Best Online Colleges in North Dakota

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North Dakota is home to a thriving online education system, and nearly twenty-five percent of college students in the state study online. In a predominantly rural state with significant distances between cities, online learning makes sense for many students. Students can enjoy the flexibility and convenience of earning their degrees online, while still attending one of North Dakota’s many academically robust colleges.

North Dakota is part of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Membership provides distance learners with reduced tuition rates, and the chance to study in online academic programs that are not offered in North Dakota at in-state prices. Additionally, North Dakota’s online colleges provide plenty of opportunities to interact with professors and other students, and the North Dakota University System offers over 1,000 classes online for distance learners.

Those seeking the convenience and flexibility of distance learning can find academic success in one of North Dakota’s online colleges. North Dakota’s excellent, affordable educational system provides valuable opportunities for distance learners across a variety of disciplines.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Bismarck State College70.002/546%Bismarck, ND

Bismarck State College offers a wide range of online programs, allowing students to seek associate degrees in everything from business administration and criminal justice to web page development and renewable energy technology. The school provides a variety of student services, including technical support, testing services, financial aid, and a bookstore. The school also places an emphasis on veterans services: as a Servicemembers Opportunity College, BSC provides a convenient education path for members of the military and their spouses.

About 67% of the students at Bismarck State are enrolled in at least one online course and almost 44% take online classes exclusively. To be eligible for admission, students must have a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED), and some programs require a minimum grade point average. Due to BSC’s academic program variety and its focus on student support, Bismarck State is one of the best online colleges in North Dakota.

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2North Dakota State University68.443/553%Fargo, ND

North Dakota State University offers online bachelor's degrees in human development and family science, sociology, university studies, and strategic communications. Full-time undergraduate students can typically complete their degrees in four years or fewer. The university also offers graduate-level online programs across a variety of subject areas, including software engineering, managerial logistics, and dietetics.

NDSU is located in Fargo, the most populous city in the state, and is part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA), a consortium of 11 universities that provide students with valuable resources as they reach their goals. While enrolled at NDSU, online students have access to high-quality instructors from multiple colleges and universities throughout the region. IDEA membership is among the reasons why NDSU is widely considered one of the top North Dakota online colleges.

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3Minot State University67.813/533%Minot, ND

Minot State University, located in a small community in the north-central part of the state, is among the best online colleges in North Dakota. Through its diverse online programs, the university gives students the opportunity to attend quality college-level classes no matter where they live and work, while still maintaining small class sizes and regular communication with instructors. In all, Minot State offers one associate, eight bachelor's, and three master's degree programs completely online, along with several certificates.

The university focuses on keeping its tuition affordable, and students pay the same rates no matter if they live in North Dakota or anywhere else in the world. Financial aid is also available, along with payment plans for students who are unable to make full payments on a regular schedule. Most undergraduate students can complete their degrees in three to four years. Graduate students generally complete programs within two years.

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4University of North Dakota63.443/552%Grand Forks, ND

The University of North Dakota is a leading provider of academic opportunities for students who need—or prefer—to conduct their coursework online. Its main campus located in Grand Forks, the university offers a broad range of online undergraduate and graduate degrees, all led by qualified instructors who have years of experience in their respective fields.

Consistently ranked as one of the top online colleges in North Dakota, UND is also highly affordable—the university’s tuition and fees are around $4,000 less per year than the average four-year postsecondary institution in the United States. UND also makes millions of dollars in financial aid opportunities and scholarships available to students. Tuition rates are based on residency and the number of credits a student takes.

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5Dickinson State University63.133/535%Dickinson, ND

Rated as one of the top online colleges in North Dakota, Dickinson State University offers bachelor's degrees in accounting, business administration, finance, human resource management, and nursing. In addition to degrees, the school offers two associate degrees and a certificate in human resource management.

NSU takes significant inspiration from the life and works of Theodore Roosevelt and encourages students to live, as Roosevelt put it, “the strenuous life”. Roosevelt spent four formative years in North Dakota as a rancher and continued to write about his experiences in the state throughout his life.

To be eligible for undergraduate admission, applicants must have completed at least four units of high school English and three units of high school mathematics, laboratory science, and social studies. However, exceptions apply for foreign students and those over the age of 25. Students generally complete associate degrees in two years and bachelor's degrees in four years.

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More About Online Colleges in North Dakota

North Dakota promotes the use of online programs to reach a national student base and accommodate students who are unable to step foot in local brick-and-mortar facilities. While tuition and fees at public, four-year North Dakota colleges have increased by 24.2% over the last five years, state funding for postsecondary education increased by 59.5%, the largest percentage spent on education of any state budget in the U.S. during this time. Leading the nation in state funds allocated to education costs, North Dakota continues to strive for excellence in developing both traditional and online educational programs, statewide.

In recent years, North Dakota has initiated several efforts to drive student enrollment and enhance career training opportunities for job-seekers in local industries. The Succeed 2020 Project partners North Dakota colleges and universities with local industries and employers to assist students in transitioning from high school to college graduation to a career in a field of their choice. Additionally, North Dakota colleges and universities have embraced the national LEAP Initiative requirements, aimed at promoting general academic and developmental skills among secondary and postsecondary students.

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

NCES Report

As of fall 2012 enrollment, NCES reports indicate that 14.4% (6,059) of students in North Dakota’s Title IV institutions enrolled in exclusively online programs.

  • 16.2% of students at four-year institutions studied entirely online
  • 53.4% of students at two-year institutions studied entirely online
  • 67% were living in North Dakota
  • 32.1% were living elsewhere in the United States

North Dakota launched its Educational Technology Plan in 2015, designed to implement tools and strategies to help state educators at all levels effectively use technology in their classrooms.

In addition, North Dakota Education officials have given young students a platform to voice their opinions in regards to the efforts being made to improve education in the state; in a recently assembled Student Cabinet, comprising fifth-graders alongside college freshmen, student representatives recognized technology in the classroom as an important learning enhancement tool. To serve a large population of both local and out-of-state students, North Dakota’s largest colleges and universities offer a wide variety of fully online degrees, certificates and hybrid programs.

Best Online Colleges in North Dakota of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Minot State University Minot, ND
2 University of North Dakota Grand Forks, ND
3 Dickinson State University Dickinson, ND
4 Valley City State University Valley City, ND
5 North Dakota State University Fargo, ND
6 University of Mary Bismarck, ND
7 Mayville State University Mayville, ND