Montana State University

College of Nursing

Helen I. Melland, Dean
A. Gretchen McNeely, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs
Donna A. Williams, Associate Dean for Research and 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 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 metaparadigm: 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 multi-factorial 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 to achieve 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. It, “intentionally fosters use of multiple fields of study, use of wide-ranging knowledge of science, cultures, and society; high level intellectual and practical skills; an active commitment to personal and social responsibility; demonstrated ability to apply learning to complex problems and challenges; and personal engagement as a responsible citizen in a global society” (Association of American Colleges and Universities, College Learning for the New Global Century, 2007, p. 4). 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 program includes two years of lower division study and two years of upper division study. 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. Lower division nursing courses may be completed on the Bozeman campus, or on the outreach campuses at specified times and with an additional distance access fee of $500 per course. All upper division coursework is taken at one of five upper division campus sites: Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula. Completing the entire nursing program in Bozeman is possible, but highly competitive due to limited upper division placements.

The College of Nursing at Montana State University offers an accelerated second degree 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 (by June 1 annually). 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.

Undergraduate Program Objectives for Both Traditional and Accelerated Options

Graduates of the BSN program will be able to:

  • Utilize a foundation of community-based nursing to provide client-centered health care.
  • Synthesize theoretical and empirical knowledge from nursing, the sciences, the arts and the humanities to practice safe and effective professional nursing.
  • Apply principles of critical thinking in professional decision making.
  • Evaluate the applicability of research findings for evidence based nursing practice.
  • Utilize evidence-based clinical judgments to assist clients with the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health; prevention of disease and death with dignity.
  • Incorporate professional values of altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity and social justice and value-based behaviors into nursing practice.
  • Employ legal and ethical principles in the practice of professional nursing.
  • Assume responsibility for career development and participation in life-long learning.
  • Utilize effective communication in professional relationships with clients in order to influence health and healing over time.
  • Utilize progressive technology and information systems to support nursing practice and deliver client care.
  • Collaborate with communities to design, implement, and evaluate population-based approaches to care.
  • Provide culturally sensitive direct and indirect care for clients across a variety of settings.
  • Participate as a member of the nursing profession.

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 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 a combination of the student's grades in the required prerequisite courses for the nursing major and the student's ranked campus choices. 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 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. All required courses must be completed with a grade of C or better (C- grades are not acceptable).

  2. Required courses may not be repeated more than once, regardless of when or where taken.

  3. Effective Spring 2002, 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 may be enrolled pending space availability and placement high (usually the top ten students) on the wait list.

  6. A student's MSU-Bozeman cumulative GPA must be at least 2.75 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, 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 and may be in competition with other students.

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

In order to ensure the quality of education, the number of students admitted to the nursing major and offered placement on one of the upper division campus sites each semester 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, and increase the supply of professional registered nurses.

  1. Applications are submitted during two specified periods each year. January 1st 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).

  2. At least 3 of the 5 required natural science courses must be completed with a grade of C or better to apply to the nursing program. Those courses are: BIOH 201, BIOH 211, BIOM 250, CHMY 121 and CHMY 123.

  3. 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 201, BIOH 211, BIOM 250, CHMY 121, CHMY 123, CLS 101, HDCF 150, NUTR 221, PSYX 100, SOCI 101, STAT 216 and WRIT 10 1.

  4. Students enrolled (or previously enrolled) at MSU-Bozeman, other units of the Montana University System, or other institutions of higher learning may apply for placement.

  5. An application may be obtained from the College of Nursing Web site by November 15th for January 1st deadline or June 15th for August 1st deadline.

  6. On the application form, students indicate the campus of their choice for upper division placement. Upper division placement is dependent upon the grade point average in required lower division courses. (Note: In semesters with excessive numbers of applicants, the grade point average in required lower division courses will most likely need to be considerably higher than 3.0 to be admitted into the nursing major through an upper division placement offer.)

  7. Assignment to a specific campus is determined by the grade point average in required lower division courses and the student's ranked campus choices.

  8. When there are more students than places available for upper division courses for the time period cited in the application, students wishing to be considered for admission in later semesters must reapply.

  9. A wait list of students with 2.75 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 2.75 are not eligible to be placed.

  10. Students need to carefully plan their course of study with their advisor 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.

  11. A $200 deposit must accompany an acceptance of upper division placement. This deposit will be applied toward fees for first semester junior nursing courses taught at upper division. (The $200 deposit will be forfeited unless students notify the Undergraduate Associate Dean's office in writing at least a month in advance of placement that they will not be ready to use their placement).

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; letter of interest in the accelerated option (e.g. “What motivates me to pursue a career in nursing by enrolling in the BSN accelerated option”); two professional references (as opposed to personal references) on the reference forms provided; and an interview with faculty. Prospective students who would be eligible to begin the BSN accelerated option will have completed all 10 required prerequisite courses with a grade of C or better by the end of the spring semester prior to the mid-May start date. They are required to file an application packet including: official transcripts from every college/university attended; two completed reference forms; and the letter of interest before the June 1deadline.

Application Deadline: June 1 for students who desire to begin the accelerated option in the following summer. No applications will be processed if received after the deadline or are submitted without all of the required components of the application packet.

Transfer Students

The above criteria and procedures for progression through the nursing curriculum apply to transfer students as well as MSU-Bozeman students. Students do not have to be enrolled at Montana State University-Bozeman to submit an application for admission to the nursing major and upper division placement. However, 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 status at the time they left the previous nursing program prior to enrolling in any nursing courses at MSU.

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. 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.

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 to do so without lowering standards. 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--all in the interest of safeguarding patient safety.

The 2001 ANA Code of Ethics for Nurses, Provision 3.4 states, "Nursing is responsible and accountable for assuring that only those individuals demonstrating the knowledge, skill, practice experiences, commitments, and integrity essential to professional practice are allowed to enter into and continue to practice within the profession. Nurse educators have a responsibility to ensure that basic competencies are achieved and to promote a commitment to professional practice prior to entry of an individual into practice."

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:

  • Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures for Students (MSU-Bozeman)
  • Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice (AACN,2008).
  • Code of Ethics for Nurses (ANA, 2001).

Where there is failure on the part of the student to meet reasonable standards of performance or behavior or when, in the judgment of the faculty member, 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 which will be 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.

Whenever, pursuant to the foregoing, 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. Appeals are submitted to the College of Nursing Scholastic Committee (See Policy A-8).

Unique Requirements:

Transportation: 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.

Expenses: Nursing students have additional expenses beyond those normally required in other curricula. They include, but are not limited to uniforms, immunizations, background checks, 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. In addition, there is a $200 placement deposit (see section on Application Procedure for Placement in Nursing Curriculum) and a nursing program fee for each semester which covers such costs as pre-NCLEX testing fees, specialized equipment and distance delivery support when enrolled in clinical nursing courses. Students wishing to take lower division nursing courses on upper division campuses other than Bozeman are required to pay the extra $500 per course.

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.

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.

Word processing skills are required. Microsoft Word is recommended.

Questions about these requirements can be directed to the College of Nursing, Computer Specialist, Trevor Murray at (406)994-6846 or Email:

Curriculum in Nursing


The following courses must be completed prior to progression to upper division courses. Students are advised to consult appropriate sections of the MSU bulletin regarding required prerequisites for these courses.

CORE 2.0: Foundation Courses

University Seminar (US)
CLS 101US--College Seminar or CLS 201    3
College Writing (W)
WRIT 101W--College Writing I     3
Quantitative Reasoning (Q)
STAT 216Q--Introduction to Statistics    3
Contemporary Issues in Science (CS)
NUTR 221CS--Basic Human Nutrition    3

CORE 2.0: Ways of Knowing

Social Science Inquiry (IS)
PSYX 100IS--Introductory Psychology    4
SOCI 101IS--Introduction to Sociology      3
HDCF 150IS--Lifespan Human Development     3
Natural Science Inquiry (IN)
CHMY 121IN--Introduction to General Chemistry     4
Research and Creative Experience(R)
NRSG 387R--Research in Health Care      3
Other Required Courses
BIOH 201--Human Anatomy & Physiology I w/Lab     5
BIOH 211--Human Anatomy &Physiology II w/Lab     4
CHMY 123--Introduction to Organic & Biochemistry     4
BIOM 250--Microbiology for Health Sciences      3

The following core courses must be completed prior to graduation:

Course of your choice

Course of your choice

Course of your choice

Lower Division Nursing - the following courses must be completed prior to progression to upper division courses:
NRSG 115--Nursing as a Profession    2
NRSG 220--Foundations of Ethical Nursing 2
NRSG 225--Foundations for Planning and Providing Clinical Nursing Care 4
NRSG 238--Health Assessment Across the Lifespan 4
NRSG 258--Principles of Pathophysiology     3


The University requires that 42 of these credits be in courses numbered 300 and above. The College of Nursing requires that 55 credits be in courses numbered 300 and above.

Junior Year Credits
NRSG 336--Nursing Pharmacotherapeutics    3
NRSG 341--Psychosocial Nursing Concepts     3
NRSG 346--Nursing Care of Childbearing Family     5
NRSG 348--Nursing Care of Children and Families     5
NRSG 352--Acute & Chronic Illness     5
NRSG 377--Introduction to Community-Based Nursing    2
NRSG 387R--Research in Health Care 3
Senior Year
NRSG 418--Issues in Health Policy & Health Care
NRSG 437--Psychiatric Nursing     6
NRSG 444--Care Management      3
NRSG 454--Urgent and Palliative Care     6
NRSG 477--Population Based Nursing Care in the
NRSG 487C--Nursing Leadership & Management Development     6

*NOTE: Required nursing curriculum courses must be completed with a grade of C or better and no more than one repeat of a course is permitted regardless of when or where taken. The College of Nursing does not accept C- as a passing grade in required courses.

Elective credits as required to meet the minimum of 120 required credits for graduation.

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