What to Expect

Online courses use a personal computer to connect participants from across the country and around the world via the internet.

Generally speaking, in an online course, you can expect to:

  • access your course(s) online by logging into Brightspace
  • participate by completing assignments, readings, and other activities
  • proceed through course requirements together with your class, while accessing the course at any time of day that is convenient to you
  • make a time commitment of at least 9-12 hours per week or more for a condensed course (less than 15 weeks)

Online courses at MSU have specific start and end dates, just like face-to-face courses. This type of schedule allows students to learn together as a group and benefit from intellectual exchange with their peers, much like students in a face-to-face environment. 

Courses run on a semester basis in the fall, spring, and summer. To view specific dates, visit the Academic Calendar

Expect to spend as much time on an online course as you would in a similar face-to-face course. You should budget approximately 3-4 hours per credit hour each week, or even more time if you are not comfortable working with computers. 

Course and Degree Offerings

To see all online degree and certificate programs offered through Montana State University, please visit the Online Degrees and Certificates page.

To see all online courses offered through the Montana State University system, please Search for online courses.

If you need help searching for online courses in the Montana State University system, see the how to find online classes page.


If you have already been accepted into Montana State University and want to take a course, please search for online courses in the Montana University system.

If you want to take an online course at Montana State University but do not plan on earning a degree, you must first apply to become a non-degree student. If you have not received your Bachelor's degree, apply as an undergraduate student. If you have received your Bachelor's degree, apply as an online graduate student.

See the Apply to MSU page. Some courses are open only to students accepted into a particular program.

That depends on the program. Contact the program you are interested in for more information. See the Online Degrees and Certificates page.

Cost and Financial Aid

The cost to take online courses at Montana State University varies. For more information, visit the Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid for online courses page.

Health insurance is mandatory for each semester you are enrolled for 6 or more academic credits. If you have your own insurance, you may waive participation in the student policy.

Please visit The Office of Financial Aid Services to learn more about assistance that may be available to you.

Apply, Register, and Student Records

Prospective undergraduate students can check the Transfer Equivalencies page to see which credits from other universities may transfer to MSU. The Office of Enrollment Services will officially evaluate your credits once you have been admitted, your transcripts are received, and you are enrolled at MSU. Visit the Undergraduate Admissions page to learn more.

Prospective graduate students can learn more by going to the The Graduate School's Degree Requirements page.

Log into MyInfo, MSU’s secure student information portal. Within the MyInfo system, you can:

  • update your personal information, such as mailing address, email address, and phone number
  • view your progress towards a degree through DegreeWorks
  • view grades and request official or unofficial transcripts
  • review Financial Aid related information

If you are able to visit the Bozeman MSU campus, you can obtain a CatCard by visiting their office. CatCards processed in person will include the student's photo and may be loaded with funds to use around campus.

However, if you'd like to have a CatCard mailed to you, email [email protected] with the following information:

  • full name
  • last 4 digits of your GID
  • mailing address 

It's important to note that mailed CatCards will not feature a student photo and cannot be loaded with funds.

If you notice a $15 CatCard fee has been charged to your account, but have no intention of obtaining your CatCard, please email [email protected] with the following information:

  • full name
  • last 4 digits of your GID
  • (example: -12345678)
  • semester in which fee was charged

The CatCard Office will verify that a card was not printed with the associated fee and will email Student Accounts authorizing the refund.

Before Courses Begin

You can log into the MyInfo system to view the courses you have registered for. Please note:

  • Course start and end dates
  • Your instructor
  • How to obtain course materials/textbooks by contacting the bookstore or instructor
  • How to log into Brightspace, our learning management system
You can find your list of required textbooks through the MSU Bookstore. Most textbooks can be ordered through your favorite brick-and-mortar or online bookstore. Your course may also use electronic texts that you can read, download, or print from your computer. In certain cases, MSU online programs may mail you a packet of materials for your course via surface mail.

Add, Drop, and Withdraw

Visit the Add or Drop page for details. 

If you have been admitted to MSU and drop all courses, you must withdraw from the university for the semester. Learn more by visiting the University Withdrawal Procedure page.

Grades and Transcripts

Grades are displayed in your MyInfo account under Student Services > Student Records.

Transcripts may be requested from the Office of the Registrar’s Transcripts page.

Technical Questions

All of MSU’s online courses are offered via Brightspace. You can login with your NetID at http://ecat.montana.edu/.

To find your username or reset your password, visit the Brightspace Password Information page. 

To ensure your computer meets the minimum compatibility requirements, please visit the automated System Check page. For more detailed information, visit thePlatform Requirements for Brightspace page.

Some courses may have additional system requirements. Please read program and course descriptions carefully.

Visit the Brightspace Help page for self-help articles and guides. Helpdesk contact information will also be listed on the left side of the Help page.

Accreditation and State Authorization

MSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Yes, Montana is authorized to offer distance courses and programs to students who reside in all states except for American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Learn more about State Authorization here.