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Higher Education in Montana
Montana University System

 The Montana University System (MUS) is comprised of fourteen institutions: two flagship universities, four regional universities, five colleges of technology, and three community colleges.

Serving over 47,000 students!
Employing over 7,000 full and part-time faculty and staff

Montana state map


  • 2010-11 –- highest enrollment level in MUS history 
  • Over 47,500 students enrolled (unduplicated headcount)
  • Increase of 5,400 student FTE in past three years!
  • The increase in FTE in the past three years is over twice the amount of growth occurring in the ten years prior to 2008


Nearly 80% of the students in the Montana University System (MUS) are residents of Montana.  Over the past ten years, resident undergraduate students represented the largest growing segment of the MUS (+5,100 FTE).

Fact: over 70% of resident students receiving degrees in the MUS find employment in Montana within one year of graduation. Average salary of those working one full year = $29,000.

Students receive degrees and certificates in fields ranging from energy technology to architecture, process plant technology to pharmacy, early childhood education to electrical engineering, and many more.

Fact: in the 2010-11 academic year, over 7,500 degrees and certificates were awarded, nearly 5,000 bachelor’s degrees alone, and more than 1,300 two-year degrees and certificates.

In Fall 2011, freshmen enrolling at MUS four-year campuses pay an average of $2,700 in tuition and fees (resident students enrolling in twelve or more credits).  The same students enrolling in at MUS two-year institutions pay approximately $1,600 per semester.

Fact: the average amount for tuition and fees at MUS four-year colleges is below the regional average in the western states. The average rate at two-year colleges in Montana is above the regional average.

Strategic Initiatives


COLLEGE! NOW focuses on Montana’s two-year colleges as the way to increase the number of Montanans who complete a college certificate or degree and reflects a shared commitment by the University System, K-12 leaders, business and community leaders, legislators, and the governor’s office to make two-year education more accessible, better coordinated, better understood and, as a result, better utilized statewide.  


  • education in the state of MontanaOffer complete community college programs and services statewide for Montana’s students and employers. 

  • Expand dual high school/college enrollment and improve two-year/four-year transfer.

  • Use technology to expand access for students and create savings for two-year colleges.

  • Fund colleges based on students’ progress and success, not just enrollment.


The 2007 Legislature appropriated $1.5 million to help the MUS improve the transferability of courses and further develop its centralized data system.  As a result, the MUS initiated a “common course numbering” process for all undergraduate courses.  This process requires that all courses deemed to be equivalent must possess the same course prefix, number, and title; all courses with the same name and number will directly transfer on a one-to-one basis with equivalent courses at the receiving institution.


  • As of December 2012, more than 9,000 courses in over 60 disciplines have gone through the Common Course Numbering process.  This represents over 90% of the undergraduate courses in the MUS.

Distance Learning

In the 2005 and 2007 legislative sessions, the Montana Legislature appropriated funds specifically aimed at increasing the availability of distance learning in the Montana University System.  With these funds the University System invested in distance learning resources, faculty, and infrastructure.  As a result, Montana universities and colleges now offer more than 90 online degrees and 700 Internet classes and enroll nearly 10,000 students in at least one distance-learning course each semester.

Road Ahead: Work continues on improving student access to distance learning opportunities.  Major efforts are in progress to integrate information systems so students can easily enroll in multiple institutions throughout the MUS and provide dual enrollment opportunities for high school students through the MT Digital Academy.

Research & Graduate Education

Our campuses are awarded over $175 million in competitive research grants each year in recognition of their involvement in cutting edge research that is globally competitive and applicable.  Faculty, staff, and students in the Montana University System (MUS) are engaged in science and technology research and graduate education that help build Montana’s economic future. 

  • UM & MSU economic impact studies report over 1,400 high paying, research related jobs on their campuses

  • Over 130 graduate programs offered at five MUS campuses: MSU Bozeman, UM Missoula, MT Tech, MSU Billings, and MSU Northern; 20 programs offered fully on-line and hundreds of courses available

  • Approximately 1,400 graduate degrees awarded at the master’s, doctoral, and professional levels 

  • 76% of MT residents earning master’s degrees are employed in MT within one year of graduation

Excerpted from,, with permission from the Montana University System (MUS),