What Is ACEN Accreditation?

Nursing schools accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) voluntarily meet a set of rigorous educational standards verified through a peer review process. ACEN accreditation signals a nursing school’s commitment to educational excellence. Northeastern State’s online RN to BSN program is ACEN-accredited, so nurses enrolling in the program can expect an education that meets ACEN standards. This accreditation also ensures that the school’s excellence is verified by peers and information about graduate success is available to the public.

ACEN accreditation can make a difference for the community — nurses can get the credentials they need, and nursing schools can reach their program goals. The accreditation process is thorough and uses peer evaluation to help schools identify their strengths and areas that need improvement.

What ACEN Accreditation Means for Students

ACEN standards bring consistent quality to nursing education. State, federal and other requirements for nursing programs may differ tremendously, but ACEN standards are the same nationally for every school that applies for recognition. Some states, federal agencies and other organizations require graduation from an accredited program. ACEN is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and serves as a peer-driven accreditation body for nursing programs.

As such, this organization provides the accreditation standards that help protect students and ensure that the degrees earned by graduates have a meaningful impact on career advancement and job prospects. Prospective students can access graduate employment data and see how well the program prepares students to advance as nurses.

How Schools Become ACEN-Accredited

Nursing programs can apply for accreditation candidacy. From there, each program must obtain accreditation within two years. A first site visit must be completed and the school must meet ACEN’s standards to move from candidacy status to full accreditation. If the school continues to uphold ACEN criteria, accreditation can be maintained. Accredited schools receive occasional site visits, as well.

Applying for candidacy status requires that schools submit the following items:

  • Faculty member qualifications
  • Information about the curriculum and plan of study
  • Information on program delivery
  • Detailed plan of evaluation
  • Program catalog (as appropriate)

During a site visit, peer evaluators meet with faculty members, administrators, nursing students, members of the public and others as appropriate for the evaluation. Evaluators also tour the school’s facility and classrooms. The curriculum is examined for quality, relevance and completeness. Student, faculty and graduate records are reviewed as necessary. With information provided by the school and insights from the evaluation team, a decision is made to accept or reject accreditation for the school. At any time, schools may withdraw their accreditation voluntarily. Maintaining accreditation demonstrates continued commitment to ACEN’s standards and vision for education.

ACEN accreditation can help nursing schools highlight the quality of their programs. For prospective students, choosing an accredited school may provide career benefits and a high-quality education. Becoming accredited by ACEN involves a specific process of site visits by peer evaluators and reviews of every aspect of the academic program — curriculum, graduate records, student progress and other factors. The process must be completed within two years. A school receives accreditation based on its ability to meet ACEN standards. To maintain accreditation, the school must continue to meet or exceed these requirements.

Learn more about Northeastern State’s online RN to BSN program.


ACEN: Candidacy Process

ACEN: Accreditation Manual

ACEN: Accreditation Manual: General Information

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