The flagship of the University of Montana system, the University of Montana is a large, public research institution in Missoula, MT. Congress granted the Montana Territory 46,000 acres of land in 1881 to build a university in preparation for statehood, but Montana’s admission to the union did not occur until 1889. The university was given to Missoula over Helena, which was promised the state’s capital instead, and the University of Montana was founded in 1893. Today Missoula is a center of culture and learning, bringing students and faculty from across the US and dozens of foreign nations, drawn to world-class research and a memorably beautiful campus.
Academic ProgramsWashington Monthly ranked UM in the top 100 national universities for social mobility, thanks to the combination of quality programs, accessibility, and affordability that allows students from lower-income and disadvantaged backgrounds succeed. UM offers more than 170 degree programs in every field and discipline, from the liberal arts and humanities, to engineering and technology, to professional studies. Further, UM recognizes the special requirements of Montana’s unique people and land, with spread-out, rural populations, and has developed many highly-regarded online programs to extend their educational reach to those who cannot come to campus.
One area where Montana really shines, though, is incorporating the outdoors and the majestic western land into its research and learning. UM is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes, as well as numerous corporate and nonprofit partnerships, many of which incorporate fieldwork in the great outdoors of Montana. The Wilderness Institute, for instance, is precisely what it sounds like, a research center dedicated to experiential research and learning about the importance of preserving and protecting wilderness; the Flathead Lake Bio Station, as another example, studies and protects the fragile ecosystem of Flathead Lake.
Student LifeOutdoor life is also a foundational part of student life at UM, with a variety of on and off-campus outdoor sports opportunities, student groups dedicated to outdoor recreation, and no shortage of parks and trails near campus. Missoula is known for fly fishing, adventure cycling, and running, with its location at the meeting point of five valleys and three rivers providing a wealth of opportunity. As a college town, Missoula is also a center of culture for the state, with arts, music, and events, as well as a nationally-known craft beer scene.
With a student body of 13,000, the University of Montana isn’t the largest public research university, but it is just as diverse and dynamic as any other. Students can choose from nearly any kind of club or organization they can imagine. Honor societies, religious groups, activist organizations, and special interest clubs range from American Indian Business Leaders to Teachers of Singing (to go alphabetically). UM is also a crucial player in community service and engagement, including service learning and on and off-campus service opportunities.