Quote from RN34TX
Talk about splitting hairs!
You're right -- and to the undergraduate student, the difference is not significant. However, if you are a faculty member or educational administrator, it can make a big difference.
If your school is more independent, it can make changes in the cirriculum more quickly and have to jump through fewer hoops to make changes. That can be a big advantage. However, there is a disadvantage in that your programs have not been so closely monitored nor officially sanctioned by the rest of the academic community.
At the doctoral level, that can matter. For example, I know of one school that was in the process of establishing a doctoral program. They had to choose between keeping the administration of the program within the School of Nursing and calling the degree a DNS or submitting to the governance of the University as a whole and qualifying for the higher-ranking PhD designation. They chose to go with maintaining more control and going with the DNS designation -- knowing that their graduates might suffer a little because of that decision and that some students might not choose to go to that school because they want the PhD.
The school at which I got my PhD made the opposite choice. Their BSN and MSN programs were run by the School of Nursing, but the PhD program was governed by the university's Graduate School. The rules governing who could sit on our dissertation committees, etc. were all run by the Graduate School and not the School of Nursing. (For example, they required a certain number of PhD's and would only accept an ocassional DNS or MD on a commitee.) That ensures that the students meet the same requirements as students as those in the other disciplines and that their degrees are equally deserving of respect.
Now ... of course ... many DNS programs set their standards just as high and their graduates deserve equal respest. I'm not suggesting otherwise. It's just that by submitting to the oversight by the academic community as a whole, departments of nursing get a stamp of approval that raises the prestige of the degrees they offer.
I'm sorry this post got longer than intended.