LPN to MSN degree

The LPN to MSN Path: How to Go from an LPN to NP

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) make a median annual salary of $54,620, with employment projected to grow five percent by 2032.

On the other hand, nurse practitioners (NPs) make a median annual salary of $125,900 and can expect employment to grow by 38 percent by 2032.

It’s easy to see why many licensed practical nurses seek to become nurse practitioners and take advantage of these salary and employment opportunities. Many LPNs also seek career advancement to further their own personal growth and professional skills.

If you are looking to advance your current LPN career, you are in the right place. Below we outline the path a licensed practical nurse (LPN) can take to become a nurse practitioner (NP) through a Master of Science (MSN) in Nursing program.

What is a licensed practical nurse (LPN)?

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide basic nursing care to patients and usually work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs) and other medical professionals. A licensed practical nurse may assist a registered nurse with basic tasks like administering medicine, monitoring patient progress, and taking patient vital signs.

These healthcare professionals often enroll in practical training programs that take one to two years to complete. These programs cover the fundamentals of nursing, such as basic diagnostic procedures, healthcare initiatives, and hands-on clinical training. In a Licensed Practical Nurse training program, candidates can expect to take courses and learn about the following topics:

  • Basic pharmacology and biology courses
  • Disease prevention
  • Legal and ethical aspects of nursing
  • Workplace and patient safety

Licensed practical nurses often find work in nursing homes and residential care facilities but can be found in some hospitals and private practices, as well.

What is a nurse practitioner (NP)?

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). These professionals have completed advanced graduate studies that prepare them to perform more care duties, including some traditionally performed by physicians.

Nurse practitioners must first be licensed registered nurses and later pursue either their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), with a dedicated nurse practitioner specialization in their chosen area of expertise. Their education and training allow them to help physicians by:

  • Administering immunizations
  • Delivering diagnoses
  • Initiating treatment plans
  • Ordering tests
  • Performing patient assessments

Candidates can also specialize and enroll in programs such as Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) programs.


Learn about Goodwin’s MSN-APRN programs online.



Going from licensed practical nurse (LPN) to nurse practitioner (NP)

Licensed practical nurses interested in advancing their careers, salaries, and knowledge should consider becoming nurse practitioners through an RN training program and further a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.

Below are the basic steps to advance from an LPN to NP career.

Step 1: Earn an Associate (ADN) or Bachelor of Science (BSN) in Nursing

If you are currently a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you’ll need to first become a registered nurse (RN) by earning an associate degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

While an associate degree in Nursing will allow you to enter the workforce quickly, a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing will best set you up to pursue an MSN degree program right away. Plus, BSN candidates gain more training, leading to advanced skills and knowledge in the field.

Every nursing program’s length will vary, but an ADN typically takes two years to complete, whereas a BSN program typically takes four years to complete. Some programs are even more flexible. For example, at Goodwin University, our ADN can be completed in 20 months, part-time.

Candidates with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees can also enroll in our accelerated BSN program and earn their degree in as few as 16 months full-time.

Step 2: Take the RN licensing examination and submit your application

All registered nurses in the U.S. must be licensed in the state they wish to work. So, in addition to earning their nursing degree, RN candidates must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Then, RN candidates submit their proof of graduation, passing results of their examination, and application for state licensure in order to become a registered nurse.

Step 3: Earn an advanced practice MSN degree

Now that you are a licensed and practicing registered nurse, it’s time to enroll in an advanced nursing program, such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

Nurse practitioners are required to earn a Master’s degree in Nursing in order to become licensed Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).

Candidates should enroll in accredited programs that offer flexible and affordable options that fit their personal needs, interests, and schedules. Goodwin’s graduate nursing students can complete their degree in as little as 20 months, part-time. Online courses are available for evolving nurses.

Furthermore, aspiring NPs should know what area they want to practice in, like family or mental health. They should then choose an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) program that aligns with their professional interests, such as a Family Nurse Practitioner (APRN-FNP) or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (APRN-PMHNP) program.

Step 4: Get your national nursing certification and apply for your nurse practitioner license

Nurse practitioners become nationally certified by passing the nurse practitioner national certification exam and applying for their nurse practitioner license.

Upon completion of both of these, candidates are ready to practice.

Step 5: Start your career as a nurse practitioner

It’s finally time to enjoy a fulfilling and financially rewarding career helping others live longer, happier, and healthier lives as a nurse practitioner.

Nurse practitioners often find full-time work in:

  • Offices of other health practitioners
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Physician’s offices
  • State, local, and private educational services and institutions
  • State, local, and private hospitals

Goodwin University’s MSN programs for ambitious LPNs

Now that you know the steps to go from a licensed practical nurse (LPN) to a nurse practitioner (NP), it’s time to begin your journey. Typically, you must start by becoming a registered nurse before enrolling in an MSN program.

When you are ready to make the leap into an advanced MSN program, you must check off a variety of admissions requirements. At Goodwin, our MSN program requirements look something like this:

  • Complete a graduate application for admission.
  • Participate in a telephone interview administered by the program director.
  • Pay a $50 non-refundable application fee (waived for Goodwin University graduates).
  • Provide a current, unencumbered RN license.
  • Provide a professional resume.
  • Submit an official or unofficial transcript from your most recent degree earned (this may be from prelicensure) with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
    • Applicants with less than a 3.0 CGPA may be considered for conditional admittance into the program under certain circumstances.
  • Submit an official or unofficial transcript verifying receipt of a bachelor’s degree from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the equivalent of this degree from another country with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Submit an official or unofficial transcript verifying receipt of a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • Write a formal 800-1000 word personal statement of your nursing career goals.

Additionally, Goodwin University recommends that applicants have two years of working experience or the equivalent in the role of a registered nurse.

Contact us for more information or apply to complete your advanced nursing degree in person or online. Start your future today!