrong. Maybe the price is right, but the student-to-teacher ratio, clinical options, and NCLEX pass rates are less than stunning. But when it comes to LPN to RN programs, the stakes are a lot higher than your waist-to-inseam ratio. Finding the perfect nursing program can mean everything for your professional life–it means you’ll have the information, practical skills, connections, and confidence you need to supercharge your career.
There are literally hundreds of nursing programs in the U.S., and they all claim to be amazing. That’s why we’ve worked to narrow your options down to some of the country’s best–in terms of affordability, NCLEX pass rates, program requirements, and student satisfaction. Among these options, you’ll find both LPN-ADN programs and LPN-BSN programs. Both lead to certification as a registered nurse, but an ADN is an associate’s degree (and earns $73,000 per year on average) and a BSN is a bachelor’s (and usually earns about $80,000 per year).
If you want the fastest possible track to become an RN, this option is for you: go for an associate degree that will teach you what you need to know to provide excellent patient care and to pass the NCLEX. Many community colleges offer ADN programs, so if staying in your area is important for you, you’re likely to be able to find one close by. Here are our top picks for ADN programs nationwide!
The College of DuPage offers an ADN program with strong NCLEX pass rates, very affordable tuition, and fantastic bridge programs with a variety of universities including Purdue, Elmhust, and Benedictine–so it’s a great place to start if you think you’d like to pursue a BSN to further your career down the road. The College of Dupage is in a great location for Chicago residents, and it offers consistently strong outcomes for its graduates.
The Phillips School of Nursing was one of only 12 schools nationwide to be awarded the prestigious “Center of Excellence in Nursing Education” from the National League of Nursing. To top that off, they’re among the highest-rated nursing schools by students, and they offer clinical experience at some of the country’s best hospitals. This is one of the more academically rigorous programs on our list, and they’re also among the quickest and most well-recognized. The school’s Accelerated Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, designed for academically gifted students, takes just 15 months to complete, and graduates who pass the NCLEX are instantly granted admission to the Phillips BSN Program as well.
Though Bay State College’s Nursing Program definitely isn’t the cheapest ADN program out there, graduates with an ADN from Bay State College enjoy a 100% after-graduation job placement rate. That’s tough to beat. And so is Bay State’s reputation as one of the top nursing programs in the country. If you think you might want to go on to pursue a BSN down the road, getting started with a degree from Bay State is a smart step toward your dream career.
It’s not huge or particularly well-known, but Collin College’s LVN-RN program offers an incredibly high NCLEX pass rate, students love it, and it’s in an incredible location for students in the DFW metroplex area. It’s a particularly amazing deal for Collin County residents, who enjoy unbelievably low tuition rates, though out-of-state residents also get a pretty amazing value.
Los Angeles Harbor College offers an LVN-RN route, which is tailored to each student with the program length determined by the number of general classes transferred in. A beautiful campus and very high NCLEX pass rates make this program one of our top national picks, which is completely tuition-free for graduates of certain LA area high schools.
These programs lead to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing—the most comprehensive way to become an RN, with training that sets you up for a wide variety of different career paths within the nursing field.
Located in College Place, Washington, Walla Walla University is a Seventh-Day Adventist University with a nursing program that’s hard to beat. Last year’s nursing class averaged a 97% first-time NCLEX pass rate, and students speak highly of the faculty and program organization. Walla Walla offers a bridge program for LPNs who want a BSN, but it’s on a space-available basis each year; accepted students are expected to have completed 85 hours of general/elective coursework, and they begin studying with the existing junior year nursing class.
Don’t be put off by community and technical colleges when it comes to getting your BSN; sometimes the education you can receive there is among the best in the nation. The Minneapolis Community & Technical College nursing program admits LPNs as students with advanced standing during the summer term, and they complete the program in just four semesters. It’s one of the faster tracks to earn your BSN, and it’s one of the best values in the country.
With locations throughout Arizona, Pima Medical Institute is one of the Southwest’s biggest names in nursing programs—for good reason. We’re focusing on the Tuscon campus’s LPN-BSN program here. Their NCLEX pass rates are consistently well above the state and national averages, and they turn out well-prepared nurses who work in some of the nation’s top hospitals.
A Christian university in Lynchburg, VA, Liberty is known for its dedication to its values, and to providing students an affordable education. They’re also known to bend over backward to help military members and veterans complete their degrees, so if that’s you, it’s worth a hard look! Liberty’s large nursing program enjoys a solid NCLEX pass rate, and they’re flexible enough to take your previous experience and education as an LPN into practical consideration when building your degree plan.
West Coast University is one of the sunnier options on this list; though it originated in California, a newer campus in Miami has put down roots as a well-established nursing program. It also has a rockin‘, but pricey, LPN to BSN program. West Coast works with you and your educational and nursing experience to find the most efficient possible route to a BSN; some students graduate in as few as 34 months.
If you want to complete your BSN with as much flexibility as possible, an online or hybrid program is probably the right choice for you. These are our favorites.
This is one of the most affordable online nursing programs you’ll find—especially if you’re an Oklahoma resident. The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Nursing offers a Career Mobility LPN to BSN program, which combines internet coursework, Saturday classes, and clinical rotations in Oklahoma so it’s possible to balance your existing career as an LPN while pursuing the next level of education.
Whether you have a significant amount of college classes under your belt or not, you can fill in the gaps to bridge your LPN to a BSN through North Dakota State University’s online LPN to BSN program. Though the coursework is completely online, students will need to spend some time in the Fargo/Moorhead area to complete their clinicals.
Presentation College is a Catholic college located in Aberdeen, SD, and their nursing program includes an online LPN-BSN track that works with students to complete a BSN. Presentation has clinical relationships with several facilities in Fargo, ND, Fairmont, MN, or a few others, as well, so you might be able to complete your clinicals closer to home.
All schools are ranked based on their NCLEX pass rates and estimated tuition rates, as reported by the schools themselves. Keep in mind that tuition listings are just estimates of a school’s tuition, not including books or fees or taking into account any financial aid you might receive. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to check with your own state’s board of nursing for their requirements if you’re considering attending an out-of-state nursing school or completing your degree online.
All information was gleaned from each institution’s website itself; in the case of NCLEX pass rates, detailed information for hundreds of institutions’ pass rate history can be found here. Tuition was estimated as accurately as possible based on two 15-credit-hour semesters per year. Not all the institutions on this list actually charge for classes per credit hour, so these figures are listed as a comparative measure only.
Note to Schools:
We try to keep our information as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you see an error about your institution’s program, please contact us to let us know and we’ll make any changes necessary!