Why This Matters


    Montana is home to 14 higher learning institutions, including nine publicly funded colleges and five private non-profit schools that are funded through tuition and endowments.


    College tuition in Montana averaged $7,260 in the 2021-22 school year, making it a relatively economical state for obtaining a bachelor’s degree.


    The average undergrad in the United States received $14,800 in student loans, grants, and scholarships for the 2020-21 school year.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar schools in Montana. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The colleges on our list are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), a reputable organization that examines the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of education programs in the northern United States.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for on-campus students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

The Top 50 Colleges in Montana

Best Colleges In Montana
Intelligent Pick
Montana State University
Best Private Institution
Carroll College
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of Montana Western
Best Public Research School
University of Montana
Best for STEM Degrees
Montana Technological University
Best for Liberal Arts
Rocky Mountain College
Best Catholic Institution
University of Providence
Best Public Institution
Salish Kootenai College
Best Urban Campus
Montana State University Billings
Best Exchange Program
Montana State University Northern

Stone Child College


What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Montana

Montana offers a wide range of employment opportunities for college graduates. The two biggest industries in the state are transportation/utilities and government, which employ a combined total of about 185,000 people. Other top industries include education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and retail trade.

Montana has a strong economy with a positive job outlook for residents with bachelor’s degrees. Between 2020 and 2030, many careers that require an undergraduate degree are projected to experience substantial growth. The demand for software developers is expected to be the most significant, followed by health and safety experts and industrial engineers.

The state is home to many large employers, including Billings Clinic, Aageson Farm, St. Vincent Healthcare, and Big Sky Resort. A list of the top 150 employers in the state can be found here.

What’s Next?

Pursuing an undergraduate degree is a significant financial investment, and many Montana residents rely on financial aid to help them cover costs associated with obtaining their degree. The following resources can help students identify and apply for student loans, grants, and scholarships.

  • Montana University System. Montana University System provides students and families with important information regarding preparing for college and obtaining financial aid. Through this organization, students can research types of financial aid, calculate how much money they need for college, and apply for loans, grants, and scholarships.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education uses a student’s submitted FAFSA form to determine their eligibility for need-based financial aid, including student loans and scholarships. Click here to find out if you’re eligible to submit a FAFSA or follow this link to submit an online application.
  • CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop is sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is a valuable resource for Montana residents who are exploring their education options. Through this website, individuals can find information on financial aid options, with results filtered by where they live, where they plan to attend school, and their degree level.