First-Year Student Transition

Welcome to the UM Family!

We are so excited you chose to become a Grizzly! Here's some information to help you get started with your transition to campus.

Our transition programs extend far beyond course registration. Through our self-paced, online New Student Orientation and our Big Sky Experience week of welcome you will have a variety of ways to learn about your new home, became familiar with our expectations of you and the resources available to support you, along with ample ways to get involved, meet new friends, and learn all there is to know about being a student at the University of Montana.

First-Year Students Beginning in the Spring

New Student Orientation

As noted below, we launched a brand new online and self-paced New Student Orientation.  Students beginning in Spring 2024 will get access to this program in November.

Spring Big Sky Experience

January 17, 2024

Incoming first-year students at UM or the Missoula College are also expected to attend a one-day in person program right before the spring semester begins.  Families are welcome to attend for some morning programming as well. 

Spring 2024 Big Sky Experience schedule of events!

The official move-in day for students living in the residence halls is Tuesday, January 16, 2024 - keep an eye out for additional information from UM Housing on arrival and residence hall move-in.

First Year Students Beginning in the Fall



New Student Orientation 

All incoming students will complete this online, interactive and video-based orientation program to better prepare for their first semester at UM with us. Students can complete this program at their on pace, on their own time, and in the comfort of their own home!  It will take you approximately 1 hour to complete from start to finish, but you can pause and come back to it as many times as you would like.

This platform will include information about:

- Your Academic College and Resources
- Student and Campus Life
- Campus and Community Support
- Financial Matters
- Student Safety and Policies
- Bystander Interventions and Community Expectations
- and more!

Fall 2024 incoming students will get access to this platform in the summer.

The Big Sky Experience

August 19 - 23, 2024new-bse-logo-22

In addition to completing New Student Orientation online, all traditional-aged first-year students are expected to attend our in-person week of welcome - the Big Sky Experience!  If you are a new student over the age of 21 you are invited, but not required to attend this in-person program.

This five-day program begins with residence hall move-in and also signals the start of your meal plans.  In addition, it will provide an opportunity for you to meet your incoming peers, get to know the campus and the Missoula community, and learn about what it means to be a student at the University of Montana.  Oh, and it'll be a whole lot of fun, too with evening Griz Welcome activities every night of the week.

This award-winning week is specially designed to help students become integrated with their new community, both through peer-led activities and workshops, and through community-driven projects you will work on with your new friends. 

View the 2023 Big Sky Experience schedule here.

In late summer, you will be asked to select which project you would like to work on.  To get an idea of what you can expect, view a list of the 2023 campus and community partners here.

New Student Residence Hall Arrival

The official move-in day for the residence halls is Monday, Aug. 19, 2024.  Students attending orientation will be able to use their meal plans, as well as live in their assigned residence hall room beginning this day unless arrangements for early arrival are made with a specific program (marching band, FLBs, FWE, athletics, etc.) or the UM Housing Office directly.

Parent and Family Big Sky Experience Programming

Parents and families are invited to attend programming on Monday during arrival day, including Campus Dining's "First Meal" and the BEAR Fair.  Your students will be on their own with their small group for the rest of the week.

Fall Pre-Big Sky Experience Trips and Special Groups

Fall 2024 Information

In it's fourth year, join us at the Flathead Lake Biological Station for this special overnight experience! Similar to the Freshman Wilderness Experience, this trip will bring a small group of 20 incoming first-year students together for a multiday adventure at UM’s world-class freshwater research and education facility on Flathead Lake.  This trip is in addition to the on-campus New Student Orientation program and is specifically designed to set you up for a successful transition to UM.

The cost is $250 per student and covers transportation, food, and lodging. 

Students will need to move into their residence halls early on Thursday, August 15, 2024, to be prepared for departure the following morning.  Students will spend three nights at FLBS and return to campus on Monday the 19th to participate in the Big Sky Experience the rest of the week.

Fall 2024 Information - More Info on the FWE Website

The Freshman Wilderness Experience will introduce students to the incredibly stunning natural surroundings in western Montana. Students do not need any prior outdoor experience to participate. Most importantly, it is a chance for students to meet each other, explore Montana and form lasting friendships before classes begin on campus.  Students have the option to participate in a wilderness backpacking ($330) or canoeing trip ($410), but space is limited!

Those students participating in FWE will need to move into their residence hall rooms a day or two prior to check-in for FWE, which occurs August 15, 2024 at 1 p.m., before the Big Sky Experience begins the following week.  Groups will be in the field from Aug. 16-19, 2024 and will return to campus to participate in the Big Sky Experience the rest of the week.

New students who are joining the Grizzly Marching Band should follow the instructions of the band director regarding move-in, arrival, and the Big Sky experience.  We work closely together to ensure all new students get to participate in important aspects of the Big Sky Experience with their peers.  All Grizzly Marching Band students will be automatically placed into a Big Sky Experience group together.

Depending on your sport, there are a wide variety of obligations prior to and during the Big Sky Experience.  We work closely with the athletic advising team and coaches to ensure student-athletes get to participate in as much of the Big Sky Experience program with their peers as possible.  Please follow the direction of your academic advisor and coaches.

UM Advocate leads a Big Sky Experience at SpectrUM Discovery Area 2019 UM Advocate leads a Big Sky Experience at SpectrUM Discovery Area 2019
UM Advocate leads a small group activity 2019 UM Advocate leads a small group activity 2019

Information for Other Student Types

The University of Montana recognizes your transition to college may be a bit different. As such, Adult Learners or "non-traditional students" do not need to participate in the on-campus Big Sky Experience program as long as you complete New Student Orientation online.

Incoming first-year students who wish to take Summer Start courses should let their academic advisor know during Bear Tracks. Your advisor will work with you to determine which courses make the most sense for meeting your academic goals. Students who attend Summer Start are required to complete New Student Orientation, as well as attend the Big Sky Experience in the fall.  For more information on Summer Start you can visit their website.

To be considered a transfer student, you must have completed 12-semester credits at a college or university, post-high school graduation, and earned at least a 2.0 GPA. College credits earned by students still in high school do not count toward this 12-credit requirement. If you are a transfer student, please visit our Transfer Orientation page.

Post-baccalaureate students are not required to complete an orientation program. You are able to register for classes on your own or contact an academic advisor for assistance.