University of Montana Western climbs national rankings again

UMW News Bureau

U.S. News & World Report logoThe U.S. News & World Report 2011 Best Colleges rankings are in, and the University of Montana Western continues to receive high marks for quality and value, surpassing its 2010 rankings.

Montana Western ranked fifth overall for Top Public Regional Colleges in the west; 12th in the second tier of the west’s Best Regional Colleges category; and 10th in the west for regional colleges in the Great Schools, Great Prices category.

In the 2010 U.S. News & World Report rankings, UMW also improved upon the previous year’s rankings in all categories. Also, in December 2009, Montana Western ranked second in the nation among “30 well-regarded and affordable colleges with lots of small classes.”

“These rankings continue to reflect our dedication to providing a top quality education at an affordable price,” UMW Chancellor Richard Storey said. “And it continues to demonstrate we are competitive in the national arena at offering such an education.”

When matched against public colleges like the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Oregon Institute of Technology, Montana Western held its own, placing fifth overall in the 15-state west region, which includes 48 colleges.

Montana Western jumped to 12th place in the second tier of the Best Regional Colleges category in the west. According to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, regional colleges “focus almost entirely on the undergraduate experience and offer a broad range of programs in the liberal arts...and in fields such as business, nursing, and education.”

Montana Western ranked at the top of the class in this tier for percentage of faculty who are full time at 88 percent — fourth in the tier — as well as for the average alumni giving rate at 20 percent — the best in the tier.

The Great Schools, Great Prices category ranked colleges based on academic quality in this year’s rankings and the 2009-2010 net cost of attendance of a student receiving the average level of need-based financial aid. Montana Western placed 10th in the west here. Montana Western also had the fourth lowest average cost of attendance for students receiving grants based on need.

While UMW has one of the lowest costs of attendance in the region, Director of Admissions Catherine Redhead said the ranking points to the quality of a UMW degree and, in particular, to Montana Western’s unique block scheduling program, Experience One, in which students take a single class at a time.

“Experience One is the most innovative approach to public higher education,” Redhead said. “This fact alone is an outstanding reason to choose Montana Western. The fact that we are also the most affordable option in this region further demonstrates our commitment to access to higher education for all. This combination of innovation and accessibility creates a very unique educational opportunity that is ours alone.”

Highlights of the college rankings will be published in the September issue of U.S.News & World Report, available on newsstands Aug. 31. The 2011 Best Colleges guidebook will be on newsstands Aug. 24.