To identify the Best Colleges in Montana for 2017-2018 we averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores from around the web to produce a unique College Consensus rating for each school. You won’t find a more comprehensive ranking of the top colleges and universities in Montana anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Colleges & Universities in Montana
Montana is a state of fiercely independent, practical people, and in that spirit, higher education in Montana is heavy on the practical professions and sciences, focusing throughout the state’s history on meeting real-world needs from agriculture and engineering to teaching and medicine. As a state, Montana has traditionally relied on mining, agriculture (especially cattle), and forestry for their economic bedrock, but as those industries shift and change in the 21st century, the state is poised to make new and innovative uses of their natural resources, including renewable and sustainable energy, technology, and tourism.
Montana’s major research institutions, like the University of Montana 57 and Montana State University 55 , have one foot in academic research, and one in real-world application, bringing useful knowledge and technology to industry every day, while the smaller liberal arts colleges like Carroll College 68 and the University of Great Falls 51 carry on the tradition of developing widely-transferable skills to Montana’s next generation of leaders and professionals.
Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the top regional college in the West, Carroll College is a private Catholic institution founded in 1909. From its beginning, Carroll College was focused on creating leaders, with a curriculum designed for aspiring doctors, lawyers, and scientists, and that tradition continues. Today Carroll College has one of the strongest pre-med and nursing programs in the nation, with an 85% acceptance rate for medical and dental school (the national average is only 44%), while their forensics team (classical debate, a favorite of future lawyers) is the undisputed champion in the region.
As a Catholic college, Carroll College maintains the reputation for academic rigor and excellence traditionally associated with Catholic education, including close, personal attention and mentoring from faculty. Students are also highly engaged in service to the community, in preparation for a professional career of ethical and moral leadership. Carroll’s sterling reputation in the region, especially in the health professions, gives graduates a material advantage on the job market – employers trust the Carroll College name.
Montana Tech of the University of Montana
Originally founded as a mining school in 1900, Montana Tech is a small STEM and career-centered institution in the rugged mining country of Butte, MT. Part of the University of Montana system, Montana Tech is a public university known for their top-tier applied science programs, their computer science, engineering, and other technology degrees winning accolades from across the nation.
Montana Tech has especially made their name on a national scale for their exceptional value, being recognized by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and many others for the ROI, high salary rates, and excellent job market prospects their graduates enjoy. Montana Tech also wins the highest spot on the Social Mobility Index, giving students from a range of financial and class backgrounds a shot at lucrative professional careers. For students with scientific savvy, it’s the smartest choice in Montana.
The University of Montana-Western
Part of the University of Montana system, the University of Montana-Western was founded as a normal school in 1893, the most advanced form of teacher education in the day. UMW continues its tradition of service and innovation, with small class sizes, close personal attention, and experiential learning opportunities, all tied together by the Experience 1 initiative, a groundbreaking curriculum that offers intensive instruction on one course at a time, rather than a conventional schedule of multiple classes over a semester.
The X1 project has met with acclaim from students and analysts, and provides students with the kind of expert experience that makes all the difference in skill building and professional development. That kind of academic excellence, combined with the low tuition rates a public college can offer, makes UMW one of the best value investments in the nation, and a growing alternative for Montana’s most motivated students.
The University of Montana
Ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top public institutions in the nation, the University of Montana is the flagship of the University of Montana system. The university had been in the works for many years before its 1893 founding, dating back to the creation of the Montana Territory, and from its beginning UM was a center for culture and learning, and a crucial part of the life of Missoula, where it is the largest employer and producer of qualified, well-prepared professionals and leaders.
For students in Montana and beyond, however, UM may be best known for their marriage of education and outdoor recreation, named by Rolling Stone and Outdoor Magazine as the most scenic, and most outdoorsy, campus in the nation. That includes experiential learning experiences, not only in labs, but in Montana’s legendary landscape, led by some of the most honored faculty in the nation. The University of Montana has some of everything, and more personality than most any other college in its class.
Rocky Mountain College
An inter-denominational institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, and United Church of Christ, Rocky Mountain College is a well-respected, small liberal arts college in Billings, Montana’s largest city. Coming from an ecumenical tradition emphasizing tolerance and service, Rocky Mountain College proudly maintains a curriculum steeped in the liberal arts tradition. Critical thinking, ethical leadership, and educational rigor have been at the heart of RMC since its 1878 founding.
With RMC’s small student body and excellent student/faculty ratio (just 12:1), students can count on guidance, mentoring, and advising, bringing RMC’s graduates a high degree of success. As much as 90% of students take part in experiential learning opportunities, from internships to field research, which helps develop the kinds of real-world skills employers value. As a result, some 97% of RMC’s graduates find work or graduate schooling in their field, an impressive winning streak.
Montana State University
Founded as Montana’s land-grant agricultural and mechanical college in 1893 (the same year as the University of Montana), Montana State University grew to surpass its rival in size, largely through a strategic focus on STEM research and professional studies. Under the presidency of Dr Waded Cruzado, MSU has put a renewed emphasis on diversity, exploration, and innovation, and it has paid off in explosive growth and exceedingly productive research, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and many other public and private sponsors.
Like many other Montana towns, the favorite college town of Bozeman has a reputation for scenic beauty and outdoor sports, having been named by Outside magazine as one of the best towns in the nation for recreation. That landscape also draws students interested in a variety of scientific and technical fields, including biological sciences, ecology, and even Science and Natural History Filmmaking, the only program of its kind in the US. Montana State is an unique as Montana, and forging ahead boldly.
University of Great Falls
Great Falls, MT
The University of Great Falls, a small, Roman Catholic institution in central Montana, was founded as a women’s college in 1932 by the Sisters of Charity of Providence and the Ursuline Sisters, two religious orders dedicated to education, health, and care for the poor. Building on traditional liberal arts values like independence, community engagement, and exploration, UGF builds its curriculum around “living and making a living,” encouraging students to not only make their careers, but to live well for themselves and others.
UGF makes life-long education a priority, with excellent professional-preparation programs rooted in the liberal arts. With a mission to provide the best possible education to all who want it, UGF has made outreach a major consideration, with more than 30 remote sites, particularly for military personnel, as well as a growing slate of fully online degree options. From the freshman Corps of Discovery to continuing education, the University of Great Falls is for everyone who values excellence and opportunity.