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.
The ACEN accredits nursing programs in the United States and its territories as well as international nursing programs. This includes nursing programs of six program types: clinical doctorate, master’s, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical. In addition, the ACEN accredits stand-alone post-master’s certificate programs as well as stand-alone DNP Specialist certificate programs.
The journey of program improvement and peer review begins with eligibility for Candidacy, continues with the achievement of Candidacy itself, and culminates with the initial accreditation process. We welcome you to use this webpage and the resources here as you take your first steps along the journey towards initial accreditation.
The Candidacy process also represents an opportunity to work with ACEN’s professional nursing staff, who offer valuable mentorship and guidance to programs pursuing Candidacy and initial ACEN accreditation. If you have any questions regarding either eligibility or Candidacy, do not hesitate to contact the ACEN office at +1 (404) 975-5000. Ask to speak to a Director regarding the process.
Candidacy is essentially the same for domestic and international programs and is the first step toward ACEN initial accreditation. 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. 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.
The first step toward achieving Candidacy is determining if the nursing program and its governing organization are eligible to pursue ACEN accreditation. Once eligibility is determined, the second step towards Candidacy begins.