Missoula is one of the best-educated communities in the Northern Rockies. Thanks to the local presence of both The University of Montana and Missoula College, our city boasts a workforce that is well prepared for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century.
More than 31 percent of adult residents have earned a bachelor’s degree (compared to 18.2 percent of adults nationally) and 19 percent of adults — more than twice the national average — have earned a master’s degree or higher. Much of that achievement owes to the presence of The University of Montana, which is recognized nationally as a leading research and educational institution in several fields including pharmacy, biological & earth sciences, big data computing, forestry and physical therapy.
Meantime, our local public school system has instituted a 21st Century Model of Education initiative. This dynamic model integrates six key elements into the teaching and learning process, resulting in schools and classrooms that engage students and provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in their careers and as future leaders.
The University of Montana
Located downtown, the state school provides undergraduate and graduate education, research and technical expertise, sports and cultural opportunities, and lifelong learner education. UM offers students many strengths — including its programs in education, training and research in forestry and wildlife, pharmacy and other biotechnology sciences. UM bioscience research efforts include ongoing work done in conjunction with the International Heart Institute. The School of Business educates and supports both students and local businesses with specific entrepreneurial development programs and research, and technology research specific to managing a business in the 21st century. Significantly, UM manages the Montana Technology Enterprise Center, a business incubator and tech-transfer program, and an Office of Technology Transfer, which focuses on directly connecting UM as an idea and talent incubator to the area business community.
This expanding two-year college offers more than 30 programs leading to a career or transfer to the four-year campus. Founded on occupational and technical education, today some of its most highly enrolled programs are diesel technology, energy technology, information technology, nursing, paralegal studies, welding technology and culinary arts. To support local businesses, UM’s Missoula College also provides customized employer- or industry-specific workforce training. And the college is an active partner with Missoula County Public Schools. (Prior to 2012, Missoula College was known as UM-College of Technology.)
Missoula County Public Schools
The public school system not only educates the children of Missoula area businesses and families, it supplies a steady stream of educated young adults ready to embark on higher education or professional/workforce training. To support its on-going commitment, the district in 2010 partnered with local businesses and parents to form “Graduation Matters Missoula.” This Missoula-created initiative to help students stay in school and earn a diploma is now a statewide program. With its eye on the young learners as well as the future careers they will need, the district is implementing thematic academies in its high schools, beginning with a Health Science Academy, and an International Baccalaureate program. These and other programs are part of the MCPS 21st Century Model of Education — with its community-wide goal to create a model of education that supports students’ needs in the 21st century, providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their careers and as future leaders in their communities.