Since 2008, North Dakota has distinguished itself by significantly increasing state funding for higher education. With tuition fees below the national average, new quality standards, spending per student skyrocketing and a collaborative and interconnected state university system, new students will find their options for higher education increasingly attractive in coming years. Financially and academically, North Dakota is taking significant strides forward in delivering quality education to its growing population.
But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in North Dakota, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in North Dakota today.
A Brief Overview of Higher Education in North Dakota
In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that North Dakota had 21 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 14 public schools, 6 nonprofits and 1 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 5,275 at public schools, 648 at private nonprofits and 60 at private for-profits.
- 14 public
- 6 non-profit
- 1 for-profit
Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $7,690, while the out-of-state average was $18,580.
As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that North Dakota awarded $9.94 million in need-based grants and $8.44 million in non-need grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 4.5% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education. State funding for higher education increased 38.6% from’ 08-’14, marking the highest funding increase of any state.
There was also a 20.3% increase in state spending per student from ‘14-’15, again making North Dakota a leader in this area.
With exceptionally low unemployment, booming population growth projected through 2020 and a growing legislative budget surplus, the future of higher education looks bright in North Dakota. Addressing the need for greater unification and collaboration amongst institutions of higher learning, the State Board of Higher Education has implemented the North Dakota University System’s Pathways to Student Success Plan, which addresses issues of higher education standards of quality, affordable tuition and accountability.
The plan is also designed to bolster the North Dakota University System over a five year time period. This plan, though still debated and undergoing changes in policy and leadership, will certainly play a central role in the future of higher education in North Dakota. Expanding access to non-traditional educational delivery methods is high on the list of talking points in response to growing demand for online, distance learning resources.
The State of Online Higher Education in North Dakota
The NCES estimates that at least 22.9% of students enrolled in North Dakota’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 5.2% were reported to be undergraduates and 67% were found to be living in North Dakota.
Though there are fewer colleges and universities in North Dakota, most of the top public and private institutions offer numerous degree programs fully online. Spread across its 11 universities, the North Dakota University System’s online offerings now include over 1000 courses, numerous certificate programs and 41 bachelor’s and 38 graduate degrees.
North Dakota is also a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, which offers students cost-saving options for online learning and resources for out-of-state students. Online degrees from many of these institutions are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Because of the rural geography of North Dakota and the sparse distribution of institutions, online education will surely provide an effective option for students living in more remote parts of the state.
Best Online Colleges in North Dakota
Below, you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in North Dakota. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing the best online schools in North Dakota, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in North Dakota 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||Bismark State College||Bismarck||$$$$$||1603 Edwards Ave.|
Bismarck, ND 58506-5587
At Bismarck State College , you can earn an associate in applied science or a variety of program certificates entirely online. As one of the best online colleges in North Dakota, the school has roughly two thirds of its students taking at least one course online, while 44% of the student body is made up of entirely-online students.
Bismarck State offers a range of online programs, including business administration, criminal justice, and web design. Online students can also earn their bachelor of applied science in energy management. Online courses still follow a rigorous course schedule with strict deadlines, assigned discussion times, and weekly assignments. Despite its status as the third largest school within the North Dakota University School System, Bismarck State proudly offers relatively small class sizes, averaging around 16 students. Bismarck is also one of the most affordable online schools in North Dakota, with tuition under $4000 annually for in-state students, and offering roughly $500,000 in scholarships to incoming students every year.
|2||North Dakota State University||Fargo||$$$$$||1301 12th Avenue North|
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
North Dakota State University offers more than 35 accredited online programs. While many of the university’s online offerings can be completed entirely off campus, students are invited to take blended programs mixing on and off-campus courses. For students enrolled on campus at NDSU or another university, the school’s online offerings include many core general education requirements which can be completed in tandem with your degree. High school students may also elect to take one or two online classes to get a jump start on their college coursework.
NDSU’s online bachelor’s programs include human development and family science, sociology, and university studies. The university also offers a range of online graduate programs, including construction management, software engineering, and transportation & urban systems. The main campus is located in Fargo. Students enjoy a low tuition of just over $3,000 annually for in-state students, placing NDSU among the most affordable online colleges in North Dakota.
|3||University of North Dakota||Grand Forks||$$$$$||264 Centennial Drive, Stop 8193|
Grand Forks, ND 58202-8193
The University of North Dakota is located in Grand Forks. The university is home to 1,500 students. UND is the state’s oldest and largest University. The school is also one of the top 100 public schools in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. With almost 40 degree programs offered online, UND is also one of the most accessible online schools in North Dakota .
Online students at North Dakota can choose from more than 200 different courses, which they can enroll in any time. The flexible classes are designed for students to take on their own time, and are modeled as self-paced courses that students treat like an independent study. For full-time online students, semester-based courses follow a more rigid schedule. Students can choose from courses in the arts, business, education, engineering, nursing, math & science, social and human sciences, and technology.
|4||Minot State University||Minot||$$$$$||500 University Ave W|
Minot, ND 58707
Minot State University enrolls more than 3,000 students on their “Magic City” campus and online. The university offers nine undergraduate degrees, three undergraduate certificates, three graduate degrees, and one graduate certificate entirely online. Minot State has offered distance education programs for 18 years.
MSU’s online coursework is designed to allow students to work from any location or timezone. MSU’s online campus is open 24/7, allowing students to complete their coursework when it’s convenient for them. Online undergraduate degrees include management, marketing, and international business. The school is among online colleges in North Dakota to offer master’s programs, including management and special education. Tuition is charged on a per-credit basis to ensure students never pay for more than what they’re getting. As one of the most affordable online schools in North Dakota, that rate is set at $273.67 per credit for undergraduate courses and $343.37 per credit for graduate courses.
|5||Dickinson State University||Dickinson||$$$$$||291 Campus Drive|
Dickinson, ND 58601-4896
Dickinson State University is part of the North Dakota University system. The campus overlooks the city of Dickinson. DSU also represents one of the the most robust online colleges in North Dakota, offering online bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance, business administration, human resource management, nursing, applied science, and university studies.
The university also offers online associate degrees in agriculture. Online students are offered a range of tools to help them in their academic experience, including Moodle, Atomic Learning, and Blackboard Collaborate. Ranked as the fourth best regional public college in the midwest by U.S. News & World Report, DSU is also affordable, with tuition just over $6000 per year. The school recommends that students set aside 3-5 hours per credit each week for classes. They also recommend to log into Moodle every 2-3 days.
|6||Valley City State University||Valley City||$$$$$||101 College St SW|
Valley City, ND 58072
U.S. News & World Report has recognized Valley City State University as the number one regional public college in the midwest for 18 consecutive years. The main campus is located in Southeastern Valley City. The school offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees, including tracks in art, business, communications, software engineering, education, and more. Many can been completed entirely online, including programs in business education, career and technical education, english education, history education, music, professional communication, and technology education. The university also offers an online master of education and minor and non-credit programs. Students in VCSU’s online programs have access to the university’s most popular student services, including the learning center, the Allen Memorial Library, and counseling. Online courses are taught through Blackboard. The school also has interactive video network (IVN) courses. These courses require students to travel to specified locations that have an IVN equipped room; there are many locations throughout the state.
|7||University of Mary||Bismarck||$$$$$||7500 University Dr|
Bismarck, ND 58504
The University of Mary is a Catholic, Benedictine private university. The university enrolls over 3,000 students across its main and satellite campuses, including online. The school offers a wide range of academic programs, including many programs that can be completed entirely online. Programs for on-campus and online students are supplemented by service opportunities, internships, and faculty mentoring. The University of Mary is also one of the most affordable online colleges in North Dakota, boasting tuition that falls just under half the average cost of private universities in the nation. Ninety-nine percent of the university’s students are granted scholarships or some form of financial aid.
Among the university’s 26 online degrees are programs in accounting, addiction counseling, biology, business administration, nursing, public policy, public relations, and social work. Master’s programs are also available in bioethics, addiction counseling, and business.
|8||Mayville State University||Mayville||$$$$$||330 Third Street NE|
Mayville, ND 58257-1299
Mayville State University offers a range of distance and extended learning programs to make continuing or pursuing education flexible and easy. Online courses can be taken piecemeal or as complete programs. Degrees can be completed entirely online, blended, and on campus at any of the university’s satellite locations; making Mayville one of the most flexible online schools in North Dakota.
The university’s online undergraduate programs cover a wide range of subjects, including business administration, mathematics, nursing, special education, university studies, library science, and physics. The school also offers one associate in business management and a master’s degree in teaching. The university also offers all required general education courses online. Student resources include the academic success center, online tutoring, the Byrnes-Quanbeck library, internships, career services, and the writing center. The school also offers off-campus distance educations.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in North Dakota
Below you’ll find a second ranking of the top online colleges in ND, sorted by their tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Dickinson State University||Dickinson||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||Minot State University||Minot||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Mayville State University||Mayville||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Valley City State University||Valley City||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||University of North Dakota||Grand Forks||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||North Dakota State University||Fargo||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||University of Mary||Bismarck||School profile||$$$$$|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in North Dakota
This tuition waiver is available to undergraduates at Minot State University. To be eligible, students must have a GPA of 2.25+, and belong to a historically under-represented ethnic or economic group. North Dakota residents receive a 50% tuition reduction; Non-residents receive a 10% reduction.
Melvin R. Arnold Scholarship
Open to University of Jamestown students majoring in biochemistry, chemistry, biology, math, or clinical lab science. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.7+ and an ACT score of 26+ (SAT 1180+). The total award is $9,000, distributed over 4 years of undergraduate study.
North Dakota Indian Scholarship
The North Dakota University System provides between 150 and 175 scholarships to members of the North Dakota Indian tribes who are enrolled in a North Dakota college or university. Selection is based on academic ability and financial need. Maximum award is $2,000 per year for 4 years.
North Dakota Scholars
Provided by the North Dakota University System, this scholarship is available to North Dakota high school students planning to pursue an undergraduate degree. To be eligible, students must have an ACT score within the upper 5th percentile of all test takers in the state. Award is full tuition for 4 years.
North Dakota State Student Incentive Grant Program
Provided by the North Dakota University System for students who are pursuing an undergraduate degree at a public, private, or tribal college within the state. To be eligible, students must have graduated from high school or earned a GED in North Dakota. The award is distributed based on applicants’ financial need. Maximum award is $1,650 per year.
Treacy Foundation Scholarship
The Treacy Foundation provides this scholarship for freshmen and sophomores who are residents of North Dakota. Students are evaluated and selected based on their financial need, academic performance, and extracurriculars or community service. The award is $2,000 per year, renewable for up to 4 years.
The University of Jamestown awards the Wilson Scholarship to four qualified students each year. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.6+ and an ACT score of 26+ (SAT 1180+). Participation in a Scholarship Day competition and personal interview is required. Award amounts range from $14,000 to full tuition for 4 years.
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