Montana’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Here are the best colleges and universities in Montana. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you.

Montana’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Montana

Montana has 21 higher learning institutions, including 16 public universities and colleges. The largest is Montana State University (MSU) in Bozeman. With an affordable tuition of $7,000, MSU enrolls just over 16,000 students. Students can earn their degree in fields like forestry, wildlife biology, theatre, and creative writing. The state is also home to five private schools, three of which are religiously affiliated.

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Carroll College is a Roman Catholic liberal arts college with just over 1,000 students in attendance. The tuition runs about $35,000, the most expensive in the state, and it is located on a hilltop in Helena. Students can choose from 18 schools in Montana with tuitions of $7,000 or less, making Montana an affordable state to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. The state also offers loan repayment programs, including the Montana NHSC Student Loan Repayment Program, which grants up to $15,000 per year for two years for those in health-related fields.

Hiking through Glacier National Park, exploring the Northern Great Plains, and fishing from one of its many lakes and rivers are just some of the ways to enjoy the natural bounty that Montana has to offer. Visitors and locals can also drive Going-to-the-Sun-Road, a 52-mile highway that ventures through the National Park and crosses into Canada. No matter the outdoor hobby, prospective students are sure to love the scenic backdrop of The Treasure State as they earn their degree.

Check out the best programs Montana has to offer while enjoying the wide-open spaces of Big Sky Country.

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What are Montana’s Colleges & Universities?

Montana’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Montana's best colleges and universities?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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Every fall, more than 2 million high-school graduates will enroll in colleges and universities across the United States. Finding the best college for your educational, personal, and professional goals may be challenging. The purpose of this ranking is to help you manage this challenge with an accurate, objective, and up-to-date ranking of the best colleges and universities in Montana for earning a bachelor’s degree.

We’ve identified a total of 9 colleges and universities in Montana, the top 3 have graduation rates above 50%. The list below of the best schools in the state focuses on those that offer four-year undergraduate degrees, includes both public and private colleges and universities, and also meet the following condition:

  1. It must be fully accredited.

Best Colleges & Universities in Montana

  1. #1

    Montana State University

    #617 institution's historical influence
    #429 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/24

    Bozeman, MT

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    What is Montana State University known for?

    Montana State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    University of Montana Western

    #6537 institution's historical influence
    #172 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/19

    Dillon, MT

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    What is University of Montana Western known for?

    University of Montana Western’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Carroll College

    #5372 institution's historical influence
    #315 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/23

    Helena, MT

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    What is Carroll College known for?

    Carroll College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • History
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    University of Montana

    #563 institution's historical influence
    #417 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/23

    Missoula, MT

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    What is University of Montana known for?

    University of Montana’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • History
    • Law
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Montana State University–Northern

    #9190 institution's historical influence
    #764 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    <1K

    Havre, MT

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    What is Montana State University–Northern known for?

    Montana State University–Northern’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #7

    Montana State University Billings

    #4480 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    3K

    Billings, MT

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    What is Montana State University Billings known for?

    Montana State University Billings’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #8

    Montana Technological University

    #7635 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/23

    Butte, MT

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    What is Montana Technological University known for?

    Montana Technological University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    Rocky Mountain College

    #5199 institution's historical influence
    #1036 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1052/21

    Billings, MT

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    What is Rocky Mountain College known for?

    Rocky Mountain College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

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