Completed Non-Accredited Nursing Program, But Want Higher Education. Help!
What if you are a registered nurse who graduated from a non-accredited associate degree program or diploma school of nursing? Are there any nonprofit, legitimate, nationally accredited schools of nursing that will admit you into their degree completion programs? Yes. I have listed multiple not-for-profit degree completion programs that accept graduates of unaccredited nursing programs.
A handful of individuals may have read the title of this piece and probably thought to themselves, "How could anyone graduate from an unaccredited nursing program? Are these graduates even able to get a nursing license?"
Many nurses have graduated from non-accredited schools of nursing.
When I bring up the word 'unaccredited,' I am referring to the programs that lack national nursing accreditation. The two major entities that nationally accredit in the United States and its territories are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (formerly known as the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The number of private for-profit schools of nursing has proliferated in recent years, and while a few of these programs are nationally accredited by the ACEN or CCNE, many others lack this legitimizing accreditation.
Furthermore, countless nurses graduated from three-year hospital-based diploma nursing programs in years past. Although some of these programs were nationally accredited, a large number were unaccredited. Therefore, many nurses who completed diploma nursing programs in previous generations have encountered frustrating issues when attempting to return to school to earn a BSN or MSN degree. For instance, one of my former instructors earned a hospital-based diploma from the Los Angeles County Medical Center School of Nursing in 1970, but basically had to start from scratch when she wanted to complete a BSN degree in the 1990s.
Are graduates of unaccredited nursing programs even able to get licensed?
You might be surprised to learn no state board of nursing in the US requires national accreditation from the ACEN or CCNE. In fact, state boards of nursing only require that nursing programs attain approval to operate. In other words, the BON requires approval, but not accreditation. Accreditation is a purely voluntary process that nursing programs undergo to ensure quality and a certain level of standards.
Nurses who have graduated from non-accredited programs may face three significant hurdles in their professional careers. For starters, the Department of Defense (also known as the military), the Veterans Administration, federal prisons, and other entities operated by the US Government will not hire RNs who completed nursing programs that lacked national accreditation. Secondly, some prestigious hospital systems will not hire RNs who graduated from unaccredited schools of nursing.
Finally, transferability of credits is a major issue because a graduate of a non-accredited program who wishes to pursue higher education will be rejected by the vast majority of accredited nursing programs. Most RN-to-BSN completion programs require candidates to have earned an associates degree in nursing from a nationally accredited program. Most BSN-to-MSN progression programs require applicants to possess a BSN degree from a nationally accredited program. Without a nursing degree from a nationally accredited program, most schools will reject your application with the exception of some of the private for-profit entities (Kaplan, ITT Technical Institute, Walden, Chamberlain, etc.).
What if you are a graduate of a non-accredited associate degree program or diploma school of nursing?
Are there any nonprofit, nationally accredited programs that will work with you?
You do have options. I have listed several nonprofit degree completion programs that have accepted graduates of unaccredited nursing programs. Some of these programs are completely online, others are hybrid, and a few offer purely brick-and-mortar nursing education. Most of these schools of nursing require graduates of unaccredited programs to validate prior learning through challenge exams, competency testing and/or completion of a handful of bridge courses. Also, some of the nursing programs may offer provisional acceptance to graduates of unaccredited programs or review their applications on a case-by-case basis.
Nonprofit RN degree completion programs that accept graduates of unaccredited nursing programs:
University of Wisconsin at Green Bay
Indiana Wesleyan University
American Public University
The University of Toledo
Charleston Southern University
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Northwestern Missouri State University
University of Saint Mary (Kansas) (online)
University of Missouri at Kansas City
Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing
University of Central Arkansas
Mercy College of Ohio
Southern Vermont College
Western Kentucky University (MSN program)
Tarleton State University
University of Colorado
Miami University (Ohio)
Clayton State University (Georgia) MSN
East Tennessee State University
Missouri Western State University
Valdosta State University
Columbus State University
Saint Joseph's College of Maine
Western Governors University (BSN and MSN)
Christian Brothers University
Visit Our New Accredited Nursing School Directory
Have difficulty deciding which nursing school to attend? Trust your peers. See what they got to say. Visit Accredited Nursing Schools and Universities today!Last edit by Joe V on Jun 29, '17
About TheCommuter, BSN, RN Senior Moderator
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.
TheCommuter has '11' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych'. From 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'; 36 Years Old; Joined Feb '05; Posts: 38,035; Likes: 69,146.Mar 16, '14Wow this is a great and very on time article! There are quite a few schools that I've researched and considered that have state approval to operate but lack the national accreditation. People have graduated from those programs and successfully gained employment as a RN but the thought of applying to those schools made me uncomfortable. I wasn't 100 percent sure how I would be affected and no one could really tell me. I thought transferability of coursework might be an issue but was wondering if there was anyway to get by that. This article definitely clarifies some things for me AND provides options that are available to overcome the obstacle should I or anyone else go this route.
Kudos!!!Mar 16, '14Honestly.......i chose this route (non accredited) and lik the OP said i have many options in pursuing my BSN. Also if i may add i have had many job opportunities/offers like state hospital, corrections facility, non for profit hospital, ambulatory care, LTC, rehab hospital and LTACH. Im not too sure if that has anything to do with the fact that i have so many years of LPN experience but I chose LTACH because of the experience one said i would gain. I hope everything works out for everyone. Make the best of your education and good luck!!Last edit by mso819 on Mar 16, '14Mar 16, '14Western Governors University will not accept credits from a HYBRID accreditation such as Pima Medical Institute. I went to PMI for their ADN program and pickings are slim for RN to BSN programs. I know U of PHX and GCU accept credits from PMI, and also Walden. I really wanted to go to WGU, but even after an appeal to the director of nursing, no go.....
This was a really great article by the wayLast edit by seanynjboy on Mar 16, '14Mar 17, '14Quote from seanynjboyI am sorry to hear this.Western Governors University will not accept credits from a HYBRID accreditation such as Pima Medical Institute. I went to PMI for their ADN program and pickings are slim for RN to BSN programs. I know U of PHX and GCU accept credits from PMI, and also Walden. I really wanted to go to WGU, but even after an appeal to the director of nursing, no go.
I think WGU may have lightened up on their RN-to-BSN admissions policies within the past year. My former classmate, who graduated from an unaccredited ASN program, finished WGU's BSN completion program. I graduated from the same ASN program, but was granted provisional acceptance to WGU's program with a tentative start date of May 1st.
Also, WGU has dropped the college algebra requirement.Mar 17, '14I saw Southern Vermont College on the list! It's where I went to nursing school and I loved that place, the teachers and classmates, the environment; couldn't be happier with my nursing school experience.Last edit by NYbabyRN on Mar 17, '14 : Reason: editMar 17, '14The biggest thing I know (from reading around here) is getting a job lacking those accreditations matter greatly to the military!
This was the best article I've found here!!Mar 17, '14Where I live, you won't get a job unless it's accredited. And that kind of is the point of becoming a nurse to get a job. Most hospitals won't even let these schools in for clinicals. And that's the sad part. These schools take advantage of people who have low grades and Teas Scores and promise them the world. These people end up working their butts off and paying a boat load of money and then have no way to pay it back because they cannot find a job.Mar 17, '14Spectacular article! At the moment I think I'm most interested, of all of the ones listed, in WGU for my future RN-to-BSN program. From my research, they seem too good to be true almost; cheap tuition, ability to complete RN-BSN within ONE term (6 months), completely online, generous with transfer credits, nonprofit, accredited, lots of support from the school, and more. I heard the catch is that your GPA will only be a 3.0, because it's based on pass/fail policy in terms of credits - but it seems to matter very little as I've read that plenty from WGU get into many prestigious graduate programs (CRNA for example) regardless of GPA.Mar 17, '14Quote from HeathermaizeyMany reputable community college lack national accreditation. In my area, one of the notorious for-profit trade schools is regionally and nationally accredited, but with staggering tuition of $128k for the entire nursing program.These schools take advantage of people who have low grades and Teas Scores and promise them the world.Mar 18, '14WOW. Very informative. Reasons why I love allnurses.com.
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