Top 10 Best Online Colleges in Montana

For many students, attending a four- or two-year college on campus, full time is not a possibility. With so many students working full or part time, or having other commitments like family or perhaps even health constraints, colleges today more than ever before are offering degree programs online. Students can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees fully online from highly respected and accredited universities and colleges across the nations. In this Value Colleges Top 10 list you will find the best of the best when it comes to online learning in the state of Montana. Please note, if you do plan to attend college or university in Montana, whether online or on campus, you may try searching your degree program of interest with the Montana University System’s Academic Degree Program Inventory tool.

All of the colleges and universities on this Top 10 list are located in the state of Montana and each offer degrees that students can obtain 100% online, and additionally some schools offer professional educational options such as certificate programs. The schools vary in offering degrees from the associate to master, or even doctorate, levels. Please note that all of the tuition costs listed reflect the annual IPEDs listings since online tuition costs often vary program to program. The schools below are ranked not by tuition costs, but instead by the number of fully online degree programs they offer and their solid ROI levels. Each institution meets Value Colleges Best Value credentials and has institutional accreditation.


Montana State University at Billings

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Montana State University, located in Billings, Montana, is the largest, primary campus in the Montana State University system. The institution was originally founded in 1927 at Eastern Montana College and from its humble beginnings has grown to become a state leader in academics, civic engagement, and community enhancement. The university proudly offers degrees from the associate to master degree levels via five accredited colleges.

The Montana State University at Billings online portal offers the same quality education online as is found on the traditional campus. Students enjoy a variety of learning platforms online including class discussions, accessible coursework, and advising and career services, which can help online students to land internships across the region, while obtaining their degree at their own pace and with the flexibility of learning remotely. In addition to its twenty plus fully online degree programs the online school also offers five professional certificate programs in areas like Accounting and Human Resource Management.

Online Programs: 21

Annual Tuition: $5,826


University of Montana

University of Montana, located in Missoula, Montana’s second largest city after Billings, is a leading research institution serving students from across the globe. The college campus extends across two campuses in central and west Missoula plus offers twelve comprehensive programs fully online. The University of Montana in Missoula is known for having one of the best schools of Forestry and Conservation in the nation, which offers sustainability courses and degrees, plus the university boasts a unique School of Extended and Lifelong Learning which serves adult learners, nontraditional students, and those wishing to further their education at the university level.

University of Montana in Missoula online allows students access to the same high-quality education found on the traditional UM campus but with the flexibility of learning online remotely from anywhere in the world! UMOnline is housed in the School of Extended and Lifelong Learning, often referred to as SELL. By creating innovative and creative opportunities for higher learning, UMOnline proudly serves a diverse student body and offers over ten programs fully online plus eleven certificate programs.

Online Programs: 12

Annual Tuition: $6,238 


Montana State University Northern

Located in Havre, Montana, Montana State University Northern proudly offers programs from the associate to master levels as north central Montana’s main comprehensive university. The university specializes in serving a large geographical area in a number of ways, first and foremost by directly addressing the regions societal and economic needs. The region primarily served additionally houses four Native American reservations and Montana’s smallest and largest towns statewide! Even with a strong commitment to the local region, UM Northern boasts a diverse student base with attendees on campus or online from across the nation.

Montana State University Northern online is called Desire2Learn and primarily serves adult learners or non-traditional college students. The courses were specifically designed to serve individuals with busy schedules or who cannot attend on campus classroom courses for any number of reasons. The university offers nine comprehensive, fully online degree programs from the associate to bachelor levels, including degrees in Community Leadership, Business, or Criminal Justice, plus one graduate degree, a Master of Education in Instruction and Learning.

Online Programs: 10

Annual Tuition: $5,371


Great Falls College

Great Falls College Montana State University is a comprehensive, accredited two-year institution that serves the regional Great Falls community. The college offers academic programs in health sciences, technology, trades, as well as transfer programs for those seeking bachelor’s degrees and above. The college actively engages with its regional industry partners to support employers with a highly skilled, educated workforce.

Great Falls College MSU is a leader in offering online education, where students can complete their program without ever having to physically attend classes. The distance learning program is perfect for working adults who want to earn a degree or further their education while maintaining their professional or vocational careers. The college also offers an online-only tuition rate for out-of-state students, which, in many cases, is less than in-state tuition at other schools. Great Falls College MSU offers a number of fully and partially online programs, including Healthcare Informatics Technician, Health Information Coding Specialist, Associate of Arts or Sciences, Accounting and Pharmacy Technician.

Online Programs: 6

Annual Tuition: $3,130


Montana State University

Montana State University, located in the city of Bozeman, is the state’s land-grant institution, founded in 1893. Today the university is recognized nationwide for its excellence in research among other leading university across the globe. In fact, Montana State University is in the top third percentile of colleges and universities nationwide for research expenditures and since the institution has a high undergraduate profile, many of these master-level research opportunities are available to undergrad students. 

Montana State University online enrolls students every spring and fall and offers the same coursework and experiences found on campus but with the flexibility of learning online. Additionally, tuition prices online are aligned with those of the traditional campus. Students can choose from a range of fully online degree programs plus five fully online certificate programs.

Online Programs: 9

Annual Tuition: $6,887


Dawson Community College

Dawson Community College is proud to be a leading two-year institution in the state of Montana, which provides career-centered programs to motivated individuals both on a traditional campus and online. With affordability and quality-coursework running hand in hand, students find it easy to gain a quality two-year education without accumulating debt. Programs in Career and Technical Education, College Readiness, and Continuing Education and Community Service are offered to a diverse student body from traditional college aged students to full time working adults and parents, to career-centered individuals hoping to further their professional lives.

Dawson Community College online offers associate degrees fully online and transfer opportunities. Students can choose from an Associates of Arts or an Associates of Science in Business Management, Early Childhood Education, or Criminal Justice. All courses are designed in accordance with best practices to enhance communications between online learners and their professors and students have access to services like advisement and 24/7 virtual access to coursework.

Online Programs: 5

Annual Tuition: $3,630


Missoula College

Originally founded in 1956, Missoula College today is part of the University of Montana system after joining in 1994. The college is known for offering career-centered degree programs that challenge students with real world experiences during college so that they may succeed professionally after.  The two-year university offers outstanding technical and occupational programs in areas such as business, healthcare, energy and industrial technologies, and applied computing and electronics. Of the thirty plus degrees offered on campus, students can also fully complete degrees online.

Missoula College online has four degrees available to be completed fully online as well as three professional certificate options. Online learners experience the same quality, career-focused education that is found on campus through the distance learning program, but with the flexibility of completing coursework at their convenience. Student services like advisement, financial aid, and library services are also available for online enrollees.

Online Programs: 4

Annual Tuition: $3,611


City College

City College, founded in 1969 and located at Montana State University in Billings, Montana, proudly offers career-focused educational opportunities to regional students and beyond. The market-driven coursework and program options are all part of the two-year colleges comprehensive accredited academic offerings. Students may enroll in courses with plans to transfer eventually to a four-year institution or beyond, or choose to complete a vocational degree that will secure a profession after college or advance their current career.

City College online offers degrees fully online in areas such as Health and Safety, Computers, Business, and more, plus the college has four professional certificate options. Online enrollees enjoy the same career-focused education with the benefit of learning fully online and accessing their coursework at their convenience.

Online Programs: 4

Annual Tuition: $3,829


Montana Tech

Founded in 1900 and located in Butte, Montana, Montana Tech of the University of Montana serves students from the baccalaureate to graduate levels from across the state of Montana and the nation, and from around the world. The university is known for having one of the leading School of Mines and Engineering in the northwest.

At Montana Tech online students can choose to enroll in one of two Master of Science graduate degree offerings in Industrial Hygiene or Project Engineering and Management. Additionally the college offers three fully online certificate programs at the graduate and undergraduate degree levels. Since Montana Tech is a part of the University of Montana state system, students can earn their degrees with ease of knowing they are receiving a quality, respected, and accredited education while taking advantage of the benefits of earning a degree remotely.

Online Programs: 2

Annual Tuition: $6,561


University of Montana Western

The University of Montana Western, located in Dillon, Montana, was founded in 1893 and was originally called the Montana State Normal School. Today the school is known for being a leader nationally in offering small classes on a budget. The school boasts an ‘Experience One’ program which allows students to enroll in only one class at a time. Montana Western is currently the only public college in the nation to make this flexible and accessible avenue for learning available. Whether students are enrolled on campus or online they will enjoy ease of learning while obtaining a quality education because they are enrolled in just one class at a time – giving them a chance to truly focus on getting the most from each course.

For busy working adults, career-focused individuals, or students who need even more flexibility, enrolling in the University of Montana Western online is another great option. While obtaining the same quality education as found on campus, online students can access their coursework remotely with 24/7 access. Currently UM Western offers a Bachelor of Science in Childhood Education online, plus two associate degrees and five certificate programs.

Online Programs: 2

Annual Tuition: $4,893