The recent boom in oil drilling in North Dakota has drawn many people to the state to work and find their fortune in "black gold."
And while this economic boom bodes well for graduates in North Dakota looking for jobs after college, that's certainly not the only thing that the state has going for it.
Even just on the economic side, oil is not even the biggest part of the state economy. Agriculture plays a bigger role, and food processing and technology also figure as major sectors. All in all, this has made North Dakota the state with the fastest growing GDP and the highest rate of job creation. Not so bad.
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How much money can you make with a degree from North Dakota?
Speaking of money, let's talk numbers! According to the U.S. Census in 2016, the median household income for folks living in North Dakota was $60,656. That's a handsome $3k more than the average U.S. median income.
Based on the average incomes for graduates of North Dakota State University, it's clear that a bachelor's degree will push you ahead of the pack. For example, those with a BS degree earn on average $62,050. North Dakota students with a bachelor's degree in engineering enjoy an annual salary of nearly $75,000. Education in North Dakota translates directly into a higher income.
What can you do with a degree from North Dakota?
But it's not all about money, either. In the long run, we're all just looking for a career that is meaningful. Something that contributes to the larger good of our community and state. In North Dakota, you'll find that the leading industries include:
- Agricultural Manufacturing
- Pipeline Transportation
That means you'll have the best luck finding work in some of these areas. Even more, North Dakota has a large U.S. Air Force base in Ward County. This is a hub for both education and employment. So, if you're considering going to college in North Dakota, you'll be sure to find something for you, and a job waiting for you afterwards, if you're willing to put in some effort.
What are the Best Colleges in North Dakota?
With this ranking, we've collated the all of the colleges and universities in North Dakota and used a data aggregation method in order to rank them. Our ranking criteria are based on three factors:
- Institutional Excellence
- Student Satisfaction
- Return on Investment
In other words, we're looking for statistical evidence that students are being educated well, are enjoying their collegiate experience, and that their tuition money is well-spent and will improve their earning prospects later on. Data comes from IPEDS, U.S. News & World Report, Payscale, individual college websites, and student ranking sites. Related: Best Online Schools in North Dakota.
North Dakota can lay claim to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Norwegian Autumn Festival (the largest Scandinavian gathering of any kind in North America), and the most churches per capita of any other state. But perhaps most importantly, the state is home to the following stand-out colleges and universities.
See our rankings methodology page.
Located in the north central part of the state of North Dakota, Minot State University has served the population since 1913. As the third largest university in North Dakota, the school accommodates 2,279 undergraduate and 1,281 graduate students. With an acceptance rate of 58 percent, this city school competes within its region for students from North Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota.
MSU has a solid reputation for serving nearby Minot Air Force Base (MAFB). The Air Force base program offers a CCAF degree, which stands for Community College of the Air Force. Military Tuition Assistance provides financial aid for Air Force students. Classes intended to fulfill core requirements within a major must be completed on campus or online. The base and campus are just 10 miles apart for easy commuting. You’ll find on-base classes for the following degrees:
- B.S. in Criminal Justice
- B.S. in General Studies
- B.S. in Management
High school students should inquire about Early Entry (Dual Credit). Any junior or senior in high school with a minimum 3.0 GPA can take classes for both high school and college credit. Courses are conducted in high school, by interactive video (IVN), or on the MSU campus. Prior authorization from a high school administrator is required. The Emerging Scholars Award equals the tuition rate for every course taken as part of Early Entry.
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks is home to the University of North Dakota. As the oldest university, UND predates statehood by six years. Recent awards include being named #1 Fittest College in America by Rodale Wellness, #1 Online College in North Dakota by Online Colleges, and ranking #5 in the United States for Drone Training.
With 220 programs, 3,000 courses, 40 online degrees, and 80 graduate programs, UND stands out from the competition. The university maintains both a law school and a medical school, which is rare. One unique major, Commercial Aviation, lets students train on simulators or in an altitude chamber. The university maintains the world’s biggest on-campus fleet of aircraft for flight instruction. Graduates with 125 credit hours earn a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics with a major in Commercial Aviation. Courses within this degree include:
- Multi-Engine Systems and Procedures
- Aerodynamics – Airplanes
- Aviation Meteorology
Special clubs exist for aviation majors. These include the Aerobatics Team, the Flying Club, the Helicopter Association, and the Student Aviation Advisory Council (SAAC). A Summer International Aerospace Camp draws applicants with a full week of flight training.
Nestled in a small central town of 16,000, the University of Jamestown began with a Presbyterian covenant in 1883. Located midway between Fargo and Bismarck, UJ welcomes 1,100 students from 36 states and 22 countries. Despite their religious backing, the school admits students of all faiths and beliefs. Providing a liberal arts education as a private university, UJ boasts an impressive 99 percent job placement rate. A student to teacher ratio of 13:1 fosters strong connections and boosts success rates.
Known for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the school has approval from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Graduates have a 100% placement rate within one year of leaving UJ. They work as RNs in critical care, geriatrics, and other units at institutions such as the Mayo Clinic. Courses in nursing include:
- Community Health Nursing
- Microbiology Lecture/Lab
- Child/Adult Health
In their senior year, nursing students travel for clinical experience. Past journeys included remote African villages and a modern Vietnamese hospital. Each trip lasted three weeks.
North Dakota State University
As a public research institution, North Dakota State University welcomes 14,000 students to its programs. They come from 47 states and 79 countries; however, 41 percent reside in North Dakota, and 45 percent claim Minnesota residency. The retention rate after one year was 80 percent, while the graduation rate in 2012 was 32 percent. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools as well as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accredit the university.
The engineering department pulls in the highest enrollment figures. Within the department, you’ll find nine majors and 26 concentrations. Beyond the classroom, there are numerous student-run organizations like Engineers without Borders, Bison Robotics Club, and more. A few majors within the department include:
- Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Construction Engineering
- Industrial Engineering and Management
Upward Bound targets at-risk youth from grades 9-12 at Davies, Fargo North, and Fargo South High School. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Upward Bound provides college preparatory activities such as tutoring, skills development, advising, test-taking techniques, college tours, and helping with financial aid forms. A full 100 percent of participants in the NDSU program passed their grade level, 100 percent graduated from high school, and 67 percent went on to college.
Valley City State University
Originally a teacher’s college, Valley City State University was established in 1890 on land bordered by forests and a river. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school the #1 public Midwestern university. It features small class sizes of 11:1, plus distribution of free laptops and wireless connections. VCSU offers 80 undergraduate programs. Two master’s degrees can be taken online: Master of Education (M.Ed.) and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.).
The excellent Elementary Education programs leads to a B.S. in Education and licensing to teach grades one through six. Students within this major engage with young pupils for 150 hours and work as student teachers for twelve weeks. Students may choose additional endorsements such as:
- Special Education
- Early Childhood
- Teaching English as a Second Language
As a participant In the North Dakota University System (NDUS), Valley City State University allows students to take classes wherever they find themselves. The NDUS includes research schools like Dickinson State University, Mayville State University, and Minot State University, as well as numerous community colleges.
Bismarck’s University of Mary accepts all faiths as a not-for-profit, private, Catholic college. Its 3,160 students choose from over 60 undergraduate majors, 14 master’s degrees, and 3 doctoral degrees (Physical Therapy, Education, and Nurse Practice). Attendees hail from 42 states and 24 countries, and classes are limited to a 17:1 ratio. Graduates achieve a 96% employment rate within six months. The university has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The University of Mary excels in business fields. The Gary Theraldson School of Business offers an MBA, MS in Business, Master of Project Management, and Master of Public Administration. Of these, the MBA, MS-Business, MPM, and MPA offer online degrees. A sampling of courses toward an MBA include:
- Information Systems for Managers
- Organizational Communication and Transition Management
- Strategic Planning and Execution
The University of Mary Investment Club (UMIC) welcomes students interested in learning about the stock market and investing. Led by A. Kirk Lanterman, CEO and founder of Kirlan Venture Capital, students oversee an actual portfolio worth $150,000. Students access 24 computers, software, and 3 televisions to monitor markets.
Dickinson State University
Beginning in 1916 as Dickinson State Normal School, Dickinson State University accepted 104 students for classes held at Dickinson High School. Tuition was free, and students boarded with local families. The college moved to the Elks Building before finally opening May Hall in 1924.
The Department of Business and Management offers degrees in Human Resources and Accounting. As part of the NDUS (North Dakota University System), students enroll at DSU but can take courses at any of the participating schools. One class must be taken at DSU each semester. Other professional examinations for which students prepare include:
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
The CPA Experience aims at future business owners and presidents. Since its beginning in 2013, the innovative program consistently achieves a placement rate close to 100 percent. Students arrive in an office setting rather than a typical classroom. With iPads, Apple TV, and CPA exam preparation available, students learn at their own pace. Lectures on tape, videos, and PowerPoint presentations supplement limited class sizes. The program also tours local accounting firms, where students meet and network with CPAs.
Mayville State University
With enrollments at 1,130, MSU caters largely to in-state students (61 percent). The demographics skew 42 percent male and 58 percent female. Current statistics show a 54 percent acceptance rate for incoming students. Classes average a 15:1 student-to-teacher ratio. U.S. News and World Report ranked this public, co-ed university #5 in Top Public Schools. Accreditation comes from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
MSU offers eleven undergraduate education majors as well as pre-professional programs, liberal arts, sciences, and business degrees. Business majors go on to careers in banking, finance, marketing, sales, human resources, and other employment. The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree includes campus and online classes, and other classes are available at the Devils Lake location. An internship will be required. Courses for the B.S. in Business Administration include:
- Foundations in Entrepreneurship
- Business Communication
- Business Policies
- Principles of Marketing
With Early Entry (Dual Credit), eligible students in grades ten through twelve take classes in high school, online, or on ITV (interactive video). Enrollees must obtain authorization from a high school official, achieve a 3.0 GPA, and, for some courses, earn a minimum ACT score. Scholarships for Early Entry students who go on to attend MSU have a cap of $2,000.