There are numerous options when looking for a place to pursue an education in nursing. For a new or returning nursing student, it can be difficult to discern the differences between programs. When looking for a nursing school, one requirement to watch for which is CCNE accreditation.
What Is CCNE Accreditation?
CCNE stands for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. This organization is recognized by the United States Secretary of Education as an official accreditation agency in the country.1
As an accreditation agency in the field of nursing education, the CCNE aims to elevate overall public health by ensuring the quality and integrity of nursing education programs at the baccalaureate, graduate and residency levels. The main way the CCNE does this is by evaluating nursing education and identifying the programs that have effective practices to teach nursing skills and concepts.1
Why CCNE Accreditation Makes a Difference to Nursing Students
With so many education options available to nursing students, it can be difficult to fully vet an educational institution's curriculum and teaching practices on your own. Instead, CCNE strives to ensure that a school maintains quality and integrity in their baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs. CCNE accreditation also supports and encourages continuous quality improvement in nursing education and post-baccalaureate nurse residency programs. 2
Is CCNE the Only Accrediting Agency for Nursing Schools?
There are two nationally recognized accrediting agencies for nursing programs. The CCNE exclusively accredits baccalaureate, master's and residency nursing curriculums. The other nationally recognized agency is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), which accredits programs at the diploma level, LPN and associate’s degrees in addition to bachelor’s and master's programs. The ACEN replaced what was previously known as the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) in 2013.3,4
Why Is CCNE Accreditation Important?
In order to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for a nursing license, a student must verify that he or she has completed their nursing education from an approved program. There are some programs approved by a state's board of nursing but may not be accredited by the CCNE or ACEN. However, it may be difficult to grow a nursing career without completing a programmatically accredited program as nursing school graduates are continuing to experience extreme competition in the job market.5
How Does a Program Receive CCNE Accreditation?
A nursing education program must be established for at least a year before it can be considered for CCNE accreditation. Once that benchmark has been established, a program’s mission, goals and expected outcomes are evaluated. Additionally, an assessment occurs based on the performance of the program in achieving these outcomes through the use of effective resources, programs and administration. Then, based on whether or not the program has complied with CCNE standards, a self-study will be conducted by the sponsoring institution highlighting how the program has complied and ultimately whether or not it has met the standards for accredidation.2
From there, an on-site visit is conducted by accreditation professionals, known as the evaluation team. The evaluation team then prepares a report of their findings. At this point, the institution offering the program can respond to the team report and include additional information. Then, the self-study, the evaluation report and the institution's response to it are compiled together and submitted to the official accreditation review board, known as the Accreditation Review Committee (ARC). The ARC's evaluation of the documents then goes to the CCNE's Board of Directors, who grant or deny the accreditation.6,7
CCNE accreditation is granted for up to 10-year terms and then must be renewed to be maintained.6
Finding a CCNE Accredited Nursing Program
Programs such the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program at Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org). CTU’s RN-BSN degree program offers eight program start dates, and the entire program can be completed in as little as nine months.*
For more information on nursing programs accredited by the CCNE, conduct a search on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing CCNE website at aacn.nche.edu and click on ‘Find Accredited Programs.’ From there, you can discover baccalaureate and master's level nursing programs, including accredited programs for Doctor of Nursing Practice and Post-Graduate APRN Certificate, as well as MSN or MN degree programs.8