It’s only natural that the two biggest schools in the state are rivals. But is our university that much better? Let’s take a look and find out.
Academics: While UM’s esteemed journalism school and Master of Fine Arts program may make us seem like illiterate bumpkins, at least our engineering and business degrees land us jobs outside the fast-food industry. Take into account UM’s high-ranking forestry and conservation schools and MSU’s top-notch architecture and agriculture programs, and this match is too close to call.
Local Culture: Maybe it’s the result of a bigger population, but Missoula has a lot going on. For starters, the annual Roots Festival and Testicle Festival are the kind of original events that Bozeman lacks. In Missoula, art, music, and diversity are everywhere. Make no mistake, Bozeman’s cultural scene is solid; but Missoula seems to be setting the curve. More hipsters per capita is an unfortunate but tolerable consequence.
Outdoors: Missoula has some great rivers and a bounty of close-by opportunities for students to enjoy, including hiking/biking trails that stay dry almost all year, excellent multipitch climbing in the Bitterroots, and elk hunting in every direction. But Bozeman has three incredible ski resorts, we get more annual snowfall, and we have Hyalite; an epicenter of year-round recreation. Overall, the depth, scale, and diversity of outdoor options around Bozeman can’t be beat. And then there’s the fly fishing: A River Runs Through It may have been set in Missoula, but it was filmed on the Gallatin. Enough said.
Athletics: The Griz may have stomped the Cats a time or two on the football field—but peel back the pigskin and you’ll find that MSU has won national championships in rodeo, football, and basketball. And the MSU ski team has produced 10+ NCAA national champions over the years—not too shabby.
Nightlife: Sure, we have loads of special events—symphony, opera, dancing, and jazz concerts… but when you want to ditch the tie and do some partying, Missoula’s more social. Their vibrant downtown hosts breweries, concerts, festivals, and other events. While we obviously throw better house parties, and our small-town feel leaves most students feeling a little bit “safer” than at other universities, at the end of the night, the numbers don’t lie.
Scenery: We live in the Big Sky state—we’re visual people and the landscape is important. While Missoula is often boxed in by cloud cover, Bozeman’s skies are generally blue and bright. Our many surrounding mountain ranges and long-distance vistas blow away the grassy mounds that immediately surround Missoula. Nothing personal UM—we’re spoiled and find your foothills a bit dull.
Score: 3 to 2
Nice try, University of Montana. We like you guys and think you’ve got a good thing going on over there, but let the transcript show that we scored higher on this exam.