The ACEN supports the interests of nursing education, nursing practice, and the public by the functions of accreditation. Accreditation is a voluntary, self-regulatory process by which non-governmental associations recognize educational institutions or programs that have been found to meet or exceed standards and criteria for educational quality. Accreditation also assists in the further improvement of the institutions or programs as related to resources invested, processes followed, and results achieved. The monitoring of certificate, diploma, and degree offerings is tied closely to state examination and licensing rules, and to the oversight of preparation for work in the profession.
The ACEN is the entity that is responsible for the specialized accreditation of nursing education programs, both postsecondary and higher degree, which offer either a certificate, a diploma, or a recognized professional degree (clinical doctorate, master’s/post-master’s certificate, baccalaureate, associate, diploma, and practical).
The Commission has authority and accountability inherent in the application of standards and criteria, accreditation processes, and the affairs, management, policy-making, and general administration of the ACEN.
- Promulgate a common core of standards and criteria for the accreditation of nursing programs found to meet those standards and criteria.
- Strengthen educational quality through assistance to associated programs and schools, and evaluation processes, functions, publications, and research.
- Advocate self-regulation in nursing education.
- Promote peer review.
- Foster educational equity, access, opportunity, and mobility, and preparation for employment based upon type of nursing education.
- Serve as gatekeeper to Title IV-HEA programs for which the ACEN is the accrediting agency. These include some practical and all hospital diploma programs eligible to participate in programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education or other federal agencies.