Montana State guarantees admission to nursing bachelor’s program for qualifying Montana high school graduates

Thursday Nov. 3rd, 2022

– Beginning in the fall of 2023, aspiring nursing students from Montana high schools will be guaranteed admission into the nursing bachelor’s degree program in the Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing at Montana State University.

In an update to its admissions system last month, the college announced the Montana Nursing Direct Entry Program. Montana high school students expecting to graduate in the spring of 2023 — and beyond — can apply for admission to the college of nursing under the new standards. Graduates of Montana high schools who apply to the college's professional program will receive guaranteed admission, provided they remain in good standing as MSU students and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or greater in their prerequisite coursework.

“Nursing is typically a gated program, so normally students start as a pre-nursing student and then apply for admission and placement into the nursing program,” said Susan Raph, associate dean for academic affairs for the nursing college. “We wanted to give Montana high school graduates who want to become nurses assured admission into our program.”

The intent behind the change is to give Montana residents, many of whom have aspired to attend Montana State, greater peace of mind in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing at MSU, and to streamline the path for them to stay in their home state to practice once they graduate.

“Montana needs nurses, and we know that many of our students, because they grew up here, want to live in and serve Montana,” said Raph. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

The requirements for all students accepted into the nursing program remain unchanged. After two years of prerequisite coursework, all students in the MSU Bachelor of Science in Nursing complete the same curriculum over their remaining four semesters. All upperclassmen are placed at one of MSU’s five nursing campuses in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula, based on their personal preference and the capacity at each campus. Receiving guaranteed admission will not influence where students are placed for their junior and senior years.

“Montana State University’s Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing is a statewide program with the goal of serving Montana. We have a distributed campus model which allows us to utilize the various clinical learning opportunities in Montana while employing a high-quality standardized curriculum to educate Bobcat nurses,” said Sarah Shannon, dean of the college.  “Montana, like the nation, is facing a nursing shortage, but we also have an advantage. Montana’s strong public schools mean that we have many young people interested in a career in nursing. The MSU Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing is excited to give these high school graduates a guaranteed future as a Bobcat nurse.”      

The aim of the Montana Nursing Direct Entry Program is to continue to meet the growing needs in Montana and the U.S. for well trained and prepared nurses, said Raph. MSU graduates already make up more than half of the state’s new nurses each year.

“Most of our students have job offers before they even finish their degree,” Raph said. “They know where they’re going and what they’re going to do, and we want to continue to fulfill their dreams and meet Montana’s needs.”

Founded in 1937, Montana State University’s Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing offers bachelor’s, accelerated bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral-level nursing education to produce nurses, nurse leaders, nurse educators and nurse practitioners for Montana. The college of nursing has campus locations in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula. Montana State University is the largest producer of registered nurses in Montana and is the sole provider of doctoral nurse practitioner education in the state. More information is available at