College of Nursing

Graduate Program

Donna A. Williams, PhD
Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education
Montana State University
125 Sherrick Hall
PO Box 173560, Bozeman , MT 59717-3560
406-994-3783  Email:

Masters of Nursing (MN)

The Masters of Nursing (MN) graduate degree program is fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).  Students are prepared to take certification examinations as a Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL).  MN graduate students are educated to be leaders at the bedside with a broad range of opportunities to influence health practices.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program focuses on educating nurses to the highest standards of the profession to care for people living in Montana and beyond and lead change in health care systems.  Two areas of specialty are available for the DNP degree seeking student at MSU:  Family / Individual or Psychiatric / Mental Health.

Non Degree Options

The Certificate in Nursing Education is available to graduate nursing students and nurses with at least a BSN.

Program Synopsis

Students are admitted for either a MN degree (Clinical Nurse Leader, CNL) or DNP degree.  For the DNP degree, students select one specialty:  Family/Individual or Psych/Mental Health. Each student completes courses in advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacotherapeutics, evidenced based practice, ethics, and finance and budgeting of health care systems. Remaining courses are determined by specialty. The graduate student’s experience culminates in a professional or scholarly paper.

The graduate program curriculum is taught by faculty in the College of Nursing. Rich clinical opportunities exist in Montana for nurses seeking to expand their outreach and grow to the level of an advanced generalist, MN degree (CNL role), or advanced practice nurse, DNP (Family/Individual or Psych/Mental Health). Faculty with systems and leadership foci guide MN (CNL) students and advanced practice nurse practitioners, who are certified and experienced, guide DNP students through clinical education. Students choose from over twenty faculty in the college who hold doctorates in nursing to lead their professional (MN) or scholarly (DNP) projects in concert with course work and clinical experiences. The college provides educational preparation plus exciting opportunities to practice in rural and frontier areas of Montana. Nursing faculty are recognized nationally for their broad and wide-ranging expertise.

Graduate courses are offered primarily online with teleconference and video conference used to supplement content. Travel to Bozeman is required at the beginning of Fall semester.  A description of the teaching methods is available at

Admission Requirements*

  1. Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
  2. A baccalaureate degree in nursing from a nationally accredited upper division program, which included supervised clinical practice in a variety of nursing settings, including community/public health and management.
  3. Successful completion of undergraduate courses in physical assessment, community/public health, research, statistics (which included inferential statistics), and an undergraduate psych/mental health course for the DNP (Psych/Mental Health).
  4. Current unencumbered licensure as a registered nurse.  If clinical educational experiences are to be completed in Montana, licensure in Montana is required.
  5. Favorable recommendation from the College of Nursing admissions committee.
  6. International applicants only: TOEFL score of 580 or computer equivalent, if applicable.

*Applicants must be admitted formally to The Graduate School.

Clinical Experience Preferred

In general, one year of clinical experience is preferred for DNP (Family/Individual) and DNP (Psych/Mental Health) degree applicants. There are no clinical experience preferences for MN degree (Clinical Nurse Leader).

Steps to Apply

Application Deadline February 15th

  1. Fill-out the Graduate School application (online
  2. During the online process, complete the Cumulative Undergraduate Grade Point Average and Grade Point Average for Final Two Years Undergraduate Work forms.
  3. Three recommendation forms; be prepared to provide contact information during the online process.
  4. Finally, have official transcripts and test scores mailed to:

College of Nursing, Attn: Graduate Program
PO Box 173560
Bozeman, MT 59718-3560

Further Information

For further information contact:  Graduate Program Assistant, College of Nursing, 122 Sherrick Hall, 406-994-3500


Degree Offered

ADRN to MN Distance Graduate Education (MN)  Degree

A track to a Masters in Nursing (MN) degree has been designed for Associate Degree Registered Nurses (ADRNs).

Master of Nursing (MN) Graduate Degree

The focus of the MN degree (Clinical Nurse Leader, CNL) is to prepare graduates with advanced leadership skills to be applied in the healthcare delivery system across a wide range of settings. Functions of the CNL include client advocacy, team manager, information manager, outcomes manager, systems analyst/risk anticipator, educator, and active professional.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Graduate Degree

The DNP prepares advanced practice nurses who demonstrate clinical expertise, judgment, scholarship, and leadership to provide the highest level of nursing practice in the primary health care setting.

Online Certificate Program (Non-Degree Option)

The Certificate in Nursing Education program consists of four theory courses (total of 10 credits) that prepare students for careers in nursing education.  These courses are open to all graduate nursing students and also to nurses with at least a BSN who are interested in taking such coursework for personal enrichment or professional advancement.