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 and included it on the initial list of recognized accrediting agencies. NLN (later NLNAC) has been continually recognized by the U.S. Department of Education since this date.
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.
The NLNAC Board of Commissioners approve the 1999 Standards and Criteria.
1999 The Secretary of Education, USDE, renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education, nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including masters, 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.
2000 The NLNAC accredits first international program.
2001 The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education.
The NLNAC was incorporated as a subsidiary of the NLN.
The NLNAC Board of Commissioners approve the 2002 Standards and Criteria.
2002 The Secretary of Education, USDE, renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including masters, 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.
2004 The NLNAC Board of Commissioners approve the 2005 Standards and Criteria.
2005 The NLNAC accredits Post Master’s Certificate (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 nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including masters, 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.
2007 The NLNAC Board of Commissioners approve the 2008 Standards and Criteria.
  ACEN Standards and Criteria for Clinical Doctorate approved by the ACEN Board of Commissioners.
2008 The Secretary of Education, USDE, renewed NLNAC recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including clinical doctorate, masters, 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.
2010 The NLNAC accredits first Clinical Doctorate program.
2011 The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) renewed ACEN recognition as a nationally recognized accrediting agency for nursing education.
2012 The ACEN endorses 4th Edition of the National Task Force Guidelines for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs.
The ACEN implements mentoring for Candidate programs.
The ACEN Board of Commissioners approve the 2013 Standards and Criteria.
2013 The name of the Commission was changed to the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
The ACEN offers first Nurse Administrator Workshop.
2015 The ACEN endorses 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 nursing education programs and schools, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer a certificate, diploma, or a recognized professional degree including clinical doctorate, masters, 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 endorses 5th Edition of the National Task Force Guidelines for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs.
The ACEN Board of Commissioners approve the offering of Advisory Reviews.
The ACEN Board of Commissioners approve Observers on site visit teams (Policy #31).
The ACEN Board of Commissioners approve the 2017 Standards and Criteria.