What Is Nursing School Accreditation, and Why Is It Important?

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Nursing school accreditation is a stamp of a high-quality program, showing that it aligns with regionally recognized standards for quality and safety. When choosing a nursing program, ensure that the school is accredited as well as approved by the state board of nursing where it’s located.

nursing students sitting at desk in classroom

As you consider where to attend nursing school, you may hear the word accreditation a time or two. But what does it really mean? Nursing school accreditation is not something to sweep under the rug but an essential characteristic of high-quality nursing programs.

Quality is important to us here at Averett University, where our 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program carries Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation and Virginia Board of Nursing approval. Let’s dive into learning more about what nursing school accreditation means and why accreditation is important.

What Is Nursing School Accreditation?

Nursing schools receive accreditation from national or regional accrediting agencies, generally the CCNE or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). These bodies are tasked with ensuring nursing schools meet various requirements for their curriculum, patient care standards, safety protocols and so on.

Because Averett’s ABSN program is accredited, you know the education you receive from our ABSN program will align with national standards for nursing education. Consider accreditation a mark of program quality. If you come across a nursing program that is not accredited, it’s best to look elsewhere and opt for one that is.

Why Is Accreditation Important?

Now that you know what accreditation is, you may still wonder, “What is the purpose of accreditation?” There are several reasons why accreditation is important, specifically for the future of your nursing career.

Averett ABSN student studying at table


First, attending an accredited BSN program indicates that the education meets nationally recognized standards. You can trust that the program will prepare you for a nursing career and the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). If you go to a non-accredited program, the education you receive may be sub-par, leaving you inadequately prepared for your career.


Next, accreditation is important because it enables you to receive your registered nurse (RN) license after graduation. State boards of nursing want the nurses in their state to be properly educated.

Further Education

The final reason accreditation is vital to your nursing career is that it opens the door to future degrees. Do you aspire to return to school to receive a master’s or doctorate and become an advanced practice nurse, such as a nurse practitioner? If so, many schools’ admissions require you to have a BSN from an accredited nursing program to be eligible for an advanced degree.

Nurse listening to child patient's heartbeat

Interested in a career as a nurse practitioner? Follow these steps to become an NP.

As you can see, there is great personal value in choosing an accredited nursing program. For your sake, opt for an accredited program and put your career on the best possible trajectory.

What Is State Approval?

Now that you understand accreditation, there’s another phrase you may also hear: state approval. What is state approval, and why is it important when considering a nursing program? While accreditation deals with accrediting bodies such as the CCNE or the ACEN, state approval comes from your state’s board of nursing. For example, the Averett University ABSN program is in Norfolk, Virginia, so our state approval comes from the Virginia Board of Nursing.

If the state’s board of nursing approves a nursing program, the program meets state guidelines for quality and safety. It also means that students who graduate from those programs will be eligible for RN licensure. However, if you attend a program not approved by the state, you may be denied RN licensure by the state board of nursing.

What to Look for When Choosing a Nursing Program

Now that you understand what nursing school accreditation and state approval are, here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing a nursing program.

Averett ABSN student outside holding backpack

1. Accreditation and State Approval

As if we hadn’t emphasized this enough already, remember to first check that a program is accredited by the ACEN or CCNE and has approval from its state board of nursing.

2. Degree Type

Not all nursing degrees are created equal, and nurses can choose from a variety of options, ranging from an associate degree to a doctorate. We generally recommend that students opt for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. A BSN will equip you with a comprehensive clinical education, open doors professionally, and allow you to enter leadership positions.

Nurse wearing mask and checking IV

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3. Accelerated vs. Traditional

There are two types of BSN programs, generally classified by length. Traditional nursing programs take four years to complete and are ideal for students without a college background.

However, you can opt for a shorter accelerated program if you have a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits. Accelerated programs leverage your college experience to help you attain your nursing degree sooner, in as few as 16 months, in the case of Averett’s ABSN program.

Averett nursing student practicing with a patient simulator during a skills lab

Learn more about the differences between accelerated and traditional nursing programs.

4. Hybrid Learning

While some nursing schools only offer a BSN program with 100% in-person courses, others incorporate online classes alongside in-person labs and clinical rotations. This hybrid learning model is ideal for students who enjoy more flexibility and thrive on independent learning. Because a portion of the curriculum is online, you can choose to study at the time and location that’s best for you, whether at 8 a.m. in a coffee shop or 10 p.m. at home.

Woman sitting at desk with notebook and laptop computer

See the many benefits of online learning in nursing school.

Earn Your BSN at Averett

Now that you know why nursing school accreditation is so important and what other factors to look for in a program, it’s time to get started. Earning your nursing degree may be the best decision you ever make, opening you up to a career with high earning potential, job satisfaction and job security.

The ABSN program at Averett can help you start a nursing career quickly, letting you earn your BSN in as few as 16 months. If you have prior college experience, this program may be just what you need to start a fulfilling new career. We even offer three start dates per year so you can start soon.

Contact our admissions counselors today to learn more about our accredited accelerated nursing program in Virginia.