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.

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

Minot State University

 2/539.9%Minot, ND


Minot State tops our list of the best online colleges in North Dakota, offering affordable and high-quality online courses in business, nursing, and human services. Students who already hold an undergraduate degree can pursue an MS in information systems, management, or special education. Certificate programs offering specialized job training in a variety of fields are also available.

The asynchronous class format allows students to maintain professional and parental responsibilities while developing their professional skills or exploring new areas of interest.

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University of North Dakota

 2/555.49%Grand Forks, ND


The University of North Dakota offers affordable tuition, extensive academic offerings, and a variety of research programs. The school has 40 online programs, spanning a variety of disciplines, including communications, nursing, medical laboratory science, and social work. Undergraduate certificates in clinical microbiology and clinical hematology and hemostasis are also available.

Graduate students can pursue master's degrees in more than 15 subjects, including an MBA program and doctoral degrees in aerospace sciences and nursing.

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Dickinson State University

 2/5N/ADickinson, ND


Dickinson State offers six bachelor's degrees and three associate programs through its online platform. The school's synchronous learning opportunities bring students into the traditional academic environment through live and recorded lectures. Students can feel connected to the classroom while still balancing school alongside their professional and personal responsibilities.

Online students can take advantage of several support services, including online tutoring sessions and NetTutor, which provides tutoring services when the center is closed.

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Valley City State University

 2/548.05%Valley City, ND


Valley City State's online program offers students a high-quality academic experience while maintaining the type of flexibility that most nontraditional students seek. VCSU awards undergraduate and graduate degrees across nine different areas of study, and eight certificate and minor programs.

In VCSU's business process integration management program, students work in conjunction with SAP, a noted provider of resource planning software widely used in the industry. This collaboration allows students to develop valuable software experience that will help them transition into their careers after school.

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North Dakota State University

 2/556.08%Fargo, ND


A premier land grant institution with strong bachelor's and graduate programs, North Dakota State allows students to pursue a degree in a variety of disciplines. Innovative degrees include offerings in human development and family science, strategic communication, and sociology. Undergraduate certificates are available in apparel, retail merchandising, and design.

As a part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, students can enroll and graduate from NDSU, but receive their education from the best professors across 11 universities participating in this unique online consortium. This affords students plenty of flexibility as their academic interests develop.

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University of Mary

 3/546.11%Bismarck, ND

Online students at the University of Mary benefit not only from the flexibility of an online degree program, but also from the notable value that comes with attending one of the most affordable private university tuitions in the country. As members of the U of M community, students can also expect to find the course campus values of global stewardship, spirituality, and ethics woven into their studies.

As one of North Dakota's best colleges, students will receive their education from experts in their chosen fields. The university offer seven undergraduate degrees as well as 17 graduate degrees covering popular fields such as education, business, and healthcare.

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Mayville State University

 2/541.57%Mayville, ND

Mayville State provides distance students with a variety of online degree opportunities. With a 99% satisfactory employment placement rate, students are also provided with the type of education and career assistance necessary to land desirable positions in their chosen fields.

Program offerings include business administration, early childhood education, special education, and nursing. With small class sizes typically capping out at 20 virtual seats, instructors are able to provide high-quality instruction and connect directly with their students in a manner that mirrors a traditional classroom experience.

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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.