According to U.S. Census figures, 47.7 percent of Minnesota's adult population held at least an associate degree in 2012. Although that's a relatively high percentage of adults, the figure is up considerably since 2008 when only 45.1 percent of the working-age population held a two-year degree or higher. Breaking the numbers down further shows just how important higher education has become to Minnesota residents. A recent study from the Lumina Foundation shows the percentages of working-age adults in Minnesota at each degree level: graduate or professional degree (11.24%), bachelor's degree (24.31%), and associate degree (12.12%). Furthermore, an additional 23.02% of the state's adult population had some college experience, but no degree.
Since higher education is such a priority for the state's residents, there are many colleges and universities offering on-campus and online degrees in Minnesota. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 70 institutions in the state where students can earn a bachelor's degree and another 85 that allow students to pursue an associate degree. These schools offer varied curriculum in a wide range of disciplines that cater to the many industries and fields represented in the state. Even better, some offer hybrid or fully-online learning options as a way to expand access to nontraditional students or those who need more flexibility.
Why Should I Earn a Degree in Minnesota?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a wide range of data that sheds light on the economic opportunities available in all states, including Minnesota. According to BLS data, Minnesota was home to 2,688,580 workers in 2013, who earned a mean annual wage of $47,370. Meanwhile, the following careers employed a comparatively high percentage of the state's college graduates:
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||404,120||$39,070|
|Sales and Related Occupations||275,740||$43,280|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||236,820||$23,910|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||178,270||$38,050|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||174,230||$81,570|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||164,560||$53,990|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||164,180||$71,420|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||129,490||$26,600|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||98,730||$56,040|
|Computer and Mathematical Occupations||97,680||$84,960|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||95,700||$48,050|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||84,730||$32,730|
Minnesota is the 12th largest state in the nation by area and the 21st most populous state. Its major metropolitan regions include the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, the Rochester metro area, the St. Cloud metro area, and others. Minnesota is known for its highly educated population and the wide range of industries that hire its college graduates. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, key industries in the state currently include manufacturing, data centers, clean and renewable energy, banking and insurance, and healthcare services. In addition, the state consistently leads the nation in biosciences development and employment, with plenty of opportunity for individuals who learn to create or repair medical devices, or those who work in pharma or biologics, animal science, or biofuels and materials.
When it comes to higher education, Minnesota also boasts a vast array of resources for its students, including the 32-school Minnesota State Colleges and University System and the five major campuses of the University of Minnesota. Many private schools also call the state home, in addition to a wide variety of trade and technical schools. Minnesota residents are highly educated, especially those in the following counties with a high percentage of their population holding at least an associate degree:
- Carver: 57.19 percent
- Hennepin: 56.75 percent
- Olmsted: 55.67 percent
- Washington: 54.53 percent
- Dakota: 52.63 percent
- Scott: 51.20 percent
According to College Board figures, Minnesota residents paid an average of $10,527 for in-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities for the 2014-15 school year.
Now that we've learned about educational attainment and career opportunities within Minnesota, let's explore some interesting lesser known facts about the state itself. Here are five fascinating facts about Minnesota that help make the state an attractive place to pursue a college degree and live:
- Love to shop? Bloomington, Minnesota's Mall of America is the size of seven Yankee Stadiums.
- Known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline. That's more than Florida, Hawaii, and California combined.
- Speaking of all that shoreline, Minnesota is famous for its watersports. Reportedly, the state has an average of one boat per every six residents.
- The world famous Mayo Clinic resides in Rochester and provides a bounty to the local economy, as well as innovative and lifesaving research and medicine.
- Minnesota has more recreational golfers per capita than any other state in the nation.
What Makes Minnesota Ideal for Online Education?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the state of Minnesota is currently home to 162 institutions of higher education, including trade schools, technical schools, colleges, and universities. And as online education in Minnesota continues to gain popularity, a growing number of schools are adding either hybrid or online courses and degree programs.
This surge is online options is good news for students who want to compare different programs and find one that meets their unique needs. However, having more than a few options can also be daunting to some. With so much distance learning in Minnesota to wade through, it can be hard to differentiate between each program and its offerings.
That's why online education experts such as Philip Powell, chair of the online MBA program at Indiana University Kelley School of Business, suggest that students take special care to understand what each program entails, and how they compare to one another.
According to Powell, students should start by looking for online programs that are truly flexible -- those that allow students to complete their coursework at any time or place of their choosing. Beyond that criteria, Powell also recommends that students look for online schools with a strong reputation, make sure the program they're considering offers opportunities for collaboration and connection with their instructor and other students, and give preference to schools that have a strong career-planning component within their program. And remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
"Students should avoid anything that looks quick and easy," says Powell. "You want a program that's academically demanding; you want to be tested; you want rigor. If the program is not rigorous, then leave it. The higher the rigor, the higher the economic benefit to your income in the long run."
Top 10 Degrees in Minnesota
The U.S. Department of Labor's Projections Central offers data on a wide range of careers. Using their employment projections and wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've created this list of the top 10 degrees in Minnesota:
The growing need for healthcare, and persistent strain on the medical doctors and physicians who provide it, is expected to increase demand for licensed physician assistants in coming years. According to Projections Central, employment of physician assistants is expected to surge 34.5 percent in Minnesota during the decade leading up to 2022.
The field of sonography is growing right along with other prominent healthcare careers, and Department of Labor data shows that employment in the field should be no different. Specifically, they project that demand for diagnostic medical sonographers in Minnesota could increase by as much as 31.1 percent from 2012 to 2022, while cardiovascular technologists and technicians can expect job growth of 23.2 percent.
As hospitality and leisure continue to become more prevalent in Minnesota, the demand for professionals with hospitality management degrees is expected to rise. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that job opportunities for meeting, convention, and event planners are expected to surge 29.8 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Biosciences and healthcare are both huge industries in Minnesota, and a degree in biomedical technology could lead to a career in both of those fields. Fortunately, career prospects look good. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that demand for medical equipment repairers could rise by as much as 26.8 percent in Minnesota from 2012 to 2022.
Many big businesses turn to statisticians to collect data that helps them create business plans and solve problems. Because of the growing demand, job openings for statisticians in Minnesota are expected to increase 26.2 percent from 2012 to 2022.
A degree in actuarial science prepares graduates to interpret complex data and use advanced math to predict future actions and outcomes. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment opportunities for actuaries in Minnesota are projected to increase 25.6 percent during the decade leading up to 2022.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Many doctors are sending their patients to physical therapy as a less expensive and less invasive way to help them cope with or recover from certain injuries. Because of this demand in the field, employment of physical therapy assistants is expected to surge 24.4 percent in Minnesota from 2012 to 2022. Physical therapists in the state are projected to see employment growth of 22.6 percent during that same timeframe.
With no shortage of animals to care for, in both the public and private sectors, it's no wonder that veterinary technology degrees are in demand. Professionals in this field will likely find plenty of room to grow as well. Job opportunities for veterinary technologists are expected to increase 23.8 percent in Minnesota from 2012 to 2022.
Many pursue degrees in medical technology in order to begin careers as medical and clinical laboratory technologists or technicians. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment for these workers in Minnesota is expected to increase 23.4 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Most students earn marketing degrees in order to work in marketing, public relations, or advertising. Because of the continued demand for professionals who can help businesses market their services or products, the outlook in this field looks bright. Specifically, jobs for marketing specialists and market research analysts are expected to increase 22.1 percent in Minnesota from 2012 to 2022.
Top Cities for Minnesota College Students
With a population of 400,070, according to 2013 U.S. Census Estimates, Minneapolis is by far the largest city in the state. Its metropolitan area, the Twin Cities metro area, was the 16th largest in the U.S. as of 2013, with approximately 3.8 million residents. According to U.S. Census figures, roughly 48.7 percent of Minneapolis residents held at least a bachelor's degree from 2008-2012, and 88.3 percent held a high school diploma or higher. The National Center for Education Statistics lists 17 colleges, universities, and technical schools as active in the the Minneapolis area.
Minneapolis is known for its sports-obsessed population, as well as its many rivers and waterways, including the Mississippi River. The city also serves as the primary business center between Chicago and Seattle, and as home base for America's fifth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies. For students, Minneapolis contains a wide selection of colleges and universities, including these top-notch schools:
University of Minnesota: Twin Cities Campus
The University of Minnesota is spread out over five campuses and boasts over 65,000 students and 25,000 employees. Enrollment for 2013 was 52,557 on the Twin Cities campus alone, which currently offers certificate programs, bachelor's degrees, and graduate degree programs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in-state tuition averaged out to $13,555 for the 2013-14 school year. The University of Minnesota is known for the following degree programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Biology
- Bachelor of Arts in Economics
- Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science
Walden University is located in Minneapolis, yet currently enrolls approximately 47,800 students from around the U.S. As a provider of online degrees in Minnesota and all over the country, Walden University aims to provide effective, flexible online programs to students at every phase of higher education. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, tuition and fees at Walden averaged out to $11,460 for the 2013-14 school year. Although all of their online offerings are popular, Walden University is known for the following degree programs:
- Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion Program (RN-BSN)
- Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems
- Online Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
Minneapolis Community & Technical College
As a public two-year school, Minneapolis Community & Technical College aims to provide career-focused educational opportunities to its 15,000 credit students. Tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year averaged out to $178.31 per credit, and 72 percent of the school's population receives some type of financial aid. In addition to their many quality programs, Minneapolis Community & Technical College is known for these popular options:
- Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts
- Associate of Applied Science in Business Management
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology
Saint Paul is home to roughly 294,873 residents, according to 2013 U.S. Census estimates, and is the other half of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Approximately 38.3 percent of Saint Paul's population held at least a bachelor's degree from 2008-2012, and 86.2 percent had a high school diploma or higher. As an extension of Minneapolis and the capital of Minnesota, Saint Paul is also home to many large employers including EcoLab, 3M, St. Jude Medical, and others.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 14 schools currently operate in the Saint Paul area, including these prominent institutions:
St. Catherine University
With approximately 5,055 students currently enrolled, St. Catherine University is a small Catholic university that aims to provide career-oriented education to students seeking bachelor's or graduate degree programs. Tuition and fees for students averaged out to $34,744 for the 2013-14 school year. Some of the school's most popular programs are as follows:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree Completion (RN to BSN)
- Master of Arts in Social Work
- Bachelor of Science in Public Health
Metropolitan State University
Metropolitan State University boasts an enrollment of over 11,000 part-time and full-time students, and offers 60 baccalaureate majors, 10 master's degrees, and two doctoral programs. Tuition and fees for undergraduate in-state students averaged out to $221.40 per credit hour, and Metropolitan is known for the following popular degree programs:
- Online Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management
- Online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Accounting
As a private, liberal arts school, Macalester College has a goal of instilling a global perspective and appreciation for diversity into its students. Approximately two thirds of MacAlester students study abroad at some point during the experience, and student body currently hails from over 90 countries. Tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year averaged out to $45,388. However, approximately 72 percent of students received financial aid during the fall 2014 semester. Macalester is known for the following popular programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry
- Bachelor of Arts in English
According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the city of Rochester was home to approximately 110,742 residents in 2013. Among them, approximately 42.1 percent of the adult population (ages 25-64) held a bachelor's degree from 2008-2012, and 93.9 percent held a high school diploma or higher. Although many large businesses reside in Rochester, the famed Mayo Clinic is the largest employer in the area. In addition to providing employment, the Mayo Clinic also brings up to two million visitors to the city each year. Beyond the city's economic climate, Rochester is also home to a wide range of cultural destinations and historic places, including the Chateau Theatre, Rochester Art Center, and Avalon Music. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 10 institutions of higher education currently operate out of Rochester, including the following:
Mayo School of Health Sciences
The Mayo School of Health Sciences enrolls over 1,600 students annually. These aspiring health professionals can choose from one of 130 programs that align with 60 different health sciences careers. A student-to-faculty ratio of just 3:1 and a rigorous and supportive environment ensure that all Mayo students begin their careers with the highest level of experience and expertise possible. Here are a few of the school's top programs:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
- Doctor of Physical Therapy Program
Rochester Community and Technical College
As a two-year technical school, Rochester Community and Technical College aims to prepare students for vocational careers and occupations in the real world. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year averaged out to $5,608 for in-state students, although approximately 80 percent of enrollees did receive some type of financial aid. The following programs are a few of the schools' most popular:
- Associate of Science in Accounting
- Associate of Science in Computer Science
- Associate of Science in Nursing
Crossroads College is a four-year, post-secondary Christian institution that offers a wide range of faith-centered degree programs for students interested in entering ministry or a related field. With a small enrollment and a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1, Crossroads is also able to keep class sizes small for maximized learning potential. Tuition and fees for the 2014-15 school year averaged out to $335 per semester hour for on-campus classes. The following programs are a few of their most popular:
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
- Bachelor of Christian Ministry
- Bachelor of Biblical Thought and Literature
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Minnesota students may be eligible for a wide range of federal aid, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. To determine eligibility, all students should first fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. Students seeking on-campus and online education in Minnesota may also qualify for state-based scholarships and grants if they meet certain requirements. The following list includes some of the scholarships and grants that exist:
- Minnesota Academic Excellence Scholarships
- Minnesota State Grants
- Minnesota Alliss Opportunity Grant
- Minnesota Education Vouchers for Former Youth In Care
- T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood(r) MINNESOTA
- Minnesota Indian Scholarship Program
- Minnesota Child Care Grant
- Minnesota Public Safety Officers' Survivor Grant
- American Legion Auxiliary Minnesota Legionnaire Insurance Trust Scholarships
- Evelyn Lenander Education Fund Scholarship
- Hubert H. Humphrey Memorial Award
- MinnesotaJobs.com Scholarship
- Gunnar Isberg Student Scholarships
- Minnesota Association of Public Accountant Scholarships
- Minnesota GLBT Educational Fund
- Minnesota Power Community Involvement Scholarships
"A Stronger Nation through Higher Education," Lumina Foundation, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/#minnesota
"May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Minnesota," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mn.htm
"Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development," http://mn.gov/deed/business/locating-minnesota/industries-sectors/
National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MN&l=92
"Projections Central," Long-Term Occupational Projections, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
"State and County QuickFacts," U.S. Census Bureau, Minneapolis, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/27/2743000.html
"State and County QuickFacts," U.S. Census Bureau, Rochester, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/27/2754880.html
"State and County QuickFacts," U.S. Census Bureau, St. Paul, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/27/2758000.html
"Tuition and Fees by Sector and State Over Time," College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-sector-state-time