The state of Minnesota is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the U.S., due in large part to the quality and availability of its education. The North Star State is home to 115 colleges and universities, including one top research university, nearly a dozen four-year state schools, and 31 public community colleges. Minnesota also boasts an array of private schools, which includes 36 nonprofit schools and 36 for-profit schools. Additionally, many of these institutions offer tuition breaks to students, regardless of their residency status.
This guide is designed to help you search for the best online colleges in Minnesota. Below, we identify sources of funding to pay for your education, including tuition breaks and scholarships, along with information you need to land a career after graduation.
Before we look at the best online colleges in Minnesota, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in Minnesota today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in Minnesota
Prospective college students have 115 degree-granting institutions in Minnesota to choose from, more than other states of a similar size. This includes 43 public schools, 12 four-year institutions, 31 two-year colleges, and 36 nonprofit and 36 for-profit schools. Of the nearly 20 million college students who attended schools in the U.S. during the fall of 2016, about 2.1% attended schools in Minnesota. Moreover, about one quarter of Minnesota’s high school graduates attend colleges in other states, while the remainder stay in Minnesota.
- 43 public
- 36 non-profit
- 36 for-profit
Tuition and fees at Minnesota’s four-year public schools averaged $11,300 for in-state students and $20,890 for out-of-state students in 2017-18. Minnesota’s flagship public research university is the University of Minnesota, which serves nearly 52,000 students through its Twin Cities main campus. In 2017-18, UMN charged $14,417 for in-state tuition and $26,603 for out-of-state tuition. To help students meet the costs of tuition, Minnesota issued nearly $191 million in need-based grants and work study in 2015-16. The state also spent $5.6 million on special purpose programs such as postsecondary childcare grants, and gave out $65.6 million in low-interest student loans.
The State of Online Higher Education in Minnesota
According to the Distance Education State Almanac 2017, nearly 43% of Minnesota’s college students take at least one online course, more than the national average of 30%. This percentage represents an increase of just over 4% between 2012 and 2015, a growth rate below the national average of 11%. However, about 30% of students in Minnesota take all of their courses online, more than double the national average of 14%. Of those taking courses exclusively online, 62% study at the graduate level and 26% live in Minnesota.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Minnesota is one of 10 Midwest states to participate in the voluntary Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). In fact, more than 100 schools, including some of the best online colleges in Minnesota, offer affordable out-of-state tuition rates to students from the following participating states: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Under the MHEC’s Midwest Student Exchange Program, these participating public schools agree to charge out-of-state students from other Midwestern states no more than 150% of their in-state tuition rate. Private schools offer a 10% discount on tuition.
Minnesota also has reciprocity agreements with specific neighboring states and provinces. According to Minnesota-Wisconsin tuition reciprocity, for example, Wisconsin residents may attend public schools in Minnesota at the in-state tuition rate. Minnesota also holds reciprocity agreements with North Dakota, South Dakota, and Manitoba (Canada). Meanwhile, one community college in Minnesota has a reciprocity agreement with a community college in Iowa. Some Minnesota colleges charge in-state tuition rates for students from any state, so be sure to check with the Minnesota school you wish to attend to learn whether it offers relevant tuition breaks.
Best Online Colleges in Minnesota
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in Minnesota. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in Minnesota, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in Minnesota or our index of popular in-state scholarships.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Minneapolis||$$$$$||100 Church Street SE|
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0213
Minnesota-Twin Cities, established in 1851, serves the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Satellite campuses are located in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester. The university educates more than 30,000 undergraduates and 16,000 graduate and professional students.
Completely online degrees include a bachelor’s of applied health, a bachelor’s of applied science, a bachelor of arts, and a bachelor’s of manufacturing management. Minnesota - Twin Cities also offers several bachelor’s of science degrees with concentrations in accounting, entrepreneurship, international business, and marketing. Students have the opportunity to pursue graduate and doctoral degrees, including graduate certificates. Like many online colleges in Minnesota, programs are offered in either a fully online, primarily online, or hybrid format. Programs that are taught partially online have about 80% of their classes online. Online resources include technology help, online access to the library, and tutorials and workshops.
|2||Concordia University - Saint Paul||Saint Paul||$$$$$||1282 Concordia Ave|
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
Concordia is a Christian, liberal arts university affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The university offers 53 majors, and maintains a 16-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio.
The school has many online programs. Students can choose between two associate degrees, 19 bachelor's degrees, and 20 master's degrees. The school also has doctorate programs in physical therapy and education. Undergraduate programs include business, child development, criminal justice, family science, sports management, and more. The sports management program requires students to earn 45 credits, and courses last seven weeks. Graduates are prepared for careers as sports marketers, coaches, and athletic directors. All online programs at Concordia are built for flexibility. Concordia has an easy one-click upload for online assignments. Online students have access to Concordia’s student support services, and professors are available to offer advice and answer questions. Concordia has been designated a military-friendly school.
|3||Minnesota State University - Mankato||Mankato||$$$$$||South Rd and Ellis Ave|
Mankato, MN 56001
Minnesota State - Mankato produces cutting-edge research with a focus on real-world problem solving. The university includes undergraduate programs in research through the Undergraduate Research Center.
Online options include undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, many of which are offered completely online. A doctorate is offered in nursing sciences. Minnesota State - Mankato, one of the best online colleges in Minnesota, offers several programs designed to help students complete a bachelor's degree. Degree completion programs include applied organizational studies, international business, technical communication, dental hygiene, and RN to BSN. The school offers an Online Course Demo for new online students. Minnesota State also has licensure preparation for reading K–12 and library media education K–12. Distance learners have access to the Career Development Center, library services, the counseling center, and others. Online programs are taught through the Desire 2 Learn platform.
|4||Crown College||Saint Bonifacius||$$$$$||8700 College View Drive|
Saint Bonifacius, MN 55375-9001
Crown offers a Christ-centered education. The College has been operating for more than 100 years and provides on-campus students the chance to participate in bible study, fellowship groups, worship nights, and more. Crown consistently ranks as an affordable choice for distance learning among online colleges in MN.
Crown offers online pre-college, associate, bachelor’s, graduate, minors, and certificate programs. Graduate programs include business administration, Christian studies, counseling, and global leadership. The college’s online programs instill students with the core principles needed to apply a Christian perspective to problems in the real world. All online degrees are self-paced and allow for collaboration with other students, professors, and academic advisors. The College offers several programs, including ten bachelor's of science programs in disciplines such as alcohol and drug counseling, criminal justice, global and cultural studies, and more. The online library provides access to journals, books, articles, and more.
|5||The College of Saint Scholastica||Duluth||$$$$$||1200 Kenwood Ave|
Duluth, MN 55811-4199
With more than 4,000 students and over 100 years of experience delivering higher education, Saint Scholastica ranks among the top online schools in MN. As a Catholic college with Benedictine roots, students can pursue online or on-campus courses at several locations, from Austin, Texas, to Phoenix, Arizona.
Distance learners can choose between several online bachelor's programs, including accounting, computer information systems, management, and organizational behavior. Certificate, licensure, graduate, and doctorate programs are also available online. Saint Scholastica has two learning formats: online courses and virtual classrooms. Online courses are dynamic, and filled with tools, presentations, and interactive discussions. Virtual classrooms are synchronous and allow students and professors to come together live, with video and audio conferencing technology. Student services include counseling, tutoring, and personal advising services, where students can get assistance designing an individual course plan to reach academic goals.
|6||University of Northwestern - St Paul||Saint Paul||$$$$$||3003 Snelling Ave N|
Saint Paul, MN 55113-1598
Northwestern-St. Paul provides students with a Christ-centered, liberal arts education. The school has operated since 1902. The university maintains 15 radio stations across six states, reaching nearly one million listeners weekly.
At Northwestern, one of the best online colleges in Minnesota, distance learners don't need to sacrifice flexibility for quality. The bachelor of arts in biblical studies online program is for students seeking a career in ministry; coursework includes spiritual formation, christianity & culture, and theological philosophy. The university also offers early college, dual enrollment programs, and master’s programs. Graduate programs include education, human services, business administration, and organizational leadership. The school’s post-secondary enrollment option allows high school students to earn a free college education while completing their diploma. To enroll, high school students must have a GPA of at least 2.75 and meet standardized testing and computer requirements.
|7||University of Minnesota - Crookston||Crookston||$$$$$||2900 University Ave|
Crookston, MN 56716-5001
Minnesota - Crookston offers classes completely online. The university also provides access to primarily online courses, which require short periods of face-to-face work, and hybrid courses, where about half of the coursework is completed in a web-based format.
Students can pursue online bachelor's degrees in manufacturing operations management, tribal administration and governance, multidisciplinary studies, and more. Online undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, graduate, and doctorate programs are also available. Master’s programs include health care administration, public health administration and policy, applied child and adolescent development, and business administration. Online students pay in-state tuition, and have access to financial aid, making it a standout among online colleges in Minnesota. The school accepts transfer credits. Students receive free Microsoft Office training courseware, training courses, and technology help. The training course is designed to teach students good study habits.
|8||Bethel University - Minnesota||Saint Paul||$$$$$||3900 Bethel Dr|
Saint Paul, MN 55112
Bethel, a leader in Christian higher education since 1871, is committed to merging the tenets of evangelical faith with educational programs. Online programs at the university are designed to provide students with the foundational skills, experience, and knowledge needed to build a strong career and live a life with purpose.
Bethel’s distance learning programs are offered in several formats: online-only, hybrid, and online-only with a required two-week annual on-campus intensive. Program format depends on the degree and concentration. Bachelor's degrees include business management, Christian ministries, finance, human services, RN to BSN, and more. Seminary and graduate programs are also available. Staff members help students design their degree, get enrollment advising, and transfer credits. Bethel is among online schools in MN to offer credit for prior professional or military experience.
|9||Minnesota State University-Moorhead||Moorhead||$$$$$||1104 Seventh Avenue South|
Moorhead, MN 56563
Minnesota State - Moorhead is one of the best online colleges in MN for engaging, flexible distance learning programs. Nontraditional students can access online-only or hybrid degree programs. Both course delivery options employ the same materials, and encourage interaction between professors and students.
Undergraduate programs include business administration, RN to BSN, operations management, and project management. Students pursuing the project management degree take a range of classes to establish a strong business background, ensuring students leave the program well-equipped to design, execute, and monitor complex projects. For students that graduate with a “B” average or better in core project management classes, the university will pay for each student's national certification. Graduate and graduate certificate programs are also available. Master’s programs include health administration, business administration, special education, and more.
|10||Bemidji State University||Bemidji||$$$$$||1500 Birchmont Dr|
Bemidji, MN 56601
Bemidji State is known for its nationally recognized programs in Industrial model-making and exhibit design. The school offers a range of programs online and at the bucolic lakeside campus in Bemidji, Minnesota. The university has more than 65 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate programs, and nearly 100 student groups.
Bemidji offers degree completion programs, including accounting, applied management, criminal justice, marketing communication, and psychology. The university also offers several graduate degree and certificate programs. To qualify for these programs, students must have completed their first two years of college. Minors are available in business administration, criminal justice, fraud examination, and more. Hybrid programs are also available. Distance learners receive access to the Advising Success Center, careers services, tutoring, the Writing Resource Center, and more. Online courses are taught through Desire 2 Learn Brightspace.
|11||Metropolitan State University - Minnesota||Saint Paul||$$$$$||700 East Seventh Street|
Saint Paul, MN 55106-5000
Metropolitan State offers diverse degree programs from its main campuses in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Serving more than 11,000 students, the university offers flexible and affordable degrees online and on-campus. Several online programs have on-campus requirements.
Online programs are taught through The Center for Online Learning (COL). The COL, which has been operating for more than a decade, works closely with faculty and staff to design distance courses. Online programs include business administration, finance, human resource management, management, marketing, and law enforcement. Bachelor of applied science degrees are available in industrial management and organizational administration, and one bachelor of arts degree is available in individualized studies. Online courses are taught through D2L Brightspace. Metropolitan State is among online colleges in Minnesota to also offer graduate degrees and certificates completely online.
|12||Saint Cloud State University||Saint Cloud||$$$$$||720 Fourth Ave. South|
Saint Cloud, MN 56301-4498
St. Cloud is located on a 100-acre campus between downtown St. Cloud and the Beaver Islands. The school offers 200 academic programs, 60 graduate degrees, and study abroad opportunities on six continents.
Saint cloud offers an online bachelor’s completion program in elective studies with a major in liberal studies. The BES degree can be completed with several majors and minors, including biology, music, and women's studies. Other degree completion programs include an associate of arts or science and RN to BSN. Saint Cloud is among online colleges in Minnesota to offer graduate degree and certificate programs online. Master’s programs include applied behavior analysis, electrical engineering, business administration, and more. Online courses are taught through D2L Brightspace. Online resources include tutoring and library services.
|13||Oak Hills Christian College||Bemidji||$$$$$||1600 Oak Hills Rd SW|
Bemidji, MN 56601-8834
Three words sum up the online education experience at Oak Hills: convenient, flexible, and affordable. As a leader among online colleges in MN, Oak Hills provides access to associate and bachelor's programs in an online-only format. The school specializes in Bible-based educations. Online programs have specific start and end dates, and can be completed one unit at a time. The college offers credit for prior learning from a number of sources, including professional workshops, seminars, self-study, and non-credit classes.
Online bachelor's degrees at Oak Hills include programs in business administration and leadership and ministry. The leadership major is designed for students seeking a career in a church or ministry setting. Ministry courses include advanced biblical studies courses. Transfer credits must have been obtained with a grade of “C” or higher. A one-year certificate program in Bible studies is also available.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in Minnesota
Below, you will find all of the online schools in Minnesota sorted by their tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Metropolitan State University - Minnesota||Saint Paul||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Saint Cloud State University||Saint Cloud||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Minnesota State University-Moorhead||Moorhead||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Bemidji State University||Bemidji||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||The College of Saint Scholastica||Duluth||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||University of Minnesota - Crookston||Crookston||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||Concordia University - Saint Paul||Saint Paul||School profile||$$$$$|
|8||University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||Minneapolis||School profile||$$$$$|
|9||Crown College||Saint Bonifacius||School profile||$$$$$|
|10||Bethel University - Minnesota||Saint Paul||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in Minnesota
Graduates of the best online colleges in Minnesota can take advantage of the state’s robust economy and stable job outlook. The state boasts a low unemployment rate of 2.9% and a high mean annual wage of $52,730, above the national average. As a midwestern state, Minnesota leads in annual farm income, and provides numerous job opportunities for college graduates. Minnesota farmers support the state’s economy by producing corn, hogs, soybeans, dairy products, and cattle. Iron ore mining and fishing also serve as important natural resource industries for the state.
While agriculture is a major contributor to the state’s economy, Minnesota is also home to many successful technology, healthcare, and retail businesses. In 2018, the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Minnesota rose to 19. The state experienced steady gains in 2018 in non-farm jobs, especially in construction and manufacturing, while much of Minnesota’s manufacturing produced high-tech computer and electronic devices. Minnesota’s top services industries include healthcare, computer programming, and data processing.
Moreover, Minnesota’s high-tech employers compensate their workers well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that among 25 Midwestern metropolitan areas, only the Twin Cities had mean wages for computer professionals significantly higher than national averages.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Minnesota
Minnesota Academic Excellence Scholarship
Graduating seniors who demonstrate academic excellence must enroll at any degree-granting state school or participating private school in Minnesota to be eligible.
Minnesota State Grant
Minnesota residents must complete the FAFSA, demonstrate financial need, and enroll at an eligible school in Minnesota.
Page Education Foundation Grant
Applicants must be a student of color, age 18-35, and a graduate of a Minnesota high school planning to attend a Minnesota institution.
Must be an LGBTQ+ individual committed to community leadership to apply.
Alliss Opportunity Grant Program
Undergraduates from any state with financial need planning to attend a two- or four-year Minnesota state college or university may apply.
Minnesota GI Bill
Must be a Minnesota veteran, non-veteran with five years of service, or surviving spouse/child of a veteran enrolled in a Minnesota institution to apply.
High school seniors with financial need who reside in Ramsey, Washington, or Dakota counties and actively volunteer may apply.
Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation Scholarships
Residents of the Duluth area may apply for approximately 60 different scholarships through this foundation.
Minnesota Indian Scholarship
Minnesota residents who demonstrate financial need, possess at least one-quarter Indian heritage, and who enroll in a Minnesota institution may apply.
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