Online Degrees In North Dakota (ND)
North Dakota is primarily known for “black gold.” Home of oil drilling and production in the Bakken Shale formation, North Dakota can credit the petroleum industry for its current economic boom. Unemployment hovers just over 2 percent — one of the lowest rates in the nation.
In fact, unemployment is so low that employers are wringing their hands about where they can find qualified workers to fill the thousands of available jobs. The state’s economy relies on technical skills that the majority of residents currently don’t have. And with half the state’s residents living in rural areas, far from institutions of higher learning, getting workers to complete that training is a challenge.
North Dakota colleges that offer online degree programs can make a major difference by providing improved access and accelerated training to stem the worker shortage. Read on to know why you should consider online degrees in North Dakota.
Why Earn an Online Degree in North Dakota?
North Dakota’s commerce commissioner, Michelle Kommer, estimated in early 2019 that roughly 30,000 positions were sitting empty in the state. And the North Dakota Workforce Development Council indicates that “middle-skill jobs” — those requiring education beyond high school but not four-year degrees — make up the largest part of America’s labor market and 60 percent of North Dakota’s job market. These jobs, in fields including energy, manufacturing, construction and transportation, are growing exponentially, and they pay higher salaries than low-skill jobs, at an average of $55,000 per year.
These jobs require credentials beyond the high school diploma, which only 50.5 percent of North Dakotans currently have.
One barrier to earning this education is location. About 50 percent of North Dakotans live in rural-designated areas. Though the state is home to 28 postsecondary institutions, only nine of these are found in rural areas, meaning that for those rural residents, driving to campus to attend classes is prohibitive, if not impossible.
Online degree programs in North Dakota can help to solve these challenges, not only by immediately and, often, affordably providing the credentials you need to enter these fast-growing careers, but enabling students to earn any credentials they need, regardless of the program’s location, right from home or anywhere with access to a computer and the internet.
10 Best Online Colleges in North Dakota
Where do you start in your search for online degrees in North Dakota? You can start with this list, developed with data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Our methodology considers graduation rates, tuition, number of online programs, student support services and more to determine the top 10 North Dakota colleges that offer online degree programs.
|Average in-state tuition||$5,558|
|No. of online programs||25|
|% of students in distance education||41|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,815|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,598|
|No. of online programs||6|
|% of students in distance education||88|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,450|
|Average in-state tuition||$16,800|
|No. of online programs||27|
|% of students in distance education||46|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$9,605|
|Average in-state tuition||$5,465|
|No. of online programs||12|
|% of students in distance education||65|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,517|
|Average in-state tuition||$5,616|
|No. of online programs||18|
|% of students in distance education||50|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,240|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,224|
|No. of online programs||74|
|% of students in distance education||49|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,212|
|Average in-state tuition||$4,354|
|No. of online programs||12|
|% of students in distance education||76|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,634|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,751|
|No. of online programs||21|
|% of students in distance education||75|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,620|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,957|
|No. of online programs||11|
|% of students in distance education||47|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,327|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,676|
|No. of online programs||6|
|% of students in distance education||88|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,481|
Top Online Degree Programs in North Dakota
The following list uses information from NCES about the number of available online programs from all colleges in North Dakota to determine the top online degree programs in North Dakota, which may be an indicator of the most in-demand fields. Note that online programs may be offered fully or partially online.
Quality of Online Education in North Dakota
As part of the state’s commitment to increasing the college-attainment rate and strengthening the workforce pipeline, its Workforce Development Council has established a strategic plan that includes increasing its online offerings, particularly in the areas of career and technical education and nurse training.
But beyond increased program options, how can you be sure your online degree in North Dakota offers quality? Fortunately, 14 North Dakota colleges are members of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, an agreement among member states that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offering of online courses and programs.
Additionally, any institution with either a physical or online presence must be approved to operate by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education. Approval is contingent upon being accredited by a federally recognized accreditation agency and having a Federal Financial Responsibility Composite Score greater than 1.5. Additional approvals may be required depending on the field.
Of course, individual schools may take steps to ensure quality as well. For example, North Dakota State University is a member of The Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA), a consortium of human science colleges at 11 universities than allow students enrolled in online courses at one of the member institutions to complete courses offered at any of the others, with all adhering to an adopted set of Principles of Effective Online Teaching to ensure quality.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in North Dakota
There are several factors to consider before you decide on an online degree program in North Dakota. First and foremost is the matter of quality, which can easily be assessed by finding proof of the program’s accreditation. Without this, not only does the state board of higher education not authorize the courses, but you won’t be qualified for federal financial aid, or aid from other sources. Plus, future employers may not recognize your credentials.
Obviously, as the North Dakota University System (NDUS) points out to potential students, you should consider the school’s technology requirements and recommendations, which are essential for fulfilling the assignments for an online course.
Student resources are key to success and should be top of mind as you weigh your options. Williston State College reported in early 2019, campus engagement is a primary factor in higher retention, so you should look for resources that keep you engaged with the school and support your success. This includes tutoring, advisement, mentorship, counseling, career advisement or technical support.
Another primary factor in retention is cost. If you’re struggling to afford your program or cannot earn sufficient financial aid, this may be a barrier to your completion. Be sure to speak with a financial aid advisor at your prospective school to weigh your options.
Top Occupations in North Dakota
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following occupations are experiencing rapid growth and demand in North Dakota — information which may be helpful to you in determining which field or program to pursue through an online program.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||51,060||$40,720|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||39,860||$44,590|
|Sales and Related Occupations||39,370||$42,840|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||36,180||$55,110|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||35,070||$26,530|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||27,090||$74,450|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||23,970||$53,070|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||22,590||$55,700|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||17,880||$34,920|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||17,790||$67,610|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||14,450||$32,930|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||12,630||$30,050|
|Office Clerks, General||10,740||$42,310|
|Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers||10,690||$53,990|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||10,680||$25,590|
Top Metropolitan Areas in North Dakota
North Dakota’s per capita real personal income climbed 16.3 percent over the last decade, driven primarily by the state’s oil boom. New drilling technologies have further fueled this growth, and in 2018 the state produced more than 40 million barrels of oil, nearly eight times what it produced in 2008. In addition to this industry, employment in mining and logging in the state has grown by more than 200 percent. The state also added the nation’s highest percentage of construction jobs in June 2019.
Here’s a look at the fastest-growing industries in the state’s metro areas:
Bismarck-Mandan: With 2.2 percent unemployment, this metro area added 600 jobs between May 2018 and May 2019, but it only gained 537 workers. This worker shortage is impeding growth. Fortunately, Bismarck-Mandan is economically diverse, with energy, healthcare, transportation, education, food and beverage and retail businesses all going strong and employing the largest numbers of workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Fargo-Moorhead: Also diverse and thriving is the Fargo-Moorhead area, home to headquarters for such major companies as Microsoft Business Solutions, Bobcat Co., John Deere Electronics Solutions, Titan Machinery, American Crystal Sugar and Sanford Medical Center, one of the area’s largest employers. In fact, healthcare has a strong presence here, with Sanford, Essentia Health, Fargo VA Health Care System, Eventide Senior Living Communities and others. Other top-employing occupations include transportation, manufacturing, education, business/financial operations and construction/extraction.
Grand Forks: Agriculture dominates this area in the northeast corner of the state, thanks to its location in the Red River Valley, home to some of the nation’s richest farmland. It supports nearly 6,000 agribusiness jobs, not to mention that 37 percent of manufacturing jobs in the region are agriculture-related. Manufacturing here is crucial as well, in the areas of energy (wind, oil, gas), aviation, construction, food and automotive.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in North Dakota
To streamline and control the cost of attending college, NDUS offers the option of enrolling as a collaborative student status, meaning that your home campus of NDUS can combine credits earned online from other NDUS institutions for the purposes of financial aid.
Other options exist such as reciprocity agreements, which allow North Dakota students to attend colleges at neighboring states, or residents of neighboring states to attend North Dakota colleges, at in-state tuition rates. Tuition and fee waivers also may be offered to special populations of students to reduce the cost by partial or full tuition amounts. Law enforcement officers, National Guard members, surviving dependents of military veterans or service members, senior citizens and NDUS employees and spouses may qualify.
Grants and scholarships offered by the state may help you afford online degree programs in North Dakota as well. These include the North Dakota State Grant. This grant is for first-time undergraduates who attend qualifying North Dakota public, private or tribal colleges and are enrolled at least quarter time. The maximum award amount is $1,100 per semester or $733 per quarter, based on enrollment status.
Four scholarship programs also are available from North Dakota to qualifying students in the areas of academic excellence, career and technical education or Indian heritage.
Tests You May Need to Take
If you’re considering an online education in North Dakota, you’ll likely need to submit a score from either the SAT or ACT as part of your admissions package. Each school’s admission requirements differ. The University of North Dakota and North Dakota State call for either score, whereas Lake Region State College has an open admissions policy and requires no test scores.
To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- 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
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- A Stronger Nation: North Dakota’s progress toward the goal, State-by-State educational attainment, Lumina Foundation, February 2019, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2019/#state/ND
- May 2018 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm#N
- North Dakota University System (NDUS), accessed July 23, 2019, https://ndus.edu/
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- North Dakota Workforce Development Council Summary Report, October 24, 2018, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&ved=2ahUKEwiN982l88HjAhVNXq0KHUjuCNoQFjAGegQIBBAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.workforce.nd.gov%2Fuploads%2F8%2FWDCReportFINAL2018.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1xLu9ZluNI68rOyaVWcJKR
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- Theresa Cottom, “States continue adding construction jobs despite labor shortage,” Construction & Demolition Recycling, June 26, 2019, https://www.cdrecycler.com/article/states-add-construction-jobs-labor-shortage-employment-agc/
- North Dakota, Rural Health Information Hub, accessed July 23, 2019, https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/states/north-dakota
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- “Highest Recorded Enrollment at WSC,” NDUS, February 5, 2019, https://ndus.edu/2019/02/07/highest-recorded-enrollment-at-wsc/
- Andrew Horn, “Strong jobs report holds true in Bismarck-Mandan,” KFYR-TV, July 5, 2019, https://www.kfyrtv.com/content/news/Strong-jobs-report-holds-true-in-Bismarck-Mandan-512278302/
- Business Sectors, Fargo Moorhead Economic Development, accessed July 23, 2019, https://gfmedc.com/business/business-sectors/
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