Getting a master’s degree in nursing can yield many advantages, including greater opportunities for career advancement and higher earning potential. As the work force continues to become more competitive, an MSN degree can be an excellent choice for nurses who want to further their career.
Many working nurses prefer the convenience and flexibility of online nursing programs. With the growing market of online schools, it is important for nurses looking to enroll in an online MSN degree program to ensure they choose a regionally accredited university.
What Does Accreditation Mean?
Accreditation is a form of quality assurance in higher education designed to distinguish schools that adhere to rigorous research-based quality standards. The accreditation process is voluntary and examines all facets of the institution to determine both the quality of its programs and how well the school is prepared to meet the needs of students. Universities and schools seeking accreditation must complete internal assessments, demonstrate adherence to the accrediting body’s set of standards, and successfully complete an external review process. Accreditation is a significant achievement toward establishing an institution’s quality of education. Choosing a regionally accredited university (as opposed to a nationally accredited school) ensures that your earned credits and degree will be recognized by other regionally accredited institutions. This is especially important if you will eventually seek a Ph.D or DNP.
Is Your Online Nursing School Accredited?
In the United States, there are six regional accreditation bodies for degree-granting colleges and universities. Each body accredits schools in certain states and some also accredit international schools. Prospective MSN students should choose a school that is regionally accredited by one of the following six accreditation bodies:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS): serves Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several international locations.
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC): serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as several international locations.
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS): serves Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU): serves Alaska, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and international locations.
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC): serves California and Hawaii and schools throughout the Pacific region.
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS): serves Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
Important Supplemental Nursing School Accreditation
If you are looking for the best online nursing school to attend, choose a school with a supplemental nursing accreditation such as one from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Both the CCNE and NLNAC serve higher education institutions throughout the United States by ensuring the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing.
Why Choose a Regionally Accredited Program?
For students seeking an MSN degree, whether through an online nursing school or traditional campus, it’s important to choose a regionally accredited school. Regional accreditation is the highest form of accreditation a university or college can receive in the United States and attending an accredited school has several advantages:
- Acceptance of course credits in the event the student changes schools mid-degree or wants to pursue an advanced degree at a different institution.
- Compliance with higher education standards required by many major healthcare employers.
- More options for financial aid, including eligibility for federally funded financial aid, such as grants, loans, and scholarships.
- Assurance of quality curriculum and faculty that will prepare you for the next level in your nursing career.
Before pursuing an online MSN degree (or enrolling in an MSN program), nurses should make sure that their school is regionally accredited in order to gain the maximum benefit from their degree.