Purpose and Goals of the COE Program

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The NLN Centers of Excellence in Nursing Education Program is designed to recognize schools* of nursing, schools within a system, and health care organizations that have achieved a level of excellence in one of four designated areas.

This recognition is designed to distinguish those organizations that: demonstrate sustained, evidence-based, and substantive innovation in the selected area; conduct ongoing research to document the effectiveness of such innovation; set high standards for themselves; and are committed to continuous quality improvement. Such recognition indicates a commitment by the organization as a whole to pursue and sustain excellence in a selected area. .


The designation of a school or health care organization as an NLN Center of Excellence in Nursing Education is a voluntary process that involves preparation of material by the organization itself and peer review. Recognizing the uniqueness of each organization relative to its mission, the Centers of Excellence Program sets high standards and serves to truly distinguish and publicly recognize those organizations that excel in a particular area. The goals of the program, therefore, are as follows:

  • Identify and reward those schools that excel in creating environments that enhance student learning and professional development, promote the pedagogical expertise of faculty, or advance the science of nursing education.
  • Identify and reward health care organizations that promote academic progression of their nurses.
  • Encourage research in nursing education.
  • Facilitate discussions among faculty, students, program graduates, and employers about excellence in nursing education and how to promote it.
  • Encourage academic-practice partnerships.
  • Encourage the development of innovative schools that attract and retain highly qualified students and faculty.
  • Facilitate positive changes that re-form nursing education based on the application of evidence gleaned from research in practice and education.
  • Influence the development of public policies that benefit nursing education, support nursing education research, and promote excellence in nursing education.

*For this program, "school" includes any designation for the nursing unit in the institution (i.e., College of Nursing, School of Nursing, Department of Nursing, Division of Nursing, etc.); "program" refers to the particular type of nursing program (i.e., practical nurse, associate degree, diploma, baccalaureate, master's, or doctoral), offered by the "school."