The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) supports the interests of nursing education, nursing practice, and the public by providing specialized accreditation for all levels of nursing education and transition-to-practice programs. As the leading authority in nursing education accreditation, the goal of the ACEN is to be a supportive partner in strengthening the quality of nursing education and transition-to-practice programs.
Accreditation of a nursing program or transition-to-practice program is a process by which a program is evaluated by a group of its peers (“peer evaluators”) in order to determine its quality. The peer evaluators perform this evaluation by conducting an in-person “site visit,” after which an accreditation decision is made by the ACEN Board of Commissioners. When a nursing program holds ACEN accreditation, it means that ACEN recognizes that a nursing program meets a set of Standards and can be trusted to deliver quality education.
While many state authorities/regulatory agencies require nursing programs to maintain programmatic accreditation, ACEN accreditation is voluntary process. To date, the ACEN accredits over 1,400 programs domestically and internationally.
The ACEN is governed by a 17-member Board of Commissioners (BOC). The Commissioners are elected by the representatives of ACEN-accredited nursing programs.
The ACEN Staff maintain operational functions of the office and support the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the BOC, and nursing programs.
Peer evaluators work with the ACEN Directors to participate as site visitors (team members and team chairs) and Evaluation Review Panel (ERP) members who make recommendations to the BOC. Peer evaluators are knowledgeable about common, contemporary, and best practices within the various program types, appropriate curricula, and conventions as well as current trends in healthcare, nursing education, and/or nursing practice.
The core values of accreditation emphasize learning, community, responsibility, integrity, value, quality, and continuous improvement through reflection and analysis.
Peer review is a long-established and effective process that promotes institutions and academic programs embracing quality assurance and quality improvement to become stronger. The process also betters institutions and programs by setting standards of educational quality. It is used by the ACEN to help determine which programs meet or exceed established standards and criteria for educational quality in nursing education. The ACEN peer evaluators are familiar with contemporary practices in various program types and receive training from the ACEN to make informed recommendations about a program’s compliance with the ACEN Standards and Criteria.
Quality in nursing education ensures high levels of opportunity for student learning and achievement. Accreditation is an affirmation of values central to postsecondary and higher education; this includes appropriate mission, organizational structures, processes, functions, resources aligned with core values, collegiality, and continuous improvement.