ACEN Accreditation Manual – Policy 34


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ACEN Accreditation Manual – Section II Policies

POLICY #34
Candidacy for a Governing Organization/Nursing Program Seeking Initial Accreditation


A governing organization/nursing program seeking initial accreditation with the ACEN must apply for candidacy. The governing organization/nursing program seeking initial accreditation must:

  1. Demonstrate that the governing organization and nursing program are eligible for ACEN accreditation (See ACEN Policy #3 Eligibility for Accreditation).
  2. After the eligibility of the governing organization and nursing program have been established by ACEN staff, pay the required candidacy fee(s). [Note: International nursing programs are required to pay the fee as a component of the international application process. See ACEN Accreditation Manual Supplement for International Programs]
  3. Demonstrate that the nursing program has the potential to achieve initial accreditation based on requirements for the Candidacy Presentation and within the timeframe established by the ACEN.
  4. A governing organization/nursing program in the appeals process or binding arbitration process with the ACEN is not eligible for consideration for candidacy.

APPROVAL, DEFERRAL, OR DISAPPROVAL OF CANDIDACY

Based on the requirements established by the ACEN, the Chief Executive Officer may approve a nursing program for candidacy, defer a nursing program for candidacy, or disapprove a nursing program for candidacy.

A program may be approved for candidacy to pursue initial accreditation for a maximum of two calendar years. Once approved for candidacy, a nursing program must host an initial accreditation site visit prior to the expiration of candidacy.

Approval of Candidacy

Approval of candidacy is granted when, in the professional judgment of the ACEN Chief Executive Officer, informed by the professional judgement of the ACEN staff, the nursing program either:

  1. Makes a Candidacy Presentation that demonstrates that the nursing program is currently compliant with the requirements for the Candidacy Presentation and, based upon the Candidacy Presentation, has the potential to achieve initial accreditation.
  2. Makes a Candidacy Presentation that demonstrates that the nursing program has the potential to be compliant with the requirements for the Candidacy Presentation within two calendar years of the date of notification and, based upon the Candidacy Presentation, has the potential to achieve initial accreditation.

Being approved for candidacy informs the governing organization/nursing program and the public that the nursing program demonstrated the potential to achieve initial accreditation based upon the ACEN staff’s professional judgement regarding requirements for the Candidacy Presentation at the time the nursing program was approved for candidacy. Being approved for candidacy does not guarantee that the ACEN Board of Commissioners will determine that the nursing program is in compliance with all the Standards and Criteria at the time the ACEN Board of Commissioners reviews the nursing program for initial accreditation. See ACEN Policy #4 Types of Commission Actions for Initial and Continuing Accreditation.

Deferral of Candidacy

Deferral of candidacy is granted when, in the professional judgment of the ACEN Chief Executive Officer, informed by the professional judgement of the ACEN staff, the nursing program:

  1. Makes an inconsistent Candidacy Presentation that does not demonstrate that the nursing program is currently compliant with the requirements of the Candidacy Presentation. Deferral indicates that the nursing program may have the potential to demonstrate compliance with the requirements for the Candidacy Presentation with the opportunity to resubmit the Candidacy Presentation.

Being deferred for candidacy informs the governing organization/nursing program that the nursing program has demonstrated that it may have the potential to achieve candidacy based upon the ACEN staff’s professional judgement regarding requirements for the Candidacy Presentation at the time the nursing program was deferred for candidacy. Being deferred for candidacy does not guarantee that the nursing program will be approved for candidacy if the program resubmits the Candidacy Presentation.

Deferral of candidacy is not an appealable action.

If deferred, the nursing program has up to one calendar year from the date of notification to resubmit the Candidacy Presentation for reconsideration without restarting the entire candidacy process and paying related fee(s) again. Upon resubmission of the Candidacy Presentation, the nursing program must be approved for candidacy or disapproved for candidacy.

Disapproval of Candidacy

Disapproval of candidacy is rendered when, in the professional judgment of the ACEN Chief Executive Officer, informed by the professional judgement of the ACEN staff, the nursing program either:

  1. Does not make a Candidacy Presentation that demonstrates that the nursing program is currently compliant with the requirements for the Candidacy Presentation and, based upon the Candidacy Presentation, does not have the potential to achieve initial accreditation.
  2. Does not make a Candidacy Presentation that demonstrates that the nursing program has the potential to be compliant with the requirements for the Candidacy Presentation within two calendar years of the date of notification and, based upon the Candidacy Presentation, does not have the potential to achieve initial accreditation.

Disapproval of candidacy is not an appealable action.

If disapproved, in order to seek initial accreditation with ACEN, the nursing program is required to restart the candidacy process and pay related fee(s) again. The nursing program may restart the entire candidacy process at any time after being disapproved for candidacy.

FAILURE OF AN APPROVED NURSING PROGRAM TO MEET ANY TIMELINE

Failure of an approved nursing program to meet any timeline established by the ACEN will result in a program losing its approval for candidacy status. If a nursing program fails to meet any required timeline prior to hosting an initial accreditation site visit, then the nursing program must restart the entire candidacy process, pay related fee(s) again, and submit a new Candidacy Presentation, which may result in approval, deferral, or disapproval. Submission of a new Candidacy Eligibility Application and Candidacy Presentation reinitiates the candidacy process for the program, and the effective date of initial accreditation, if achieved, will be based on the new date that the program is approved to pursue initial accreditation.

The candidacy process can be restarted at any time after a nursing program loses its approval for candidacy status or voluntarily withdraws from the candidacy process.

OBLIGATIONS OF A GOVERNING ORGANIZATION AND NURSING PROGRAM APPROVED FOR CANDIDACY

Each governing organization/nursing program making a Candidacy Presentation or approved for candidacy agrees to certain requirements concerning financial obligation; choice of law, jurisdiction, and venue; and disclosure of information. As a condition of reviewing any Candidacy Presentation or of being approved for candidacy, each governing organization/nursing program agrees to the following:

  1. The governing organization/nursing program agrees to abide by ACEN Policy #28 Litigation.
  2. The governing organization/nursing program agrees to abide by ACEN Policy #31 Integrity.
  3. The governing organization/nursing program agrees to abide by ACEN Policy #33 Financial Responsibility when requesting that the ACEN is the Title IV gatekeeper for the governing organization.
  4. The governing organization/nursing program agrees to abide by ACEN Policy #37 Third-Party Discovery Request.
  5. The governing organization/nursing program agrees to abide by ACEN Policy#38 Binding Arbitration.
  6. It is the obligation of every governing organization/nursing program seeking candidacy to pay all fees and expenses when due. Failure to pay all fees and expenses when due shall be deemed a voluntary withdrawal from the candidacy A schedule of current fees and expenses is available at https://www.acenursing.org/for-programs/general-resources/.
  7. The governing organization/nursing program must notify the ACEN, in writing, of all unexpected changes that occur within 30 calendar days of the change or all expected changes that are planned to occur no less than 120 calendar days prior to the change occurring. Failure to report an unexpected or expected change may delay or jeopardize a nursing program from being approved for candidacy, hosting an initial accreditation site visit, or being granted initial accreditation by the ACEN Board of Commissioners.

Changes requiring notification include but are not limited to:

  1. change in the nurse administrator;
  2. relocation of the nursing program;
  3. change in the governing organization’s and/or nursing program’s status with a state regulatory agency (e.g., state education department or board of nursing) or for international programs a change in the approval status with any regulatory agency that oversees nursing in the country;
  4. change in the status with the governing organization’s institutional accrediting agency
  5. change in the governing organization’s institutional accrediting agency;
  6. change in the nursing program’s curriculum;
  7. addition and/or deletion of a nursing program option (e.g., adding pre-licensure program option);
  8. decline in the annual licensure examination pass rate or annual certification examination pass rate; or
  9. implementation of distance education for the nursing program

The written notification must address the requirements for the Candidacy Presentation related to the change (e.g., for a change in the curriculum and/or new program option, all of the required criteria in the Candidacy Presentation for Standard 4 Curriculum).

If the ACEN Board of Commissioners grants initial accreditation but determines that there is an unreported change, the ACEN Board of Commissioners may decide to exclude the unreported change in its initial accreditation decision of the nursing program. If the ACEN Board of Commissioners excluded the unreported change in its initial accreditation decision, then the nursing program is required to submit the unreported change through the ACEN substantive change policy, undergo the subsequent review process, and is obligated for any related expense(s) that results from the substantive change process. See ACEN Policy #14 Reporting Substantive Changes.

  1. When a governing organization and/or nursing education unit makes a disclosure regarding the ACEN candidacy status of a nursing program approved for candidacy, it must accurately:
  1. list each program (e.g., clinical doctorate, DNP specialist certificate, master’s, post-master’s certificate, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and/or practical); and
  2. identify each nursing program’s candidacy status with ACEN.

The governing organization/nursing program must disclose the following information as a single disclosure to all current and prospective students within seven business days of receipt of the candidacy approval letter from the ACEN. The single disclosure must be exactly as illustrated below:

Effective [insert date of ACEN notification letter], the [program type*] nursing program at [insert name of governing organization this is in accordance with ACEN records] [at the [insert name of campus that is in accordance with ACEN records, if applicable] located in [city, state that is in accordance with ACEN records] is a candidate for initial accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. This candidacy status expires on [insert expiration date in ACEN notification letter].

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
3390 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 1400 Atlanta, GA 30326
(404) 975-5000

View the public information disclosed by the ACEN regarding this candidate program at http://www.acenursing.us/candidates/candidacy.asp

*Type of program: practical, diploma, associate, baccalaureate, master’s, master’s/post-master’s certificate, post-master’s certificate, clinical doctorate, clinical doctorate/DNP clinical doctorate specialist certificate, or DNP clinical doctorate specialist certificate.

Note: Upon granting initial accreditation by the ACEN Board of Commissioners, the effective date of initial accreditation is the date on which the nursing program was approved by the ACEN as a candidate program that concluded in the ACEN Board of Commissioners granting initial accreditation.

  1. If a candidate nursing program voluntarily withdraws from candidacy, the disclosure of candidate status information must be deleted within one calendar day of notifying the ACEN of the withdrawal.
  2. If the candidate nursing program is granted initial accreditation, the governing organization/nursing program must follow ACEN Policy #9 Disclosure of Information about an Accredited Program.
  3. If a candidate nursing program is denied initial accreditation and the program appeals the Board of Commissioners’ decision, the governing organization/nursing program must disclose the following information as a single disclosure to all current and prospective students within one business day of initiating the appeal per Policy #10 Appeal Process and Submission and Review of New Financial Information Subsequent to Adverse Action. The single disclosure must be exactly as illustrated below:

The most recent accreditation decision made by the ACEN Board of Commissioners for the [insert type of program*] nursing program is denial of initial accreditation, which [insert name of governing organization] is appealing per Policy #10 Appeal Process and Submission and Review of New Financial Information Subsequent to Adverse Action. The [insert type of program*] nursing program will remain a candidate program pending the outcome of the appeal process.

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
3390 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 1400 Atlanta, GA 30326
(404) 975-5000

View the public information disclosed by the ACEN regarding this program at http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.htm

Based on the outcome of the appeal process, the disclosure of candidacy/accreditation status information must be updated within one business day of the effective date of the accreditation decision becoming final. See Final Accreditation Decision section in Policy #4 Types of Commission Actions for Initial and Continuing Accreditation.

  1. If a candidate nursing program is denied initial accreditation and the program pursues binding arbitration per Policy #38 Binding Arbitration related to the Board of Commissioners’ decision, the governing organization/nursing program must disclose the following information as a single disclosure to all current and prospective students within one business day of initiating the binding arbitration process.The single disclosure must be exactly as illustrated below:

The most recent accreditation decision made by the ACEN Board of Commissioners for the [insert type of program*] nursing program is denial of initial accreditation, for which [insert name of governing organization] is pursuing binding arbitration per Policy #38 Binding Arbitration. The [insert type of program*] nursing program will remain a candidate program pending the outcome of the binding arbitration process.

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
3390 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 1400
Atlanta, GA 30326
(404) 975-5000

View the public information disclosed by the ACEN regarding this program at http://www.acenursing.us/accreditedprograms/programSearch.html

Based on the outcome of the binding arbitration process, the disclosure of candidacy/accreditation status information must be updated within one business day of the effective date of the accreditation decision becoming final. See Final Accreditation Decision section in Policy #4 Types of Commission Actions for Initial and Continuing Accreditation.

  1. If the nursing program is denied initial accreditation and does not appeal the Board of Commissioners’ decision, the governing organization/nursing program must disclose to all current and prospective students within seven business days of receipt of the decision letter from the ACEN that the Board of Commissioners denied the nursing program initial accreditation.
  2. If the governing organization and/or nursing education unit publishes incorrect or misleading information about the candidacy status of a nursing program or any action by the ACEN relative to initial accreditation of a nursing program, the governing organization and/or nursing education unit must immediately provide public correction via a news release or through other media. If a governing organization and/or nursing education unit makes public the contents from a Candidacy Review, Site Visit Report, Summary of Deliberations of the Evaluation Review Panel, or Board of Commissioners decision letter, it must provide full sentences and context. Characterizing, quoting, and/or providing excerpts from a Candidacy Review, Site Visit Report, Summary of Deliberations of the Evaluation Review Panel, or Board of Commissioners decision letter must also be accompanied by a note stating that a copy of the complete document(s) can be obtained from the nursing education unit. Should the statements be misinterpreted, the program must correct this misinterpretation through a clarifying release to the same audience that received the information.

If it is determined that a governing organization and/or nursing education unit is in violation of this policy, the ACEN Chief Executive Officer will inform the governing organization and/or nursing education unit through a formal letter. If the violation is not corrected immediately, the CEO shall report the matter to the ACEN Board of Commissioners for appropriate action.

Policy #34 History
Approved November 2018
Revised July 2020
Revised May 2021

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