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Most Frequently Asked Questions & Answers to MSU’s BSN Program

Below are frequently asked questions regarding the MSU nursing program. This Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) is offered through MSU-Bozeman, not UM.   It is fully accredited through the American Nurses Association (ANA).  You may see the Pre-Nursing Advisor with any questions you might have regarding this degree program; however, each student is ultimately responsible for understanding the degree requirements.  These FAQ’s will help you to understand this program.  If you really like math and science, love people, and are willing to do both an emotionally and physically demanding job, nursing may be for you!

How long is MSU’s professional BSN program?

It is to the students' academic advantage to view the program as 4 1/2 years in length to allow for remedial work if necessary, for proper sequencing of courses and to allow for quality absorption of the material, which will help your GPA.  Due to the INCREASINGLY COMPETITIVE nature of this program, grades will be CRITICAL for upper division placement.  This is a rigorous, professional 4 -5 year BSN degree program.  Students can elect to complete the Pre-nursing (non-nursing courses) curriculum on a part-time or full-time basis.  Upper Division clinical nursing will be FULL-TIME, RIGOROUS semesters.

What is Pre-Nursing?

Pre-Nursing is a two year program which includes the non-nursing, academic course work required before transfer to the clinical portion of a professional BSN program.

What level of Math should I be competent in to start the pre-nursing courses?

The required math course for nursing is STAT 216 Introduction to Statistics and the prerequisite to it is M 115 Probability and Linear Math. Students are required to take the ALEKS placement exam to determine an appropriate math placement. If a score in Level 1 or 2 is received, students should enroll in M 065 or M 090 to prepare for M 115. For information on the ALEKS placement exam go to

What is considered Lower Division Nursing?

These are the five -sophomore level nursing courses (15 credits) to be completed prior to junior year. These courses are available on each of the five Upper Division Campuses at Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula.

Are there additional fees for nursing courses?

Yes, there can be. The sophomore level nursing course option, which is available on the UD campus sites have a “super tuition” attached to them. Currently the additional fee is $500.00 extra per course in addition to regular tuition. At this time there is no “super tuition” attached to the sophomore level nursing courses offered in Bozeman or on the junior and senior level nursing courses.

What is considered Upper Division (UD) Nursing?

Upper Division nursing is the junior and senior level nursing courses and clinical rotations that begin AFTER a student completes the 15 Lower Division (sophomore) nursing credits. Upper Division (start of the junior nursing courses) is available at the following locations: Billings (fall & spring entry = 40 slots each semester), Bozeman (fall entry only = 16 slots), Great Falls (fall & spring entry = 16 slots each semester), Kalispell (spring entry only = 8 slots) and Missoula (fall & spring entry = 24 slots each semester). There is a total of 184 junior placements state-wide into MSU’s BSN program. UD nursing consists of 4 FULL-TIME RIGOROUS semesters. (UD courses are not available in the summer.) UD schedules can vary greatly i.e.; some clinical rotations can start at 6:00 am others can finish at 9:00 pm.

What is an application to the College of Nursing?

MSU’s College of Nursing (CON) conducts two application periods annually. The application deadlines are January 1 and August 1 each year. Students applying by the January 1 deadline are considered for upper division nursing placment for the spring semester of the next year. Students applying by the August 1 deadline are considered for an upper division nursing placement for the next year’s fall semester. Students typically file the application to MSU in the middle or end of their sophomore year. The application allows students to indicate which campus(es) (Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell, & Missoula) the student is interested in being placed. Students are notified from MSU (CON) approximately 2 months after the application deadline as to whether or not they receive upper division placement. Students who do not receive an upper division placement may be placed on a waiting list for placement consideration should unforseen openings occur.

What criterion is used to determine Upper Division (UD) placement and placement location?

A student's GPA in the required lower division pre-requisite courses, (please refer to UM's Pre-nursing Curriculum Sheet) is used to determine placement and placement location; NOT THE CUMULATIVE GPA! --A MINIMUM grade of a "C" is required in all of these required pre-requisites.  The College of Nursing does not accept C- as a passing grade in required courses.  GPA's are calculated when the applications are received at MSU and then rank ordered from highest to lowest.  Last year’s minimum prerequisite GPA for an initial offering of placement was approximately a 3.5. At present, it is very competitive to be placed into MSU’s Upper Division campus in Missoula. If, however, students can accept placements at all of the Upper Division campus locations, more opportunities are available to students to complete the program which can also offer some relief with the prerequisite GPA.

Are all pre-nursing courses used for the priority point GPA calculation?

Yes.  All equivalent pre-nursing courses, regardless of where and when they were completed, are used for the GPA calculation.

How can I increase my chances for higher ranking during the next application period?

You can repeat up to two (2) of the required prerequisite classes ONE TIME to try to improve your prerequisite GPA.  If you choose to repeat a course in which you did receive a grade of C or higher in order to improve your GPA it is not counted as one of the two allowed repeats. The last attempted grade is used in calculating your application GPA.

Can I transfer to MSU-Bozeman and enroll in one or all five of the Lower Division nursing courses without an approved UD application?

No.  MSU must accommodate the students who have received Upper Division placement. These 15 semester credits of lower level nursing, Nurs 115, Nurs 220, Nurs 223, Nurs 224 & Nurs 239 have restricted entry.

Are all pre-nursing majors automatically accepted into MSU's nursing program?

No.  There is no guarantee of placement or location of placement.   The UD campuses have a total of about 184 placements statewide.  About 2 - 3 times as many Pre-Nursing students from around the state apply for placement than there are positions.  The student's GPA in required courses are rank ordered and used to determine who receives placement and preferred location.  Those who do not receive placement but who meet the minimum requirements will be placed on a wait list. Many placements are filled by students on the wait list and more placement opportunities are available to students if they can accept any location of placement.

When I apply for Upper Division placement does this automatically enroll me at MSU?

No.  You will need to make application to MSU separately.  Students can contact UM’s Registrar’s Office regarding a more streamlined transfer application procedure.  If you are on financial aid, you will want to make sure you are filing the correct form and transferring the correct financial aid information to MSU's Financial Aid Office.  You will be an MSU student during your sophomore level nursing courses as well as during your UD nursing years at one of MSU's upper division campuses.

Which courses do I need to complete before I start Upper Division (Junior) Nursing?

All of the required non-nursing prerequisites as well as the sophomore level nursing courses need to be satisfactorily completed before the junior year of nursing starts.  (BIOH 365 & 370, PSYX 230 & 233 , BIOM 250 and CHMY 121, 123 & 124 are prerequisites to the sophomore level nursing courses).

If I decide to pursue this degree program, which Genl. Educ. Reqs. do I follow?

Your degree will be awarded by MSU, therefore, you will need to complete General Education Requirements from MSU, not the General Education Requirements for UM students.  UM’s and MSU’s GER’s are similar but have some differences.  The pre-nursing curriculum completes a large portion of UM’s as well as MSU’s GER’s.

Are there any academic assistance programs/courses available at UM?

Yes. There are a variety of tutoring options for students, including the math@mansfield Tutoring Center, Study Jam (for students in chemistry, physics, economics, biology, accounting & Spanish courses), and The Writing Center. For more information on these resources, go to The TRiO program also offers free tutoring to students who qualify for their services..The course C&I 160, Learning Strategies for Higher Education, is another resource that can help with study tips, time management and test-taking strategies.

How do I know that nursing is the major and ultimate career for me?

Students are encouraged to visit UM's Career Services Office.  This office offers free career counseling and help with career assessment to UM students.  In addition, it has also been beneficial (however not required by MSU-Bozeman) for students to have either work or volunteer experience in the medical area. The brochure “If Not Nursing….then what?” available in the Pre-nursing advising office can also be a useful resource.

Due to the fact that this degree program is competitive would it be a good idea for me to explore other nursing programs from around the state?

Yes.  Students need to explore all of their options in nursing or in other health related fields.  In Montana, associate degree RN programs are currently available at UM College of Technology, Missoula; Salish Kootenai College, Pablo; MSU-Northern, Havre; Montana Tech of The University of Montana, Butte; and Miles Community College, Miles City.  A traditional bachelor’s degree can be obtained through Carroll College, Helena and MSU-Bozeman. The Missoula College offers programs in the following areas: LPN (Licensed Practical Nursing), Surgical Technician, Respiratory Therapy, Pharmacy Technology, X-Ray Technology and Medical Assisting. Helena College and Missoula College also offer a “stepping stone” ADN, RN program. The LPN certification program needs to be completed first, however. Most of these programs have a clinical component to them so program entry is limited. See the UM pre-nursing advisor for a brochure designed to assist students begin exploring other majors/programs.

How do I apply to one of Missoual College's health care programs namely, the LPN (Licensed Practical Nursing), Radiology Technology, Surgical Technology, Respiratory Therapy, Pharmacy Technology and Medical Assisting Programs?

Students need to complete a series of courses (22 – 24 credits) called the “Health Core” before applying to one of the MIssoula College's clinical health care programs.  For complete information, contact the Missoula College Enrollment Services Office at: 406-243-7884 or visit their home page at:

What are some of the differences between the Pre-nursing Program offered on the UM campus and the nursing programs offered at Missoula College?

Pre-nursing is a two year program, comprised of required academic (non-nursing) prerequisites for preparation for transfer to a professional BSN program.  Missoula College offers an LPN certificate program as well as a “stepping stone” ADN, RN program once the LPN has been awarded.   Interested students need to complete the required prerequisites (Health Core), apply for the LPN program, attain the LPN certificate, and ultimately apply to the Missoula College ASN, RN program.  Completion of the ASN, RN program prepares a student to successfully pass the RN Licensing exam.  This is not a BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) degree program.  Beginning Spring 2011, BIOH 201/2 and BIOH 211/12 offered at Missoula College will be accepted by the MSU program

If I do not receive Upper Division placement, what other majors does UM offer that would compliment my Pre-nursing curriculum?

Here are some possibilities:  Social Work, Psychology, Sociology, Microbiology, HHP (several emphases), Biology, Forestry, Recreation Mgmt, EVST & Applied Science.  Please refer to your UM catalog for the appropriate major requirements.
The Pre-Nursing curriculum also meets a large portion of UM's (GER’s) General Education Requirements.

What kinds of financial assistance are available for this program?

Students can contact UM's Financial Aid Office for specific details on available aid.  There are a few scholarships available to Pre-Nursing majors, however, more are available once a student is admitted to the nursing program.  Nursing students will need to eventually apply for scholarships through MSU-Bozeman. Students can also contact UM's ARMY ROTC Dept. regarding scholarships.  Some good web sites for scholarship search are: and   The Perkins Loan has a loan payback program for working nurses.

If I complete my degree program in Missoula which university awards the BSN degree?

Regardless of where a student completes the program, MSU-Bozeman awards the BSN degree.

What should I be doing if I am not planning to transfer to MSU's nursing program but instead looking at an out-of-state nursing program?

It is critical for students to personally contact the degree granting institution, typically their nursing department, for information regarding required courses and application procedures that can vary from school to school.  The Internet is a good way to research nursing programs, course requirements, application deadlines and other criteria for acceptance into programs.  A good web site for researching nursing programs (ADN, BSN & accelerated BSN/MSN) is

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