About Candidacy

Candidacy is the first step toward ACEN initial accreditation and is essentially the same for domestic and international programs. Programs can pursue the Candidacy process at any time.

A program does not need to have graduates in order to achieve initial accreditation with the ACEN.

Nursing education units can also bring multiple programs (e.g., master’s, baccalaureate, and associate; associate and practical) through the Candidacy and initial accreditation process simultaneously.

Disclaimer: Pre-accreditation is not within the scope of recognition the ACEN has with the United States Department of Education (USDE). Any program/institution granted Candidacy may not use the ACEN Candidacy status to seek or gain Title IV eligibility or eligibility for any other federal funding.

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The program leaders determine the timing of the Candidacy process as well as the initial accreditation visit after having achieved Candidate status. Based on programs that were granted initial accreditation, the overall process can be completed in as little as nine months or can take as long as four years.


Once a program has been deemed eligible and has paid the required candidacy application fee, it will submit a Candidacy Presentation and other required documentation. See Eligibility for more information.

Candidacy Presentation

The Candidacy Presentation is a "mini" Self-Study Report covering selected Criteria related to:

Preparing the Candidacy Presentation

See the following links for information on how to prepare your Candidacy Presentation:

Candidacy for International Programs

For nursing programs outside the United States and its territories, the Candidacy process also involves an Advisory Review for International Candidacy visit, among other differences.

For additional information, see International Processes and Procedures in the Accreditation Manual Supplement for International Programs.

Candidacy Status

Candidate status is granted after a review of the applicant program’s potential to achieve ACEN accreditation by the ACEN Directors.

A program that has achieved Candidate status must schedule an initial accreditation visit within two calendar years from the date of becoming a Candidate program.

Note: Candidate status does not guarantee that a Candidate program will achieve initial accreditation.

Candidacy Disclosure

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 that 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 Search ACEN Programs.

*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.

Candidacy for Transition-to-Practice Accreditation

A transition-to-practice program seeking initial accreditation must apply for Candidacy. Candidate status is granted after an ACEN review of the transition-to-practice program’s potential to achieve ACEN accreditation. A transition-to-practice program seeking initial accreditation must:

Candidacy for Nurse Practitioner & Physician Assistant Residency Program Accreditation

For information related to ACEN/ARC-PA Nurse Practitioner & Physician Assistant Residency Program Accreditation, visit

Frequently Asked Questions

For more information about the Candidacy process, view FAQs: Candidacy and Initial Accreditation.