Montana State ranked No. 2 in the nation for most military friendly school

BOZEMAN – Montana State University has been named the No. 2 military friendly school in the nation in the annual listing published by the website MSU is the highest-ranked public university in its category, and this Top Ten ranking is the highest honor MSU has ever received from the organization.

The Military Friendly Schools rankings are determined by a university’s academic policies, military student support, graduation and career outcomes, admissions and orientation, culture and commitment, and financial aid and loan repayment for all students, as well as specifically for student veterans. MSU was ranked third nationally in 2022, ninth in 2021, earned a gold ranking in 2020 and a silver ranking in 2016.

“This award and accomplishment speak volumes,” said Todd Bucher, director of MSU Veteran Services. “It shows that MSU is there for underrepresented groups and continues to provide top-tier education and services. This accomplishment is a true testament to the leadership and support both here on campus and in the community.”

MSU Veteran Services provides resources and programs for both student veterans and military-connected students on campus. Many of those offerings are based in the Travis W. Atkins Veteran Support Center in the historic Romney Hall, such as free tutoring, computers for student use, conference rooms, counseling and psychological services and a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs telehealth location, among other resources.

Further support on campus for veteran and military-connected students can be found in the Student Veterans Club, which meets bimonthly and hosts events for its members like ice climbing, skiing, snowboarding, whitewater rafting and community service, according to Bucher.

“Here at MSU we take the time to sit down and listen to our veterans and military-connected students,” said Bucher. “With the feedback our students provide we can make sure that all their needs and resources are being met and provided for.”

Not only is MSU ranked second as a military friendly school, but it is also ranked No. 2 in the nation for being a military friendly spouse school. According to Bucher, MSU prioritizes tailoring resources for dependents and spouses, including connecting them with peers and adapting existing programs to meet their unique needs.

“We are seeing more and more spouses and dependents using VA education benefits, and this is important to take notice of,” said Bucher. “For the longest time, many of our resources have been veteran oriented. One of our goals is to make sure we are reaching all our veterans and military-connected students.”

To meet these needs, Bucher said Veteran Services is establishing dedicated groups for spouses or dependents to help them make connections and find support. Bucher also emphasized a commitment to enhancing existing resources offered by Veteran Services to better address those individuals’ needs for things like academic support and orientation.

One exciting initiative for student success is a mentorship program between older students in the Veteran Support Center and students in their first semester.

“Currently we are working on a program where we take third- and fourth-year students from specific majors and get them together with first-semester students to provide an informational experience … [on] what resources played a vital role in their success,” said Bucher. “This will set up our transition students to become more comfortable in their first months here at the university and create an atmosphere to help students give back and become mentors for students coming into MSU after them.”

Bucher expressed that both the Most Military Friendly School and Most Military Friendly Spouse School rankings are a sign of the dedication, partnerships and connections at the university that ensure “everybody has a place.”

“We here in the Veteran Support Center could not have made this possible without the continued support and backing from the campus community,” he said. “We are truly setting the bar, and we couldn’t be prouder of our students, partners and stakeholders.”