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Nursing Education National League for Nursing - NLN Accreditation Updates

NLN Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

1) What was the impetus for the NLN to initiate the process to start a new NLN accrediting division, the Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)?
In September 2013, the NLN moved to Washington, DC and implemented a new organizational structure. This is the appropriate time to offer accreditation options for nursing programs.

2) When will this happen?
The NLN Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA) was formally brought into existence at the NLN Summit in September 2013 with the appropriate changes in bylaws, as approved by NLN membership. The process to develop a new and autonomous accrediting division within the NLN will take a minimum of two years to complete as a variety of steps with the DOE consultation must be accomplished. These include establishing bylaws for CNEA, accreditation standards and criteria, policies and procedures, and training of site visitors, just to cite a few examples. As we develop criteria and processes for accreditation, the NLN CNEA is committed to developing an accreditation process that fully incorporates the NLN's core values of caring, integrity, diversity, and excellence.

3) Who is providing leadership to the establishment of the NLN CNEA and its standards, policies, and procedures?
Leadership is being provided by Dr. Judith A. Halstead, newly appointed executive director of the NLN CNEA, and a steering committee that was appointed by the NLN Board of Governors. Members of the NLN CNEA Steering Committee include Drs. Anne Belcher, associate professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing; Donna Boland, associate professor emeritus, Indiana University School of Nursing; Patricia Castaldi, director of Practical Nursing and Allied Health, Union County College; Joan Darden, interim vice president for Academic Affairs, Darton State College; Cole Edmonson, vice-president, Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital; Betsy Frank, professor emeritus, Indiana State University; Betty Horton, self-employed; and Cathleen Shultz, professor, Harding University College of Nursing.

4) What is the expected timeline for the development of the CNEA Accreditation Standards?The CNEA accreditation standards and associated quality indicators for each standard are currently being drafted by the CNEA Standards Committee. Members of the CNEA Standards Committee include: Sharon Cannon, EdD, RN, Texas Tech Health Sciences Center; Robert Davis, DNP, RN, WFR, SARTECH I, Chamberlain College of Nursing; Nelda Godfrey, PhD, ACNS-BC, FAAN, University of Kansas School of Nursing; Kathleen B. Hill, JD, MSN, RN, Galen College of Nursing; Versie Johnson-Mallard, PhD, WHNP-BC, FAANP, University of South Florida; Mary Lou Morales, MSN, RN-BC, CNS, CNE, Ogden Weber Tech College; and Laurie Peters, PhD, MSN, RN, Ivy Tech Community College. The Standards Committee members will be joined in their work by CNEA Steering Committee members Anne Belcher, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, ANEF, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; Patricia A. Castaldi, DNP, RN, ANEF, Union County College; and Joan Darden, PhD, MSN, RN Darton State College.

CNEA will be seeking feedback on the draft standards from multiple stakeholders in the accreditation process, so please be alert for invitations to participate in the feedback process. The anticipated timeline for a final draft of the Standards is Spring 2015.

5) What is the relationship between the NLN CNEA and ACEN (formerly NLNAC)?
The NLN CNEA and ACEN (formerly NLNAC) operate separately from one another. The NLN ACEN is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NLN while the NLN CNEA is a division within the NLN.

6) When will the NLN CNEA be ready to begin providing accrediting services?
In accordance with the US Department of Education (DOE) rules, the NLN CNEA must be in existence for a minimum of two years prior to seeking recognition from the DOE. During this two year time period the NLN CNEA will need to meet DOE regulations and conduct one or more pre-accreditation or accreditation activity. We are working closely with the DOE and our assigned DOE analyst to ensure that the NLN CNEA will meet their compliance regulations. While we don't yet know when the NLN CNEA will be ready to begin to conduct accreditation activities, you can anticipate the earliest time frame to be in late 2015 or early 2016.

7) What type of accrediting services will NLN CNEA provide?
The NLN CNEA will provide accrediting services for all types of nursing programs, including practical (vocational) nursing, diploma, associate, bachelor, master, and doctor of nursing practice programs. The NLN CNEA will be classified by the DOE as a "category 2 agency" which means that is has a voluntary membership and has the principal purpose of accrediting higher education programs, NOT for Title IV purposes. Programs that require a Title IV gatekeeper will NOT be able to use the CNEA for their accreditation purposes.

8) My nursing program is due for an accreditation visit during the 2014-2015 academic year. What should we do? Can we be accredited by the NLN CNEA?
At this time, nursing programs should go on with their current plans as the NLN CNEA is not yet prepared to conduct accreditation visits. Programs should continue to do what is in their best interests. Our most important concern is that NLN member schools maintain accreditation status and continue to work to bring excellence to their programs.

The NLN CNEA is keeping a list of interested nursing programs that would like to be considered for accreditation as soon as the division is operational. If interested, please contact

9) Will the development of the Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA) by the NLN affect my program's current or future accreditation?
The development of a new accrediting division within the NLN will not have any effect on nursing programs that have current accreditation. However the new accrediting division will provide an additional choice of accreditation for the nursing education community.

10) Is the CNEA update that was presented at the NLN Summit 2014 Special Session on Accreditation available for download?
Absolutely! Click here to view the power point presentation by Dr. Judith A Halstead, executive director of the NLN Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation.

For further questions about the NLN Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation, please send an email to



Nursing Education
Nursing Education
Nursing Education
Nursing Education