The Montana University System, in partnership with Montana industry leaders, is excited to pilot a new initiative around accelerated degree programs designed to directly support Montana’s economy. These accelerated degree programs, MUS Sprint Degrees, will provide Montana residents with access to industry-sponsored degree pathways in high-wage, high-demand career fields. The pilot will begin Summer 2023 in the Billings area with support from Great Falls College MSU and will include three healthcare related degree programs: Paramedic, Surgical Technology, and Human Services. 

Students who participate in Sprint Degree programs will be placed on an accelerated path that will prepare them for an in-demand career in Montana, while also receiving hands-on learning with a Montana industry and serious financial support to complete the program. As such, a key part of the Sprint Degree design is industry partnership. The MUS is appreciative of our industry sponsors which include Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Hospital, and the Billings Fire Department. 

The Sprint Degree program is motivated by the MUS strategic plan and seeks to focus on the system’s commitment to Montana’s workforce development needs. Since the launch of the program, the MUS Sprint Degree design has represented a confluence of grassroots conversations with campuses and with state-wide industry and business partners, all in the context of national trends in higher education.   

Throughout the pilot we will assess:

  1. how we are producing skilled graduates in the highest demand sectors;
  2. how we make the University System as accessible to as many different types of students as possible – recognizing that not every student wants or is able to engage in a traditional higher education model; and
  3. how we can continue to be more innovative in our structures, timelines, costs and commitments to students.

The goals of the Sprint Degree Program are:

  • Intentional Workforce Development – Provide clear pathways for Montana students and their families to in-demand workforce development opportunities.
  • Industry Partnership – Foster intentional connections with state workforce and industry needs.
  • Return on Investment – Provide a clear link between value of degree attainment and cost of degree.
  • Time to Completion – Create high-quality, accelerated degree timelines through flexible modalities and summer coursework.

To learn more about Sprint Degrees, visit the MUS Apply Montana Sprint Degree website.

--contributed by Angela DeWolf King, Academic, Research & Student Affairs Executive Assistant and Operations Manager, OCHE