25 Best Colleges in Minnesota

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Today’s college students are in a tough spot. Tuition keeps getting more expensive, but the importance of a degree in our technology-focused economy keeps growing too.

In a situation like this, it’s important to do your research. You need to make sure that you find the college that’s right for you, in terms of academics and student life, as well as finances. So if you’re considering going to college in Minnesota, then you’ve come to the right place. And even if you don’t, you can digitally through one of the Best Online Schools in Minnesota!

It’s a great state to be looking into, whether you’re a native to the state or looking to come from elsewhere. For one, Minnesota has been ranked as one of the most well-run states in the country due to its economic health and functional governance. Part of that success in administration can be seen in its focus on education. The state has put a high priority on getting a college education for as many state residents as possible, with a special emphasis on poor and minority students.

Minnesota is really a place for everyone and anyone, and the state has a lot to offer. While they tragically lost Minneapolis native Prince last year, native son Bob Dylan just won a Nobel Prize for Literature. If you’re a fan of Garrison Keillor and his Lake Wobegon (sadly, not a real place), then you’ll know it’s set in Minnesota. And their state fair is really something to behold—almost one-quarter of state residents go every year. And, of course, Minnesota is home a number of high-quality colleges and universities, from public research universities to private liberal arts schools.

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Top 10 Best Colleges in Minnesota

Rank School Location
1 Carleton College Northfiled, MN
2 Macalester College Saint Paul, MN
3 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
4 Saint Olaf College Northfiled, MN
5 University of Minnesota-Morris Morris, MN
6 Saint John's University Collegeville, MN
7 Concordia College at Moorhead Fargo-Noorhead, MN
8 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Winona, MN
9 College of Saint Benedict Saint Joseph, MN
10 Hamline University Saint Paul, MN

Best Colleges in Minnesota Badge

What are the best colleges in Minnesota?

We’ve ranked the best colleges in Minnesota according to a composite score that takes into account a variety of factors. One of the most important factors is academic quality – the caliber of student getting, the school’s resources that enable cutting-edge research to take place, and institutional reputation. But we also consider student body diversity, as well as return on investment. Our return on investment ranking is a weight of cost – tuition, fees, room and board – against the early career pay for graduates. That way you will know not only that your education is of excellent quality, but also that you won’t be mired in too much debt once you graduate. Our data comes from the IPEDS database of the National Center for Education Statistics.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Carleton College
    Location

    Northfiled, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Carleton College was founded in 1866 by Charles M Goodsell and the General Conference of the Congregational Churches of Minnesota in rural Northfield, Minnesota. The Northfield campus is about 40 miles from the twin cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Since its founding, the college has moved towards a non-denominational affiliation. The college is no stranger to taking the road not taken, they were one of the first colleges to accept a Japanese-American from the intern camp Nisei. In 1949, the college celebrated the graduate of the first black students.

    Features

    Carleton College has over 1040 acres that includes an 880-acre arboretum. The campus fosters a close-knit community with over 2000 students, an average class size of 16, 170 student organizations, sports events and a student-faculty ratio of 9:1. Popular majors among over 30 programs include:

    • Biology & Chemistry
    • Computer science
    • Economics
    • Mathematics & Statistics
    • Psychology

    Notables

    Carleton College is the 4th oldest private institution in Minnesota. It has a treasured history of football events – including the famed 1977 game against St. Olaf -, building the first college-owned wind turbine in the US in 2004, and creating the Lyman lakes in 1916. But the traditions are priceless, you will always see the plaster bust of German poet Friedrich Schiller appear in random places and events.

  2. Macalester College
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Macalester College was founded in 1874 in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was founded by Reverend Edward Duffield Neill. He was a chaplain in the Civil War, held positions in 3 presidential administrations and worked in various church and higher education schools. Armed with all this experience, the college opened in 1885 and has grown steadily since then. The namesake of the college is Charles Macalester who was a Philadelphia Businessman and philanthropist who initiated the donations for the school.

    Features

    Today, there are 2108 students studying at this urban campus in 63 different areas of study. The small average class size of 17 and the 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio assists in making these students successful. According to US News, it is #7 in the nation for a strong commitment to teaching. Top majors include:

    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Political Science & Government
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics & Statistics

    Notables

    As you walk on campus you can see the rich history of bagpipes on the campus including their presence at major events. Macalester is known for early cultural acceptance including the following individuals. Their first African American graduate was in 1915, her name was Catharine Deaver Lealtad – she went on to be a physician. In 1942, the college welcomed Japanese-American Esther Torri Suzuki from an internment camp due to the war.

  3. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    University of Minnesota – Twin Cities was founded in 1851 to be a public, flagship land-grant institution. Between 1947 and 2006, four additional campuses joined the University of Minnesota higher education system. This campus is in the area of the Twin Cities, otherwise known as Minneapolis and St. Paul. It has over 30,000 undergraduate students and over 16,300 graduate students studying at this campus. With such a large population, most schools would be a primary commuter campus. Not U of M – Twin Cities. Over 80% of the students choose to stay on school-owned or sponsored living communities.

    Features

    At the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, students can study over 150 undergraduate degrees and 200 graduate degrees and participate in over 800 student groups in this 1204-acre campus. Over 75% of students live off campus. The student-faculty ratio is 17 to 1. Top majors include:

    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Rhetoric and Composition
    • Biology
    • Mathematics & Statistics

    Notables

    The university has provided the opportunity for students to study at one of the 200 other campuses as part of the National Student Exchange program or University’s internal global studies program. The University has a free tuition guarantee after students sign up for 13 credit hours. The average student takes 15 to 16 credit hours each semester.

  4. Saint Olaf College
    Location

    Northfiled, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    St. Olaf College was founded in 1874 by Norwegian Lutheran Immigrants lead by Pastor Bernt Julius Muss, Rev. N. A. Quammen and H. Thorson. The college is named after King Olaf II of Norway and Patron Saint in Northfield, Minnesota southeast of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Since its founding, St. Olaf has grown to about 700 acres that is includes to 325 acres of restored wetlands, woodlands and prairies; a utility-grade wind turbine, and 40 acres of solar panel farm. The college is now 100% carbon-free electrical power.

    Features

    St. Olaf has over 85 majors and concentrations for the students with a healthy 12 to 1 student-faculty ratio. These 3,046 undergraduate students study their programs on a campus of 300 acres. There is no Greek system at this school, but it has over 250 student clubs. Over 1/3 of the campus is involved in the music program in some way. Popular majors include:

    • Biology & Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics & Statistics
    • English

    Notables

    St. Olaf has earned its strong reputation for academic preparation. The National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates ranks St. Olaf as #12 of 267 4-year colleges with the number of graduates that earn doctoral degrees. St. Olaf earned the top ten in Mathematics & Statistics, Religion & Theology, Education, Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Biological Sciences.

  5. University of Minnesota-Morris
    Location

    Morris, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    University of Minnesota – Morris has a unique history. The property originally was used as a Native American boarding school by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1909, the Sisters relinquished ownership to the State of Minnesota with the clause that all Native Americans that attend must receive a free education. In the 1960s, the State of Minnesota decided to phase out the high school element of the school and turn the school into a small, residential public liberal arts college. Today, the Morris campus seeks to be a national leader in becoming a carbon-neutral campus pursuing green initiatives.

    Features

    Today, over 1900 students study at this 130-care location. Students enjoy the athletic and student life activities, small classes and the 13 to 1 student-faculty ratio. Top majors include

    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • English
    • Economics

    Notables

    Over 18% percent of body is Native American students that represent over 50 federally recognized American Native tribes, Alaskan Native Villages, and Canadian First Nations. It is located about 150 miles from Six Native Nations and the Twin-Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Students can enjoy a green campus with wind turbines, heating and cooling systems.

  6. Saint John's University
    Location

    Collegeville, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Saint John’s University was founded in 1857 by the monks of St. John’s Abby to be a Benedictine men’s college preparing individuals for priesthood as well as professions. Over time, Saint John University (SJU) for Men and College of Saint Benedict (CSB) for women began a strong partnership to offer co-ed classes for their students. SJU is located on 3,300 acres of words and lakes about an hour from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

    Features

    Between SJU and CSB over 4,000 students are enrolled. SJU contributes over 1,700 to that number. Almost all students live on campus so that there is a close-knit learning community. SJU has 36 undergraduate majors and 100 student organizations to join. On the Saint John’s Campus, there is an average class size of 19 students with a 12 to 1 student-faculty ratio. Top Majors include:

    • Global Business Leadership
    • Accounting
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Communication

    Notables

    The SJU campus is surrounded by Saint John’s Abby Arboretum. It includes over 2,500 acres of savanna, forest, prairie, wetlands and lakes. The property includes spaces for Nordic Skiing, hiking, and wandering around Lake Sagatan and one of the largest solar fields at the Saint John’s Abbey Energy Farm.

  7. Concordia College at Moorhead
    Location

    Fargo-Noorhead, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Concordia College is in Fargo-Moorhead, Minnesota. Concordia was founded in 1891 by Norwegian settlers with the aid of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Since then, the college maintains close relationships with the ELCA congregations in Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. It is well known for its graduates to continue with their education. It is in the top 13% of colleges whose graduates earn research doctorates.

    Features

    At the Moorhead, suburban campus, there are over2,100 students that study over 70 programs. Students will have over 60% of their classes with less than 20 students and have a faculty-student ratio of 11 to 1. Over 60% of the students live on campus enjoying the 100+ student groups, campus life and athletic events. Top majors include:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • Psychology

    Notables

    Concordia is part of the NCAA III sports teams but they play St. Olaf annually for a unique Troll-phy. Other unique traditions include “The Beanie” and living in the Concordia Language Villages. No matter if you are looking to pursue an advanced degree or be immersed in another culture, there is something at Concordia for everyone.

  8. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
    Location

    Winona, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota was founded in 1912 by Bishop Patrick R. Heffron of the De La Salle Christian Brothers located in Winona, Minnesota. There are only 5 other Lasallian institutions in the US and 60 others throughout the world. In addition to the main campus, Saint Mary’s offers courses at two other sites and online.

    Features

    Saint Mary’s has over 5900 students including undergraduate, bachelor completion, masters and doctoral students between all campuses. At the main campus, there 1,171 undergraduates studying over 58 majors in 120 different programs and can be involved in over 60 student organizations and athletics. Average class size is 16 and the student-faculty ratio is 13 to 1. Popular majors include:

    • Marketing
    • Accounting
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Human Resources Management

    Notables

    The Lasallian brotherhood was created by Saint John Baptist de La Salle, a priest, educational innovator and patron Saint of Teachers in 17th century France. Their goal is faith expressed through service. So, what does that mean today? Well in response to the growing need for primary care doctors, especially in the rural areas, Saint Mary’s is partnering with the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota Rochester to create a 3+2 Physician Assistant Program starting in 2017 pending accreditation.

  9. College of Saint Benedict
    Location

    Saint Joseph, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    College of Saint Benedict (CSB) was founded in 1887 by the Benedictine Sisters to provide Benedictine education for women. It is the only Benedictine College for women in the United States. It coordinates classes with Saint John’s University (SJU) But the main CSB main campus is in the city of St. Joseph, Minnesota – 75 miles from Minneapolis.

    Features

    Between CSB and SJU campuses, 4,000 students can attend co-ed classes. There are over 100 student organizations and athletic groups to join at the 315-acre campus. The top five majors include:

    • Global Business Leadership
    • Accounting
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Communication

    Notables

    The CSB and SJU is home to the Saint John’s Bible. The bible is the first complete hand-written and hand-illustrated Benedictine Abbey Bible after the printing press invention. It was started in 1998 and completed in 2011. The calligraphy and illustrations were done in a way that mirrored other ancient texts in the Abbey.

  10. Hamline University
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Hamline University was founded in 1851 by the territorial authorities and sponsored by the United Methodist in St. Paul, Minnesota. It has become to be known as the first university in Minnesota, one of the first co-educational schools in the United States and the only United Methodist University located in Minnesota. In 1973, it added a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter.

    Features

    Hamline is home to 40 undergraduate degrees and 11 graduate degrees. Students at this University complete over 150,000 hours of community service annually. There are over 80 student organizations and athletic teams to join. In the classroom over 50% of the classes have less than 20 students and the student-faculty ratio is 13:1. Top majors include:

    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Paralegal & Legal Studies
    • Criminal Justice
    • English

    Notables

    Hamline University has a rich history of military service, sports and academics. They strive to continue that history by supporting the students the best they can with a four-year graduation assurance: you can earn your bachelor degree in four years or they pay the difference. All students will complete an internship, collaborative research, a service learning project or field-based research.

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