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 colleges 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. FIND PROGRAMS
Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.
Best Online Colleges in Montana 2020
To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:
Accredited at the institutional level
Private nonprofit or public school
Minimum of 1 bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area for 4-year schools
Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools
Schools were then scored on factors such as:
Cost & Financial Aid
Number and variety of program offerings
Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
Placement and support services offered
Academic/Career counseling services
Loan default rates
These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or “bang for your buck” of a college or degree program.
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.
The University of Montana in Missoula is a public research institution offering online degrees, certificates, and professional development courses. UM features strong education and public health programs, with master's degrees available in curriculum studies, educational leadership, public administration and public health. Unlike many online programs, you can also find undergraduate and graduate degrees focused on digital media, visual art, and music at UM. All of these degrees can be completed entirely online. Applicants should have an ACT composite score of 22, an SAT combined score of 1120, or a 2.5 cumulative GPA.
Established in 1893, MSU is the largest university in Montana. Here you can take online synchronous courses, and proceed with your classmates through regular assignments, readings, and due dates, using the Brightspace platform. MSU also specializes in some nontraditional areas not found at every college or university. Closely tied with the geography and culture of Montana, you can earn degrees in agricultural education and land resources and environmental sciences or a graduate certificate in Native American studies. Competitive applicants have a 2.5 cumulative GPA or higher or rank in the upper half of their high school graduating class.
The University of Providence is a private Roman Catholic university in Great Falls, Montana. Depending on the course, you can attend live lectures through the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra program or log into your distance learning account to access course content on your own time. At UP, you can earn associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees in a variety of valuable programs such as accounting, addictions counseling, and criminal justice. UP also specializes in online healthcare programs and offers advanced degrees in areas such as healthcare administration, nursing education, infection prevention and epidemiology, as well as an RN-BSN nursing program. While a couple of the healthcare tracks require some in-person supervised training, you can earn most degrees entirely online. You can complete a master's degree at UP in as few as 16 months. Bachelor's degrees can take up to four years to complete. For incoming students, up to 30 transfer credits can be accepted toward the core bachelor's curriculum.
Montana State University-Billings offers online master's, bachelor's, and associate degrees, as well as online certificates. This state university features a specialization in business administration, management, and communications degrees. Within these major options, degree seekers can choose such concentrations as accounting, marketing, public relations, or mass communication. Depending on the course, classes are either synchronous or asynchronous and are entirely online. Prospective students should contact an MSU academic advisor to discuss possible credit transfer for previous courses from accredited institutions or credit for work experience.
Located in Havre, Montana State University-Northern is a public state university established in 1929. This school offers nine programs entirely online, including general education, nursing, criminal justice, and business technology. Of the online programs, four majors are business-centric and prepare students for successful careers or develop specializations in entrepreneurship, international business, and small business management. Courses are synchronous and require you to complete assignments on time and engage in scheduled online class discussion. Transfer students can often receive credit for courses completed at accredited institutions or prior learning experiences such as work experience, employer training programs, and military service.
How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I’m Looking for in Montana?
Students can research online colleges in Montana by reviewing the online programs section of prospective schools. Students can also search for online education programs in the Montana University System. The following resource provides more information about universities in Montana.
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.
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.
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.
Required Travel: 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.
Technology Costs: 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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Montana Community Foundation: This foundation offers scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 for Montana students. The website includes a scholarship toolkit and information on scholarship criteria by county.
MontanaColleges.com: This website features a collection of online college profiles in Montana, a guidebook to higher education, and information about college fairs in the state.
Dollars & Sense: This guide provides information on how to pay for college and financial aid opportunities for online students in Montana.
Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.
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