The 10 Best Colleges In Montana – Choosing The Right Place To Study

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

Living in Montana means having the chance to experience the vast, surrounding natural wilderness Big Sky Country-style. Anyone studying at one of the many colleges in Montana can also expect to be doing this with a backdrop that features anything from the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains, and this could turn out to be inspiring, to say the least.

In many ways, the spread-out region of Montana is ideal for students who are at their best when surrounded by wide open spaces rather than dense, cramped, and somewhat stressful concrete scenarios that many inner-cities offer.

In fact, even those living or studying in the populated town and city regions of Montana like Helena, Billings, and Bozeman are never that far removed from the impressive landscapes and endless opportunities for outdoor pursuits.

The majority of Montana’s economical drive is related to agriculture, as well as other rural-type activities like ranching, lumber, and still some mining. The tourism sector is also huge and ever-expanding, so these avenues are reflected in the courses offered by many of the state’s universities and colleges.

The colleges in Montana come in many shapes and forms, from huge Universities to community colleges, and this includes public institutions, private non-profit colleges, and seven tribal colleges.

Both graduate and undergraduate students interested in studying in Montana have plenty of options from the various colleges, which follow the Montana University System (MUS). So let’s take a closer look at a small section of some of the colleges in Montana.

Ten Montana Colleges

  1. Carroll College
  2. Rocky Mountain College
  3. Flathead Valley Community College
  4. Missoula College (University of Montana)
  5. Bitterroot College
  6. Gallatin College MSU
  7. City College Billings MSU
  8. Dawson Community College
  9. Stone Child College
  10. Salish Kootenai College

1. Carroll College, Helena

carroll college
Image: RCraig09

Carroll College is in the Montana capital of Helena and is a private, Catholic institution. This Liberal Arts College was founded way back in 1909 by a local Bishop called John Carroll, although the place existed initially as a male-only college with the purpose of preparation for the Catholic priesthood.

It was renamed after Bishop Carroll in 1932 when it incorporated a broader spectrum of learning activities.

These days Carroll College is a top-ranking coeducational institution in Montana. It has been awarded accolades at regional and national levels for its programs in biology, civil engineering, nursing, and mathematics.

The college has been named as the best regional college by the U.S. News & World Report and continues to stay high up in the various listings and rankings related to colleges in Montana.

2. Rocky Mountain College, Billings

rocky mountain college

Rocky Mountain College is another private institution, this time in Billings, along the Yellowstone River. This is a residential Montana Liberal Arts College located on 60 acres of land that seems like a mini national park, although the surrounding neighborhood leans a little more towards the suburban.

Rocky Mountain College was first founded in 1878 when it went by the name of the Montana Collegiate Institute. Like many modern-day educational institutions in the region, this one had its roots in the Christian religion, and today is still affiliated with three different churches: the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Church of Christ.

This college is highly regarded regionally and ranks well for its overall excellence and levels of achievement. The core tenets behind the drive of the college are related to Academic Excellence, Transformational Learning, and Shared Responsibility.

3. Flathead County Community College, Kalispell

flathead county community college

This institute is one of Montana’s community colleges and is located in a highly scenic spot in the Rocky Mountain region of Kalispell. Any students heading towards this picturesque northwest area of Montana, 30 minutes from Glacier National Park, will be pleased to find that it is the home of Flathead Valley Community College.

The college is a public institution college, established in 1967, and is one of three higher education institutions in Montana offering 2-year programs that don’t come under the MUS.

It offers associate degrees and provides high-quality academic programs based around Liberal Arts and Sciences, with an open admissions policy.

4. Missoula College (University of Montana), Missoula

missoula college
Image: Missoula College

This college in Missoula is a 2-year sub-section of the University of Montana, the public institution founded in 1893. The college accommodates students interested in completing 2 and 3-year career and technical-based programs, as well as undertaking four-semester associate programs.

The focus of the study programs is largely based around technical and occupational areas like Business, Culinary, Healthcare, and I.T., and the campus is located at the base of five valleys in Missoula, with a mountain backdrop just rife with trails and ski terrain.

Students could be forgiven for forgetting that they are in the midst of their studies and have actually found themselves on some extended vacation with scenarios like this surrounding them.

5. Bitterroot College, Hamilton

bitterroot college

The Bitterroot College University of Montana is a public community college located in Hamilton and is another one of seven two-year institutions in the state that operate within the University of Montana System.

The college is located right in the middle of the Bitterroot Valley, and one of its functions is to provide a link to higher education for many of the surrounding rural areas.

The college provides further education and workforce training skills and offers awards from 1-year certificates to Associate Degrees.

6. Gallatin College MSU, Bozeman

gallatin college msu

Gallatin College is a southwest division of the MSU in scenic Bozeman and another optional two-year college. The institution offers associate degrees as well as programs that can be completed in one or two years.

The college’s mission is to provide an accessible and comprehensive, student-centered learning environment that supports both personal and professional aims.

The college works in close contact with local industries to develop new programs and expand existing ones, as well as provide workforce training options according to demand. Some of these programs are related to areas of IT like Network Technology, Cybersecurity and Information Assurance, and technological avenues such as CNC Machining, Drafting and CAD Technology, and Laser Technology.

7. City College Billings MSU

city college billings msu

City College is another MSU outlet in Billings, which is something of a center for commerce in Healthcare, Retail, and Business, although it isn’t too far from the heart of nature by way of Montana’s Yellowstone River and national park. Billings was initially a railroad town when it was first established, which has led to its status today as a southeastern Montana trade capital.

MSU Billings was established in 1927 and formerly went by the name of East Montana College. The core tenets behind the institution are excellence, civic engagement, and community enhancement.

The City College is designed to facilitate the larger university’s 2-year programs and is primarily dedicated to workforce development programs and skills that will serve the community. The college programs are centered around transfer education, career preparation, and developmental education.

8. Dawson Community College, Glendive

dawson community college

Dawson Community College is a public community college located in Glendive, which is in Dawson County and is nestled somewhere between the Badlands and the Yellowstone River. Glendive is largely an agricultural area and is somewhat renowned for some of its rock formations as well as its uncovering of dinosaur fossils.

The college was established in 1940 and is a reasonably small institution with a 400-student capacity that offers learning programs up to associate degree level.

Some of the main programs at the college include Liberal Arts and Sciences and workforce and career training for avenues such as firefighting and law enforcement. Dawson College is also part of the MUS system and is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

9. Stone Child College, Box Elder

stone child college

Stone Child College (SCC) is a public and tribal community college located on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation in Montana. This reservation is the home of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, and the college was set up in 1984 with the purpose of providing post-secondary educational opportunities in the form of degrees and certificates. The campus is at the Bonneauville community just east of Box Elder.

This is one of Montana’s handful of tribally-chartered colleges, and SCC continues to serve the Rocky Boy community and some of the neighboring communities through higher education programs, workforce training opportunities, and a variety of public events. The college is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

10. Salish Kootenai College, Pablo

salish kootenai college
Image: Djembayz

Another of Montana’s private tribal community colleges, Salish Kootenai is located in Pablo, Lake County. The college primarily functions to serve the tribe of the Bitterroot Salish in the region, as well as other nearby tribes.

The main campus is located within the Flathead Reservation, although the college also operates three other satellite locations, and the mission of the college is to be the provider of post-secondary educational opportunities to Native Americans both locally and nationwide.

Salish Kootenai is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and has aspirations to be the main provider of quality education and academic excellence for Native American participants, helping them to empower both themselves and their communities while being respectful and appreciative of their own diversity.

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About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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