American Association of Colleges of Nursing

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American Association of Colleges of Nursing
Logo of American Association of Colleges of Nursing.gif
Logo of AACN
Headquarters655 K Street, NW
Suite 750
Washington, D.C., United States
810 members
Board Chair
Ann Cary, PhD, MPH, RN, FNAP, FAAN
Deborah E. Trautman, PhD, RN

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education. AACN works to establish quality standards for nursing education; assists schools in implementing those standards; influences the nursing profession to improve health care; and promotes public support for professional nursing education, research, and practice.

Established in 1969, the AACN now represents nursing schools at 810 universities and four-year colleges in the United States. The program of the AACN is focused on the following goals:

  • To establish quality standards for bachelor's degree and graduate-degree nursing education
  • To assist deans and directors of nursing schools to implement those quality standards
  • To influence the nursing profession to improve health care
  • To promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate education, research, and practice in nursing.


From 121 member institutions in 1969, AACN today represents 810 member schools of nursing at public and private universities and senior colleges nationwide. These schools offer a mix of baccalaureate, graduate, and post-graduate programs. The dean or chief nurse administrator serves as the representative to AACN, though the association serves all members of the academic unit. AACN maintains seven Leadership Networks for nursing school faculty and staff involved in instructional development, research, organizational leadership, faculty practice, business operations, graduate student recruitment, and communications/development. Each network hosts an annual meeting for participating members.

AACN Programs[edit]

Curriculum Standard: Using a national consensus-based process, AACN has led the development of a series of Essentials documents that outline competency expectations for graduates of baccalaureate, master's, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. Using these documents, schools of nursing are able to ensure they adhere to high standards for their educational programs and meet accreditation guidelines. AACN has published quality indicators for research-focused doctoral programs, a white paper on the Clinical Nurse Leader, and guidelines defining the essential clinical resources for nursing education, research, and faculty practice.

Health Policy Advocacy: In government relations and other advocacy, AACN works to advance public policy on nursing education, research, and practice. AACN is a leader in securing sustained federal support for nursing education and research; shaping legislative and regulatory policy affecting nursing schools; and ensuring continuing financial assistance for nursing students.

Accreditation: An autonomous arm of AACN, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate and graduate education programs preparing effective nurses. Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, CCNE serves the public interest by assessing and identifying programs that engage in effective educational practices. CCNE is the nation's leading accrediting agency for baccalaureate and master's level nursing programs, and has recently initiated processes to accredit DNP programs and post-baccalaureate nurse residencies.

Research and Data Services: Each year, AACN surveys all baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs as part of its work to maintain the Institutional Data System, a databank reporting statistics on student enrollments and graduations, faculty salaries and demographics, budgets, institutional resources, and other trends in baccalaureate and graduate nursing education.

Conferences and Webinars: Dean and faculty development is a high priority for AACN as evidenced by the many national meetings, conferences, and Webinars sponsored every year. The semiannual meetings in Washington, D.C. advance the business of the association and enable deans to address emerging issues. Faculty and staff development is accomplished by a number of conferences geared toward educators teaching in baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs as well as those engaged in faculty practice. Senior faculty and aspiring deans are specifically served by the Executive Development Series and the Leadership for Academic Nursing Program. AACN also offers a free Webinar series exclusively for nurse educators teaching in baccalaureate and higher degree programs and an executive leadership program with the Wharton School for more seasoned academic leaders.

Special Projects: AACN actively seeks grant-funding to launch initiatives of special interest to nurse educators at member schools. These projects are currently focused on end-of-life nursing care, run by the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium, informatics, public health nursing, and quality and safety in nursing education. AACN is working to advance the integration of the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) role into the healthcare delivery system while promoting the benefits of CNL certification. Other ongoing projects include advancing the adoption of nurse residency programs, facilitating the transition to the Doctor of Nursing Practice, and promoting support for the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation. AACN is also leading several initiatives to enhance diversity in the nursing workforce, including the Johnson & Johnson Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars program and the New Careers in Nursing program. Also for students, AACN launched the Graduate Nursing Student Academy to provide free webinars and resources to those enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs and operates NursingCAS, the centralized application service for prospective nursing students.

Certification: The Clinical Nurse Leader Certification Program is managed by the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC), an autonomous arm of AACN, and governed by the CNC Board of Commissioners. CNC recognizes individuals who have demonstrated professional standards and knowledge through CNL certification. CNC promotes lifelong learning through CNL recertification.


AACN publishes the bi-monthly Journal of Professional Nursing and Syllabus newsletter, a monthly email advisory AACN News Watch, and other publications for nursing educators, administrators, students, and researchers. AACN collaborates with Peterson's to produce the Peterson's Guide to Nursing Programs, a directory of accredited baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in the U.S. and Canada. As needed, AACN produces position statements, news releases, issue bulletins, white papers, and fact sheets. AACN maintains Web resources, including faculty tool kits, information for prospective nursing students, and news on professional issues, including the nursing shortage and diversity in nursing.

Newsletters and publications[edit]

AACN Syllabus AACN's bimonthly newsletter reports association activities and developments in nursing higher education. Coverage includes interviews with policymakers, updates on federal legislation and regulatory policy, and discussion forums on issues in nursing education, nursing research, and health care.

AACN News Watch News Watch is an email advisory covering the association’s initiatives, political advocacy, publications, conferences, and collaborations.

AACN Faculty Link Every month, faculty teaching full- or part-time in baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs affiliated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) will receive this newsletter about free Webinars on faculty development topics, funding opportunity alerts, enrichment opportunities, announcements about awards and scholarship programs, government advocacy resources, and bulletins on nursing education news.

GNSA Bulletin The Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA) Bulletin provides members of the GNSA with information about upcoming Webinars, scholarships, grants, career resources, and other opportunities of interest to nursing students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs.

AACN Policy Beat AACN Policy Beat monthly newsletter is incorporated with AACN's News Watch and provides members and constituents with a more in-depth discussion of current government affairs issues that impact nursing education and research.


AACN is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors, each of whom represents a member institution. The association has several standing committees, including the Government Affairs, Finance, Nominating, Membership, and Program Committees, and sponsors task forces on professional concerns.

Board of Directors[edit]

  • Chair: Ann Cary, University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Chair-Elect: Judy Beal, Simmons College
  • Treasurer: Teri Murray, Saint Louis University
  • Secretary: Jean Leuner, Auburn University Montgomery College of Nursing and Health Sciences


  • Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Oregon Health and Science University
  • Philip Greiner, San Diego State University
  • Lepaine Sharp-McHenry, Oklahoma Baptist University
  • Christie Shelton, Jacksonville State University
  • Kristen Swanson, Seattle University
  • Terri E. Weaver, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Lin Zhan, University of Memphis

President and Chief Executive Officer: Deborah E. Trautman

External links[edit]