Just 15 days after the first day of class, Montana State University Billings is seeing its largest increase in student enrollment in 10 years for both undergraduate and graduate programs.
According to the university, 3,987 students were enrolled, with 2,263 at the University Campus and 1,724 at City College.
MSU Billings Chancellor Stefani Hicswa said Tuesday morning that the university has implemented new efforts to retain students and adhere to COVID protocols.
“We want to make sure that students have the experience on campus that they need to be retained and finish their degree. The most expensive degree out there is the one that isn’t completed,” said Hicswa.
Various programs at the university have seen increases in enrollment for the spring semester including:
- Master of Public Relations 42%
- Associate of Process Plant Technology 40%
- Master of Special Education in Advanced Studies 32%
- Associate of Diesel Technology 30%
- Bachelor of Psychology 20%
- Bachelor of Human Services 16%
- Bachelor of Psychiatric Rehabilitation 14%
- Master of Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling 4.6%
Healthcare support programs have also seen a 10 percent increase in overall enrollment, which is believed to be a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Along with enrollment, the university has seen a change in student demographics this semester.
According to the university, there has been a 21 percent increase in Native American Indian student enrollment at City College and a 6.6 percent increase in Hispanic student enrollment at the university campus.
Hicswa notes that there has also been an increase in adult learners.
“We want to encourage those adult learners because MSU Billings is a great place for them to feel at home and feel comfortable,” said Hicswa.
Hicswa said that another contributing factor to retaining students is the university's ability to offer a HyFlex option of learning. HyFlex classes give students the option to take the class either online or in-person.
“The better we get at virtual platforms, the more comfortable all of us are. Think of the possibilities for students on the Crow Reservation, to be able to take a class rather than drive back and forth to Billings…or even coming from Shepherd,” said Hicswa.
Hicswa said MSU Billings will be partnering with surrounding colleges in Montana and Wyoming through the College of Business to help students finish their business degree at home in their hometowns.