Oldest College In Montana

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

As Montana’s oldest college and the only one to grant 4-year degrees, the University of Montana is a fixture in the Treasure State. In 2005, UM celebrated its 150th anniversary in style by constructing beautiful Washington Grizzly Stadium and cutting-edge Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. The flagship campus is also home to the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, Arboretum, spectacular views of Missoula Valley, twenty-one residence halls and over twenty thousand students. With 1300 professors and 300 degree programs, UM has catering to all students interests.

Montana State University was founded in 1893 and has been serving students for the past 126 years. Located in the city of Bozeman, it is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the state with a total enrollment approaching 28,000. As part of the Land Grant university system, Montana State University provides a wide-variety of both undergraduate and graduate programs including Commerce and Business Administration; Engineering; Natural Science; Horticulture; Agriculture; and more.

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Montana State University Billings - Abound: Finish College

Best Universities In Montana

Rocky Mountain College is the oldest in Montana, according to its website. It was established in 1878. The school is located in Billings, Montana.

Rocky Mountain College is the oldest college in Montana, founded in 1878. Its history demonstrates a commitment to excellence and openness to all points of view. The College finds strength by joining a liberal arts tradition and the heritage of practical training for specific careers. The union of three distinct religious traditions has resulted in a church-related college that considers all questions in an open and non-sectarian manner.

The campus of Rocky Mountain College occupies approximately 60 park-like acres in a residential section of Billings. Evergreen trees, shrubs, and perennials make the campus particularly welcoming. Billings offers all of the benefits of a big-city life with small-town Montana hospitality. Students can partake in activities that vary from the opera to the rodeo or high-end shopping to extreme rock climbing.

The College recognizes the educational value of co-curricular activities. There are a variety of student activities provided by the College such as athletics, outdoor recreation, theatre, community service, music, clubs, and campus ministry. Through participation, a student may gain an understanding of fellow students, increase his or her desire to serve the world, and acquire the skills necessary to live and work with others. 

Rocky Mountain College educates future leaders through liberal arts and professional programs that cultivate critical thinking, creative expression, ethical decision-making, informed citizenship, and professional excellence. Built on core themes of academic excellence, transformational learning, and shared responsibility and stewardship, the College prides itself on continuously improving and producing well-rounded, community-minded graduates.

UMW » Montana Western Ranked Among the State's Best Colleges

Community Colleges In Montana

Carroll College1601 N Benton Ave, Helena, Mt 59625Private1431$29,280$29,28053%1909
Montana State University System
Montana State University Billings1500 University Drive, Billings, MT 59101Public4465$5,780$17,34299%1927
Montana State University (Bozeman)Bozeman, Mt 59717Public13264$6,894Ê$21,29685%1893
Montana State University – Northern300 13th streeet West, Havre, Mt 59501Public1132$5,480$17,3121929
Rocky Mountain College1511 Poly Drive, Billings, MT 59102Private988$24,530$24,53067%1878
Salish Kootenai College58138 US Hwy 93, Pablo, MT 59855Public1150$4,191$11,3461977
University of Great Falls1301 20th Street S, Great Falls, MT 59401Private1046$20,960$20,96084%1932
University of Montana System
Montana Tech1300 W. Park Street, Butte, MT 59701Public2757$6,752$20,068Ê88%1893
University of Montana (Missoula)32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812Public9787$6,330$23,14696%1893
University of Montana Western710 S. Atlantic Street, Dillon, MT 59725Public1511$5,370$15,21275%1893

Largest University In Montana

Size-wise the largest colleges by student body are the Montana State University (13,264 UG students) and the University of Montana (located in Missoula; 9,787 students). While the smallest establishments include Rocky Mountain College (988 students) and the University of Great Falls (1,046 students).

Cost-wise, of the main public higher education establishments the lowest tuition fees are offered by the University of Montana Western (In-state tuition: $5,370; Out of state fees: $15,212), and Montana State University – Northern (In-state: $5,480; Out of state: $17,312).

Whereas the highest priced public college in the list of Montana colleges are the Montana State University Bozeman ($6,894 In-state tuition fees and $20,068 Out of state fees) and Montana Tech (In-state: $6,752; Out of state: $20,068 ).

Of the private institutions. the lowest priced establishments is the University of Great Falls ($20,960) and, whilst the most expensive is Carroll College ($29,280).

The most selective colleges are Carroll College (53% acceptance rate) and Rocky Mountain College  (67%). The oldest college in Montana State is Rocky Mountain College, established in 1878.

10 Best Colleges in Montana

1. Carroll College

Location: Helena, MT  

Acceptance Rate: 78%

Middle 50% SAT: 1070-1270

Middle 50% ACT: 22-28

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,322

Carroll is a Catholic liberal arts college with a 63-acre campus on the outskirts of Helena, Montana’s state capital. Carroll College’s location affords students a wide range of academic, professional, and recreational opportunities, including internships at various federal and state local offices and easy access to world-class mountain biking and hiking. Carroll College students will also find numerous cultural experiences in Helena; the city is home to Holter Museum of Modern Art, the Helena Symphony, and the Montana Shakespeare Company, along with more traditional Montana activities like rodeos and dog sled races. 

Learn more about Carroll College and what it takes to get accepted.

2. Montana State University | MSU

Location: Bozeman, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 80%

Middle 50% SAT: 1090-1320

Middle 50% ACT: 21-28

Undergrad Enrollment: 14,240 

Montana State University was founded in 1893 as a land-grant institution and it’s the largest university in the state today. MSU is one of just 131 colleges and universities in the country that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies as having “very high research activity,” and one of only 69 that is also classified as having “significant commitment to community engagement.” MSU’s location near two exceptional ski areas—Bridger Bowl and Big Sky—makes it particularly attractive to skiers. Those more interested in indoor activities are enticed by Bozeman’s cultural amenities, including its symphony, opera, and ballet companies, along with shopping, dining, and art. 

Learn more about Montana State University and what it takes to get accepted.

3. Rocky Mountain College | RMC

Location: Billings, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 71%

Middle 50% SAT: 930-1155

Middle 50% ACT: 18-24

Undergrad Enrollment: 839

Founded in 1873, Rocky Mountain College has the distinction of being the oldest college in Montana—in fact, the school is older than Montana itself, which didn’t receive statehood until 1889. RMC is a small liberal arts college that has historically been associated with the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church, however, the college is open to students from all backgrounds and is committed to openness to all points of view, including religious. RMC is notable for offering some unique majors, such as aviation, and equestrian studies. 

Learn more about Rocky Mountain College and what it takes to get accepted.

4. University of Montana

Location: Missoula, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 94%

Middle 50% SAT: 1055-1245

Middle 50% ACT: 20-26

Undergrad Enrollment: 7,714

The University of Montana is the flagship institution of Montana’s public university system. The university is located in the heart of the northern Rockies in western Montana, and Missoula is known as the “Garden City,” thanks to its dense trees and lush landscape. The University of Montana is particularly attractive to outdoor enthusiasts, as it is within driving distance of both Yellowstone and Glacier National Park and offers easy access to activities like skiing, hiking, and fishing. Consequently, the University of Montana has produced more Udall Scholars—exceptional students who intend to pursue careers related to the natural environment—than any other school in the country. 

Learn more about the University of Montana and what it takes to get accepted.

5. Montana Tech of the University of Montana | Montana Tech

Location: Butte, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 91%

Middle 50% SAT: 1080-1260

Middle 50% ACT: 21-26

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,369

Montana Tech was founded in 1900 as the Montana State School of Mines. Originally, the school was housed in just one building, hosted 21 students, and offered only two degrees: mining engineering and electrical engineering. Today, the college remains focused on STEM. In fact, it’s Montana’s only STEM-focused university and offers degrees in fields ranging from biology to engineering to nursing. Montana Tech is proud of its outcomes; the university ranks 83rd for in-state students and 115th for out-of-state students—out of 1,978 institutions—on Payscale’s list of best value colleges

Learn more about Montana Tech of the University of Montana and what it takes to get accepted.

6. University of Montana Western | UMW

Location: Dillon, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 56%

Middle 50% SAT: 890-1120

Middle 50% ACT: 17-22

Undergrad Enrollment: 1,126

The University of Montana Western was founded in 1897 as the State Normal School, a college to train teachers. Today, UMW offers a wide range of programs, including everything from equine studies to fine arts to mathematics. UMW is known for its “Experience One” block scheduling, through which students take a single course at a time, for three hours per day, over three and a half weeks—students usually take four courses a semester. Experience One provided students with a concentrated learning experience unmatched by other institutions. 

Learn more about the University of Montana Western and what it takes to get accepted.

7. University of Providence | UP

Location: Great Falls, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 55%

Middle 50% SAT: N/A

Middle 50% ACT: 16-23

Undergrad Enrollment: 484

The University of Providence is a small, faith-based, Roman Catholic liberal arts university. UP is grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition, but students from all backgrounds are welcome on campus—only a quarter of undergraduates are Catholic. The university offers just 11 undergraduate majors:

  • Biology
  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education Programs
  • Exercise Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Legal & Paralegal Studies
  • Nursing 
  • Sports Management
  • Theology & Ministry

Great Falls, home to UP, is often called the “basecamp” of Montana—it’s located between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks and offers a plethora of opportunities to students outside of the classroom 

Learn more about the University of Providence and what it takes to get accepted.

8. Salish Kootenai College

Location: Pablo, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Middle 50% SAT: N/A

Middle 50% ACT: N/A

Undergrad Enrollment: 558 

Salish Kootenai College provides an educational experience grounded in the cultures of the Séliš, Ksanka, and QÍispé people of the Flathead Nation. The school’s mission is to provide Native Americans with higher educational opportunities—61% of students are tribal members, 16% are tribal descendants, and there are 68 North American tribes represented on Salish Kootenai College’s campus. Degree programs range from liberal arts to business, but the school is most notable for its Native American Studies Careers Division. 

Learn more about Salish Kootenai College and what it takes to get accepted.

9. Montana State University Billings | MSUB

Location: Billings, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 99%

Middle 50% SAT: N/A

Middle 50% ACT: 17-24

Undergrad Enrollment: 3,602

Montana State University Billings provides 115 academic programs through its five colleges: 

  • College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Education
  • College of Health Professions and Science
  • City College

The university boasts of its outcomes—its four-year graduates, on average, make $4,500 more per year than graduates from other four-year Montana public institutions. Located in the largest city in Montana, MSUB maintains a close-knit campus community, thanks in part to a variety of student organizations and a low 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio.  

Learn more about Montana State University Billings and what it takes to get accepted.

10. Montana State University-Northern

Location: Havre, MT   

Acceptance Rate: 100%

Middle 50% SAT: 845-973

Middle 50% ACT: 16-22

Undergrad Enrollment: 794

Montana State University-Northern offers over 35 majors in the arts and sciences, agriculture, business, engineering technology, education, and nursing. The university is located just 45 miles south of the Canadian border and services a massive geographic region that includes four Native American reservations along with Montana’s smallest and largest towns. Through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), qualifying students—from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands—are able to attend the university for considerably less than non-resident tuition.  

Learn more about Montana State University-Northern and what it takes to get accepted.

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