Nursing School Accreditation – Why it Matters

Nursing School Accreditation Why it Matters
Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Content Writer at Gradehacker

Since you’re reading this article, it’s safe to say you’re not looking to study law or mathematics

You’re here because you’re looking to pursue or are currently pursuing your nursing degree. Be it an ADN, BSN, or MSN degree; you are bound to have encountered the term nursing school accreditation

Maybe you’re browsing the websites of different nursing programs and keep encountering one repeated section: “nursing school accreditation.” 

However, like the busy human you are, you skip past this section each time and instead focus on the program details

Your curiosity starts to grow; what does nursing school accreditation mean? And, how important is it for an institution to be accredited?  

Or maybe, you are already pursuing your nursing education, but you never really put too much thought into your program’s accreditation.

Here at Gradehacker, we help non-traditional students in various ways, such as with coursework or exams. In our years of experience, we have helped many nursing students enrolled in both accredited and non-accredited programs.

In fact, many of our clients have asked us about the importance of nursing school accreditation and whether their school’s accreditation was okay. That is why we decided to write this article and inform you all of a very important detail that is largely overlooked

In this article, we will be telling you why nursing school accreditation matters so much so that by the end of this article, you will be ready to make an informed decision about which program to choose.

What is Nursing School Accreditation?

Maybe you think you know what accreditation means but don’t really know what it means.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

In a few words, accreditation is a quality-assurance process. Accreditation exists to verify that different educational programs meet the same high-quality standards.

Still a little lost? Basically, accreditation ensures that no matter where you choose to pursue your nursing degree or what modality you choose (online or on-campus), you will receive the same high caliber education!

Just picture a world where accreditation didn’t exist for a second. You and your friend Sally may both be pursuing your BSN degree but might see completely different courses and be left with entirely different skills! This would make the workplace a total chaos

Scary, right?

Now you must be wondering, how exactly does a college receive accreditation? Well, the college has to meet specific criteria—generally, faculty qualifications, course content, and program quality.

Now that you’re aware that accrediting agencies have the student’s best interests at heart, continue reading to find out why nursing school accreditation is so important.

Accredited Nursing Program
Example of an accredited nursing program.

Why Does Nursing School Accreditation Matter?

Okay, now we’ll get to the important part. Why should I care about it?

Well, to begin with, nursing school accreditation makes sure that nursing graduates all over the U.S. are educated at the same level. The result of this is that patients across the U.S. will receive the same standard of care from their nurses.

But apart from being vital to ensure the safety of patients, it also has a large impact on the opportunities you will have available.

Enrolling in a nursing program that is not accredited can lead to several negative consequences, such as:

  • Eligibility for federal financial aid: If you attend a non-accredited institution, you will not be able to receive  federal financial aid.
  • Transfer credits to another institution: Unfortunately, most colleges do not accept transfer credits from non-accredited programs. So, if you end up wanting to change colleges, you might be forced to start your degree from zero
  • Be competitive in the job market: When an employer sees you’ve graduated from an accredited institution, they will know you have the skills to deliver high-quality care. Also, some employers directly do not hire nurses who’ve graduated from non-accredited programs.

Nursing School Accrediting Bodies

Now, let’s talk a bit about the actual accrediting bodies involved.

You’ve probably seen these names at some point; when it comes to nursing education, there are two main accrediting bodies:

Okay, what is the ACEN, and what do they do?

Formerly known as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, the ACEN is an organization aimed to look after nursing education. It ensures that the education a student receives is dependable, consistent, and safe!

 The ACEN accredits all levels of nursing education, including:

  • Clinical doctorate
  • DNP specialist certificate
  • Master’s programs
  • Post-master’s certificate
  • Baccalaureate programs
  • Associate programs
  • Diplomas
  • Practical nursing programs

As for the CCNE, it is recognized as the spokesperson for academic nursing in the U.S. and focuses on protecting the public’s health. The CCNE embraces national programs’ constant self-assessment to guarantee that all nursing students receive an excellent education.

The CCNE accredits:

  • Bachelors
  • Masters
  • Postgraduate levels
Accrediting Bodies

Accreditation and the NCLEX Exam

What about the  NCLEX exam? Will my nursing program’s accreditation or lack thereof affect if I’m able to take it

If you want to take the NCLEX exam, a requirement is that your nursing program must be approved by your state’s board of nursing.

Luckily, you won’t have to worry about qualifying for state approval when it comes to nationally accredited nursing programs.

However, if you are enrolled in a non-accredited program, you will have to review whether it has state approval. Some programs do not have accreditation but do have state approval.

Unfortunately, if the program does not have state approval, you will not be able to take the NCLEX exam.  

Be Wise and Review Your Program’s Accreditation

Okay, so to sum everything up, do NOT take nursing school accreditation for granted!

By choosing a nationally accredited program, you can save yourself a huge headache.

Because, when it comes to non-accredited programs, you will have to determine whether or not you qualify for the NCLEX exam, may have difficulties getting hired, not be able to transfer colleges, and not be eligible for financial aid.

Of course, if a program is not accredited, it does not necessarily mean that the education you will receive is poor or does not provide you with the skill set needed to be a nurse.

However, you should be wise and review a program’s accreditation because by doing so, you are keeping your best interests in mind. This is because by choosing an accredited program, you are taking into consideration your future career opportunities, financial situation, and more!

We understand that choosing a nursing program is difficult because there are many things to consider. However, after reading this article, we hope that you feel well-informed about the ins and outs of nursing school accreditation.

Are you deciding between an ADN or a BSN degree? Check out our article on  ADN vs. a BSN Degree: What’s The Difference.

Have you not yet taken the NCLEX exam and want to learn more about it? Be sure to read our article on NCLEX: 7 Essential Questions You Need to Know About the Exam.

Are you deciding between online or in-person classes but don’t know if one is easier? Check out our article on Are Online Classes Easier than In-Person Classes?

Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Athina has worked with Gradehacker both as a content writer and a study consultant, where she assisted college students with nursing courses. Athina has a background of educating others and producing content, having tutored college students and produced articles for her school magazine. She brings her experience to her current role, where she writes content to empower and assist the non-traditional college student who is often overlooked. You can find her on LinkedIn

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