Community colleges offer several benefits to distance learners. They offer affordable per-credit tuition and provide the flexibility that working professionals need to earn their degree or certificate.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Montana had a 3.3% unemployment rate as of September 2019. This figure indicates full employment at a time when employers' need for workers exceeds the number of candidates actively looking for jobs. As a result, employers typically raise wages to attract both working professionals and recent college graduates searching for their first job.
Top 10 Community Colleges in Montana
- Chief Dull Knife College - Lame Deer, MT
- Blackfeet Community College - Browning, MT
- Miles Community College - Miles City, MT
- Dawson Community College - Glendive, MT
- Stone Child College - Box Elder, MT
- Fort Peck Community College - Poplar, MT
- Little Big Horn College - Crow Agency, MT
- Flathead Valley Community College - Kalispell, MT
- Helena College University of Montana - Helena, MT
- Great Falls College Montana State University - Great Falls, MT
Earning an associate degree from a community college in Montana can lead to more than just a new job. A higher salary can insulate you against inflation. Fortunately, Montana residents benefit from historically low inflation. However, a more stable job and higher salary can help you if inflation should rise in the future.
To start a career in Montana, you should research the state's largest employment sectors. As of mid-2017, office and administrative support, sales, healthcare, and education were four of the state's top 10 career fields. At a minimum, these careers require an associate degree, while managerial-level positions may require a bachelor's.
To help you find the best community college in Montana, we ranked the state's top 10 community colleges. These schools offer quality programs at an affordable cost. If you're looking to earn an associate degree and you want to study in Montana, be sure to give these schools a look.
2020 Best Accredited Community Colleges in Montana
Chief Dull Knife College
|Lame Deer, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Situated on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, CDKC educates approximately 300 students. Founded in 1975, this Montana community college offers academic programs that include associate degrees that transfer to the University of Montana. The college also delivers certificate programs that align with the region's employment needs (e.g., mining).
Student services at CDKC include academic advising, mental health counseling, transition counseling, and an early childhood learning center that provides low-cost childcare for faculty and degree-seekers. Although the college does not offer housing, counselors help students find suitable housing near campus.
CDKC accepts applications only through the mail. Prospective students can submit either a high school diploma or GED scores. Although CDKC does not award scholarships, the school links learners to popular scholarship websites, including those that allocate funding exclusively to Native American degree-seekers.
Blackfeet Community College
|Browning, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 7%||
From its Browning campus, BCC educates over 500 students, many of whom belong to the Blackfeet Nation. This Montana community college boasts membership in the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. BCC's six academic departments award associate degrees and certificates, with popular degrees including criminal justice and legal studies, hydrology, and early childhood education. BCC also offers academic programs in the Piikani language.
Academic enrichment services at BCC include the Federal TRIO Program, which offers academic support to first-generation and low-income college students. TRIO also provides technology support services and one-on-one counseling that helps students complete the FAFSA and research scholarship opportunities.
BCC awards scholarships to first-time degree-seekers who start a program within one year of graduating high school. These learners receive significant financial support. The college requires that scholarship recipients participate in summer science institutes, tutoring elementary school students in science topics. Finally, students ages 60 and over do not pay tuition or fees.
Miles Community College
|Miles City, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Programs at MCC include transfer and workforce-ready degrees. Transfer degrees satisfy the 30-credit general education curriculum the University of Montana requires for a bachelor's degree. Distance education students can select from nine entirely online programs, including an associate in general studies or a certificate in sales. Additionally, this Montana community college features five- and six-week certificate courses for working professionals.
Outside of class, learners can network by joining one of MCC's 10 student clubs and organizations. Degree-seekers with excellent grades qualify for membership in Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for students attending community colleges. Finally, Christian learners can grow spiritually with their fellow students by joining MCC's campus ministry.
Prospective degree-seekers can apply for the fall, spring, or summer semester. MCC strongly recommends that applicants submit ACT or SAT scores. All incoming students should apply for financial aid by the Feb. 1 deadline. Learners who do not qualify for scholarships can still participate in on-campus work-study opportunities.
Dawson Community College
|Glendive, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
From its Glendive campus, DCC offers both one-year certificates and two-year associate degrees. Students in transfer programs select a concentration; DCC offers over two dozen concentration options including chemistry, education, and pharmacy. Career and technical programs feature both degrees and certificates in areas such as equitation, private security, and welding technology.
DCC degree- and certificate-seekers can access tutoring resources at no additional charge. Students need only make an appointment to receive one-on-one support from a highly trained faculty member. Other student services at this Montana community college include counseling staff that help students identify and overcome challenges (e.g., homesickness, grief) that impede learning.
Recent high school graduates should submit SAT or ACT scores, although DCC prefers the ACT. In-district and in-state students pay the lowest tuition rate, while some North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming residents also qualify for reduced tuition. Degree-seekers interested in merit-based scholarships or need-based grants should apply by the Feb. 1 deadline.
Stone Child College
|Box Elder, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Since 1984, SCC has provided educational opportunities to residents living on and around the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation. This Montana college offers 18 associate degrees in five academic subjects and one bachelor's degree in elementary education. The college's certificate programs prepare the next generation of carpenters, engineers, and rural health experts, among other professionals.
On-campus student groups include student government, the Native American Student Association, and the American Indian Business Leaders Club. SCC also provides daycare services to learners with young children. The college uses Moodle to deliver online courses, and most programs allow degree-seekers to learn in a hybrid format.
SCC accepts new learners in the summer, fall, and spring semesters. Native American students submit a Certification of Indian Blood in addition to high school transcripts or GED scores. Tribal members with financial need or academic merit may qualify for a scholarship or grant. Other financial aid opportunities do not consider applicants' racial or cultural background.
Fort Peck Community College
|Poplar, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 8%||
Located in northwest Montana, FPCC serves Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation members as well as other in-state residents earning an associate degree or certificate. The university's certificates include options in diesel technology and truck driving. This Montana community college delivers AA and AS degrees that transfer to four-year schools and AAS degrees that teach in-demand vocational and technical skills.
FPCC engages with the local community by providing agricultural services to tribal members. The college also offers continuing education courses in diverse topics such as hazmat training and grant writing. Finally, FPCC provides tribal language courses free of charge and offers specialized software that allows users to type in the Dakota language.
Prospective students can apply for the fall or spring semester. Incoming learners interested in college-funded scholarships and grants need only submit one financial aid application. Financial aid advisors work closely with students to explore federal and private scholarship opportunities.
Little Big Horn College
|Crow Agency, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 2%||
Serving the Crow Indian Reservation since 1980, LBHC provides open enrollment to any applicant who submits a high school diploma or GED scores. Students planning to transfer to a four-year school can select from five AA programs and three AS degrees. Popular majors include Crow studies, liberal arts, and information systems. This Montana community college also offers seven certificates for in-demand areas such as agriculture and highway construction.
At LBHC, degree- and certificate-seekers benefit from valuable student services. The First-Year Experience Program focuses on academic success skills (e.g., note-taking and time-management skills). Also, learners can visit the Student Success Center to explore tutoring resources and research internship opportunities in the local community.
LBHC accepts new students in the spring, summer, and fall semesters. The Community Outreach Program recruits tribal members by hosting informational seminars. The college awards scholarships in the spring and fall semester. Scholarships require a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. The American Indian College Fund provides tribal members with additional financial aid opportunities.
Flathead Valley Community College
|Kalispell, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 24%||
FVCC features five types of academic programs: AA and AS for transfer, AAS, certificates, certificates of applied science, and certification training. Transfer degrees at this Montana community college include agriculture, wildlife biology, geology, and theater arts. The college features a unique Teacher Academy wherein K-12 public school teachers can earn college or professional development credit over the summer.
The Honors Program at FVCC provides academically gifted students with small class sizes and interdisciplinary education. Degree-seekers take at least one honors course each semester. Outside of class, learners receive a tuition scholarship, one-on-one mentoring, and access to exclusive academic and library resources.
FVCC accepts transfer credits and awards credit based on incoming students' Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate scores. The college accepts scholarship applications throughout the year. However, incoming degree-seekers should submit a scholarship application between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15; awards may run out in the latter part of the year.
Helena College University of Montana
|Helena, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
Over 1,400 students attend Helena College for its extensive selection of associate degrees and certificates. Incoming students select a program from 13 academic areas, including education, healthcare, and law. E-learning at this Montana community college features both entirely online and hybrid courses. Also, many on-campus courses use e-learning software to give students an enhanced educational experience.
The Student Support Center at Helena College provides 10 valuable services, including one-on-one academic and transfer advising. Degree- and certificate-seekers not planning to enter a bachelor's program can attend a career workshop or submit a resume for review. Additionally, both online and on-campus learners can receive tutoring at any time of day.
Prospective students applying as freshmen either submit ACT scores or take the ACCUPLACER assessment. Helena College reviews transfer credit on a case-by-case basis; the school does not set a minimum GPA for transfer credit. Additionally, incoming learners may qualify for one of 40 college-funded scholarships. Each scholarship opportunity requires a separate application.
Great Falls College Montana State University
|Great Falls, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
An excellent option for prospective students planning to transfer to MSU, Great Falls College MSU delivers AA, AS, and AAS programs. Other academic opportunities include an associate in nursing and professional certificate programs. All transferable degrees satisfy the University of Montana core curriculum, which allows students in bachelor's-completion programs to focus on a major.
Great Falls College MSU also boasts a resource that no other Montana community college on this ranking offers: a virtual career coach. First, learners take a career assessment to determine their career goals. They use these results to build a resume, which a campus advisor can critique. Finally, this service provides specialized career-search tools for veterans.
Applicants may submit high school transcripts or GED scores. Great Falls College MSU also requires all new students to provide FAFSA results, complete an online orientation, and meet with an advisor. Degree-seekers who need financial aid can apply to up to two dozen annual scholarship opportunities.