Known as the “Big Sky Country,” Montana seems to offer endless possibilities when it comes to higher education.
The state boasts a number of exceptional schools, including its two largest, Montana State University and the University of Montana. Additionally, Carroll College and Montana Tech are ranked highly by US News and World Reports.
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The top notch schools offer a variety of online learning opportunities, as well as some of the lowest tuition rates in the country, making Montana an excellent place to pursue a postsecondary degree.
Overview of Higher Education in Montana
Despite its large land area, Montana is only home to 23 degree-granting institutions, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
Of these, 17 are public schools, 5 are non-profit private schools and 1 is a for-profit private school. According to the NCES, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at one of Montana’s 4-year public institutions is $6972, well below the national average. Even non-residents also pay low tuition rates, at approximately $24,481.
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Students in the western portion of the US may get even deeper discounts, thanks to Montana’s partnership with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE’s Student Exchange Program allows students to enroll in degree programs at any of the 16 participating states and territories for no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate.
Montanans also benefit from the Montana University System (MUS), a conglomerate of 16 of the state’s public colleges and universities. MUS enrolls more than 40,000 students each semester, and their website serves as a valuable resource for information regarding college preparation, financial aid, enrollment, credit transfers, online distance education and more.
About Online Colleges in Montana
A 2018 study by the NCES reported that 8.8% of undergraduate students in Montana were enrolled in fully online degree programs, and another 16.3% were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus classes. Those numbers continue to rise as more schools improve their online course offerings. Today, all of the schools in the MUS provide online courses and/or degree programs.
At Montana State University – Northern, students can choose from 8 fully online undergraduate degrees in fields such as nursing, business administration and criminal justice. Montana State University in Billings offers a number of online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs, with an emphasis on business, communications and health.
For those interested in earning an Associate’s Degree online, Great Falls College may be a good fit. They have online college degree programs available in the accounting, healthcare, and technology fields.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Montana
If you’re thinking about pursuing a postsecondary degree in Montana, the first thing you need to do is complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA gives you access to financial aid for college.
FAFSA funds are awarded on a first come, first served basis, so it’s important to apply as early as possible. The application is made available on October 1st every year. To complete the FAFSA, you will need to provide information about income, assets, taxes and so on, for both you and your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). This information will be used to determine how much and what type of financial aid you qualify for.
The best types of financial aid are grants and scholarships, because they do not have to be repaid. Students who enroll at schools in the Montana University System may be eligible for a number of generous scholarships, including:
- MUS Honor Scholarship
- Montana’s STEM Scholarship
- Montana Access Scholarships
- MUS PASS Grants
- 2 + 2 Honor Scholarship
- Work Study
Additionally, full tuition waivers are available for American Indians, National Guard, War Orphans and others. Montana students can also apply for private scholarships, which may be awarded to students based on academic or athletic achievements, financial need, intended career path or even peculiar hobbies or interests.
Here are some scholarships available to students in Montana:
|Scholarship Name||Scholarship amount|
|Horatio Alger Montana Undergraduate Scholarship||Varies|
|Korean American Scholarship||$500-$5000|
|National Garden Clubs Scholarship||$4000|
|Reach Higher Montana Scholarships||$1000 (75+)|
|Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Technical School Scholarship||8: $5500 (8) Engineering Scholarships ($2750 for 2 years)
8: $1000 Technical Scholarships (1-time)
|Stephen T. Marchello Scholarship||Up to $10,000|
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Further assistance may be available through the college(s) you’re interested in. Check with the financial aid office to see about aid programs exclusive to the school.
List of Online Colleges in Montana
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Montana State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Montana State University Billings is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Montana State University-Northern is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Montana Tech of The University of Montana is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Montana is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Montana Western is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Providence is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
If you’re thinking about pursuing a college degree in Montana, you won’t be disappointed. With top-notch schools, most of which offer online learning opportunities, and some of the lowest tuition costs in the country, you can’t go wrong!