How Can I Tell if an Online Nurse Practitioner Program Is Accredited?
Accreditation is third-party educational evaluation and can be a sign of quality for an online nurse practitioner program. Whether it's institutional accreditation for the whole university or programmatic accreditation from a nursing-specific agency, verifying the accreditation is both genuine and up-to-date is key.
Types of Accreditation
Both schools and specific educational programs can earn accreditation, and different agencies handle the two types of processes. It's a good idea to check for both when researching potential schools. The following are all valuable sources of information on the accreditation status of an online nurse practitioner program.
Important Facts About Nurse Practitioner Programs
|Prerequisites||Must be a licensed Registered Nurse (RN) to enroll|
|Common Courses||Physiology, health care practices, assessment of health|
|Degree Levels||Master's and doctoral degrees|
|Online Availability||Core courses can be completed fully online; in-person practicums required|
|Continuing Education||Required for certification renewal|
|Median Salary (2018)||$107,030|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||36%|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The School's Website
A college or university's accreditation status will typically be listed somewhere on the school's website. General school accreditation is often mentioned on the 'About' page, while program-specific accreditation may be listed there or on the program's page.
Once you've found the name of the accrediting agency, you should visit the agency's own website. It's best to use a search engine to locate the website, rather than clicking through the school's link. These sites usually have an online database of every school currently accredited by the agency. You can check this database to ensure that the school's accreditation is accurate and current. The database may provide additional information, such as the dates when the school was last examined or when it is due for accreditation renewal.
Nursing Accreditation Agencies
If you don't have a particular school in mind, or if you want to see other options, you can go directly to an agency's website to see a full list of schools and programs it has accredited. Most nurse practitioner programs, both online and on-campus, are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Special programs may be accredited or recognized by other agencies. For example, programs that train pediatric nurse practitioners can earn recognition from the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). Accreditation by a national accrediting agency is required for programs seeking recognition by PNCB. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, which is part of the American Nurses Association, accredits providers of online continuing nursing education coursework for qualified nurse practitioners in several specialties.
National Accreditation Agency Databases
In addition to checking the accreditation agency's website, you'll want to make sure that the agency itself is reputable. The Department of Education's website maintains a database of all accrediting organizations recognized by the federal government which can be found at http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation. The nongovernmental Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also provides information on accreditation and a list of recognized agencies at www.chea.org. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education are both recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and by CHEA.