BOZEMAN — Approval was granted last week for expansion of a Montana State University program designed to prepare students who already have a bachelor’s degree for a career in nursing.

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program began in 2011 and has since grown well beyond the first class of 16 students in Bozeman. On Oct. 9, the Montana State Board of Nursing granted the MSU College of Nursing’s request to extend the program to its Billings campus, reaching more students in the eastern part of the state.

“This expansion provides an excellent opportunity to help meet the health care needs of Montana, especially in our rural areas,” said Sarah Shannon, dean of the MSU College of Nursing. “Accelerated BSN programs are perfect for students with a bachelor’s degree in any field who are now interested and ready to pursue a career in health care.”

The accelerated degree program allows students who have already completed undergraduate studies in another discipline to forgo core coursework if they meet the nursing degree’s prerequisites. It admits students in each of the College of Nursing’s five campus locations — Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell, Missoula and, now, Billings — for 15 months, or four semesters, of classroom and clinical nursing education. Billings, Bozeman and Great Falls each admit 16 students every May. Kalispell and Missoula admit eight.

The expedited program lets students concentrate their learning and enter the workforce earlier than a full four-year course load, according to Susan Raph, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Nursing. When they graduate, students will be eligible to take the national licensing examination to enter professional nursing practice and to become licensed in Montana or any other state.

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is specifically designed for individuals with a previous bachelor’s degree in any area or discipline other than nursing. This includes everything from fine arts to agricultural economics, public health to psychology. Raph said the variety adds depth to their interactions with professors in the educational environment and beyond.

“Second degree students bring rich life experiences to the classroom and clinical setting,” she said. “Learning can be accelerated because these students are ready to hit the ground running.”

The application deadline is Oct. 31 to begin studies in May 2020.

For more information, visit http://www.montana.edu/nursing/undergraduate/acceleratedbsn.html.

- By Rachel Hergett, MSU News Service -