Online Degrees In Minnesota (MN)

Online degrees in Minnesota

Minnesota, is the second most highly educated state in the nation with 124 postsecondary institutions inside its boundaries, and 54 percent of Minnesotans having obtained a postsecondary credential. Numerous measures are enacted to broaden access to college and increase student retention.

But there’s still plenty of work to do. The state’s workforce growth has slowed significantly in recent years, and in many areas of the state there are serious worker shortfalls that can only be filled by more highly educated workers.

Meanwhile, a large percentage of the state’s population is rapidly aging out of the workforce. And more than one-third of its residents live in rural areas, though only 10 of the state’s colleges and institutions are rurally located, meaning that a great many residents don’t have physical access to college education.

Online education in Minnesota is increasingly helping to solve these problems, meeting the needs of more students while addressing workforce gaps. Keep reading to find out why online degrees in Minnesota make great sense.

Minnesota is consistently ranked among the best states for business, but as industries grow and jobs are added, there’s growing concern over who may fill them. It’s predicted that by 2020, Minnesota may need 74 percent of its workforce to have at least some college education. Though the current rate of 54 percent is high, it’s certainly not high enough to fill what experts are predicting could be an unprecedented shortfall of adequately educated workers, which is why the state has set forth a goal of having 70 percent of its adults ages 25-44 possess postsecondary credentials by 2025.

There’s never been a better time to explore online degree programs in Minnesota. Lawmakers have recently made huge investments in education, boosting funding for public colleges and universities to expand their offerings, online and on campus; boost technology infrastructure; and increase grant funding. Currently, 101 of Minnesota’s colleges and universities offer online courses.

Online degrees in Minnesota open up options to prospective students juggling work and family obligations or living in underserved rural areas by enabling students to complete their studies from anywhere with an internet connection, at times that work with any schedule.

Plus, online programs are more affordable, on average, than traditional programs (with savings ranging from $12 to $66 per credit hour), and they tend to lead to higher incomes. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE) reported that in 2015, among Minnesotans ages 25 and older, the median income with only a high school diploma was $31,311 per year. That increased to $36,845 with some college or an associate degree; and increased to $51,601 with a bachelor’s degree.

Whether you’re a graduating high school senior or an adult in the workforce looking to complete a degree or enhance your skills, you’ll have a unique set of requirements that online degree programs in Minnesota may need to meet. To assist in your search, we’ve put together this list of the top 10 Minnesota colleges that offer online degree programs, factoring in criteria such as number of online programs, level of student support, tuition and more.

1
Concordia University-Saint Paul
Saint Paul, MN
https://www.csp.edu0
Average in-state tuition
$22,275
No. of online programs
55
% of students in distance education
65%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,794
Admissions Rate
97%
Graduation Rate
59%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
Northwest Technical College
Bemidji, MN
https://www.ntcmn.edu
Average in-state tuition
$5,190
No. of online programs
43
% of students in distance education
73%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,063
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Bemidji State University
Bemidji, MN
https://www.bemidjistate.edu
Average in-state tuition
$7,630
No. of online programs
17
% of students in distance education
44%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,697
Admissions Rate
67%
Graduation Rate
46%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Minneapolis, MN
https://twin-cities.umn.edu0
Average in-state tuition
$13,058
No. of online programs
4
% of students in distance education
29%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,087
Admissions Rate
52%
Graduation Rate
80%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Crown College
Saint Bonifacius, MN
https://www.crown.edu
Average in-state tuition
$25,730
No. of online programs
28
% of students in distance education
63%
Avg. amount of Aid
$12,065
Admissions Rate
55%
Graduation Rate
52%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
No
6
Minnesota State University Moorhead
Moorhead, MN
https://www.mnstate.edu/
Average in-state tuition
$7,410
No. of online programs
20
% of students in distance education
51%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,901
Admissions Rate
60%
Graduation Rate
49%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
University of Minnesota-Crookston
Crookston, MN
https://www.crk.umn.edu/0
Average in-state tuition
$10,282
No. of online programs
18
% of students in distance education
44%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,095
Admissions Rate
66%
Graduation Rate
48%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Metropolitan State University
Saint Paul, MN
https://www.metrostate.edu
Average in-state tuition
$6,826
No. of online programs
18
% of students in distance education
49%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,289
Admissions Rate
54%
Graduation Rate
39%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
No
9
Mesabi Range College
Virginia, MN
https://www.mesabirange.edu
Average in-state tuition
$4,729
No. of online programs
4
% of students in distance education
43%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,179
Admissions Rate
N/A%
Graduation Rate
N/A%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
10
Minnesota State University-Mankato
Mankato, MN
https://mankato.mnsu.edu/0
Average in-state tuition
$7,179
No. of online programs
35
% of students in distance education
43%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,471
Admissions Rate
61%
Graduation Rate
50%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
11
Minnesota State College Southeast
Winona, MN
Average in-state tuition
$5,019
No. of online programs
33
% of students in distance education
55%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,394
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
12
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Fergus Falls, MN
Average in-state tuition
$4,821
No. of online programs
40
% of students in distance education
41%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,810
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
13
Ridgewater College
Willmar, MN
Average in-state tuition
$5,161
No. of online programs
10
% of students in distance education
44%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,102
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
14
Riverland Community College
Austin, MN
Average in-state tuition
$4,938
No. of online programs
23
% of students in distance education
47%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,821
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
15
Hibbing Community College
Hibbing, MN
Average in-state tuition
$4,729
No. of online programs
4
% of students in distance education
36%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,834
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
16
Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Granite Falls, MN
Average in-state tuition
$5,146
No. of online programs
34
% of students in distance education
49%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,490
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
17
Winona State University
Winona, MN
Average in-state tuition
$7,377
No. of online programs
20
% of students in distance education
26%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,191
Admissions Rate
65.715392561983
Graduation Rate
64
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
18
Central Lakes College-Brainerd
Brainerd, MN
Average in-state tuition
$4,773
No. of online programs
8
% of students in distance education
37%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,954
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
19
North Hennepin Community College
Brooklyn Park, MN
Average in-state tuition
$3,961
No. of online programs
32
% of students in distance education
44%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,312
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
20
Inver Hills Community College
Inver Grove Heights, MN
Average in-state tuition
$4,770
No. of online programs
10
% of students in distance education
49%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,493
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

The quantity and popularity of online degree programs can often indicate where the greatest job growth and employer demand is in the state. The following are currently the top online degree programs in Minnesota, according to National Center for Education Statistics data.

Program Name
No. of online programs
Business Administration and Management, General
56
Accounting
29
Health/Health Care Administration/Management
21
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies
19
Legal Assistant/Paralegal
19
Criminal Justice/Safety Studies
18
Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse
18
Marketing/Marketing Management, General
16
Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration, General
14
Medical Administrative/Executive Assistant and Medical Secretary
13

Students considering online degrees in Minnesota should know that the state has a strong commitment to online course quality. It has a statewide subscription to Quality Matters, which provides professional development, a set of rubrics and a course peer review process to ensure quality and continuous improvement in its online and blended courses. This subscription extends to the entire Minnesota State College and University System, the University of Minnesota and the Department of Education.

The state also participates in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), a compact among states that establishes national standards for the interstate offering of postsecondary distance education courses and programs.

Additionally, some schools within the state have stepped up to ensure a greater level of quality and engagement in the online student experience. Distance Minnesota is an online higher education consortium of four member schools — Alexandria Technical and Community College, Northland Community and Technical College, Northwest Technical College and Bemidji State University — whose mission is to provide a satisfying, effective, affordable online college experience. As part of fulfilling this mission, members can provide a deep level of support with registration, books and materials, career exploration, technical assistance, enhancement of learner success, improved connections between programs and career goals, and much more.

Of course quality is essential in any program you consider, but your unique needs and goals must also be taken into consideration. Where do you start?

Begin by determining whether any school of interest is accredited. Accreditation is a voluntary process that requires rigorous self-examination and an independent, objective peer review of its educational quality. Plus, the federal government, states, and institutions require it for financial aid awards and recognition of degrees.

Next, look at your prospective schools and ask yourself these questions, suggested by the National Council for SARA:

  • What are your academic and professional goals, and will this program meet them?
  • What does the program expect of you, with regard to your commitment of time and activities, and can you fulfill those expectations?
  • What is it like being a student in this program, and does that fit with your style of learning and the constraints of your schedule?
  • Does the school provide the student support services you expect and need?
  • What does the program cost?
  • What are your financial aid options?
  • What technology is required of you?
  • How does the school help to ensure positive outcomes for graduates?

What occupations are experiencing the greatest demand and job growth? Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the following are the top occupations in Minnesota.

Occupation
Number of Workers
Average Salary
Office and Administrative Support Occupations363,800$43,390
Sales and Related Occupations277,000$45,500
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations244,300$28,500
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations216,890$40,740
Production Occupations212,650$42,210
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations190,800$90,970
Business and Financial Operations Occupations171,550$75,940
Management Occupations170,650$121,540
Educational Instruction and Library Occupations165,310$56,560
Healthcare Support Occupations163,160$32,480
Construction and Extraction Occupations104,900$61,100
Home Health and Personal Care Aides103,830$28,320
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations100,060$52,620
Computer and Mathematical Occupations97,960$91,160
Retail Salespersons84,960$30,310
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations83,860$33,770
Fast Food and Counter Workers78,860$25,440
Registered Nurses71,000$80,130
Personal Care and Service Occupations70,290$32,150
Cashiers69,350$25,950

Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Top Metropolitan Areas in Minnesota

Minnesota has more job vacancies than unemployed workers in both Greater Minnesota and the Metro Areas in June 2019 according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Construction, federal government, and arts, entertainment, and recreation industries are expected to see the fastest job growth in Minnesota. Students considering online degrees in Minnesota may want to consider the fastest growing occupations and industries by location before choosing a program.

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington: The Twin Cities metro area is the largest employing area in Minnesota with its population and employment growth both outpacing that of the state. The largest employers by industry are health care and social assistance and manufacturing and retail. This is reflected in the fact that the most popular college majors in the area are registered nursing and business administration and management. However, when it comes to earnings, the utilities industry is the highest paying followed by the management of companies.

St. Cloud: St. Cloud’s central location has meant that it has strong commercial connections with other cities in the state and beyond. The construction industry is a strong contributor to its job growth with construction employment rising 19.1 percent in the year leading up to January 2019. The healthcare and social assistance industry is the largest in the region; the most common jobs held by individuals living in the area include office and administrative support occupations, sales and related occupations, and production occupations. It is also home to several high tech companies like Netgain, GeoComm, Microbiologics, and Capital One.

Rochester: The birthplace of the world famous Mayo Clinic, Rochester is among the top 100 places to live in the United States according to Livability. It’s no surprise then that it had the highest population growth. Its economy is growing faster than any other metropolitan area in the state with jobs in the health care and educational services sector making up 40 percent of the Rochester job market. Employers are looking for skilled workers in diverse areas in bids to expand their businesses, offering various incentives to attract new talent.

The commitment by state leaders to encourage adults to return to, and complete, college has led to the creation of several scholarship and grant programs. In 2018, $1 million in scholarships were made available to help adult students who started, but never finished, their college educations. It was part of a four-year pilot program by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and Minnesota State called MN Reconnect. An estimated 500 students completing certificate, diploma or associate degree programs would each receive a scholarship of up to $3,000 over the four years.

Additionally, students may have access to other sources of educational funding. Here’s a small sample:

Minnesota State Grant: helps cover educational expenses (up to $11,812, depending on need and tuition) for students from low- to moderate-income families attending eligible Minnesota institutions.

Minnesota Teacher Shortage Loan Repayment Program: As a result of a severe teacher shortage in Minnesota, this program was designed to encourage teachers to teach in the state. Licensed teachers employed in local school districts who meet eligibility requirements may receive up to $5,000 in total loan repayment assistance.

Scholarship Listing

American Indian Education (Salt Lands) Scholarship
No. of Awards
3
Deadline
February 1 (admitted deadline); February 15 (scholarship application deadline)
Max. Award Amount
1,000
Renewable
No
Criteria
Applicant must be a Minnesota resident who is of Native American descent. Proof of Native American descent is required.
More
Robert B. and Sophia Whiteside Scholarship
No. of Awards
20
Deadline
January 15
Max. Award Amount
N/A
Renewable
No
Criteria
Applicant must be a high school senior at a Duluth public/private high school who is in the top tenth of their graduating class.
More
MSAA Scholarship Program
No. of Awards
2
Deadline
June 15
Max. Award Amount
N/A
Renewable
No
Criteria
Students must apply as a senior in high school or within the first three years of college. The applicant must be a Minnesota State Archery Association member in good standing.
More
East Polk County Fair Board Scholarship
No. of Awards
2
Deadline
February 1 (admitted deadline); February 15 (scholarship application deadline)
Max. Award Amount
2,500
Renewable
Yes
Criteria
Applicant must be an incoming student from Polk County; preference will be given to students from the 16 townships of East Polk County. Minimum 2.0 GPA required.
More
Public Safety Officers Survivor Grant
No. of Awards
14
Deadline
Open
Max. Award Amount
10,488
Renewable
Yes
Criteria
Applicant must be the dependent child under age 23 (or under age 30 for those honorably discharged from active duty or released to a reserve or National Guard unit) or the surviving spouse of a public safety officer who was killed in the line of duty on or after January 1, 1973. Applicant must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, meet state residency requirements, be enrolled at least half time, be in the first five years of a post-secondary education, and must not be in default on a student loan.
More

Source: Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of CollegeXpress, a division of Carnegie Dartlet. Copyright © 2020 by CollegeXpress.

Minnesota doesn’t typically have a statewide requirement for entrance exams in order to apply to its colleges and universities. The MOHE says that the most commonly taken college entrance exam is the ACT, which was taken by 61,253 students in 2018. You should consult your individual school and program to determine whether you need to submit ACT, SAT or other test scores as part of your admissions package.


Methodology

To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:

  1. Be an accredited U.S. institution
  2. Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
  3. Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
  4. Be active in the 2015-16 school year
  5. Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology

We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:

  • The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
  • Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
  • Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
    • Dual credit
    • Credit for life experience
    • Advanced Placement credit
    • Academic and career counseling
    • Job placement services for graduates
    • Offers credit for military training

Sources:

  • Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  • ACT Scores, Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE), accessed Feb. 27, 2019, http://www.ohe.state.mn.us/dPg.cfm?pageID=792
  • APM Research Lab, Differences and Common Ground: Urban and Rural Minnesota, Ground Level, American Public Media, January 2018, www.americanpublicmedia.org/wp…/01/gl-survey-urban-rural-brief-1-22-18R.pdf
  • College Navigator: Minnesota, Institute for Education Studies, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed Feb. 27, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=MN
  • Distance Minnesota, accessed Feb. 27, 2019, https://distanceminnesota.org/app/home
  • Educational Attainment Goal 2025, MOHE, accessed Feb. 27, 2019, https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=2187
  • Fiorella Gallia, “New Initiative to Help Adult Learners Get Back in the Classroom and Complete Their College Degree,” press release from MOHE, Oct. 10, 2018, http://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=2324
  • Jeffrey R. Young, “Do Online Courses Really Save Money? A New Study Explores ROI for Colleges and Students,” EdSurge, April 12, 2018, https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-04-12-do-online-courses-really-save-money-a-new-study-explores-roi-for-colleges-and-students
  • Minnesota Online Quality Initiative, accessed Feb. 27, 2019, https://minnesota.qualitymatters.org/about-us/
  • MOHE, Educating for the Future 2018 Annual Report, December 2018, https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/pdf/EducatingfortheFuture2018_final.pdf
  • Office of Governor Walz & Lt. Governor Flanagan, Budget for One Minnesota, accessed Feb. 27, 2019, https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/pdf/Education_Budget_Fact_Sheet.pdf
  • Paul Cerkvenik, “Call for improving education outcomes for more Minnesotans,” Minnesota Private Colleges, January 2019, https://www.mnprivatecolleges.org/newsletter/january-2019-newsletter/call-improving-education-outcomes-more-minnesotans
  • Paying for College, MOHE, accessed Feb. 27, 2019, https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=888
  • “Questions You Should Ask When Choosing an Online Program,” NC-SARA, accessed Feb. 26, 2019, https://www.nc-sara.org/studentquestions
  • Sandy Connolly, “Modest Gains but Gaps Persist in Annual Attainment Report,” press release from MOHE, Jan. 22, 2019, http://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=2342
  • Sandy Connolly, “$1 Million in Scholarships Available for Adult Students Returning to College,” press release from MOHE, April 24, 2018, http://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=2304
  • State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), MOHE, accessed Feb. 27, 2019, https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?pageID=2149
  • The Importance of Accreditation, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, accessed Feb. 27, 2019, http://www.acics.org/students/content.aspx?id=4320
Methodologies and Sources