Academic Information

Students are responsible for meeting graduation requirements.

General Requirements and Academic Procedures

The catalog serves as a guide for students and advisors in planning academic programs and degrees offered at the University. Students are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with procedures and standards, but should seek guidance from their advisors or the Registrar when questions arise. The following procedures and policies have been adopted to help students, faculty, and administrators successfully carry out the academic program of the University. These policies reflect University policy when the catalog was published. Changes enacted after this date will be published by appropriate means. Exceptions and deviations from normal academic policy may be requested through petition procedures available from the Registrar’s Office.

Academic Advising

Montana State University-Northern is committed to the fundamental principle that the University exists to serve the students. All efforts of the University are aimed toward enabling students to realize their full potential in whatever field of endeavor they attempt. As a result of this commitment, Montana State University-Northern’s academic advising process is an integral component of the academic program and is considered to be a faculty responsibility. The academic advising program will enable students to:

  1. Better understand the nature and purpose of higher education and its relevance to their future.
  2. Become more sensitive to cultural differences.
  3. Set and obtain individual goals, consistent with each person’s interests and abilities.
  4. Better plan appropriate educational programs.
  5. Proceed through individual educational programs in an orderly fashion, with continual monitoring and evaluation.
  6. Become familiar with the many University and community resources available (educational, financial, social, etc.).
  7. Receive accurate information regarding University requirements, options, and procedures.
  8. Make intelligent career choices based upon realistic and accurate information.

Students may select or change their major and/or minor program at any time through the Registrar’s Office.  The Change of Major form is located in the Registrar’s Office or online.

All students at Montana State University-Northern will be assign an advisor.  This advisor will generally be a faculty member in the student’s major program area. The faculty advisor will explain University academic requirements and assist individuals in selecting courses and fulfilling the steps necessary to satisfy graduation requirements. Students with questions about their majors are encouraged to contact their faculty advisor. 

Admission to Classes

In order to be enrolled in a class, the student must register for the class by means of the procedures set out for registration. The student’s name must appear on the official class roster. Students who fail to register for classes prior to the deadline for doing so will not receive credit for the classes, even if they attend the classes and meet course requirements.

Advanced Placement Program Policy

Applicants for Advanced Placement credit should ask the College Entrance Examination Board to submit official examination scores to the Registrar's Office. Credit will be granted for scores of 3, 4, or 5. This credit will be awarded to degree students for corresponding courses at the University. Grades will not be awarded. A notation of the award will be placed on the student’s transcript.


An auditor is a student who wishes to enroll in a course but does not wish to pursue the course for credit. Auditors will not be required to take examinations or meet course requirements. Audited courses are noted on the transcript as such. Enrollment as an auditor requires permission of the instructor after students pursuing course credit have had an opportunity to enroll. Auditors pay the same fees as credit students. Auditors may not change to credit enrollment after the last day to add classes.

Cancellation for Failure to Make Fee Arrangements

A number of students who pre-register for classes do not return for the following term as anticipated. In order to establish orderly administration of the financial affairs of the University and to open the positions of these non-returning students in classes for which they pre-registered, a deadline for making fee arrangements is set for each term and announced by the Business Office. Registrants who do not complete fee arrangements prior to the deadline are unregistered, and their positions in classes are made available to other students. Students whose registrations are canceled but who wish to attend the University for the canceled term must repeat the registration process. In addition, a late registration fee of $40.00 may be charged to offset the additional administrative expense of late registration.

Challenge by Examination

Montana State University-Northern seeks to serve students who have achieved through nontraditional forms of study or work experience. The University awards credit based on Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests, DANTES transcripts, military training, Trade Competency Examinations, and other faculty approved competency measures. The Registrar maintains a list of courses and the procedures a student must follow in order to be awarded credit.

Changes in Registration

See “Dropping and Adding Classes” later in this section.

Change of Grade

Grades submitted to the Registrar’s Office by faculty members are final and may not be changed except in the case of clerical error, upon successful appeal, or if they were fraudulently obtained. Students who believe an error in grading has occurred should first consult with the instructor. Final grade changes may not be used to extend the time for completion of a course, to allow a student to submit late work, or to retake examinations after the term is completed. A grade change is not meant to substitute for an “Incomplete” when an Incomplete cannot be justified. Grade changes made under this policy must be submitted to the Registrar by the faculty through use of forms and procedures available in the Registrar’s Office. The College Dean must approve these forms.

Class Attendance

Each student is responsible for attending all classes regularly. Individual professors establish attendance policies for their courses. While a professor may not withdraw a student from a course, excessive absences may result in a grade of “F.”

Classification of Students

Students are classified as follows:

By year in school:

Freshman: 0-29 semester credits earned. May not enroll in an upper division course with the permission of the instructor.
Sophomore: 30-59 semester credits earned.
Junior: 60-89 semester credits earned.
Senior: 90 semester credits and above.
Post-Graduate: Baccalaureate students earning additional hours of undergraduate or graduate credit, but not following a master’s degree program
Graduate: Baccalaureate students enrolled in a master’s degree program.

By credits:

Undergraduate Students

Full-Time: Enrolled for 12 or more semester credits with 15 to 16 semester credits being considered a normal load depending on the degree.
Half-Time: Enrolled for 6 or more semester credits, but fewer than 12.
Part-Time: Enrolled for fewer than 6 semester credits.

Graduate Students

Full-Time: Enrolled for 9 or more semester credits.
Half-Time: Enrolled for more than 5 semester credits, but fewer than 9.
Part-Time: Enrolled for fewer than 5 semester credits.

Student Status

Degree-Seeking: A student who plans to pursue a degree at Montana State University-Northern.
Non-Degree Seeking: A student who does not plan to pursue a degree at Montana State University-Northern.
Adult Special: A student 21 years of age or over, who is not a high school graduate, has not received their GED, and is not a transfer student, but wants to pursue a degree at Montana State University – Northern.
Continuing: A student who completed the last regular semester at Montana State University-Northern. The spring or summer term is considered the last regular semester for the students returning for fall semester.
Former: A student who has previously attended the Montana State University-Northern but did not complete the last regular semester and who has not enrolled at another institution of higher learning since last attending the University. Former students must file an application for readmissions.
Transfer: Any student who was last registered for 12 or more credits at another institution of higher learning.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program)

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a national credit by examination program. This program provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement by taking an exam. Each institution determines which CLEP test and passing score it will accept for a specific course. All CLEP testing at MSU-Northern is online and costs a total of $75.00. Each exam is approximately 90 minutes long, and except for English Composition with Essay, is made up primarily of multiple-choice questions; however, some exams do have fill-ins. Credit earned through CLEP is assigned a grade of “Pass” and does not affect the grade point average. All CLEP credits awarded appear on the transcript and may apply towards graduation. CLEP credits may not be used for financial aid purposes or athletic eligibility.

For a complete list of exams that have equivalent courses at Northern or to schedule an exam please visit the Vande Bogart Library Room 208 or call 406.265.3544.

Continuing Education Courses

Continuing education courses may be offered for credit. However, no more than 30 such credits may be applied toward a bachelor’s degree. At the graduate level, no more than 12 credits may be applied toward a Master’s degree.

Cooperative Education

Cooperative Education is a program that allows students to earn academic credit and gain on-the-job experience in positions related to their field of study. Most disciplines include cooperative education courses, numbered 298 or 498. Cooperative Education is initiated with learning objectives defined through an agreement between the student, faculty, Director of Career Center, and the work supervisor. To be eligible for Cooperative Education, students must have completed two semesters at the University and maintain a cumulative 2.00 grade point average. Students pursuing an associate degree may apply a total of 12 credits of Cooperative Education toward their degree requirements with the exception of Engineering Technology programs. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree may apply a total of 18 credits of Cooperative Education toward their degree requirements with the exception of Engineering Technology programs. These courses are taken Pass/Fail only.

Course Numbering System

001-099 Development courses, not considered for graduation credit and not computed in credits earned or grade point average. These credits may be considered for financial aid and certification purposes.
100-299 Lower division courses.
300-499 Upper division courses.
500-599 Graduate division courses only.
1390 Undergraduate level Continuing Education courses.
1590 Graduate level Continuing Education courses.

Course Repetition

Students repeating a course will forfeit the original grade and will receive the new grade. The previous grade will remain on the transcript, but will not be counted in the students GPA.

Credit Load

Students must complete 15 - 16 credits each semester in order to complete a two-year or four-year degree within the minimum time. The following table explains the rules governing maximum credit loads:

...If a student’s cumulative grade point average is: … …then he/she may take the following semester credits without approval …then he/she must have approval to carry the following semester credits:
3.00 and above 1-22 More than 22
2.50-2.99 1-20 More than 20
2.00-2.49 1-18 More than 18
Below 2.00 1-12 More than 12

First-time University students may not take more than 18 credits during their first semester.

Transfer students: In determining the maximum credit load that a transfer student can carry during his or her first semester at Montana State University-Northern, the University will use the cumulative grade point average earned by that student before he/she came to Northern. Once a student has earned credits at Northern, his/her Northern grade point average will be used to determine credit load. Students may request to take more than their pre-determined credit load by submitting a petition to the Admissions and Standards Committee. Petitions may be obtained from the Registrar’s Office.

The rules for credit load are different during summer semester, and students should consult the summer semester bulletin for an explanation.

Credit Not Pertaining to a Traditional Term

The posting of credit earned outside of a traditional academic calendar term to Northern transcripts will be governed by the following rule: The credit will be posted to the Northern term during which the official transcript or report of the credit is received. If the official transcript or report is received when no Northern term is in progress, the credit will be posted to the Northern term following the receipt of the official transcript or report. In order to be considered an “official” transcript or report of credit, it must:

  1. Be an original document produced by the issuing agency or institution. It must contain sufficient information to be identified as such. Telephone reports are not acceptable. Faxes are not acceptable. Documents transmitted by other electronic means, such as electronic mail, are only accepted from National Student Clearinghouse or Parchment.
  2. Be received directly from the issuing agency or institution without passing through the hands of the student. The transcript can pass through the hands of an official agent of the institution, however, such as a Dean or the administrative support personnel of an academic college.

Distance/Extended Learning

Students who are not able to physically attend classes on the Montana State University-Northern campus may still take courses leading to a degree by utilizing Northern’s distance learning options.  For more information about distance learning options please contact Admissions at 406.265.3704.

Double Major

A student may earn a second major and have it noted on his or her transcript by completing all course work for the second major. Students whose second majors fall within another degree type must follow procedures for a second undergraduate degree. Students should consult the policy on second under­graduate degrees, on page 207 of this catalog, to make sure they understand and satisfy the requirements of that policy if it applies to their additional program of study. Students who are applying for graduation with two majors will not be required to complete additional requirements for a minor required by either program.

Dropping and Adding Courses

Withdrawing from All Classes and Refunds

The following refund schedule applies to the standard semester format.    See the Business Office website at for information regarding the refund policy during summer.

  1. Registration fee is nonrefundable.
  2. 90 percent of all remaining mandatory fees will be refunded to the end of the 3rd classroom day.
  3. 75 percent of all remaining mandatory fees will be refunded to the end of the 5th classroom day.
  4. 50 percent of all remaining mandatory fees will be refunded to the end of the 6th classroom day.
  5. Refunds will not be made after the 6th day of classes.  Exceptions to this may occur in the case of financial aid students subject to the federal pro rata refund policy.
  6. Refunds are determined as of the day the student officially withdraws from college and not from the date of last class attendance.
  7. Classroom days are determined by the college calendar—not by the student’s class schedule.

MSU Northern students receiving Title IV funds and who officially or unofficially withdraw or are expelled, up to the 60% point of the semester, may be required to return federal funds.  Students may also be entitled to a post withdrawal refund up to the 60% point of the semester.  Copies of the Federal Title IV policy may be obtained at the MSU Northern Financial Aid Office.

Financial aid recipients will not receive refunds until their financial aid is repaid (Pell Grant, SEOG Grant, SSIG Grant, Perkins Loan, FFEL Loans, fee waivers, and some scholarships).  If the refund is insufficient to repay the financial aid programs, students will be billed for the over-awards.

Students who owe over-award repayments to any federal aid programs cannot receive future financial aid until repayment is made in full.

Final Examination Week Policy

The last week of each regular semester will be set aside for final examinations. The Registrar will publish an examination schedule every semester. The final examination week is the only time when final exams may be given for full semester classes. The University expects every class to meet at its scheduled time for final exams. There will be no scheduled extra-curricular activities or meetings during finals week. Each scheduled exam period will be two hours.

If students are scheduled for more than two (2) final examinations on the same day, they may ask for an adjustment. They should contact the instructors in their classes, and try to arrange alternative test times during the final exam week. If those negotiations are unsuccessful, students should ask their College Dean to mediate the conflict.

Fresh Start Policy

Montana State University-Northern students may eliminate part of their previous coursework at the institution under this “fresh start” option. The policy is subject to several restrictions, and may not be available to all students. Under the policy, students may erase a maximum of two consecutive semesters or three consecutive quarters of previous Montana State University-Northern coursework. The coursework will remain on the student’s academic record, but the credits and the grades will not be carried forward into the student’s cumulative GPA. Once a student has elected to exercise the Fresh Start policy, the effects of the policy may not be rescinded.

Students must meet the following conditions to apply for the fresh start option:

  1. they must be undergraduates; they may only exercise the fresh start option once at Montana State University-Northern;
  2. they must not have been enrolled at Montana State University-Northern for at least one calendar year;
  3. they must apply for the fresh start option during the first year of their return to Montana State University-Northern.


The quality of a student’s work in each course is represented by a letter grade. In computing scholastic averages, each letter grade is assigned a specific number of grade points for each credit.

Faculty at Montana State University-Northern may use the following scale when assigning final grades to students in courses. Criteria for assigning these grades are left to the discretion of course faculty, and shall be clearly communicated to the students in the course using the course Syllabus or any other means of official course communications. These criteria should be provided to the students during the first week of class during each semester. Use of plus and minus grading is left to the discretion of course faculty.

Grades Description of Grades Grade Points
A Excellent 4
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B Above Average 3
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C Average 2
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D Below Average 1
D- Passing .7
F Failure 0
P Pass 0
I Incomplete 0
I/**SEE BELOW Incomplete grade subsequently finished 0
W Withdrawal 0
X Continuation
NR Not Reported by Instructor
PF Failure Due to Academic Dishonesty 0
(P) Passing-developmental courses-not counted in GPA 0
IP In Progress-developmental courses-not counted in GPA 0
NP Not Passing-developmental courses-not counted in GPA 0

(I/* = I/A, I/A-, I/B+, I/B, I/B-, I/C+, I/C, I/C-, I/D+, I/D, I/D-, I/F)

Explanation of Grades and Notations

P Indicates that the student registered for the course on a “Pass-Fail” basis and passed the course. Pass grades are computed in the earned hours only; however, failures are computed in the grade point average like any other F.
I Indicates that the work of the course is more than three-fourths complete, not finished, but may be completed. An incomplete is given only to a student who has a proper excuse for not having completed all the requirements of a course. The faculty member and student must arrange to complete the work prior to the ending of the following term. Arrangements must be completed in the next resident semester, or the “I” is changed to an “F.” If the student is not in residence, two semesters are given to complete the work, or the incomplete becomes an “F.” The final grade for the course will replace the notation of “I” in the semester in which the course was originally registered, and the credit for the course will be counted in that semester. The final grade will affect the grade point average of that semester, just as if the work had originally been completed in that semester.
I/* Incomplete grade subsequently finished. The * represents the final grade. Points are those appropriate to the final grade.
Audit Indicates that the student registered as an auditor for the course. This course is computed in the attempted hours; however, no credit is given and it is not used to calculate the cumulative gpa.
W Indicates that the student withdrew from the course or University after 20% of the course had been completed but before 60% of the class time was completed.
X Indicates that the final grade for the course will be assigned when the sequence is completed and may extend beyond one semester. Only graduate students receive this notation.
(P) Indicates that the student has passed the developmental course.
IP Indicated that the student’s work is still in progress.
NP Indicates that the student was not passing remedial course work at the time the grades were turned in.
NR Indicates that the instructor did not report the grade. This is a temporary notation and a grade report will be issued as soon as possible.
PF Indicates that the student failed due to Academic Dishonesty.

Grade Reports

Following each semester students and their advisors may see a report of the students’ grades by logging onto Northern’s website and getting into “My Info” on Banner. Students performing unsatisfactory work during the semester may also be notified. Grade point average (GPA) is computed by dividing the cumulative number of grade points by the total number of GPA hours.

Graduation Academic Latin Honors

Graduation academic Latin honors levels are based on all higher education work completed at the time the program was printed. This does not include work completed at the end of the Spring Semester of commencement. If work completed after the commencement program was printed changed any honors levels, every effort will be made to provide the proper cords, and the new honors levels will be read as the graduates during commencement are introduced.

Latin Honors Minimum GPA
Cum Laude 3.50
Magna Cum Laude 3.75
Summa Cum Laude 4.00

Honor Cords: Montana State University-Northern recognizes associate and baccalaureate students with excellent grades by awarding traditional Latin academic honors at graduation. Honored graduates wear honors cords and their names are noted in the commencement program. Cord colors are as follows:

Cum Laude Maroon
Magna Cum Laude Silver
Summa Cum Laude Gold


An incomplete grade must be completed in the next resident semester, or the “I” is changed to an “I/F”. If the student is not in residence, two semesters are given to complete the work, or the incomplete becomes an “I/F”.

Independent Study

Independent study courses are offered at the discretion of individual faculty members and their Dean. Students who wish to enroll in independent study courses must first discuss the requested coursework with the instructor, then obtain the approval of the instructor’s dean.

Such approval is based on a preliminary plan of the intended nature, duration, and scope of the project. The work may be a regular catalog course or a course designed to meet the special needs of an individual student. Independent study courses will be numbered 292, 392, 492, 592, or 692 and will not appear on the regular schedule of classes. Students may not add independent study courses after the deadline for adding full-semester classes. No more than 6 independent study credits may apply toward a Master’s degree, no more than 9 independent study credits may be applied toward a bachelor’s degree and no more than 6 independent study credits may be applied toward an Associate or associate of applied science degree. Independent study forms are available in the Registrar’s Office.

Major, Minor or Advisor Changes

Degree-seeking students may change their academic majors and minors by completing a change of major form and return it to the Registrar's Office.

Non-degree-seeking students may apply for degree-seeking status at the Registrar's Office.

For students who have not declared a major, their faculty advisor provides advising to help students fulfill their general education requirements and to select a major field of study. Montana State University – Northern will allow students to remain undeclared until they have earned 45 semester hours. After a student has earned 45 semester hours, the student must declare a major, or petition the Admissions and Standards Committee to continue attending without a declared major. Some academic majors require that specific courses be taken during the freshman and sophomore years. Students should, therefore, declare their intended major as early as possible to ensure proper advisement.

Those who have selected a major are assigned faculty advisors by the academic College which administers their chosen major and may request a change of advisor from the Registrar's Office. 

Pass-Fail Grades

Students may take classes on a pass-fail basis. When considering that option, students should keep the following limitations in mind, however:

  1. Courses that satisfy the requirements of a major, a minor, an area of concentration, or the professional education core cannot be taken on a pass-fail basis. Graduate courses cannot be taken on a pass-fail basis.
  2. Students can only use eighteen (18) semester credits of pass-fail work in a bachelor’s degree program; they can only use nine (9) semester credits of pass-fail work in an associate or associate of applied science degree program.
  3. The two previous restrictions do not apply to specific coursework that is only offered on a pass-fail basis. That coursework would include cooperative education classes, student teaching, Advanced Placement, CLEP, Military Experience, and challenge exams and trade competency tests.
  4. Some academic Colleges have their own rules governing the use of pass-fail credits, and students should consult their faculty advisors for those limitations.
  5. Students may change from a grade to pass or pass to a grade prior to the close of the “add” period for the class by means of forms and procedures available from the Registrar’s Office. Once pass-fail has been elected, the election cannot be reversed.

Faculty members are not notified when courses are taken on a pass-fail basis. Letter grades turned in by the instructor are converted to Pass or Fail when the grades are recorded on the student’s permanent record. A passing grade is defined as a “C-” or better. A failing grade is an “F.” Pass grades are not counted in the grade point average but the credit may meet graduation requirements subject to the limitations set out above. Grades of “F” are counted in the grade point average.

The University cautions students that some graduate and professional schools and some employers do not recognize non-traditional grades (i.e., those other than A, B, C, D, F) and students who use the pass/fail option may be at a disadvantage in such situations.


Exceptions and deviations from normal academic policy may be requested through petition forms and procedures available from the Registrar’s Office. Petitions and requested waivers are reviewed in a timely manner and students are notified of their approval or disapproval.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

The Prior Learning Assessment is designed to provide opportunities to earn university credit for what has been learned through life and work experiences. Students who wish to pursue this means of earning credit will complete portfolios demonstrating how their competencies contribute toward degree requirements. Details concerning the PLA program may be found in the university policy and procedures manual (MSU-N Policy 405).

The only academic programs that currently accept PLA credit are business and community leadership and criminal justice. Students may also ask to have PLA credits evaluated as distribution coursework under the general education program.

Privacy Rights

In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the Registrar informs students that the University may disclose information from the education record of a student who is or has been in attendance at Montana State University-Northern. The following information is considered by the University to be public in nature:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Telephone number
  4. Year in school
  5. Major
  6. Scholarships awarded
  7. Degrees conferred
  8. Honors granted
  9. Dates of attendance

Currently enrolled students have the right to refuse to permit the University to disclose the above information by submitting a “Privacy Rights” form. This form is the means by which the student notifies the Registrar of his/her intentions concerning the above information. The student is herewith notified that:

  1. If the student signs the request to have the Registrar keep the above information private, the University will not even acknowledge the fact of the student’s enrollment to third parties, except in cases otherwise provided for, such as written requests for transcripts.
  2. Emergency messages will not be taken for or relayed to the student.
  3. The student’s name will not appear on any lists released to third parties, including honor rolls and graduation.
  4. This is an “all or nothing” policy. The student may not select certain information or certain circumstances for non-disclosure.
  5. Non-disclosure requests may be reversed by submission of notification to the Registrar’s Office.

Registration Restrictions

A student classified as a freshman may not enroll in an upper division course without the permission of the instructor.

Scholastic Honor Roll

In recognition of scholastic achievement, the University publishes at the conclusion of each semester an honor roll of undergraduate students who have earned a minimum grade point average of 3.25 in twelve or more credits of work. Students with a grade of Incomplete or “F” are not included on the honor roll listing.

Scholastic Probation/Suspension Review

Students whose semester and/or cumulative grade point average falls below 2.00 will be placed on academic suspension or probation according to the following guidelines. Suspended students may appeal for readmission prior to their elapsed suspension period by means of forms and procedures available from the Registrar’s Office.

  1. Scholastic Warning: Applies only to first-time freshmen or new students who have earned less than twelve credits from a regionally accredited post-secondary institution. Such students are placed on scholastic warning at the end of their first semester of enrollment if they earn less than a 2.00 cumulative grade point average. A student may be on academic warning a maximum of one semester. Probation or suspension status applies to all subsequent enrollments in which the cumulative grade-point average remains below a 2.00.
  2. Scholastic Probation: Students (other than those described in situation 1 above) are placed on probation at the end of a semester of enrollment when their cumulative grade point average falls below a 2.00. Transfer students (admitted under special conditions) who have earned 12 or more semester credits and whose transcript(s) indicates less than a 2.00 cumulative grade point average are admitted on scholastic probation.
  3. Continued Scholastic Probation: Students may continue to enroll while on probation provided they earn at least a 2.00 semester grade point average, even though their cumulative grade point average remains below a 2.00.
  4. Restrictions in enrollment while on Scholastic Warning or Scholastic Probation status: No student on scholastic warning or probation may enroll for more than 12 credits during the semester without approval of the Admissions and Standards Committee.
  5. Removal of Scholastic Probation: Such academic standing is removed when the cumulative grade point average is raised to a 2.00 or higher.

Scholastic Suspension: Students currently enrolled on scholastic probation or continued on scholastic probation are suspended when both the semester and cumulative grade point average are below 2.00. The first suspension from Montana State University-Northern will be for one semester. The second suspension will be for one calendar year. Students suspended for a third time, or those seeking early re-admission from a first or second suspension, must appeal by petition to the Admissions and Standards Committee.

A student re-admitted after a period of suspension will be placed on scholastic probation.

Suspended students may attend classes until their appeal is decided.

Second Undergraduate Degrees

To earn an additional degree, students must complete all coursework required in the degree program. A second degree will be awarded only when it differs from the student’s first degree. For example, if the second major is a bachelor of science degree and the first was a bachelor of arts degree, then a second degree would be awarded.

A second associate or associate of applied science degree requires a minimum of twelve additional credits; and a second baccalaureate degree requires a minimum of thirty additional credits. Normal residency requirements and all other academic regulations also apply. Students wishing to earn a second associate, associate of applied science, bachelor, or bachelor of applied science degree must complete the regular admission procedures. For double major, i.e., a second major within the same degree type, see the section entitled “Double Major” on page 203.


Semester: Northern has three semesters in an academic year: Fall, Spring, and Summer. Students normally attend two semesters in an academic year: Fall and Spring. When a policy refers to a number of semesters, or to “regular” semesters, it is referring to the Fall and Spring semesters only, to the exclusion of Summer semester, unless the policy expressly indicates to the contrary.

Special Topics

Experimental courses and courses for special topics may be offered from time to time. Such courses are numbered 291, 391, 491, and 591 and will not be offered more than twice, excluding summer sessions or continuing education offerings, which may be offered more often.


Course substitutions are exceptions and deviations from normal academic policy and may be requested on forms available from the Registrar’s Office. A substitution requires the approval of the student’s faculty advisor, the academic College Dean of the student’s major, and the Dean of the academic College that offers the course.  A course description or syllabus must accompany the form.  They are then returned to the Registrar's Office for processing.

Trade Competency Test

Students who have had five or more years of work experience in an apprenticeable trade or licensed occupation may have their experience evaluated through a written and performance test administered by the National Occupational Competency Test Institute (NOCTI). This testing process, coupled with a committee evaluation of job success, may generate up to 39 credits toward earning a degree. Contact the Registrar or Dean of Education and Graduate Studies for more information.

Transcript of Academic Record

A transcript is the complete academic record of a student’s work and status. The official transcript bears the signature of the Registrar and the seal of Montana State University-Northern.  Beginning March 1, 2016 Montana State University Northern will  accept electronic transcripts from The National  Student Clearinghouse and Parchment.  Electronic Transcripts must be address to the Registrar’s office or registrar’s email (  Electronic transcripts received from other departments or emails will not be honored and will be considered unofficial.  Another other copies are unofficial as well. The University retains a permanent transcript. Official transcripts are issued only upon the written request of the student. Transcripts will not be released until all University admissions or financial obligations have been met. 

The education records, as defined by federal right-to-privacy laws, of deceased persons in the custody of Montana State University-Northern will be released only to individuals who document themselves as personal representatives of the deceased’s estate or remaining next-of-kin. The death of the alumnus must also be documented.

Transfer of Credits

Transfer students should read these policies carefully, so they are comfortable with the process of transcript evaluation and understand its steps.

  1. The Registrar’s Office will begin the evaluation of transfer credits when the transfer student has been admitted to the University as a degree-seeking student.
  2. Transfer students must submit official transcripts from every post-secondary school they have attended before they may be admitted.
  3. The Registrar determines the acceptability of course work from other post-secondary institutions, using these rules. The Registrar also determines the acceptability of transfer credit to meet general education requirements. Faculty in the respective majors and minors determine whether transfer credit will meet specific program-area degree requirements.

Acceptability of Credits

  1. The University accepts all college and/or university level courses from institutions accredited by regional association of schools and colleges. This does not include remedial or developmental courses.
  2. If an institution was not accredited at the time the transfer student enrolled there, but accreditation has subsequently been granted by a regional association, the student may petition to have the credits accepted.
  3. If the institution was a candidate for accreditation at the time the transfer student took classes, credit will be granted after successful completion of 20 semester credits at Northern.
  4. Credit will be granted for college-level continuing education, correspondence and extension courses successfully completed at regionally accredited institutions.
  5. International coursework must be evaluated by a professional foreign transcript-evaluating agent, designated by the Office of the Registrar, or by other means approved by university policy.
  6. Credit may be granted for military service and for completed military service schools based on the recommendations of “A Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Forces.” See the Registrar for details.
  7. Credit may be granted for education received from non-collegiate institutions on the basis of recommendations published by the American Council on Education.

Evaluation of Degree Requirements

  1. The Registrar determines the acceptability of transfer credits toward general education requirements at the University. Academic Colleges may also be consulted.
  2. The academic College that awards the student’s degree will determine applicability of transfer courses to specific program-area degree requirements.
  3. Secondary education majors may work with two different academic Colleges. The Department of Education will determine how transfer of credits fit into the education core. The major and minor academic Colleges will determine how transfer credits fit into major or minor curricula.
  4. Articulation agreements may have been negotiated between Northern and the transfer student’s institution. Those agreements will determine the use of credits in a student’s degree program.
  5. Transfer students are encouraged to assist academic College faculty in evaluating previous coursework. Catalog descriptions, course syllabi and classroom work can all be used to document the content and rigor of transfer credits.
  6. Courses with grades of less than C- will not be applicable to general education, major or minor requirements.

Transfer Grades

Transfer credit will be given for courses in which satisfactory grades were received. A satisfactory grade for transfer purposes is defined as A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D- or S. Transfer Grade-point

  1. The transfer grade point average will be used to determine eligibility for acceptance at Montana State University-Northern. Coursework from all higher education institutions will be used to calculate that grade point average.
  2. Transfer grade point averages will not be computed for students whose 1st term of attendance at Northern is Fall 1989 or after. Student course work completed at the College of Technology in Great Falls will be treated as resident course work and included in MSU-Northern’s grade point average.
  3. University honors may be based on the combined grade point average for all higher education work completed.


Course waivers are exceptions and deviations from normal academic policy and may be requested on forms available from the Registrar’s Office. A waiver requires the approval of the student’s advisor, the academic Director of the student’s major. A waiver does not constitute a reduction of required credits. Students who receive a waiver for a course do not receive the credit hours for that course.

Withdrawals from the University

Students may withdraw from the University by completing the procedures and forms available in the Registrar’s Office. Course grades will be determined as set out in the Drop and Add Policy (see Drop and Adds).