News Release

LC State launches master’s in nursing, its first full master’s degree

LEWISTON, Idaho – For the past 60 years, Lewis-Clark State College has expertly served the healthcare education needs of north Idaho, being the only public four-year institution offering nursing and allied health professions degrees in Idaho Regions 1 and 2. This fall, thanks to recent approval from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), its accrediting body, the college will offer a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.

The online graduate program, which is the only one of its kind in Idaho, represents the first full master’s degree offering in the college’s 131-year history. The college received Idaho State Board of Education approval for the program in February, and was notified of NWCCU approval in late June.

The master’s degree is possible thanks to a 2020 bill that officially amended Idaho Code to allow LC State to offer graduate-level coursework. Spearheaded by LC State President Cynthia Pemberton, the bill was sponsored by former senator, and now Lewiston mayor, Dan Johnson, and former representative Paul Amador, and was signed by Gov. Brad Little.

“It is a proud day in the history of Lewis-Clark State College,” Pemberton said. “As it has always done, LC State continues to thoughtfully, collaboratively and purposefully evolve and expand to meet the greatest needs in Idaho, especially in north Idaho. This master’s degree is the perfect addition to our broad and vital menu of existing healthcare education programs.”

The college’s nursing program has gained special notoriety over the decades not just in the state but in the nation. In 2023, the college was again ranked as the top nursing school in Idaho by and its LPN to BSN program was ranked No. 5 in the nation by LC State students consistently have the best licensure (NCLEX) pass rates among all public four-year institutions in Idaho.

Currently, there are no master’s degrees focused on nursing leadership offered at Idaho public institutions. LC State offers the degree to fulfill a need expressed by local and regional industry partners for more nurse leaders and managers.

“LC State is excited about the approval of this new graduate degree in nursing,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Fred Chilson said. “A number of hours were spent collaborating with our sister institutions to ensure we were not duplicating efforts, but addressing healthcare shortages in different areas. LC State is committed to help meet Idaho's healthcare challenges head-on, leading to a healthier population, reduced healthcare costs, and a stronger healthcare infrastructure. This degree investment is not only beneficial for individual nurses but also for the entire community, ensuring that all Idahoans have access to high-quality healthcare services.”

Sacajawea Hall

LC State's nursing and health sciences facility, Sacajawea Hall.

The new MSN program will include comprehensive coursework in leadership, management, and business processes. The program, adhering to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Essentials, will include a 500-hour practicum experience and will prepare graduates to complete a national certification examination.

The program will be offered fully online and is expected to be a good fit for registered nurses of industry partners, LC State BSN graduates, and any other nurses looking to advance up the career ladder. Graduates who have earned LC State’s graduate certificate in Nursing Management & Leadership will be able to seamlessly transition to the full degree. The program will also include a pathway for nurses with an associate degree to complete bridge coursework and then enter the MSN program.

“LC State has a long history of preparing excellent nurses,” said Krista Harwick, associate dean of the School of Professional Studies who also oversees the school’s Healthcare Education Center. “As healthcare evolves, nurses are integral to contributing to evidence-based practice, and leading in development of new delivery care models. We are proud to have worked with our healthcare industry partners to develop graduate level coursework that provides a strong foundation for nurse leaders who will contribute to health system changes.”

Working closely with Idaho State University, Idaho’s designated lead institution in health professions, LC State’s Healthcare Education Center also offers programs in medical assistant, radiographic science, business administration health care management, administrative medical assistant, medical biller/coder, medical receptionist, medical transcription, exercise science, fitness, health, kinesiology, movement psychology, and sports nutrition as well as a number of Workforce Training programs, pre-professional pathways, and partnership programs with other schools in areas of dental hygiene, medical lab tech, and physical therapy assistant.

More information about LC State’s master’s in nursing can be found at