Montana ranks among the largest states in the U.S. by land area, but it's also one of the least populous, making online education a terrific choice for students who may not live near a college campus. This ranking highlights some of the best online colleges in Montana, offering a starting point to begin your research into higher education in the state. Below you'll find information on each school's online degree offerings, program delivery formats, and helpful resources available to distance students.
Top 5 Online Colleges in Montana
- University of Providence - Great Falls, MT
- Montana State University - Bozeman, MT
- The University of Montana - Missoula, MT
- Montana Tech of the University of Montana - Butte, MT
- Montana State University - Billings, MT
2020 Best Online Colleges in Montana
Online education offers several advantages for learners, chief among them convenience and affordability. Many online programs give students the flexibility to complete coursework at any time of day, with no scheduled times for class meetings and no required campus visits. Many schools also offer reduced tuition rates for online students, while learners can further reduce expenses by avoiding transportation or housing costs. These factors make online learning a popular choice for working students.
Prospective online learners should note some additional key differences from on-campus courses. For example, most online courses require a greater level of independence than campus courses, and students must be able to complete their work without the structure of weekly class meetings. Online learning still offers chances to interact with peers and faculty, but some students may miss the sense of community that comes with classroom learning. For many working students, however, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
College graduates in Montana benefit from a strong economy that has consistently outpaced national averages since the turn of the century. The state's unemployment rate ranks below the national average (3.3% as of September 2019) and Montana's GDP growth ranks among the fastest in the country. The state's economy owes its success to several strong industries, including financial activities, government, education and healthcare, trade, and transportation and utilities.
University of Providence
|Great Falls, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
A private Roman Catholic college located in Great Falls, the University of Providence ranks among the best online colleges in Montana for Christian students, with a wide variety of online programs available primarily at the graduate level. Distance learners choose from nearly a dozen online degrees and certificates in fields such as organizational leadership and management, criminal justice, and addictions counseling. UP also offers a wide selection of healthcare programs, including infection prevention and epidemiology, nurse educator, and medical assistant.
UP's online programs include a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous elements, and some courses feature live video conference sessions that require students to log on at designated times each week. Other programs are delivered entirely asynchronously, enabling students to complete coursework at any time.
Most programs take place entirely online. However, students may need to attend an in-person orientation session held on the UP campus. These orientation sessions typically last no more than one day.
Montana State University
|Bozeman, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Home to more than 16,000 students, Montana State University is the largest school in the state, as well as one of the best online colleges in Montana. MSU primarily offers graduate programs online, with options such as agricultural education, family financial planning, land resources and environmental sciences, school library media, and science education. Distance students can also pursue an undergraduate certificate in gerontology and a bachelor's completion program in liberal studies.
Most of MSU's online courses use an asynchronous format with no set log-in times or scheduled class sessions. Most programs also occur fully online and include no required campus courses. However, online students may need to visit the MSU campus in Bozeman for certain obligations, such as orientation sessions and final presentations.
All online students receive comprehensive support from the school, including academic advising, career counseling, tutoring, library services, and remote exam proctoring.
The University of Montana
|Missoula, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Recognized as one of the top public schools in the country, the University of Montana also ranks among the best online colleges in Montana, serving more than 10,000 students from its campus in Missoula. The school offers online programs at the certificate, associate, bachelor's, and master's levels.
Students can pursue programs in fields such as media arts, social work, public health, music education, and curriculum studies. UM also offers blended options that enable students to combine campus and online learning.
As a comprehensive public research college, UM provides extensive support services for distance learners, including advising, library resources, and online tutoring. UM's Writer Center offers tutoring services for students of all levels through a video conferencing platform. Students can share their writing assignments online and receive live feedback from experienced tutors. Online learners can also meet with academic advisors through email or telephone.
Montana Tech of the University of Montana
|Butte, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
The state's premier institution for STEM education, Montana Technological University enrolls around 2,700 students annually from its campus in Butte. The school offers four online programs: a post-licensure undergraduate completion program in nursing, a healthcare informatics graduate certificate, and master's degrees in industrial hygiene and project engineering and management.
Montana Tech offers online courses in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, and students can choose between blended and fully online options.
Given its technical and professional focus, many Montana Tech programs require applicants to meet certain academic and professional prerequisites. Online programs may hold more rigorous admission requirements due to their independent nature. For example, the industrial hygiene program requires applicants to possess either 19 college-level credits in math and science or professional certification. Online applicants must also possess two years of relevant work experience in a safety or health-related field.
Montana State University-Billings
|Billings, MT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 27%||
Another of the best online colleges in Montana, Montana State University Billings offers more than 240 online courses and several fully online degrees and certificates, including programs at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels.
The college offers dozens of degree in fields such as public relations, applied science, liberal studies, mental health counseling, and special education. While some courses may include weekly chat sessions held at designated times, most classes use an asynchronous format to allow students to complete assignments at any time.
Distance learners at MSU Billings benefit from several helpful resources, including academic advising, tutoring, library services, and career services. Academic advisors assist with registration, course selection, and degree planning to help students transition to online learning. The academic support center provides online tutoring in writing and math, with experienced tutors who maintain weekly availability for distance students. The college's career services office assists with career planning, counseling, and internship opportunities.