A credit-for-credit comparison of the RN Degree and LPN Diploma programs

Currently the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic offer a bridging program for LPNs to enter the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (SCBScN) to become RNs. The program provides the additional education required to obtain the knowledge of the RN profession and successfully write the RN national exam to become a RN.

Following a 2011 review of the LPN curriculum it was determined that:

  • LPNs are awarded 27 credits of prior learning, that is 3 credits short of 1 year of study, towards the four-year, or 120 credit, RN program
  • Due to major changes to the LPN program in 2006, transfer credits are limited to LPNs who graduated after 2008. 
  • The University of Regina does not offer a bridging program for Diploma RNs to study towards their degree, however, a Post-Bachelor of Nursing (BN) Program is offered at Athabasca University where they qualify for 60 credits of prior learning (orange column on graph below)
  • Diploma RNs in Saskatchewan receive more than double the credits (60) when studying towards their RN Degree at Athabasca University. 


For more information:

Athabasca University: A post-bachelor of Nursing Programme (BN)

University of Regina: Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program (SCBScN)

The educational differences

It’s not just about length of studies, but course content and focus too

While it may look like RNs and other care providers do the same “things” it is important to look deeper and understand the role and function that the RN performs.

RN Education Program:

4 year Baccalaureate Degree
Theory and lab: 1176 hours
Clinical: 1464 hours
Total hours of study: 2640 hours

The RN program prepares graduates to safely and competently care for clients from stable to very complex. Emphasis is on the utilization of knowledge, skill and judgment to make complex nursing decisions about care needs. (SRNA, SALPN & RPNAS, 2013)

LPN Education Program:

65 weeks diploma program
Theory and Lab: 934 hours
Clinical: 842 hours
Total hours of study: 1776 hours

The LPN program focus is on the general care of populations which are stable and have predictable outcomes.


*** For this graph, the four-year RN degree has been converted into weeks since the LPN program is measured in weeks.

Health care is a team effort, but clear roles for each team member is essential to ensure no element of patient care is missed. Everyone is educated to perform a key function on the health care team. From registered nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Continuing Care Assistants to doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, pharmacists and more; each team member has a unique skill set by virtue of their foundational, formal education. No profession is more important than another, but for the best and safest care possible, patients must have access to the right expertise when they need it most.