Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Montana News

FVCC Students Can Now Earn A UM Degree Without Leaving The Flathead

Flathead Valley Community College
Flathead Valley Community College
Flathead Valley Community College

The deadline passed this week for Flathead Valley residents who want to earn a Bachelors of Arts degree in elementary education without leaving the area. The partnership between FVCC and the University of Montana means students can study at FVCC but their coursework and degree will come from the University of Montana.FVCC President Jane Karas says many of their students specifically wanted a four-year degree in education.

"We did a needs assessment with the business community and our students a couple years ago, of the programs that were most needed. And certainly education was one of those. So we have been working with the University of Montana to bring that completion program here."

Jennifer Weber has a family she can’t uproot, but she wanted go back to school. When she heard of the UM education degree offered in the Flathead she decided it would be a good fit. But until recently, she was unsure it would actually happen. FVCC and UM administrators originally agreed it would take eight students to get the course rolling. As of now, three students are enrolled.

"There has been some pretty major hiccups because they were hoping for more students to be enrolled," Weber says. "It’s been kind of a hard last semester. Because a lot of us who were interested, then we heard it wasn’t going to happen, there wasn’t enough people. And I’m just really thrilled that UM made the commitment to get it going."

That commitment comes at a price to UM and to the students.

"And the price point, you know, that's a little disappointing, and I really hope they can figure out some of those kinks," Weber adds. "Right now, it’s approximately eight grand more over the two years than it would be if you were at U of M."

Students who complete the first two years of elementary course work at FVCC are able to apply to the UM program to finish their four year degree.

While the first 2 years of the degree are cheaper at FVCC than UM, Weber says the cost of finishing the degree in the Flathead may sway some students to go to Missoula for the final two years of the four year program.

"So it’s just the people who really have the roots here and can’t pick up and go to the U of M that are probably going to stay," Weber speculates. "Granted, yes we don’t have the extra housing cost to move up there but one particular friend of mine felt like it was cheaper for him to move there than it was for him to stay here and take it."

The course is set up like this: a live video stream will broadcast classes from the UM campus in Missoula to the students at FVCC in Kalispell.

A few times a semester, the professor will change places and teach from FVCC while students back in Missoula watch over web.

Jayna Lutz of the College of Education and Human Sciences at UM says the higher tuition for the students in the Flathead covers the cost of the video stream and travelling professors. But even with that added tuition, she says UM is taking on some of the burden to start the program.

"The university felt that is was important enough that we would absorb the deficit and make it go with the hopes that in the long run it was gonna be a very viable program," Lutz explains.

Lutz expects more students in the Flathead join the program next year after they can see it working.

"On this end, we’re really excited about the program, and I think it's one of those things you’re approaching it with apprehension but excitement and I really do think it is a program that will really service veterans or people that for whatever reason can’t leave the Flathead Valley, but really want to pursue and education. So we are hoping this is gonna just broaden those opportunities for those folks and that the program will grow."

Weber says many of the students will have stories similar to hers. She received an accounting degree from the University of North Dakota, but has spent the past few years a home with her kids. She wants a change and is excited to be to in the program and to eventually start teaching.

But she hopes as the program grows, its price will drop.

"Yeah, it's people like myself who are going back, maybe it’s a second career or something. But they can’t pick up and leave. I’m hopeful as the program gets figured out that they'll be able to lower that a little bit and make it more reasonable for the students here that can’t leave."

Students can earn a variety of four year degrees from both Montana State and The University of Montana without leaving the Flathead. See a list of those online programs below.

In partnership with several Montana universities, FVCC provides the setting for students to complete bachelor’s and master’s degree programs without leaving the valley.

The University of Montana - Missoula
In partnership with The University of Montana (UM), students may earn the following degrees through UM:

For other online classes/programs, visit or contact Jeffrey Wimett at jeffrey.wimett@umontana.eduor at (406) 243-4470.

Montana State University - Bozeman
In partnership with Montana State University - Bozeman, students may earn the following degrees through MSU:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
    Students may complete their entire Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in the Flathead, if accepted into the Kalispell clinical site. For more information, contact Dr. Sue Justis at or at (406) 756-3866.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies (online)
    For more information, contact Peg Wherry, Director of Online and Distance Learning, at margaret.wherry@montana.eduor (406) 994-6685.

Montana State University - Billings
In partnership with Montana State University - Billings, students may earn the following degrees online. For more information, contact the advising center by calling (406) 657-2240 or (800) 565-6782 or by emailing; or visiting

  • Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication - Mass
  • Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Communication
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Accounting or General Business
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Relations
  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Science in Public Relations
  • Master of Science in Special Education

Montana State Northern - Havre
In partnership with Montana State University - Northern, students may earn the following degrees online. For more information, call (406) 265-3736.

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Montana Tech of The University of MontanaIn partnership with Montana Tech of The University of Montana, students may earn the following degree through Montana Tech - UM. For more information, contact Charlie Faught at or at (406) 496-4884.

  • Bachelor of Science in Health Care Informatics

University of Great Falls
In partnership with the University of Great Falls (UGF), students may earn the following degrees through the UGF in the Flathead Valley:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education
    for English, History, Math and Social Studies, and teacher certification classes for students with a Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Sociology

For more information on any of the UGF programs, contact Dennis Haverlandt at (406) 756-8042 or at

Related Content