Montana RN Requirements and Training Programs

Increasing nurse staffing levels has been a major challenge for hospitals nationwide. The periods of high vacancy rate in Montana rise and fall with changes in the population’s demographic, satisfaction and/or dissatisfaction of the current workforce, and career expectations of incoming nurses. According to a Federal Government study, vacancies for registered nurses will increase by 29 percent or 800,000 by the year 2020. In Montana, the demand for nurses is at an all-time high. The aging nursing workforce and a decline in new nurses are a concern to employers and state agencies that develop new programs to seek out, educate, train, and retain new nurses. New technologies in the industry and a reduction in the length of stay at hospitals increase the amount and quality of care patients need. New technologies also contribute to an increase in the number of patients receiving care in outpatient settings. This trend not only drives the need for nurses in patients’ homes and skilled nursing facilities but also increases the concentration of sick people needing focused care in Montana’s hospitals. As a consequence, hospitals need qualified and highly competent nurses to tend to the needs of higher acuity patients that come in with complex healthcare needs.

Registered nurses assess patients’ needs, develop a care plan, and administer medications and treatments. Many of today’s RNs begin their career after completing a two-year associate degree program. Although the Institute of Medicine recommends that 80 percent of practicing RNs should have a baccalaureate degree by 2020, only 43 percent of Montana’s nursing workforce hold a BSN degree.

Montana Nursing Programs

Education Requirements

The Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program aims to provide students with a solid foundation in the principles of nursing. It is the most common entry-point into the profession and serves as a stepping-stone to further study. Graduates who successfully complete the two-year program are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure in Montana. Upon licensure, RNs can join the workforce as a competent member of the patient care team and enroll in a BSN completion program to prepare for future trends in the industry.

The curriculum for the ADN includes liberal arts classes and core nursing courses to produce well-rounded graduates who will be prepared to use an evidenced-based approach to nursing. Students learn how to use critical thinking, sound judgment, and ethics to deliver above-board patient care.

Over the course of six semesters, students complete approximately 72 credits to be awarded the associates of science in nursing. Course topics include anatomy and physiology, fundamentals of nutrition, introduction to nursing and psychology, nursing pharmacology, fundamentals of nursing, gerontology, concepts of adult nursing, maternal child nursing, mental health nursing, complex care need of the adult client, pathophysiology, microbiology for health science, and advanced clinical skills.

Beyond the classroom setting, students also have unique opportunities to work with patients in a real-world setting as part of a health care team. They work in groups under the direction of a registered nurse, assessing patients and developing care plans for patients and clients in clinics, community hospitals, and long-term care facilities. The clinical experience prepares students for the world of nursing as they apply their learned skills and develop confidence in their abilities to care for patients.

There are approximately 10 schools offering the associate’s degree in nursing with the Montana Board of Nursing’s approval. There are also a considerable number of further education opportunities for nursing graduates who wish to advance their education.

Eligibility Criteria

Each educational establishment will have their own enrollment process and method of selection for new students. A schedule of open information sessions will be available on the schools’ websites. These valuable sessions will provide further insight into the requirements for enrollment, study, and graduation. Helpful staff will help you to plan a course of study and provide resources for financing your education. For most colleges, you must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent and complete the college-level prerequisite courses prior to enrollment.

Depending on the demand, enrollment may be a competitive process, so you should submit your application and required documents well before the published deadline.

Here are some general requirements for most nursing programs:

  • Achieve a passing score on the initial evaluation.
  • A GPA of 3.0 or better at the end of the freshman year.
  • A C grade or better on any prerequisite requirements for the course
  • Proof of licensure as an LPN or evidence of graduating from a Montana LPN program.
  • A copy of driver’s license and birth certificate

Nursing students also must complete a physical exam, CPR for Health Care Providers, hold current immunization for Hepatitis B, MMR, Varicella, medical insurance, a criminal background check, and malpractice insurance coverage. A history of convictions could hamper your ability to enroll in the program.

Duration and Cost

The money you spend to get a nursing degree will pay for itself as you begin an exciting and rewarding career as soon as you get out. Tuition is approximately $14,500, but there other costs, such as textbooks, fees, nursing supplies, transport, insurance, and health requirements that you must factor in. There are several ways to reduce your out-of-pocket costs. The Advanced Homecare Institute of Montana and Billings Clinic Foundation scholarships are just two of many available locally and hundreds more are available across the nation. Tuition reimbursement for employed students, loan repayment programs for nurses, residency programs, federal loans, and career ladder programs are some other resources you can use to make getting your degree more affordable.

Montana RN Licensure Requirements

Montana State joined the Nurse Licensure Compact on October 1, 2015. Under the compact agreement, you can hold a license issued by the Montana Board of Nursing (if Montana is your primary state of residence), and practice in all other states that entered into the Compact. You won’t need an additional license to practice in the other Compact states.

If Montana is not your primary state of residence at the time of application for licensure, you’ll receive a single-state license that will allow you to practice in Montana only. A registered nurse with a multistate license from another compact state may practice in Montana under the multistate license. However, the RN must apply for a license by endorsement if Montana becomes the primary state of residence. All applicants for licensure must complete a criminal history check.

Licensure By Examination

After successful completion of the associate’s degree in nursing program, you’re eligible to submit an application to the Board for the NCLEX-RN.

Submit the following documents to receive the Board’s approval to take the exam.

  • A completed paper application or you can submit an application online.
  • The licensure by examination fee of $100. Include an additional $25 if you need a temporary permit. The non-refundable fee is payable using a cashier’s check, or money order made out to the Montana Board of Nursing.
  • Evidence of successfully completing a Board-approved registered nursing program. Ensure that the school sends official transcripts, showing the degree awarded and date conferred, directly to the Board of Nursing.
  • Submit a completed Board-provided fingerprint card and payment of $27.25 to the Montana Department of Justice for a state and federal criminal history check.
  • The completed temporary permit application if you need a temporary permit.
  • Your registration for the NCLEX-RN. Visit Pearson Vue’s website to submit your registration.

It is critical that you respond to all the questions on the application form. Withholding information may result in denial of licensure. Your application will be processed after the Board receives all the necessary documentation. An incomplete application will expire 12 months from the date the Board receives the application. Temporary permits are valid for 90 days and are non-renewable. You will receive your license after the Board has confirmed that you passed the licensure exam.

International Graduates:

If you graduated from a nursing education program in another country, but did not take the NCLEX-RN exam, you must submit the following additional items to the Board of Nursing:

  • The results of a credentials review from an approved agency, such the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). Another Board of Nursing can also verify the equivalency of your international education.
  • Evidence of your English Language proficiency if you completed the educational requirements in a language other than English.

NCLEX-RN Registration: Submit your registration to Pearson Vue for the NCLEX-RN exam after successful completion of the nursing education program. You can register online or by phone (866-496-2539). Use the same name used to apply for licensure with the Board of Nursing. After the Board receives the application for licensure and all the necessary documents, they will validate your eligibility to take the exam and Pearson Vue – working in collaboration with the Board – will issue an Authorization to Test. The ATT will be valid for 90 days and will contain information for scheduling a test date within the 90-day window. The exam fee is $200 for the initial test and each successive attempt.

Licensure By Endorsement

A registered nurse who is licensed to practice in another state can apply for licensure by endorsement to work in Montana. The nurse’s license should be unencumbered and active.

Submit the following to the Board’s office:

  • A completed paper application for licensure by endorsement or an online application.
  • The licensure by endorsement fee of $200. Include an additional $25 if you need a temporary permit. The non-refundable fee is payable using money, cashier’s check, or money order made out to the Montana Board of Nursing.
  • Evidence of successfully completing a Board-approved registered nursing program. Ensure that the school sends official transcripts, showing the degree awarded and date conferred, directly to the Board of Nursing. Applicable only if the original state of licensure does not verify your education.
  • Official verification of all professional licenses from your original state of nursing licensure. You can initiate the verification online if the state participates with the NURSYS database or ask the Board to send official verification directly to the Montana Board of Nursing if the state does not participate with NURSYS.
  • Submit a completed Board-provided fingerprint card and payment of $27.25 to the Montana Department of Justice for a state and federal criminal history check.
  • The completed temporary permit application if you need a temporary permit.

The Board will issue a temporary permit if you qualify. Your application will be processed after the Board receives the application, fee, and all pertinent documents. You will receive notification if your application is deficient. Applications will remain open for 12 months only.

Renewal Requirements

Montana nursing licenses expire on December 31st of even-numbered years.  A renewal notice will be mailed to your address on file approximately 45 days prior to the expiration date. The renewal fee is $100. An additional fee will be applied if your application is postmarked or submitted online after the renewal date.

Continuing Education Requirements for Montana RNs

Registered nurses must complete at least 24 contact hours of continuing education every two years to qualify for renewal. You do not need to submit documentation of your continuing education with the application. However, you must keep records to present if you’re selected for a random audit.

Montana Salary and Job Outlook

The rising number of persons needing patient care has created an extensive demand for more nurses in Montana. The non-existence of a continuous pool of people to fill jobs, especially in rural areas places a huge strain on health care providers. According to the Board of Nursing’s figures, there were 1,500 more nurses licensed between the years 2008 to 2015. But as patients need frequent and extended healthcare, the workforce of approximately 19,897 nurses is just not enough. A study conducted by DLI and published in 2013 projected huge growth for Montana’s health care industry with an expected 349 openings for registered nurses annually. Sadly, educational institutions are not producing enough graduates to fill those spots due to a shortage of faculty and capacity. State-approved schools produce about 230 graduates each year, and many of them begin working within months of licensure. In other states, BSN graduates are more likely to find employment than ADN-prepared nurses. Not so in Montana. Employers, ever conscious of their understaffed facilities, are more than eager to hire ADN graduates. However, they do encourage employees to enroll in a BSN completion program to earn a baccalaureate degree. Montana RNs earn a salary of $60,700 annually.

Contact the Board of Nursing
Montana Board of Nursing

301 South Park, 4th Floor
P.O. Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513
Telephone: (406) 841-2202
Fax: (406) 841-2305


Montana Registered Nursing Programs and NCLEX-RN Pass Rates:

Billings, MT ADN Programs
Montana State University – Billings
1500 University Dr, Billings, MT 59101
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 80.49%

Bozeman, MT ADN Programs
Montana State University – Bozeman
400 Culbertson Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 84.65%

Browning, MT ADN Programs
Blackfeet Community College
504 Southeast Boundary Street, Browning, MT 59417-0819
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 50.00%

Butte, MT ADN Programs
Montana Tech University of Montana Butte
1300 West Park Street, Butte, MT 59701
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100.00%

Harve, MT ADN Programs
Montana State University- Northern
P.O. Box 7751, Havre, MT 59501-7751
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 74.47%

Helena, MT ADN Programs
Carroll College
1601 N Benton Ave, Helena, MT 59625
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 91.67%

Helena College- University of Montana
1115 North Roberts Street, Helena, MT 59601
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100.00%

Kalispell, MT ADN Programs
Flathead Valley Community College
777 Grandview Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100.00%

Miles City, MT ADN Programs
Miles Community College
2715 Dickinson Street, Miles City, MT 59301
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 54.84%

Missoula, MT ADN Programs
University of Montana
32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.29%

Pablo, MT ADN Programs
Salish Kootenai College
58138 US Highway 93, Pablo, MT 59855
NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 78.57%


Crystal is a certified Registered Nurse (RN) with a passion for writing about nursing education. Through her articles, Crystal shares insights and tips to help fellow nurses enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest developments in the field. With a focus on practical advice and relevant topics, Crystal's writing is a valuable resource for nursing professionals seeking to advance their careers.