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Why You Want an Accredited Nursing School

There are several factors to consider when choosing a nursing program and school. A key point of focus is the program’s accreditation status. Before enrolling in a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP) program, you should learn about accreditation and why it is important for your education and career goals.

What Is Accreditation?    

On a basic level, accreditation is a process to ensure a degree program meets or exceeds established quality metrics. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the purpose of accreditation is to:

  • Assess program quality at higher education institutions
  • Develop a continuous improvement initiative that raises academic and educational standards at colleges and universities
  • Engage faculty in curriculum planning and program evaluation
  • Create guidelines for professional certification and licensure and adapt coursework as necessary

National accreditation is a way for both prospective students and future employers to gauge the quality and scope of the education offered by a nursing program. Graduates of accredited programs have essential competencies for nursing practice and eligibility to pursue board certification. It is important to note that accreditation is awarded to a degree program and not to the school or university itself. You will want to verify that the degree you are seeking has received this designation, since it is possible for an institution’s various programs to each have a different accreditation status.

In addition, you should be mindful of the difference between national accreditation and approval by the state board of nursing. A school’s MSN-FNP program may be approved by the state’s board of nursing, for example, but not acknowledged by a national accrediting body. State board of nursing approval usually allows graduates to apply for licensure or certifications offered only within that state. National accreditation, however, permits graduates to sit for national board certification exams, such as the FNP-BC offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  

Who Oversees National Accreditation for Nursing Programs?

While there are various independent national accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is one of the most prominent. The MSN-FNP program at Northern Kentucky University is CCNE-accredited.

The accreditation process for nursing programs is voluntary, but time-intensive, often taking longer than one year to complete. School and program officials compile detailed assessments of the curriculum and verify that essential professional standards inform the coursework. Reports typically include graduation rates, certification pass rates and degree outcomes.

Programs seeking accreditation must participate in an on-site evaluation during which CCNE representatives conduct interviews with staff and students as well as review the program’s ability to satisfy accreditation guidelines and desired outcomes. Accreditation renewals generally last from five to 10 years.

How Does an Accredited Degree Program Help Nurses?

Nurses who enroll in and graduate from an accredited degree program may recognize the following benefits:

  • Confidence in the professional learning outcomes of the program due to its rigorous review
  • Potential hiring and career advancement advantages as employers are likely to prefer graduates from accredited programs
  • Eligibility to sit for key board certification exams, increasing job and salary-enhancing opportunities
  • Eligibility for federal financial student aid
  • Portability of credits should you need to transfer or pursue an advanced degree in the future

Commitment to Quality

Taking the time to find a nationally accredited nursing program is a wise investment. These programs meet stringent educational and professional standards that prepare graduates for success in the workforce. In addition, graduates benefit by gaining eligibility for board certification as well as more robust career opportunities and salaries.

Learn more about NKU’s online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner online program.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

American Nurses Credentialing Center: Family Nurse Practitioner Certification (FNP-BC)

U.S. Department of Education: Overview of Accreditation in the United States

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