National League for Nursing - Excellence Initiatives
Frequently Asked Questions About The COE
How is the COE process different from the accreditation process?
There are three (3) major differences between the COE process and the accreditation
- Accreditation focuses on a particular program while the
COE process focuses on the entire school of nursing.
- Accreditation focuses on all program areas while the
COE process focuses on an area in which the school
- The role of the site visitor in the accreditation process
is to verify, clarify, and amplify material presented in the
self-study report, while the COE consultant’s role is to
guide the school in identifying and documenting its strengths, weaknesses
and uniqueness prior to submission of the final report, and then to offer
suggestions about preparation of that final application.
Can a school apply for COE within the same academic year
as a scheduled accreditation visit?
Yes, it is possible. You should realize that having
both an accreditation visit and a COE consultant visit in the same academic
year is likely to be very time-consuming for faculty, and the nature of the
report and visit for each process are quite different - see FAQ #1. However,
it is your decision, and the COE program places no constraints on engaging in
both processes in the same year.
Can a school apply in more than one category?
Yes, a school may apply for COE designation in more than one category in a given
“cycle” or apply for designation in different categories in consecutive
cycles. It is possible, therefore, for a school to hold COE designation in more
than one area simultaneously. Faculty and administrators need to realize, however,
that each application requires a separate document, separate fees, and separate
consultant visits. This requires extensive human and material resources, but
if your school wishes to pursue this course of action, there is nothing to prohibit
How long does COE designation last?
Do all of the programs our school offers have to be accredited by NLNAC
in order to seek COE designation?
COE designation is granted for a four-year period. During the last of those
four years, the school would need to complete the entire process (i.e., initial
application and fee, consultant visit, and final application and fee) and once
again be recommended for COE designation by the committee and approved for this
honor by the NLN Board of Governors. Continuation of designation as an NLN Center
of Excellence in Nursing Education is not automatic.
What kind of recognition will my school receive if designated as an NLN Center
of Excellence in Nursing Education?
COE-designated schools are presented at the NLN Education Summit, which occurs
each September and is attended by approximately 1,500 nurse educators. These
schools also are announced in NLN publications and in an advertisement in the
Chronicle of Higher Education. Press releases are sent to national and local
media (nursing, education and general), and information about COE-designated
schools is posted on the NLN website, with a link to the school’s own
website. Finally, each COE-designated school is provided with a logo that it
can use on stationery, the website, or other appropriate material (notepads,
When is COE designation awarded?
The committee generally meets in June. Their recommendations are forwarded to
the NLN Board of Governors, who make the decision about designating schools
as NLN Centers of Excellence. All schools participating in the process are notified
of the Board’s decision in July. Those schools receiving COE designation
are expected to send representation to the NLN Education Summit in September
to receive official awarding of this status.
Designation as a Center of Excellence assumes that all programs offered by a school
have met standards as outlined by the State Board of Nursing and a nursing accrediting
body. Therefore, the school must be in good standing with Board of Nursing in
its State, and each of its programs (with the exception of the doctoral program,
for which there is no accreditation) must be fully accredited by either the National
League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate
Nursing Education (CCNE).
Does our school have to be a member of the NLN in order to pursue COE
Yes, your school is required to be member of the NLN to seek or obtain designation
as an NLN Center of Excellence in Nursing Education and, if awarded designation,
must maintain membership during the designation period.
Our school has an prelicensure and postlicensure program.
Will the designation apply to both programs?
Yes, designation as an NLN Center of Excellence is given to the school
as a whole, and not to individual programs offered by that school. Therefore,
the application must speak to how criteria are met for all programs offered, and
how the environments created by the school pervade all programs. When COE designation
is awarded to a school, all programs offered by that school are included.
Our school has multiple sites. Do all sites need to participate?
Schools with multiple sites are encouraged to contact the NLN to discuss your
particular situation and how to address that in your COE application. Generally,
if your school’s sites are merely locations away from the main campus where
courses are offered on a regular or sporadic basis, it is assumed that those courses
(as well as the students enrolled in them and the faculty who teach them) are
part of your school and will be included in the application. However, if your
school’s sites are independent campuses with their own faculty, program
of study, degree-granting privileges, accreditation status, and so on, then each
of those sites would need to pursue COE designation separately, as they would
not be included in your application. Given that there are so many possibilities
related to multiple-site schools, you are asked to contact the NLN prior to submission
of your initial application.
Is the COE program only for schools with baccalaureate and graduate programs?
No. Schools that offer any type of nursing program - practical nurse, associate
degree, diploma, baccalaureate, master’s, and/or doctoral - may apply for
designation as an NLN Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. If more than
one program exists in your school, your application must address how the environments
created pervade all programs and how all criteria are met in relation to each
We have an interim or acting dean/director/chairperson. Does this disqualify us
from applying for COE designation?
No. The designation is intended for the school of nursing. If the resources in
the school are adequate to complete the applications and pay all fees, the application
will be considered by the committee.
How does the COE designation relate to the NLN’s Hallmark’s
of Excellence in Nursing Education©?
The NLN’s Hallmark’s of Excellence in Nursing Education may be used
as a guide to determine whether your school is committed to and characterized
by excellence. The COE criteria are congruent with the NLN Hallmarks of Excellence
in Nursing Education, but they are not duplicative of them.
Do we have to meet all the criteria in the category we select, or only
a certain number of them?
In order to be recommended for COE designation, a school must demonstrate that
it has met all the criteria in the selected category and, for those schools offering
more than one program, demonstrate that the criteria are met in relation to students
and faculty involved in teaching all of those programs. It is important, therefore,
that you carefully read all the criteria in each category before making your decision
regarding participation in the COE program.
If my parent organization does not support our decision to apply for
COE designation, can I still apply?
While parent organization support is not a specific criterion in any of the
COE categories, it would be beneficial to the process. A school that does not
have support from its institution to pursue and be acknowledged for excellence
may need to reflect on the reasons for such circumstances and whether it affects
their efforts to achieve and continually sustain environments of excellence.
How much does it cost to pursue designation as an NLN Center of Excellence in
Fees that must accompany the initial and final applications are published on
the NLN website and in the COE promotional flyer. Fees for the consultant's
visit are variable and include travel costs (including ground transportation),
hotel expenses, and meals. It is expected that the consultant will work with
you to make the visit as economical as possible without unduly burdening her/him
(e.g., multiple travel connections, long layovers or other significant inconvenience
for the sake of discounted travel expenses).
If we are successful in the application process and are awarded COE
designation, can we use the NLN logo?
While you will not be able to use the NLN logo itself, there is a special COE
logo that will be available to you and that we encourage COE schools to use
during the period of designation.
Can we use the COE designation to market our school to potential students,
potential faculty, or other groups?
Absolutely. Once your school is designated as an NLN Center of Excellence in
Nursing Education, you may use that information in any marketing strategy, as
long as the designation is in effect.
How does the Centers of Excellence program compare with the magnet
status program available to hospitals?
Just as the Magnet Recognition program identifies a hospital as a premier health
care institution, designation as an NLN Center of Excellence in Nursing Education
offers a similar distinction for academic institutions. In both instances, the
designation is conferred upon the entire nursing unit (i.e., the hospital nursing
service or school of nursing itself) and not on any single component of it (e.g.,
only the ICU or only the baccalaureate program).
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