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Online Colleges in Montana

COLLEGE FINDER

Article Sources

Sources:

  • 25 Things to Do, Destination Missoula, http://destinationmissoula.org/25-things-to-do
  • About Helena College Online, Helena College University of Montana, http://www.umhelena.edu/online/aboutus.aspx
  • American Factfinder, Montana, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed November 2015, http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml#none
  • Census and Economic Information Center, Montana Department of Commerce, http://ceic.mt.gov/
  • College Navigator, Montana, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MT&l=93
  • Desire2Learn, Montana State University-Northern, http://www.msun.edu/distance/online.html
  • Great Falls, Median Earnings, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed November 2015, http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml? src=CF
  • Median Earnings, U.S. Census Bureau, Billings, accessed November 2015, http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml? src=CF
  • Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Missoula, MT, Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed November 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_33540.htm
  • Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Billings, MT, Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed November 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_13740.htm
  • Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Great Falls, Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed November 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_24500.htm
  • Missoula, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed November 2015, http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF
  • Montana's Economic Performance, Department of Labor and Industry, Research and Analysis Bureau, Montana State Library, Accessed December 2018, https://mslservices.mt.gov/legislative_snapshot/Economy/Default.aspx
  • Montana University System, Accessed November 2018, https://mus.edu/data/StratPlan/9_Goal_1_Distance_Learning_2017.pdf
  • Montana's Trailhead, Visit Billings, http://www.visitbillings.com/area-attractions.php
  • MSUB Online, Montana State University Billings, http://www.msubillings.edu/msubonline/DegreesandPrograms.htm
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, accessed January 2017, http://www.nwccu.org/
  • Online Courses, Flathead Valley Community College, https://cams1.fvcc.edu/Schedules/sp16/cam.asp
  • Online Courses, Miles Community College, https://www.milescc.edu/DistanceLearning/OnlineCourses.htm
  • Online Degree and Certificate Programs, Montana State University, http://www.montana.edu/online/degrees/
  • Online Programs, Dawson Community College, https://www.dawson.edu/academics/online/
  • Online Programs, Great Falls College Montana State University, http://elearning.gfcmsu.edu/Programs.html
  • Online Programs, Montana Tech, http://www.mtech.edu/academics/distance/online_programs.htm
  • Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/recovery-job-growth-and-education-requirements-through-2020/#full-report
  • Top Things to Do in Great Falls, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g45198-Activities-Great_Falls_Montana.html
  • UMW Outreach, University of Montana-Western, http://www.umwestern.edu/programs/school-of-outreach.html#umw-tabbed-teacher-education
  • University of Montana UMOnline Programs, https://umonline.umt.edu/programs/default.php
  • Reach Higher Montana - #406students, Accessed April 2017, http://www.reachhighermontana.org/406students/
  • Reach Higher Montana - 10 Steps to Financial Aid, Accessed April 2017, http://www.reachhighermontana.org/10steps/
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By 2020, 69 percent of the jobs in Montana are expected to require post-high school education, according to a Georgetown University study. This may be especially true if you're planning a career in one of Montana's larger industries, like health care, financial or business services, education, and even the government.

An online college in Montana can allow you to begin or further your career without traveling long distances to a physical classroom. Whether you're currently employed and looking to increase your earning potential, or if you want to start or change career paths, you can earn a degree online at times that are convenient for you.

Here's an overview of online colleges in Montana:

  • 13 schools in Montana offer online degree programs; all but one are public institutions.
  • Online associate degree programs are available at all 13 schools, while 7 have bachelor's degree programs, and 6 have master's degree programs.
  • Montana State University-Billings offers the most online degree programs.

The state is eager to help more Montana residents complete additional education after high school. And to support that goal, investments have been made in increasing the availability of online education programs. For example, students in Montana may use MUS Online to pursue more than 80 online degrees. MUS Online offers associate, bachelor's, and master's programs from colleges throughout the state.

To learn about the 10 best online colleges in Montana as well as the most affordable ones, we encourage you to read on. We've also provided details about scholarships specifically for Montana students.

What Makes a Good Online College?

To help students find the school that can fulfill their needs, OnlineColleges.com has created multiple rankings of the best online colleges in Montana. It's important to know that only accredited schools were considered for our rankings — accreditation is just too important a factor to ignore. In Montana, the primary accreditation agency is the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). However, some of the schools on our page may also be accredited by other national or faith-based agencies. Visit our "What is College Accreditation?" page for details on why you should attend an accredited college, or check the Montana Office of the Commission of Higher Education to see which accrediting agencies are recognized in Montana.

Our rankings are designed to help students make more informed decisions about choosing an online college, and so we use very specific criteria to create them. Some of the data we use impacts all students, such as cost of in-state tuition or graduation rate, and some is specific to online students, such as the number of online programs offered or the amount of electronic library resources available. View the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page to learn why we chose these criteria to represent the online college experience and what they can tell prospective students about their options.

Best Online Colleges in Montana for 2018-19

If you're considering online learning in Montana, it's crucial to research schools and programs ahead of time. To help make the process easier, we've created this ranking of the 10 best online colleges in Montana, using data pulled from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Our unique methodology (details at the bottom of this page) ranked Montana's schools based on factors such as graduation rate, acceptance rate and retention rate. If you'd like to make your own rankings of Montana schools, check out our Top Colleges Tool.

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Methodology
1

Montana State University-Billings

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,833
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
56%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
17
School Type
4-year

Montana State University-Billings is part of the Montana State University system, yet offers its own programming and educational style. If you're considering online learning, check out MSU-Billings for online associate degree programs in topics such as accounting technology, business administration and human resource management. Alternately, you could pursue a Billings bachelor's degree in a discipline such as business administration or public relations, with multiple concentrations to choose from for the BAS or BSLS programs. Several master's and certificate programs in varied fields are also available.

2

The University of Montana-Western

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,502
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
24%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
4
School Type
4-year

The University of Montana-Western utilizes a unique learning method it calls "Experience One." In this model, students take exactly one course for 18 days (three hours per day,) then take a four-day break to refresh themselves before starting the next course. Four courses are taken in one semester, providing the same amount of credits as a traditional multi-class system, but students have the opportunity to focus entirely on one course at a time, rather than splitting their attention across four courses at the same time.

UM-Western's list of fully online degree programs may not be exhaustive as yet, but the university also provides several online, night and weekend courses that can add great flexibility to a student's schedule.

3

Great Falls College Montana State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$3,255
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
60%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
15
School Type
2-year

Great Falls College-MSU is a two-year community college affiliated with Montana State University. A few of the fully online two-year degree programs available for study at this school include:

  • Associate of Arts
  • Associate of Science
  • Health information technology
  • Pharmacy technician

Online students at Great Falls have full access to GFC MSU Weaver Library's electronic resources. They can also sign up for tutoring through the school's Academic Success Center, obtain technical support for the learning management system D2L Brightspace, or reach out to dedicated advisors for additional help if needed.

4

The University of Montana

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,063
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
21%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
12
School Type
4-year

The University of Montana is one of the premier institutions of higher education in the state, featuring degree programs in numerous arts, science and technical fields. The school hosts researchers and academics from around the world at its gorgeous campus, located in Missoula, Montana.

UMT hosts its own online learning portal called UMOnline, through which students can research the school's many online degree options. From graduate to undergraduate degree programs, from minors to endorsements, there is certainly no shortage of choices at UMT. One of the more interesting features, however, are the RevUp programs. Created by a partnership between Montana's two-year colleges and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, these programs are structured to help students learn the skills relevant to specific positions in the workforce.

5

Montana State University-Northern

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,861
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
51%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
7
School Type
4-year

Montana State University-Northern students who crave distance learning have several options available to them, from online associate degree programs all the way up to an online master's degree program. MSU-Northern's distance courses are taught using the Desire2Learn (D2L) virtual classroom, featuring programs such as:

  • Associate of Arts in general education
  • Associate of Science in business
  • Bachelor of Arts in community leadership
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in business technology
  • Master of Education in instruction & learning

MSU-Northern doesn't forget about you once you've graduated, either: each semester, the college offers a variety of workshops (both credit and noncredit) for professionals who are looking to continue or brush up on their credentials.

6

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,125
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
21%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
1
School Type
4-year

Montana Tech is the technical wing of the University of Montana. This school boasts the UMT name, but has a different focus: to provide technical education for students across a range of hands-on academic fields. To this end, Montana Tech has Digger Online: an online learning portal created specifically for the school, through which students can pursue a handful of degree programs and a variety of certificate programs.

If they're in need of assistance, Montana Tech's distance learners can talk to a "virtual mentor" — students who can help their peers with tips, resources and advice about distance learning in general and the school's learning platform, Moodle, in particular. Montana Tech also offers online tutoring for its students at no additional cost.

7

Montana State University

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$7,079
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
10%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
9
School Type
4-year

In 2017, Montana State University was the largest institution of higher education in the state of Montana, yet only half of its student body was made up of Montana residents. The school draws in students from out of state and, indeed, from all over the world, due in no small part to its robust online learning program. Through the university's online portal, Montana State Online, students can obtain online academic advising, technical support and many other student success and career resources.

In terms of variety of online degree programs, Montana State offers both graduate and undergraduate degree programs in fields such as nursing, agricultural education, liberal arts and family financial planning. Rounding out the school's online offerings are several graduate certificate programs, a principal/ superintendent licensure endorsement, and professional development courses in science for educators.

8

Helena College - University of Montana

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$3,229
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
38%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
1
School Type
2-year

Helena College is a branch of the University of Montana that conveys its distance education courses to students in an active, easy way. Instructors use the school's One Button Studio — a specially set-up recording studio that can be used without any previous video production experience — to film their lecture, then can send the instruction to students anywhere on the planet. Helena College is only the second college in Montana to have such a recording studio, and the first one in the state to boast a recording studio with editing stations.

While Helena College offers few fully-online degree programs itself, they have a partnership with ed2go that allows them to offer a wide range of online certificate programs. These certificate programs can help teach students suitable skills for the workplaces of many different careers, especially in combination with Helena's One Button course deliveries.

9

Miles Community College

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$5,415
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
53%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
1
School Type
2-year

Miles Community College is a two-year introductory school aiming to attract new high school graduates, adult learners, and those seeking entry into the workforce. Through online courses and interactive television (ITV), distance learners can work alongside their on-campus peers to earn an online Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA) degree, or equivalent certificates.

Miles CC is very friendly to transfer students who have completed some of their college coursework elsewhere. For one thing, the school offers credit for previous experience through a portfolio system, and for another, students with fewer than 30 semester hours of college credit can earn admission to the school regardless of academic standing.

10

University of Great Falls

Tuition & Fees/Year Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
$24,440
Distance Education Participation Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
66%
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
9
School Type
4-year

The University of Great Falls was founded in 1932 and has since grown to become a prominent Catholic Providence-sponsored school offering several online degree programs. Several students both in- and out-of-state have stated their appreciation of the power of Great Falls' message and the quality of its instruction.

Great Falls distance learners can decide to pursue bachelor's degree programs in fields such as addictions counseling, psychology or sociology. Online associate degree programs (i.e. criminal justice or paralegal studies) are also available, as are multiple online graduate programs.

Affordable Online Colleges in Montana for 2018-19

Affordable Two-Year Online Colleges in Montana

The following list of Montana two-year schools that offer online degree programs or classes was chosen for tuition costs. Tuition figures are sourced from the National Center for Education Statistics for the 2015-2016 school year and reflect in-state tuition, when that data is available.

  • School Type - 2 Years
  • School Type - 4 Years
  • COLLEGE NAMETUITION & FEES/YEAR
    Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
    DISTANCE EDUCATION PARTICIPATION
    Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
    NUMBER OF ONLINE PROGRAMS OFFERED
    Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
    SCHOOL WEBSITE
    Helena College University of Montana$3,22938%1helenacollege.edu
    Great Falls College Montana State University$3,25560%15gfcmsu.edu
    Highlands College of Montana Tech$3,35120%1mtech.edu
    Dawson Community College$5,25042%4dawson.edu
    Miles Community College$5,41553%1milescc.edu
  • COLLEGE NAMETUITION & FEES/YEAR
    Tuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
    DISTANCE EDUCATION PARTICIPATION
    Distance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
    NUMBER OF ONLINE PROGRAMS OFFERED
    Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics..
    SCHOOL WEBSITE
    The University of Montana-Western$5,50224%4w.umwestern.edu
    Montana State University-Billings$5,83356%17msubillings.edu
    Montana State University-Northern$5,86151%7msun.edu
    The University of Montana$7,06321%12umt.edu
    Montana State University$7,07910%9montana.edu

Financial Aid Resources in Montana

1.Entering Montana Resident Scholarship
Type : Scholarship
Criteria:
Applicant must be an entering freshman with a minimum 3.4 GPA and a minimum composite ACT score of 25 (combined SAT Reasoning score of 1700). Transfer applicants must have a minimum 3.4 GPA and 12 earned college credits. ACT/SAT test scores are not applicable for transfer students. Essay, resume of activities, letter of recommendation, and transcript are required to be submitted.
Award Amount
$2,000
Application Deadline
February 1
Renewable
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
Yes
Application URL
2.Siegel Service Technology Scholarship
Type : Scholarship
Criteria:
Applicant must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be enrolled full-time in a Required Certified Program (automotive technology, diesel technology, or auto collision repair and refinishing).
Award Amount
$1,000
Application Deadline
February 1
Renewable
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
Yes
Application URL
3.Governor's Best and Brightest" Scholarship ...
Type : Scholarship
Criteria:
Students must be residents of Montana who have been accepted to an eligible institution of higher learning in the state. Students must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0, SAT score of 20 or higher or SAT score of 1440 and be enrolled in a certificate, associate or bachelor's degree program.
Award Amount
N/A
Application Deadline
March 15
Renewable
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
4.Montana University System Honor Scholarship
Type : Scholarship
Criteria:
Applicants must have a 3.4 or higher GPA, meet specific college preparatory requirements and have been enrolled in an accredited Montana high school for at least three years prior to graduation, including their senior year. Applicants must also be accepted to and attend a Montana public university or community college.
Award Amount
N/A
Application Deadline
March 15
Renewable
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL

Student Loans in Montana

Montana does not offer any state-based loans to students, as the state prefers to focus on the Reach Higher Montana Scholarship programs. Students seeking financial aid assistance are encouraged to first exhaust scholarship and grant aid to help cover their cost of tuition, as these awards do not need to be repaid. However, if you are still in need of financial assistance for your college tuition and expenses, you may apply for federal and private loans to help bridge the gap. To qualify for federal loans, you will need to provide information about your family's financial situation by filling out the FAFSA.

Read more about how student loans work in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Montana

  • 10 Steps to Financial Aid offers a detailed list for Montana students to follow on their journey toward funding their education.

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Montana

Montana is part of the well-known Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), which grants in-state tuition to students hailing from member states. Before you think you can't afford the tuition, be sure to check if your state is a member -- this even includes American territories such as Guam.

In addition, the Montana University System (MUS), which is comprised of 16 public universities and colleges and enrolls more than 44,000 students, maintains a handy website where out-of-state students as well as Montana residents can calculate their tuition costs. The results are broken down by universities, and there's even a link to scholarships.

For the fall semester of 2017, the state's flagship public university, the University of Montana at Missoula, enrolled 9,125 undergraduate resident students, 993 WUE students and 4,607 non-resident students, who enjoy both the academics and the great outdoors in Missoula (skiing, anyone?). Be sure to have a chat with your admissions counselor if you are planning to head to Montana for your college experience.

 
Article Sources
Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:

  • Level of institution is either "Four or more years" or "At least 2 but less than 4 years"
  • Data is reported for all 11 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
  • At least 1% of students are taking at least some of the classes via distance education
  • "Number of programs offered via distance education" was an integer greater than 0

We ranked the resulting 1,813 colleges on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from IPEDS:

  1. Number of programs offered via distance education
  2. Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  5. Graduation rate
  6. Retention rate
  7. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
  8. Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
  9. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  10. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  11. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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