Nursing License Requirements in SC: Become a Nurse in South Carolina!

The South Carolina Board of Nursing licenses LPN and RNs. South Carolina has 64,480 nurses, according to data collected by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. That’s 56,689 RNs and 11,791 LPNs.

South Carolina belongs to the NLC – the nurse licensure compact. Nurses who reside in compact states are expected to get a multistate license through their own state board; this allows them to work in any compact state. Nurses who live in non-compact states, or who move to South Carolina, should apply by endorsement. New graduates apply by examination – they take the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN.

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Nursing Scholarships in South Carolina

A number of scholarships are offered through the South Carolina Nurses Foundation.

LPN Requirements in South Carolina


In South Carolina, there are two paths to LPN licensure by examination: traditional practical nursing education and equivalency. Approved Nursing Education Programs (

Read more about selecting an LPN program in the article “Choosing an LPN Program in South Carolina“.

Applying for Licensure

A candidate is eligible by equivalency if the candidate has either completed a registered nursing program or completed enough of one that it is deemed equivalent to the education the candidate would get in a practical nursing program. The education must be at least 41 semester hours total. The applicant must have at least eight semester hours of anatomy and physiology, three semester hours of nursing fundamentals, six semester hours of medical-surgical nursing, and five semester hours of nursing across the lifespan. There must be clinical experiences in medical surgical nursing and nursing across the lifespan. The candidate will need at least a C in all required courses and at least a 2.0 GPA overall. The program director will need to certify that the education was substantially equivalent to what the candidate would have got in an approved LPN program. (There is a form on the Board site for this purpose.)

If the candidate partially completed a professional nursing program, the candidate must apply within three years. If the candidate actually completed the RN program, the candidate has up to five years.

An equivalency candidate will need transcripts, course syllabus, course descriptions, and certification.

An LPN candidate applying by examination pays $70 to the Board ( The candidate may fill out an application online (

The candidate will need to register separately to take the nationwide exam ( The candidate will pay the exam fee at the onset. The candidate must be deemed eligible by the South Carolina Board before they can schedule the exam.

A nurse must have a temporary license before beginning work; this includes orientation (even if it’s in a classroom setting). A temporary license is good for, at most, 60 days.
If the candidate has to retake the exam, the candidate will need to fill out a repeat examination form – it is relatively short. The candidate will also need to pay an additional $45 to the Board (in addition to the fee that the candidate pays Pearson).

The Board expects nursing candidates to pass the licensing exam within a year of the time they graduate. Those who do not must do remediation. There are several options, including individualized tutoring – provided that the tutoring meets guidelines set by the Board (

Practical nurses may wish to join the South Carolina Federation of LPNs (

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Out-of-State LPNs

Out-of-state applicants may be licensed by endorsement if they have already taken the required exam or if they were licensed on the basis of different criteria, but have since had three successful years of practice. However, a refresher course will be required of nurses who are not current.

Out-of-state nurses should obtain fingerprint cards. They can still have their fingerprints processed through South Carolina’s electronic Live Scan system – this allows the prints to be processed more quickly. Applicants should mail their prints along with the processing fee (currently $51.50).

An endorsement candidate will need to provide license verification from the first state where the candidate was licensed. The endorsement candidate pays a $100 application fee to the Board ($110 if the candidate needs to begin work under a temporary license).

Nurses who want their temporary license issued more quickly may choose to drop in at the Board during walk-in hours. There is an additional $25 fee.

RN License Requirements in South Carolina


An RN candidate will need to complete an approved program in professional nursing. Approved Nursing Education Programs in South Carolina ( In most cases, out of state programs need the official approval of their own state board, not South Carolina’s. The exception is out of state programs that are supervising students to do their clinical work in South Carolina.

Out of state programs must be equivalent to South Carolina programs. The Board notes that if a candidate is considering a program that offers coursework online, they should make sure that it does have the approval of a state board. The Board further recommends going to the site of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing ( and doing a search to make sure the program has a NCLEX code.

Read more about selecting an RN program in the article “Choosing an RN Program in South Carolina“.

Applying for Licensure

The candidate will apply to the South Carolina Board and register with the company that administers the national exam. The candidate may apply before graduation. The candidate will need to attach a passport-style photo to the application.

An RN candidate applying by examination pays $90 to the Board. The candidate must also pay the testing company $200. A candidate who is waiting to take the NCLEX may be issued a temporary permit. The candidate will need to pass on the first attempt so as not to have an interruption in employment eligibility.

A candidate who does not pass the first attempt is allowed to test again in 45 days. The candidate may continue to attempt the exam for up to a year before remediation is required. The Board assesses a $65 fee for re-examination.

Registered nurses may wish to join the South Carolina Nurses Association (

Out of State RNs

An out of state candidate must submit an official transcript to the Board if he or she wishes to be licensed by examination.

An RN already licensed in another jurisdiction can apply by endorsement. South Carolina accepts the NCLEX and the SBTPE. An RN who was licensed without passing one of these exams is still eligible for endorsement provided he or she has at least three years of discipline-free nursing experience.

A temporary license or permit may be granted to an out of state nurse in two instances. One is when the initial screening indicates the candidate’s eligible for a license. In this instance, the temporary permit can get the candidate working sooner. It is good for 60 days.

The other instance is when a nurse has not met the Board’s continuing competency requirements and needs to do a refresher course to be eligible for a regular license. This type of permit is good for 90 days.

An endorsement candidate must pay a $100 fee. There is an additional $10 charge for the temporary license.

International Nursing Candidates

International candidates must demonstrate English proficiency. They must also have their credentials evaluated through a professional service. A candidate who is found to have a deficiency may be able to make themselves license eligible with additional coursework.

Professional and Student Nursing Associations in South Carolina

South Carolina Board of Nursing

South Carolina Nurses Foundation

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