How to go from LPN to NP
Nurse practitioner can be a very desirable career destination for current practical/vocational nurses (LPN/LVN). Nurse practitioner ranks as the #1 best healthcare job for 2023 according to U.S. News and World Report, citing salary, job market, and future growth as the primary reasons for the top ranking.
However, there is no fast, easy path to reach one of the highest levels of nursing practice. You’ve earned a great start as an LPN, but you cannot go straight from LPN to NP without achieving a few key checkpoints on the way—including earning a degree and becoming a Registered Nurse (RN).
We applaud your ambition and would love to help you advance your nursing career. If you’re ready for the challenge, we’re here to help you make it possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sometimes hospitals form partnerships with schools like ours to provide employees with unique benefits should they choose to pursue an advanced nursing degree.
Employees of Herzing partners can potentially earn college credit for prior work or military experience, transfer existing credit, or earn a scholarship to make going back to school more affordable.
If you are currently an RN considering becoming a nurse practitioner, view our educational partnerships or check with your employer for potential possibilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for nurse practitioners are expected to grow by 45% from 2022-2032.* Given the projected growth in the baby-boom population the need for advanced medical care is expected to rise, and nurse practitioners will continue to be leaned on as primary contributors in this level of healthcare.
Here’s a selection of the most common types of nurse practitioners:
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)
- Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
Note: Herzing does not offer a track in Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP).
Each specialty has its own unique requirements in terms of job experience and certification.
Nurse practitioners have an expanded scope of practice compared to registered nurses. In addition to RN duties, nurse practitioners may also write prescriptions, order lab tests, diagnose illnesses, and more (although specifics vary by state). NPs have greater autonomy in delivering patient care, and for that reason, the education requirement is higher.
Learn more about the main differences between RN vs. NP.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners earn an average salary of $124,680 per year ($59.94 per hour). Pay depends on many factors, including your location, what healthcare institution you work for and your level of experience.*
Discover the average nurse practitioner salary by state and find out what nurse practitioners make on average near you.
Depending on where you live, there are certain guidelines related to licensure. You will need to check with your state board of nursing.
At Herzing University, we assist you in identifying which certification exam meets your needs. We also encourage testing within the first 90 days of graduation to help you take the next step in your career. Once you have successfully become certified then it is important to connect with your state board to meet their requirements.
Before fully breaking down what programs and pathways are right for you, a couple things to keep in mind:
Do I need an undergraduate degree?
Yes. And you will also need a master’s degree.
You will need to earn an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN/ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or put your current non-nursing bachelor’s degree towards earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in an MSN Direct Entry program.
ASN and BSN graduates can then choose the NP specialty of their choosing in an MSN or post master’s certificate program. You’ll need to earn an MSN to qualify to become a certified NP.
Do I need a DNP?
No. Right now you do not need to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to become an NP.
There are several reasons why earning a DNP is worth it, including higher potential for pay, expansion of your nursing skillset, and the trend toward the DNP becoming the standard for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), nurse practitioners included.
However, this is not a commitment you need to make right now.
Choose your degree program pathway
You have several potential choices in charting your path to becoming a nurse practitioner:
- You could first begin by pursuing an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). This would be the fastest way to start working as an RN and position yourself for the graduate-level education required to become an NP.
- You may also begin by working towards a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). It takes more time to earn a BSN than an ASN. But there are many benefits to earning a BSN, and you’ll take a bigger step on your NP journey.
- In some cases, you may be eligible to work towards a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). If you have already earned a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may qualify for an MSN-Direct Entry program so you can start working towards a master’s degree right away.
- You could start by completing a pre-nursing program. If your current GPA is too low to qualify for an undergraduate nursing degree program, you may be eligible to enroll in a pre-nursing associate degree program and enroll in a BSN program in the future.
How long will it take to go from LPN to NP?
Accounting for many potential factors, the starting point is a range of 40-76 months (roughly 3-6+ years) required to go from LPN to nurse practitioner.
I am an LPN with...
- A practical nursing diploma
- 2.5 GPA or higher
If you have already earned a non-nursing bachelor’s degree before your diploma in practical nursing, you may qualify for an Accelerated BSN or MSN – Direct Entry program.
These represent some of the fastest pathways from LPN to NP - but will be very demanding. Note: you will need at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify for the MSN - Direct Entry program. You may be up to the challenge and aim to become an NP in as soon as 3 years (depending on your choice of specialty). Or you may choose to slow the pace and you can still reach your goal in 4 years or less.
Our goal is to help you find the perfect balance to fully prepare you for success as soon as possible.
I am an LPN with...
- A non-nursing bachelor’s degree
- 2.5 GPA or higher
You may find it’s tough to qualify for many nursing schools with a low GPA.
That’s why we offer an online Associate of Science in General Studies – Pre-Nursing program: to develop foundational healthcare knowledge while improving your GPA to qualify for a nursing degree program.
The climb up the career ladder may look daunting from the first rung, but we believe in you. You are capable of great things, and it all starts with the courage to take the first step!
I am an LPN with...
- A practical nursing diploma
- A GPA lower than 2.5
Can I go from LPN to NP online?
You can enroll in both online BSN and master’s-level NP specialty programs and complete didactic coursework virtually. However, that doesn’t mean 100% of your learning is done online. There will still be important in-person components required for you to graduate and advance.
Online learning does provide the potential benefit of studying on nights, weekends, or whatever is best for you. But hands-on training remains a crucial component of your nursing education across all degree levels. Your undergraduate clinicals and graduate-level practicums are key to developing the experience you need to excel in your first job as a nurse practitioner.
You can take the first step by enrolling in our Online BSN Bridge program for LPNs and earning the education required to become an RN and qualify for an NP program.
- Program length: 28 months
- Total credits: 120 credits
- Hands-on: Clinicals and intensives
- Eligibility: Available in select U.S. states
What to expect for tuition and cost
Because your degree pathway could vary so widely, it’s difficult to estimate a single number for reference to set your expectations.
There are several ways to potentially save, including scholarships and grants, employer partnerships, transfer credit from prior education, and much more. We work hard to ensure paying for school is not an obstacle for you to discover the career you’ve always wanted.
You can find general cost estimates using our Tuition Wizard, or get in touch with an admissions advisor who can walk you through the basics of financial aid and answer any questions about tuition and cost.
Consider a nurse practitioner specialty
At some point you’ll need to choose where to specialize as a nurse practitioner.
Fortunately, you don’t need to decide immediately. However, you can start becoming aware of some of the most common NP specialties and begin picturing yourself in future career possibilities.
As you earn experience in clinicals and eventually as an RN you may discover a personal strength you can apply towards a potential NP specialty.
We currently offer these specialty nurse practitioner pathways: