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Study in Montana

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Montana is not your usual study abroad destination! But if you're looking for something a little... different, then perhaps it could be for you!

Situated to north of the US, sandwiched by the Dakotas, Wyoming and Idaho, Montana is one of the biggest states in the US; only Alaska, Texas and California are bigger (it is, in fact, bigger than the vast majority of the world’s countries, including Malaysia, Germany and Japan).

The name of state derives from the fact that much of the state is mountainous, with its western third completely dominated by the Rocky Mountains, and the middle third peppered with island ranges. The eastern third of this wide state falls into the Great Plains region, consisting of seemingly endless prairieland – it’s not for no reason that they call this state Big Sky Country!

Because of the nature of its topography, it is one of the least densely populated states, which is one of its main draws – not everyone wants to be in the big city all the time after all. This is borne out by the fact that tourism is one of the state’s biggest industries.

Some the state’s main attractions – apart from a wonderful isolation which can seem hard to come by in much of the 21st century world – include the enormous and beautiful Glacier National Park (to use another country comparison, this park alone is not far off being twice as big as Luxembourg) and its famously diverse wildlife (see fast facts below).

If you study in Montana, you’ll most likely end up in Missoula, which with a metropolitan population of nearly 110,000 is as close as you’re going to get to a bustling metropolis in this state (well, okay, largest city Billings can offer 160,000) or the even  smaller Bozeman, a college town towards the state’s Wyoming border.

Montana: Fast facts

•    Montana’s population of just under a million is truly miniscule for a state of its vast proportions

•    Montana is truly a wildlife lover’s paradise, with more mammal species than any other state

•    The word ‘ditch’ can be used in Montana to mean you want water added to your drink

•    On average, the state averages one elk, three deer, and six people per square mile

•    Water from the Triple Divide Peak in Flathead County, Montana can flow into the Atlantic, Pacific or the Arctic Ocean

•    The largest snowflake ever observed, measuring 38cm, was recorded at Fort Keogh, Montana in 1887

•    Famous Montanans include director David Lynch, actress Michelle Williams, daredevil Evel Knievel and first ever congresswoman, Jeannette Rankin

•    Montana (Loma) was also the location of the greatest temperature change ever recorded, with the temperature going from -47°c to 9°c in the space of 24 hours

Top universities in Montana

None of Montana’s universities make the 2011 QS World University Rankings. However, this does not mean the state’s institutions lack quality. The two most prominent institutions are its two public universities, the University of Montana and Montana State University.

The former, located in Missoula, the state’s second biggest city, serves a total of around 15,500 students, mostly at undergraduate level.

It is made up of five colleges and three schools, among them one of the country’s most productive forestry research institutes. The College of Arts and Sciences is by far the largest by enrolment.

Its campus has been called the most scenic in the US by Rolling Stone magazine.

Montana State University, located in Bozeman, is the state’s Land Grant University. It serves 14,000 students, again mostly at undergraduate level, offering 51 degrees at that level. Master’s degrees are available in 41 disciplines and doctorates in 18.

The Museum of the Rockies – home to the world’s largest T Rex skull – is situated on the university’s campus, as are the headquarters of the state’s public television broadcasting network and a local radio station.

Research conducted on the vast Yellowstone National Park has led to university being billed ‘The University of Yellowstone’.

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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