Montana State University

Mountains and Minds: Learners and Leaders

Students sit on building steps

Access

Land-grant universities were established by Congress in 1862 with the explicit intent to educate the sons and daughters of the industrial classes. MSU continues to fulfill that intent, believing that education serves society as a whole through job creation, stronger civic participation, and a reduction in the societal costs borne by a less educated populace. MSU does not turn away qualified Montanans and will continue to provide access to a quality education for all students to improve the state and the well-being of its citizens.

Goal:  
Montana State University is committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring equality of opportunity for all.

Providing access to higher education for a larger and more diverse population was the goal of the 1862 act that established land-grant universities. Today, broadening access to MSU means new opportunities for students from different places, representing different backgrounds and learning in different ways. Not only do individual students, who might not otherwise have educational opportunities, benefit when access is widened, but all students benefit from exposure to diversity of experiences and ideas. Numerous studies demonstrate that a diverse student body leads to important educational benefits such as the reduction of prejudice; growth in cognitive abilities, critical thinking skills and self-confidence; the promotion of civic engagement and skills needed for professional development and leadership; and improved curricula and classroom environments (American Educational Research Association).

MSU has made great strides in its ability to meet the educational needs of any qualified Montanan with the desire to pursue further education. Through the addition of new two-year and four-year degree programs and certifications, technologies that enable both synchronous and asynchronous learning for place-bound students, innovative course offerings that address contemporary demands, and increased financial aid coupled with low tuition, MSU has been able to open new doors for students.

MSU must continue to expand educational opportunities while protecting the excellent quality of education for which MSU is known. This goal couples enrollment growth across all sectors with targeted efforts to increase diversity for the benefit of all students.

Evidence:

MSU welcomes and nurtures students from across the state and around the globe:

  • Over the last four years, MSU has increased resident student enrollment 9% -- while the number of the state’s high school graduates has declined.
  • MSU's American Indian/Alaska Native students have a long history and a strong presence on campus.   MSU set an enrollment record of 545 American Indian students in Fall 2011 and is poised to beat the record in 2012.  Thanks to programs like Designing our Communities and Caring for our Own, American Indian students find support throughout their time at MSU, as well as an opportunity to integrate learning, discovery and engagement for their tribal communities.
  • In 2012, MSU launched an online bachelor’s degree completion program for students who have completed two years of college credits. Allowing students to complete degrees from anywhere in the world, the program offers a flexible, multi-disciplinary  education appropriate for a  variety of careers.
  • MSU has been named a “Military Friendly School” by GI Jobs magazine, placing MSU in the top 15 percent of more than 7,000 colleges, universities and trade schools with programs that support veterans.
  • International students bring a distinctive perspective to campus.  MSU enrolls more than 500 international students from more than 70 countries, including more than 30 students from Turkey enrolled in a novel dual-degree, cross-institutional engineering program.
  • In 2012-13, MSU will increase financial aid, particularly to Montana students, by $1.1 million.