If you've spent any time looking into nursing programs, you probably have lots of questions about which degree program will give you the best hands-on experience so you can begin your registered nursing (RN) career.
While some leading organizations advocate for nurses to attend a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program, many associate degreein nursing (ADN) programs provide robust coursework and prepare students well for the NCLEX-RN and on-the-job skills.
To help prospective students decide if and which ADN program is best for them, we've narrowed down the 10 best available in 2023, along with information on degree prerequisites, requirements, salaries, and more.
Table of Contents
- What Is an ADN?
- 10 Best ADN Programs
What Is an ADN?
Getting an ADN is an excellent place for future nurses to begin their education.
Most programs take 18 months to two years to complete. Once completed,nursing careers with a wide range of possibilities, work environments, and types of patients are available.
What Classes Do ADN Nurses Take?
ADNs can be offered at community colleges, state colleges, technical colleges, and some four-year universitiesbut always have a significant focus on core nursing classes and clinical experiences. The robustcurriculum, includinga blend of classwork and hands-on coursework,means students willbe well prepared to take the NCLEX-RN exam and begin in aclinical nurse role upon graduation.
Since ADN studentswork towards an associate of applied science, coursework in general education and nursingis required. Standard classes include:
- Fundamentals of Nursing
- Nursing care of adults
- Community Health Nursing
- Behavioral Health
- Anatomy and physiology
CanADNs Be TakenEntirely Online?
ADN programs aren't entirely available online because students must complete hands-on courses, nursing skills in an in-person practice lab, and hands-on patient care in a healthcare facility.
Learning that you can't get your first nursing degree in a fully online program may be disappointing. However, nursing care requires practice and muscle memory to become proficient. Theseskills are acquired overdiligence and time, so to ensure safe and effective care for the thousands of patients in your nursing career future, in-person training is a necessity.
Where Can ADN Nurses Work?
Nurses with an ADN have many career options and opportunities. They can work in any care setting that provides hands-on healthcare. Most ADN RNs work in the hospital setting. However, many work in home care, long-term care, and other state and private facilities. The most common care settings employing associate degree nurses include:
- Nursing homes
- Home care agencies
- Physicians' offices
- Educational services
- Government agencies
- Community Centers
- Dialysis Centers
- Telephonic and Virtual care settings
ADN Prerequisites and Requirements
ADN programs are often the choice for first-time nursing students because it allows them tobecome RNs in a short time and quickly reach their career goals. However, because this is an excellent entry point for a long nursing career, there are several prerequisites and requirements.
Proof of Prior Education
Proof of all previous education during the application process will be required. The school requires verification of a high school diploma, GED, and any prior college credits. These documents can be requested from attended schools, and they'll send official transcripts directly to the ADN program of choice.
Many ADN programs have a list of prerequisite courses. For most people, these courses will have been completed during high school. However, aspiring students must sometimes complete a few chemistry, physiology, or algebra classes before beginning the nursing program. Those whodidn't graduate high school but earned a GEDmay have more courses to complete before startingnursing coursework.
Most nursing programs require the completion of a pre-entrance exam, such as the TEAS or HESI. These tests assessthe likelihood of passing the nursing school curriculum. Each standardized test is a bit different, but most tests the knowledge of general health subjects and skills like problem-solving and reading comprehension.
Taking a test prep course for these exams is a good idea because retakes are limited. Check with the college's nursing faculty or admissions office for details about passing scores and retake opportunities before scheduling a pre-entrance exam.
Related: 10 Fastest Registered Nurse (RN) Programs in 2023
Completionof a CPR certification course is often a requirement of ADN programs. In addition, many schools require a specific type of CPR, like CPR for the Healthcare Provider. Some even require it from a particular organization, such as the American Heart Association. Be sure to check with the nursing program of choice to ensure the correct certification is completed.
Nursing school means providing hands-on nursing skills in healthcare facilities. Specific health requirements must be met to keep students and patients safe while completing the nursing program. Standard health requirements include:
- Overall Health Physical
- Drug Screening
- Health Immunizations
Criminal Background Check
Nurses care for vulnerable patient populations like pediatrics and senior adults. Nursing schools and healthcare facilities must ensure the safety of patients while students are gaining nursing practice experience by requiring students to complete a criminal background check. Always disclose past convictions because dealing with these issues openly and honestly is the best practice.
Best ADN Programs in 2023
The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most while selecting schools, with the addition of graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rates of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.
1. Howard College
Texas has many things that make it a great state to live in. While prospective studentsmight not think nursing schools are one of the top reasons, they might need to think again.
Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, is number one on the list and has operated an ADN program since 1976. This program is approved by the Texas Board of Nursing and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The school has had a 100% NCLEX-RN pass rate in three of the last six reported years. This statistic should provide confidence that studentsgraduate prepared to take the state exam and begin their nursing careers. Education will cost around $2500 per term for in-state students and just over $5000 for out-of-state students.
2. Cayuga Community College
Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and Registered by the Office of Professions, NYSDE, arejust a coupleof reasons the ADN program at Cayuga Community College made the list.
This nursing program in Auburn, New York, boasts a 2021 100% NCLEX-RN pass rate and a 2019 55% program completion rate. The 2019 class also met a 100% employment rate within six months of graduation, which surpassed the goal of 80%. Estimated spending is around $2,500 per semesterfor in-state tuition or just under $5,000 per semester for out-of-state.
3. University of Charleston
Love mountains and want a top-ranking nursing school?Check out the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia. This top ADN program is hybrid and only takes 16 months to complete. In addition, the college has over 50 years of nursing education experience, so be prepared to learn everythingneededto be a successful NCLEX-RN candidate and bedside nurse.
With over 3,000 nursing student graduates, this program boasts a 2019 NCLEX-RN pass rate of 100% and program completion rates of over 90% in 2018 and 2019. In addition, students can begin the program at three different times throughout the year, which offers flexibility to fit their needs.
4. Rasmussen University
Rasmussen University is a national leader in nursing education. They have 19 campuses across five states, increasing the chances of getting anursing degree close to home. This hybrid nursing program requires no pre-nursing coursework,most campuses don't have waiting lists, and many have multiple start dates yearly.
Students will learn all about patient care skills, clinical decision-making, and professional confidence and gain a well-rounded nursing perspective. They'll also be well prepared for the NCLEX-RN but must check in with the college to get the exact pass rates for their chosen campus.
Rasmussen's ADN program isACEN accredited.
5. Galen College of Nursing
Galen's two-year ADN is a great place to start a healthcare career. The program has four starts each year and campuses in Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits the school. It will take 24 months to complete the program, but no prerequisites are required to start because all general education classes are included in the nursing curriculum.
6. Chabot College
If sunny California and a degree in nursing are calling, consider Chabot College in Hayward. This nursing program has seen excellent success with seven years of 100% NCLEX-RN pass rates from 2016 to 2022.
All applicants must achieve 62% or higher on the ATI TEAS exam and meet all standard application requirements. Applications are only accepted once a year and a maximum of 40 students are selected. This nursing program will cost approximately $7,000, not including uniforms and fees.
7. Santa Monica City College
Santa Monica City College is the second California school on our top ten list. This nursing program meets the standards of the California Board of Registered Nursing and is accredited by ACEN. All students must complete Human Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology before beginning the nursing program.
The school boasts an 89% program completion rate, a 91.55% NCLEX-RN pass rate, and a 100% job placement rate for the 2021-2022 graduating class. The school's vision is to embraceexcellence in education while preparing nursing graduates to work as RNs with a foundation for lifelong learning.
8. Big Bend Community College
Big Bend Community College in Washington prepares nursing students to become safe and responsible practitioners. Theschool is approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and accredited by ACEN.
The program will take 24 months to complete and is offered fully in person. The most recently reported NCLEX-RN pass rate was 80%, and the school reports a recent graduate rate of 73% of all nursing students. In addition, they offer post-graduation employment assistance, and the latest data shows that 100% of all graduates were placed in a job upon graduation.
9. Excelsior College
Excelsior College offers two different associate's degrees for prospective nursing students. You can choose from an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing program or an Associate in Science in Nursing program. They have similar nursing coursework requirements but vary in general education requirements. No matter which program is chosen, students will be well on their way to a successful career because all graduates receive free preparation for the NCLEX-RN exam.
This program has a unique format. First, students take all of their nursing coursework online. Then, during their nursing capstone, they travel onsite to complete laboratory and clinical experiences. NCLEX-RN pass rates for Excelsior come in at 67%, and the school admits 67% of all applicants.
10. Montgomery College
Rounding up our top ten nursing schools is Montgomery College in Maryland. The nursing program is a selective application-based program that limits its per-semester admission to 192 students. The nursing curriculum is completed over two years. The program is accredited by ACEN and approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing.
Upon completion, graduates can utilize clinical reasoning, practice patient-centered care, and be proficient in current technologies and informatics. If students want to continue their nursing education after obtaining their ADN, the school has several nursing transfer agreements to colleges with ADN to BSN pathway programs.
Outlook and Salary Expectations of RNs in 2023
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that more than 203,000 new registered nurse positions will be created between 2021 and 2031. This increase in job opportunities, current staffing shortages, and the aging US population make it an excellent time to begin a nursing career.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for registered nurses in 2021 was $77,600 per year or just over $37.00 per hour. It's critical to note that BLS doesn't break down salary ranges between ADN and BSN nurses. There is also some variation in nursing salaries depending on location within the United States and nursing specialty.
Q: Is an ADN worth it since many organizations are pushing for BSN nurses?
A: Unfortunately, the answer to this question depends on what you want for your nursing career. If you want to go to school in the shortest amount of time but still obtain your RN, this is the degree for you. However, if you want to go into teaching, leadership, or a few other specialties, you might choose a BSN program instead.
Q: Can I complete my ADN as a part-time student?
A: Finding RN programs with part-time, evening, or weekend options is getting harder and harder. Most programs require you to be a full-time nursing student to become an RN.
Related: 10 Best Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs in 2023
Q: How hard is obtaining my BSN after getting my ADN?
A: There are many RN-to-BSN programs out there for nurses who already have an RN licensure. All you have to do is find the best one that fits your schedule and career goals. In addition, many RN-to-BSN bridge programs are also offered online so you can balance work, home life, and school simultaneously.
Q: Is there a specific RN licensure exam for ADN Nurses?
A: No. All RNs take the NCLEX-RN to become licensed in the state in which they live.
Q: Do I have to have a BSN to work in pediatric nursing?
A: No. Many ADN nurses are in specialties, including pediatric nursing.
AD DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links. These links are designed for allnurses to generate revenue at no cost to you. The websites you visit are operated by third parties and have no influence in our recommendations, which are grounded in research.
10 Best Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Programs in 2023? ›
The main difference between ADN and ASN degrees is ASN programs put a bigger focus on clinical practice. The courses for ASN programs are similar to ADN programs, but often have more clinical hour requirements.Which is better ADN or ASN? ›
The main difference between ADN and ASN degrees is ASN programs put a bigger focus on clinical practice. The courses for ASN programs are similar to ADN programs, but often have more clinical hour requirements.Is getting ADN harder than BSN? ›
ADN programs are also generally easier to get into than BSN programs and they are not as costly. There are many advantages to both ADNs and BSNs. To help decide which program might be right for you, consider cost, program length, salary potential, and career advancement opportunities.Which nursing program is the shortest? ›
Licensed Practical Nurse
An LPN program prepares students to become practical nurses in as little as 54 weeks. After graduation and successful passing of the NCLEX-PN exam, students can enter the field and provide basic nursing care under the supervision of a registered nurse or doctor.
As compared with ADN graduates, BSN degree holders are seen as better prepared for nursing supervisor and management roles within their jobs.What is the highest paid ASN nurse? ›
|Annual Salary||Monthly Pay|
For those who want to become a registered nurse, an ADN degree can help them get into the field quickly. It can be a useful stepping-stone to receive a bachelor's degree in nursing or for other advanced medical degrees. Becoming a registered nurse can lead to a wide variety of opportunities and career paths.Are adns being phased out? ›
The growing trend in the healthcare industry pushing for all nurses to have a BSN degree for hire will not phase out ADN nurses anytime soon.Is the Nclex the same for ADN and BSN? ›
After earning their degree, BSN graduates are required to pass the same NCLEX-RN test taken by ADN candidates. As a result of the additional education, BSN-RNs are otherwise better positioned for certain nursing specialties, career advancement opportunities, and better pay.Why is BSN preferred over ADN? ›
Choosing between an ADN and BSN degree also involves thinking about the kind of nursing career you want to build. A BSN degree provides you with more employment opportunities, as well as a chance to earn a higher salary. With a BSN degree, you will also be able to provide a wider range of healthcare to patients.
Which nursing semester is hardest? ›
- Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
- Pharmacology. ...
- Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
- Evidence-Based Practice.
An LPN or LVN program usually takes around a year to complete, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). What makes an LPN or LVN preparation program the easiest type of nursing education you can pursue is its focus on training for basic nursing services only and its quick completion time.What is the easiest nurse to be? ›
- Nurse Educator. This is one of the least stressful nursing jobs available. ...
- School Nurse/Summer Camp Nurse. If you love children, this might be the perfect opportunity for you. ...
- Nurse Administrator. ...
- Public Health Nurse. ...
- Nurse Researcher. ...
- Nurse Informaticist. ...
- Case Management Nurse. ...
- Home Health Nurse.
Over the past two decades, a substantial body of research in the U.S. and abroad has documented that hospitals with a higher proportion of registered nurses with a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) experience significantly fewer deaths, have shorter hospital stays and fewer readmissions, and have lower Medicare ...Is the Nclex hard? ›
The NCLEX is a hard exam, but it's not impossible to pass. Statistically, over 80% of students who take the NCLEX RN or NCLEX PN exam will pass. Most likely, a student will pass if they went to a good nursing program, bought a good NCLEX prep course, and has a good NCLEX study plan in place.What type of nurse is most in demand? ›
2. Registered nurse (RN)
|Education||ASN (required) or BSN (recommended)|
|Certifications||Must pass the NCLEX-RN exam|
They often work in hospital ICUs but also can work in other areas of nursing. Becoming a critical care nurse is seen as one of the most coveted positions in nursing, as these nurses possess a very high level of critical thinking and nursing skills.What kind of nurses get paid most? ›
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $202,000.
- Nursing Administrator – $120,000.
- Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $120,000.
- General Nurse Practitioner – $118,000.
- Critical Care Nurse – $118,000.
- Certified Nurse Midwife – $114,000.
- Informatics Nurse – $102,000.
- Clinical Nurse Specialist – $95,000.
Roughly 40% of the nearly 3 million registered nurses (RNs) in the United States have an associate's degree (ADN) as their highest level of nursing education.Is 30 too old to go to nursing school? ›
A common question often asked by nontraditional students is whether or not they're too old to go to nursing school. The short answer is that you're never too old to go to nursing school. Even if you're not physically able to do certain nursing jobs, there are other nursing specialties you're going to be able to do.
Is it too late to start nursing school? ›
And while some people might feel that becoming a nurse later in life isn't possible, that's simply not true. Thanks to a variety of diverse nursing programs, it's 100% possible to follow your heart and become a nurse at any age. In fact, it's even easier if you already have a bachelor's degree.Where do most adns work? ›
- The majority (61%) of RNs work in hospital settings, whether those are state, local or private facilities.
- 18% of RNs work in doctors' offices, home healthcare and outpatient care settings.
- 7% work in nursing and residential care facilities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the need for registered nurses may grow by 9% by 2030. There may be greater demand for RNs with either an ADN or BSN, due to increased preventive care, chronic conditions and an aging population.Will there still be a nursing shortage in 2025? ›
Researchers estimated that the US will have a 10 to 20 percent nursing gap by 2025 as the number of patients needing care exceeds the number of nurses. The RN supply could potentially see a low of 2.4 million, while the RN demand could be a low of 2.8 million nurses.Do you take NCLEX twice for ADN and BSN? ›
The main test that nurses take is the NCLEX, but you do not need to take it more than once after passing. Though there are no other required exams, you may want to take some of the certification exams available.Do you take NCLEX after ADN? ›
Both BSN and ADN degrees prepare students to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) open_in_new to become registered nurses. The NCLEX exam does not differ for those on the BSN or ADN educational path. Last updated January 2022.Can you pass the NCLEX with an associate's degree? ›
Can I take the NCLEX-RN with an ADN degree? Students who graduate from accredited ADN, ASN, or AASN programs qualify to take either of the National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEX) offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.What title goes after RN BSN? ›
Nurses in clinical practice tend to list their licensure first followed by degrees and then certifications. For example: RN, BSN, CCRN. Nurses who are academic educators list their academic degrees first followed by licensure and then certifications. For example: DNP, RN, CNE.What skills are different between ADN and BSN? ›
BSN nurses may enjoy increased autonomy in decision making on the job, with increased knowledge and understanding of RN specialties and skills. ADN nurses are typically highly focused on technical clinical tasks and day-to-day care, such as monitoring patients, administering basic procedures or updating charts.Why nurses should get their BSN? ›
More Comprehensive Education & Better Patient Care
Research from the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing (AACN) showed that BSN-educated nurses have lower mortality rates, lower “failure to rescue” rates, and higher proficiency in making good diagnoses than their peers with associates degrees.
Which is the toughest degree in the world? ›
- Chartered Accountancy.
- Quantum Mechanics.
- Aerospace/ Aeronautical Studies, Engineering.
- Biomedical Studies, Neurosciences, Biochemistry.
- Dentistry, Medicine.
Emergency nursing is considered one of the most difficult fields of nursing, and certification in this specialty is highly desirable.What is harder paramedic or nursing? ›
Paramedics are more highly trained than LPNs, however, the 1,200 to 1,800 hours of schooling a paramedic receives is lower than the two to four years it usually takes to become an RN. The paramedic's duties are mainly concerned with delivering emergency care to patients prior to arriving at the hospital.What is the lowest GPA for nursing? ›
While most nursing schools set their minimum GPA requirements at 3.0, there are accelerated nursing programs out there that accept students with 2.7 and 2.8 GPAs. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean you'd receive a lesser nursing education with these programs.What degree is better than nursing? ›
For those who are interested in more behind-the-scenes work, or who want to explore their options in healthcare, health science is a great alternative major to nursing. A health science degree can lead to many different careers, from a healthcare administrator to medical biller and coder.What state is the easiest to become a nurse? ›
- Maine: 1-2 weeks.
- Maryland: 2-3 days.
- Missouri: 2 weeks.
- Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
- North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
- North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
- Texas: 2 weeks.
- Vermont: 3-5 business days.
Licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) are some of the lowest-paid nursing roles, but that is due to the fact that the educational requirements are less than most other types of nurses.What is the least stressful type of nurse? ›
These nurses administer more basic care and typically don't have to work long hours and overnight shifts, so this field of nursing tends to be low-stress. Even with less excitement, these nurses find fulfillment in providing basic and family care to those in need.
ADN focuses on comprehensive nursing courses and clinical practice. ASN focuses primarily on clinical practice while also providing nursing courses. AAS is a career-focused program that provides basic nursing education.Should all nurses have a BSN? ›
While several degree options that grant entry into the nursing profession exist, the BSN is the one that opens the most doors. That's because it goes beyond basic nursing knowledge, taking a deeper dive into health policy, research and evidence-based practice and leadership development.
What percentage of nurses hold a BSN? ›
As of 2018, the percentage of nurses that have graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) or higher is about 57% (Campaign for Action, 2020).Is the NCLEX changing in 2023? ›
The Next Gen NCLEX will also have a new scoring method. Currently, the NCLEX items are scored as either all incorrect or all correct. Using a scoring model that accounts for multiple answers will allow for partial credit. It will go into effect in April 2023.How many times can I fail my NCLEX? ›
Though the vast majority of candidates pass the exam the first time, those who fail are permitted to retake it after 45 days from their original test date. Candidates may retest as many as 8 times in a year.How many nursing students fail the NCLEX? ›
What Are Your Chances Of Failing NCLEX-RN On The First Attempt? The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reports 13.43% of NCLEX-RN candidates fail the exam on their first attempt.What is the highest GPA for nursing? ›
After acceptance into the nursing program, each student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for coursework in the nursing major to remain in the nursing program.What is the highest nurse title? ›
Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
Chief nursing officers are nursing administrators who work within the leadership team of a healthcare organization. They are considered the highest level of nursing leadership.
Nurse practitioner (level six): A level six nurse is a nurse practitioner who has a master's degree in nursing and assists medical teams in an advanced clinical role. They have a nurse practitioner endorsement which requires several years of nursing experience to obtain.Can you take the Nclex with a ASN degree? ›
Students who graduate from accredited ADN, ASN, or AASN programs qualify to take either of the National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEX) offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.What does ADN mean in nursing? ›
As you've been looking into pursuing a nursing career, you've likely noticed a number of options to acquire the credentials you need. One that stands out is an associate degree in nursing (ADN) since you can finish a program in two years or fewer.Do ADN and BSN take the same Nclex? ›
After earning their degree, BSN graduates are required to pass the same NCLEX-RN test taken by ADN candidates. As a result of the additional education, BSN-RNs are otherwise better positioned for certain nursing specialties, career advancement opportunities, and better pay.
Should I get my ASN before BSN? ›
Nursing requires training, education and commitment. To be eligible to take the state certification exam and ultimately become licensed as a nurse, you must earn an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). To take your nursing career to the next level, you can then obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).Can I take the NCLEX without going to nursing school? ›
Do you need a nursing degree to take the NCLEX exam? To take the NCLEX-RN, you'll need a four-year nursing degree from an accredited program. To take the NCLEX-PN, you'll need to complete a related diploma program or certificate course.What is an ADN called? ›
ADN stands for Associate Degree in Nursing. You may also see associate nursing degrees referred to as ASN or AASN. These stand for Associate of Science in Nursing and Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, respectively.What can a nurse associate do? ›
Nursing associates contribute to service delivery and patient care by: • assisting nurses with a greater range of care-giving responsibilities • improving patient communication • providing more patient-centred care and acting as patient advocates • identifying and escalating patients with deteriorating health • ...What percentage of nurses have ADN? ›
Abstract. Roughly 40% of the nearly 3 million registered nurses (RNs) in the United States have an associate's degree (ADN) as their highest level of nursing education.What is the hardest nurse to become? ›
- Oncology. There's no surprise that this specialty is near the top of the list. ...
- Hospice. ...
- Medical-Surgical. ...
- Geriatric Care. ...
- Emergency Room. ...
- Psychiatry. ...
- Correctional Nursing.
NCLEX Pass Rates
The pass rates for this exam vary slightly based on the type of degree candidates have. According to NCLEX, 85 percent of candidates with a BSN passed this exam from January through June 2022. During this same time period, 80 percent of candidates with an ADN passed the exam.
Students who graduate with an ADN may be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam open_in_new, which is the exam required to become licensed as a registered nurse.Does taking the NCLEX make you an RN? ›
NCLEX, which stands for National Council Licensure Examination, refers generally to one of the two standardized tests nurses need to pass in order to become either a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).