Accredited Degree Programs, Scholarships and Resources for Top Schools
Montana is home to an expansive online education system, including six public four-year universities, 13 public community colleges, tribal schools and a number of private colhleges and technical schools. Montana also offers some online courses for students at the primary level in grades K-12. Six public universities and five two-year community colleges in Montana offer online degree and course options. A small number of private institutions, including Rocky Mountain College and the University of Great Falls, also offer online studies. For those in grades K-12, the Montana Digital Academy offers single courses and district programs. However, there are currently no fully-online schools in the state at the K-12 level.
Best Online Colleges in Montana
Montana has cheaper tuition than many other states. In-state college students in Montana pay an average of $6,783 per year in tuition, which is significantly less than the national average of $9,037. Students can find online courses and degrees at many of Montana's 16 public and two private colleges and universities.
This guide covers important information for students considering online schools and colleges in Montana, including financial aid opportunities, programs for nontraditional students, and resources for online learners.
#1 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]
The University of Montana
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
With programs in various fields, the University of Montana's online degrees help enrollees gain the education they need to succeed in many professional roles. The 3,057 learners who study online receive the same high-quality education as the school's on-campus students. The institution's flexible remote programs make higher education more accessible for busy degree-seekers.
Enrollees connect with classmates and faculty members through a virtual classroom environment. Internship opportunities allow degree-seekers to practice field-specific skills while bolstering their resume. Learners can access academic advising to ensure they remain on track to graduate. Career resources include job fairs, career workshops, and resume assistance, which help degree-seekers prepare to secure a position in their field.
Technology fees typically cover the cost of online learning platforms. Applicants should speak with an admissions counselor to determine exact costs. To minimize student debt, enrollees should apply for any funding for which they are eligible, including federal aid, scholarships, and institutional awards.
#2 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]
Montana State University
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Montana State University offers online programs of premier quality. Along with educating enrollees at its Bozeman-based campus, the school offers 16 distance programs for its 2,127 online enrollees. Busy learners who need flexible scheduling options can choose asynchronous online programs to complete coursework around other obligations.
Online enrollees can connect with peers and professors through forums and email. Learners can pursue internships and complete research projects to develop field-specific skills and enhance their resume. Institutional resources, such as job boards and the alumni network, can help degree-seekers locate job opportunities after graduation. Mock interviews allow students to practice their interpersonal skills and improve their chance of landing a job after graduation.
Financial aid counselors help applicants understand their funding options and more easily afford higher education. Enrollees can apply for scholarships based on field of study or personal background. Of the school's students, 85% receive financial aid.
#3 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]
Great Falls College Montana State University
Great Falls, MT
- 2 years
- Online + Campus
Students attending Great Falls College Montana State University can choose from online and in-person academic programs. While many degree-seekers enroll in the public school's six online programs, others study on campus in Great Falls. Online resources such as tutoring and library access help the institution's 755 online learners succeed academically.
The online learning platform allows enrollees to communicate with peers and instructors, receiving assistance and developing professional connections. Although requirements vary by program, online students complete general education coursework and advanced classes in their field. Degree-seekers consult with academic advisors to choose electives that align with their academic and professional goals. Experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, help enrollees practice working in a professional environment.
While program costs vary, applicants can contact the financial aid office for information about specific fees and expenses. In addition to institutional funding, students may receive awards from third-party organizations or the federal government.
#4 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]
Montana State University Billings
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Among Montana State University Billings's academic offerings are excellent online programs that allow students to earn their degree remotely. Degree-seekers throughout the country can pursue the public school's 19 online programs. Distance learners benefit from a supportive online community and academic resources.
The online learning platform allows enrollees to communicate with peers and instructors, receiving assistance and developing professional connections. Online programs feature advanced coursework, during which learners gain the specific skills necessary for their profession. Academic advisors help students customize their program based on their goals, while ensuring they remain on track to graduate. Enrollees can also collaborate with faculty members on research projects and independently pursue internships and other experiential learning opportunities relevant to their studies.
The financial aid office provides information about degree costs and funding options to help applicants create a budget. Students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for federal grants, scholarships, or work-study programs.
#5 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]
Montana State University-Northern
- 4 years
- Online + Campus
Montana State University-Northern's online offerings deliver exceptional academic quality and increased scheduling flexibility. Located in Havre, the school's academic options include in-person programs and six online programs. The institution enrolls 631 online degree-seekers.
Students can access support and resources through the online learning community. Tools such as videoconferencing and discussion boards allow participants to communicate with peers. Learners interested in completing internships can pursue opportunities with businesses and organizations near their home. To assist degree candidates, the institution delivers resources including academic advising in a virtual format. Career services include career workshops, mock interviews, and resume assistance.
Students can pursue financial aid to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Learners can contact the school's financial aid office for information about scholarships and fellowships. According to the institution's statistics, 88% of enrollees benefit from financial aid of some type.
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How Much More Do College Grads in Montana Make?
On average, college graduates in the U.S. earn more than individuals without a college degree. In Montana, university graduates earn above-median wages within three years of graduation. As the following table illustrates, higher levels of education typically correlate with higher salaries.
|Less Than a High School Diploma||High School Diploma||Associate Degree||Bachelor's Degree||Master's Degree||Doctoral Degree|
Paying for Online College in Montana: Tuition and Financial Aid
Montana students pay lower-than-average tuition rates at public and private postsecondary institutions. The following tables compare the cost of in-state, out-of-state, and private school tuition in Montana with national averages. Montana colleges charge less for tuition across the board, making the state an affordable option for online students.
|In-State Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||National Average|
|$6,783||$23,678||$9,037 (In-State); $25,657 (Out-of-State)|
|Tuition||Out-of-State Tuition||National Average|
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Cost Considerations for Online Students in Montana
When weighing the costs of their education, students should consider expenses beyond tuition, such as travel and technology fees. We cover several cost considerations for online students below.
Some online programs require students to attend one or more in-person sessions on campus. Tuition rates do not cover the costs of traveling to campus.
Cost Differences for Specific Online Programs
Students may encounter price differences for online programs at the same school. For example, professional degrees like nursing and engineering often cost more than many other programs.
Online students may need to pay technology expenses, such as laptop, internet, software, and electronic textbook fees.
Summer Tuition Rates
Some schools charge less for summer sessions than for other sessions throughout the year.
Tuition Agreements for Out-of-State Students in Online Programs
Some online programs allow out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live.
Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Montana
Out-of-state students often pay significantly more in tuition than in-state learners in Montana. Qualifying for in-state tuition in Montana can save students more than $16,000 each year. Learners qualify for in-state tuition by living in Montana for 12 consecutive months. They must submit proof of residency, such as a Montana vehicle registration, driver's license, or voter registration card. Montana State University outlines residency requirements.
Out-of-state students who live in some states near Montana may qualify for tuition reductions through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). WUE students save an average of $9,400 each year.
Paying for College in Montana: Scholarships and Financial Aid
Scholarships for Montana College Students
Glacier Bancorp Inc. Mick Blodnick Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be employees or the children of employees at Glacier Bank Corporation. Students also need a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Alan and Janetta Blackburn Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be high school seniors or graduates of Montana high schools with a minimum 3.5 GPA and graduate within the top 20% of their class.
2 Plus 2 Honor Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Candidates must be Montana residents completing an associate degree from a Montana community college or two-year campus of the Montana University System. Applicants also need a minimum 3.4 GPA.
Amount: Undergraduate tuition (up to four semesters)
Montana Access Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Students must be Montana residents pursuing an undergraduate degree. They must demonstrate financial need, meet satisfactory academic progress, and qualify for the Pell Grant.
Amount: $500 per semester
Montana's STEM Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Montana high school students pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or healthcare at an eligible campus qualify for this opportunity. Applicants must meet several criteria, including holding a minimum 3.25 high school GPA.
Amount: Up to $6,000
Grants for Montana College Students
MUS PASS Grants
Who Can Apply: Students must be Montana residents pursuing an undergraduate degree at a qualifying campus with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants must demonstrate financial hardship caused by a significant unforeseen event, such as an illness, loss of a family member, or accident.
Amount: Up to $1,000
Western Undergraduate Exchange Awards
Who Can Apply: Nonresidents of eligible states and U.S. territories can apply to reduce their tuition for up to four years through this opportunity.
Montana National Guard Tuition Waiver
Who Can Apply: To qualify for this opportunity, students must be members of the Montana National Guard in good standing who do not already hold a bachelor's degree.
National Merit Semi-Finalist Award
Who Can Apply: Montana students who are National Merit semi-finalists receive a full tuition waiver if they attend a Montana University System campus within nine months of graduating high school.
American Indian Waiver
Who Can Apply: Students with one-quarter American Indian blood or those who are members of a recognized Indian tribe in Montana can apply for this tuition waiver. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.
The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Montana
As more colleges and universities offer online courses and degrees, assessing the quality of prospective schools and programs can prove challenging. Accreditation is a voluntary quality assurance process that colleges undergo to demonstrate that they meet education standards regarding faculty, curricula, academic support, and student learning.
Regional and National Accreditation
Postsecondary institutions can hold regional or national accreditation. Nonprofit, degree-granting institutions typically hold regional accreditation, while for-profit, technical and vocational schools hold national accreditation. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two.
Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Only learners at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only recognize and accept degrees and credits from regionally accredited schools. Additionally, many employers prefer candidates with an accredited degree.
Some programs within a school may also hold accreditation, such as engineering and library science programs. Subject-specific accrediting agencies vary by discipline. For instance, the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology accredits engineering programs, while the American Library Association accredits library science programs.
How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited
Schools and programs typically share their accreditation status on their websites, but students can also verify accreditation by searching the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's database. Students can search by institution, program, and accreditors.
Online College and Adult Education in Montana
Montana offers many online adult education programs to help nontraditional students advance their careers. We outline adult education programs and resources for Montana students below.
By the Numbers: Adult Education in Montana
Montana spent $1,419,247 on adult education initiatives in 2010.
Online programs can increase access to higher education, particularly for mid-career adults looking to expand their skills.
The flexibility of online, accelerated learning can increase the likelihood of adult learners completing credits.
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Journal of Labor Economics, 2018, EAB, 2019
Adult Education Programs for Montana Students
- Flathead Valley Community College Adult Education Program: This program helps adult learners complete the high school equivalency test, explore career and job options, and prepare for college and job training.
- English as a Second Language Courses: Montana State University - Billings offers English as a second language (ESL) courses to local residents. Classes cover grammar, reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
- Adult Basic Education Learning Center at Miles Community College: Adult students can take the high school equivalency test, request a GED transcript, and take ESL classes through this resource. They can also receive help with preparing for the high school equivalency test.
Online College Resources for Montana Students
Current and prospective online students in Montana can take advantage of many resources to support their studies. The following resources include information on financial aid opportunities, program availability, and education news for Montana students.