September 27, 2018


MSU Billings university campus


MSU Billings looks to new recruitment and retention initiatives as fall 2018 enrollment dips 2 percent

Number of Yellowstone County and Dual Enrollment students continue to grow



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS  —  For Fall 2018 semester, Montana State University Billings’ enrollment decreased 2 percent (86 students). At its official 15th class-day count, 4,315 students are enrolled; 2,749 at University Campus and 1,566 at City College. Of the 4,315, 3,960 are undergraduate students and 355 are graduate students.


The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students (3,071) was 3.9% less than the target. FTE is a metric used by the state for enrollment reporting in the Montana University System.


MSU Billings’ fall 2018 semester enrollment experienced growth in:

  • Yellowstone County students (2,474) is at the highest in four years.
  • Dual enrollment continues to boon at 16.7 percent growth (544 students) up from fall 2017 semester. Dual enrollment is a program where high school students take college-level credit classes. Shepherd High School was a new addition to the program.
  • Enrollment increases in the College of Education to 508 students and in the College of Allied Health Professions to 482 students.
  • Programs with notable enrollment growth included Fire Sciences (81.3 percent), Health Administration (4.7 percent), and Marketing (17.4 percent).

Enrollment among Native American, Hispanic, international, and military service/veteran students remained steady when compared to last fall.


“I knew when I started as Chancellor that long-term work is needed to grow MSU Billings. We have a number of initiatives underway that aim to impact future enrollment numbers,” commented Dr. Dan Edelman. “With MSU Billings’ diversified student population, our strategy, likewise, has many facets.” Some of the initiatives include:

  • The Holistic Enrollment Retention Committee (HERC) is working on multiple student recruitment and retention projects, including:
    • additional early intervention systems to support student academic success
    • a strategy for applying new scholarship dollars to specific student populations in need
    • potential expansion of student internship opportunities
    • a plan to streamline the university brand and messaging to better communicate the university’s strengths
    • potential expansion of diversity services for students
  • College of Business marketing students are conducting market research and developing advertising campaigns, in partnership with the university.
  • Work with digital marketing and admissions consultants to attract more students from Montana and the Western Undergraduate Exchange states.
  • MSUB’s new Provost, Dr. Melinda Arnold, was recently hired to align the university’s programs with market needs, develop pathways to the university, and identify hallmark programs for each of the university’s five colleges.
  • MSU Billings commences its strategic planning process today, which will identify key initiatives for the university in near-term and coming years.

Edelman adds, “Even with decreasing population of high-school age students in Montana, there is still plenty of opportunity for MSU Billings and other institutions in the state. We will continue to promote the value of higher education to untapped markets. Examples include the 39 percent of high school students who don’t progress to college after graduation, and 21 percent of Montanans who have attended some college, but have not earned a degree. We are working to reduce the barriers for these learners to further their education.”


The Montana University System will present comprehensive enrollment information for all institutions at the Board of Regents meeting on November 15-16 in Missoula.


For more information or questions, please contact Shannon Wilcox, Director of University Communications and Marketing, at 657-2243 or; or Kelsi Gambill, Communications Specialist, at 657-2269 or