University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings enrollment tops 5,000

October 1, 2009


Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


College of Technology growth up nearly 25 percent from 2008


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings marked another milestone this week as overall headcount enrollment topped 5,000 students for the first time in its history.


According to official 15th-day data reported Wednesday to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, MSU Billings’ enrollment is 5,041 students, a record for the university. Of that enrollment, 3,635 are enrolled in classes at the main campus and 1,406 are enrolled at the West End College of Technology. The COT enrollment also sets a record.


“Reaching this landmark has been a long time in the making and a true team effort,” said Dr. Ronald Sexton, chancellor at MSU Billings. “Our student services specialists, our faculty and our staff have worked tirelessly over the past year to demonstrate the quality and value of the educational experience at MSU Billings. Their commitment to our students is commendable.”


Sexton also credited the students and their families for recognizing the overall value of higher education at MSU Billings.  As a comprehensive regional university in an urban setting, students get opportunities here that add value to their academic studies. For example, internships in the retail, health care and financial hub of Montana offer real-world experiences not available elsewhere.


While the overall university headcount enrollment is up about 7 percent from a year ago, the largest increase has taken place in the College of Technology. The headcount enrollment is up about 25 percent (1,406 compared to 1,127 in fall 2008) and the number of part-time students at the COT is up 31 percent and the number of full-time students is up about 20 percent.


John Cech, dean at the COT, said the increased enrollment shows that the word is spreading about the value of two-year degrees and transfer possibilities to four-year programs.


“Since spring of 2002, the COT has witnessed a 260-percent growth in student enrollment. This could not have happened without the incredible work of the faculty and staff of the college,” he said.  “I am especially appreciative of the outstanding work done by the student services staff at both the COT and the main MSUB campus.”


Cech added that the COT’s growth would not have been possible without the support of the Billings community. 

“The college has 16 program advisory committees and a National Advisory Board.  These dedicated business and industry leaders have given of their time, talent and money in many ways to support the advancement of the college,” he said.


Dr. Stacy Klippenstein is the vice chancellor of student affairs at MSU Billings and responsible for planning and implementation of recruitment/retention activities. He said a university-wide effort began last academic year with a goal to eclipse 5,000 students.


Called “Team 5K,” the university began an internal program that provided faculty and staff the opportunity to be involved in recruiting and retention initiatives — even account for small, individualized efforts that would actually lead to the enrollment of a student.


“Many staff and faculty participated in a plethora of events – all aimed at student enrollment and student success,” he said.


Those customer service-oriented efforts (advising, providing information, walking a student through the application process, etc.), cross-training activities to better serve students and development of a website to track enrollment numbers helped create atmosphere that embraced enrollment growth, he said. 


“A lot of people worked diligently to make this happen,” he said.

Other MSU Billings enrollment information:

  • Of the total number of students this fall, 58.1 percent are under the age of 24. The largest percentage of students (38 percent) is between 18-21 years old.
  • The average age of the undergraduates at the main campus is 24.8 and at the COT it is 26.2.
  • The majority of students continue to be women (63.5 percent).
  • The majority of students are from Yellowstone County (56 percent).
  • About 33 percent of students come from other Montana counties.
  • The number of full-time students on the main campus increased 3 percent from last year.
  • The number of American Indian students on the main campus is up nearly 18 percent from last year and up 15 percent at the COT.
  • The number of Hispanic students at MSU Billings from a year ago is up nearly 9 percent on the main campus and up 45 percent at the COT.
  • There are a record 290 student-athletes at MSU Billings taking part in one of the 16 various athletic programs. (When Eastern Montana College transitioned to MSU Billings in 1994, there were 77 student athletes, according to Dr. Gary Gray, athletic director.)
  • As a historical context, enrollment eclipsed 1,000 students in 1958; broke the 2,000-student mark in 1964; exceeded 3,000 students in 1967; and moved above 4,000 in 1981.

Started in 1927 as a normal school, MSU Billings has become a comprehensive regional urban university with more than 160 academic programs in areas of Arts and Sciences, Allied Health Professions, Business, Education, Technology as well as professional development and workforce training through the College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning.  In addition, students can choose from more than 200 classes offered in 16 online programs.


To find out more about MSU Billings academic offerings, go to or call the Office of New Student Services at 657-2888.