Approval vs. Accreditation

Program approval is an essential part of licensure. It is defined as the official recognition of nursing education programs which meet standards of approval established by boards of nursing. Over the years, NCSBN has studied the approval process in boards of nursing.

2 pronged licensure model: Graduation from board approved program plus Pass NCLEX equals Licensure

Why do boards of nursing approve nursing programs?

Licensure in nursing is a two-pronged system. In order for nursing graduates to be eligible to take the NCLEX, the U.S. nursing regulatory model dictates that the new nurse must show evidence of graduating from a board of nursing approved nursing program. By making students eligible to take the NCLEX, nursing faculty verify that nursing students are clinically competent to safely practice nursing. Therefore, nurse educators have enormous power in the licensure model in the U.S. Boards of nursing rely on each other to make sound program approval decisions so that mobility across jurisdictions can be as seamless as possible. 

This toolkit contains valuable information about program approval and national nursing accreditation, such as: 

NCSBN began a dialogue about important matters in prelicensure nursing education, approval, and accreditation at a collaborative meeting in Chicago using the innovative World Café format. The conversation was very insightful, with thought leaders Christine Tanner, Joanne Disch, and Michael Bleich challenging the group to stretch their thinking. 

Meeting Resources 

  • Setting the Stage- Building your plan for Monday - Joanne Disch, PhD, RN, FAAN 
  • What Could Nursing Be? - Michael Bleich, PhD, RN, FAAN 
  • Toward a New Way of Thinking - Christine Tanner, PhD, RN, FAAN 
  • Monograph from the World Café Meeting