Become Accredited

The journey to ACEN accreditation

ACEN accreditation is founded on the belief that specialized accreditation contributes to the centrality of nursing for the public good and provides for the maintenance and enhancement of educational quality through continuous self-assessment, planning, and improvement. Accreditation indicates to the public and to the educational community that a nursing program has clear and appropriate educational objectives and is working to achieve these objectives.

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Before You Start the Process - Eligibility and Candidacy

Prior to seeking initial ACEN accreditation, your program should determine if it meets the ACEN eligibility requirements.


Eligibility is a process that affirms that a nursing program and its governing organization meet all ACEN requirements to be granted initial accreditation. The eligibility process also provides the ACEN with contact information and an overview of the size, scope, and delivery methods of the program or programs applying, allowing the ACEN to work with programs as they pursue ACEN accreditation.

To learn about the eligibility requirements and process, see Eligibility.


Once the program has been deemed eligible, the next step towards initial accreditation is to apply for Candidacy. Candidate status is granted after a review of the applicant program’s potential to achieve ACEN accreditation by the ACEN Directors.

To learn about the Candidacy requirements and process, see Candidacy.

Four-Step Accreditation Process

Step 1: Self-Study Report

The ACEN process for nursing education or transition-to-practice programs seeking initial accreditation after achieving candidate status or continuing accreditation is a comprehensive process starting with the program’s self-reflection regarding its compliance with the ACEN Standards and Criteria and as presented in its Self-Study Report.

Step 2: Site Visit

The next step is the site visit of the program resulting in the peer evaluators documenting their assessment and accreditation recommendation regarding the program’s compliance with the ACEN Standards and Criteria in the Site Visit Report.

Step 3: Evaluation Review Panel

In the third step, a program-specific Evaluation Review Panel examines the reports written by and about the program (Self-Study Report and Site Visit Report) reaching their own independent judgment and accreditation recommendation regarding the program’s compliance with the ACEN Standards and Criteria.

Step 4: Board of Commissioners' Decision

The final step is a review of the process by the ACEN Board of Commissioners. While considering the peer evaluators’ judgment and accreditation recommendations, the Commissioners also reach their own independent judgement regarding the program’s compliance with the ACEN Standards and Criteria and make an accreditation decision.

Learn More

For more information or answers to specific questions about ACEN accreditation, please contact the ACEN at (404) 975-5000.