February 14, 2019


students walking on the MSU Billings university campus in Fall


MSU Billings has the best student enrollment retention in 5 years



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS—Montana State University Billings has released its spring 2019 semester enrollment data which demonstrates significant student retention improvements and reverses a downward trend.


From fall 2018 to spring 2019 semesters, MSU Billings’ student headcount decreased by only 27 students (.6%). This is a dramatic improvement over prior years. In the last four years, MSU Billings’ headcount dropped on average 270 students (5.9%) between these semesters each year. To note, spring semester enrollment is typically smaller than fall enrollment among most universities and colleges nationwide.


The university is also starting to recognize the benefits of changes and price reductions with its residence hall offerings first introduced in January. Fall 2018 to spring 2019 retention among MSU Billings residence hall students has increased, a trend the university is seeking to continue into next fall.


MSU Billings credits these improvements to a campus-wide focus on putting students first. Some of the retention initiatives that helped drive this progress include: the college success strategies course for freshmen, co-requisite courses, supplemental instructors, early-alert systems, new scholarship strategies, and creating additional sections for high-demand courses.


“I’m excited that our endeavors to help put students on a path to success are beginning to work. It’s truly been a team effort,” comments MSU Billings Chancellor Dan Edelman. “I anticipate greater wins in the future as we move forward with our work funded through the $2.08 million dollar grant from the United States Department of Education Title III Strengthening Institutions Program. With this grant, we will be able to provide additional services to help improve first-year student success and retention for at-risk students.”


At its official 15th class-day count, 4,288 students are enrolled at MSU Billings for spring 2019 semester. Of the 4,288 students, 2,566 are at University Campus and 1,722 are at City College.


Following a trend at MSU Billings, the number of part-time students has continued to grow. For spring 2019 semester, the overall headcount of part-time students has increased to nearly half of the student body. MSU Billings’ number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students for the spring 2019 semester is 2,856 based on the Montana University System Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education’s FTE methodology.


“Many of our students are employed while pursuing their educational goals, so it’s not surprising that the number of students taking classes part-time continues to increase,” adds MSU Billings Provost Arnold. “We have initiatives underway to adjust our course offerings to better fit the schedules of these learners.”


Other notable student headcount data for spring 2019 semester when compared to spring 2018 semester, shows:

  • Overall freshmen retention is up 3.8% with University Campus boasting an 8% increase. Among the university’s five colleges, the College of Education led the way, retaining 93.5% of their freshmen, followed by the College of Business, which retained 90.6% of their freshmen.
  • The number of students from Yellowstone County (2,523 students) is up 4.1%.
  • Dual enrollment, high school students taking college-level courses, continues with strong growth with a 35.2% increase, saving families money and putting more students on a path to completion of a higher education degree.
  • The Fire Sciences program saw a 55.6% increase in students.
  • Students in Business Administration programs’ marketing major grew 13.2%.