Pennsylvania State University's board of trustees on Friday afternoon is expected to approve a new college – its school of nursing is becoming the college of nursing.

It will mean essentially no changes in the operation of the school, which has been an independent entity at Penn State since 2008 and enrolls nearly 3,000 students on 13 campuses, said Paula Milone-Nuzzo, dean of the school of nursing.

But it will give the program the clout it deserves, she said.

"We want to contribute to the health science mission at Penn State," Milone-Nuzzo told a committee of the trustees on Thursday. "To do that, we have to be at the table and have the visibility that a college brings."

In an interview later, she said: "What it provides for is equity with other colleges in the university. And it shows the outside world that we are just like other academic units. It's consistent with the way nursing is viewed in academia around the country."

She said the college also is planning to seek approval from the state board of nursing for the first fully online practice doctorate at Penn State – a doctorate of nursing practice. The university already has a Phd nursing program.

Milone-Nuzzo explained that the new program is "designed for people who are fairly high up in the organizational structure who want to take the next step." That step includes translating research to bed side service, she said.

"Those people don't want to give up their jobs," she said. "That's why an online program makes a lot of sense for us."

Milone-Nuzzo said nursing has become a very popular major because the demand for nurses is so high. Students get good jobs very quickly and "have incredible job security over the life of their career," she said.