The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) supports the interests of nursing education, nursing practice, and the public by the functions of accreditation. Accreditation is a voluntary, peer-review, self-regulatory process by which non-governmental associations recognize educational institutions or programs that have been found to meet or exceed standards and criteria for educational quality. Accreditation also assists in the further improvement of the institutions or programs as related to resources invested, processes followed, and results achieved. The monitoring of certificate, diploma, and degree offerings is tied closely to state examination and licensing rules and to the oversight of preparation for work in the profession.
The purpose of the ACEN is to provide specialized accreditation for all levels of nursing education and transition-to-practice programs.
Nursing Education Accreditation:
- The ACEN is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) as a specialized accrediting agency for nursing education programs located in the United States and its territories.
- The ACEN is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) for nursing education programs in the United States and its territories as well as for international nursing education programs.
- The ACEN accredits all types of nursing education programs, including clinical doctorate/DNP specialist certificate, master’s/post-master’s certificate, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing programs.
- The ACEN accredits nursing education programs in secondary, postsecondary, and hospital-based governing organizations that offer certificates, diplomas, or degrees.
- The ACEN serves as a Title IV-HEA Gatekeeper for some practical nursing programs and hospital-based nursing education programs eligible to participate in financial aid programs administered by the USDE or other federal agencies.
- The ACEN accredits non-credit transition-to-practice programs for all levels of nursing practice.
- The ACEN accredits transition-to-practice programs offered by academic institutions (e.g., university, college, career center) and/or healthcare agencies (e.g., hospitals, long-term care, etc.).
As the leading authority in nursing accreditation, the goal of the ACEN is to be a supportive partner in strengthening the quality of nursing education and transition-to-practice programs through:
- Supporting nursing education and transition-to-practice programs in obtaining and maintaining accreditation
- Promoting peer-review
- Advocating for self-regulation
- Fostering quality, equity, access, opportunity, mobility, and preparation for practice, or transition-to-practice, at all levels of nursing preparation
- Developing standards and criteria for accreditation