- 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
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- 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
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- 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
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- Online Courses, Flathead Valley Community College, https://cams1.fvcc.edu/Schedules/sp16/cam.asp
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- Online Programs, Dawson Community College, https://www.dawson.edu/academics/online/
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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.
Montana State University-Billings
The University of Montana-Western
Great Falls College Montana State University
The University of Montana
Montana State University-Northern
Montana Tech of the University of Montana
Montana State University
Helena College - University of Montana
Miles Community College
University of Great Falls
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 NAME TUITION & FEES/YEARTuition 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 PARTICIPATIONDistance 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 OFFEREDNumber 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 $3,229 38% 1 helenacollege.edu Great Falls College Montana State University $3,255 60% 15 gfcmsu.edu Highlands College of Montana Tech $3,351 20% 1 mtech.edu Dawson Community College $5,250 42% 4 dawson.edu Miles Community College $5,415 53% 1 milescc.edu COLLEGE NAME TUITION & FEES/YEARTuition 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 PARTICIPATIONDistance 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 OFFEREDNumber 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 $5,502 24% 4 w.umwestern.edu Montana State University-Billings $5,833 56% 17 msubillings.edu Montana State University-Northern $5,861 51% 7 msun.edu The University of Montana $7,063 21% 12 umt.edu Montana State University $7,079 10% 9 montana.edu
Financial Aid Resources in Montana
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.
Featured Cities In Montana
Data sourced from the 2015 American Community Survey (census.gov).
Many people come to Montana to enjoy the fishing, hunting, biking and hiking, but Billings also offers Pictograph Cave State Park, the Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market and shows at the Alberta Bair Theatre.
Missoula, MT Metro Area
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Located on the Clark River, Missoula makes a great destination for those who enjoy water sports. Its long, cold winters also make it a mecca for those who enjoy snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and sleigh rides. Downhill skiing is just a short drive away at Snowbowl, which is minutes from downtown.
Great Falls, MT Metro Area
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Great Falls is close to almost any type of outdoor recreation you can imagine. In the summer, Giant Springs State Park is a big attraction, as is Rainbow Falls and the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge. In the winter, many residents and visitors head to Showdown Ski area for some downhill runs on that light Montana powder.
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:
- Number of programs offered via distance education
- Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
- Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
- Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
- Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- 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.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/