Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. (only overshadowed by New York and Los Angeles) is home to deep dish pizza, The Loop, and Lake Michigan, and known as the birthplace of skyscrapers, improv, blues, hip hop, gospel, jazz, and soul.
The Windy City is also peppered with 60+ institutions that offer a nursing program and one of the country’s highest employment rates for Licensed Practical Nurses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipate the need for LPNs will increase by 9% through 2029 — in Chicago and across the country — as more Boomers start migrating into residential care and home health environments.
Top 5 LPN Programs in Chicago
|1||Harper College||Palatine, Illinois|
|2||Oakton Community College||Des Plaines, Illinois|
|3||Moraine Valley Community College||Palos Hills, Illinois|
|4||Black Hawk College||Moline, Illinois|
|5||Malcolm X College||Chicago, Illinois|
The pros and cons of becoming an LPN
In the world of nursing’s alphabet soup of possibilities — LPN, RN, ADN, BSN, MSN, NP — LPNs take the least amount of schooling and money (typically, students can be done with classes and ready to take the licensing exam within a year to 18 months). That can be a bonus for some. The downside: salaries are generally lowest for LPNs. On average, LPNs bring in around $40,000-60,000 in this Midwest city, while RNs can make $20,000-$30,000 more.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a variety of employment options available. Although residential care facilities employ about 38% of LPNs, schools, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals (urgent care, emergency rooms, labor and delivery, pediatrics), doctors’ offices, home health care services, and government agencies are also hot spots for career opportunities.
What you need to know before you apply for an LPN program
The first step is finding an accredited institution. Why does accreditation matter? There are several reasons: financial aid is only offered to students enrolled at an accredited institution, transferring credits to another institution is easier, and degrees from non-accredited institutions are often considered illegitimate. But most importantly, to even sit down to take the NCLEX-PN, your certificate MUST be from an approved nursing education program. Luckily for you, we’ve done most of the legwork and narrowed your options.
Although there are plenty of nursing programs across the Windy City, few offer practical nursing. After exhaustive research of over 60 institutions, we weeded out ones that didn’t have an LPN program or accreditation, than ranked the remaining by lowest tuition (see Our Ranking Methodology for complete details). These are the 13 institutions that made the cut.
Best 12 LPN Programs in Chicago
In the limited-enrollment, four-semester LPN program at Harper College, students will take classes like human anatomy, advanced pharmacology, and psychology of human development, along with clinical in medical-surgical, PN fundamentals, and maternity and pediatrics in the state-of-the-art nursing lab. Just 30 minutes from the heart of the city, Harper also offers other stackable certificates — Nursing Assistant and Military Medical Corpsman to PN — that can be used toward a degree.
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, and Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
Oakton Community College
Second, on our list of LPN programs in Chicago, Oakton Community College nursing students are taught in a combination of classroom, lab, and Simulation Hospital, along with hands-on experience at a health care facility. To earn the 38 credits, they will learn therapeutic communication, assessment techniques, principles of evidence-based practice, and pharmacology, while integrating legal and ethical responsibilities.
Moraine Valley Community College
Embedded in the Moraine Valley Community College associate’s degree of nursing is the LPN licensure option. After completing the first year of the ADN program and the nursing transitions course, students are eligible for the NCLEX-PN. Classes for first-year enrollees include pharmacology and disease processes, nursing concepts, special topics, nursing arts, and clinics that include OB and medical-surgical care.
Black Hawk College
Housed on the Quad-Cities Campus in Moline, Black Hawk College’s practical nurses’ program operates in a 55,000-square-foot Health Sciences Center, complete with three patient simulator mannequins, 24 hospital beds, and an ambulance. The 40-credit, the two-semester curriculum focuses on geriatrics with classes like older adult nursing, pharmacology, and intergenerational nursing in addition to anatomy, communications, and pre-algebra.
Malcolm X College
Malcolm X College is the only one in the City Colleges of Chicago system that’s accepting new students into the Advanced Certificate program for practical nursing. With classes like medical careers terminology, human structure and function, and concepts of holism, nursing practice, nursing process, multicultural society, and communications, co-eds can transfer their 49 credits toward an associate or bachelor’s nursing degree.
Joliet Junior College
With 18 hours of weekly classroom and clinical learning, along with an additional 20 hours of prep and studying, nursing students at Joliet Junior College find this program one of the most rigorous LPN programs in Chicago. But the college’s first-time passing rate for the NCLEX was 99% in 2019. The 46-semester hour curriculum includes the option to complete the Achievement Certificate online or an online/on-campus hybrid in classes like principles of biology, rhetoric, principles of normal nutrition, and pediatric nursing concepts.
John Woods Community College
Nursing students at John Woods Community College need 31 gen ed requirements in courses like biology, anatomy, microbiology, elementary statistics, and psychology, along with two semesters of nursing classes (including an LPN Scope of Practice course) to complete their certificate. JWCC also offers associate degrees in nursing, office technology (medical option), and surgical technology, as well as medical assistant, medical office, and nursing assistant certificates.
North Shore College
Formerly the Northbrook College of Health Care, this private institution in Wheeling only offers an LPN program, plus 244 theory and lab hours of prerequisite courses. The fast track program at North Shore College can be completed in as little as 11 months, with 1050 hours of coursework in anatomy and physiology, nursing foundation, nursing care of chronically and acute patients, pediatric children, and developing families, as well as leadership and medication administration.
- Accreditation: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of Illinois Board of Higher Education
Great Paragon Healthcare, Inc.
Unlike the other LPN programs in Chicago on our list, Great Paragon Healthcare, Inc. is a home health care agency, providing medical and non-medical services to at-home clients. Along with employment opportunities for RN-, LPN-, CNA-, and HHA-licensed applicants, the organization also provides training programs for nursing assistants and LPNs. Courses include fundamentals of nursing, care of the adult client, obstetrical nursing, pediatric nursing, and nursing for mental health clients.
- Accreditation: Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of Illinois Board of Higher Education
Ambria College of Nursing
The LPN program at Ambria College of Nursing in Hoffman Estates offers morning, afternoon, and evening classes, part- or full-time, and is Illinois’s only private nursing school with a seamless degree progression — LPN, LPN to RN, and RN to BSN. The 36-credit certificate can be completed in as little as 12 months with an accelerated schedule, but typically takes 16-20 months with classes like adult medical-surgical nursing, nursing care of children, PN role transition, and a PN capstone
In 12-14 months, students in Verve College’s PN program can earn their certificates. The 1080-hour curriculum consists of eight modules with instruction in areas like history, asepsis and infection control, critical thinking, patient mobility, wound care, neurology, musculoskeletal, oncology, and antepartum, postpartum, and newborn. Part of the tuition at this Oak Brook college includes a one-time cost of the NCLEX-PN.
ATS Institute of Technology
Rounding out our list of LPN programs in Chicago is the ATS Institute of Technology. This secondary campus of the MDT College of Health Sciences offers day, evening, and weekend classes. The three-semester nursing program is made up of two 15-week sessions and one 19-week session with courses like clinical judgment, nursing fundamentals, a critical thinking lab, and an NCLEX-PN review course.
Our Ranking Methodology
After searching for nursing programs in Chicago, we compiled a list of 62 institutions. We removed any that didn’t offer an LPN program or weren’t accredited through the U.S. Department of Education before February 2, 2021, or a national health care or nursing accredited organization.
Only 12 remained. We then ranked those LPN programs by lowest in-state tuition costs (minus fees, etc.).
Have Problems With Your Ranking?
If you’re employed by one of the organizations listed and disagree with the information we’ve provided, please feel free to contact us and we’ll make the correction.