The Best College Towns In Montana For 2020

Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our time ranking the best college towns in Montana.
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Believe it or not, America has the best colleges in the world. It's been proven by data (and surveys) that the U.S. educational system is of the highest quality

It's actually not even close and Montana is home to a handful of them.

While we could debate which colleges within the are the 'best,' that's not the goal of this post.

Instead, ride along with us as we determine which college towns in Montana are the best.

You know, the type of places where there's energy and stimulation, but the type of place you can walk around at night. The happiest, chillest, most downright fun places where you can send your kids off to college where you won't break the bank, or worry about their well being.

Without further ado, here are the best college towns in Montana for 2020.

The 10 Best College Towns In Montana For 2020

  1. Missoula, MT (Photos | Homes)
  2. Havre, MT (Photos | Homes)
  3. Helena, MT (Photos | Homes)
  4. Great Falls, MT (Photos | Homes)
  5. Billings, MT (Photos | Homes)

While some of these may not seem like a 'real' college town per se, when you look at the numbers, it's hard to argue against.

And for those who live in Missoula, Havre and Helena - we tip our hats to you and we'll schedule a tour for next week. You can see where Missoula ranks in terms of the best college town in America.

Even though there are only 5 cities on our list, you need to remember there are another 362 places in Montana that don't even have a college. One might say you gotta be in it in to win it.

Read on to find out more or for more on Montana check out:

The 10 Best College Towns In Montana For 2020

Missoula, MT
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 72,125
% Undergrad Pop.: 14.8% (1st best)
Median Rent: $813 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 464.0% (4th best)
Crime Rank: 3rd best
More on Missoula: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Missoula is a city in the U.S. state of Montana and is the county seat of Missoula County. It is located along the Clark Fork River near its confluences with the Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers in western Montana and at the convergence of five mountain ranges, thus is often described as the "hub of five valleys". In 2016, the United States Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 72,364 and the population of the Missoula Metropolitan Area at 116,130. In the 1990s, Missoula overtook GreatFalls as Montana-s secondlargest city, behind Billings. Missoula is home to the University of Montana, a public research university.

Colleges: The University of Montana, Modern Beauty School Inc, The University of Montana - Missoula College

Havre, MT
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 9,762
% Undergrad Pop.: 14.2% (2nd best)
Median Rent: $688 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 705.4% (5th best)
Crime Rank: 2nd best
More on Havre: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Havre is the county seat and largest town in Hill County, Montana, in the United States. It is said to be named after the city of Le Havre in France. As of the 2010 census the population was 9,310, and in 2016 the estimated population was 9,846.

Colleges: Montana State University-Northern

Helena, MT
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 31,212
% Undergrad Pop.: 4.0% (3rd best)
Median Rent: $818 (4th best)
Unemployment Rate: 327.6% (2nd best)
Crime Rank: 1st best
More on Helena: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Helena is the state capital of the U.S. state of Montana and the county seat of Lewis and Clark County.

Colleges: Carroll College, Helena College University of Montana

Great Falls, MT
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 58,990
% Undergrad Pop.: 1.5% (5th best)
Median Rent: $701 (2nd best)
Unemployment Rate: 409.9% (3rd best)
Crime Rank: 4th best
More on Great Falls: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Great Falls is a city in and the county seat of Cascade County, Montana, United States. The 2015 census estimate put the population at 59,638. The population was 58,505 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Great Falls, Montana Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Cascade County and has a population of 82,278. Great Falls was the largest city in Montana from 1950 to 1970, when Billings surpassed it. Great Falls remained the second largest city in Montana until 2000, when it was passed by Missoula. Since then Great Falls has been the third largest city in the state.

Colleges: University of Great Falls, Great Falls College Montana State University, Montana Academy of Salons

Billings, MT
Overall SnackAbility

Population: 109,431
% Undergrad Pop.: 3.8% (4th best)
Median Rent: $861 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 324.9% (1st best)
Crime Rank: 5th best
More on Billings: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Billings is the largest city in the state of Montana, and the principal city of the Billings Metropolitan Area with a population of 166,855. It has a trade area of over half a million people.

Colleges: Montana State University-Billings, Rocky Mountain College, Bold Beauty Academy

How'd we figure out the best college towns in Montana?

To crunch our data on Montana's best college towns, we had to first decide which qualities (or rankings) make sense to use in the data, and then crunch the numbers for our rankings.

First off, we firmly decided that only cities with a 4 year college should make the cut -- so there has to be at least one college granting bachelors degrees in town.

You might be surprised to hear that there are only 5 places in Montana with an institution of higher learning with that criteria.

Source of data include OpenStreetMaps, the College Scorecard, the U.S. Census, and FBI reporting data to include the following factors:

  • Students Make Up Large % of the Population
  • College-specific Factors
    • Graduation rate
    • Tuition Cost
    • Student Body Diversity
  • Town Characteristics
    • Safety
    • Affordability
    • Income and Employment Opportunities
  • Things to Do
    • Bars
    • Museums & Libraries
    • Population Density

We ranked each city across each of the criteria, with one being the best.

We rolled up the individual scores into the category and ranked them again based on the category.

Finally, we took the average rank across each category, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title "Best College Town In Montana For 2020".

And it looks like Missoula placed Summa Cum Laude.

There You Have It -- The Best College Towns In The

If you're looking for the best college towns in Montana, you came to the right place.

These places all have great college sports programs, tons of stuff to do, and are great places to raise a family.

For more reading, check out:

5 Best College Towns In Montana

Rank City Population
1 Missoula, MT 72125
2 Havre, MT 9762
3 Helena, MT 31212
4 Great Falls, MT 58990
5 Billings, MT 109431

Best College Towns By State

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