University Relations and Communications

Excellence Affirmed

September 12, 2012 


Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU Billings again in the top tier of regional universities in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings has again been ranked as one of the nation’s “Best Colleges” by U.S. News and World Report. The university is being recognized as one of the top tier regional universities in the West for undergraduate through master’s level academics in “America’s Best Colleges 2013.”


For more than a decade, MSU Billings had ranked among top colleges in the third tier of schools. For the second year in a row, however, MSU Billings has been ranked in the first tier.  


Highlights of the college rankings will be published in the September 2012 issue of U.S. News & World Report, available for newsstand purchase next week.


a freshman student relaxes outside on the MSUB University campus“As a university with close ties to our city and our region, it is important for us to know we are being doing the right things locally. This report has data to support that on a national level as well,” said MSU Billings Chancellor Rolf Groseth. “This report is an affirmation of our excellent faculty and our university-wide commitment to access and student success.”


MSU Billings was recognized as one of the top private and public colleges or universities in its category: “Best Regional Universities- West Region” for institutions that provide “a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs,” according to the newest issue of the magazine.


According to the methodology used by U.S. News & World Report, rankings are based on several key measures of quality. Academic reputation, peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, student/faculty ratios and average alumni giving all used to rank colleges.


The magazine’s guidelines and rankings are used to help students and parents in their college-selection process. All facets of the college experience are weighed, such as the overall feel of the university, student activities, cost, availability of financial aid and sports. But academics lead the way.


Located in Montana’s urban center, MSU Billings is a university of more than 5,300 students and features more than 70 academic options in allied health, the arts and sciences, education, business and technology.  Students can also choose from 23 fully online programs, designed to meet the needs of busy students, especially working adults. The student/faculty ratio of 19:1 means smaller classes for improved student-faculty engagement.


MSU Billings received its rankings in the categories of:

  • A peer assessment score: Opinions of MSU Billings, as ranked by presidents, academic vice presidents and deans of admissions at colleges and universities throughout the country, gave MSU Billings a stellar rating, especially in the area of faculty dedication to teaching.
  • The high percent of faculty who teach full time and who have doctoral degrees: Research shows that the more satisfied students are about their contact with professors, the more they will learn and the more likely it is they will graduate, publishers at U. S. News say in their report.  According to the data, 71 percent of the faculty at MSU Billings teach full time.
  • An average faculty/student ratio of only 20-1 or less: More than have the classes at MSU Billings — 51percent — have fewer than 20 students. Only 4 percent of the classes at MSUB have 50 or more students, according to the data, which means faculty and students are able to engage in a more close and meaningful way.
  • The students who enter MSU Billings with high ACT/SAT scores, and the percentage of students who graduate from high school in the top 25% of their graduating class;
  • The average freshman retention rate and the average graduation rate; and,
  • Alumni giving: The percentage of alumni who give to their school is an indirect measure of satisfaction, the publication’s ranking criteria notes. 

Groseth noted while he is pleased with the current ranking, more work can be done to move MSU Billings even higher on the list in the future.


“As I look at the overall rankings, elements that caused U.S. News to place us in the top tier include our small class size, excellent program-by-program accreditation and the overall emphasis on undergraduate teaching and learning,” he said. “Those that may have prevented us from ranking higher include low levels of state support per-student and our retention/graduation rate. Because we are an open-admissions, opportunity-based institution, we need to do a better job in these areas and we have initiated some specific steps that we believe will lead to improvement.”


For more information about MSU Billings and its programs, go to


PHOTO ABOVE: A freshman student at MSU Billings relaxes on the University Campus recently. The U.S. News and World Report has again ranked MSU Billings as one of the top tier regional universities in the West. Student-to-faculty ratios of 19-1 and small class sizes that promote close faculty/student relationships are among the data that makes MSUB a top regional university.