Online Schools and Colleges in Montana

ASO Staff Writers
Updated September 26, 2023
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Montana is home to an expansive online education system, including six public four-year universities, 13 public community colleges, tribal schools and a number of private colhleges and technical schools. Montana also offers some online courses for students at the primary level in grades K-12. Six public universities and five two-year community colleges in Montana offer online degree and course options. A small number of private institutions, including Rocky Mountain College and the University of Great Falls, also offer online studies. For those in grades K-12, the Montana Digital Academy offers single courses and district programs. However, there are currently no fully-online schools in the state at the K-12 level.

Best Online Colleges in Montana

Montana has cheaper tuition than many other states. In-state college students in Montana pay an average of $6,783 per year in tuition, which is significantly less than the national average of $9,037. Students can find online courses and degrees at many of Montana’s 16 public and two private colleges and universities.

This guide covers important information for students considering online schools and colleges in Montana, including financial aid opportunities, programs for nontraditional students, and resources for online learners.

#1 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana

The University of Montana

  • Location-markerMissoula, MT
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,352
  • Out-of-state$24,144
  • Retention Rate71%
  • Acceptance Rate94%
  • Students Enrolled10,487
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana

Montana State University

  • Location-markerBozeman, MT
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,654
  • Out-of-state$23,890
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate82%
  • Students Enrolled16,692
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment13%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana

Great Falls College Montana State University

  • Location-markerGreat Falls, MT
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,752
  • Out-of-state$9,644
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,218
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment62%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana

Montana State University Billings

  • Location-markerBillings, MT
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,485
  • Out-of-state$17,678
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled4,416
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment60%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Online Schools and Colleges in Montana

Montana State University-Northern

  • Location-markerHavre, MT
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,496
  • Out-of-state$17,096
  • Retention Rate55%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,073
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes

Top Online Programs

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How Much More Do College Grads in Montana Make?

On average, college graduates in the U.S. earn more than individuals without a college degree. In Montana, university graduates earn above-median wages within three years of graduation. As the following table illustrates, higher levels of education typically correlate with higher salaries.

Salary Comparison by Degree
Less Than a High School DiplomaHigh School DiplomaAssociate DegreeBachelor’s DegreeMaster’s DegreeDoctoral Degree


Paying for Online College in Montana: Tuition and Financial Aid

Montana students pay lower-than-average tuition rates at public and private postsecondary institutions. The following tables compare the cost of in-state, out-of-state, and private school tuition in Montana with national averages. Montana colleges charge less for tuition across the board, making the state an affordable option for online students.

Public College Tuition Comparison
In-State TuitionOut-of-State TuitionNational Average
$6,783$23,678$9,037 (In-State); $25,657 (Out-of-State)
Private College Tuition Comparison
TuitionOut-of-State TuitionNational Average

Source:National Center for Education Statistics

Cost Considerations for Online Students in Montana

When weighing the costs of their education, students should consider expenses beyond tuition, such as travel and technology fees. We cover several cost considerations for online students below.

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    Required Travel

    Some online programs require students to attend one or more in-person sessions on campus. Tuition rates do not cover the costs of traveling to campus.

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    Cost Differences for Specific Online Programs

    Students may encounter price differences for online programs at the same school. For example, professional degrees like nursing and engineering often cost more than many other programs.

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    Technology Costs

    Online students may need to pay technology expenses, such as laptop, internet, software, and electronic textbook fees.

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    Summer Tuition Rates

    Some schools charge less for summer sessions than for other sessions throughout the year.

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    Tuition Agreements for Out-of-State Students in Online Programs

    Some online programs allow out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live.

Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Montana

Out-of-state students often pay significantly more in tuition than in-state learners in Montana. Qualifying for in-state tuition in Montana can save students more than $16,000 each year. Learners qualify for in-state tuition by living in Montana for 12 consecutive months. They must submit proof of residency, such as a Montana vehicle registration, driver’s license, or voter registration card. Montana State University outlines residency requirements.

Out-of-state students who live in some states near Montana may qualify for tuition reductions through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE). WUE students save an average of $9,400 each year.

Paying for College in Montana: Scholarships and Financial Aid

Scholarships for Montana College Students

Glacier Bancorp Inc. Mick Blodnick Scholarship cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be employees or the children of employees at Glacier Bank Corporation. Students also need a minimum 2.5 GPA.

Amount: Varies

Alan and Janetta Blackburn Scholarship cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be high school seniors or graduates of Montana high schools with a minimum 3.5 GPA and graduate within the top 20% of their class.

Amount: Varies

2 Plus 2 Honor Scholarship cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Candidates must be Montana residents completing an associate degree from a Montana community college or two-year campus of the Montana University System. Applicants also need a minimum 3.4 GPA.

Amount: Undergraduate tuition (up to four semesters)

Montana Access Scholarships cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Students must be Montana residents pursuing an undergraduate degree. They must demonstrate financial need, meet satisfactory academic progress, and qualify for the Pell Grant.

Amount: $500 per semester

Montana’s STEM Scholarship Program cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Montana high school students pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or healthcare at an eligible campus qualify for this opportunity. Applicants must meet several criteria, including holding a minimum 3.25 high school GPA.

Amount: Up to $6,000

Grants for Montana College Students

MUS PASS Grants cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Students must be Montana residents pursuing an undergraduate degree at a qualifying campus with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants must demonstrate financial hardship caused by a significant unforeseen event, such as an illness, loss of a family member, or accident.

Amount: Up to $1,000

Western Undergraduate Exchange Awards cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Nonresidents of eligible states and U.S. territories can apply to reduce their tuition for up to four years through this opportunity.

Amount: Varies

Montana National Guard Tuition Waiver cursor-click

Who Can Apply: To qualify for this opportunity, students must be members of the Montana National Guard in good standing who do not already hold a bachelor’s degree.

Amount: Varies

National Merit Semi-Finalist Award cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Montana students who are National Merit semi-finalists receive a full tuition waiver if they attend a Montana University System campus within nine months of graduating high school.

Amount: Varies

American Indian Waiver cursor-click

Who Can Apply: Students with one-quarter American Indian blood or those who are members of a recognized Indian tribe in Montana can apply for this tuition waiver. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: Varies

The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Montana

As more colleges and universities offer online courses and degrees, assessing the quality of prospective schools and programs can prove challenging. Accreditation is a voluntary quality assurance process that colleges undergo to demonstrate that they meet education standards regarding faculty, curricula, academic support, and student learning.

Regional and National Accreditation

Postsecondary institutions can hold regional or national accreditation. Nonprofit, degree-granting institutions typically hold regional accreditation, while for-profit, technical and vocational schools hold national accreditation. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Only learners at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only recognize and accept degrees and credits from regionally accredited schools. Additionally, many employers prefer candidates with an accredited degree.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

Some programs within a school may also hold accreditation, such as engineering and library science programs. Subject-specific accrediting agencies vary by discipline. For instance, the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology accredits engineering programs, while the American Library Association accredits library science programs.

How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited

Schools and programs typically share their accreditation status on their websites, but students can also verify accreditation by searching the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s database. Students can search by institution, program, and accreditors.

Online College and Adult Education in Montana

Montana offers many online adult education programs to help nontraditional students advance their careers. We outline adult education programs and resources for Montana students below.

By the Numbers: Adult Education in Montana

Montana spent $1,419,247 on adult education initiatives in 2010.

Online programs can increase access to higher education, particularly for mid-career adults looking to expand their skills.

The flexibility of online, accelerated learning can increase the likelihood of adult learners completing credits.

Adult Education Programs for Montana Students

Online College Resources for Montana Students

Current and prospective online students in Montana can take advantage of many resources to support their studies. The following resources include information on financial aid opportunities, program availability, and education news for Montana students.

Students can search for programs and courses in the Montana University System through this resource. The website also offers online education news, data, and reports.
This foundation offers scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 for Montana students. The website includes a scholarship toolkit and information on scholarship criteria by county.
This website features a collection of online college profiles in Montana, a guidebook to higher education, and information about college fairs in the state.
This guide provides information on how to pay for college and financial aid opportunities for online students in Montana.
This nonprofit organization offers student loan funding for Montana learners. The group reduces the cost of education by providing many borrower benefits.

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