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College of Nursing

Elizabeth Nichols, Dean
A.Gretchen McNeely, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education
Donna A. Williams, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education


The college fosters excellence in Professional Nursing as a key for a healthy Montana through....

  • Innovative baccalaureate and graduate education
  • Dynamic research and scholarship
  • Creative service
  • Exceptional practice
  • Progressive local and international partnerships


The mission of the MSU College of Nursing is to provide leadership for professional nursing through excellence in education, research, and service.

Accordingly, we:
  • Inspire baccalaureate and graduate students, within a diverse, challenging, and engaging learning environment, to become leaders in the practice of professional nursing.
  • Explore, discover, and disseminate, new knowledge related to nursing and health care.
  • Create an interactive environment in which faculty and students integrate discovery, learning and the application of knowledge to nursing practice.
  • Promote the health of Montanans and the global community through collaboration, sharing of expertise, civic engagement, and leadership in the profession.

Philosophy: Nursing

The faculty of the Montana State University-Bozeman College of Nursing believe that:

professional nursing practice is oriented toward promotion, maintenance, and restoration of health; prevention of disease, risk reduction and/or supporting the process of death with dignity. The professional nurse works intimately with individuals, families, groups, communities and populations to assist them toward independence and their optimal level of health,

the professional values of altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity and social justice provide the foundation for professional nursing practice,

the professional nurse provides direct and indirect care, monitors the client, designs, manages and coordinates care, collaborates with other health care providers and serves as client advocate,

the practice of nursing involves clients of all ages from diverse multi-cultural populations in a variety of settings,

the client of nursing is any individual, family, group, community or population in need of assistance with health care,

professional nursing has a social and professional responsibility for the provision of quality, cost effective care to any client in need of that care,

the professional nurse requires a knowledge of human beings throughout the life span which is acquired from the arts, humanities, and sciences,

the practice of professional nursing requires knowledge of economic, technological, social, political, ethical and cultural influences affecting health care policy and client health practice,

the professional nurse uses critical thinking and assessment skills to identify questions to be tested by systematic inquiry with findings utilized to enhance the quality of nursing and health,

that health is a perceptual state in which human beings, individually and in groups, are able to perform social roles, capable of adaptation to the environment and in possession of a sense of well-being. Further, we believe that access to the means for achieving health is a fundamental human right,

that humans are open systems where the internal and external environments are constantly exchanging matter and energy and that these processes influence health. All humans are potential clients of nursing and each human is unique as a result of genetic factors, psychosocial development, differing cultural values, spiritual dimensions and capacity for adapting to the environment, and

the practice of professional nursing includes four essential features as defined by ANA in their Social Policy Statement (1995, p. 6). These include:

attention to the full range of human experiences and responses to health and illness without restriction to a problem-focused orientation;

integration of objective data with knowledge gained from an understanding of the patient or group's subjective experiences;

application of scientific knowledge to the processes of diagnosis and treatment;

provision of a caring relationship that facilitates health and healing.

Philosophy: Nursing Education

The faculty believe that:

"to prepare professional nurses for this multi-faceted role, several components are essential for all baccalaureate nursing programs. These components are liberal education, professional values, core competencies, core knowledge and role development." (The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice, 1998, p. 6),

socialization into the professional nursing role is a major learning process through which the student develops professional identity and commitment. To facilitate socialization, faculty and other professional nurses serve as role models and interact in dynamic relationships where inquiry facilitates growth and change,

faculty assist students to build bridges between their liberal education courses and nursing practice. In the process of socialization into the profession, faculty facilitate cognitive and affective skill development and design learning opportunities that support empathetic, sensitive, compassionate and appropriate care. Day to day experiences serve as resources for active learning,

the teacher transmits to the student an enthusiasm for nursing and excitement for investigating the unknown, a commitment to lifelong learning, and a perspective of knowledge not likely to be derived from learning in isolation,

students learn by active involvement in such cognitive processes as inquiry, analysis, and synthesis of facts, theories, values, and skills,

repetition and practice facilitate use of the cognitive processes as well as internalization of knowledge, values and skills,

carefully planned learning activities enhance the student's use of cognitive processes and the development of decision making skills and judgment,

students learn best when decision making skills and judgment are applied and tested in clinical settings which allow for development of clinical competence and identification with nurses as professional care providers and managers,

clinical application of theoretical learning must be organized and planned with sufficient time for internalization,

basic concepts and ideas are developed in successive learning experiences in a variety of settings,

students increase their effectiveness in use of problem solving and the ability to understand increasingly complex and abstract concepts or ideas as they progress through the program,

opportunities to learn involve a sharing of responsibilities between teacher and student. The teacher is viewed as a facilitator of learning and encourages student commitment and responsibility for learning,

the teacher assists the student to utilize critical thinking,

the teacher and student bring skills and sensitivity in human relations to the teaching-learning process. In addition, they have an awareness of their individual needs and motivations and the effect of these upon the learning process,

evaluation is an integral part of the teaching learning process with the student always accountable for individual performance,

the teacher facilitates the communication of ideas between student and teacher, student and student, student and other professionals and student and client by creating a climate which enables the student to examine new ideas,

the teacher's attitude conveys to the student that difference in perspective and approach are advantageous. Faculty choose a variety of teaching strategies that encourage thinking, reasoning, decision-making and discussion,

in a larger sense the climate where students are socialized into the profession is one where faculty are actively involved in the full scope of professional behavior, and that

collectively the faculty are expert educators, clinicians, researchers, citizens, leaders, and facilitators of change.


The four-year 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). Graduates of the program are recommended for admission to the national licensing examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). The program includes two years of lower division study and two years of upper division study. With the exception of the lower division nursing courses, it is possible for a student to complete most or 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 and, on the outreach campuses at specified times. An additional distance access fee is charged on the upper division campuses. All upper division coursework is taken at one of five upper division sites; Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula.

The college also offers a graduate program leading to a Master of Nursing (MN) degree as well as a certificate in teaching. Degree options are Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) and Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). Post master's certificates are available. For specifics refer to the appropriate section of the online catalog under the Division of Graduate Education.

Undergraduate Program Objectives

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 any students admitted to Montana State University-Bozeman provided they have met the University admission requirements and, if transferring from another institution, have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA. 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 2.5 or better. Pre-nursing majors are assigned to advisors in the College of Nursing.

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, student's choice of campus sites and consideration of special needs. Pre-nursing majors (at both Montana State University-Bozeman and transfer institutions) apply for admission to the nursing major during Spring semester of the first year of lower division study. (See Application for Nursing Major and Upper Division Placement.) Admission to the College of Nursing as a nursing major permits students to be enrolled in sophomore, junior, and senior restricted entry nursing courses.

Progression through the Nursing Curriculum

Through careful selection of courses, a student may complete the curriculum in four academic years. Lower division courses must be completed prior to upper division courses. Nursing courses are generally offered every fall and spring semester. Some summer courses are offered but not on every campus. 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.

  6. A student's MSU-Bozeman cumulative GPA must be at least 2.5 prior to beginning upper division study.

  7. Unsatisfactory completion of required clinical nursing course(s) in two different semesters prohibits continuation in the nursing curriculum.

  8. Exceptions to any requirements or readmission to upper division coursework after removal from the nursing curriculum are dependent upon a successful appeal to the College of Nursing Scholastic Committee. Placement of students who have failed or have withdrawn from coursework is dependent upon space availability and may be in competition with other students.

Application for Nursing Major and Upper Division Placement

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 resources, clinical facilities, and faculty. The application procedure for admission to the nursing major has been developed in order to: 1) provide qualified students a place in upper division coursework (pending successful completion of required lower division courses), and 2) achieve maximum utilization of limited resources.

  1. Applications are accepted during a specified period or periods each year. These periods are publicly announced in advance. The number of application periods held each year is dependent on spaces remaining available throughout the year. The first opportunity for students to submit an application will be by April 30th during spring semester of their freshman year as pre-nursing students.

  2. 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.

  3. An application may be obtained from the College of Nursing office or website or from the pre-nursing advisors at other institutions of the Montana University System. When requesting an application, the student needs to specify the semester and year he/she plans to begin upper division coursework.

  4. 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.

  5. On the application form, students may indicate the campus of their choice for upper division placement; however, upper division placement does not mean placement at a particular campus. Upper division placement means placement at one of the upper division campus sites during the academic year for which admission is sought. Upper division placement is dependent upon the grade point average in required lower division courses. (Note: In years with excessive numbers of applicants, the grade point average in required lower division courses may need to be considerably higher than 2.5 to be admitted into the nursing major through an upper division placement offer.)

  6. Assignment to a specific campus is determined by the grade point average in required lower division courses and points awarded for special needs. Examples of "special needs" include financial, medical, or support systems.

  7. 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 years must reapply.

  8. A wait list will be maintained in order to fill unexpected openings for placement at upper division campus sites.

  9. Students need to carefully plan their course of study in order to complete all required lower division courses prior to upper division placement.

  10. Students who have not completed required lower division courses forfeit their upper division placement. The $200 deposit will be forfeited unless they 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.

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 file 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.

In order to facilitate transcript evaluation, all transfer students must provide a copy of their transcript(s) to the College of Nursing Undergraduate Student Services Coordinator. Out-of-state transfer students should also provide a catalog from their former institution(s), if possible.

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,1998; currently undergoing revision)
  • 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 a hearing. Appeals are to be conducted according to the Conduct Guidelines and Grievance Procedures for Students (MSU-Bozeman).

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 not limited to uniforms, immunizations (including hepatitis B and PPD for TB), background checks, and current professional 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 program fee which covers such costs as pre-NCLEX testing fees, specialized equipment and distance delivery support when enrolled in clinical nursing courses.

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 some 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 requirements can be directed to the College of Nursing, Internet Technologies Coordinator, Sarah Veltkamp at(406)994-5752 or

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)
HDFN 221CS--Human Nutrition    3

CORE 2.0: Ways of Knowing

Social Science Inquiry (IS) or Research and
Creative Experience (R)
PSYX 100IS--Intro to Psychology    3
SOCI 101IS--Introduction to Sociology      3
HDCF 150IS--Lifespan Human Development     3
Natural Science Inquiry (IN) or Research and
Creative Experience(R)
CHMY 121IN--Intro to General Chemistry     4
Research and Creative Experience(R)
N 387R--Research in Health Care      3
Other Required Courses
BIOL 207--Anatomy & Physiology I w/Lab     5
BIOL 208--Anatomy &Physiology II w/Lab     4
CHMY 123--Intro to Organic & Biochem     4
MB 201--Infectious Diseases     3

The following courses must be completed prior to graduation:

Course of your choice

Course of your choice

Course of your choice

Lower Division Nursing
N 115--Nursing as a Profession    2
N 220--Foundations of Ethical Nursing Practice 2
N 223--Fdnts Plan & Providing Clinical Nurs Care4
N 224--Pathophysiology     3
N 239--Health Assessment Across the Lifespan 4


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 YearCredits
N 337--Nursing Pharmacotherapeutics   3
N 342--Psychosocial Nursing Concepts     3
N 348--Nursing Care of Childbearing Family    5
N 349--Nursing Care of Children and Families    5
N 354--Acute & Chronic Illness    5
N 377--Introduction to Community-Based
N 387R--Research in Health Care 3
Senior Year
N 418--Issues in Health Policy & Health Care
N 437--Psychiatric Nursing    6
N 444--Care Management     3
N 454--Urgent and Palliative Care    6
N 477--Population Based Nursing Care in the
N 485--Nursing Leadership & Management     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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