Missoula, Montana (MT) Colleges and Universities

While there is only one public school in Missoula, MT, there are several schools within an approximately 90-mile radius. Read about the top schools in several categories, including most program variety and highest graduation rates, to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

Schools can be pretty far apart in the wide expanse of Montana, but those looking to move to or stay in the Missoula area still have options. This article will focus on just a few of these schools, be they 4-year public, 4-year private, or 2-year community colleges. Read on to see where these schools rank in Montana in terms of:

  • Most Program Variety
  • Lowest Net Price
  • Highest Graduation Rates
  • Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

Most Program Variety

While there isn't a high concentration of colleges in Missoula and the surrounding area, students still have access to a variety of programs and fields of study. The top three schools in this category offer between 30 and about 130 programs each; the schools are ranked below according to program variety. Options include a 4-year public university, a 2-year community college and a 4-year private not-for-profit school.

1 - The University of Montana

The University of Montana is the only 4-year public school in the rural area of Missoula. With roughly 129 programs, this school has the most program variety for this area of Montana. U.S. News & World Report's college rankings for 2013 put the University of Montana at #199 on the list of best national universities, and the school came in at #115 on the top public schools list. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) kept track of which fields of study had the most degrees awarded in 2011-2012 at the University of Montana. Popular majors included business administration and management, psychology, physical therapy, law, health and physical education, anthropology, sociology, English language and literature, biology, education, and speech communication and rhetoric.

2 - Flathead Valley Community College

Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell is a rural 2-year public school. Although it's located roughly 90 miles from Missoula, it's still one of the closest traditional schools to the city, and it's home to about 51 programs, which makes it second in terms of program variety ranking. For 2011-2012, NCES noted that general studies, licensed practical nurse training and medical assistance were the majors at this school in which the most degrees were awarded.

3 - Salish Kootenai College

This private not-for-profit school, located over 50 miles from Missoula in Pablo, offers about 31 programs, putting it in third place for most program variety in the region. The school is classified as a tribal college; the majority of students are Native American, but that isn't a requirement for application. Although it's a 4-year school, associate's degrees are awarded almost three times as often as bachelor's degrees. In 2011-2012, registered nursing, psychology and computer science were the most popular fields studied at the associate's degree level, and construction equipment operation was the most popular certificate program, per NCES.

Lowest Net Price

An average net price for a school is figured out by taking the total cost of resident student attendance and subtracting the average amount of financial aid given. NCES reported net prices of less than $14,000 for the traditional schools in the Missoula region. According to NCES statistics for 2010-2011, the following schools had the lowest net prices for Missoula.

1 - Flathead Valley Community College

As a community college, Flathead Valley Community College is able to offer a lower net price than the 4-year schools in this region. NCES found that the average net price here was $8,061 in 2010-2011, making this the most affordable traditional school in the Missoula area. During this time, 62% of all undergraduate students received financial aid. For the 2012-2013 school year, NCES reported the in-district tuition and fees for Flathead Valley Community College as $3,730, while in-state tuition and fees were $5,102, and out-of-state tuition and fees were $10,870.

2 - Salish Kootenai College

Coming in at second for affordability, Salish Kootenai College had an average net price of $10,477 according to the NCES' report for 2010-2011. In comparison, the NCES-listed tuition and fees for 2012-2013 were $11,463 for out-of-state students, $6,279 for in-state students and $4,191 for in-district students. The school's listing of tuition figures is broken down into Indian, descendant, Montana residents and out-of-state resident categories. In 2010-2011, Salish Kootenai College had the highest percentage of undergraduate students receiving grants and scholarships for the Missoula area, with 80% receiving financial aid.

3 - The University of Montana

With an average net price of $13,937, the University of Montana is third in terms of affordability of public and private not-for-profit colleges in Missoula. Roughly 61% of all undergraduate students at this university received financial aid in the form of scholarships or grants in 2010-2011. More recently, according to NCES, tuition and fees at the school were $5,985 for in-state and $21,077 for out-of-state students for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Highest Graduation Rates

NCES determines graduation rates by counting full-time, first-time students who graduated within 150% of the normal time for their program. For example, associate's degree students who graduated within three years of starting their program would be counted, as would students who finished a bachelor's degree program within six years from enrollment. The highest graduation rates for public and private not-for-profit schools in the Missoula area belong to these three colleges and universities.

1- Salish Kootenai College

With a graduation rate of 55% for students who started in Fall 2005, Salish Kootenai College has the best rating in this category for public and private not-for-profit Missoula area schools, according to NCES. To break the statistic down further, 50% of male students and 61% of female students graduated within 150% of the normal time for their program. The figure was almost identical for Alaska Native and American Indian students (74% of the student body), who had a graduation rate of 56%. However, Salish Kootenai College's retention rate was the lowest of the three schools in this category, with only 32% of 2010 full-time beginning students and 25% of part-time beginning students returning for the 2011-2012 academic year.

2 - The University of Montana

NCES found that 47% of students who began their programs here in Fall 2005 graduated within 150% of the normal time for their program, which makes this school second for graduation rates. Twenty-one percent of bachelor's degree-seeking students were able to finish in four years. Additionally, 72% of full-time students and 49% of part-time students who enrolled at this school for the first time in Fall 2010 returned in Fall 2011.

3 - Flathead Valley Community College

At third place for highest graduation rates near Missoula, per NCES, Flathead Valley Community College had a 27% graduation rate in Fall 2008. The retention rate from 2010 to 2011 for first-time students was 52% for full-time and 38% for part-time.

Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

Lower ratios of students to faculty can mean more individual attention and smaller class sizes. Missoula schools with higher student populations tend to have higher student-faculty ratios, according to NCES statistics. Presented below are the three Missoula area private not-for-profit and public schools with the lowest student-faculty ratios.

1- Salish Kootenai College

The lowest student-faculty ratio for public and private not-for-profit universities and colleges in the Missoula area can be found at Salish Kootenai College. NCES reported that this school had a student-faculty ratio of 9:1 in Fall 2011. During this time, the school had 1,112 students, 73 full-time faculty members and 41 part-time faculty members.

2 - Flathead Valley Community College

Flathead Valley Community College has the second lowest student-faculty ratio at 16:1 in Fall 2011, per NCES. The school had 172 part-time faculty members as well as 48 full-time faculty members in 2011. The student population at Flathead Valley Community College was 2,495.

3 - The University of Montana

Finally, with a student-faculty ratio of 20:1 reported by NCES, the University of Montana had the third lowest student-faculty ratio in this area. Unlike the previous schools, the University of Montana has 465 graduate assistants on staff to assist the 307 part-time and 605 full-time faculty members. The school also had the highest student population for the area with 15,669 students enrolled in Fall 2011.

Missoula Area Schools at a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Flathead Valley Community College Kalispell, Montana (89.7 miles from Missoula) 2-year, public Less than 1-year and 1-year certificates; associate's degrees Lowest Net Price,
2nd Lowest Student Faculty-Ratio,
2nd Most Program Variety,
3rd Highest Graduation Rate
Salish Kootenai College Pablo, Montana (52.8 miles from Missoula) 4-year, primarily associate's, private not-for-profit 1-year certificates; associate's and bachelor's degrees Highest Graduation Rate,
Lowest Student Faculty-Ratio,
2nd Lowest Net Price,
3rd Most Program Variety
The University of Montana Missoula, Montana 4-year, public 1-year and 2-year certificates; associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; postbaccalaureate and post-master's certificates Most Program Variety,
2nd Highest Graduation Rate,
3rd Lowest Net Price,
3rd Lowest Student Faculty-Ratio

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