Best Online Colleges in Montana

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Montana is one of 14 member states belonging to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), an organization dedicated to sharing resources among the higher education systems in the western United States. WICHE’s student exchange program gives learners at all levels — undergraduate, graduate, and professional — the ability to request reduced tuition rates at participating college programs outside their home states. WICHE estimates Montana families saved nearly $8 million in the most recent academic year by enrolling through these interstate exchange programs. Several institutions even offer complete online degrees at the tuition reduced rates.

Students also benefit from the state’s higher education consortium, established by the Montana Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD). The consortium encourages the exchange of ideas and professional development through the state’s teacher training and educational leadership programs, with a goal to create a more seamless education system within the state. A total of 15 colleges and universities are represented in the consortium.

Research from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana-Missoula supports the efficiency of online learning when earning a college degree. Online colleges in Montana offer students the flexibility to learn at their own pace, on their own schedule, and without the need to commute or live on campus.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1University of Montana 2/548.23%Missoula, MT

UM offers a range of undergraduate degree and certification programs, including:

  • B.A., Media Arts
  • A.A.S., Energy Tech
  • Customer Relations Certification
  • Forensic Studies Certificate
  • Network and Information Security Certificate

Montana also offers master's degrees in curriculum studies, educational leadership, music education, public administration, and public health.

Montana focuses its distance education efforts on providing continuous learning opportunities, and specifically designs its online programs to be flexible and compatible with the schedules of busy working professionals.

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2University of Great Falls 4/539.09%Great Falls, MT

Great Falls offers online bachelor’s degrees are available in addictions counseling, criminal justice, legal and paralegal studies, psychology, sociology, and theology and ministry. The school also offers a master’s degree in organizational management.

The school is committed to innovation in online education. Students use Microsoft Lync to participate in interactive discussion sessions and Moodle to consume lectures, engage with classmates, and view course materials.

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3Montana State University – Billings 2/523.84%Billings, MT

MSU-Billings is known for its expansive distance education course offerings; students across a range of programs can enroll in over 240 online classes.

MSU-Billings also offers a number of programs online. Online bachelor’s degrees include:

  • Business Administration
  • Communication – Organizational
  • Communication – Mass
  • Health Administration
  • Applied Science

The school also offers the following online master’s programs:

  • Educational Technology
  • Health Administration
  • Public Relations
  • Special Education Generalist

MSU-Billings is renowned for its flexibility and accessibility. Courses are taught asynchronously, which is convenient for distance learners who are enrolled in school while working full time.

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4Montana State University – Northern 2/526.13%Havre, MT

MSU-Northern is located in Havre, but you can learn remotely through the school’s Desire2Learn platform. Students can earn associate degrees in general education or business. Bachelor’s degrees are available online in nursing, business administration, and criminal justice.

The school also offers a master’s of education degree in instruction and learning. The school’s innovative approach to online education includes flexible coursework options and virtual classrooms, where distance learners can communicate in real time with others in class.

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More About Online Colleges in Montana

For many students living in remote quarters of the state, attending a traditional, brick-and-mortar campus is simply not a viable option. Montana institutions offering online learning have created programs with this in mind. In 2012, 3,410 Montana students completed their education entirely through distance learning. Programs are known for offering not only accredited degrees, but also an extensive range of support services to ensure students get the most out of distance education. Prospective students concerned about financing their education should note that the average in-state tuition for Montana from 2012-2013 was $6,267, which was below the national average of $8,070. The state of Montana currently allocates $226,961,354 to public postsecondary education.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Montana for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics:

  • Nearly 5% of degree-seeking students completed their degrees exclusively online.
  • Over 15% took at least one online course.
  • Of non-degree seeking learners, 10.9% completed their coursework entirely online, while an additional
  • 3% took an online class as part of their coursework.