The University of Montana-Western is a small but exceptional public liberal arts and sciences college in Dillon, MT, a small rural town on the western edge of the state. UMW was originally founded as a normal school (teacher’s college) in 1893, and was dedicated to provide educated, well-prepared teachers for the new state’s residents. Today, UMW’s commitment to student engagement and support, and their willingness to experiment with innovative teaching methods and curricula, have earned UMW high marks from U.S. News & World Report as a top regional university in the West, particularly for the value of academic excellence and low tuition costs.
Academic ProgramsWestern’s academics are defined by Experience 1, an innovative block scheduling program that allows students intensive concentration on one course at a time. In this unusual method, students take only one course at a time – 3 hours a day, 18 days, with a short 4-day rest period in between. This alternative allows students to fully immerse themselves in each subject, while still obtaining the same number of credit hours toward graduation as a conventional semester schedule. As the only public college to use a block schedule, UMW is both an iconoclast and a trend-setter, actively exploring to find new and more effective ways to prepare students for the 21st century. Students build a portfolio of work that can then be a benefit on the job market, while learning to apply skills and lessons from one subject to another.
The benefits of the X1 schedule include intensive research, highly collaborative projects, and flexible scheduling. UMW’s small size – just 1500 students – and low student:faculty ratio, allows students to work closely with faculty members, developing mentoring relationships and ensuring that each student is actively engaged. Because of Western’s roots, education is one of the school’s most significant programs, though business and technology is also highly respected, while UMW’s Equine Studies Department offers the world’s only degree in Natural Horsemanship, as well as full preparation for a career in equestrian fields.
Student LifeAs a small college, UMW’s student life revolves around campus, building community among the 1500-member student body. Many student-led organizations and clubs are available to provide students with activities, events, and support throughout their college career. With Montana’s landscape, outdoor activities and adventure sports are deeply woven into student life, including rock climbing, hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. For a little more oddity, students may check out the Paranormal Investigator’s Club, which may be as serious as the name suggests.
Or course, Montana is horse country, and equestrian life is a major part of student life at UMW. No fewer than five horsemanship-related clubs are present on campus, including the Rodeo Club, Young Farmers and Ranchers Club, and the Draft Horse Driving Club. These groups sponsor events and activities that help keep the traditional life of Montana alive, while also keeping a tie to the past. The Montana Center for Horsemanship is also just minutes from campus and a partner in the Equine Studies major.