The History of NEXus

The Western Institute of Nursing (WIN) partnered with the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education’s (WICHE) Northwest Educational Outreach Network (NEON) to develop the The Nursing Education Xchange (NEXus) in 2004 with a grant provided by Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), US Department of Education. The primary goal of the project was to increase the capacity of doctoral nursing programs.

Founding institutions of NEXus include:

  • Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing (OR)
  • University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing (CO)
  • University of Northern Colorado School of Nursing (CO)
  • University of Utah College of Nursing (UT)


In 2008 with funding provided by US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), NEXus added DNP programs to the already existing PhD course exchange to provide opportunities for students at one collaborating academic institution to take a course, or a series of related courses in a cluster, from another collaborating academic institution. Through NEXus, member institutions offer about 150 courses/academic year (AY) taught through distance modalities and made available through the NExus Course Catalog. Each institution identifies the courses and seats available, often filling empty seats. Courses are clustered by interest and topic area to assist students and their advisors in selecting the best courses as an elective(s) in the students’ degree program or possibly substituting for a required course for an off-time student. Many courses are open to both PhD and DNP students, further enriching the doctoral education experience. Enrollments increased slowly between AY 2006-2007 through 2009 – 2010, but more than tripled in AY 2010 – 2011 and maintained for AY 2011 - 2012. Current enrollments for the AY 2012 – 2013 are on track to surpass AY 2011-2012. All courses are offered at a set tuition rate split among the teaching and home institutions and NEXus central. The overall goal of NEXus is to address the nursing shortage by educating well-prepared nurse educators through application of distance accessible delivery methods.

An external summative evaluation of the NEXus program in June 2011, concluded “…the NEXus Program has made remarkable progress toward meeting the ambitious objectives it set for itself ...” These accomplishments included:

  • Viability with steady growth, and a sustainability plan in place;
  • An administrative model that supports student participation;
  • Over a third (36%) of respondents enrolled in more than one course;
  • Strength in the accomplishment of the original objectives;
  • Contributions to helping member institutions produce doctoral faculty; and
  • Facilitation of broader utilization of scarce resources.


Funding provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (D09HP09070). Project developed under the sponsorship of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education (FIPSE #P116B040822).