Best Online Colleges in Minnesota

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Students interested in an online program in Minnesota can pursue their education in a state that has taken steps to reflect its dedication to affordable and quality higher education. The Minnesota legislature voted in 2013 to reject tax cuts for a number of high-earning households and businesses, enabling the state to prevent higher education cuts and freezing tuition for public colleges. In the same year, the MN Dream Act, also known as the “Prosperity Act,” became law, making undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition and financial aid.

A number of tools are available for students interested in online programs and courses. Distance Minnesota, a group of four colleges, is an organization that provides a shared course catalogue as well as 24/7 support for students. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education also offers assistance on its website by identifying credible online programs, assessing your online learning readiness, and helping prospective students calculate costs and savings. And as a member of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, Minnesota students are entitled to tuition reciprocity with other member states.

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

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

 3/578.4%Minneapolis, MN


At Minnesota's flagship school, students can pursue several undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students interested in completing their undergraduate degree can choose from UMN's applied studies or multidisciplinary studies. Transfer credits are welcome and students work with advisors to ensure they get the resources and help they need to graduate.

Graduate programs are offered in two formats. Distance learners may apply to entirely online offerings, or hybrid programs that combine traditional classes with online material. Fields of study include computer science, healthcare, engineering, and education.

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University of Northwestern – St Paul

 4/566.81%Saint Paul, MN


Online programs at the faith-based University of Northwestern–St. Paul allow students to start college before they graduate high school. Popular programs include history, literature, classical languages, and advanced mathematics. Students can also complete an undergraduate degree in biblical studies.

Graduate programs are offered in a hybrid format. These programs feature flexible schedules, and most coursework can be completed online. Advisors help students find the right program for their academic and professional interests.

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University of Minnesota – Morris

 3/566.76%Morris, MN


Minnesota at Morris adheres to its longstanding liberal arts mission. Students have access to excellent academic resources, and are given the flexibility and support to design their own major. Popular established programs include arts therapy, journalism, and forensic science.

Online courses last an entire semester, though they can also be condensed in a five-week summer session. Students may enroll in a degree program or take courses from UMN-Morris as a non-degree seeking student; the latter group does not have to formally enroll in a degree program.

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Crown College

 4/557.14%Saint Bonifacius, MN


Crown College is a Christian school that offers several secular and religious-themed degrees to distance learners. All classes incorporate faith into the curriculum, providing a comfortable environment for Christian students. The school offers associate, bachelor, and certificate programs, along with master's degrees in divinity, ministry leadership, and business administration.

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University of Minnesota-Crookston

 3/547.9%Crookston, MN


Minnesota Crookston provides a variety of academic programs for students seeking bachelor's degrees, minors, or professional certificates. The online environment allows students to pursue their educational goals in a flexible setting. The Crookston campus provided the University of Minnesota system with their first online bachelor programs. Students can pursue 14 majors, many of them in business. Popular programs include accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, and management.

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The College of Saint Scholastica

 5/561.39%Duluth, MN

The Extended Campus at St. Scholastica offers online programs in a supportive environment. Students have access to personal advisors and class sizes are kept small and collaborative. Online students receive the same services and resources as traditional students.
Distance learners can pursue undergraduate and master's degrees, along with several graduate certificate programs. Common programs include studies in business and technology, health professions, education, and nursing. The nursing program includes a one-year RN to BSN program, and a graduate nurse practitioner offering.

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University of Minnesota – Duluth

 3/559.24%Duluth, MN

Minnesota Duluth offers a number of online courses across its many academic departments. The school also awards two bachelor's degrees entirely online, in psychology and tribal administration and governance. Additionally, Minnesota Duluth offers a bachelor's in social work and master's degrees in education and tribal administration and governance in a hybrid format. Finally, the university also sponsors several professional development classes.

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Minnesota State University – Mankato

 2/550.36%Mankato, MN

Whether you want to complete your bachelor's degree, earn a master's degree, or just take a course or two online, Minnesota State University Mankato has you covered. Available programs include education licensure, a number of professional certificate programs, and a master's in education. Undergraduate degrees are available in dental hygiene and nursing. The school also offers a handful of undergraduate minors, undergraduate certificates, and graduate certificates entirely online.

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Winona State University

 2/557.16%Winona, MN

Winona State offers adult and continuing education classes in over 100 programs. The classes are offered online, nights, and weekends; some classes are taught in a hybrid format. This provides flexibility for students, allowing them to pursue their education in a couple of delivery methods. Programs are available in business and management, health professions, education, technology, and personal enrichment.

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Bethel University – Minnesota

 5/574.05%Saint Paul, MN

This faith-based school offers a supportive community where students can develop spiritually and academically. Bethel University provides adult undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and seminary programs online. Some programs are offered entirely online, while others are taught in a hybrid format. Bethel also has a few other programs that are available mostly online, but require a one or two week intensive on campus annually. Popular degrees include education, nursing, business, and an RN to BSN program.

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St. Catherine University

 5/558.53%Saint Paul, MN

With a liberal arts foundation, and four different schools to choose from, students can pursue a variety of programs at St. Catherine's. The university provides support services to adults in continuing education bachelor's degree offerings or certificate programs. All degree-seekers receive a well-rounded education, taking classes in philosophy, arts, mathematics, and health and wellness.

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Bemidji State University


Bemidji State offers continuing education programs to help working professionals earn a bachelor's degree. Online courses are also available to traditional undergraduates. The school offers bachelor's degree programs, certificates, and graduate level coursework online. Of Bemidji's 12 online bachelor's programs, most are available entirely online, including popular offerings in business, engineering, and an RN to BSN program.

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Minnesota State University – Moorhead

 2/541.93%Moorhead, MN

Minnesota State University Moorhead offers a variety of undergraduate degrees online. Most of these programs are available in a hybrid format, which supplements online lectures with evening meetings. While there are no graduate courses offered online, students can also pursue distance licensure programs and bachelor degrees for transfer students.

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Saint Cloud State University

 2/544.76%Saint Cloud, MN

Online learning is part of St. Cloud State's school of continuing education. Distance learners can take over 200 individual courses online, and the school also offers fully online undergraduate programs, bachelor completion programs, graduate programs, and associate degrees. The courses span subjects from behavioral science to information media and criminal justice. St. Cloud offers a number of supportive resources, including online tutoring, a library research database, and online learning platforms.

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Metropolitan State University

 2/533.9%Saint Paul, MN

Metropolitan State is a national leader in online learning. The school offers more courses and programs online than all other state universities in Minnesota. The online learning environment is flexible, allowing students to enroll in a fully online degree program or to simply take a few courses to supplement their schedule. Metropolitan State offers a variety of bachelor's and graduate degrees, along with graduate certificates.

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Southwest Minnesota State University

 2/543.2%Marshall, MN

Southwest State University offers a variety of online programs and class formats. One of the most popular is the school's extended learning option, a program for students holding an associate degree and looking to earn their bachelor's. These continuing professionals can graduate with a bachelor's in management or early childhood education. Southwest State provides robust support and online resources to help their online students succeed.

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More About Online Colleges in Minnesota

There are a few programs in Minnesota to help colleges and universities in the state improve their online options. The Minnesota Online Quality Initiative provides resources and tools for faculty and administrators to develop effective online curriculums. Additionally, Distance Minnesota is an online learning consortium of four schools that offers students several degree paths entirely online. Additionally, the platform provides several services for online students, including advising, an online courses database and support programs. As more schools offer more online programs, the time is right to pursue an online degree in a Minnesota college or university.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in Minnesota for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

According to an NCES report from 2012, of the roughly 455,000 students enrolled at Minnesota colleges and universities in 2012, 26.2% of them were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses.

  • 13.6% were undergraduates
  • 3.8% were in public four-year schools
  • 11.3% attended public two-year schools
  • 67.1% were in private, for-profit schools