DNS to PhD Conversion Complete

September 2012Andrew Schwartz

To provide doctorate-prepared nurses with the academic credentials they have earned, a UCSF Academic Senate committee recently approved a request from School of Nursing Dean David Vlahov to retroactively change the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS) degree to a PhD in Nursing for any alumni who request the conversion.

UCSF offered the DNS degree to students admitted between 1969 and 1997, at a time when many universities questioned whether nursing science merited a PhD degree.

The response from grateful alumni has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I am a proud 1981 graduate of the DNSc program,” wrote Virginia Tilden, who went on to become dean at the College of Nursing, University of Nebraska Medical Center. “We often heard our faculty say that our course of study, series of examinations, and dissertation product [were] equivalent to those of a PhD program, [but] upper administration in the UC system had long taken the stand that nursing science was not at PhD level and insisted on an applied doctorate.… So it came as [a] great surprise, after all these years, to receive your letter…with news of the retroactive change…many thanks. Although I am officially retired, I’m still active on boards and completing an R01 investigation, so I am happy to at last be PhD prepared.”

“I was on vacation last week when the letter arrived…and could not wait to get back to California to request the change,” wrote Jayne Cohen, director of The Valley Foundation School of Nursing, San Jose State University. “I drove up to UCSF yesterday to hand in my form.… I very much appreciate your perseverance.”

“It became clear that in today’s academic environment, the DNS designation had become confusing,” says Vlahov. “We plan to have a scientific forum and celebration of the DNS to PhD conversion at our Alumni Weekend in April 2013.”

Information on how to request the conversion is available at the Office of the Registrar.