The University of Great Falls was established by Bishop Edwin Vincent O’Hara in 1932 as a junior college for women. By 1937, the college transformed into the Great Falls Normal School to train teachers of any sex, ethnicity, or creed. It wasn’t until 1995 that Great Falls evolved into the private, nonprofit Roman Catholic liberal arts university of today. Following the motto “In Thy Light We See Light,” UGF educates around 1,100 undergraduates and 250 post-graduates from its main 44-acre urban campus in Cascade County. However, growing outreach through the Telecom Distance Learning are serving more from Montana and Wyoming to Alberta, Canada.
According to the U.S. News and World News Report, the University of Great Falls is the West’s 19th best regional college with an average retention rate of 67 percent. Graded A- for safety, UGF was chosen as America’s 149th “Best Catholic College” and 104th “Best Online School” on Niche. TheBestColleges.com placed UGF as Montana’s sixth top higher learning option. Forbes magazine honored Great Falls as being the 151st best small place for business and careers nationwide. Washington Monthly lauded UGF as the West’s 215th “Best Bang for the Buck.” The annual publication also selected the University of Great Falls as the 315th top baccalaureate college for civic engagement.
University of Great Falls Accreditation Details
Continuously since 1931, the University of Great Falls has operated under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings in accordance to Montana laws. UGF is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) through Spring 2017. This regional agency is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) to accredit schools in seven Pacific Northwest states, including Montana. The RN-BSN program has also achieved approval from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
University of Great Falls Application Requirements
Even though the University of Great Falls is “less selective” with an 84 percent acceptance rate, certain admission criteria must be fulfilled. High school seniors must be graduating with a state-approved diploma or passing the General Education Development (GED) test with a 150 or better. Completing four years of English is required, but four years of math, three years of social science, and three years of physical science are encouraged. On average, admitted Argonauts have a secondary GPA of 3.22. UGF students also present a mean SAT score of 1030 (out of 1600) and ACT score of 20.
Collegiate students interested in joining the Great Falls community could transfer with at least 12 semester hours. Incoming transfers who are under 21 years old must still submit ACT/SAT scores. Credits are extended for college-level coursework graded “C” or higher. A minimum grade point average isn’t reported, but a 2.5 or higher is suggested for competition. International admission under Form I-20 will mandate English language proficiency with a minimum TOEFL score of 80 (iBT) or 500 (pBT). UGF’s master’s programs will necessitate a bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA above 3.0. If less, scoring at least 150 on both GRE sections is required.
At the University of Great Falls, there’s a rolling admission policy with only an Early Action deadline of December 1st. Submit the free online application or pay the $35 paper application fee to submit the following at least one month before classes:
• High school and college transcript requests
• Standardized testing reports (SAT, ACT, or GRE)
• Free Application for Federal Student Aid
• Immunization records showing MMR vaccinations
• At least one professional recommendation letter
• Typed, 500-word personal statement of ambitions
Tuition and Financial Aid
Undergraduates attending UGF full-time will pay $11,767 each semester for tuition. Mandatory fees include the $100 student activity fee, $125 athletic fee, and $175 Corps of Discovery fee. Room and board is estimated to add $2,300 and $1,850 respectively per semester. Great Falls suggests budgeting $500 each term for textbooks. Pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree part-time either on-site or online costs $766 per credit. Graduate students earning degrees like the Master of Science in Counseling are billed $792 each credit.
The NCES reports that 95 percent of beginning, full-time UGF students earn financial aid based on merit or Expected Family Contribution. Low-income learners could obtain the Federal Pell Grant or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Aspiring educators should apply for the TEACH Grant. Federal Work-Study (FWS) offers up to 15 hours of weekly employment at minimum wage. Students can also borrow from the federal government using Perkins, Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, or Grad PLUS loans. Big Sky Country residents may earn the Montana Higher Education Grant or MTAP Baker Grant. VA benefits are accepted under the Montgomery G.I. Bill. Institutional programs like the S-STEM Scholarship, Athletic Scholarship, and UGF Scholars Award are also available.
The University of Great Falls offers a close-knit community for pursuing well-rounded liberal arts education from a Catholic worldview. Students can select from 40 undergraduate majors, including Addictions Counseling, Exercise Science, Forensic Chemistry, Social Science, and Wildlife Ecology. There’s also a well-known Army Legal and Paralegal Studies program. Via Moodle and Microsoft Lync, distance students can finish nine degrees online. The Graduate Studies Division confers a M.S. in Counseling or M.S. in Organization Management with concentrations from accounting to criminal justice. Classes have an average student-faculty ratio of 14:1 for close interaction to tenure-track professors, not TAs.
The Great Falls campus is ideally situated at the midway point between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore nearby Benton Lake, Rainbow Falls, Giant Springs, and Showdown Ski Resort. UGF’s McLaughlin Memorial Center features an Olympic-sized pool and double gym to stay physically fit. The Campus Library houses 75,000+ books and nearly 50 Pentium PCs for research needs. Trinitas Chapel maintains the Sisters of Providence tradition with masses Sunday through Thursday. Campus Ministry has led Alternative Spring Break trips to Haiti, El Salvador, New Orleans, and more.
Campus life at UGF is active with over 35 student-run organizations. There’s plenty to do, such as brainstorming with the Argo Entrepreneurs, getting strikes with Bowling Club, exploring local wilderness with Outdoors Club, and finding Battle Buddies in Veterans Club. All full-time, first-year students must complete the Corps of Discovery program to engage in retreat weekends. Other can’t-miss events include the Annual Salute to Women, Celebration of Culture Powwow, and Halloween Spook-a-Roo. Students also join “Argo’s Army” cheering on 14 University of Great Falls teams competing in the NAIA Frontier Conference.