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Online Nursing Schools with CCNE Accreditation: The Top Ten


Becoming a professional nurse is a dream for many. Alongside offering excellent progression opportunities, nursing is a rich career field with real opportunities to help others. However, most nursing positions require candidates to have a degree in nursing. It is best to find an online nursing school with accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) when looking for a nursing degree. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the top 10 online nursing schools with CCNE accreditation. We’ll also explore CCNE accreditation and how it affects a program’s quality.

First, we will review a few abbreviations:

  • APRN or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
  • BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • MSN or Master of Science in Nursing
  • RN or Registered Nurse

Online Nursing Schools with CCNE Accreditation

Chamberlain University

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Post-Graduate APRN Certificate

Chamberlain University is a healthcare-only school that offers a variety of nursing degrees and even postgraduate certificates. In this way, it is an ideal university for individuals who want to become nurses no matter their backgrounds.

Chamberlain University is an established online school (having offered online classes for over 20 years). Students enrolled in their nursing classes will benefit from the many class sizes. Other advantages include a responsive faculty, weekly check-in sessions, and visual medical simulations. This advanced technology helps to replicate in-person practicum experiences.

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Hardin-Simmons University

Programs Offered: BSN

Hardin-Simmons University offers a variety of majors and specializations ranging from graduate to undergraduate degrees. It also provides a dedicated Bachelor of Science in Nursing. With a low student-to-faculty ratio, each student receives attention for their educational goals and unique challenges.

Note that this is an exclusively Baptist institution. Therefore, much of the educational materials offered will include a faith-based component.

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Maryville University

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Post-Graduate APRN Certificate

Maryville University offers a multitude of nursing degrees. Students can earn a bachelor’s degree, a graduate degree, or even a postgraduate certificate. The school offers 100% online coursework and doesn’t require campus visits.

Furthermore, programs at Maryville University begin throughout the year. This makes it easy for students to start their nursing education, no matter their prior experience or schedule. The school accepts eligible transfer credits, and you do not have entrance exams or fees for applications.

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Liberty University

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Post-Graduate APRN Certificate

Liberty University is a Christian school with a variety of online programs. Among these include bachelor’s, master’s, and other programs for nursing students. These programs are 100% online. Students can transfer up to 90 credits from prior schooling to their undergraduate program.

In addition, this school may be an excellent choice for future master’s degree holders. Students can transfer up to 50% of their total degree requirements. In this way, students can easily use Liberty University to complete an education they had to pause earlier.

Liberty University doesn’t have any standardized testing. Faculty teach a Christian worldview in all courses. Furthermore, there are eight start dates per year, so resuming one’s education at this school is easier than ever.

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American Sentinel University

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN

American Sentinel University focuses entirely on healthcare education through online learning. Their innovative programs include nursing, business, and leadership. ASU provides a variety of advantages for online students, including 3-D virtual simulations. The school also has several online resources, such as a digital library and online textbooks.

Each nursing student will further benefit from weekly and course-specific discussion forums. This excellent online school appeals to working professionals who require a flexible and nontraditional program. Each course is designed specifically for online delivery.

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Jacksonville University

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Post-Graduate APRN Certificate

Jacksonville University, founded in 1934, now offers a variety of online programs. Students can earn a primary degree in nursing or go all the way to the postgraduate level, depending on their goals. This accredited four-year institution also offers several dual degree programs.

For example, students can get a dual Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Business Administration. Or students can earn a Master of Science in Nursing and a Leadership in Healthcare Systems degree. The latter option is an excellent RN to MSN path if students want to accelerate their educational progress.

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Jacksonville State University

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice

Jacksonville State University offers all levels of nursing degrees through an online portal. Students value this university for its accessible educational materials and flexible scheduling options. The university also provides a variety of non-nursing degrees.

Note that this school delivers most of its online content without any distinctions between those classes and its in-person counterparts. Therefore, the expectation is on students to attend online lectures or complete coursework in tandem with in-person students.

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Colorado Technical University

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice

Colorado Technical University provides nursing degrees from the bachelor’s level up to the doctorate level. This for-profit institution is a combined online and in-person school that offers many double major bachelor’s degrees. If students wish to get a degree in nursing plus a related subject, CTU could be a great choice.

Furthermore, it offers accelerated RN to BSN degree pathways. In this way, students can take their basic nursing credential and work towards a bachelor’s degree in an accelerated timeframe.

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Capella University

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice

Capella University presents several quality nursing programs. More importantly, it offers a unique FlexPath learning system, allowing students to finish a bachelor’s degree in 22 months for $20,000. Alternatively, students can complete a master’s degree in 14 months for just $14,000.

This online program could be an excellent choice for nurses who wish to acquire a graduate degree ASAP. You can look into the various financing scholarships at Capella University. These range in value from $1,000 up to $20,000 to lower your cost of online tuition. Applications do not require GRE or GMAT scores.

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University of Central Florida

Programs Offered: BSN, MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Post-Graduate APRN Certificate

University of Central Florida offers almost every nursing degree students can imagine, including a postgraduate certificate program. These also include 2+2 baccalaureate completion programs. In such a program, students can potentially complete their bachelor’s degrees in nursing much more quickly than usual.

Alternatively, students can get a graduate degree focusing on one of several different topics. For example, students can get an MSN combined with a focus in Nursing and Healthcare Simulation. Or students can get an MSN focusing on Nursing Leadership and Management.

View More about University of Central Florida

CCNE Accreditation

As seen above, there are plenty of quality online nursing schools with CCNE accreditation. But what exactly is CCNE accreditation, and what does it mean for an aspiring nurse’s education?

What is CCNE Accreditation?

In a nutshell, CCNE accreditation is accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The CCNE, often considered the primary authority for academic nursing materials, accredits programs throughout America. It contributes to the safety of public health through the following measures:

  • Ensures proper training of nursing and medical professionals
  • Requires colleges to teach modern, up-to-date nursing techniques
  • Mandates self-assessment for nationally-accredited nursing and other programs

The Purpose of CCNE Accreditation

In other words, the CCNE makes sure that any graduated nursing student actually knows the skills required for their profession. According to the CCNE itself, the purpose of accreditation is to:

  • Ensure nursing programs are held accountable to the “community of interest.” This includes the nursing profession overall, consumers, employers, nurse residents, and students alike.
  • Evaluate nursing program successes and make sure that any given program fulfills its goals and expected outcomes.
  • Assess just how well a given nursing program meets various accreditation standards.
  • Inform the public about the quality of online or other nursing programs so students can choose wisely.
  • See that nursing programs consistently improve, which should result in continually better nursing professionals.

What Factors is a Program Accredited on?

The CCNE regularly provides accreditation for both bachelor’s and master’s nursing programs. According to the CCNE, programs are evaluated based on factors including:

  • The program’s integrity
  • How well the program utilizes resources
  • The performance of the program
  • The mission and goals for the program
  • The academic rigor of the program
  • The included class materials or academic knowledge of the program

How do Programs Maintain CCNE Accreditation?

An online nursing program must meet CCNE accreditation standards in order to receive accreditation. But once achieved, the journey is not over. Programs must still practice self-assessment and submit to CCNE visits. These measures help ensure that programs maintain their accreditation and do not diminish in quality.

CCNE vs. ACEN Accreditation

The other central accrediting body for the nursing profession is the ACEN or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. The ACEN is a specialized accrediting agency that checks nursing education programs throughout the US.

The US Department of Education specifically recognizes the ACEN. It accredits nursing education programs ranging from associate’s degree programs to doctorate level programs and more. Because of this, students may find some colleges with both CCNE and ACEN accreditation. If a school has all levels of nursing programs, they need both accreditations to rank well among nursing schools.

Like the CCNE, the ACEN accredits nursing programs to ensure they are worthwhile and academically rigorous. Ultimately, CCNE and ACEN accreditation are essential for any online nursing school.

If students have to pick one over the other, CCNE accreditation indicates a more thorough program. That is because the application and accreditation process for the ACEN is a little lengthier. A university could potentially become accredited by the CCNE. Then it could attempt to acquire ACEN accreditation in the meantime.

Related Resource: Online Nursing Schools with ACEN Accreditation: The Top 60

Why Do You Need a CCNE Accredited Program?

Simply put, it could be challenging for a student to sit for the NCLEX exam without graduating from an accredited program. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing runs the NCLEX exam, determining nursing candidate competency.

If a student cannot sit for this exam, it could not be very easy to find employment as a nurse. Even if they have a nursing degree from an otherwise excellent university, this is true. If a student doesn’t pass the NCLEX exam, they can’t become a fully registered nurse or RN.

Therefore, students should only ever attend an online nursing program that is CCNE accredited. When students apply for the NCLEX exam, they must provide their diploma and university information.

If the NCSBN notes that a university is not accredited, they may not allow a student to take the exam at all. Therefore, take any university without accreditation as a major red flag to be avoided.

Related Resource: Online RN Programs: How to Become a Registered Nurse Online

Benefits of Attending a CCNE Accredited Program

Aside from eligibility to sit for the NCLEX exam, attending a program with CCNE accreditation offers other advantages. These include:

  • The ability to receive federal financial aid. That’s right – only accredited programs provide federal scholarships or grants to nursing students. Therefore, if students want financial assistance, they will need a program with CCNE accreditation.
  • The ability to transfer prior credits toward a current program. Many nursing students graduate with a four-year or six-year degree over time. Each year, they may take a few classes and progress at a flexible, slower rate. If a student wishes to transfer those credits to their program, they must be from an accredited university.
  • The option to attend a graduate nursing program. The CCNE or ACEN assesses all graduate nursing programs. Therefore, if students wish to advance in their nursing careers, accreditation is the only way to go.
  • Better job market prospects. In short, nonaccredited universities do not provide nurses with valuable degrees. In contrast, if a student has a degree from an accredited university, they will be more competitive against other nursing candidates. Employers will be more likely to hire nurses with degrees from schools with both types of accreditations than one.

Because of these benefits, students should always attend a CCNE accredited program, if possible.

Related Resource: 13 Highest Paying Nursing Jobs

What Else to Look for in an Online Nursing School

While accreditation is crucial, students should look at other factors for an online nursing school before attending. Let’s break down these significant factors one by one.


Firstly, any great online nursing school program should be affordable. This can be from the school’s base tuition rate or financial aid options. Fortunately, many online nursing schools have several financial aid opportunities for prospective or current students.

Flexible Online Classes

Next, look for an online nursing school that includes flexible class schedules. One of the major advantages of an online nursing program is its flexibility. Online schools work well for stay-at-home parents or those who have to work while completing their education.

Flexible online classes usually:

  • Allow students to complete coursework on their own schedules
  • Don’t require students to attend lectures via videoconferencing software

However, not all online nursing programs offer these benefits. Some programs, such as those with cohorts, require students to complete coursework at a more controlled pace. Therefore, you should do a lot of research before you enroll in an online nursing program. That way, you can choose the program that best fits your schedule.

Student Resources

Many of the best online nursing schools will also include a variety of student resources. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Online or digital libraries
  • Online textbooks, especially those that may be rented or purchased for low prices
  • FAQ sections
  • Student services (preferably 24/7)

The more resources available to students, the more the program will be accessible and easier to complete. Student resources allow you to get answers to questions, connect with teachers or other professionals, and more.

Many Degree Options

It may also be wise to look for an online nursing school that offers multiple degrees. For example, a prospective nurse only needs a bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse. (In fact, nursing candidates truly only need a two-year degree or certificate to get started in the field.)

However, students may wish to proceed in the nursing industry in the future. They might want to acquire a promotion for additional pay or new leadership and management responsibilities.

Many higher nursing jobs or positions require a master’s degree or higher certificate. Suppose an online nursing school has multiple nursing programs available. In that case, that makes it easy for students to continue their education.

Otherwise, students have to transfer credits from one school to another to complete their education. This could take longer and limit students’ schedule flexibility.

Options to Transfer Credits

Last but not least, find an online school that allows you to transfer credits from a prior university. This will only be possible if the previous university also held CCNE accreditation.

Many online students have at least some credits from prior schooling. Prior credits may be applied to current programs and shorten the amount of time spent studying nursing material. This could, in turn, accelerate one’s graduation timeline.

Therefore, being able to transfer credits is crucial. However, if a student hasn’t received any prior nursing education, this benefit is much less critical.


All in all, there are many quality online nursing schools with CCNE accreditation. Many of these also offer a variety of start dates, accessible entrance requirements, and other benefits. Because of this, there’s no reason not to check out online nursing schools if you want to get your degree with a flexible schedule!

Even better, each of the above programs lies within GetEducated’s database. Check out each link for the online nursing schools for more information on specific programs. Don’t forget to use GetEducated to ensure a school isn’t just a diploma mill. With GetEducated, the right online school for your needs is just around the corner!

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Online Nursing School FAQs

Is CCNE regionally or nationally accredited?

The CCNE is a national organization. Therefore, any CCNE accredited school is nationally accredited. The same is true for ACEN accreditation. That said, it may still be worthwhile to find an online school that is regionally or state-accredited. State accreditations can add even more value to online nursing education.

Is online nursing school worth it?


Online nursing school is very worthwhile, especially if a student can’t attend in-person school for one reason or another. Online nursing school is often affordable, has flexible scheduling, and is accessible for many people.

Furthermore, online nursing school can prepare students for the rigors of nursing just as well as an in-person program.

Is an online nursing school’s education the same as an in-person education?

Yes, provided it is CCNE or ACEN accredited. An accredited online nursing school will provide students with the same academic knowledge necessary to succeed in the nursing industry.

Students learn the same topics, take the same classes, and gain the same knowledge as in-person students. However, all educational materials are transmitted remotely online. In this way, students can watch lectures or download class materials to complete on their time frames.

Are online nursing programs 100% online?

No, not usually. That’s because most nursing programs have a practicum or in-person component. They require students to complete several supervised hours under the guidance of a registered nurse at a clinical facility.

This is a requirement for most nursing degrees and certificates. Therefore, any online nursing program will include academic material and practical hour requirements.

However, students can complete the practical hour requirements at a clinic or hospital near them. They’ll need to set up a time with a registered nurse there and validate or verify the hours with their university. Still, this is an accessible and flexible way for many nursing students to complete their degrees. In this way, students don’t have to attend a university far from home to meet the practicum requirement for a degree.