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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 7/12/2023

Discover some of the best online nursing programs in Pennsylvania. Many schools in Pennsylvania offer online nursing degrees, including public research universities and private colleges.

Our 2023 list includes colleges in Pennyslvania that offer online nursing programs and have available NCLEX data, so you can easily determine which online nursing program results in graduates with the best pass rate

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2023 Best Online Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania

School NCLEX Pass Rate Online Enrollment
Messiah University 100.0% 584
Cedar Crest College 93.88% 169
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania 93.41% 540
West Chester University of Pennsylvania 92.94% 1,880
Carlow University 92.78% 608
Mount Aloysius College 92.31% 94
La Salle University 91.59% 927
Immaculata University 90.48% 626
University of Pennsylvania 89.06% 2,890
Saint Francis University 88.57% 471
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Becoming a Nurse in Pennsylvania

Becoming a nurse in Pennsylvania requires you to prove your competence through education and testing. You'll need a diploma or degree no matter which type of nurse or assistant you want to be. Depending on your level, you might also need to pass one of the National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEXs) or the state's nurse aide exam. You may also be eligible for licensure by endorsement rather than examination if you hold an equivalent license in another state.

The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing governs licenses for licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). The Department of Health is responsible for nurse aide certification. 

Pennsylvania has struggled to keep qualified nurses in its healthcare facilities for years, and COVID-induced stress has made the situation worse. The state is considering options to lower the nurse-to-patient ratio, but working conditions are likely to remain busy and stressful for some time. 

To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below:

Nursing Degrees by State

How To Get a Certified Nursing Assistant License in Pennsylvania

CNAs working under the direction of RNs and LPNs to help patients bathe, dress, and turn themselves. To be eligible to work as a CNA in Pennsylvania, individuals must meet the following requirements:

Once individuals successfully complete their exam, they'll be registered on the Pennsylvania Certified Nurse Aide Registry and can begin their career.

CNAs are required to renew their certification every two years. To be eligible for renewal, individuals must work as a nurse aide for at least eight consecutive hours in an approved facility during the previous 24 months.

How To Get a Licensed Practical Nurse License in Pennsylvania

LPNs work closely with RNs and physicians to provide direct patient care. They assist doctors during procedures, keep detailed records, record vital signs, and answer patients' questions about their conditions.

Earning a Pennsylvania LPN license begins with graduating from a board-approved practical nursing program. After this, individuals can apply for licensure by examination and register for the NCLEX-PN. Candidates must take this test within one year of completing the education program. Finally, applicants pay their fees, submit to a criminal history records check, and take three hours of child-abuse recognition training.

LPNs need to renew their licenses every two years. A notice for renewal will be sent prior to the expiration date of the current license. Renewal can be done online. Renewal requires that LPNs complete 30 hours of board-approved continuing education, including two hours of training how to recognize and report child abuse.

How To Get a Registered Nurse License in Pennsylvania

RNs perform many hands-on duties such as administering medication, caring for wounds, monitoring vital signs, and completing diagnostic tests. They also educate patients about treatment options and counsel patients and their loved ones.

RNs must graduate with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to earn a Pennsylvania license. Licensure-by-examination hopefuls must then pass the NCLEX-RN within one year of completing their degree. Endorsement applicants submit proof of their existing license at this stage rather than retake the NCLEX.

All candidates must undergo a criminal history records check from the state police or other state agency for every state in which they've lived, worked, or completed professional training in the previous 10 years.

RNs renew their Pennsylvania nursing license every two years to keep current. As with LPNs, this requires 30 hours of board-approved continuing education, with two hours spent on child abuse recognition and reporting.

RNs can focus on many types of nursing practice — see our pages about how to become a neonatal nurse, a pediatric nurse, or a travel nurse for details on a few specialties.

How To Get an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse License in Pennsylvania

An APRN is an RN with years of practical experience who has earned a graduate-level degree from an accredited program, which is usually a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The Pennsylvania nursing board recognizes two different types of APRNs: certified registered nurse practitioners (CRNPs) and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). The board expects each prospective APRN to hold a national-level nursing certification in one of these specialties before applying for a license.

Once certified, the next step is applying to the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing for licensure. Individuals must submit:

  • A completed application to the board for review and approval

  • Official transcripts from an accredited graduate school of nursing

  • Proof of current national certification as a CRNP or CNS.

A CRNP may apply for authority to prescribe medications) if they have an active Pennsylvania RN license, an active Pennsylvania CRNP certificate and active Pennsylvania Prescriptive Authority Approval.

Pennsylvania APRN licenses are renewed every two years (along with RN license and prescriptive authority approval). Individuals must complete at least 30 hours of continuing education in the two years preceding renewal. 

CRNPs with prescriptive authority must complete at least 16 of their 30 continuing education hours in pharmacology topics. APRNs must ensure that their certifications are up to date, as well.

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