Updated: August 1, 2017
When starting a search with the words “Why is Minnesota” the first option is the question “Why is Minnesota so cold?” A state with more than 10,000 lakes and a population of over 5 million, Minnesota is known for its freezing temperatures than can drop to a record -60 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily, the state has a variety of schools offering online degree options for students, meaning you can avoid these extreme temperature changes and still take advantage of Minnesota’s wonderful educational programs from the comfort of your own home.
Minnesota is the 2nd highest ranked state in the country to have a population between 25-64 years of age educated at the undergraduate level or higher, with half at this status according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Being one of the most highly educated states impacts, of course, both Minnesota’s culture and economy. Minnesota residents rank among the most charitable, and the state is home to Mayo Clinic, one of the largest nonprofit medical organizations.
Minnesota not only has well-renowned brick-and-mortar universities but also universities with online programs which are equally as engaging, rigorous and esteemed that allow students from all around the country to experience the educational opportunity of studying there without leaving their homes. Online programs have an overwhelming amount of advantages. They are ideal particularly for students who have full-time jobs and other obligations, are non-traditional students, or simply prefer the flexibility online degrees offer. When taking courses online, whether fully or partially, students save a significant amount of money by cutting transportation, housing, and other typical on-campus expenses.
For those who possess time-management skills, a complicated schedule, or find the idea of working on their own pace appealing, online school in Minnesota is a wonderful choice.
What are the best online colleges in Minnesota?
In order to determine which higher learning institutions belong on the list below, we take several factors into account. Calculating the institutional excellence and return on investment are critical, decided through examining the school’s reputation, graduation rate, costs, anticipated post-graduation salaries, and more. Data sources are the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS, Payscale, and US News & World Report. Additionally, student satisfaction is a component measured through student reviews.
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $15,371
Founded in 1851, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is located in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota. This public university is the largest of the 5 campuses in the University of Minnesota school system with over 46,000 total enrolled students.
In total, this Twin Cities location offers 7 undergraduate certificates, 13 graduate certificates, 20 bachelor’s degrees, 18 master’s degrees, and 15 doctorate degrees either partially or fully online. As the university’s website states, students do not pay for the cost of additional credits after 13. Additionally, transcripts do not specify programs were completed online. The following are popular undergraduate online programs:
- Psychology (B.A.S)
- Accounting (B.S.)
- Marketing (B.S.)
- International Business (B.S.)
The University of Minnesota Twin Cities emphasizes the importance of volunteer work, earning federal recognition for community service. The university is home to Minnesota’s sole pharmacy, dental and veterinary colleges.
The College of Saint Scholastica
College Choice Score: 92.79
Average Net Price: $22,719
Founded in 1912 by Benedictine missionaries, The College of Saint Scholastica is part of a larger Saint Scholastica system, in which this Duluth location is the main campus. This private institution continues to be religiously affiliated, specifically Benedictine Catholic. The population consists of 2,284 undergraduate and 1,565 graduate students.
The College of Saint Scholastica offers two types of online learning: synchronous virtual classrooms and asynchronous online courses. Online courses allow for students to have more flexible hours, while virtual classrooms provide an environment where students can engage with their peers and instructors without leaving their location through video/audio conferencing.
There is an ample variety of programs available to take either partially or fully online, including 8 undergraduate, 5 master’s, and 3 doctorates, along with a range of both graduate and undergraduate certifications and licensures. Along with for-credit courses, the college also offers MOOCs (short for massive online open course), which are free courses thousands can sign up for and participate in. Many programs provide eight-week terms, which allow students to finish their degree at a faster pace than one otherwise would on campus. The following are popular fully or partially online undergraduate programs offered:
- Accounting (B.A.)
- Elementary Education Degree Completion (B.S.)
- Health Information Management (B.S.)
- A./B.S. Computer Information Systems (CIS)
- Nursing (Post-Baccalaureate-B.S.)
Most instructors at The College of Saint Scholastica use Blackboard, a widely used online learning interface. St. Scholastica also offers easily accessible 24/7 technological support and demos to help students on their online degree path.
College Choice Score: 90.56
Average Net Price: $18,628
Bethel University is a private Evangelical Christian college located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Originally founded in 1871 as a seminary school, it now is one of the largest colleges in a 13-college Christian consortium with about 6,000 total students enrolled. The college is sponsored by a Christian body of churches called Converge Worldwide.
Bethel University specializes in seminary programs and offers undergraduate, graduate and seminary courses online. Both hybrid and wholly online classes are available. Among fully-online undergraduate degrees are:
- Business Management (B.S.)
- Nursing (RN to B.S.)
- Christian Ministries (B.A.)
- Human Services (B.A.)
Christian faith is highly implemented in the college’s mission statement. The college proclaims itself as a “Christ-centered educational community,” an ideal university for those with strong religious ties.
University of Minnesota Duluth
College Choice Score: 89.31
Average Net Price: $15,653
The University of Minnesota Duluth is a public university founded in 1895, originally as the Duluth Normal School. The campus covers 244 acres, and the school has an enrollment of over 11,000 students. The institution is one of 5 locations for the University of Minnesota system.
The university offers both partially and fully online programs, each with the same level of engagement as wholly on-campus courses. The following are University of Minnesota Duluth’s online degree programs:
Fully online –
- Psychology (B.S.)
- Tribal Administration and Governance (B.A)
- Social Work (B.S.W.)
- Master of Education (M.Ed.)
- Master of Tribal Administration and Governance
Along with these, the university also offers many non-credit certificate programs.
The University of Minnesota Duluth uses Moodle for their online courses for students to engage with their classmates and instructors. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It is the home of the Large Lakes Observatory and carries a reputation for leading research on large lakes worldwide.
Minnesota State University-Mankato
College Choice Score: 87.91
Average Net Price: $13,515
Originally founded in 1868 as the Mankato Normal School, the school became Minnesota State University-Mankato in 1998. It is part of a larger Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. The public university is located in Mankato, Minnesota with a total student population of over 15,000 and boasts more than 130 undergraduate programs.
Minnesota State University-Mankato offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate programs, along with certificate programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Specifically, the college offers many online master’s programs that focus on education. The following are popular fully-online programs Minnesota State University-Mankato offers:
- International Business (B.S.)
- Elementary Education (M.S.)
- Dental Hygiene (B.S.)
- Technical Communication (M.A.)
The university utilizes rolling admission, allowing for a quick response time regarding your application. Additionally, students can submit a request to receive in-state tuition rates if they take exclusively 100% online courses at Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Minnesota State University Moorhead
College Choice Score: 82.96
Average Net Price: $14,305
Minnesota State University Moorhead is a public university located in Moorhead, Minnesota. Originally founded in 1888 as The Moorhead Normal School, the institution received many name changes throughout the years as it boosted in student population and accreditation, eventually landing on its current name in 2000. It is part of a larger Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. The school has no religious affiliation and holds a student body of 5,923.
This school’s online programs are ideal for graduate students and transfer undergraduate students, as the undergraduate courses are designed for degree completion from transferring, and the university provides an ample selection of graduate programs. Both hybrid and fully-online courses are offered, along with “online plus” courses which are fully online with the option to have in person classes as well. The following are undergraduate degree programs offered fully online:
- Business Administration (B.S.)
- Special Education (B.S.)
- Nursing (B.S.N.)
- Project Management (B.S.)
Minnesota State University Moorhead enrolls students through rolling admission and guarantees prospective students hear back from the university within two weeks time. It also emphasizes its affordability: students are able to take 19 credits with the same price they would pay to take 12 at other colleges.
Saint Cloud State University
College Choice Score: 81.84
Average Net Price: $12,935
Located in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, Saint Cloud University is one of the biggest public universities in Minnesota with over 15,400 students. It is one of many institutions in The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. The university is part of a larger system of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and went through several name changes prior to its current title.
The university offers more than 200 online courses with hybrid and wholly-online options available. St. Cloud State University utilizes a semester-based calendar and online students can have books delivered directly to a home address from the library. In total, there are 17 online certificates and degrees for graduate students, and three for undergraduate students. The following are online undergraduate programs:
- Bachelor of Elective Studies (BES)
- Nursing RN-to-BSN
- Associates of Arts (AA) and Science (AS)
St. Cloud State University provides online tutoring, along with tech support 7 days a week. The university is in the top 1% most affordable of Forbes “America’s Top Colleges.” Additionally, Saint Cloud University is accredited by many institutions, such as the Higher Learning Commission and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Bemidji State University
College Choice Score: 79.09
Average Net Price: $13,798
Bemidji State University stands beside the Lake Bemidji shore, where it was founded in 1919 as Bemidji Normal School and renamed in 1975 to its current name. It is part of a larger Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Today, the public university serves over 5,000 students and continues to grow their online degree options.
The online programs are tailored for transfer students, most with a 24-credit minimum transfer required. Students can choose between hybrid and fully online options to fulfill their degree. Bemidji State University offers 7 major and 7 minor online undergraduate programs, including:
- Criminal Justice (B.S.)
- Psychology (B.A. or B.S.)
- Applied Engineering (B.A.S.)
- Marketing Communication (B.S.)
Bemidji State University offers scholarships specifically for online/distance students. Utilizing the popular D2L Brightspace, the university provides a wonderful learning software for students completing their degrees online. The college values environmentalism and a focused awareness of the indigenous population and roots of the land.
University of Northwestern - Saint Paul
College Choice Score: 77.93
Average Net Price: $24,621
The University of Northwestern – Saint Paul is a private nondenominational Christian liberal arts university located in St. Paul, Minnesota near Lake Johanna. The religiously-affiliated college was founded in 1902 by evangelist pastor Dr. William B. Riley. Today, the university offers more than 70 majors, with several related to Christianity.
The school runs on a semester-based calendar with online courses available all year. Fully online courses and hybrid classes that allow students to take classes online and meeting in person just once a week are offered. Master of Divinity, Theological Studies, and Education are all examples of graduate online programs students can pursue at the University of Northwestern St. Paul. Additionally, these are popular online undergraduate areas of study:
- Health Psychology (B.S.)
- General Studies (A.A.)
- Business Management (B.S.)
The University of Northwestern Saint Paul runs a Christian broadcast radio with stations popular in the Midwest. According to the university, the root of their values is a “biblical worldview curriculum” and emphasizes their devotion to centering this in students’ educational endeavors. Thus, this university is a perfect candidate for prospective students who desire a Christian-centered program of study.
College Choice Score: 76.83
Average Net Price: $22,426
Located in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, Crown College earned its current name in 1992 after being founded in 1916. The private, non-profit school is a Minnesota Bible college that is regionally accredited.
Crown College provides Bible-related classes for its students every semester and is known for being affordable. Both transfer and new students have a variety of program options, including online biblical certificates and degrees. Top online undergraduate majors include:
- Biblical Studies (B.S.)
- Criminal Justice (B.S.)
- Global and Cultural Studies (B.S)
- Christian Ministry (B.S.)
Affiliated with multiple Christian associations such as the Association of Christian Schools International, Crown College was also listed in “Best Midwest Regional Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report. A Christ-centered institution, Crown College is equally as religiously devoted and engaging online as it is face-to-face.
Southwest Minnesota State University
College Choice Score: 75.90
Average Net Price: $14,838
Southwest Minnesota State University is a public institution located in the small city of Marshall, Minnesota with a total student population of 7,134. It is has a total one of many schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.
Southwest Minnesota State University offers a smooth transfer from associate’s degree credits to bachelor’s programs they offer, with courses available online. Additionally, the university is known for its Masters of Science in Education graduate program offering fully online emphases in:
The university utilizes a liberal arts-based educational approach with a large variety of course areas. The school was acclaimed by Affordable Colleges Online for their cost-effective online degrees.
Martin Luther College
College Choice Score: 74.26
Average Net Price: $17,676
Martin Luther College is a private institution located on a 50-acre campus in New Ulm, Minnesota. The college is operated by Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) with a dedicated mission of training church leaders. The school has a total enrollment of 1,266 students, 116 of which are graduate students.
Martin Luther College only offers master’s programs online. These are flexible in their focus – students are able to choose between several concentrations for the majors available. The following are Martin Luther College’s fully online master’s degrees:
- Education (M.S.Ed.)
- Educational Administration (M.S.Ed. Admin)
Martin Luther College received 1st place in AffordableColleges.com’s ranking of the best value in the United States for its Master of Science in Education online program. The class ratio is quite small in comparison to most colleges at 12:1 for an optimally engaging environment.
Concordia University, St. Paul
College Choice Score: 73.47
Average Net Price: $19,082
Concordia University, St. Paul is a private liberal arts college located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was founded in 1892 and is historically affiliated with The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Today, these roots continue to shape the university’s mission and values. The university is part of a larger Concordia University System, which has 10 campuses.
Concordia follows a semester calendar. The institution offers many unique online degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate level, along with certificates, with over 30 total online programs available. Some of these include:
- Exercise Science (B.A.)
- Pulmonary Science (B.S.)
- Radiologic Science Leadership (B.S.)
- Human Services – Forensic Behavioral Health (M.A.)
- Sports Management (B.S.)
Concordia University Saint Paul provides benefits for those who served/are serving in the military. The school also provides advantages to those transferring from certain community colleges in the area, who are eligible to receive a $2,000 discount on their tuition.
University of Minnesota-Crookston
College Choice Score: 70.28
Average Net Price: $12,592
University of Minnesota-Crookston is a small public university located in Crookston, Minnesota. Student enrollment is about 1,800, half of which are online students. The typical class ratio is 16:1, providing a highly personalized educational environment. The institution is part of a larger University of Minnesota system which includes locations in Duluth, Twin Cities, Morris, and Rochester.
Online students are prioritized when it selecting courses for the semester, ensuring they have an opportunity of having the first pick of online courses. Online programs total to 14 undergraduate majors, 8 undergraduate minors, and 4 online certificates. Popular online undergraduate majors include:
- Finance (B.S.)
- Entrepreneurship (B.S.)
- Communication (B.S.)
- Applied Health (B.A.H.)
The University of Minnesota-Crookston has offered online programs for its students for 20 years. Additionally, all students receive laptops through the university, which offers multiple scholarships with one annual scholarship dedicated to assisting online students.
Oak Hills Christian College
College Choice Score: 68.44
Average Net Price: $16,563
Founded in 1946, Oak Hills Christian College is a highly selective private, interdenominational Christian college in Bemidji, Minnesota. The college is accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education.
Oak Hills Christian College seeks to provide a Bible-centered education for all enrolled students, whether online or face-to-face. The college allows transfer students seeking to complete their degrees to apply for online programs as well. The following are Oak Hill’s fully online programs:
- Business Administration
- Leadership and Ministry
- Biblical Studies and Ministry
- Business Administration
Oak Hills has a total enrollment of 125 students. The university expects their students to be involved with weekly ministry and participate in the community.
Metropolitan State University
College Choice Score: 68.25
Average Net Price: $14,625
Founded in 1971, Metropolitan State University aimed to provide non-traditional students an opportunity to earn their bachelor degree. Today, the public university is still focused on older students. It is part of The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, and it located in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
Because the school specializes in educating working adults, it offers an ample variety of undergraduate and graduate programs online. Metropolitan State University offers many business-related degrees, along with the opportunity for students to design their own major with guidance. Popular fully-online bachelor’s degrees include:
- Business Administration (B.S.)
- Marketing (B.S.)
- Individualized Studies (B.A.)
- Human Resource Management (B.S.)
Metropolitan State University has an acceptance rate of 100%, according to US News & World Report. Additionally, the online tuition is more affordable than nonresident tuition. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.