The Reason Why Nursing School Accreditation Matters

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Picture of Athina Hansen

Athina Hansen

Content Writer At Gradehacker

Updated November, 2023.

Why is Nursing School Accreditation important?

If you are a nursing student and don’t know what nursing accreditation is, in this blog you’ll learn:

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Did you know that not all nursing schools are created equal?

Nursing school accreditation is more than just a fancy certification. It provides academic quality and professional standards.

That’s why here at Gradehacker, the non-traditional student’s #1 resource, we have helped many nursing students keep track of their degree programs.

And because we know that choosing the right school is vital, we’ll describe everything you need to know about nursing school accreditation and its impact on becoming a successful nurse.

What is Nursing School Accreditation?

This process exists to verify that all academic programs meet the same high-quality standards regardless of which educational institution you’re going after.

Just picture a world where accreditation didn’t exist for a second.

You and your friend Sally are pursuing BSN degrees but have chosen to attend different educational practices.

You chose one of the best online BSN nursing programs, and Sally chose to go on campus. 

In that case, with completely different courses, you might have entirely different skills when you finish!

This would make the workplace chaotic! 

When pursuing a degree in nursing, the national accreditation bodies are responsible for ensuring that the information you’re receiving is valuable, no matter what.

For a college to receive accreditation, it has to meet specific criteria such as:

Now that you know that accrediting agencies have the students’ best interests at heart, let’s see how it works.

How Nursing School Accreditation Works?

To meet the national standards and provide quality patient care, the professional accreditation body is involved to ensure that the program is available to every nurse practitioner.

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

Cannot transfer credits to another institution:

Unfortunately, most colleges do not accept transfer credits from programs that aren’t accredited. So, in that case, if you want to change colleges, you might be forced to start your nursing degree from scratch!

May not 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 don’t hire nurses who graduated from a non-accredited nursing program.

Not being eligible for federal financial aid:

If you attend a non-accredited institution, you can’t apply for financial aid programs.

Federal financial aid programs, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), are only available to students who attend accredited institutions.

The Department of Education mandates that institutions must hold accreditation from an accrediting body recognized by the Secretary of Education to participate in these financial aid programs.

So, remember that accreditation is essential to be eligible for federal financial aid.

Nursing School Accrediting Bodies

Now, let’s talk a bit about the actual accreditation organizations.

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

Okay, first, let’s answer what is the ACEN and what it does.

Formerly known as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, the ACEN is an organization that oversees nursing education.

It ensures that a student’s education is dependable, consistent, and safe!

The ACEN accredits all levels of nursing education, including:

The CCNE 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 are:

How do I Know if my Nursing Program is Accredited?

Now that you understand the importance of nursing school accreditation, you should verify whether the program you are interested in is accredited.

The easiest way to do this is to check the National League for Nursing-Comissions for Nursing Accreditation (NLN CNEA) website and research the nursing program you’re interested in.

The NLN CNEA accredits both traditional and online nursing programs.

You can also check with your state board of nursing to make sure the program is recognized and approved in your state.

What if my Nursing School is Not Accredited?

Even if your nursing school is not accredited, you can still become a nurse.

While having an accredited nursing program can help in the long run, there are other ways to become a nurse.

One of these ways is to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

The NCLEX is a standardized exam for nurses and requires applicants to have a certain number of classroom hours. You can take the exam if you have completed the required courses and clinical hours.

Another option is to look for programs that are pending accreditation or are applying for accreditation.

While these programs may not have been officially accredited yet, they will still give you the same educational opportunities as an accredited program.

There are accelerated nursing programs available for those who already have a degree in a related field. These types of programs can help you become a nurse in less time than traditional programs.

Accreditation and the NCLEX Exam

What about the NCLEX-RN exam? Will the nursing program’s accreditation or lack thereof affect if you can take it?

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

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

However, if you are enrolled in a non-accredited program, you must review whether it has state approval.

Some programs don’t have accreditation but do have state approval.

Unfortunately, if the program doesn’t have state approval, you won’t be able to take the NCLEX-RN exam.

Has NCLEX just became easier?

Yes! that’s because we have a full blog explaining what is all about and every fact you need to know to pass the exam like a champ!

Has NCLEX just became easier?

Yes! that’s because we have a full blog explaining what is all about and every fact you need to know to pass the exam like a champ!

Taking the First Step Towards Accreditation

A nursing school must be accredited so students can receive a quality education and be eligible for federal financial aid programs.

The two central accrediting bodies that schools must go through are the ACEN and the CCNE, both of which have distinct requirements and processes.

However, before that, the school must take the first step: self-study.

The school’s faculty and staff must go through an extensive process to review all aspects of the nursing program, including curriculum, faculty qualifications, student support services, and more.

By going through this detailed self-study process, the school can determine if it meets the accreditation standards set by the ACEN and CCNE.

Once the school has completed the self-study process, it can submit its application to the appropriate accrediting body.

What to Expect During the Accreditation Process?

The accreditation process is extensive.

It involves a self-study review and an on-site visit from ACEN and CCNE representatives. The goal of these visits is to ensure that the school meets or exceeds all standards for nursing education.

During the on-site visit, representatives will evaluate the curriculum, faculty qualifications, student support services, and more.

After the visit, the accrediting body will make an official decision on whether or not to grant accreditation. 

If accredited, the school can start offering its programs to students and become eligible for federal financial aid.

Once accredited, schools must review their standards and procedures to maintain their accreditation continuously.

The process of nursing school accreditation involves a great deal of effort and dedication, but it is essential to ensure that all students receive an excellent education.

Be Wise and Review Your Program's Accreditation

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

Choosing a nationally accredited program can save you a huge headache.

When it comes to non-accredited schools, you will have to determine whether or not you qualify for the NCLEX exam, may have difficulties getting hired, may not be able to transfer college credits, and may 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 doesn’t 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.

Like if you’re thinking of pursuing an ADN or a BSN program, the accreditation of that program is extremely important.

This is because by choosing an accredited program, you are considering your future career opportunities, financial situation, and more!

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Get in touch with our team and learn how we can help you make your college investment more efficient!

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Elevate the Quality of Your Education with Nursing Accredited Schools

At the end of the day, all nursing students must understand the importance of nursing school accreditation since it ensures you will receive an excellent education.

And if there’s something to be said after all, it’s that forming a nursing career is not easy, so if you have doubts or need personalized assistance, you can reach out to us anytime to help!

You’ll find valuable information to enhance your knowledge on these blogs: