Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]

Updated November 2, 2022

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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

  • Missoula, MT
  • 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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,352
Out-of-state
$24,144
Retention Rate
71%
Admission Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
10,487
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#2 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]

Montana State University

  • Bozeman, MT
  • 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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,654
Out-of-state
$23,890
Retention Rate
77%
Admission Rate
82%
Students Enrolled
16,692
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,752
Out-of-state
$9,644
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,218
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#4 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]

Montana State University Billings

  • Billings, MT
  • 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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,485
Out-of-state
$17,678
Retention Rate
62%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,416
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#5 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana [2022 Guide]

Montana State University-Northern

  • Havre, MT
  • 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.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,496
Out-of-state
$17,096
Retention Rate
55%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,073
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

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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.

Salary Comparison by Degree
Less Than a High School Diploma High School Diploma Associate Degree Bachelor's Degree Master's Degree Doctoral Degree
$28,756 $37,960 $44,824 $62,296 $74,568 $94,900

Source: BLS

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.

Public College Tuition Comparison
In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition National Average
$6,783 $23,678 $9,037 (In-State); $25,657 (Out-of-State)
Private College Tuition Comparison
TuitionOut-of-State TuitionNational Average
$24,953N/A$30,731

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.

  • 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.

Amount: Varies

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.

Amount: Varies

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.

Amount: Varies

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.

Amount: Varies

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.

Amount: Varies

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.

Amount: Varies

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.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

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

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.

Students can search for programs and courses in the Montana University System through this resource. The website also offers online education news, data, and reports. 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. This website features a collection of online college profiles in Montana, a guidebook to higher education, and information about college fairs in the state. This guide provides information on how to pay for college and financial aid opportunities for online students in Montana. This nonprofit organization offers student loan funding for Montana learners. The group reduces the cost of education by providing many borrower benefits.

Popular Resources

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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AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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