ACEN AND ACCREDITATION

ADVISORY REVIEW FOR ACEN ACCREDITED PROGRAMS

OBSERVER ON AN ACEN SITE VISIT TEAM

CANDIDACY AND INITIAL ACCREDITATION

LIST OF ACCREDITED NURSING PROGRAMS

SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE FOR ACEN ACCREDITED PROGRAMS

OTHER QUESTIONS

 

ACEN AND ACCREDITATION


Q. What is the ACEN mission?
A. The ACEN supports the interests of nursing education, nursing practice, and the public by the functions of accreditation. Accreditation is a voluntary, 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 resource 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. You can also access the ACEN mission, purpose, and goals at http://www.acenursing.org/mission-purpose-goals/.

[Back to Top]

Q. What is accreditation?
A.
 Accreditation is a voluntary, non-governmental, external peer-review process that promotes institutions and academic programs embracing quality assurance and quality improvement to become stronger and better institutions and programs by setting standards of educational quality specific to nursing education. There are three (3) different types of accreditation used for institutional and academic programs; (1) Regional, (2) National or Institutional, and (3) Specialized.

Specialized accreditation normally applies to the evaluation of programs, departments, or schools which usually are parts of a total collegiate or other postsecondary institution. The unit accredited may be as large as a college or school within a university or as small as a curriculum within a discipline. Most of the specialized accrediting agencies review units within a postsecondary institution which is accredited by one of the regional accrediting commissions. However, certain of the specialized accrediting agencies accredit professional schools and other specialized or vocational or other postsecondary institutions which are free-standing in their operations. Thus, a “specialized” or “programmatic” accrediting agency may also function in the capacity of an “institutional” accrediting agency. In addition, a number of specialized accrediting agencies accredit educational programs within non-educational settings, such as hospitals (USDOE).

ACEN is a specialized professional accreditor for practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s including post master’s certificate, and clinical doctorate including DNP specialist certificate nursing programs. ACEN also functions in the capacity of being an “institutional” accrediting agency and as such the nursing program offered by the “institution” can be eligible for Title IV funds.

[Back to Top]

Q. Why is ACEN accreditation important?
A. 
Currently, specialized accreditation for pre-licensure nursing programs is voluntary in some states; however, many states mandate that a nursing program be accredited. Most states where specialized accreditation for nursing programs is required mandate that the accrediting agency is recognized by the USDE. ACEN is recognized by the USDE and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and is the only USDE recognized accrediting agency that accredits all types of nursing programs – practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s including post master’s certificate, and clinical doctorate including DNP specialist certificate nursing programs.

Specialized accreditation is mandatory for nursing programs preparing students for an advanced practice role (e.g., nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist) in order for graduates to take the licensing/certification examination in the advance practice role. The agencies that offer the various licensing/certification examinations in the advance practice roles mandate that the accrediting agency is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE). The ACEN is recognized by the USDE and CHEA, and is the only USDE-recognized accrediting agency which accredits all nursing programs that educate student for all types of practice roles.

Participating in the ACEN accreditation process gives a program the opportunity to validate that it is committed to providing a quality nursing program and ¬– through the review of the program by peers – the extent to which the program meets expected standards of educational quality specific to nursing education. ACEN accreditation requires that a nursing program continually assesses and make improvements in the educational quality of the nursing program based on data. This is done by evaluating specific Standards and Criteria, which include mission, faculty, students, curriculum, resources, and outcomes.

[Back to Top]

Q. Why would a program seek accreditation with the ACEN?
A. 
In short, because it helps students through further fostering excellence by ensuring that a program is meeting standards of educational quality specific to nursing education through the peer review process.

ACEN accreditation:

  • Recognition as a quality nursing education program.
  • Aids in student recruitment.
  • Fosters ongoing, self-examination, re-evaluation, and focus on the future for continuous improvement.
  • Offers professional development opportunity and validation.
  • Graduates of ACEN accredited programs outperform other graduates on licensure and advanced certification examinations.

Student benefits:

  • Provides useful information for students’ career and education decision making.
  • Enables student eligibility for funding support from federal and state agencies, and foundations.
  • Facilitates transfer of credits.
  • Is required by many nursing programs for admission to the graduate level, as well as by some state regulatory agencies for licensures, and many employers.

Faculty and Community Benefits:

  • Heightens faculty members’ and administrators’ awareness and responsiveness to areas needing improvement
  • Offers professional development opportunity and validation
  • Assists employers seeking graduates who are competent practitioners.


[Back to Top]

Q. What is the disadvantage to a student if the nursing program is not accredited?
A.  
It can and often does impact students when they graduate from a non-accredited program in several ways:

  • The student may not qualify for employment if the employer requires nurses to have graduated from an accredited program. For example, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and many other public and private employers require nurses to have graduated from an accredited program.
  • The student may not be able to join the U.S. Armed Forces as a nurse.
  • The student may not qualify for federal financial aid or other forms of financial aid (e.g., scholarships from foundations).
  • The student may not be able to transfer nursing credits to another nursing program.
  • The student may not be able to be licensed as a nurse in some states, either initially or by reciprocity/endorsement.


[Back to Top]

Q. Is it possible for a nursing program not to be accredited even if the institution where the program is located is accredited?
A. 
Specialized accreditation and institutional accreditation are different. It is possible that a school/institution is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency and that the nursing program is not. The ACEN requires accredited programs to indicate accreditation status clearly to the public when it is an ACEN accredited program and when it is an ACEN candidate program. The accreditation status is usually noted in publications such as the college catalog, website, and nursing brochures. See the “Search Programs” tab on ACEN website for more information on accredited and candidate programs.

[Back to Top]

Q. What is the difference between ACEN accreditation and the state regulatory agency for nursing approval?
A. 
ACEN accreditation is voluntary and ensures that the nursing program meets standards of educational quality specific to nursing education. A nursing program must apply for ACEN accreditation and complete the application and peer review process in order to become accredited. The state regulatory agency for nursing process is usually not voluntary but required for a program to operate in the state, depending on state laws and/or regulations. A nursing program’s status with the state regulatory agency for nursing can affect licensure and a graduate’s ability to take the licensure examination. Please contact the state regulatory agency for nursing for information on a program’s status with the agency (e.g., Board of Nursing). Please contact the ACEN for information on a program’s status with the ACEN.

[Back to Top]

Q. What are the requirements for a program to be ACEN accredited?
A. 
The governing body of the program must first have all required approval from all state agencies and provide evidence of institutional accreditation from an ACEN-recognized agency; see ACEN Policy #3 Eligibility for Accreditation. There are six (6) sets of ACEN Standards and Criteria listed by program type (practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s/post-master’s certificate, and clinical doctorate/DNP specialist certificate) located on the ACEN website: http://www.acenursing.org/accreditation-manual/. Programs must be able to demonstrate through the candidacy, self-study, and peer review process its ability to meet the standards of educational quality specific to nursing education requirements set in the aforementioned Standards and Criteria.

[Back to Top]

 

ADVISORY REVIEW FOR ACEN ACCREDITED PROGRAMS

 

Q. What is an Advisory Review?
A. 
An Advisory Review is a one-time opportunity for an ACEN accredited program to receive feedback from an ACEN professional staff member regarding draft accreditation documents as selected by the respective program’s nurse administrator (e.g., SSR, faculty profile table, SPE, etc.) as the program prepares for continuing accreditation.

An Advisory Review is a 100% optional resource for currently accredited programs and is not a requirement for continuing accreditation. Professional staff feedback indicates the staff member’s best judgment but does not guarantee that the ACEN Board of Commissioners will determine that the program complies with the ACEN Standards and Criteria.

 [Back to Top]

Q. What is the purpose of an Advisory Review?
A. 
The purpose of an Advisory Review is to assist an ACEN accredited program in preparation for the continuing accreditation process.

 [Back to Top]

Q. When can an Advisory Review occur?
A. 
The recommended timeframe for an Advisory Review is during the 6th or 7th year of the program’s continuing accreditation or during the 3rd or 4th year following the program’s initial accreditation. Actual date and time will be mutually agreed upon between the professional staff member assigned to the Advisory Review and the program’s respective nurse administrator. The Advisory Review agenda must be set by the nurse administrator.

 [Back to Top]

Q. What format will be used for an Advisory Review?
A. 
The Advisory Review may be conducted in one (1) of three (3) formats: (1) teleconference, (2) video conference, or (3) in-person on a case-by-case basis.

 [Back to Top]

Q. What is the cost of an Advisory Review?
A. 
The fee for an advisory review varies depending upon whether the program elects to have a teleconference/video conference or an in-person review. See the ACEN Fee Schedule. The fees include the assigned professional staff member’s preparation time required to necessitate the Advisory Review. The fees do not include travel expenses (e.g., travel, food, lodging, etc.) for an in-person review. A face-to-face Advisory Review is not a mock visit.

 [Back to Top]

Q. How do I schedule an Advisory Review?
A. Complete the online Request for Advisory Review Form and e-mail it to advisoryreview@acenursing.org or fax the completed form to (404) 975-5020. A staff member will contact you to discuss the Advisory Review.

 [Back to Top]

 

OBSERVER ON AN ACEN SITE VISIT TEAM

 

Q. What does it mean to be an Observer on a Site Visit Team?
A.
An Observer on a site visit team is a representative from a nursing program beginning its initial or continuing accreditation review process. The Observer accompanies the peer evaluators on a site visit team during the review of a nursing program’s continuing accreditation site visit.

 [Back to Top]

Q. What is the purpose of an Observer on a Site Visit Team?
A.
The Observer experience offers immersive engagement in site visit activities, such as attending interviews with college administrators, faculty, staff, and students; reviewing documents in the evidence room; touring educational and clinical facilities; and observing the site visit team’s interactions. However, Observers are not allowed to ask questions during interviews nor interfere with the peer evaluators’ agenda.

 [Back to Top]

Q. What type of preparation will an Observer be required to complete prior to the visit?
A.
The individual accompanying the peer evaluators on a site visit team as an Observer will need to complete the ACEN Peer Evaluator online training prior to going on the visit. The person will be provided a login and will earn continuing education credits for completing the online training.

 [Back to Top]

Q. What is the cost associated with serving as an Observer?
A.
The Observer is responsible for all expenses associated with a site visit (e.g., travel, lodging, meals, etc.). The Observer is expected to make his/her own travel arrangements and to inform the host nursing program and site visit Team Chair regarding those arrangements. It is customary for the host nursing program to meet the peer evaluators at the prearranged airport, train station, or bus station and transport the peer evaluators to the place of lodging. Normally, it is possible to include the Observer in these arrangements.

 [Back to Top]

Q. How do I schedule an Observer experience on a Site Visit Team?
A.
The prospective Observer should complete the Observer Intake Form. In addition, the prospective Observer must include his/her curriculum vitae with the submission of the Observer Intake Form. Both documents must be emailed to observer@acenursing.org. Upon receipt of the Observer Intake Form and the prospective Observer’s curriculum vitae, the ACEN staff will review the documents and contact the prospective Observer within four (4) weeks of submission via email.

[Back to Top]

 

CANDIDACY AND INITIAL ACCREDITATION WITH THE ACEN

 

Q. How long does it take a program to become accredited by the ACEN?
A. 
All programs seeking initial accreditation must first apply and be approved as a Candidate for ACEN accreditation. A program with ACEN Candidate status has two (2) years to host an initial accreditation visit. However, a program sets its own timeline and may request an onsite visit for any cycle after becoming a Candidate. This means the nursing program may complete the Candidacy process sooner than two (2) years. The ACEN accreditation process includes the following:

  • Program preparation of the Self-Study Report
  • A site visit for evaluation of the program by peer evaluators
  • Review of the program by peer evaluators on the Evaluation Review Panel
  • Review of the program by the ACEN Board of Commissioners, which also makes the accreditation decision

Accreditation decisions made by the ACEN Board of Commissioners for the Spring and Fall accreditation cycles can be found under the Commission Actions > Accreditation Cycles tab.

[Back to Top]

Q. What does Candidacy with the ACEN mean?
A. 
Candidacy is not accreditation. It is the first step for a nursing program seeking initial accreditation. Candidacy means that, based upon the review of the Candidacy Presentation, the nursing program (a) demonstrated it is currently compliant with selected ACEN Standards and Criteria or demonstrated the potential to be compliant with selected ACEN Standards and Criteria within two (2) years of notification of achieving Candidacy, and (b) the potential to achieve ACEN accreditation based upon the selected ACEN Standards and Criteria reviewed in the Candidacy Presentation. Candidate programs need to complete the Candidacy process within two (2) years of notification of achieving Candidacy. Completion of the Candidacy process includes writing the complete Self-Study Report and hosting an initial accreditation site visit. Approval of Candidacy does not guarantee that the program will achieve initial accreditation.

[Back to Top]

Q. Once a governing organization/nursing program is listed under Candidacy on the ACEN website, at what point does the program and public know that it is accredited by the ACEN?
A. 
A list of nursing programs with upcoming review is available under the “Site Visits” tab on the ACEN website. A program is notified within 30 calendar days of the ACEN Board of Commissioners making an accreditation decision. When a program is granted initial accreditation, then the program is added to the list of ACEN accredited programs on the ACEN website. The ACEN Board of Commissioners makes initial accreditation decisions in March and September of each year for programs who have been reviewed during the Fall or Spring accreditation cycle, respectively.

Candidate programs being reviewed for initial accreditation must be in compliance with all six (6) of the ACEN Accreditation Standards. The ACEN website is updated at the completion of each accreditation cycle following the notification of the programs that were reviewed during that particular cycle. For programs reviewed during the Fall Cycle, the results are posted in April. For programs reviewed during the Spring Cycle, the results are posted in October.

[Back to Top]

Q. I was told that if the program was granted initial accreditation by the ACEN, that previous graduates would be grandfathered in. Is this correct?
A. 
No. Students that graduated prior to the program being granted ACEN accreditation, cannot be grandfathered in. Accreditation is not retroactive for former students or graduates.

[Back to Top]

Q. If I were enrolled in a nursing program during the initial site visit by the ACEN, would I graduate from an ACEN accredited program?
A. 
Students enrolled in a nursing program during the initial site visit would be graduates of an ACEN accredited program IF the program is granted ACEN accreditation at the ACEN Board of Commissioners meeting following the site visit. For programs visited during the Fall Cycle, the ACEN Board of Commissioners will make an accreditation decision during its spring meeting; for programs visited during the Spring Cycle, the ACEN Board of Commissioners will make an accreditation decision during its fall meeting. If initial accreditation is not granted, then students would not be graduates of an ACEN accredited program. Accreditation is not retroactive for former students and graduates.

[Back to Top]

Q. How often are programs reviewed by the ACEN after being granted initial accreditation?
A. 
A program is reviewed five (5) years after initial accreditation is granted. Once continuing accreditation has been granted, the program is reviewed every eight (8) years. In addition, a program is surveyed every year through an annual reporting process and could be reviewed periodically through the substantive change process.

[Back to Top]

Q. Is a program pursuing Candidacy and initial accreditation with the ACEN required to submit substantive changes?
A. 
Programs pursuing Candidacy and initial accreditation with the ACEN must notify the ACEN of changes that occur in the program during the entire candidacy process, since both eligibility for Candidacy as well as Candidate status is based upon the information provided in the Candidacy Application Form or the Candidacy Presentation. Changes that occur can affect the program’s eligibility to pursue the process and/or achieve initial accreditation with the ACEN. Therefore, programs must notify the ACEN of changes, which include but are not limited to: changes in nurse administrator, change in status with the state regulatory agency or the accrediting body of the governing organization, changes in curriculum/options, potential addition of a new location, or implementation of distance education.
The ACEN should be notified of these changes no less than four (4) months prior to the change or as soon as possible for any unexpected changes. The notification should be in writing and should address the selected Criteria from the Candidacy presentation related to the change (e.g., all of the Standard 4 Criteria for a change in the curriculum and/or new option). Failure to notify the ACEN of changes could result in an unsuccessful initial accreditation visit or the changes that have been made are not considered in the initial accreditation review.

Contact your ACEN mentor for guidance related to any other changes and the need to potential report those changes.

[Back to Top]

 

LIST OF ACEN ACCREDITED NURSING PROGRAMS

 

Q. Are programs that are not ACEN accredited listed on the ACEN website?
A. 
No, the ACEN website provides the list of programs that are currently accredited by the ACEN. For programs not listed on the website, contact the nursing program directly to determine by what agency(ies) they are accredited.

[Back to Top]

Q. Why aren’t the programs that are closed or have withdrawn from ACEN accreditation listed on the website? Does the ACEN sell any type of publication that would have information on a program that was accredited by ACEN?
A. 
The ACEN website lists programs that are currently accredited by the ACEN. For information or verification of accreditation requests for programs not currently accredited by ACEN but that may have been accredited previously, please use the “Contact Us” link and complete the form for accreditation verification requests. If you are not able to use the form available online, you will find a link at the bottom of the page to contact ACEN by email. Please provide the name of the school, program type, city and state, and the month/year of graduation. Please allow up to 14 business days for processing.

[Back to Top]

Q. What does it mean if an ACEN accredited program has an accreditation stipulation such as “with conditions”, “with warning” or “for good cause?”
A. 
There are six (6) ACEN accreditation standards that nursing programs must meet to be accredited by ACEN. Continuing accreditation with conditions is granted when a program is found to be in non-compliance with one (1) or two (2) accreditation standards. The program’s next review and follow-up action(s) are determined by the Board of Commissioners. Continuing accreditation with warning is granted when a program is found to be in non-compliance with three (3) or more accreditation standards. Continuing accreditation with warning for good cause could be granted when a program has not remedied deficiencies at the conclusion of its maximum monitoring period and the program meets all three (3) principles for good cause. The program’s next review and follow-up action(s) are determined by the Board of Commissioners.

[Back to Top]

Q. How do I find international programs that are accredited by ACEN?
A. 
To find an accredited international nursing program, please use the “Search Programs” feature of our website. In the field for “Select by State or Country,” filter by the search criteria under “Outside of the U.S.”

[Back to Top]

Q. How do I find online programs that are accredited by the ACEN?
A. 
The ACEN accredits practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s including post-master’s certificate, and clinical doctorate including DNP specialist certificate nursing programs. ACEN accredits the entire program; in other words all program options/tracks and therefore, does not list programs by the method of delivery, such as online or distance education. For example, if a nursing program is accredited for its associate degree, then that associate degree nursing program is accredited regardless of method of delivery, tracks, or program options. For more information regarding an online nursing program, it is best to contact the program directly.

[Back to Top]

Q. Is the accreditation information on the ACEN website up-to-date?
A. 
The ACEN website is updated at the completion of each accreditation cycle following the notification of the programs that were reviewed during that particular cycle. For programs reviewed during the Fall Cycle, the results are posted in April. For programs reviewed during the Spring Cycle, the results are posted in August. A list of programs with upcoming review is available under the “Site Visits” tab on the ACEN website. Additional updates related to policies and documents contained on the website are updated on an as-needed basis.

[Back to Top]

Q. Does ACEN accredit Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Medical Assistant programs?
A. 
The ACEN accredits practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s including post-master’s certificate, and clinical doctorate including DNP specialist certificate nursing programs. ACEN does not accredit CNA or Medical Assistant programs.

[Back to Top]

 

SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE FOR ACEN ACCREDITED PROGRAMS

 

Q. I’m a new nurse administrator. Where do I start?
A.
Notify us online by submitting the Nurse Administrator Change Notification. To help orient you to Policy #14, we offer periodic conference calls; sign up here using the code Policy14. You may also benefit from attending our Workshop for the New Program Administrator. If you have specific questions, please contact the Coordinator of Substantive Change.

[Back to Top]

Q. My prospectus and/or letter of notification is ready to send. To whom should I address it?
A.
The report should be addressed to the attention of Coordinator of Substantive Change. One (1) electronic copy of the prospectus and/or letter of notification is to be sent to the ACEN via email to subchange@acenursing.org.

[Back to Top] 

Q. Is there a template or specified format for the substantive change prospectus?
A.
Because of the wide range of potential substantive changes, we do not have a template for a prospectus or letter of notification. It will be helpful for our review to organize the prospectus as clearly as possible, and include a cover letter briefly describing the change(s). The most common method programs use to organize the report is to use the ACEN’s lists of required information, with each numbered or lettered line used as a heading. This is quick, simple, and helps ensure that no required information is accidentally omitted from the prospectus. (See Policy #14 the ACEN Accreditation Manual for additional information.

[Back to Top]

Q. How soon should I send in my substantive change?
A.
If the plans for the change are far enough along that you can put together the appropriate materials, we would encourage you to submit sooner rather than later. This will allow our staff to review the change and provide feedback in advance of implementation. The four-month timeframe is the minimum amount of time we require changes to be submitted, but there is no need to wait, especially if the prospectus or letter of notification is ready.

[Back to Top]

Q. We’re making a change in our program, but I can’t find an appropriate category in the Policy #14. What should I do?
A.
The categories in Policy #14 are not meant to be exhaustive. If you aren’t sure how to categorize your change or whether the change is considered substantive, we’ll be happy to help you. You can write a short email or letter describing the change or simply give us a call; our staff can help determine whether a full prospectus is necessary and/or inform you as to what information the ACEN will require to complete the review of the change.

[Back to Top]

Q. We’re making some changes to our curriculum, but they seem minor. How do I determine if the change is considered substantive?
A.
We hope to have simplified the reporting process with curriculum revisions. A significant departure from the established curriculum is defined as increasing, decreasing, or substituting 25% or more of the credit hours or clock hours required for completion. This applies to the nursing program of study and/or the overall curriculum. As an example, for a 70-credit curriculum, a substantive change would involve 18 or more credit hours being added, removed, or substituted. If the change involved 17 or fewer credits, it is not required to be reported. However, if the program has 45 credits in nursing and 25 general education credits, a change involving 12 or more nursing credits would be considered substantive. For changes that do not meet the 25% requirement for a reporting a substantive change, it is the responsibility of the program to ensure that the program remains in compliance with all of the 2017 ACEN Standards and Criteria.

Minor changes in course sequencing not impacting program length, changes to course titles, course call numbers, or course prefixes, or slight alterations of content within an established course are not considered substantive. These credit hours would not be included when calculating the percentage of credits being changed.

If you are still unsure, send us a letter of notification and side-by-side comparison of the programs of study. We’ll work with you to determine the level of reporting required for your change.

[Back to Top]

Q. The required information for the substantive change we are pursuing includes a description of the impact of the change on certain Accreditation Standards, but this change won’t impact all the Criteria for the Standard. How do I address this?
A.
Some changes won’t impact every Standard or Criterion. You can state that no impact is expected and move on to the next Standard or Criterion for these cases.

[Back to Top]

Q. I have most of my substantive change materials ready for submission to the ACEN; however, I’m still waiting on approval letters. Do I need to wait for the approvals before submitting to the ACEN?
A.
Not necessarily. To finalize the review of the prospectus, all appropriate approvals will be required. However, we understand that the approval process with state and institutional accrediting agencies may be time consuming. If approvals will not be available in the immediate future, we would encourage you to send the otherwise completed prospectus with verifications of notifications to the appropriate agencies and a timeline for the expected approval, if possible.

[Back to Top]

Q. My substantive change response letter says my change will be reviewed by the ACEN Board of Commissioners. When will I find out their decision?
A. The ACEN Board of Commissioners Substantive Change Committee meets on a monthly basis to review changes and make a recommendation for the entire ACEN Board of Commissioners. The entire ACEN Board of Commissioners will vote on the Substantive Change Committee’s recommendation, and letters will be sent within 30 calendar days of the Board’s meeting.

[Back to Top]

Q. Why are ACEN’s substantive change requirements different than other accrediting agencies?
A. The ACEN serves as a Title IV gatekeeper for many of our nursing programs. With this responsibility, the ACEN is required to adhere to the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations regarding substantive changes. This responsibility extends to all of our accredited nursing programs, even if the ACEN is not the Title IV gatekeeper for the particular program.

[Back to Top]

 

OTHER QUESTIONS

 

Q. How do I submit a complaint against an ACEN accredited program?
A. 
Please refer to Policy #20 Complaints Against an Accredited Program in the ACEN accreditation manual on the ACEN website for information on how to submit a complaint against an ACEN accredited program and the ACEN procedure for processing complaints.

[Back to Top]

Q. What should I think about when choosing a nursing program?
A. 
Attending a nursing program to advance your education and become a nurse is a big decision. You will invest significant time and resources in this process. The nursing program you choose will significantly inform and shape the nurse you will become. The following questions may be helpful to you as you seek a nursing program that matches your personal, professional, and career goals. You are encouraged to ask questions about the nursing program you are considering before you enroll to determine if the nursing program is a good fit for you.

  1. Is the institution offering the nursing program regionally or nationally accredited by an accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education?
  2. Is the nursing program accredited by a programmatic or specialized nursing accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education?
  3. What is the most recent graduation rate for this nursing program?
  4. What percentage of the most recent nursing program graduates have passed the national licensing exam (NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN) or certification examination(s) the first time they took the examination in each of the last 3–5 years?
  5. What is the most recent employment rate in nursing jobs for which the program prepared the graduates from the nursing program?
  6. How many of the graduates from this nursing program pursue further education?
  7. How much does this nursing program cost from beginning to end? Does the cost include all tuition, fees, and educational supplies (e.g., books, uniform, etc.)
  8. What types of federal, state and/or private financial aid and/or scholarships am I eligible to receive if I attend this nursing program? Of the types of financial aid that I am eligible to receive, which of these financial resources must I repay? How much debt will I incur if I enroll in this nursing program?
  9. What experience and/or expertise in nursing practice and nursing education do the nursing faculty have who teach in the nursing program?
  10. What is the mission and/or philosophy of the nursing education program and does it fit with my personal belief system and worldview?


[Back to Top]

Q. Where can I find information on a nursing program’s NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN pass rates for first time test takers for the past five (5) years?
A. 
The ACEN is a specialized accrediting agency and has no licensing functions. In most states, licensure examination pass rates may be found on a state regulatory agency for nursing website and the pass rates should also be available from the nursing program. Contact information for a state regulatory agency for nursing can be found on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website.

[Back to Top]

Q. Will my courses transfer to another nursing program?
A. 
All students should contact the college/university for information on transferring credits.

[Back to Top]

Q. Where can I find information on nursing scholarships?
A. 
It is necessary to contact the nursing program and/or the college or university for information on scholarships.

[Back to Top]

Q. I have been convicted of a felony. Can I become a nurse?
A. 
All students should contact the nursing program or the state regulatory agency for nursing for information regarding criminal convictions, or review the laws of each state on the state licensing website. General information about the Nurse Licensure Compact and Uniform Licensure Requirements for a multistate license is available at: https://www.ncsbn.org/compacts.htm

[Back to Top]