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2023 Best Online Colleges in Montana

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 9/21/2023


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Students seeking an online bachelor's degree in Montana will find many options. Montana State University, the state's largest postsecondary institution, offers eLearning programs for both in-state and out-of-state students. There are dozens of scholarship opportunities for Montanans as well. Even though online programs are less expensive than on-campus programs, budget-minded students can still greatly benefit from scholarships. Aside from traditional universities, community colleges in Montana also offer online programs at varying degree levels. 

View our methodology for more details about our list, ranked using Salary Score data, or learn about OnlineU

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2023 Best Online Colleges in Montana

RankSchool Salary Score Online Enrollment
# 1 #1 Montana State University - Billings 37 1,237
# 2 #2 Montana State University 34 493
# 3 #3 The University of Montana N/A 609
# 4 #4 University of Providence N/A 549

#1 Montana State University - Billings

  • Salary Score: 37
  • Online Enrollment: 1,237
  • Locations: Billings
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Montana State University - Billings (MSU - Billings) is a public university with a selection of online undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as online certificates. The majority of the school's bachelor's programs fall within the field of Business Administration, with five concentration options: (1) Accounting, (2) Finance, (3) General Business, (4) Management, and (5) Marketing. Additionally, they have online degrees such as a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Science in Health Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science. Among the other degree levels, students can explore subjects in business, healthcare, and education, to name a few options.

All coursework at MSU - Billings is delivered through the Brightspace learning management system (LMS). MSU-Billings offers academic advising, online libraries, career planning, and online tutoring.

#2 Montana State University

  • Salary Score: 34
  • Online Enrollment: 493
  • Locations: Bozeman
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Montana State University (MSU) is a public institution with a 73% acceptance rate and a 55% graduation rate. Most of the online programs offered by MSU are master’s degree programs and certificates, but the university also offers a bachelor of arts degree completion program in liberal studies. The online master’s degree programs require 30 credit hours, including a capstone course, and these typically take 2-3 years. The Bachelor of Arts, which is for students with an associate degree who need to complete their bachelor’s degree online, typically takes two years to complete. MSU expects students to spend 9-12 hours a week working on their online coursework, which includes readings, activities, and discussion with other students.

At MSU, students use Brightspace to access their coursework, which is online and asynchronous. Some online degree programs may require in-person field work or practical hours, but almost all tests and assignments can be turned in online. Online students have access to the university library, tutoring services, and academic advising. MSU recommends that students engage with their online classmates and attend their instructors’ online office hours to take full advantage of their online program.

#3 The University of Montana

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 609
  • Locations: Missoula
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The University of Montana (UM) is a public institution with a graduation rate of 45% and an 82% acceptance rate. UM offers online associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in fields such as public administration, public health, social work, and education. UM's online bachelor’s degree programs take an average of four years to complete and require a minimum of 111 credit hours. UMOnline suggests logging into online classes at least three times a week, along with communicating with instructors and participating in class discussions. UM also offers field learning, credit for experience, and continuing training for professionals.

At UM, students use Moodle to access their coursework, which is 100% online and may be either synchronous or asynchronous. Online students have access to the university library, tutoring services, and academic advisors. UM also hosts The Peer Connection Network, a student-based production group that creates video guides and tutorials for current online students. The university promotes online education that encourages continued learning and supports student goals.

#4 University of Providence

  • Salary Score: N/A
  • Online Enrollment: 549
  • Locations: Great Falls
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The University of Providence (UP) is a private, Catholic institution situated in Great Falls, MT. The school offers all levels of online degrees, from the associate level up to the graduate level. There are nine undergraduate programs that fall within two general subject areas: healthcare and law. Examples of bachelor's programs include a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. At the graduate level, there are 10 programs to choose from that include a broader range of subjects, such as sports management, clinical mental health, and accounting.

Students have the unique advantage of choosing how they want to engage in their coursework by taking synchronous courses through the LMS Blackboard or asynchronous courses through Moodle, another popular LMS. Students can participate in orientation remotely and use the school's career services to prepare for life after graduation.

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Higher Education in Montana

Montana is the third largest U.S. state by area but the 48th in population density. This means that the state's 24 degree-granting colleges are spread far and wide in mainly rural and small town settings. The majority of these institutions in Montana are community colleges. All but six of Montana's colleges and universities are public schools offering lower tuition rates to in-state residents.

Several Montana schools feature online degree programs, including both public and religious, private universities. Many of these programs have completely remote coursework to save students from having to travel vast distances to attend a campus. This mode of learning may help students balance work with school and other responsibilities in their lives. 

Are you interested in social work or nursing? Then check out our lists of online MSW programs in Montana and online nursing programs in Montana.

FAQs About Online Colleges in Montana

How Many Colleges Are in Montana?

Montana is home to 24 colleges that grant associate degrees or higher. Fourteen of these schools offer bachelor's degree programs. 

How Many Tribal Colleges Are in Montana?

There are seven tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) in Montana. This is more than in any other state. Four of Montana's TCUs offer bachelor's degrees and one has graduate degree programs. 

How Many Public Colleges Are in Montana?

Eighteen of Montana's 24 colleges are public institutions. This number includes the state's largest school, Montana State University. 

How Much Is College in Montana?

The National Center for Education Statistics provides the following average tuition and fee costs for Montana colleges in the 2020-2021 school year. 

  • Public four-year college, in-state resident: $6,993
  • Public four-year college, out-of-state resident: $26,368
  • Private four-year college: $32,064
  • Public two-year college, in-state resident: $3,981
  • Public two-year college, out-of-state resident: $9,038

Although this is the latest available data, costs have certainly risen since then.

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