By selecting an online school in your state, you may benefit from in-state tuition, scholarships for residents, networking opportunities, and name recognition with employers. This guide to the best online colleges in Minnesota can help you start your search for the right online degree. A college degree prepares you for a broader range of career opportunities and may even qualify you for graduate studies.
Read on to discover how to choose the best online college in Minnesota that fits your needs.
Higher Learning Initiatives in Minnesota
Minnesota Online is a search tool for the hundreds of online degrees, certificates, and courses offered by Minnesota's 31 public and tribal colleges and universities. It allows students to search and review courses and programs and provides student support, such as pre-admissions planning and advising. Minnesota Online also provides service and training programs for businesses and job seekers.
College Access Grant
In 2012, Minnesota received a $1.56 million federal College Access Challenge Grant. The grant encourages college readiness and helps increase the number of low-income students in post secondary institutions. Funds assist school career counselors and parents so that students can access the information they need to get into the college of their choice, whether a traditional or online school in Minnesota. Minnesota has won this grant every year since 2007.
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness (GEAR UP)
Similar to the College Access Grant, GEAR UP helps increase college preparedness and success so that low-income students can pursue a post secondary education. Created in 1995, GEAR UP emphasizes providing students and parents with college information from an early age. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education is the state grantee for GEAR UP. States compete for six-year matching grants through this federal program.
Popular Degree Programs in Minnesota
Minnesota ranks second nationwide for employment in medical devices industries, tenth in business management, and thirteenth for healthcare and social assistance. Lucrative, stable careers in business, healthcare, technology, and social services abound in the state, as reflected in the high number of degrees Minnesota colleges confer each year in business and the social sciences.
- Business Management and Administration: In many states, business remains the most popular major. Home to many top companies, Minnesota ranks ranks third nationwide in the number of Fortune 500 companies per capita. In their third year after graduation, more than 70% of Minnesota business degree holders possess full-time jobs with average annual salaries of $47,000.
- Social Sciences: Social science majors study human society, societal institutions, and human interactions within society. Social sciences include psychology, economics, sociology, and political science. This degree prepares graduates to work in a variety of fields, including law, human services, and business, all popular professions in Minnesota.
Paying for College in Minnesota
When choosing between the best online colleges in Minnesota, cost can play a factor. College costs include tuition, fees, transportation, books, materials, and living expenses. The average tuition rate for a public college in Minnesota is $11,540. Online programs typically cost about the same as on-campus programs, although online students can save substantially on transportation and living expenses. Online programs also offer the flexibility needed to continue working while attending school.
Your most significant cost consideration in paying for college includes tuition and fees, although room and board remains a substantial cost for students living on campus. The tuition rate also does not account for expenses like transportation, books, and healthcare. In-state tuition at public schools typically ranks as the most affordable option for residents, although some private schools offer generous financial aid packages based on talent, academic merit, or financial need. See below for average in-state public school tuition rates.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18
|Public Two Year||Public Four Year|
Source: College Board
Employment Outlook in Minnesota
Minnesota residents benefit from a robust economy and plentiful job prospects. Boasting one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S., Minnesota offers job seekers stable, well-paying employment opportunities in a variety of industries, including healthcare, education, and business. Wage earners in the state command above-average mean salaries. Minnesota's in-demand occupations for college graduates include nursing, computer systems analysts, software developers, secondary teachers, and human resources specialists. According to 10-year projections, software developers and marketing specialists in Minnesota can expect job growth rates above 20%. In their third year post-graduation, about half of all bachelor's degree graduates hold full-time jobs earning average wages near $44,000.
Accreditation for Colleges in Minnesota
A voluntary process schools undergo to show they meet high standards for quality, accreditation plays an integral part in choosing your higher education institution. Only students attending accredited online colleges in Minnesota qualify for federal financial aid. Schools may hold national or regional accreditation, with regional accreditation being the more popular and prestigious designation. Six accrediting bodies grant regional accreditation. Look for regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission when exploring Minnesota schools, including those offering online programs.
Employers, state licensing agencies, and other colleges and graduate schools are more likely to accept any credits or degree you earn at a regionally accredited school. In addition to institutional accreditation, some programs (including online programs) hold specialized accreditation.
Scholarships for Minnesota Online College Students
Many organizations offer scholarships to help students pay for the best online colleges in Minnesota. Some become available to qualifying need-based students automatically once they complete the FAFSA. Others require special application. See below for a few grants and scholarships available through the state government and private charities and foundations in Minnesota.
Who Can Apply: First-time undergraduates from any state enrolled in public two- and four-year schools in Minnesota may qualify if demonstrating financial need. Contact your school's financial aid office for additional information.
Amount: $350-$1,100 per year
Who Can Apply: This foundation combines funding sources to provide more than 60 scholarships to Duluth residents. Visit the foundation's website to check out the scholarship application portal and apply for aid.
Who Can Apply: High school seniors in Ramsey, Washington, and Dakota counties with Salvation Army volunteer experience may apply. Applicants must demonstrate need and submit financial aid and reference forms with their application.
Amount: $1,500 (two-year colleges) or $3,000 (four-year colleges)
Who Can Apply: This University of Minnesota scholarship offers preference to Minnesota residents and those eligible for the Minnesota Dream Act in the top 1-3% of their graduating class.
Amount: $12,000 per year for up to four years
Who Can Apply: High school graduates from Minnesota planning to attend four-year colleges may apply for merit-based scholarships according to their GPA. Applicants must write an essay.
Who Can Apply: Minnesota high school seniors who demonstrate academic excellence may apply. Recipients must enroll in a participating state or private school in Minnesota during their high school graduation year.
Amount: Public school tuition and fees for up to four years
Who Can Apply: Minnesota veterans, military service members, and surviving spouses and children of veterans under 62 may qualify. Recipients must enroll in a Minnesota school.
Amount: Up to $3,000 per year
Who Can Apply: Minnesota residents of Indian heritage in financial need may apply by completing an application for tribal education funds and the FAFSA. Recipients must enroll in a Minnesota institution.
Amount: $4,000 (undergraduate) or $6,000 (graduate) for up to 10 years
Who Can Apply: Residents from low- and moderate-income families may apply for this state grant. Applicants must complete the FAFSA and enroll at an eligible school in the state.
Who Can Apply: Minnesota students of color between the ages of 18 and 35 may apply if they demonstrate financial need. Applicants must show an interest in mentoring children, graduate from a Minnesota high school, and attend a Minnesota college.
Resources for Students in Minnesota
- LeadMN: Two-year community and technical college students in Minnesota can apply for scholarships, find mentors, and register for workshops and leadership trainings through this organization.
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: This state agency offers paid summer internships for college students throughout the state that may qualify for college credit.
- Minnesota Office of Higher Education: This state office provides resources and information about preparing for college, choosing a school, and paying for education. This website offers access to online applications for state tuition, loan programs, and other financial aid resources.
- Minnesota Transfer: Students wishing to transfer from one institution to another can access relevant resources here, including information on financial aid, online programs, and transfer applications.
- MN DEED Career and Education Explorer: This state website provides data on career opportunities in Minnesota. Users may explore average wages, demand and projections, and educational requirements for jobs, including current openings in each region.
Online Schools in Minnesota
Bemidji State University
- Graduation Rate: 44%
- Average Net Price: $13,951
Saint Paul, MN
- Graduation Rate: 71%
- Average Net Price: $23,379
Saint Bonifacius, MN
- Graduation Rate: 47%
- Average Net Price: $22,134
Concordia University-Saint Paul
Saint Paul, MN
- Graduation Rate: 47%
- Average Net Price: $18,272
Metropolitan State University
Saint Paul, MN
- Graduation Rate: 35%
- Average Net Price: $15,721
Minnesota State University Moorhead
- Graduation Rate: 46%
- Average Net Price: $14,553
Minnesota State University-Mankato
- Graduation Rate: 52%
- Average Net Price: $13,424
Oak Hills Christian College
- Graduation Rate: 9%
- Average Net Price: $18,689
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
- Graduation Rate: 62%
- Average Net Price: $19,427
Saint Cloud State University
Saint Cloud, MN
- Graduation Rate: 49%
- Average Net Price: $14,104
St Catherine University
Saint Paul, MN
- Graduation Rate: 59%
- Average Net Price: $21,953
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
- Graduation Rate: 73%
- Average Net Price: $15,212
University of Minnesota-Crookston
- Graduation Rate: 47%
- Average Net Price: $13,471
University of Northwestern-St Paul
St. Paul, MN
- Graduation Rate: 66%
- Average Net Price: $22,929