Online colleges in Montana offer a wide array of opportunities to students. Known as the “Big Sky Country,” Montana continues to increase its online presence in the educational world.
MT online programs and online courses can offer students the flexibility needed to complete their higher education goals.
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There are many top-notch schools in Montana that offer a variety of online learning opportunities, as well as some of the lowest tuition rates in the country. This makes Montana an excellent place to pursue a postsecondary degree for many students.
Online Colleges in Montana
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that nearly 13% of undergraduate students in Montana are enrolled in fully online degree programs. Another 23% are participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus classes.
Those numbers continue to rise as more schools improve their online course offerings. Today, nearly all of the schools in the state provide online courses or degree programs. Many colleges offer multiple fully online undergraduate degrees in fields such as nursing, business administration, and criminal justice.
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Some schools offer a number of online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs, with an emphasis on business, communications, and health. Many Montanna colleges have online college degree programs available in the accounting, healthcare, and technology fields too.
Common Online Degrees in Montana
You can choose from a range of popular majors while attending online colleges in MT. Here are five common online degrees and what they typically entail:
- Business Administration: This degree program teaches how to apply business concepts and theories in private, public, and nonprofit organizations. Many programs offer specializations in accounting, business technology, and small business management.
- Communication: This major explores how people share information with diverse audiences. Graduates can use this versatile degree to pursue careers in business, human resources, marketing, public relations, and other fields.
- Criminal Justice: This interdisciplinary field covers subjects like criminology, forensic psychology, law enforcement, and social work. Many graduates pursue careers in corrections facilities, courts, and government agencies.
- Nursing: This degree is often earned in preparation to work as a registered nurse in a healthcare facility. Common topics of study are anatomy and physiology, gerontology, microbiology, and nursing ethics.
- Public Relations: This major focuses on communication between organizations and the public. Common things learned in this program are how to craft speeches, manage social media accounts, and write press releases.
These popular degrees can help unlock career opportunities in many industries, which can lead to greater job flexibility for graduates.
Overview of Higher Education in Montana
Despite its large land area, Montana is only home to 23 degree-granting institutions, according to the NCES. Of these, 18 are public schools, 4 are non-profit private schools, and 1 is a for-profit private school.
According to the NCES, the average cost of tuition and fees at one of Montana’s 4 year public institutions for in-state students is $6,993, well below the national average. With average costs of $26,368 a year, even out-of-state students pay below the national rate.
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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 qualifying 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.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in Montana
Overall, Montana has a strong economy with many job opportunities for graduates with online degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Montana’s unemployment rate is around 2.5%. This rate is lower than the national average.
BLS data shows that the number of jobs for nonfarm workers in Montana recently increased by 3.2%. Jobs in the construction industry grew by 11.8%, and mining and logging jobs expanded by 6.7%.
Other industries that expanded include information (5.6% growth), manufacturing (5.5%), professional and business services (4.5%), and education and health services (4.2%). Graduates who pursue careers in these sectors may find more plentiful career opportunities than job seekers in other industries.
Careers & Salaries in Montana
Montana is home to many major industries that offer a range of professional opportunities. According to the Montana state government, these are five of the fastest-growing sectors:
- Healthcare and education
- Manufacturing, especially food, beverage, and wood products
- Leisure activities
- Financial activities
- Business services
Additionally, Montana has a thriving tourism industry. Many people travel to the state to see areas like Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
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Tourists also visit Montana’s ski resorts and other recreational areas. Graduates who want to work in high-demand industries could consider career paths in these growing sectors.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are 10 possible careers in Montana and their annual median salaries.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$103,330|
|Human Resources Managers||$101,150|
|Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers||$98,510|
|Personal Financial Advisors||$95,600|
|Power Plant Operators||$93,060|
|Public Relations Managers||$92,210|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||$89,940|
No online degree can guarantee a specific career or salary, but you may boost your chances of securing a desired position by earning an online degree in the field, networking, and participating in relevant internships.
How to Choose an MT Online College Program
There are many MT online colleges to apply to. These are a few things you may want to consider when deciding which program is right for you:
- Cost: Many students prioritize affordability when selecting a college. Online programs are often more affordable than traditional, in-person schools because you don’t need to pay for room and board, but online degree programs may have extra expenses, like distance learning fees. It’s beneficial to research each school’s costs before applying.
- Faculty-student ratio: The size of online classes can vary drastically between schools and degree programs. Typically, you can expect to receive more personalized support from your professors if you choose a school with small classes and a large faculty.
- Online course format: Colleges can deliver online courses in a variety of formats, including asynchronous, synchronous, and hybrid sessions. Each type of class has pros and cons. Asynchronous courses may offer more flexibility but less interaction with peers and professors. Synchronous classes may foster stronger classroom communities but have strict attendance requirements.
- Support services: Online colleges in MT often offer free or low-cost services to help students succeed. For instance, some schools have online academic advising, career guidance, counseling, and tutoring programs. These services can benefit you academically, personally, and professionally.
Your career goals and learning preferences can help you weigh these factors as you research Montana online degrees.
Montana Colleges Online Admissions Requirements
Every Montana college has unique admissions processes for prospective online students, but there is some overlap between programs. You may need to submit these common materials when you apply:
- ACT or SAT scores (only some schools require them)
- A personal statement describing your career goals, extracurricular activities, and personal interests
- A resume
- Transcripts from your high school and any post-secondary institutions where you’ve completed coursework
Also, you’ll likely need to complete an application form and pay a non-refundable application fee.
Online MT Colleges Accreditation
Regional accreditation is another essential factor to keep in mind as you research online colleges in MT. Higher education institutions must undergo a rigorous evaluation process to receive accreditation. Schools with this status have proven that they meet strict academic quality standards.
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If you enroll in an accredited program, it means you can receive an education that has been vetted for quality by an outside organization. Graduates who receive online degrees from accredited schools may receive preferential treatment from potential employers. Many financial aid opportunities require enrollment in an accredited school as well.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re thinking about applying to Montana online colleges, one of the first things you likely want to do is complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA can help you discover what state and federal financial aid you qualify for. It is also used to determine access to private forms of financial aid as well.
Grants and scholarships are often the most desired forms of aid because they do not have to be repaid as long as they are used appropriately. 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 qualifying American Indians, National Guard members, war orphans, and others.
You 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 qualifying students in Montana:
- Horatio Alger Montana Undergraduate Scholarship: Varies
- Korean American Scholarship: $500-$5,000
- National Garden Clubs Scholarship: $4,000
- Reach Higher Montana Scholarships: $1,000
- Stephen T. Marchello Scholarship: Up to $10,000
- Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Technical School Scholarships:
- General scholarship: $5,500
- Engineering scholarship: $2,750 for 2 years
- Technical scholarship: $1,000
Further assistance may be available through the college you’re interested in. You can check with the financial aid office of your chosen school to learn about aid programs exclusive to the school.
Montana Online Education Resources
Organizations in Montana offer several online education resources for future and current college students, including:
- Montana Community Foundation: This association awards thousands of scholarships to qualifying Montana students. You can visit their website to apply.
- Montana Colleges: This website offers a comprehensive catalog of Montana colleges and universities, along with a guidebook to help students prepare for college.
- Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation: This nonprofit organization has borrower benefit programs that can reduce the cost of student loans.
These free websites can help you learn about financial aid opportunities, online degree requirements, and specific Montana universities.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in Montana?
The cost to earn an online degree in Montana can vary depending on your chosen school and residency. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, here are the average undergraduate tuition expenses for several types of colleges in Montana:
- Public 4 year college for in-state students: $6,993
- Public 4 year college for out-of-state students: $26,368
- Private 4 year college: $32,064
- Public 2 year college for in-state students: $3,981
- Public 2 year college for out-of-state students: $9,038
Typically, out-of-state students pay more than in-state students.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
State reciprocity is an agreement that allows students from one state to attend college in another at reduced tuition rates. States often make these deals with their neighbors to give their residents more options to receive an affordable education.
Montana offers state reciprocity to certain students through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). This association includes 16 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
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The WUE allows a small number of students to enroll at schools in other member states at 150% of the in-state tuition rate, but this program has many limitations. For example, colleges can refuse to participate in the program or restrict WUE students to less popular majors.
Out-of-state students may also need to pay additional distance learning fees. It’s strategic to research state reciprocity rules thoroughly to ensure you qualify.
What Jobs Are in High Demand in Montana?
Many career paths are experiencing rapid growth in Montana. According to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, here are 5 jobs in high demand and their projected growth over the next decade:
- Carpenters: 6.10% job growth
- Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians: 5.77%
- Logging Equipment Operators: 5.58%
- Computer Hardware Engineers: 5.37%
- Biochemists and Biophysicists: 5.26%
Graduates who pursue careers in these areas may find plentiful job opportunities in the next few years.
What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in Montana?
Many Montana jobs can offer lucrative salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are some of the highest-paying jobs in Montana and their median annual salaries:
- Family Medicine Physicians: $208,000
- Dentists, All Other Specialists: $168,040
- Pharmacists: $129,130
- Industrial Production Managers: $127,710
- Marketing Managers: $117,500
Many of these careers require graduate degrees or several years of work experience, but people who want to earn high salaries may find these jobs financially rewarding and worth the time.
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 offers online degree programs in liberal arts, nursing, education, and more. They also offer numerous certificates that can be earned online. Many of the programs allow students to take some courses online and others on campus.
Most online courses at Montana State follow a traditional semesterly calendar.
Montana State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Montana State University—Billings offers online bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, communication, English, health administration, nursing, and more.
The programs are tailored for busy adult learners. Some courses include weekly chats or discussions, while others are asynchronous.
Montana State University Billings is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Montana State University—Northern allows students to study on their own time while earning a bachelor’s degree fully online. Areas of study offered include business technology, community leadership, business administration, nursing, trades management, and criminal justice.
The school’s online degree programs are designed to be academically the same as those on campus and are taught by the same instructors.
Montana State University-Northern is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Montana Technological University offers online degree programs in project engineering and management and industrial hygiene. Students can also choose an on-campus degree program and take select courses online.
Some of Montana Tech’s online courses include meetings via video conferencing, and others do not. Online students have access to tutoring and other support services.
Montana Technological University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Montana offers online bachelor’s degree programs in multidisciplinary studies, communicative sciences and disorders, public health, art, media arts, music, and more.
Online courses follow a traditional semester-based academic calendar, like those on campus. The school aims to provide a supportive, student-centered learning environment.
The University of Montana is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Montana—Western offers an online program in early childhood education. Students in this program can earn post-baccalaureate teacher certification or add endorsements if they are already teachers.
Online classes are 16 weeks long during the fall and spring semesters and 10 weeks long during the summer.
The University of Montana Western is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Online degree programs at the University of Providence are designed to provide the flexibility needed to fit school into busy schedules. Students can choose to attend live, virtual classes or simply study on their own time. Providence also has virtual trivia nights and other activities for online students.
Possible majors include nursing, healthcare administration, and criminal justice.
The University of Providence is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Getting Your Online Degree in Montana
If you’re thinking about pursuing a college degree in Montana, there are great options to pursue. The state has top-notch schools, most of which offer online learning opportunities, and some of the lowest tuition costs in the country.
To start your online educational journey, you can start researching accredited schools in the state of Montana that offer your chosen online degree program.