Known as the Treasure State, Montana offers incredible natural beauty paired with a growing need for qualified nurses. With over 9,640 registered nurses currently employed throughout the state and an average salary of $73,610 per year, the demand for nursing professionals is on the rise. In fact, Montana will require 700 new registered nurses per year by 2030 per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, making healthcare one of the most reliable career paths for aspiring students.

When searching for the best nursing schools in Montana that provide a fully accredited BSN program, it is wise to explore all of your options and find the right nursing program to launch your career. In this article, we compiled a list of the best nursing schools in the state to help you prepare for licensure. The State of Montana also has rigorous standards and requirements for licensure, so it is essential to attend an accredited nursing program that belongs to the Montana Board of Nursing.

  • There are 13 nursing schools in Montana.
  • The CCNE accredits 5 nursing school(s)
  • The ACEN accredits 6 nursing school(s).
  • The NCLEX passing rate for BSN students in Montana is between 71.51% and 97.09%.
  • The NCLEX passing rate for ADN students in Montana is between 65.00% and 97.23%.
  • RNs currently employed in Montana are 9,640.
  • RNs in Montana earn an average of $73,610 per year or $35.39  per hour.
  • Montana needs 11,810 new RNs by 2030 or 700 new nurses per year.
Nursing Schools In Montana

Nursing Schools in Montana

Overview of Nursing Programs in Montana

There are several types of nursing degree programs available in Montana, including:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) – Usually takes 2 years and prepares graduates to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become RNs. Offered at community colleges statewide.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – Traditional 4-year degree for RNs, covers more advanced topics versus the ADN. Graduates still take the NCLEX-RN. Offered at universities and colleges.
  • RN to BSN programs – For current RNs with an associate’s degree to bridge to the bachelor’s level. Expanding leadership skills and career options. Can often be completed online in 1-2 years.
  • Accelerated BSN (ABSN) – Intensive 12-18 month bachelor’s degree for those who already have a bachelors in another field. Coursework plus hundreds of clinical hours prepare graduates to be RNs.
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Graduate-level degree for advanced specialty nursing careers like nurse practitioner or educator roles. Usually takes 2+ years.
  • DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) – Designed for very high level nursing practice in a chosen specialty, with more clinical hours and residency components. Leads to titles like DNP or DrNP.
  • PhD in Nursing – Focused on nursing research and academia. 4+ year program typically requires a dissertation and specializations are available.

When choosing a nursing program in Montana, key factors to consider include:

  • Accreditation status: Ensures quality standards. Look for CCNE or ACEN accreditation
  • NCLEX pass rates: Percentage of graduates who pass the nursing licensure exam
  • Cost and scholarships: Determine affordability and financial aid options
  • Program formats: Campus-based, online, hybrid, accelerated, part-time
  • Specializations offered: Focus area options for MSN and DNP programs

Nursing graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to receive nursing licensure in Montana through the State Board of Nursing.

What Are the Best Nursing Schools in Montana?

#1 Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

Sherry Lesar School of Nursing

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    1300 W Park St, Butte, MT - 59701-8997
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    (406) 496-4256
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Nurse Admin: Janet Coe, MSN, RN, CHSE
Title: Director of Nursing
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Associate, Bachelor

Montana Tech began offering a degree in professional nursing in 2000 and has broadened its programs since that time.  Montana Technological University is a public university in Butte. It was founded as the Montana State School of Mines, but the university became affiliated with the University of Montana in 1994. Students will learn in an extraordinary picturesque environment. While accessing the state-of-the-art simulation labs and multiple clinical sites, they can visit the great outdoors for a bit of hiking, skiing, biking, and fishing. Historic Butte is the location of art galleries, music venues, theaters and festivals. To its credit, Montana Tech is one of only two publicly-funded nursing programs in the state to offer a pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). In addition, the BSN is the first four-year program approved by Montana in the last 78 years. All programs have the same mission to prepare generalist nurses who can assume a variety of roles in the healthcare system. The core concepts are caring, professionalism, clinical thinking, communication, and critical judgment.

Undergraduate programs – The degrees offered at Montana Tech include the Associate of Science degree (ASN) in nursing, the BS Nursing Pre-Licensure Program and the Post-licensure Bachelor of Science (RN to BSN), all accredited by National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, Inc. (NLNAC) and CCNE. The school is proud of its award-winning status as among the top ten BSN and RN to BSN nursing schools in the state. Everyone appreciates the 5,000 square foot simulation lab with hospital, home, and office settings. A nurses station and medication room round out the superior facilities. It is all about hands-on learning and clinical hours. Almost 1,000 are required to complete the programs. Students can gain experience in area hospital and other clinical settings in southwest Montana. The approach is holistic within the vision to offer a nursing education design for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health, as well as the prevention of illness. The highest standard of nursing knowledge and skill follows from a combination of class room requirements and clinical experience in both simulated and actual care environment.

#2 Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Carroll College

Department of Nursing

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    1601 N Benton Ave, Helena, MT - 59625-0002
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    (406) 447-4300
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Nurse Admin: Lauren Swant, MSN, RN, CNE7 RNC-NIC
Title: Program Director
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor

Carroll College is located in Helena, Montana.  Carroll College has a BSN program.  They do offer a select few pre Direct Entry nursing students in their freshman year of college.  They also will accept transfer nursing students if their is space.  Their program is unique in that clinical experiences begin in the second year of the program as opposed to the third year.

If you are bound for Helena, Montana to earn an undergraduate nursing degree, head for Carrol College, a private Catholic institution. It is an idyllic, scenic area in which to study and play. The arts community is thriving and laden with artists, actors, singers, and performers. Academic excellence is attained in this rich culture. The Carroll College Department of Nursing's baccalaureate degree program has been accredited through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The program has also received continuous approval from the Montana State Board of Nursing.

Undergraduate Programs – The Nursing Program at Carroll College offers a baccalaureate degree with a major in nursing, focusing on producing generalists. Students can go on to practice as professional nurses or enroll in graduate studies. After a rigorous core curriculum, students earn their clinical hours in the community in Helena’s hospitals, assisted-living and long-term care facilities, during home visits or in psychiatric and school settings. The learning experience is highly personalized and varied with one-and-one faculty mentoring. The Accelerated Nursing program track is ideal for candidates with a bachelor’s degree who seek to become licensed Registered Nurses. The 15-month intensive track entails similar coursework and clinical experiences. Every facet of the undergraduate program offers a holistic approach and a full education that integrate knowledge from the sciences, arts and humanities into nursing practice. Students study theory and undergo and evidence-based practice to optimize health and well-being. They are adept in information management systems and patient care technology. They employ effective interpersonal communication while collaborating on teams for the beast patient outcomes. They intend to promote prevention interventions for individuals and communities.

#3 Bachelor of Science in Nursing

MSU Bozeman College of Nursing

College of Nursing

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    Montana State University, Bozeman, MT - 59717
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    (406) 994-0211
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Nurse Admin: Sarah E. Shannon, PhD, RN, FAAN
Title: Dean And Professor
  • Programs: CNL, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Accelerated BSN, Bachelor, BSN to DNP, LPN to BSN, MSN, MSN to DNP

Montana State University is located in Bozeman, Montana.  Their nursing department is proud to boast that it is the only one in he state to offer master's degree in nursing.  It is also the oldest state-support institution offering nursing education in Montana; it has been offering its BSN program since 1937.

Montana State University is a major learning institution in the region housed in the energic outdoor paradise of Bozeman. The town is rich in culture and laden with sports activities such as skiing, camping, climbing, fishing, and biking. The local mountain ranges seem endless, and the national forest land can’t be missed. Of note, Yellowstone Nation Park is 90 miles away. The College of Nursing offers one of the top university degree programs in the entire region with a mission to enhance the health people of the state and the nation. Diversity is respected in the multi-cultural environment. Ethics and accountability are hallmarks of the department’s foundation. The baccalaureate degree program in nursing, master's degree program in nursing, and Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Montana State University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing is a recognized national leader in rural nursing research. It offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees on the college’s five campuses in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula.

Undergraduate programs – The traditional BSN consists of nursing prerequisites and upper division specialized courses. The undergraduate professional Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is approved by the Montana State Board of Nursing and is nationally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Students are well rounded in the arts, sciences, and humanities. In their junior year, they work with patients and undergo more than 1,000 clinical hours in a variety of hospital and healthcare facilities at one of the five campus locations. All offer state-of-the-art simulation labs laden with advanced technology. Candidates with a prior bachelor’s degree can apply for the Accelerated BSN if they have earned credit in the required prerequisites. The degree is completed in one year.

Graduate programs – MSU offers the only graduate nursing program in the state, designed for motivated students who seek career advancement in healthcare specialties such as Nurse Managers, Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs), Magnet Status Coordinators, Clinical Instructors, Quality Improvement Coordinators, and College Faculty. They have the option of an MN, BSN to MN, or DNP degree. Two areas of specialty are available: Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. In addition, the Certificate in Nursing Education program prepare students for careers in nursing education. They are done online for future nurse educators. The program is also suggested to interested BSN-prepared Registered Nurses for personal enrichment. Nursing educators work in schools/colleges of nursing or large healthcare agencies.

#4 Bachelor of Science in Nursing

University of Providence

Department of Nursing

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    1301 20th St S, Great Falls, MT - 59405-4996
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    (406) 761-8210
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Nurse Admin: Andrea Houser, PhD, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, CNE, CCRN
Title: Associate Dean of Nursing
  • Programs: Registered Nursing
  • Award Levels: Bachelor

Online Nursing Programs for Montana Students

Montana students have online nursing program options:

  • Fully online programs accept students living in Montana. This allows flexibility for distance students.
  • Hybrid online programs blend online and in-person clinical rotations. This provides accessibility with hands-on training.

Accelerated BSN (ABSN) Programs

Accelerated BSN programs offer a fast-track path to a nursing degree, taking 12-18 months to complete.

Ideal for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field but wish to transition careers into nursing.

Prerequisites and admission requirements typically include:

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Specific prerequisite coursework
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Interview
  • Strong motivation to pursue an intensive program

The accelerated curriculum fits an entire BSN program into about 4-5 accelerated semesters:

  • Students should expect a rigorous course load
  • Programs average 60+ credits of accelerated nursing coursework
  • At least 500+ clinical training hours are required

Managing busy schedules with clinical rotations takes dedication. Excellent time management skills are a must. Support from family, friends, and nursing cohort help perseverance.

Top ranked ABSN programs in Montana like Montana State University have impressive 90-100% NCLEX exam pass rates. This demonstrates outstanding preparation of students for licensure and practice.

RN to BSN Programs

Registered nurses (RNs) with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or hospital diploma are highly encouraged to eventually continue for their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN degree).

Advancing to a BSN provides numerous lifelong benefits, including:

  • Career advancement opportunities into leadership roles
  • Develop critical thinking skills
  • Cultivate expertise in community health, research, statistics, and evidence-based practice
  • Higher earning potential over the course of a career
  • Eligibility for more advanced nursing degrees (MSN, etc.)

Best RN to BSN Schools in Montana

RN to BSN program formats vary to meet working nurse schedules through:

  • 100% online course delivery
  • Hybrid models with some campus labs/clinical intensives
  • Part-time programs at 6-9 credits per semester

When researching RN to BSN programs, look for institutions with generous transfer credit allowance and possibly credit for prior nursing coursework. This helps registered nurses maximize credits and accelerate completion of remaining BSN requirements.

Evaluate both affordability and value when considering RN to BSN program costs. Look into employer education reimbursement options. Many hospitals invest in advancing their RN staff training through tuition assistance programs. Research all possible financial aid options, including both school and external nursing scholarships.

Programs like Montana State University offer dedicated nursing academic advisors to help registered nurses create a custom plan to complete their BSN. This specialized support can make navigating next steps simpler.

Master’s in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Those considering advancing their nursing education even further may wish to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN degree). This prepares students for leadership or advanced clinical roles through specialized knowledge and training.

MSN specialization options available include high-demand career pathways like:

Master’s programs allow students to gear their graduate studies toward individual professional nursing goals.

Montana schools deliver MSN programs through both online and campus-based formats:

  • Online MSN programs allow generalization and flexibility
  • On-campus programs facilitate local clinical partnerships and hands-on training

Expect MSN programs to take approximately 2-3 years to complete full-time. Programs require completion of core MSN coursework plus specialized track curriculum and clinical hours.

Applicants with higher undergraduate GPAs, competitive entrance exam scores like on the GRE, strong letters of recommendation, related experience, and clear professional goals have better chances gaining admission to selective MSN programs.

Additionally, most MSN programs require students enter with existing foundational undergraduate statistics coursework critical to graduate-level analysis and research.

Earning an MSN degree positions nurses to take advanced licensure and certification exams related to their specialty track when ready to progress their practice.

Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

Nurse practitioner (NP) programs lead to coveted advanced practice registered nursing roles. NPs hold a master’s or doctoral degree equipping them to diagnose, treat, and manage patient health. Quality NP education meets approval by the Montana State Board of Nursing and accreditation organizations like the National League for Nursing Commission.

Upon graduation, these advanced practice nurses can seek licensure and national certification for autonomous healthcare careers improving community wellness in Montana. The NP role grants RNs increased responsibility and earning potential over staff nursing roles.

NPs choose a patient population focus:

  • Family nurse practitioners offer primary and specialty care across the lifespan
  • Adult-gerontology NPs treat older adult and elderly patients
  • Pediatric NPs treat newborns, children and adolescents
  • Psychiatric mental health NPs treat patients with behavior and mental disorders

Robust curriculum combines furthering graduate-level clinical knowledge plus 500-1,000 hours of supervised clinical training. Following formal schooling, nurse practitioners must build ongoing clinical collaboration with a physician mentor to consult and refer complex cases.

Nurses can either enroll directly in 2-3 year NP master’s programs or progress to a post-master’s NP certification program following prior MSN graduate work.

Earning an MSN or DNP with NP specialization credentials nurses for national advanced practice certification exams. Passing these exams permits legal credentialing as nurse practitioners. This expands nurses’ clinical scope allowing diagnosing patients, prescribing medications/treatments, and practicing medicine more independently within their specialty.

The advanced skill set, clinical knowledge, and leadership capacity makes NPs highly employable. Nurse practitioners often earn higher salaries than RNs and enjoy exploring new career directions.

Best Nurse Practitioner Schools in Montana

Doctoral Nursing Programs (DNP & PhD)

The terminal degree options in the nursing field include the practice-oriented Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or the research-focused Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing. These both prepare experts to advance nursing science and serve at the highest level of healthcare delivery transformation.

The DNP degree is designed for nursing professionals seeking the highest level of clinical practice skills and knowledge. DNP-prepared nurses can pursue upper managerial positions as well as leadership roles guiding nursing practice through organizational quality improvement initiatives. Hallmarks of DNP training culimate in a final DNP capstone project, improving patient outcomes through evidence-based intervention.

Alternatively, the PhD in Nursing steers students toward academic research roles, readying future nurse scientists and university educators shaping the future of nursing education. PhD nursing candidates plunge into specialized research methods coursework and engage in faculty-guided laboratory, clinical, or theoretical research. The pinnacle of PhD nursing training involves designing, conducting, and defending extensive original research for a doctoral dissertation proving candidates as independent scholars within their nursing subfield.

Both DNP and PhD nursing programs feature practical learning components like faculty research assistantships, teaching practicums, or advanced specialized residencies allowing students to put their high-level expertise into practice. These opportunities cement real-world skills that better equip graduates to pioneer the ongoing enhancement of nursing practice after graduating.

Nurses considering pursuing competitive funded PhD opportunities should research faculty research specialties and areas of focus to find the best dissertation project fit exploring meaningful questions. Robust PhD nursing programs also offer various research funding, scholarships and grants available to offset expenses full-time doctoral students take on progressing nursing science through intensive education.

Benefits of Becoming a Nurse in Montana

Along providing meaningful work helping others, nursing offers:

  • High demand fueled by aging baby boomer population needing expanded healthcare
  • Positive job outlook over the next decade in Montana
  • Competitive nursing salaries with regular pay raises
  • Variety of potential work environments (hospitals, clinics, schools etc.)
  • Ability to specialize clinically through certifications and advanced degrees

Nursing grants livable wages fresh out of school with upside potential to earn even more as nurses gain experience and specialize into advanced roles. Nurses get to positively impact people’s lives daily doing work that matters. The multifaceted benefits make nursing an fulfilling, stable career.

How to Earn Your Montana Nursing License

Finding the Right Nursing School in Montana

To earn your nursing license in Montana, you must first be accepted into a nursing program. Such a program should prepare nurses for real-world nursing. When researching the plethora of nursing programs, including practical nursing, RN programs, and nursing assistant programs offered at colleges like Salish Kootenai College and Flathead Valley Community College, key indicators of quality institutions include accreditation status, exam pass rates, cost and scholarships, clinical opportunities, and student-to-faculty ratios.

Accreditation

Seeking accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) ensures nursing schools in Montana meet strict educational quality standards. Graduating from a CCNE or ACEN-accredited nursing program is required for registered nursing licensure eligibility in the state.

The Montana State Board of Nursing approves accredited nursing programs, both online and traditional, that prepare nurses for real-world situations across diverse healthcare settings. Hence, the program you should get into must be approved by the Montana Board of Nursing. Students who complete approved licensed practical nurse (LPN), ADN o,r BSN programs are eligible to sit for the national NCLEX licensing examination and apply for state nursing licensure. Some schools facilitate accelerated program options as well as RN to BSN degree completion formats for working nurses. With a strong focus on clinical training and faculty support, nursing graduates enter the workforce ready to deliver exceptional care and make a meaningful difference in local Montana communities.

NCLEX Pass Rates

The NCLEX-RN exam pass rates showcase how effectively Montana nursing programs educate students. Schools like Montana State University-Northern with high pass rates signal quality education that prepares nurses for real-world situations.

Tuition and Scholarships

Compare average yearly tuition costs at Montana nursing colleges and universities. Consider cost of living in Montana when evaluating expenses. Research scholarships from schools like Salish Kootenai College or the Montana Board of Nursing that reduce out-of-pocket costs.

Clinical Rotation Opportunities

Look for top nursing schools affiliated with esteemed area medical centers, granting students clinical experience in advanced health facilities. Quality nursing programs offer rotations at respected regional hospitals and clinics.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Lower ratios allow more personalized instruction and support. Seek standout academic advising and faculty mentorship opportunities, like those offered in the nursing program at Montana State University.

Nursing Program Search

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Getting Licensed as an RN in Montana

Becoming a licensed registered nurse (RN) in Montana involves graduating from a state board approved nursing program, like those offered at the University of Montana or accredited nursing schools across the state, passing the NCLEX-RN exam, and applying for licensure.

Steps to Earn RN Licensure in Montana:

Licensure Steps

  • Graduate from State Board of Nursing-approved nursing program, such as an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) program offered at colleges like the University of Montana College of Nursing or Montana State University Nursing programs.
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN national licensing exam, register through Pearson VUE. Nursing schools and programs in the state prepare students to pass this exam.
  • Apply for RN nursing license approved by the Montana State Board of Nursing. Nursing students who complete accredited in-state programs are eligible.
  • Maintain license through renewals every 2 years. Continuing education ensures nurses provide quality care.

Nursing students who successfully complete approved accredited programs offered at Montana nursing schools and colleges can qualify to earn their RN license approved by the state board. Both ASN degrees and BSN nursing degrees offer paths to register for the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for Montana licensure and rewarding nursing careers. Accelerated programs allow faster completion for some nursing students. Quality nursing education prepares nurses for real-world situations.

In-Demand Specializations

  • ICU/Critical Care
  • Emergency Department
  • Labor and Delivery/OB-GYN Maternity Care – RNs assist in hospital birthing centers
  • Oncology/Cancer Care – Work with cancer patients.
  • Pediatrics/Neonatal Care
  • Community/Public Health
  • Palliative/Hospice Care

There are ample opportunities for qualified RNs in Montana to find meaningful work caring for patients after getting licensed. Accelerated BSN programs allow faster education.

Job Outlook and Salaries

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry projects robust registered nursing job growth of 14% through 2030. The average entry-level RN salary in Montana is $67,000, competitive compared neighboring states, with room earn higher pay advancing nursing career or specializing into advanced roles.

Accelerated BSN programs fast-track nursing education for bachelor’s degrees. Students accepted into nursing programs graduate prepared to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and receive their Montana nursing license.

Frequently Asked Questions about Nursing Schools in Montana

Where are the top nursing schools located in Montana?

Some of the best nursing schools in Montana are located at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana Technological University in Butte, and Missoula College University of Montana. These schools offer both Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs.

Which nursing programs offer an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)?

Many nursing schools in Montana offer accredited ADN programs, including Montana Tech, University of Providence, Missoula College, Montana State University-Northern, and others. These ADN programs take 2-3 years to complete.

What is the difference between an ADN and BSN nursing degree?

ADN programs focus on clinical nursing concepts and prepare students to provide direct patient care. BSN programs build on this with additional coursework in areas like research, leadership, and community health. Many schools offer RN to BSN completion programs to bridge between the two.

Does Montana offer accelerated BSN programs?

Yes, schools like Montana State University offer 12-18 month accelerated BSN programs for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. These fast-track programs prepare students to become registered nurses.

What kind of nursing certifications can I earn in Montana?

Many nursing schools provide education pathways to become certified nursing assistants (CNA), licensed practical nurses (LPN), and registered nurses (RN). Students are prepared to pass certification exams and apply for licenses in Montana.

Which nursing accrediting organizations review Montana nursing schools?

Quality nursing schools in Montana are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Graduation from an approved program is required to earn a Montana nursing license.

For aspiring nurses in Montana, researching accredited registered nursing programs ensures proper education for real-world practice. Make sure that the nursing program you choose has a Commission for Nursing Education accreditation. Graduating from an approved Montana nursing program prepares nurses for real-world nursing situations. 

More of the Best Montana Nursing Schools

Grade
University
Montana Rank
Degree
84.03 MSU Bozeman College of Nursing 3 BSN
82.49 University of Providence 4 BSN
74.56 Montana State University-Northern 5 BSN
71.51 Salish Kootenai College 6 BSN

Ranking Methodology and Data Sources

Best Nursing Schools Near Me