Why This Matters


    Montana is home to a dozen higher learning institutions, including eight publicly funded colleges and four private non-profit schools that are funded through tuition and endowments.


    On average, college tuition in Montana averaged $7,400 in the 2020-21 school year, making it a relatively economical state for obtaining a bachelor’s degree.


    The average undergrad in the United States received $14,940 in student loans, grants, and scholarships for the 2019-20 school year.

Our Research

We’ve created a list of the top colleges in Montana, covering everything from large research universities to small liberal arts colleges. Our reviews include a variety of factors to help you find the right school for your educational goals, including whether a school offers in-person or virtual learning options, how many credits are needed to graduate, and the cost of tuition.

The majority of colleges on our list are accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). This accrediting body is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and holds higher learning institutions to high standards for performance, integrity, and academic quality.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 55 hours to write this article
  • 70 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 142 education programs we compared

The Top 11 Colleges in Montana

Best Colleges In Montana
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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 government and transportation/utilities, which employ a combined total of nearly 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 information security analysts is expected to be the most significant, followed by mental health counselors and operations research analysts.

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 50 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.