With a state motto of “oro y plata,” (Spanish for gold and silver), and the official nickname “The Treasure State,” Montana offers many educational opportunities along with its agricultural, mining and scenic enterprises. Montana is home to an expansive higher education system consisting of universities, Native American tribal colleges, private colleges and online education. These institutions include six public four-year universities, 13 public community colleges, and a number of non-profit and for-profit private colleges and technical schools.

Although it is the nation’s fourth largest state in area, Montana ranks 44th in total number of residents. With so much territory and such a relatively light population, Montana is perfectly suited to take full advantage of the benefits offered by virtual education. The online schools in Montana are leading the way in the development of distance learning, with all six public universities and five two-year community colleges offering online degree and course options. A small number of private institutions, such as Rocky Mountain College and the University of Great Falls, have also developed a substantial online presence.

Online Schools in Montana

Each semester, a number of Montana University System institutions offer over 700 courses and nearly 100 degree and certificate programs, including online options for all general education requirements. Many bachelor’s, master’s and graduate certificate programs are also available online, including Graduate Certificates for Native American Studies and Addiction Counseling. The Montana University System also emphasizes its online education and professional development for teachers, offering master’s degrees in science education and math education, as well as graduate certificates in the teaching of science.

Private and tribal institutions also offer distance learning options. The University of Great Falls, for example, utilizes Microsoft Lync and the course management system Moodle to offer online courses and degrees. The tribal college Salish Kootenai also has a number of online learning options.

The University of Montana System

The University of Montana is comprised of seven campuses, including Missoula College University of Montana, University of Montana – Missoula and University of Montana Western. Its programs for creative writing, organismal biology and ecology, and wildlife biology were named Programs of National Distinction. The University of Montana’s creative writing program is among the oldest and most prestigious in the United States. Beyond these three programs, the University of Montana and its affiliated institutions offer many other degree and certification programs, with an emphasis on research, hands-on learning and traditional academics.

The University of Montana Western offers a unique program called Experience One, which is the only program in the country that allows students to take one course at a time. It utilizes a block schedule in which students complete three hours of the class for 18 days before moving on to the next course. This structure helps students fully immerse themselves in the subject and better retain what they learn.

The Montana State University System

The Montana State University system consists of six institutions, including Montana State University – Bozeman, Montana State University – Billings, and Great Falls College Montana State University. MSU is classified as a top tier U.S. research university by the Carnegie Association for the Advancement of Teaching. The majority of the research grants given to Montana State University are for agriculture, chemistry, microbiology, physics and engineering. The school is acclaimed for its programs in history, architecture, theater and art, and Native American studies.

Community Colleges in Montana

Montana has three community colleges as part of its higher education system: Dawson Community College, Flathead Valley Community College and Mile Community College.

Private Colleges in Montana

There are three private colleges in Montana: Carroll College, University of Great Falls and Rocky Mountain College.

Tribal Colleges in Montana

Native Americans account for six percent of the Montana population. Its State Constitution is the only one to require schools to teach Native American history and culture. The state has seven tribal colleges. Each is a Land Grant Institution, and is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

There are various arrangements made between the tribal colleges and the state’s public and private universities. It is estimated that 50 percent of Native Americans currently enrolled in the Montana University System and private institutions began their education in a tribal college before transferring to a college within the Montana University System. Below is a list of the seven tribal colleges in Montana:

  • Aaniih Nakoda College (formerly Fort Belknap College), located in Browning
  • Blackfeet Community College, located in Lame Deer
  • Chief Dull Knife College, located in Harlem
  • Fort Peck Community College, located in Poplar
  • Little Big Horn College, located in Crow Agency
  • Salish Kootenai College, located in Pablo
  • Stone Child College, located in Box Elder

Montana Online School and Program Spotlights

University of Montana (UMOnline)

One of the largest online schools in Montana is the University of Montana. This college offers over 220 distance learning courses through UMOnline, as well as associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and professional certificates and endorsements. Distance students can enroll in a two-year associate applied science degree in energy technology, a bachelor’s of arts in integrated digital media, or master’s degree programs in public health, music education, public administration and educational leadership. Online certificate programs prepare working adults to advance in the fields of customer relations, forensic studies, network and information security, public health and non-profit administration.

UMOnline courses are delivered through the Moodle course management system. Students have access to numerous support services designed for effective online learning.

For more information and a list of current online programs and courses, visit http://umonline.umt.edu/default.php.

Montana State University

Montana State University offers degree programs, professional certificates and continuing education courses through its Extended University. MSU is a member of the National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN), one of the longest established networks of online graduate science courses. Web-based courses run in fall, spring and summer semesters.

The Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program is designed for students with two years of previous college credit who want to complete a four-year degree online. Nine graduate degree programs are offered in disciplines such as agricultural education, education curriculum and instruction, financial planning, mathematics education, nursing, engineering and science education. Professionals can earn online graduate certificates in addiction counseling, architecture, nursing education, science and engineering management, and Native American studies.

As with other online schools in Montana and across the nation, some virtual courses require test proctoring, where exams are taken in the presence of an approved proctor. Students near the main campus may have the option to complete exams at the Online Test Proctoring Center.

Visit http://eu.montana.edu/online/ to read more about online education at Montana State University.

Montana State University – Billings (MSUB Online)

Montana State University’s distance learning portal, MSUB Online, provides extensive access to classes, degree and certificate programs, and other features that allow students to meet their academic goals at their own pace and location. There are currently over 240 classes, as well as five associate degree, eight bachelor’s degree, six master’s degree and five certificate programs available through MSUB Online. Prominent courses of study include business, communications and health administration.

One of the more unique online schools in Montana, MSUB Online offers a program called Health Career Pathways, a 2+2 online degree completion program that prepares graduates for leadership positions in a number of health-related fields, such as health care administration, emergency medical services management and radiology technology. Health Career Pathways allows individuals who have previously earned an associate degree or radiology certificate to complete an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree within two years via distance learning.

For more information regarding the MSUB Online department at Montana State University – Billings, visit http://www.msubillings.edu/msubonline/.

University of Great Falls

The University of Great Falls is a private, non-profit Roman Catholic university located in central western Montana. UGF currently offers two associate degrees, three bachelor’s degrees and a Master in Science of Organizational Management degree via distance learning. UGF also offers its Army Paralegal Program online. In addition, a number of other associate, bachelor’s and graduate degree programs can be completed through a combination of online and weekend campus (or one semester on-campus) coursework.

UGF uses two methods for delivery of distance learning programs. Microsoft Lync is used for attending regularly scheduled live classes and discussion sessions. The Lync “virtual classroom” allows students to participate in multi-point video conferencing with the course instructor and fellow students. Moodle, a common platform for online schools in Montana, enables students to participate in classes and manage coursework at their own convenience.

For detailed information regarding UGF’s online classes and programs, visit their distance learning site at http://www.ugf.edu/Academics/DistanceLearning/tabid/81/Default.aspx#degrees


Best Online Schools in Montana for Future Service Members

Despite the wide expanses of Montana, the state is home to plenty of excellent post-secondary schools. Prospective students interested in the benefits of ROTC will find exceptional programs. Undergraduate and graduate students have access to the Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC across Montana. Below is a compilation of the best four-year, non-profit universities that also boast at least two ROTC programs.

Tuition City ROTC - Army ROTC - Navy ROTC - Air Force
Montana State University$5,330 Bozeman Yes No Yes

Best Online Schools in Montana for Student-Teacher Ratio

From the badlands to the lush forested western part of the state, Montana is home to excellent schools offering post-secondary degrees. Many students prefer the personal attention of small, intimate classes. The colleges and universities listed below offer an exceptional college experience. Although there may be more than 5,000 students at these top-notch schools, each offers average class sizes of fewer than 20 pupils per professor.

The University of Montana 20 to 1 15,487$4,603 Public Missoula
Montana State University Billings 19 to 1 5,736$4,397 Public Billings
Montana State University 17 to 1 13,653$5,330 Public Bozeman
The University of Montana-Western 16 to 1 1,995$3,699 Public Dillon
Montana State University-Northern 15 to 1 1,618$3,953 Public Havre
Carroll College 13 to 1 1,511$26,004 Private not-for-profit Helena
Rocky Mountain College 12 to 1 1,021$22,442 Private not-for-profit Billings
University of Great Falls 12 to 1 1,183$19,188 Private not-for-profit Great Falls
Montana Tech of the University of Montana 12 to 1 2,238$5,177 Public Butte
Salish Kootenai College 9 to 1 1,458$5,076 Private not-for-profit Pablo

Best Online Schools in Montana for Women in Technology

Technology is the field of the future, and colleges in Montana are ensuring that women have a place in the job market. Though technology is an area typically dominated by men, some online schools in Montana have developed programs and services designed to promote positive, welcoming learning environments for women, from female-only residence halls to mentorship programs. These Montana colleges are empowering women to succeed in the field of technology.

Montana State University$6,705 Bozeman 81 10,575 Public
Montana Tech of the University of Montana$6,435 Butte 46 1,831 Public
The University of Montana$5,985 Missoula 10 11,949 Public
Montana State University-Northern$5,480 Havre 5 931 Public

Best Online Schools in Montana for Family Matters

There are several online schools in Montana for those who want to work with others in the rewarding career of social work. Whether a student dreams of working in a clinical setting, hospital or school, social work requires dedication and empathy, which are the focuses of Montana’s quality programs. With numerous specialized concentrations and top national rankings, Montana is a preferred locale to earn a social work degree that will lead to a rewarding career. Our list below details these exceptional programs in the state.

The University of Montana Missoula 158 101 57 $5,985 11,949
Montana State University Bozeman 30 20 10 $6,705 10,575
Montana State University Billings Billings 8 5 3 $5,711 3,660
Carroll College Helena 6 2 4 $26,554 1,330
University of Great Falls Great Falls 5 3 2 $20,288 700