Online Vocational Nursing Programs: Education Options

Jan 16, 2020

Get information about online programs for licensed vocational nursing. Learn about program requirements, course topics, degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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  • 0:02 Essential Info
  • 1:08 LVN Program
  • 1:49 Common LVN Courses
  • 3:37 Career Info
  • 4:07 Continuing Education

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Essential Information

Program Levels Vocational program
Field(s) of Study Licensed vocational nursing
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Hybrid programs available (in-person lab or clinical rotations)
Program Length 1-2 years
Licensure/Certification State licensure required
Median Annual Salary (2015) $46,240

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensed vocational nurse (LVN) programs are usually offered by technical schools or community colleges; some high schools may have certificate programs as well. LVN programs are experience-intensive and require hands-on training; therefore, they cannot be completed totally through distance education. Some programs may be available in hybrid format, combining traditional learning, clinical rotations, and online classes. LVN certificate programs are often 50-60 credit hours long and may take anywhere from 1-2 years to complete.

Courses that may be offered online include anatomy, pharmacology, and medical terminology. Online students complete the clinical requirements by working under supervision with real patients in a healthcare facility near their homes.

All states require that LVNs be licensed through that state's board of nursing. To work as an LVN, graduates must complete a state-approved education program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for practical nurses (NCLEX-PN exam).

Licensed Vocational Nurse Program

The majority of classes for LVN training must be completed on-campus in a skills lab or a clinical setting. A handful of LVN courses may be available online early in the program. Some programs do not offer LVN specific courses online but may offer prerequisite courses like mathematics or English online.

Students must have a computer with e-mail and Internet access. The computer must meet the specifications, as outlined by the university, to support the content management system used by the university. Certain software may be required, including anti-virus, Adobe Reader, and Microsoft Office.

Common LVN Courses

Students enrolled in an online LVN program take online LVN specific courses, general education classes, and on-campus clinicals. An institution may schedule clinicals on the weekend.

Foundations of Nursing

In courses on the foundations of nursing, students cover a wide range of topics from the historical background of the field to the responsibilities and expectations of a licensed vocational nurse. Ethical and legal concerns, diversity, and communication are also topics explored in these courses.

Professional Development

In professional development courses, students examine topics related to professional growth. These may include job interviewing, resume writing, delegating authority, continuing education, and joining professional organizations.

Nursing - Maternal and Neonatal

The maternal and neonatal nursing courses look at the nursing process in the management and assessment of families in their childbearing years. The courses consider the biological, psychological, sociological, and culture needs of the families.


In pediatrics courses, students learn about childcare from the infant to teenage years. Topics include childhood diseases and caring for an ill child using nursing methods.

Physiology and Anatomy

Physiology and anatomy courses explore microbiology principles. Other topics include normal function and structure of the body.

General Education Prerequisites

LVN certificate programs may suggest, or even require, that students complete prerequisite courses in general education subjects like mathematics, English, medical terminology, or basic computer courses. Some of these subjects, such as English or introductory computer courses, are available online.

Career Information

Under the guidance of registered nurses and doctors, a licensed vocational nurse cares for disabled or injured individuals or those recovering from illness or injury. Typical duties include recording a patient's vital signs and administering medications. According to a May 2018 survey cited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed vocational nurses earned a median yearly salary of $46,240.

Continuing Education

Licensed vocational nurses may seek to become registered nurses (RNs) by enrolling in a LVN to Registered Nurse (RN) bridge program. These programs are not offered online in their entirety, but some courses may be available online.

While LVN programs require hands-on clinicals and are not available fully online, there are options allowing students to take some courses online and participate in a hybrid format.

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