The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation (ONCC) is the premier provider of nationally accredited certification for nurses in oncology and related specialties.

ONCC was founded in 1984 as a non-profit organization. It is governed by a Board of Directors, who represent various levels of certification in oncology nursing and the public at large. ONCC administered its first certification examination, the Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN®) examination in 1986. Today, ONCC offers eight credential programs. More than 37,500 nurses are currently certified by ONCC. (Learn more about ONCC's history below.)

Our Mission

The mission of ONCC is to promote health and safety by validating competence and ensuring life-long learning in oncology nursing and related specialties.

Our Vision

Oncology care across the continuum is provided by oncology certified professionals

Our Values

Values are our organizations’ guiding principles. They represent our core beliefs for the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) and its family of affiliated corporations, including the ONS Foundation, Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation, and ONS:Edge.


Professional and ethical behavior

The organization and its certificants exhibit integrity and earn trust through ethical behaviors and uncompromising professionalism to all parties in business, professional, and personal interactions.


Innovation in testing and thinking

ONCC and its certificants face every endeavor with creativity and knowledge. We strive to apply our broad perspectives consistently while leading the transformation of cancer care.


Informed consumers, providers, professionals, employers

We, as an organization and as individuals, advocate on behalf of people with cancer to ensure their quality of life and their access to exemplary care throughout the continuum of life. We advocate on behalf of the nursing profession and the oncology specialty to ensure respect and recognition.


Maintain fair, valid and reliable certification process
Data-driven and/or research-based decision making

We strive to foster excellence in oncology nursing practice. We are committed to nothing less than excellence in our organization, certification processes, and the care of patients.


Responsiveness to nurses' needs for certification
Openness to change and flexibility

We respond quickly and effectively to the dynamic situations that impact oncology nurses and their care of patients with cancer.

The History of ONCC

1975 — The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) was founded with a primary focus on the education and development of oncology nurses and the specialty of oncology nursing. As ONS grew, the membership became interested in developing a means to formally recognize professional expertise in oncology nursing.

1981 — The ONS Board appointed the Certification Task Force to develop a plan to implement a certification program.

1983 — This task force met with more than 800 ONS members during the ONS Annual Congress in San Diego, to identify members’ concerns related to certification. It was clear that certification was a high priority for many of the organization’s members.

1984 — ONCC was incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania and the first Board of Directors meeting was convened to finalize the ONCC structure and develop corporate policies.

1985 — the American Cancer Society (ACS) awarded ONCC a $35,000 grant for developing a certification program.

April 30, 1986 — ONCC administered the first OCN® examination to 1,607 nurses during the ONS Annual Congress in Los Angeles. Of those who took the test, 1,384 (86%) passed.

1991 — ONCC Board appointed a task force to explore the feasibility of advanced certification.

1994 — ONCC obtained accreditation of the OCN® credential from the American Board of Nursing Specialties. Also in 1994, a role delineation study of advanced oncology nursing practice was completed.

April 25, 1995 — 256 nurses took the first Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse (AOCN®) Examination; 219 passed (86%).

1998 — ONCC began offering the Roberta Scofield Memorial Certification Awards to assist nurses in becoming certified by offering free registration for a certification test or renewal. Fifty recipients were selected to receive the awards that first year.

1999 — ONCC purchased the Certified Pediatric Oncology Nurse (CPON®) Examination from the Certification Corporation of Pediatric Oncology Nurses. ONCC offered the first CPON® examination in October 1999, during the annual conference of the Association of Pediatric Oncology Nurses (now known as the Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses). One hundred eighty three nurses took the first CPON® examination administered by ONCC, and 141 passed (77%).

2000 — ONCC obtained accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, whose purpose is to help ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the public through the accreditation of certification programs/organizations that assess professional competence. At the time, ONCC offered the OCN®, AOCN®, and CPON® credentials. Since then, all ONCC certification programs have obtained NCCA accreditation as soon as eligible, and maintained it continuously.

2005 — following a role delineation study of advanced oncology nursing practice, ONCC added role-specific advanced certification examinations: the Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP®) and Advanced Oncology Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS®). Two hundred sixty eight nurses took the AOCNP® test during its first year; 232 passed (87%). One hundred thirteen nurses took the AOCNS® test in 2005, and 94 passed (83%). With the introduction of the AOCNP® and AOCNS® examinations, the AOCN® credential was placed into retired status, wherein nurses could maintain the credential through professional development but the test is no longer offered.

2009 — ONCC began offering the Certified Breast Care Nurse (CBCN®) examination, the first subspecialty certification test. Three hundred eighty one nurses took the CBCN® test in its first year and 329 passed (86%).

2010 — Following a role delineation study of pediatric oncology nursing practice, ONCC introduced the Certified Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurse (CPHON®) examination, bringing its number of certification programs to seven. Of the 519 nurses took the CPHON® examination, 374 passed (72%). With the introduction of the CPHON® credential, the CPON® credential was placed into retired status, meaning it could be maintained by nurses through professional development, but the test is no longer offered.

2011 — there were 30,449 oncology certified nurses, including 25,986 OCN®, 1,053 AOCN®, 1,910 CPON®, 315 AOCNS®, 754 AOCNP®, 513 CBCN®, and 374 CPHON®

2012 — Announced the Individual Learning Needs Assessment would become the primary renewal method beginning in 2016.

2013 — Collaborated with ONS on the development of the ONS/ONCC Chemotherapy Biotherapy Certificate Program. ONS provided the educational component for the course, and ONCC developed a post-test and Certificate of Added Qualification in Chemotherapy and Biotherapy

2014 —Offered the first Blood & Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse Examination (BMTCN®). Five hundred twenty four nurses earned the BMTCN® credential.

2015 —Began offering year-round testing in North America for all ONCC examinations. This reduced the time from application to testing appointment, so nurses could earn their certification sooner than before.

2016 —Approved the first certification renewals by the ILNA method ILNA provided certified nurses the opportunity to focus their professional development on specific knowledge areas represented by their certification credential

2017 —Launched ONCC FreeTake, an employer support program that enabled nurses from participating institutions to apply to test without payment, and with a free retest for those who were unsuccessful on the first attempt

2017 —Retired the AOCNS® examination, meaning nurses could no longer earn the AOCNS® credential. Those who were already AOCNS® certified could continue to maintain their certification through professional development activities