Montana's rugged natural environment, Native American heritage, and relatively sparse population have all had an influence on its religious history. According to a recent poll, 65% of Montana residents identify as Christians. While the state's religious landscape is deeply rooted in the Evangelical and mainline Protestant traditions introduced by early missionaries and settlers, it also includes a small but devout Roman Catholic community and a significant Mormon presence. Despite relatively low church attendance rates, 64% of Montanans say they are absolutely certain of God's existence, and nearly as many pray at least once a day.
While the state's religious landscape is deeply rooted in the Evangelical and mainline Protestant traditions introduced by early missionaries and settlers, it also includes a small but devout Roman Catholic community and a significant Mormon presence Pew Research Center
Today, Montana is home to numerous Christian colleges, seminaries, and Bible schools. While many are affiliated with Protestant denominations, several Catholic colleges are located throughout the state. Offering programs such as liberal arts degrees, religious studies programs, and ministry preparation pathways, Christian colleges in Montana present a variety of academic options. Whether you want to earn your degree in a faith-based environment, pursue a career in church leadership, or find an online program that fits your lifestyle, there's a Montana Bible college for you. In this guide, we'll explore some of the state's many opportunities in Christian education.
For busy individuals who must balance work, family, and church obligations, online Christian colleges provide a convenient and affordable alternative to expensive on-campus programs. While the traditional college experience often requires students to relocate, leave their jobs, and make drastic lifestyle changes, distance learning allows you to learn on your own schedule. Many Christian colleges in Montana offer asynchronous online degrees that are self-paced, allowing students to review course materials and complete assignments at any time. Identical to their on-campus counterparts, these programs provide quality, faith-based instruction in fields such as theology, biblical history, education, and the social sciences.
Online learning is also economical. Many distance education programs feature flat tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students. Online learners also avoid paying for costly campus housing and transportation fees. In addition, Christian online colleges frequently offer spiritual resources for off-campus students. Learners can view live streaming religious services, take part in virtual Bible study sessions and local service-learning programs, and engage in fellowship through discussion forums and chat sessions. Some schools provide one-on-one spiritual counseling and faith-based support systems using video conferencing and voice chat.
There are many faith-based schools and Christian colleges in Montana, and it's easy to become overwhelmed by the decision-making process. Finding the right Montana Bible college takes time and requires a great deal of consideration. The major and type of degree you intend to pursue play a strong part in choosing a school. Are you a postgraduate student pursuing a church leadership role, an undergraduate student interested in religious studies programs, or a graduate student seeking a liberal arts degree in a Christian environment? Many schools also maintain lifestyle guidelines for on-campus students, such as prohibitions on drinking and co-ed housing. Some schools require students to attend worship services on campus or perform volunteer work.
School size is another important factor to consider, particularly for distance learners. Smaller institutions feature lower student-to-faculty ratios, allowing for greater interaction and collaboration between students and professors. While small colleges provide a more personalized learning experience, they may not offer as many distance learning programs and resources as larger universities. If you're researching Christian online colleges, it's crucial to examine the academic and financial resources available to online students, as well as graduation requirements. Some programs include work-study components that must be fulfilled in a local setting.
Seminary Schools vs. Bible Schools
Should you attend a Montana Bible college or a seminary school? The answer depends on the type of degree you're seeking, your education level, and the career path you intend to pursue. While Bible colleges and seminary schools share many similarities, they differ in degree type, program offerings, and career focus.
While Bible colleges and seminary schools share many similarities, they differ in degree type, program offerings, and career focus.
Most online Christian colleges and Bible schools confer undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees in a variety of majors. Along with theology and religious studies programs, they typically offer liberal arts majors filtered through a Christian perspective. Some also offer graduate-level pastoral preparation programs.
In contrast, seminary schools provide training for postgraduate students pursuing a career in ministry or the priesthood. While curriculum details vary according to denomination and school, seminary studies focus on advanced concepts in theology, Biblical history, liturgics, and ancient languages. Admission requirements also differ between denominations, and prospective seminarians may need to apply for ecclesiastical approval or hold an advanced degree in a related field before beginning their studies.
Accreditation for Christian Colleges
As you research Bible schools and online Christian colleges in Montana, it's important to consider accreditation status. Accreditation is a process that ensures higher learning institutions maintain strong academic, professional, and ethical standards. Schools may receive regional, national, or specialized accreditation, depending on the accrediting body that assesses them. Most vocational, for-profit schools receive national accreditation, while most public, academically-focused, nonprofit universities receive regional accreditation.
Specialized accreditation is usually granted on the basis of certain criteria to particular types of institutions. For example, Christian colleges often receive accreditation from agencies such as the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and Accreditation for Christian Colleges & Seminaries (AICCS).
There are numerous advantages to choosing a regionally accredited school, including better credit transfer options and financial aid opportunities. Credits earned at regionally accredited institutions transfer easily between schools, while those from nationally accredited schools do not. Regionally accredited colleges are often viewed as more prestigious than others, and some employers prefer to hire graduates of regionally accredited schools. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a list of all accredited schools on its website.
As a mountainous, rural state with abundant natural resources, much of Montana's economy relies on mining and logging. The state is also home to a thriving tourism industry, drawing a significant portion of its income from the leisure and hospitality sector. Despite the seasonal nature of these industries, Montana's harsh climate, and its remote location, the state's 4.1% unemployment rate is roughly on par with the national average. Below-average median hourly wages of $20.39 and annual mean wages of $42,400 can be attributed to low population density and the low cost of rural living.
Below-average median hourly wages of $20.39 and annual mean wages of $42,400 in Montana can be attributed to low population density and the low cost of rural living
While industries such as construction, transportation, and finance have experienced a slight decline in job growth over the past year, demand for community and social services is on the rise. Social worker jobs and church leadership positions are both growing rapidly. As the table below demonstrates, Montana religious leaders tend to earn more per hour than most other professionals in the field, receiving an average hourly wage comparable to that of substance abuse counselors. For graduates with degrees in religion, pastoral counseling, and similar areas, Montana offers a job market full of opportunities.
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Wage|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||470||$21.04||$43,760|
|Mental Health Counselors||1030||$19.33||$40,210|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||1420||$16.85||$35,050|
|Healthcare Social Workers||580||$22.37||$46,530|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||1280||$13.70||$28,490|
|Directors, Religious Activities and Education||450||$14.77||$30,720|
|Religious Workers, all other||30||$15.90||$33,070|
Students attending or applying to Christian colleges in Montana have numerous scholarship opportunities from which to choose. While many are awarded to state residents on the basis of need or merit, others are Christian scholarships for members of certain denominations. Other scholarships assist students pursuing church careers. Below are a few awards that may interest you.
Montana Student Ministries Youth Scholarship $1,500
Marguerite Young Endowment Fund $1,000
Native American Seminary Scholarship Varies
Malta Scholarship $1,000
Knights of Columbus Vocations Scholarships $2,500
Scholarships for Montana Residents
NSHSS Andeavor Youth Leadership Awards $2,500
Horatio Alger Montana Undergraduate Scholarship $15,000
Montana 4-H Foundation Scholarships Varies
Treacy Foundation Scholarships $2,000
Montana Community Foundation Scholarships $500-$5,000
Find a Church in Your Community
Church is the ultimate source of support and guidance, but finding the right place of worship can be tricky when you move to a new town. Sites like Church Finder and USA Churches can help you locate a church near your Montana Bible college. The sites also let you search by church size and denomination.
Christian professional and social networking sites provide opportunities for students to connect with other believers, explore job openings, and strengthen their faith through fellowship.
- Christian Business Network Bringing together Christian professionals around the world, CBN provides thousands of opportunities for networking and collaboration. Members build professional profiles, promote their organizations, and connect through industry groups.
- Montana Association of Christians MAC unites representatives from Christian colleges in Montana, local churches, nonprofit groups, and families in the pursuit of peace and justice throughout the state.
- Young Catholic Professionals With chapters in 18 cities, YCP represents a growing network of young Catholic adults employed in a variety of industries. The organization's mentoring program pairs members with top executives.
Find Christian Ministries
Most Montana Bible colleges are private institutions and tend to charge higher tuition rates than public, secular universities. Because of this, many Christian students choose to attend public schools. Fortunately, most secular universities host campus ministry groups and faith-based organizations like the ones below.
- Campus Crusade for Christ Popularly known as Cru, this organization maintains over 5,300 campus ministries around the world. Cru's fellowship and service opportunities include summer mission trips, conferences, and retreats.
- Chi Alpha Chi Alpha is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, but the group invites Christian students from all backgrounds to participate in worship services and events.
- International Fellowship of Evangelical Students IFES develops young disciples and ministers through community-building initiatives worldwide. This student-led organization maintains a presence on college campuses in more than 160 countries.
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes FCA builds faith-based communities that are led by coaches and supported by athletes. FCA boasts over 17,783 official Bible study groups worldwide.
- Catholic Campus Ministry Association Uniting Catholic campus chaplains across the nation, CCMA serves as a spiritual and educational resource for those involved in collegiate ministry. Endorsed members may receive certification.
- Lutheran Student Movement U.S.A. Founded in 1969, LSM-USA is a pan-Lutheran association dedicated to youth ministry and service. Sponsored events include alternative spring break missions and annual national conferences.
- Reformed University Fellowship Through small group Bible study sessions, concerts, and worship services, members of RUF have plenty of opportunities to connect with other Presbyterian students and grow in their faith.
- UKirk UKirk encourages students to explore their religion through the literary arts. The group publishes member-authored book reviews and blogs in addition to liturgical resources.
- Baptist Collegiate Ministry Life Known to members as BCM Life, this organization emphasizes the role of youth engagement in church planting and evangelism. Cross-cultural ministry initiatives are available for international students.
Public Universities in Montana with Christian Ministries
- University of Montana- Missoula: The University of Montana's Chi Alpha chapter got its start in 1987. The ministry offers weekly worship, retreats, and discipleship and Bible study groups.
- Montana State University: The Catholic Campus Ministry Association offers MSU students support, spiritual guidance, and a place to comfortably discuss their faith on the university's campuses.
- University of Montana- Bozeman: In addition to weekly meetings, Cru hosts men's, women's, and co-ed discipleship groups. The group helps students explore the Bible and build friendships in an informal setting.