Best Colleges in Minnesota

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There are nearly 200 colleges and universities in Minnesota. Thirty-one of those schools are in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU), a group of schools offering inexpensive tuition under the leadership of one governing body. With state schools, research universities, liberal arts colleges and a variety of technical and community colleges, Minnesota is home to schools and programs sure to interest students from all backgrounds.

When evaluating colleges, students should consider several factors across schools, from location to tuition to academic offerings. To help prospective applicants with their research, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Minnesota, including the top four-year and two-year schools. In addition to the rankings, you’ll find a short overview of each college, highlighting relevant campus information and their academic strengths.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Minnesota is home to a variety of four-year schools. The University of Minnesota is one of the largest research institutions in the country, and its campus lies less than an hour away from Carleton College and Macalester College, two of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts schools. Many institutions also make an effort to increase their affordability and appeal to prospective applicants. In one such recent effort, all MnSCU schools waived application fees for one month. The state is also home to a handful of tribal colleges, which are unaffiliated with other school systems.

To help with your research on Minnesota colleges, we’ve profiled the best schools in the state. Additionally, you can learn more about each school’s academic offerings and campus highlights in their profiles below.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Carleton College 5/593.03%Northfield, MN

Carleton College is a top-rated liberal arts college that touts academic excellence, affordability, and student-centered learning fostered by small classes. The institution offers 36 majors and 15 concentrations in the arts, humanities, and natural and social sciences. With fewer than 2,000 students, Carleton is a community of students that believes in collaboration.

The school graduates a high number of students who go on to earn doctorates in the natural sciences and mathematics. By the time they graduate, about 70% of the school's students study abroad in places in locations such as China and Tanzania.

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2Macalester College 5/590.17%Saint Paul, MN

Students attending Macalester College have a variety of options with a catalog of 38 majors, 63 areas of study, and more than 800 courses. Among them are pre-law and pre-med programs, and an engineering program that combines science and mathematics with a liberal arts education.

Macalester students have more than 90 study abroad opportunities on six continents to enrich them academically and promote global citizenship. Locally, internship opportunities are available in business, medicine, government, the arts, and other areas. Macalester also boasts a high number of students to have earned Rhodes scholarships, Fulbright-Hays awards, National Science Foundation fellowships, etc.

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3St Olaf College 5/588.81%Northfield, MN

A leading liberal arts college, St. Olaf is academically rigorous and embraces a global perspective while staying true to its Lutheran roots. Bachelor's degrees are offered in 39 different disciplines and subject areas, including natural and mathematical sciences, fine arts, social sciences, and humanities.

The school ranks highly in medical school preparation, with 68% of St. Olaf students getting admittance compared to 46% nationally. St. Olaf ranks highly nationally in the number of graduates who go on to earn doctorates. Several students have earned Rhodes scholarships and six students were named Fulbright Scholars in 2014-2015.

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4University of Minnesota – Twin Cities 3/578.4%Minneapolis, MN

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the UofM-Twin Cities enrolls more than 30,000 undergraduate students and 16,000 graduate and professional students. Highly regarded among state colleges, the Twin Cities campus offers a comprehensive catalog of undergraduate majors in addition to more than 200 graduate and professional degree programs.

A research university, students in all disciplines perform research alongside top professors with a goal to improve the way people live. Adult learners have many flexible options to complete their degrees, including online learning, and earn certificates or pursue personal development. More than 800 student groups are available.

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5Saint Johns University 5/580.48%Collegeville, MN

Set on 2,700 acres of nature that includes lakes, a forest, and restored prairie, Saint John's University offers its students a sanctuary that fosters the Benedictine traditions of land stewardship and education. The school's liberal arts bachelor's and graduate school offerings have a 90% graduation rate.

Of note are its graduate programs in theology, liturgical music, liturgical studies, master of divinity in priesthood, master of divinity in lay ministry, and a master's in pastoral ministry. SJU is partnered with the College of Saint Benedict, offering an education it calls "two for one."

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6University of Minnesota – Rochester 3/5N/ARochester, MN

Known for its integrated, hands-on health sciences curriculum and personalized learning, University of Minnesota-Rochester specializes in discovery and innovation in health care. The school serves about 750 undergraduate and graduate students offering a bachelor of science in health sciences; a bachelor of science in health professions (five degree programs); radiography; echocardiography; respiratory; nuclear medicine; and sonography.

The school prepares future health care professionals for pre-med, pre-pharmacy, and pre-chiropractic. Students are guaranteed personal success coaches, personalized capstone projects, technology-enhanced learn labs (formerly classrooms), and no lecture pits. UMR offers many study abroad opportunities as well.

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7Gustavus Adolphus College 5/581.49%Saint Peter, MN

Highly selective, Gustavus Adolphus College is a liberal arts college rooted in Swedish and Lutheran heritage. It offers undergraduate degrees in 72 majors, such as accounting, athletic training, and biochemistry. Pre-professional programs are available in medicine, law, actuarial science, and architecture.

The school's offerings are diverse. Its Scandinavian studies program immerses students in the study of different aspects of Scandinavian culture and society. It's theatre for social justice course engages students in the technique and theory behind theatre for social justice performance. The neuroscience minor utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the brain.

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8College of Saint Benedict 5/581.31%Saint Joseph, MN

The partner college of SJU, the College of Saint Benedict has more than 60 areas of study, 37 majors, and 40 minor programs. Of particular note is its dual degree program, in which undergraduate students can start working toward their master's degree in order to graduate in five years.

At CSB the graduation rate is 90%. In the past three years, 20 students or graduates from CSB and SJU have earned Fulbright English Teaching Assistant awards. CSB's Literary Arts Institute fosters creative writing and publishing, and a number of recognized writers have visited for CSB's writers series.

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9University of Minnesota – Morris 3/566.76%Morris, MN

University of Minnesota-Morris is a small liberal arts college where students can prosper in a personalized learning environment. In addition to 35 majors and minors, nine pre-professional programs and 15 licensure areas, students have the choice of designing a degree program.

UMM offers pre-professional programs in education, the humanities, science and mathematics, and the social sciences. Student-designed concentrations include actuarial science, forensic science, and peace studies. UMM developed the Global Student Teaching Program to provide students pursuing a career in education with teaching experience in a global setting. Online programs are available.

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10Concordia College at Moorhead 5/572.42%Moorhead, MN

A co-ed college of about 2,200 students, Concordia College notes that among its faculty are NASA and National Science Foundation scientists, and award-winning composers and writers. Concordia's Lutheran academic tradition embraces rigor in its 50 majors and 12 pre-professional programs in medicine, law, engineering, and dentistry. As a result, 93% of graduates gain employment or acceptance to graduate school within nine months of graduation.

Concordia's pre-med graduates have an 88% acceptance rate into medical school. There are hundreds of opportunities for students to intern locally and globally, along with opportunities to study abroad.

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11Winona State University 2/557.16%Winona, MN

Winona State University is a comprehensive university with three campuses on which 8,500 students study. Sixty undergraduate, 34 graduate, and two doctorate programs are offered in addition to pre-professional and licensure programs.Winona is the oldest college in the state system and is collocated with Rochester Community and Technical College.

At Winona, continuing education affords adults opportunities to enroll in undergraduate, graduate, and non-credit certificate programs through various flexible learning options, such as online, hybrid, and evening classes. Of note is the doctor of nursing practice program for registered nurses with a baccalaureate or master's in nursing.

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12University of Minnesota – Duluth 3/559.24%Duluth, MN

Located on 244 acres overlooking Lake Superior, University of Minnesota-Duluth is one of Minnesota's biggest colleges, with approximately 11,000 students enrolled. UMD offers 14 bachelor degrees in 86 majors, 72 minors, and five certificates; there are graduate programs in 27 different fields and five certificates, along with pre-professional studies from the School of Medicine and a College of Pharmacy program.

Two undergraduate degree programs are delivered 100% online: psychology and tribal administration and governance. There's also a hybrid social work bachelor's degree. At the graduate level, there are two hybrid master's: tribal administration and governance and education.

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13Augsburg College 5/562.64%Minneapolis, MN

Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, an education at Augsburg University is defined by academic excellence instilled with the values of the school's spiritual heritage. Its liberal arts and professional studies catalog includes comprehensive undergraduate offerings and several master's programs in education, leadership, and business administration, among others.

The school is heavily involved in research, and is ranked one of the state's top recipients of funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Recent areas of research include NSF grants for eyewitness identification errors and space physics research. Auggies have campuses in Central America, Mexico, and Southern Africa.

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14Minnesota State University – Mankato 2/550.36%Mankato, MN

Big ideas and real-world thinking are touted at Minnesota State University-Mankato, located approximately 85 miles southwest of the Twins Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It accommodates more than 15,000 students with 130 undergraduate programs and more than 75 graduate programs, including master's and doctoral programs. Thirteen pre-professional programs are offered, including pre-med, pre-law, pre-dental and pre-pharmacy.

Its doctoral programs are in nursing, education, and psychology. To give students flexibility, MNSU has online baccalaureate, graduate degrees, and certificate programs in many disciplines. MNSU is known for cutting-edge research in state-of-the-art facilities.

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15Concordia University – Saint Paul 3/546.45%Saint Paul, MN

Concordia University, a university of The Lutheran Church, enrolls approximately 4,500 students who are part of a dynamic learning community. The school offers 41 liberal arts majors with a comprehensive catalog of undergraduate programs, and master's in fields such as criminal justice, education, and business administration. Doctoral programs are offered in education and physical therapy.

Many of Concordia University's programs are online or hybrid. Adult learners have numerous accelerated learning options. Concordia is military friendly, and understanding the challenges veterans face, its programs offer flexibility and convenience so veterans can earn a degree.

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16Hamline University 5/564.59%Saint Paul, MN

Minnesota's first university and the only United Methodist University in the state, Hamline is highly ranked. An intimate community of under 4,500 students, Hamline students earn baccalaureate, master's, doctoral degrees, and certifications. There are more than 50 areas of study; many programs can be studied online.

Real-world experience is integral at Hamline, with 100% of students completing internships or participating in service-learning or field-based research. Students study abroad in about 40 countries. The school has a well-established doctoral program in education that produced the winner of the prestigious 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Award.

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17University of St. Thomas – Minnesota 5/572.22%Saint Paul, MN

A comprehensive urban Catholic university, the University of St. Thomas enrolls approximately 10,200 undergraduate and graduate students. Students can earn a bachelor's degree from its catalog of 90 majors, along with more than 60 graduate degrees in 12 areas.

St. Thomas' graduate and professional programs in business, education, law, and social work are ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report, as are its undergraduate engineering and business programs. The school notes that 94% of graduates report employment, grad school enrollment, enlistment in the military, or volunteerism within six months of graduation.

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18University of Northwestern – St Paul 4/566.81%Saint Paul, MN

The University of Northwestern equips Christ-centered learners with the education necessary for career success and to positively impact the world. Christian leaders William Bell Riley and Billy Graham were past presidents.

Seventy areas of undergraduate study are offered in addition to six master's degree programs. A blend of online and on-campus graduate programs are offered in education, human services, theological studies, business administration, divinity, and organizational leadership. UNW offers undergraduate, graduate, and adult learning programming in addition to early college programs. High school students can earn college credits at UNW for free.

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19Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota 4/564.6%Winona, MN

St. Mary's is renowned for high-quality, student-centered education in the Catholic tradition. The institution offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs at its Twin Cities and Winona campuses, as well as learning centers and select programs in Jamaica and Kenya. The baccalaureate program has 60 majors, and the School of Graduate and Professional Programs is one of the largest graduate schools in the state.

Busy professionals can earn a graduate degree at Saint Mary's in a fast, cost-effective way with six start dates throughout the year, multiple locations, flexible course scheduling, and online/blended delivery. Doctoral programs are offered in psychology, business administration, and education.

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20St. Catherine University 5/558.53%Saint Paul, MN

Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Kate has nearly 5,000 students on its St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses. The school, which has a reputation for excellence and instilling leadership, offers a comprehensive catalog of associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees. The most popular majors are nursing, public health, business administration, psychology, and English.

The school also offers doctoral programs in nursing, occupational therapy, and social work. St. Kate's College for Adults gives working professionals and others the opportunity to earn credentials conveniently and affordably.

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21University of Minnesota-Crookston 3/547.9%Crookston, MN

The University of Minnesota-Crookston is a small campus offering a big degree. Its 1,800 students are evenly split between on-campus and online learners. UMC offers numerous baccalaureate programs in agriculture and natural resources, business, liberal arts, education, math, science, and technology.

UMC has highly ranked online programs; areas include applied studies, health management, and marketing. Of note is the BS in agricultural systems management, with emphasis areas including bio-fuels & renewable energy technology, and farm & ranch management. The BS in aviation focuses on areas including agricultural aviation and law enforcement.

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22Bemidji State University 2/5N/AMN

Situated on the western shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University offers a scenic campus on which it delivers programming for 65 undergraduate majors and 14 graduate programs. The school's enrollment is comprised of 5,000 undergraduate and more than 300 graduate students. Popular programs include education, business, science, and technological studies.

BSU's innovative industrial model-making and exhibit design programs are nationally recognized. Lake Bemidji serves as the laboratory for its aquatic biology program and a backdrop for art classes. The school offers extensive distance learning options; its online accounting program is ranked highly nationally.

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23Saint Cloud State University 2/544.76%Saint Cloud, MN

Students wanting an education amidst big-city culture and small-town charm may look no further than St. Cloud State University. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Central Minnesota, the school offers more than 200 undergraduate majors, minors, and pre-professional programs.

Its graduate school offers more than 60 programs, including doctoral degrees in higher education administration and educational administration and leadership. Its master's degrees in regulatory affairs and services and applied clinical research are in-demand credentials; the acclaimed Herberger Business School offers an MBA program. Of note are the meteorology and geographic information systems programs.

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24Southwest Minnesota State University 2/543.2%Marshall, MN

Known for a high-quality liberal arts education that seeks to produce future leaders and entrepreneurs, Southwest Minnesota State University offers more than 45 undergraduate majors to students. Four master's degrees are available from the School of Graduate Studies: an MBA and master's programs in education, physical education, and special education.

Licensure is available in administration, reading, and teaching English as a second language (TESL). SMSU offers high school students the opportunity to earn college credit through Minnesota's PSEO and SMSU's College Now program. Through online coursework, students with associate degrees from SMSU's partnering colleges can earn a bachelor's.

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25North Central University 3/547.29%Minneapolis, MN

With a unique Christian and urban setting, North Central University works to integrate academic excellence and faith into students' learning. Located in the heart of Minneapolis, North Central offers 80 undergraduate majors and minors. Programs of study range from computer information systems to entrepreneurship to youth ministries.

The school offers a 30-credit master's in strategic leadership, a program that works to prepare the next generation of church, business, and mission leaders. Students attending North Central have numerous real-world internship opportunities with area businesses. Semester study abroad programs are available in Asia, England, and Egypt.

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Of the nearly 250,000 students attending public college in Minnesota in 2011, 55% attended two-year schools. These institutions are categorized as either community colleges or technical colleges and Minnesota offers several of both.

Students attending two-year schools come from a variety of backgrounds; some plan to continue on to a four-year school, though many are just pursuing an associate degree. Two-year schools in the state have an open admission policy, which allows anyone with a high school diploma or GED to enroll. These schools also come with lower tuition than you’ll find at four-year colleges. If you’re interested in attending a two-year school in Minnesota, be sure to check out our list of the top programs in the state.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Hibbing Community College 2/534.87%Hibbing, MN

Students interested in acquiring the technical skills necessary for employment success or seeking an academic program that will transfer over to a four-year university have a variety of options at Hibbing. Hibbing offers high-quality education and career training in areas including business, culinary arts, and healthcare.

Students can complete an associate of arts (AA) degree and/or the Minnesota transfer curriculum, requiring a minimum of 60 credits of college-level courses. An associate of fine arts (AFA) and associate of science (ASA) in health sciences are available; as are diplomas, certificates, and online classes and programs in numerous areas of study.

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2Rochester Community and Technical College 2/519.89%Rochester, MN

RCTC's 518-acre college campus serves as a gateway to world-class learning opportunities. RCTC has 70 technical and transfer programs, 130 degree options, and 300 online classes. Among its AA and AAS degrees are liberal arts, equine science, horticulture technology, and clinical neurophysiology.

Diplomas/certificates are available in areas such as administration, nursing assistant, community health, and child development. To provide greater flexibility, Rochester has put a significant number of its programs online. The school touts accessibility, affordability, and quality learning that is learner-centered.

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3Alexandria Technical & Community College 2/558.27%Alexandria, MN

ATCC boasts some of the highest graduation, career placement, and retention rates among two-year colleges in the state. Associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates are awarded in areas such as business administration, computer sciences, and law enforcement.

Students can enroll in one of nine transfer degree programs or earn one-year certificates in areas such as business management, professional sales, and welding technology. To meet increasing demand, the school offers online associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Of note is the online 60-credit AAS in speech-language pathology assistant.

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4Dakota County Technical College 2/529.63%Rosemount, MN

At Dakota County Technical College, students have the option of day, evening, weekend, and/or online courses through its main Eagan campus and two centers. DCTC offers more than 50 associate degrees in areas such as business management, design and technology, health, and human services.

DCTC notes its affordability and alumni success. Its general education courses are part of the Minnesota transfer curriculum, accommodating students’ transfer to four-year institutions. Numerous diplomas and certificates are offered. Continuing education for credit and noncredit courses can be earned in areas such as accounting, Cisco certification, EKG certification, and forklift operation.

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5Minneapolis Community and Technical College 2/513.84%Minneapolis, MN

Located in the heart of vibrant Minneapolis, Minneapolis Community and Technical College's catalog includes more than 120 degrees, diplomas, and certificates. The school uses the academy model to order its educational offerings in business and service; education and public services; nursing, counselling and allied healthcare; media and technology; manufacturing and building sciences; liberal arts; and science and mathematics.

Adult education programming is offered in areas such as math, reading, and English as a second language (ESL). MCTC’s CollegeNOW! Program helps high school students prepare for college and explore careers through concurrent enrollment.

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6Dunwoody College of Technology 3/541.94%Minneapolis, MN

The oldest institution of its kind in the Upper Midwest, Dunwoody College of Technology offers associate and bachelor’s degrees, certificate, and diploma programs. Noting that it is known internationally for its outstanding educational programs, the school offers bachelor’s degrees in areas such as applied management, computer systems analysis, construction management, and industrial design.

Associate degrees are offered in a wide range of professions ranging from computer technology and healthcare to robotics and manufacturing. Dunwoody has a long history of helping veterans transition to civilian careers. The school offers continuing education for working professionals.

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7Century College 2/514.39%White Bear Lake, MN

Located in White Bear Lake, Century College is one of the largest two-year colleges in Minnesota. Its programming in areas such as business, technology, engineering, and applied design prepares students with the associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates needed for workplace success.

The school’s six pathways include the applied design and industrial pathway, with courses such as 3D animation and horticulture; the health sciences pathway, with courses such as nursing and dental hygiene; and the technology and engineering pathway, with courses such as cybersecurity, virtualization, and forensics. The school also offers professional certificates, continuing education, and online learning.

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8Central Lakes College-Brainerd 2/539.54%Brainerd, MN

Serving about 6,000 students per year, Central Lakes College's degree, diploma, and certificate programs are offered in a wide range of areas on its two campuses and online.

Through the Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, CLC offers one- to two-year degrees and eight-week classes and certificates in advanced manufacturing. Also of note is the AAS degree in computer network administration—cybersecurity, which prepares professionals with high-demand skills in this field. High school students seeking to get an early start on their college careers can participate in concurrent enrollment and bridge career academies.

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9Pine Technical College 1/526.79%Pine City, MN

Providing education opportunities to the Pine County Community since 1965, Pine Technical and Community College seeks to develop a highly trained and innovative workforce. PTCC’s associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates span areas including liberal arts, advanced manufacturing, automotive, health science, and nursing.

The school is known for its gunsmithing and firearms technology program, in which a certificate can be earned in sales at retail outlets and sporting goods stores. Advanced courses leading to a diploma include stockwork, barreling, and chambering. The school offers a number of online degrees, including in manufacturing and applied engineering.

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10Hennepin Technical College 1/524.58%Brooklyn Park, MN

More than 9,500 students are enrolled in credit courses at Hennepin Tech's two main campuses. Its extensive offerings, cutting-edge technology, and a 97% job placement rate help make Hennepin Tech one of the best two-year colleges in the state.

The school offers associate degree, diploma, and certificate programs in areas of study such as business and information technology, construction, health, and manufacturing/engineering technology. Of note is its new 60-credit diploma program in mechatronics, which integrates the fields of pneumatics, electronics, hydraulics, computer control systems, and mechanics. The school is a longtime leader in automation robotics engineering technology training.

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11Inver Hills Community College 2/519.05%Inver Grove Heights, MN

Nestled in the hills of Inver Grove Heights, Inver Hills Community College prepares students with education and training for high-demand fields. Two-year degrees can be earned in information technology, health care, law enforcement, and human services. The school also offers certificate programs, some of which are online.

Those wanting to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree at the Inver Hills campus can conveniently do so through its partnerships with The College of St. Scholastica, Metropolitan State University, and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. The school offers accelerated learning opportunities, specialized training, and continuing education.

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12Northland Community and Technical College 2/535.01%Thief River Falls, MN

Northland Community and Technical College's nationally renowned technical programs are offered alongside associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in liberal arts. Programs of study include agriculture, automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, and business management/marketing. Online program options are available in nursing, welding technology, and social and behavioral sciences, among others.

Students can complete the 60-credit AA degree to transfer to a four-year Minnesota college or university to complete a bachelor's. The school offers programming in aerospace technology, including associate degrees in geospatial intelligence analysis and aviation maintenance technology. Northland's continuing education is extensive, including accessible customized training.

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13Leech Lake Tribal College 1/511.76%Cass Lake, MN

With a dedication to providing postsecondary education grounded in Anishinaabe values, Leech Lake Tribal College has developed programs in the arts and humanities, career and technical education, and natural sciences/technology.

The school offers associate degrees, transfer and academic credentialing programs, and distance learning. Included is an associate degree in earth science systems, in which students are taught ways to understand and manage earth systems using both Western science and Indigenous American knowledge. Also notable is an associate degree with a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) emphasis, preparing students to transition to a baccalaureate program.

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14Itasca Community College 2/5N/AMN

Students at Itasca Community College have learning opportunities that include associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, and transfer to four-year institutions. The AAS degree is earnable in natural resources, pulp and paper, or power generation.

Diplomas and certificates cover areas such as child development, wildland firefighting, and practical nursing. Itasca is notable for its specialization as a college transfer institution, wherein students can complete the first two years of a bachelor's degree in almost any field at the college and transfer to a baccalaureate program at any state university. Itasca also offers continuing education.

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15Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College 2/518.72%Cloquet, MN

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College's programming focuses on a number of high-demand fields where highly trained workers are needed. A tribal college located in Cloquet, it offers associate degrees, diplomas, and degrees in areas such as electric utility technology, geospatial technologies, law enforcement, and environmental science.

The school designed the "Degree. Me. Learning Community" program, in which students can earn credentials quickly, conveniently, and cost-effectively. Classes are held Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those wanting to enhance their skills or learn something new, short-term courses are available.

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16Normandale Community College 2/519.38%Bloomington, MN

Whether students want to work toward a degree, learn a new skill, or qualify for a job, Normandale has the associate degrees or certificates to satisfy those needs. Associate degree programs are available in elementary education, healthcare, and computer management, among others. Certificates can be earned in areas such as human resource management, creative writing, and global studies.

Normandale gives students the opportunity to spend the first two years enrolled at the school, then the last two enrolled with a partnering four-year college while attending classes at Normandale.

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17Riverland Community College 2/535.06%Austin, MN

Riverland Community College welcomes students to earn associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in liberal arts and career & technical education. Associate degrees are awarded in fields such as accounting, applied technology, network security, biotechology, and art. Industry and technical certificates are also available.

Students here can earn an associate degree and transfer into a baccalaureate program at Minnesota State University; fields include accounting, finance, management, international business, and marketing. Students from Iowa also have a pathway program. Online learning is made easy and includes many areas of study.

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18White Earth Tribal and Community College 1/55.88%Mahnomen, MN

A tribal college grounded in Anishinaabe culture, values and traditions, White Earth Tribal and Community College offers numerous AA degrees. Focus areas include the humanities, arts and social sciences; environmental sciences; human services; business; education; and Native American Studies. Courses span areas such as biography, photography, psychology, and sociology.

Of note is the 60-credit Native American Studies associate degree, which seeks to preserve the language, culture, and history of Native Americans, especially the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. WETCC also participates in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, which facilitates transfer to a four-year institution in the state.

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19Saint Paul College 2/518.27%Saint Paul, MN

Saint Paul College's 11,000-plus students have a variety of options with its 43 associate degree and 79 career, certificate, and diploma programs. The areas of study are business, career and technical education, computer graphics, health science, liberal arts, service programs, and STEM.

The school offers transfer opportunities into four-year institutions after students spend the first two years at Saint Paul. In addition, high school students can get a jumpstart on their college learning with exploration and dual enrollment options, along with other college readiness programs.

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20Mesabi Range Community and Technical College 2/531.06%Virginia, MN

At Mesabi Range College, students can choose from math, science, and engineering programming alongside fine arts, social sciences, and the humanities. Touting high academic standards embedded in a variety of employment-ready and transfer programs, the school offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in areas such as business management, construction, manufacturing, and engineering.

Students can earn a bachelor's or master's degree via Mesabi's partnerships with universities in the state; programming is convenient and/or online. Mesabi offers the iron range engineering model, a 40-hour per week program in which students learn engineering design by working in industry.

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21St Cloud Technical and Community College 2/527.19%Saint Cloud, MN

St. Cloud Technical & Community College offers 90 programs of study closely aligned with the skillsets high in demand among local businesses.

St. Cloud offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in fields of study that include healthcare, business management, computer technology, and construction. Starting a career in the manufacturing sector is possible at SCTCC with eTECH certificates, earnable through a blend of online learning and weekend lab work. Short-term courses are available in areas such as nursing, firefighting, and emergency medical service. Some programs are completely online.

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22Ridgewater College 2/542.26%Willmar, MN

Ridgewater was named the No. 1 best community college in Minnesota for career preparedness by the ACT. The school offers programs for students seeking quality education at an affordable cost, and touts a 96% job placement rate for graduates.

Associate degrees and certificates in liberal arts/general education and career and technical education can be earned traditionally or online. Programs of study include agricultural science technology, law enforcement, global studies, and chemistry. In career and technical education, the school confers credentials in areas such as carpentry, agronomy, cyber security, and electrician.

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23Anoka Technical College 2/529.1%Anoka, MN

Hands-on learning at a small, affordable college attracts a diverse student body to Anoka Tech. Its offerings encompass more than 35 AAS degrees, diplomas, and certificates in in-demand career training programs. The programs of study include transportation, distribution and logistics; health science technology; human services; and engineering, manufacturing, and technology.

Notable is the two-tracked golf course management/landscape technology program, preparing the next generation of grounds managers/technicians and horticulturists. ATC offers English language learners classes, career counseling, and advising. Transfer from ATC to baccalaureate programs is also easily facilitated.

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24Vermilion Community College 2/526.7%Ely, MN

Serving about 700 students in Ely, Vermillion Community College programming focuses on four areas: natural resources; protection, preservation and recreation; business; and liberal arts and sciences. Associate degrees, diplomas, and/or certificates can be earned in taxidermy, outdoor leadership, criminal justice, and more.

VCC offers two unique law enforcement programs. The wildland/wildlife law enforcement focuses on natural resource rules and regulations combined with hands-on courses. The criminal justice–police science program focuses on traditional law enforcement skills. The school also offers seasonal park law enforcement ranger training.

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25Lake Superior College 2/527.47%Duluth, MN

Situated on a wooded campus overlooking Duluth's Lake Superior harbor, Lake Superior College combines aesthetic appeal with academic excellence. The campus's award-winning architecture and urban forest provide a good setting for its more than 80 technical degrees in addition to liberal arts and science degrees.

Associate degrees, diplomas, and/or certificates can be earned for professions such as nursing assistant, paralegal, computer and web programmer, firefighter, and engineering CAD technician. The school offers a transfer pathway to baccalaureate programs at four-year institutions. Among its notable programs are 3D printing, aircraft rescue firefighting, aviation, and autodesk inventor.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Minnesota, continuing reading to learn more about living in the North Star State.

Known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota is the perfect state for water enthusiasts. Boating and beaching are popular summer pastimes, and the locals love to go ice fishing and take polar bear plunges in the winter. The Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, are the hub of the state, providing a center of economic, social and cultural activity. Sixty percent of the state’s population lives in the Twin Cities metropolitan statistical area.

Tourists and residents alike are drawn to Minnesota’s tax-free shopping. With no taxes on clothing, food or medicine, shoppers travel to Minnesota for significant savings. This helps make The Mall of America one of the state’s biggest attractions.

Minnesota’s overall cost of living is 2-3% higher than the national average, though the median household income is also higher than in most states. As is the case in many Midwestern states, Minnesota has lost residents each year since 2002, with young adults particularly leaving in droves. With fewer people in the state, degree-holders are more in demand than ever, and there are plenty of professional opportunities for people with an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Minnesota is composed of two regions: the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota. Below, we’ve broken down both.


  • Major Cities: Minneapolis, St. Paul
  • Attractions: Mall of America, Minnehaha Falls Park, State Capitol, Mill City Museum, Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
  • Cost of Living: Minneapolis
  • Popular Schools: University of Minnesota, Hamline University, University of St. Thomas


  • Major Cities: Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, Moorhead
  • Attractions: Mayo Clinic, Mississippi River Headwaters, Lake Superior
  • Cost of Living: Rochester
  • Popular Schools: University of Minnesota – Duluth, Rochester; St. Cloud Technical and Community College, Mayo Medical School


In-state tuition is significantly less expensive than out-of-state tuition at public schools, and students attending school in Minnesota should try to qualify for in-state tuition if possible. To qualify, students must establish or prove their residency in the state. Statehood requirements differ from school to school, so be sure to check with your school for their rules. There are, however, a few guidelines all students should be cognizant of.


Residency status is granted for dependents whose parent or legal guardian resides in Minnesota when the student applies for school. Some exceptions are considered. If a minor is the child of a U.S. military member, migrant farm worker or refugee who has not established residency, an exception is typically granted.


Minnesota has established the following conditions for adult residency status. At least one must be met for classification as a resident of Minnesota.

  1. Reside in Minnesota for at least one calendar year immediately prior to admission application. This residency cannot be solely for college attendance.
  2. If you are a previous resident and were only temporarily absent from the state, demonstrate that you did not establish residency elsewhere.
  3. Move to Minnesota to accept a full-time job. Must have accepted before moving and applying for school admission.
  4. Be married to someone who meets criteria #3.

Minnesota will grant residential tuition rates to non-residents in certain situations. One or more of the following statuses must be held:

  1. Member of the U.S. military or their family member – current and former members
  2. Migrant farm worker – for at least two years immediately before admission
  3. Minnesota high school graduate
  4. Refugee or asylee


  • Residents of Minnesota can take advantage of the Midwest Student Exchange Program. This allows Minnesota residents to attend select public colleges and universities in eight states, including Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and pay no more than 150 percent of the in-state tuition rate.
  • Minnesota has reciprocity agreements with Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and the Canadian province of Manitoba, meaning residents of these locations can receive in-state tuition at Minnesota schools.

Additional Resources for Minnesota College Students

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