ACEN and the History of Nursing Accreditation

1893 The American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses, forerunner of the National League for Nursing, was founded for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a universal standard of training for nurses.
1917 The National League of Nursing Education published Standard of Curriculum for Schools of Nursing.
1920 Accrediting activities in nursing education were begun by many different organizations.
1937 The National League of Nursing Education published A Curriculum Guide for Schools of Nursing, the last of its type by the organization.
1938 The National League of Nursing Education initiated accreditation for programs of nursing education for registered nursing.
1949 The National Nursing Accrediting Service was formed for the purpose of unifying accreditation activities in nursing. It was discontinued in 1952 when accreditation activities were consolidated under the National League for Nursing (NLN).
1952 The USDE recognized the NLN (later NLNAC and then ACEN) and included it on the initial list of recognized accrediting agencies.
1958 The NLN Board of Directors established a policy charging each educational council with the responsibility for developing its own accreditation program. The program was conducted through the three (3) NLN membership units: the Council of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs; the Council of Diploma and Associate Degree Programs (the Diploma and Associate Degree Programs separated into two (2) councils in 1965); and the Council of Practical Nursing Programs (1966). The accreditation program and services were administered by NLN professional staff.
1964 Federal funding for nursing education under the Nurse Training Act was contingent upon the compliance of schools of nursing with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
1977 The Council on Postsecondary Accreditation (COPA) recognized the NLN Accreditation Program, which later became the Council for Recognition of Postsecondary Accreditation (CORPA).
1991 Outcome criteria were incorporated into Standards and Criteria for all accredited programs.
1995 The NLN Board of Governors approved the recommendation of the NLN Accreditation Committee to institute core Standards and Criteria.
1996 The NLN Board of Governors approved establishment of an independent entity within the organization to be known as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).
1997 The NLNAC, now the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), began operations with sole authority and accountability for carrying out the responsibilities inherent in the accreditation processes.
Fifteen (15) Commissioners were appointed: nine (9) nurse educators, three (3) nursing service representatives, and three (3) public members. The Commissioners assumed responsibilities for the management, financial decisions, policy-making, and general administration of the NLNAC.

The peer review process was strengthened with the formation of program-specific Evaluation Review Panels.

1998 The NLNAC continued collaborative work with specialty organizations to strengthen application of standards for advanced practice nursing programs. Advanced practice nurses were invited to serve as clinicians on the site visit teams.
1999 The NLNAC core Standards and Criteria were revised.
The Secretary of Education, USDE, renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing programs in the United States and its territories. Title IV Note: Only diploma programs and practical nursing programs not located in a regionally accredited college or university may use accreditation by this agency to establish eligibility to participate in Title IV program.
2000 The NLNAC first accredited international programs.
2001 The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognized NLNAC as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education.
The NLNAC was incorporated as a subsidiary of the NLN.
2002 The NLNAC core Standards and Criteria were revised.
The Secretary of Education, USDE, renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing programs in the United States and its territories. Title IV Note: Only diploma programs and practical nursing programs not located in a regionally accredited college or university may use accreditation by this agency to establish eligibility to participate in Title IV program.
2005 The NLNAC core Standards and Criteria were revised.
The NLNAC first accredited Post-Master’s Certificates (PMC).
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education.
2006 The Secretary of Education, USDE, renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing programs in the United States and its territories. Title IV Note: Only diploma programs and practical nursing programs not located in a regionally accredited college or university may use accreditation by this agency to establish eligibility to participate in Title IV program.
2007 The NLNAC Standards and Criteria for Clinical Doctorate approved by the NLNAC Board of Commissioners.
2008 The NLNAC core Standards and Criteria were revised.
The Secretary of Education, USDE, granted expansion of scope of recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing programs in the United States and its territories, including those offered via distance education.
2009 The NLNAC first accredited Clinical Doctorate programs.
2011 The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education.
2012 The Secretary of Education, USDE, renewed ACEN recognition and granted expansion of scope of recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including clinical doctorate, master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing programs in the United States and its territories, including those offered via distance education. Title IV Note: Practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, and higher degree nursing education programs that are not located in a regionally accredited institutions may use accreditation by this agency to establish eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.
The NLNAC endorsed 4th Edition of the National Task Force Guidelines for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs.
The NLNAC implemented mentoring for Candidate programs.
2013 The NLNAC core Standards and Criteria were revised.
The name of the Commission was changed to the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
2015 The ACEN endorsed academic progression programs in nursing in cooperation with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Academic Progression in Nursing (APIN) program and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action.
2016 The Secretary of Education, USDE, renewed ACEN recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including clinical doctorate, master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical nursing programs in the United States and its territories, including those offered via distance education. Title IV Note: Practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, and higher degree nursing education programs that are not located in a regionally accredited institutions may use accreditation by this agency to establish eligibility to participate in Title IV programs.
The ACEN endorsed 5th Edition of the National Task Force Guidelines for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs.
The ACEN Board of Commissioners approved the offering of Advisory Reviews.
The ACEN Board of Commissioners approved Observers on site visit teams (Policy #31).
2017 The ACEN core Standards and Criteria were revised.
The ACEN first accredited DNP Specialist Certificates.