2011-2013 Undergraduate Catalog

The Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages

Dr. Gary Acton, Chairperson
LA 437/400, (406) 657-2348

Professors:  Acton, Dillon, Haaland, Kamowski, D. Schaffer, R. Schaffer
Associate Professor:  Quetchenbach
Professors Emeritus:  Healey, Noyes, Utroske, Willett

Associate Professor:  Kemmerer
Assistant Professor:  Diaz
Professors Emeritus:  Benedict, Gulick, Karnos

Modern Languages
Professor:  Robinson
Associate Professor:  Regele
Professors Emeritus:  Heidinger, Jensen, Plank

Undergraduate Degrees and Majors

Bachelor of Arts
Majors:  English, Spanish
Option: English Teaching Licensure, Spanish Teaching Licensure
Minors:  English (Programs of Study:  Writing Across the Curriculum, Creative Writing, Literature), International Studies, Philosophy (Option:  Religious Studies), Spanish

Teaching Minors:  English, Spanish (K-12)

Department Mission Statement

In English, the Department’s mission is to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of the development and aesthetic achievement of literature primarily reflecting English and American cultural, linguistic, and historical influences, but also of world literatures as well.  The Department’s mission includes providing students with the tools necessary to become practiced writers.

In Spanish, the Department’s mission is to provide students with critical skills in the use of the Spanish language and familiarity with the cultures and literatures of that language, both Peninsular and Latin American.

In philosophy, the Department provides students with the ethical, philosophical, and religious viewpoints from different cultures.

In all areas of emphasis the mission of the Department is to provide academic excellence of content.

Learning Outcomes

Students who attend class regularly, complete the required courses, and work diligently will achieve the following outcomes:

  • Students in English will demonstrate skills in writing expressive, literary, referential, and persuasive discourse.
  • Students in English will demonstrate knowledge of the grammar, structure, development and use of the English language.
  • Students in English will demonstrate an understanding of the critical approaches to and development of American, British, and World literature.
  • Students in philosophy will demonstrate an understanding of basic philosophical and ethical approaches to life across cultures.

Students in Spanish will be able to use their language skills in daily life as well as possess:

  • a general understanding (historical and contemporary) of the culture(s) of that language;
  • an acquaintance with the literature of that language;
  • a general understanding of the grammar of that language;
  • for teaching majors and minors) an acquaintance with traditional and current methodology for teaching modern languages and familiarity with on-going issues in modern languages

Advising Information

Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor each semester to confirm that their Plan of Study is accurate and complete.  If necessary, changes and updates should be made in order to ensure that program requirements can be completed in a timely manner.  Faculty advisors work with students to explore appropriate internships, cooperative education placements and/or experiential learning opportunities which will enhance the student’s academic program.  In addition, advisors provide assistance in selecting elective courses which support the student’s interests, career plans and Plan of Study.

Academic advising services for all freshmen Arts and Sciences majors are provided through the Advising Center on McMullen Hall first floor west.  Upon declaring a specific major, Arts and Science majors will be assigned to a faculty advisor in their department for upper-division advising.  Advising files for all upper-division students are maintained in the departmental office of the program in which the student is majoring.  Although advisors are available to assist students in designing their Plans of Study, students are ultimately responsible for meeting degree requirements.


Satisfactory achievement of the student’s professional goals depends, in large part, on careful planning.  In order to help students majoring in English to develop programs of studies that best reflect their professional goals, the faculty in the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages requires students to participate in a strong program of academic advisement.  The close personal and professional relationships of such a program can strengthen both students and faculty.  Also, certain courses in the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor Arts with Teaching Licensure programs have prerequisites, and students should check with their advisors for courses in the catalog with required prerequisites.

By the end of the second year of study, Bachelor’s degree candidates should have developed, in consultation with their advisors, a program of studies designed to meet individual goals.  In addition, students should supplement requirements in the major with coursework in related academic disciplines.  The student’s faculty advisor will help select related courses that best supplement a program of studies.

Some students who major in English continue their professional education beyond the baccalaureate degree.  Law school is an example of a professional school which recommends English as an undergraduate major for applicants.  Areas of employment open to English graduates with Bachelor of Arts degrees include journalism, public relations, technical writing and editing positions, and other career fields which require the ability to use language effectively.  Graduates in Education with majors in English most often enter the teaching profession at the secondary level. 


The courses offered in Philosophy, Humanities and Religious Studies provide students with a chance to search for answers to the fundamental questions of human existence:  Who am I? What makes life worth living? What is the nature of reality? Philosophy courses introduce students to a rich heritage of thinkers who have stressed the role of reason in providing answers to such questions.  Religious Studies emphasizes the role played by scriptures, rituals, religious experiences and priestly or prophetic persons in the search for meaning.  Humanities courses are characterized by critical yet imaginative inquiry into the values found in human experience.  Courses in each area have much to offer students wondering who they are and what they should do with their lives.

In addition, philosophy courses in particular help develop the abilities to think coherently, to express ideas clearly and to argue rigorously.  Thus, many students find philosophy to be excellent as a preparation for many professions, e.g., law, business, education, ministry, medicine and social work.  Students seeking positions immediately after college often find that philosophy, combined with another area of expertise, equips them with attitudes and critical skills essential to their careers.

Modern Languages

Foreign languages, as currently taught in college and universities, take as their province the culture both old and new of the particular national groups as revealed in their languages and literatures.  The culture—that is, the behavior, beliefs, customs, values, arts and mode of productivity—is an integral part of every foreign language course, from the elementary to the advanced courses in literature, civilization, and business.  Recorded and computerized material and tutorial programs provide the “on location” experience of cultural authenticity.  Through the fiber-optic network of MSU Billings, computer access to the world’s major newspapers, universities, museums and archives is available.  The national language is the indisputable vehicle and the inseparable component of any particular culture, which becomes accessible only through its language.  Thus are time and history, the self and the world structured and given expression.

The ability to communicate in a language other than one’s mother tongue has historically been the mark of an educated and successful person.  Twenty centuries ago, Caesar read Greek in his tent at night; the Renaissance writer, Castiglione, required the knowledge of several languages for the polished courtier.  Rapid communication has made neighbors of distant peoples, and the need for language study is greater than ever before if we intend to participate in the political, economic, scientific and cultural leadership of the planet.  The monolingual will never be a traveler—merely a tourist.

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish is available for those interested in careers in government, companies with overseas branches, and international agencies.

Credit Examinations

Those students who have had previous training in a foreign language or who are native speakers of a language other than English may receive credit for their level of proficiency through a credit examination.

The Department administers national standardized credit examinations in Spanish.  Depending on proficiency, students may receive from one semester to three years credit in a language.  High school study of a foreign language thus may provide immediate college credit to students who have applied themselves in high school.  Students who challenge out of the second year of Spanish, and who plan to major or minor in that language, must take at least one semester of advanced grammar in the language.

Upon request, the department will grant credit in a language other than those taught at MSU Billings, including Native American languages.  Students must provide a qualified interpreter.  They must show oral proficiency for first year credit, and generally both oral and reading proficiency for second year credit.  This credit is awarded under the LANG prefix.

Prior to graduation, students must enroll in the course for which the credits will be awarded.  Students may elect to enroll in the course in the semester after the challenge exam is taken, or they may enroll for the course in any semester after the successful completion of the challenge exam.  Students will avoid any additional tuition and fee charges for the successfully challenged course if they elect to enroll for the course during a semester when they are planning to enroll in 12 or more credits.  Additional tuition and mandatory fees are not charged for credits taken in the tuition “flat spot” beyond 12 credits.

Sequence Course Procedures

Courses in first and second year French, German and Spanish must be taken in sequence, that sequence being 101, 102, 201, 202.

Study Abroad

The University offers Spanish students the opportunity to live and learn in Spain, Costa Rica and other countries.  Other fully accredited summer session, semester, and academic-year abroad programs may be arranged in cooperation with other American colleges and universities.  Students should inquire at the departmental office or at the Office of International Studies (McD 150, 406-657-1705).


Internships (some paid) are available for students of French, German and Spanish, and students majoring or minoring in a foreign language are encouraged to participate in one of these programs.

NEXT: Bachelor of Arts Degree Major in English

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