Who We Are

Who We Are

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing. 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.


Vision and Mission


Nurses are transforming health care to improve health and achieve health equity.


As the collective voice for academic nursing, AACN serves as the catalyst for excellence and innovation in nursing education, research, and practice.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Excellence. Innovation. Integrity. Leadership.


From an original 121 member institutions in 1969, AACN today represents more than 875 member schools of nursing at public and private universities 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 the entire academic enterprise, including faculty, administrative staff, and students. AACN maintains eight 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. See membership brochure for additional information and how to join.


School Badge


Member Badge

Faculty Members


Student Badge


AACN Programs

Curriculum Standards

Using a national consensus-based process, AACN has led the development of The Essentials: Core Competences for Professional Nursing Education, which outline competency expectations for graduates of baccalaureate, master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. To help implement these standards, AACN offers a full complement of training opportunities, a teaching resource database, implementation guides, a video gallery, curriculum mapping tools, and other resources on the Essentials homepage. AACN also has published a position statement on the research-focused doctorate, a white paper on the Clinical Nurse Leader, an array of faculty tool kits, and a directory of curriculum guidelines developed by colleague organizations to address specialty program needs.

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 comprehensive databank reporting current statistics on student enrollments and graduations, faculty salaries and demographics, budgets, institutional resources, and other trends in baccalaureate and graduate nursing education. Several reports are published each year to assist member schools in benchmarking efforts and making policy decisions. Additional surveys are also conducted on faculty vacancies and the employment of new nurse graduates. 

Leadership Development

             Leadership development has been a cornerstone of AACN’s programs and services since the association’s inception more than 50 years ago. To ensure that all AACN members have access to leadership enrichment experiences tailored to their needs, the association launched AACN LEADS. Designed to provide a variety of learning opportunities at all career levels along the leadership continuum, AACN LEADS introduces a portfolio of programs and conferences for new, early career, and experienced deans, associate deans, program directors, and faculty.


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, master’s, and DNP programs as well as post-baccalaureate nurse residency, post-graduate APRN certificates, and nurse practitioner fellowship/residency programs.


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.

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.

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. AACN also offers a free webinar series exclusively for nurse educators teaching in baccalaureate and higher degree programs.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

AACN is a primary advocate for advancing diversity and inclusivity within academic nursing. AACN’s position statement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Academic Nursing reflect the core interests of AACN Membership. To further explore innovative approaches to enhance diversity, AACN has convened the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Network (DEILN), compromised of AACN faculty members that unite expertise, experience, and guidance for academic nursing. Other ongoing projects include the new Diversity Tool Kit, Holistic Admissions Tool Kit, workshops, Diversity Symposium, and the Diversity Leadership Institute.

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 Essentials implementation and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. 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 and facilitating the transition to the Doctor of Nursing Practice. To support students and nursing school admissions, 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.



AACN publishes the bi-monthly Journal of Professional Nursing and Syllabus newsletter, a weekly email advisory AACN News Watch, and a variety of other publications for faculty, administrators, and students. As needed, AACN produces position statements, news releases, white papers, fact sheets, and other timely reports on a wide variety of topics. AACN maintains a wealth of Web resources, including faculty tool kits, information for prospective nursing students, and the latest news on professional issues, including the nursing shortage and diversity in nursing.




AACN is governed by a 14-member Board of Directors, 11 of whom represent a member institution, and 2 represent nursing practice. AACN's President and CEO also serves as an ex-officio member of the Board. The Association supports several committees, including the Government Affairs, Finance, Nominating, Membership, Program, and Diversity and Inclusion Committees, and sponsors task forces on a variety of professional concerns. Leadership Network Steering Committees oversee the activities of AACN’s seven Leadership Networks for faculty and staff. A Joint Council convenes annually and provides an opportunity for committees, task forces and advisory groups to engage directly with the Board of Directors.


Board of Directors

Chair: Jean Giddens, University of Kansas
Chair-Elect: Julie Sanford, The University of Alabama
Treasurer: Judith Karshmer, Arizona State University
Secretary: Victoria Niederhauser, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Stephen Cavanagh, University of California-Davis
Rhoberta Haley, Pacific Lutheran University
Kimberly Hunter, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
Deborah J. Jones, University of Texas Medical Branch
Robin P. Newhouse, Indiana University
Demetrius J. Porche, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Julie Swann, Emory Saint Joseph Hospital
Rita Trofino, Saint Francis University
Lin Zhan, University of California-Los Angeles

President and Chief Executive Officer: Deborah Trautman

View AACN's affiliated sites.

Strategic Plan

FY 2023-2025 Strategic Plan Goals and Objectives

GOAL 1: AACN is the driving force for leadership, innovation, and excellence in academic nursing.

  • Objective 1: Lead innovations in academic nursing that facilitate competency-based education and improve health care.
  • Objective 2: Advance research and scholarship in nursing.
  • Objective 3: Develop leaders and inspire excellence at all levels in academic nursing.

GOAL 2: AACN is a leading partner in advancing improvements in health, health care, and higher education.

  • Objective 1: Accelerate the integration of academia and practice.
  • Objective 2: Work in partnership to improve health and health equity, strengthen the nursing workforce, and transform healthcare delivery.
  • Objective 3: Promote wellness within academic nursing.

GOAL 3: AACN is a resolute leader for diversity, equity, and inclusion within nursing.

  • Objective 1: Advance a culture that promotes and advances diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic nursing.
  • Objective 2: Promote policies, practices, and partnerships that advance health equity and just care.
  • Objective 3: Advocate for and advance anti-racist policies and practices throughout academic nursing.

GOAL 4: AACN is the authoritative source of knowledge to advance academic nursing.

  • Objective 1: Serve as the leading information resource and thought leader on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.
  • Objective 2: Influence and impact the development of the preeminent future nursing workforce.
  • Objective 3: Generate and curate knowledge and timely information to inform decision-making in academic nursing.

Download the Strategic Plan


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