Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Updated November 7, 2022

Review some of Montana's top nursing programs and the process of earning a degree, becoming licensed to practice, and finding employment in the state.
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With many affordable nursing programs boasting an almost 90% National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate, nursing schools in Montana can prepare nurses for success.

This guide explores how to become a nurse in Montana, the salary and job outlook, and the best nursing programs in the state. Keep reading to learn more about the top nursing schools in Montana.

The Best Nursing Schools in Montana

Learn more about the top accredited nursing schools in Montana and explore the best program options for prospective nurses.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in Montana, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

#1 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Carroll College

  • Helena, MT
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Description:

Carroll College's bachelor's in nursing is one of the most esteemed nursing programs in Montana. The BSN degree is offered in both a traditional and an accelerated format that can be completed in 15 months. The majority of clinical experiences take place in Helena, starting at the 200-level.

Details:

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Helena, MT
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $37,830 per year
  • Admission Requirements: Composite ACT score of 24 or new SAT score of 1190; minimum 3.30 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $60,325 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard.
Average Tuition
In-state
$35,300
Out-of-state
$35,300
Retention Rate
80%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
1,231
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#2 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Montana Technological University

  • Butte, MT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Montana Tech, one of the best nursing schools in Montana, currently offers its bachelor's in nursing in pre- and post-licensure formats. Course topics include nursing for healthy aging, mental health nursing, and healthcare from the patient's perspective. 

The program culminates with a capstone experience focused on nursing leadership and management concepts.

Details:

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing; pre- or post-licensure
  • Campus: Butte, MT
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $7,580 per year
  • Admission Requirements: Minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license; completion of an approved CPR course
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $56,415 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard.
Average Tuition
In-state
$5,707
Out-of-state
$20,791
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
91%
Students Enrolled
1,714
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#3 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Blackfeet Community College

  • Browning, MT
  • 2 years
  • Campus

Description:

Blackfeet Community College is a private, tribal-land grant college offering a bachelor's in nursing that prepares learners for the NCLEX. The program is offered in a partly-online format. Course topics include Piikani language for healthcare professionals, developmental psychology, and basic human nutrition.

Details:

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Browning, MT
  • Type: Private
  • Tuition: $120 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; 28 credits of prerequisite coursework
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 48
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 33.3%
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,280
Out-of-state
$2,280
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
366
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#4 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Montana State University

  • Bozeman, MT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

MSU offers a fully-online master's in nursing that prepares learners for the clinical nurse leader (CNL) certification examination. Students can earn the nursing education certificate alongside their master's degree. The program requires students to travel to the Bozeman campus for an in-person assessment at the start of each fall semester.

Details:

  • Program: Master of science in nursing
  • Campus: Bozeman, MT
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $283 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
Average Tuition
In-state
$5,654
Out-of-state
$23,890
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
16,692
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#5 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Flathead Valley Community College

  • Kalispell, MT
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

FVCC offers a 73-credit associate in nursing that prepares students for in-state RN work. Course topics include health and illness of child and family, managing client care for the RN, and microbiology for health sciences. The demanding program equips students to provide direct care to clients, individuals, and groups.

Details:

  • Program: Associate of science in nursing
  • Campus: Kalipsell, MT
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA)
  • Tuition: $138 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; minimum 2.75 GPA; completion of Kaplan nursing school entrance exam
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 76%
Average Tuition
In-state
$5,018
Out-of-state
$10,800
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,406
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
22% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#6 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Helena College University of Montana

  • Helena, MT
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Helena College currently offers a 72-credit associate degree in nursing that prepares students for RN licensure. The program follows a lab-intensive format, integrating lectures, independent study, skills lab practice, and clinical experience. The school also offers a certificate of applied science in practical nursing available in a hybrid format.

Details:

  • Programs: Associate of science in registered nursing
  • Campus: Helena, MT
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $108.59 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; minimum 2.75 GPA; completion of TEAS with a 70 minimum score
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.9%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $57,318 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard.
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,606
Out-of-state
$8,478
Retention Rate
60%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,423
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
37% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#7 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Miles Community College

  • Miles City, MT
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Miles offers a 72-credit associate in nursing that prepares learners for RN licensure and takes 4-5 semesters to complete. Each year, the program accepts 38 nursing students before closing enrollment. Course topics include health and illness of maternal nursing, mental health concepts, and foundations of nursing clinical.

Details:

  • Program: Associate of science in nursing
  • Campus: Miles City, MT
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • Tuition: $146 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; Kaplan Nursing School Entrance Exam
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 73.7%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $47,260 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard.
Average Tuition
In-state
$4,050
Out-of-state
$7,500
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
567
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
72% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#8 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Great Falls College Montana State University

  • Great Falls, MT
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Description:

Great Falls College MSU features an associate in nursing that prepares learners for RN licensure. Elective course topics include tools for nursing success, fundamentals of abnormal psychology, and basic human nutrition. The school also offers a certificate of applied science in practical nursing offered in a hybrid format. 

Details:

  • Program: Associate of science in nursing
  • Campus: Great Falls, MT
  • Type: Public
  • Tuition: $118 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; Kaplan Nursing School Entrance Exam; minimum 2.5 GPA; completion of approved CPR program
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 77.3%
Average Tuition
In-state
$2,752
Out-of-state
$9,644
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,218
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#9 Top Montana Nursing Schools and Programs

Aaniiih Nakoda College

  • Harlem, MT
  • 2 years
  • Campus

Description:

A public, tribal land-grant community college based in Agency, Aaniiih Nakoda Community College offers an associate in nursing geared towards future RNs who will serve American Indian populations. Course topics include mental health nursing, managing client care, and Aaniiih or Nakoda language studies. The program concludes with an NCLEX prep course.

Details:

  • Program: Associate of science in nursing
  • Campus: Agency, MT
  • Type: Public
  • Tuition: $70 per credit hour
  • Admission Requirements: High school diploma; minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
Average Tuition
In-state
$1,740
Out-of-state
$1,740
Retention Rate
44%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
131
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Featured Online MSN Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in Montana

Prospective students should research an institution's tuition, program length, and financial aid options. Applicants should also verify the institution's nursing accreditation status and review NCLEX pass rates, both of which can indicate program strength.

Why Become a Nurse in Montana

Montana nursing programs offer the fifth lowest average tuition rate for in-state residents, according to a 2020 report by CollegeScorecard. When coupled with an NCLEX pass rate of 89.1%, Montana makes a great state for students to become either a registered nurse (RN) or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

The state is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). As part of the NLC, Montana and 36 other states have agreed to a set of rules and procedures that all licensed RNs must follow.

Being part of the nursing compact makes it easier for nurses to qualify for a license in Montana with minimal paperwork. Nurses with an NLC license also do not have to pay license renewal fees, and they can provide telehealth nursing care to patients across state lines.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in Montana

With an average annual salary of $70,530, RNs in Montana earn just under the national median of $75,330, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nurse practitioners (NPs) fare slightly better, earning an average yearly salary of $114,370, slightly more than the national median of $117,670. Learn more about RN salaries in Montana.

Montana's cost-of-living index is 94, compared to the U.S. base index of 100. Therefore, a nurse's salary in Montana can stretch farther.

Montana also expects an increase in the demand for nurses. According to Projections Central, the state could see a 10.4% increase in employment, higher than the growth rates for all occupations.

The highest-paying areas in Montana for nurses are located in some of the state's most populated regions. These include Billings in the southeastern portion of the state and Great Falls, centrally located northeast of Helena.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in Montana
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Average Salary for RNs
Billings $74,460
Great Falls $68,630
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in Montana

The state RN licensing requirements in Montana are similar to those in other states, which includes completing a state board-approved nursing program, passing the appropriate certification exam, and completing a background check.

Both RNs and APRNs must satisfy continuing nursing education requirements to maintain their license and continue working as a nurse in the state.

RN Requirements

Registered nurses in Montana must complete a board-approved nurse education program. While many nurses choose to earn an associate degree in nursing, others pursue a bachelor's nursing degree.

Both degrees prepare students for the required NCLEX-RN exam, and both qualify graduates for RN licensure in Montana. Students must complete an approved program at an accredited institution and submit official transcripts to the Montana Board of Nursing for verification before taking the exam.

Montana RN licenses are valid for two years and expire on December 31 of every second year. During each two-year period, RNs must complete at least 24 hours of approved continuing education, which is one hour per month of licensure.

Montana joined the NLC in 2015. Nurses in the state may apply for a multistate license allowing them to practice in other compact states without getting additional licensure.

However, nurses shifting their primary residence from another nursing compact state to Montana must apply for a Montana license.

APRN Requirements

An APRN must hold two distinct licenses to practice: an APRN license and a valid RN license. Nurses need a graduate-level nursing degree from an accredited program to pursue APRN licensure in Montana. This includes approved master's and doctoral-level degrees.

Generally, these programs require applicants to already hold a valid RN license for admission. Students fulfill any required clinical training during the program.

Candidates for NP licensure must earn certification from a board-approved national NP certifying body. While each certifying body maintains different requirements, applicants should hold a graduate degree from an accredited NP program and pass an exam.

Montana APRNs may practice as one of the following, depending on their education and certifying body: certified NP, certified nurse midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist.

NPs must renew their licenses every two years and meet RN license requirements, including 24 hours of continuing education.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Montana


How long does it take to become a nurse in Montana?

The length of time it takes to become a nurse in Montana depends on the academic path. If enrolled in an associate nursing program, students can become licensed to practice within two years. A bachelor's nursing program takes four years to complete.

A master of science in nursing program typically takes two years to complete when enrolled full time after earning a bachelor's and gaining two years of clinical experience.

Does Montana need nurses?

According to a report released by Montana's Department of Labor and Industry, nursing worker shortages continue to persist throughout the state. With approximately 18% of RNs planning on retiring or leaving the field within the next few years due to the strain of COVID-19, Montana will continue to need nurses for the foreseeable future.

What is the salary range for nurses in Montana?

According to the BLS, half of all Montana RNs earn salaries ranging between $59,410 and $80,510. The average annual RN salary is $70,530. To increase their salary, nurses can expand on their education, focus on specialties, or switch practice settings.

Is Montana a Nurse Compact State?

Yes. Montana joined the NLC in 2015. Nurses in the state may earn multistate licenses allowing them to practice in other compact states. Nurses moving to Montana from other compact states must apply for primary licensure in Montana.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

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