CPNE® Eligibility Requirements

Successful completion of Nursing Theory exams and the Focused Clinical Competencies Assessment (FCCA®) is required of students enrolled in the Associate Degree in nursing programs. There are eligibility requirements for the CPNE and FCCA.

The Excelsior College Examinations (ECEs) in Nursing Theory exams serve as the primary method of documenting the required theoretical knowledge in the program’s nursing component. They assess essential knowledge of medical, surgical, maternity, pediatric, and psychiatric nursing as integrated with knowledge related to growth and development, nutrition and pharmacology, ethical and legal issues, and arts and sciences.

ECEs in Nursing Theory

The following nursing theory exams must be passed before taking the FCCA and CPNE:

  • Essentials of Nursing Care: Health Safety
  • Essentials of Nursing Care: Health Differences*
  • Essentials of Nursing Care: Chronicity
  • Essentials of Nursing Care: Reproductive Health
  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 1
  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 2
  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 3
  • Transition to the Registered Professional Nurse Role

*Note: You are exempt from taking Essentials of Nursing Care: Health Differences if you meet the following two conditions: You successfully passed the NCLEX-PN exam within five years of enrollment and you have not failed the Essentials of Nursing Care: Health Differences, Nursing Concepts 2, or Commonalities in Nursing Care Area B examination.

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Learn more about the ECEs in Nursing Theory


To be eligible for the FCCA you will need to complete all Nursing Theory exams and be within 10 General Education credits of completing your degree. The FCCA is graded as Pass/Fail and is worth four credits when passed.

This online, simulated clinical assessment provides a means for students to demonstrate competencies related to the following two essential elements of nursing practice:

  • Head-to-toe assessment and nursing process
  • Managing Multiple Patients/Working with Interdisciplinary Teams

You may take the sections in any order.

Note: You will be contacted about registration when you become eligible for the FCCA.

Learn more about the FCCA


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