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AACN Essentials

Used to define quality in nursing education, the AACN Essentials outline the necessary curriculum content and expected competencies of graduates from baccalaureate, master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs. With the endorsement of the new AACN Essentials by the membership in April 2021, academic nursing is moving toward a new model and framework for nursing education using a competency-based approach.  AACN is committed to providing resources, education, and guidance to bring about this transformation.

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Important Note: AACN has not endorsed any products or services related to the implementation of new AACN Essentials.  If AACN members have questions about specific products and services that claim to be endorsed by the association, please contact


Share Your School's Efforts

AACN is interested in hearing from member schools about efforts to adapt nursing programs to meet the expectations outlined in the 2021 Essentials. What approaches are you using to revise your curriculum to meet the new standards? Are there any tools or strategies particularly helpful in advancing this work? Are you working closely with practice partners to implement new learning and assessment measures? Please send us a short summary of the work underway at your school for publication in an upcoming issue of News Watch. Send emails to

School Spotlights

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The Essential Update - The Latest on AACN's New Essentials

  • September 28, 2022
    AACN is asking each member school dean to identify one lead faculty member to serve as an Essentials Champion. This individual will be your school’s central point of contact and communication liaison who will have access to a new network of leaders engaged in Essentials implementation. Read more...

  • September 21, 2022
    On September 19, AACN issued a comprehensive update on the resources and opportunities available to nursing schools working to implement the 2021 Essentials. This communication includes an announcement about the new Essentials Champion program, details on the upcoming Faculty Development Conference, and more. Access the update...

  • September 14, 2022
    AACN is interested in hearing from schools about their efforts to adapt nursing programs to meet the 2021 Essentials. We are compiling School Spotlights to share lessons learned and strategies for moving to the new competency standards.  Read more...

  • September 7, 2022
    The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) will launch its new Essentials-aligned BSN curriculum this fall, with MSN and DNP curriculums set to launch in fall 2024.UMSON began the work toward implementation in May 2021, forming an Essentials Curricular Revisions Task Force composed of subgroups focused on curriculum, faculty development, resources, simulation, student services, and ad hoc topics. Read more...

  • August 31, 2022
    Western Governors University (WGU) entered its 25th year of competency-based education in 2022, with a redeveloped RN-to-BSN program curriculum aligned with the new AACN Essentials. Launched on February 1, 2022, the program was designed to meet the new competency standards and better prepare students for the everchanging role of the professional nurse caring for diverse populations. Read more...

  • August 25, 2022
    The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) has developed a crosswalk of their Standards for Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs – Practice Doctorate to the new AACN Essentials. COA is encouraging Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) programs to meet the new Essentials and use this tool in their work toward curriculum redesign. Read more...

  • August 17, 2022
    The AACN Board of Directors approved two new statements that affirm the association’s support for the master’s degree in nursing and expectations regarding the preparation of nurse faculty. Since the approval of the Essentials in April 2021, members have raised questions about the future of master’s education and how to approach preparing faculty given the new competency guidelines. Read more...

  • August 10, 2022
    AACN has not endorsed any products or services related to the implementation of the new AACN Essentials. If AACN members have questions about specific products and services that claim to be endorsed by the association, please contact AACN is committed to facilitating the transition to the 2021 Essentials, which extends to working with corporate partners looking to develop products, services, and educational offerings to assist in implementation efforts and the move to a competency-based  education (CBE). Read more..

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