As the voice of academic nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the nation’s leading advocate for baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing education. The adoption of the 2021 Essentials and the move to a new model of nursing education has generated robust conversation about the future of the master’s degree. To address some misperceptions that have emerged from our work to re-envision nursing education, the AACN Board of Directors has issued the following statement.
AACN supports the master’s degree in nursing (entry-level/Level 1 and advanced-level/Level 2) and will continue to provide support and guidance to faculty, students, and administrators affiliated with these programs. Supporting the master’s degree is core to advancing AACN’s mission. Fully 75% of nursing schools affiliated with AACN offer master’s programs, and nearly 88% of these programs are accredited by AACN’s autonomous accrediting arm, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. AACN is committed to helping these programs sustain the master’s degree as an integral option for preparing nurses to practice across settings.
Consistent with the 2021 Essentials, master’s programs preparing graduates for advanced-level roles and specialties are expected to meet the Level 2 competencies and sub-competencies. AACN invites dialogue on this evolution in nursing education as we seek to find ways to sustain and ensure consistent expectations of the master’s degree, recognizing the unique needs of schools, faculty, students, and the populations we serve.