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Importance of Accreditation in RN to BSN Programs

Not all RN to BSN programs are created equal, and accreditation boards such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) help separate good programs from programs that may not offer the same quality of education. Many master's programs look for applicants who earned their undergrad degrees from CCNE-accredited schools.

Understanding CCNE Accreditation

CCNE is an autonomous accrediting agency that makes sure nursing programs provide the necessary faculty, facilities and coursework to advance the knowledge, technical and communication skills, and leadership abilities of their graduates -- all toward the goal of improving public health. CCNE is responsible for ensuring the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate and residency programs in nursing. Schools seeking to grow and improve apply for accreditation -- a voluntary, self-regulatory process. CCNE accreditation is largely driven by self-assessment.

The Value of Accreditation

Accreditation carries weight beyond the workforce. Today, nurses who want to move up through the ranks quickly learn that continuing their education is the best way to do so. The next step after a BSN is a master's degree. Just like employers, most competitive master's programs require applicants to have undergraduate degrees from accredited programs. Graduating from a rigorous, accredited bachelor's program suggests that you will be likely to succeed in a master's program as well. This is owed in large part to the CCNE accreditation process, which holds nursing programs accountable to the entire community -- other nurses, consumers, employers, families and institutes of higher education. This accountability helps evaluate the success of each nursing program, comparing its mission and goals to actual outcomes. Transparency through public access to information about nursing programs that meet accreditation standards is equally important, and it is the final pillar that supports ongoing improvement of nursing programs over time.

Accredited RN to BSN Programs

Beyond being a mark of quality, CCNE accreditation is an assurance that the core curriculum meets national education standards. For nursing, this means meeting the required clinical hours, incorporating nursing knowledge from the arts, sciences and humanities into practice. Nurses must also have an understanding generalist knowledge as outlined in The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice. Online RN to BSN programs must meet all the same requirements as traditional programs to earn CCNE accreditation. Not all online RN to BSN programs are accredited, so prospective students are encouraged to spend time reviewing each program.

CCNE accreditation is a way for schools to show that their programs meet education standards accepted by the community. The University of South Carolina is an example of a school that offers an accredited online RN to BSN program. The BSN student not only benefits from enrolling in an accredited program, but is also able to enjoy the flexibility of online coursework to pursue further education while working.

Learn more about University of South Carolina's online RN to BSN program.


National Council of State Boards of Nursing: National Nursing Workforce Study

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016 – Registered Nurses

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Vision and Mission

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: CCNE Standards & Professional Nursing Guidelines

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice

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