College of Nursing

Sarah E. Shannon, Dean of the College of Nursing
Teresa J. Seright, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs
Susan Raph, Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education


MSU College of Nursing will be internationally recognized for innovation, discovery, excellence and leadership in education, research and practice.


Our mission is to enhance the health of the people of Montana, our nation, and the global community by providing leadership for professional nursing through excellence in education, research, practice and service.


  1. To inspire baccalaureate and graduate students, within a diverse, challenging, and engaging learning environment, to become leaders in the practice of professional nursing.
  2. To create an interactive environment in which faculty and students discover, learn, and integrate knowledge into nursing practice.
  3. To serve as leaders in nursing by generating, translating, and disseminating knowledge through research and scholarly activities.
  4. To promote health and wellness through professional practice, collaboration, consultation, civic engagement, education, and leadership.



We believe in excellence in nursing education through a teaching-learning process that is the responsibility of both faculty and student. We promote the development of lifelong self-directed learning that fosters leadership in education, research, practice, and service. We believe in a learning environment that supports the diversity of people and ideas. Our efforts are directed toward achieving higher levels of education for all nurses and transforming healthcare in the United States and the world. We believe that nursing education is framed within the context of nursing's meta-paradigm: person, environment, health, and nursing.


A person is any individual, family, group, community or population. Each person is unique and is entitled to treatment with dignity and respect.


Environment includes all factors influencing a person's health perceptions, behaviors, and responses. The human experience is contextually defined by the interrelationship of spiritual, cultural, developmental, physical, psycho-social, political, and economic subsystems. The appropriate arena for nursing action extends beyond the person and includes promotion of healthy environments through social action.


Health is a state of physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being defined by the person. It is not merely the absence of disease or disability. Health is multifactorial and is influenced by many factors such as behaviors, environments, genetics, and resources. There are diverse cultural definitions of health. Health activities include those directed at maintenance, enhancement, prevention and promotion.


Nursing is a discipline of science and art requiring synthesis of evidence-based knowledge, professional skills, ethical values, and human caring. Nurses assist persons in achieving optimal health. Nurses generate a unique body of knowledge to meet the complex needs of persons in a variety of health care settings from rural to urban.

Nursing education

Nursing education focuses on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed by nurses to practice effectively within a complex and changing environment.Nursing requires strong interpersonal skills and a solid understanding of human beings, human society, and the scientific basis of medicine and nursing. Nurses are responsible for clinical judgments based on your scientific reasoning. Graduates of MSU College of Nursing will not simply be a technician at the bedside; our graduates will be making decisions that impact the health of people in the local and global communities. Therefore, the education of nursing students is based on professional, regulatory and organizational standards.


The undergraduate professional nursing program is approved by the Montana State Board of Nursing and is nationally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The traditional BSN program includes two years of lower division study and two years of upper division study at one of 5 sites (Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, Missoula). It is possible for a student to complete all of the required prerequisite coursework at institutions other than Montana State University. All transfer credits are carefully evaluated to ensure equivalent content when students transfer to MSU and the College of Nursing curriculum. While it is possible to complete the program in four years, this requires careful planning and uninterrupted progression through the curriculum. Delays in progression related to reduced credit loads, repeated coursework, securing upper division placement, or change of curriculum commonly result in the student taking longer than four years to complete the program.  All upper division coursework is taken at one of five upper division campus sites: Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula. 

The College of Nursing at Montana State University offers an accelerated second degree BSN (ABSN) option for students to earn a baccalaureate degree in nursing. This option is available only to students who already have earned a baccalaureate degree in a discipline other than nursing. Applications to the option will not be processed for individuals who do not have a degree in another discipline at the time they submit the application. Students are required to have completed the same pre-requisite courses as the traditional students EXCEPT for WRIT 101, CLS 101, and the art, humanities, and diversity Core 2.0 requirements (see required courses below). Once admitted to the nursing major, they complete the BSN degree in approximately 15 months, as opposed to the 29 months it takes the traditional student. The ABSN is offered at 4 of our 5 campus sites; all course work is completed at one of those 4 sitesBozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula. 

Undergraduate Program Objectives for Both Traditional and Accelerated Options

Graduates of the BSN program will:

  • Use a foundation of community-based professional nursing to provide holistic client-centered health care in a variety of healthcare settings.
  • Synthesize theoretical and empirical knowledge from nursing, the sciences, the arts and the humanities to practice safe and effective professional nursing across the lifespan.
  • Practice basic leadership skills to create a safe caring environment and deliver quality care with an interprofessional healthcare team.
  • Evaluate the applicability of research findings in evidence-based nursing practice.
  • Utilize evidence-based clinical judgments to assist patients with the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health; prevention of disease; and death with dignity.
  • Demonstrate professionalism by incorporating professional values of altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity, social justice and value-based behaviors into nursing practice and professional career development.
  • Demonstrate basic knowledge of healthcare policy, finance, and regulatory environments, inducing local, state, national and global healthcare trends.
  • Utilize effective communication in professional relationships with clients in order to influence health across the health-illness continuum.
  • Utilize progressive technology and information management systems to support safe nursing practice and deliver effective, quality client care.
  • Collaborate with communities to design, implement, and evaluate population-based approaches to care for diverse populations.
  • Provide culturally sensitive direct and indirect care for clients across a variety of healthcare settings.

Admission to the Pre-Nursing Major

Enrollment in the pre-nursing major is available for students admitted to Montana State University-Bozeman provided they have met the University admission requirements (are not admitted on probation or into pre-university studies) and, if transferring from another institution, have at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. Montana State University students in another curriculum may process a change of curriculum request into pre-nursing provided their Montana State University-Bozeman cumulative GPA is 3.0 or better. Pre-nursing majors are assigned to advisors in the College of Nursing and encouraged to meet with their advisor at least once each semester.

Admission to the Nursing Major

Admission to the College of Nursing as a nursing major is achieved through a competitive application process. Acceptance into the nursing major (placement on a specific upper division campus site) is based on the student's grades in the required prerequisite courses for the nursing major. Pre-nursing majors (at both Montana State University-Bozeman and transfer institutions) apply for admission to the nursing major during spring or fall one year before beginning upper division study (see Application for Nursing Major and Upper Division Placement). Admission to the nursing major permits students to be enrolled in sophomore, junior, and senior restricted entry nursing courses.

Progression through the Nursing Curriculum

Lower division courses, including pre-requisite nursing courses,  must be completed prior to upper division courses. Nursing courses are generally offered every fall and spring semester. Some summer courses may be offered. Not all required non-nursing courses are offered every semester.

  1. A calculated GPA of 3.0 or higher in required prerequisite courses is required to apply to the nursing program. Students are awarded placement based on their pre-requisite course work GPA. Selection moves from the highest GPA downward until all seats are filled. Historically, this has been a GPA of at least 3.5; this does vary with each applicant pool, however. Students should work closely with their advisor each semester to ensure readiness for application.
  2. All required prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C or better (C- Grades are not acceptable) and no more than 2 of the required prerequisites courses may be repeated 1 time.
  3. The College of Nursing considers a "W" grade on a transcript the same as C-, D, or F grade. "W" grades indicate an unsuccessful attempt to achieve a grade of C or better in a course.
  4. Prerequisite courses for any nursing course must be completed with a grade of C or better (C- grades are not acceptable) before enrolling in the nursing course for which the prerequisite course is required.
  5. Restricted entry lower division nursing courses are first offered to students in the nursing major. Students in the pre-nursing major, near the top of the wait list, may be enrolled pending availability. 
  6. A student's cumulative MSU GPA must be at least 3.0 prior to beginning upper division study.
  7. Unsatisfactory grades in required clinical nursing course(s) in two different semesters prohibits continuation in the nursing curriculum.
  8. Exceptions to any requirements or readmission to the nursing major after removal, withdrawal or failure from the nursing curriculum in which there were documented extraordinary circumstances (e.g. death in family, personal illness requiring extended hospitalization, military orders, etc.) are dependent upon a successful appeal to the College of Nursing Scholastic Committee. Placement of students who have failed, have been removed, or have withdrawn from coursework is dependent upon space availability.
  9. The lab portion of science courses must be Face to Face. We do not accept online lab science courses. 

Application for Upper Division Placement in the Traditional Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) Program

The number of students admitted to the nursing major and offered placement on one of the upper division campus sites is regulated to provide the best utilization of financial, clinical, and faculty resources. The application procedure for admission to the nursing major has been developed in order to:

  1. provide the most highly qualified students a place in upper division coursework (pending successful completion of required lower division courses),
  2. achieve maximum utilization of limited resources
  3. increase the supply of professional registered nurses.

Applications are submitted during two specified periods each year; January 2nd for spring upper division placement and August 1st for fall upper division placement . These periods are publicly announced six weeks in advance on the College of Nursing website. The first opportunity for students to submit an application will be August 1st or following spring semester of their freshman year as pre-nursing students (or depending on when the applicant will be ready to begin upper division).Submission of an application packet is required which includes: official transcripts from every college/university attended; a background check, urine drug screen, and immunizations by the application deadline.

At least 3 of the 5 required natural science courses must be completed with a grade of C or better, and one of those courses must be BIOH 201 (Human Anatomy and Physiology I)  to apply to the nursing program. Those natural science pre-requisite courses are:

BIOH 201Human Anatomy and Physiology I5
BIOH 211Human Anatomy and Physiology II4
BIOM 250Microbiology for Health Sciences: Infectious Diseases3
CHMY 121INIntroduction to General Chemistry4
CHMY 123Introduction to Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry4

All required prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C or better (C- grades are not acceptable) and no more than 2 of the required prerequisite courses may be repeated 1 time to earn a grade of C or better. Those courses are:

BIOH 201Human Anatomy and Physiology I5
BIOH 211Human Anatomy and Physiology II4
BIOM 250Microbiology for Health Sciences: Infectious Diseases3
CHMY 121INIntroduction to General Chemistry4
CHMY 123Introduction to Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry4
CLS 101USKnowledge and Community3
NUTR 221CSBasic Human Nutrition3
HDFS 101ISIndiv and Fam Dev: Lifespan3
PSYX 100ISIntro to Psychology4
SOCI 101ISIntroduction to Sociology3
STAT 216QIntroduction to Statistics3
WRIT 101WCollege Writing I3

Upper division placement is dependent upon the grade point average in required lower division courses; students are also asked to indicate the campus of their choice. 

A wait list of students with 3.0 or higher grade point averages in required lower division courses will be maintained in order to fill unexpected openings for placement at upper division campus sites. Students with grade point averages lower than 3.0 are not eligible to be placed. Students wishing to be considered for admission in later semesters must reapply.

Students need to carefully plan a course of study with advisors in order to complete all required lower division courses prior to upper division placement. Students who have not completed required lower division courses forfeit their upper division placement.

Transfer Students to the Traditional BSN program of study

The above criteria and procedures for progression through the nursing curriculum apply to transfer students as well as MSU-Bozeman students. Students who have been enrolled as nursing students at any other institution (have nursing courses on their transcripts) must provide a letter from their Dean or Director regarding their academic standing at their departure from that program.

In order to facilitate transcript evaluation, all transfer students must provide a copy of the original transcript(s) from all institutions of higher education they have attended to the College of Nursing Undergraduate Student Services Coordinator as well as to the MSU Admissions Office. Out-of-state transfer students must also provide a catalog or course descriptions from their former institution(s), if possible, to facilitate the course evaluation process. Course syllabi will be required if the course does not appear in the MSU transfer equivalency site. 

Transfer students are strongly encouraged to work with a MSU-Bozeman College of Nursing Adviser well before application to the program of nursing.

Application for Accelerated Bachelor of Science Option

Applicants will be selected for the BSN accelerated option based on a calculated grade point average of 3.0 or higher in required prerequisite courses for the accelerated option; evidence of completion of a bachelor's degree in a discipline other than nursing from a regionally accredited institution with at least a cum GPA of 3.0 or higher; signature on affidavit for “Abilities Required for Success in the BSN degree program” form. Prospective students may have no more than 2  required prerequisite courses (and no more than 9 credits)  remaining in the fall semester of their application. All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C or better by the end of the fall semester that precedes the May start date in the program. Submission of an application packet is required which includes: official transcripts from every college/university attended; a background check, urine drug screen, and immunizations.

All required prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C or better (C- grades are not acceptable) and no more than 2 of the required prerequisite courses may be repeated 1 time.

BIOH 201Human Anatomy and Physiology I5
BIOH 211Human Anatomy and Physiology II4
BIOM 250Microbiology for Health Sciences: Infectious Diseases3
CHMY 121INIntroduction to General Chemistry4
CHMY 123Introduction to Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry4
NUTR 221CSBasic Human Nutrition3
HDFS 101ISIndiv and Fam Dev: Lifespan3
PSYX 100ISIntro to Psychology4
SOCI 101ISIntroduction to Sociology3
STAT 216QIntroduction to Statistics3

Accelerated Program placement is dependent upon the grade point average in required pre-requisite courses; students are placed at one of four sites: Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell, Missoula.

Accelerated Program Application Deadline

Applications must be submitted completely and on time. Applications which are incomplete, or have been received after the deadline will not be processed. See the College of Nursing Web site for further information at 

MSU Pre-Licensure Nursing Education and Standards of the Nursing Profession

The primary aim of the College of Nursing is the education of persons for professional nursing practice. Graduates of the program are recommended for admission to the National Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). As educators, faculty members have the responsibility to provide students with appropriate educational opportunities and with reasonable guidance and supervision. As professional practitioners, faculty members also have the obligation to patients to ensure that nursing students who care for them are competent. In the interest of patient safety, this responsibility also extends to the health agency administrator, to all licensed personnel providing care within that agency, and, in fact, to the nursing students themselves.

The 2015 ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses, Provision 3.3 describes Performance Standards and Review Mechanisms for the professional nurse:

Inherent in professional nursing is a process of education and formation. That process involves the ongoing acquisition and development of the knowledge, skills, dispositions, practice experiences, commitment, relational maturity, and personal integrity essential for professional practice. Nurse educators, whether in academics or direct care settings, must ensure that basic competence and commitment to professional standards exist prior to entry into practice (American Nurses Association, 2015, pg 11). 

The student, upon admission to the nursing curriculum, assumes the obligations of performing and behaving according to the standards set by the College of Nursing. Mere satisfactory academic performance does not in and of itself constitute the basis for progression through the nursing major.

In keeping with the standards of the profession, the College of Nursing expects nursing students to demonstrate ethical behavior. Expected behaviors include, but are not limited to, abiding by guidelines for academic integrity; respecting the privacy rights of patients, students, and faculty members; placing priority on the health, safety, and welfare of patients; and avoiding prejudicial or discriminatory behavior in relationships with patients, students, and faculty members.

Some examples of misconduct are sharing confidential information, fabrication or falsification of information in the classroom or clinical area, any form of cheating, including plagiarism, and aiding or facilitating dishonesty or unethical behavior in others. Breaches in professional standards will result in disciplinary action, including the possibility of removal from the nursing curriculum. Students are responsible for reviewing the following publications which are available on each College of Nursing campus:

  • Student Conduct & Instructional Guidelines & Grievances Procedures(MSU-Bozeman).
  • The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice (AACN, 2008).
  • Code of Ethics for Nurses (ANA, 2015).

When a student fails to meet reasonable standards of performance or behavior or when a faculty member deems reasonable supervision is inadequate to ensure patient safety, the faculty member has the authority to remove a student from the clinical setting (see College of Nursing Policy C-6).

The criteria considered in denying the student access to patients are: demonstrated emotional instability, indifference or insensitivity to patient safety and comfort, lack of professional judgment, disregard for professional ethics and standards, any health condition which makes it impossible for the student to carry out her/his work without jeopardizing patient safety and comfort, or any other condition or circumstance which constitutes an unreasonable risk to the safety and well-being of the patient. A nursing student may be referred to appropriate resources for assistance with problems which are non-academic in nature but which might impair the student's effectiveness as a professional nurse.

Denial of student access to a clinical agency will result in the student being dismissed from the nursing program. The student shall be fully informed of the decision and its consequences and shall be afforded the right to appeal to the College of Nursing Scholastic Committee (see Policy A-8).

Unique Requirements of the Nursing Programs

Annual Compliance with Immunizations, CPR, Urine Drug Screen, Background Check, HIPAA/OSHA

The College of Nursing utilizes CastleBranch®, an accredited member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) for compliance tracking. 

  • Information for utilizing CastleBranch®, for the following requirements will be supplied in the program application:
    • Background Check
    • Urine Drug Screen
    • Immunizations
    • CPR (we accept ONLY American Heart Association BLS for HealthCare Providers)
    • Health Insurance
    • HIPAA and OSHA training
  • Details for completing this compliance tracking can be found within the application.
  •  Fees and schedules for this mandatory requirement are posted on the application web pages for each BSN track: ABSN and BSN 
  • All applicants to the MSU College of Nursing Program must submit documentation of compliance with immunizations, CPR, Urine Drug Screen, Background Check and HIPAA/OSHA training.
  • Thereafter, students with placement will submit evidence of compliance annually.


Access to an automobile is necessary, particularly for clinical work in the community, including home visits, as well as in rural areas. Public transportation is not adequate in the cities with upper division campuses. Students are responsible for providing their own transportation.

Varied Schedules

Students are expected to participate in clinical experiences in a variety of community and rural agencies and at variously scheduled times. Therefore, students must make arrangements to accommodate an irregular academic schedule that may include evening and weekend hours.


Nursing students have additional expenses beyond those normally required in other curricula. They include but are not limited to, uniforms, immunizations, background checks, drug screening and current professional healthcare provider CPR certification (including infants, children, and adults) before beginning clinical coursework. Special purchases include, but are not limited to, stethoscope and other clinical equipment.

There is a nursing program fee each semester which covers such costs as specialized equipment, and distance delivery support when enrolled in clinical nursing courses. The undergraduate nursing program fee is $420.00/semester. 

Abilities and Skills

College of Nursing Policy A-19 ("Abilities Required for Success in the BSN degree Program") requires that students read the policy and complete a form indicating their agreement that they have the ability to perform certain skills and tasks to successfully complete the BSN degree program.

Final Exams

According to University policy, the examination period is instructional time, and it is expected that some instructional use is made of this period if a final examination is not given.

College of Nursing Final exams will be given in the last instructional week of the semester on Monday, Tuesday,  and  Wednesday.

  1. By the fourth week of class, the CON shall distribute a final exam schedule to students; this will be posted on the Exams and Finals Schedules site. The campus directors are responsible for distributing this schedule to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate students. 
  2. CON faculty are responsible for coordinating the Final exam schedule to avoid conflict in the timing of finals.
  3. In the event of a conflict between scheduled examinations, the priority of scheduled versus make-up examination will be given to any course the student is enrolled in, which is not part of the CON curriculum. As an example, in the case of a student, who is pursuing a Hispanic Studies Minor and has a final Spanish exam which conflicts with a CON scheduled final, the CON faculty will accommodate a make-up exam for the student.
  4. Make-up examinations for conflicts are to be given only to those students who, at the same hour:
    1. Have another Common Hour Examination
    2. Have a regularly scheduled class-- either in or out of the CON curriculum
    3.  Are engaged in an activity or event sanctioned in paragraph 310.01 of the Student Conduct Code. (Official student representatives with a regularly scheduled practice or meeting that conflicts with a Common Hour Exam see point 5 below.)
    4. Sustained a personal emergency that prevented participation in the scheduled examination.
  5. Students are responsible for alerting faculty to potential conflicts in the schedule related to any courses they may be taking outside the CON curriculum by the 5th week of class. 
    1. In addition, a student who has three or more final examinations in any one day or an exam schedule which exceeds 5 consecutive hours of examination should first contact the instructors of the courses to see if one exam can be rescheduled. If this rescheduling can't be resolved, then the student should contact the campus director of his or her site at least one week before the beginning of final examination week to assist in resolving the conflict.
  6. As per University policy, CON faculty must provide for make-up examinations or other equivalent means of evaluating the student who are absent from the scheduled examination for legitimate reasons.

Computer Access and Skills

Access to and skills in using computer hardware and software

Because many of the courses in the nursing program are Web-based or Web-enhanced, students must have access to and skills in using a computer and a printer. They must also have a reliable connection to the Internet with a current Internet browser.

Undergraduate Programs