Montana – It’s a big state with a small population! Montana is the fourth largest state in the US. It ranks forty-fourth in the human population but has the largest Grizzly Bear population in the lower 48 states. There are many rural areas in Montana, much of which is home to some fantastic national parks like Yellowstone and Glacier. If you love the outdoors, you will want to consider a nursing career in the Treasure State!
If you are interested in becoming a nurse in Montana, you will find a great career in a beautiful state. We have compiled a list of the best nursing programs in Montana. Additionally, Montana is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Therefore, nurses that are licensed in a member state can work in Montana.
How We Ranked The Best Nursing Programs In Montana
Programs are ranked according to data from IPEDS and Niche, including cost, potential salary, and student reviews. Nursing School Hub’s editors know prospective nurses want their degree to pay off, so we feature only accredited, trusted institutions.
1. Montana State University – Bozeman
Montana State University has some of the best nursing programs in Montana. The Bozeman College of Nursing at Montana State University has a traditional BSN program that students complete in eight semesters. In addition to the traditional BSN degree, MSU has an Accelerated Bachelors Degree in Nursing (ABSN). At the graduate level, MSN has a Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Montana State’s undergraduate nursing students can complete upper-level coursework at one of the college’s five campus sites. The campuses are in Missoula, Great Falls, Billings, Bozeman, and Kalispell. All five campuses have simulation technology that creates scenarios students may encounter in practice.
Montana State was established in 1893 and is part of the Montana University System. MSU is Montana’s largest state university and enrolls over 16,000 undergrad students annually. Any Montana resident interested in nursing can earn multiple types of nursing degrees while paying affordable tuition. The Montana State nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Degrees: BSN traditional, Accelerated BSN, BSN-MSN, ADRN-MSN, MSN-DNP, DNP-Family, DNP – Psych/Mental Health, Certificate in Nursing Education
2. Montana Technological University
Established in 1900, Montana Technological University is a public university in Butte, Montana. After a few transitions, the school became part of the sixteen-campus Montana University System (MSU) in 1994. Montana Tech is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Montana Tech’s nursing degree programs are accredited through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
The Nursing Department at Montana Tech has some of the best nursing programs in Montana. The school offers two options for a BSN. A traditional BSN degree prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become a registered nurses. The post-licensure RN-BSN degree option is for nurses who already hold an RN license. The online RN-BSN degree is for nurses who wish to return to school to complete their BSN in as little as a year.
Degrees: BSN, Online RN-BSN
3. Carroll College
With an NCLEX pass rate of 100% in 2018-2020, it is obvious Carol College has one of the best nursing programs in Montana. Carrol offers nursing students four different BSN degree options – direct entry, pre-nursing, transfer, and accelerated. Direct entry into the Nursing Major happens when students declare a nursing major when applying to the school. When accepted into the college as freshmen, students are also accepted into the nursing program. Students who figure out they want to go into the nursing program during their freshmen year are accepted through the pre-nursing admission. In addition, the Carroll nursing program accepts a select number of external transfer students on a case-by-case basis. And finally, the Accelerated Bachelor’s of Nursing degree is a path for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject. Because they already hold one degree, most of the basic credit requirements have been fulfilled. These students can complete the nursing coursework and obtain a baccalaureate degree in nursing in 15-months.
Carroll College is a Catholic liberal arts school in Helena, Montana. This CCNE-accredited nursing program integrates sciences, humanities, and clinical experiences to prepare nurses for real-world nursing situations.
Degrees: traditional BSN, accelerated ABSN
4. Salish Kootenai College
Another one of the best nursing programs in Montana is at Salish Kootenai College. The private tribal school on the Flathead Reservation in Pablo, Montana, graduates more Native American RNs than any other school. Salish Kootenai previously offered an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN). However, the BS in Nursing degree is now considered the industry standard for entry-level nurses. In response to this shift, the school is phasing out the two-year ADN program and focusing on the four-year Bachelor’s degree in nursing. The last ADN class will graduate in spring 2022. The BS nursing degree programs at Salish Kootenai College include a traditional BSN program for new nursing students and an RN-BSN, also known as a BSN Completion. The BSN completion program for licensed RNs who already have earned an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ASN).
Salish Kootenai College provides Native American tribal members and non-tribal members with an unrivaled education in the area. Native American students and Native American descendants can receive tuition rates that are less than in-state students. There is also affordable on-campus housing for everyone. All students can apply for dormitory residence on campus. In addition, there are fifty-five family housing units with amenities like a playground available to students’ families. The Salish Kootenai nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Degrees: BSN, Online RN to BSN
5. Flathead Valley Community College
Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) is a higher education institution in Kalispell, Montana. The school is known for providing high-quality career and college prep education at an affordable price. Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Flathead Valley Community College has one of the best nursing programs in Montana.
Flathead’s nursing offering starts with a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate program. The five-credit course class prepares students to take the Montana CNA test. After earning a CNA, students can earn the Practical Nurse Certificate of Applied Science Degree and become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). The three-semester program trains LPNs to work under the supervision of registered nurses. The next step at FVCC is to earn an Associate of Science Nursing Degree and become a Registered Nurse (RN). The RN program is five semesters and focuses on patient case management and health maintenance. In addition, Flathead has a Registered Nurse Transfer Program. The partnership with other college and university nursing programs prepares students to transfer to other institutions to earn a Bachelor’s or Associate degree in nursing.
Degrees: CNA, PNC (LPN), ASN (RN)
6. University of Providence
The University of Providence has one of the best nursing programs in Montana. This small Catholic school in Great Falls, Montana, offers nursing degrees and certificates at the bachelor and master levels. The nursing programs are taught on-campus, online, and in hybrid formats. In addition, nurses employed at Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) may be eligible for nursing scholarships through the hospital.
For students new to nursing, Providence’s traditional BSN prepares them for earning an RN license. Registered Nurses going back to school can take advantage of the online RN-BSN and the Accelerated BSN programs. At the graduate level, Providence offers a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Nurse Educator concentration and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) concentration.
Because Providence is a private university, all students pay the same tuition rate. However, financial aid is available for students who have need. University of Providence is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. In addition, the BS Nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Degrees: BSN, RN-BSN, ABSN, MSN-, MSN-AGNP
7. Helena College University of Montana
The Helena College University of Montana is a small, public community college in Helena, Montana. The school was established in 1939 and changed names a few times before settling on its current name. Helena has over thirty degree and certificate options for Montana students.
The Helena College University of Montana has one of the best nursing programs in Montana. Helena College’s associate degree in nursing (ADN) prepares students to become successful in a healthcare team. Boasting a current NCLEX pass rate of 100%, The 5-semester curriculum gives students the knowledge needed to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination for nursing licensure. Helena College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Degrees: CNA, PNC (LPN), ADN(RN)
8. Missoula College University of Montana
Missoula College has one of the best nursing programs in Montana. Missoula College Nursing Program has a two-year Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree that prepares students to become registered nurses. In addition, the nursing students participate in humanitarian trips abroad in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Missoula College is a junior college of the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. The college was founded in 1956 and became part of the University of Montana in 1994. Missoula offers associates degrees in college transfer or career programs. The Missoula College ASN program is approved by the Montana State Board of Nursing (MT BON) and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
9. Great Falls College Montana State University
Great Falls College has one of the best nursing programs in Montana. Great Falls offers two nursing degrees that prepare students to become Licensed Practical Nurses or Registered Nurses. The Practical Nursing Certificate of Applied Science (CAS-PN) leads to a career as a licensed practical nurse. Students can take classes face-to-face or on a distance-hybrid platform. They can also choose to take a full-time and part-time track. The degree path that leads to a career as a Registered Nurse is the Associate of Science Nursing (ASN) program. The ASN is an in-person program, and students must attend full-time for four semesters. For nursing students who want to continue their education and earn a BSN, Great Falls has a partnership with Montana Tech. An Articulation Agreement between the schools helps Great Falls students quickly transition into the Montana Tech ASN-BSN program.
Great Falls was founded in 1969 and has become one of the most popular two-year schools in the Montana University System. Great Falls College Montana State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
Degrees: CAS-PN (LPN), ASN (RN)
10. Montana State University-Northern
The Montana State University-Northern has one of the best nursing programs in Montana. The program includes a two-year associate’s degree in nursing and an online RN-BSN for a four-year nursing degree. The Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ASN) program at MSUN is offered at the Harve campus. It is two years and prepares the student to apply to become a licensed RN. Once you receive an RN license, you can complete the RN-BSN in about two years. Instruction for ASN courses is predominately Face-to-Face. However, the RN-BSN Completion courses are primarily Online. In addition to the classes, there are two required clinical in the student’s geographical area for BSN completion.
Montana State University-Northern has an online campus and two physical campuses in Havre and Great Falls. The MSU-Northern nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Degrees: ADN (RN), Online RN-BSN
How Do I Choose A Nursing School In Montana?
Selecting one of the best nursing schools in Montana can be difficult. To make the process easier, first look for a school that supports students towards licensure. A great way to measure this is through NCLEX-RN “pass rates.” After you narrow your list, look for the type of program that interests you. For example, you may be looking for one of the accelerated nursing programs in Montana, or you may want to attend one of the online nursing programs in Montana.
How Is The Job Market For Nurses In Montana?
According to the BLS, slightly more nurses are employed per 1,000 workers in Montana than the national average. This means that Montana employs more nurses per capita than most states. A national nursing shortage was affecting hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country before the COVID-19 pandemic. So the nursing job market in Montana is positive.
An Increase in the Number of Jobs for Nurse Practitioners and Nurse-Midwives in Montana. Job growth predictions from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry suggest that the number of jobs for nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners will increase at a rapid rate until 2024.
How Much Can I Earn As A Nurse In Montana?
There is enormous job security in nursing, on both a national level and in Montana. And nurses are in demand in the state of Montana. Typically employ nurses in Montana are hospitals, doctor’s offices, home health agencies, and retirement homes. In addition, baby boomers are retiring in high numbers, so many Montana patients are seniors who require more medical attention.
So, how much do nurses make in Montana? Nursing salaries in Montana are a little below the national pay average for nurses. The national mean annual wage in 2020 was $80,010. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurses in Montana earned an annual mean wage of $70,530.00 in 2020. However, the cost of living in Montana is lower than in most other states. And this lower cost of living serves to balance out the lower rate of pay.