Montana’s Best Small Colleges & Universities of 2021

Small colleges in Montana are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical or on the liberal arts, small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.

Montana’s Best Small 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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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.

More see more Less see less

What are Montana’s Colleges & Universities?

Montana’s Best Overall


Montana's Best Small Colleges and Universities 2021 badge
Download Badge

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

The best colleges pound for pound!

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.

More see more Less see less

The following list of the best small colleges and universities in Montana is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though a handful also offer graduate programs). We’ve identified 7 small colleges in Montana, 4 satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best small colleges in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must have a student body of 5,000 or fewer students.
  4. It must have a graduation rate greater than 40%.

Best Small Colleges & Universities in Montana

  1. #1

    University of Montana Western

    #6273 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

    View profile

    What is University of Montana Western known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Carroll College

    #5567 institution's historical influence
    #315 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/23

    Helena, MT

    View profile

    What is Carroll College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • Physics
  3. #3

    Montana Technological University

    #7831 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/23

    Butte, MT

    View profile

    What is Montana Technological University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Rocky Mountain College

    #5159 institution's historical influence
    #1036 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1052/21

    Billings, MT

    View profile

    What is Rocky Mountain College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

Find Montana’s best private school for your interest

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By: RB2013 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0