Established March 12, 1927 after several years of lobbying by the community and legislators, Montana State University Billings was founded to meet the increasing need for elementary school teachers in the eastern portion of the state. Initially known as Eastern Montana State Normal School, 150 students attended classes in spaces located in a variety of regional high schools. In 1931 the enrollment had grown to 811, and by the end of 1935 McMullen Hall (named after the first president, Lynn B. McMullen) was completed and open for students and faculty.

In 1966, as program offerings were expanded, the institution was renamed Eastern Montana College. The Billings Vocational-Technical Education Center, which had existed since 1969 and became part of the university system in 1987, operated separately from Eastern Montana College. In 1994, Eastern Montana College and the Billings Vocational-Technical Education Center merged into Montana State University Billings, becoming formally linked into the Montana State University System. The Vocational-Technical Education Center was renamed City College and is now one of the five Montana State University Billings colleges, joining the Colleges of Allied Health Professions, Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education.

Montana State University Billings has grown with the city of Billings and Yellowstone County into a comprehensive regional state university and the major post-secondary education center for eastern Montana. We offer a student-centered learning environment enhanced by a commitment to Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). This dedication to CQI means that the University faculty and staff continually review programs and services for our students and the community to provide optimal educational experiences. Our students, staff, faculty, administration, and community are partners in pursuit of educational excellence.

MSU Billings' institutional character continues to evolve and the University's geographic location presents many challenges and opportunities for innovation in the development and delivery of new academic programs and services designed to address the needs of its urban and rural geographic service area.

Public service is integral to the University’s Mission, with two primary public service entities. Yellowstone Public Radio, KEMC-FM in the Joseph P. Sample Studios at MSU Billings, broadcasts news, public affairs, 2 classical music, jazz, folk music, the spoken arts, humanities and science. The Montana Center for Inclusive Education offers services for individuals with disabilities and professional development for RESAs provide professional development, including continuing education for both general and special educators. In addition, our students engage in a range of internships, service learning opportunities, and community projects.

Montana State University Billings emphasizes curricular development in the areas of undergraduate and graduate education preparation; provides a wide complement of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts and sciences; and advances a strong undergraduate program in business. Furthermore, MSU Billings has responded to the increased demand for medical and allied health professionals by developing a range of programs in rehabilitation and mental health counseling, health care administration, and human services. Recently, a RN to BSN program began enrolling during the fall of 2017.

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