During the 1965 transition of Joplin Junior College into Missouri Southern State College, a survey conducted indicated that the need for registered nurses in health care facilities was so great that a nursing program should be given top priority in the newly created Missouri Southern State College curriculum. A program leading to an associate degree was, then, the most feasible approach for the College.
A director was employed on February 1, 1965. The proposal for the program was presented to the State Board of Nursing in June 1966, and was granted preliminary approval August 1, 1966.
The first class of students was admitted to the program in September 1966. The classrooms were located at the site of the present Missouri Southern State University campus. The first class of eight graduated in 1968.
A feasibility study conducted in 1982 revealed an overwhelming interest in the development of a Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program for Registered Nurses. Following development and approval, twenty students were admitted to the first class in the Fall of 1984. The BSN program received initial accreditation by the National League for Nursing in 1988.
Further research of the trends, issues, and future for BSN prepared Registered Nurses supported revision of the existing BSN program to include generic BSN student preparation, as well as BSN completion opportunities for Registered Nurses.
The revised BSN curriculum received unanimous approval from the College committees, administration, regents, Coordinating Board for Higher Education, and strong community support. Twenty-six students were admitted to the nursing major in the Fall semester 1995. The Missouri State Board of Nursing granted maximum accreditation to the program.
Following graduation of the Associate Degree Nursing class of 1996, that aspect of nursing education was closed. The graduating class of 1997 was awarded the Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) degree. All graduates from the Missouri Southern State University, Department of Nursing now receive BSN degrees.
Governor Bill Holden signed Bill #55 on July 12, 2003 changing Missouri Southern State College to University status.