Best Colleges in North Dakota

The higher education experts at reviewed the top 4-year colleges in the state of North Dakota. Start planning your future now.
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Jennifer Lee
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Jennifer is an editor with a master’s in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s in history from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She spent nearly 8 years working in South Korea, teaching students English conversation and ...
Updated on June 6, 2023
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The North Dakota Department of Labor Market Information (NDLMI) projects that employment in the state will increase by 11.4% from 2016 to 2026, adding roughly 55,000 new positions. In addition to this strong overall economic growth, certain industries will likely experience even more rapid expansion. For example, the NDLMI projects that the field of healthcare and social assistance will grow by close to 20% in the coming years, accounting for more than 11,600 of the state's new jobs.

The most lucrative professional opportunities in North Dakota typically require at least some kind of postsecondary education. For example, in 2018, dental hygienists in the state earned an annual mean wage of $72,580, approximately $23,000 more than the average of all other occupations. That same year, computer network architects in North Dakota made an average of $72,580. To qualify for these types of roles, you generally need either an associate or bachelor's degree.

Top 5 Colleges in North Dakota

  1. University of North Dakota - Grand Forks, ND
  2. Minot State University - Minot, ND
  3. North Dakota State University - Fargo, ND
  4. University of Mary - Bismarck, ND
  5. University of Jamestown - Jamestown, ND

A college education can give you a competitive edge in the job market. To help you decide which school to attend, we have compiled a ranking of the best colleges in North Dakota. For each of the institutions on this list, we provide information on elements such as admission standards, the types of degrees and majors available, online learning options, and financial aid opportunities.

Each of the colleges on this ranking holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Best Accredited Colleges in North Dakota

Best Colleges in North Dakota

  1. University of North Dakota

    Grand Forks, ND



    Originally founded in 1883, six years before its namesake achieved statehood, the University of North Dakota now serves roughly 13,500 students each year.

    The school delivers undergraduate and graduate programs in fields such as American Indian studies, biomedical sciences, criminal justice, and geological engineering. The university also offers a diverse array of fully online classes and programs, increasing educational access for working professionals and students in more rural parts of the state.

    Students at UND can access resources like personalized academic advising, in-person and online tutoring, and career exploration and counseling. The university also provides custom support to international students and members of the armed forces. This holistic network of assistance has helped contribute to a recent 38% increase in the school's four-year graduation rate.

    To apply to UND as an undergraduate student, you must have a high school diploma with a GPA of at least 2.75. Applicants under the age of 25 must also submit ACT or SAT scores. Graduate applicants typically must have a bachelor's degree and take either the GMAT or the GRE.

  2. Minot State University

    Minot, ND



    Fully online and asynchronous programs at Minot State University give learners the flexibility to explore subjects such as early childhood education, sport management, and nursing on their own schedule. At the university's campus in the northern part of the state, students can pursue an additional 60 undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas such as addiction studies, history, and political science.

    In the MSU honors program, students take a series of courses that lead to a minor and honors distinction on their transcript. The program also involves regular seminar discussions, independent study and research opportunities, and service-learning activities. The average high school GPA for incoming honors students is 3.75.

    Undergraduate applicants must submit high school or GED transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. MSU makes admissions decisions based on both GPA and entrance exam score. For example, an applicant with a GPA of 3.0 and an ACT score of 20 receives automatic admission, while a prospective student with a GPA of 2.0 and an ACT score of 17 may earn only provisional acceptance.

  3. North Dakota State University-Main Campus

    Fargo, ND



    With more than $150 million in annual research spending, North Dakota State University ranks as one of the top public research universities in the United States. This status informs classroom instruction, providing students with access to rigorous and data-driven education in subjects like agricultural economics, crop and weed sciences, landscape architecture, and veterinary technology. The university also offers fully online master's degrees and graduate certificates.

    Generally, first-year applicants need at least a 2.75 high school GPA to qualify for admission. NDSU also recommends a composite ACT score of at least 22 or an SAT score of 1100 or higher. Transfer applicants who have earned fewer than 24 college credits must also submit ACT or SAT scores.

    You can lower the cost of your education at NDSU in several ways. The university offers significant scholarship awards to prospective learners who excel academically. A cultural diversity tuition waiver is also available to students of color, refugees, and members of other underrepresented groups.

  4. University of Mary

    Bismarck, ND



    The University of Mary is a private Catholic university that welcomes students from all faiths and backgrounds. In addition to hosting programs at the main campus in Bismarck, the university educates roughly 4,600 students each year at five satellite locations and through an array of online offerings. Distance learners can access programs in fields such as bioethics, information technology management, and education for children with autism spectrum disorder.

    The university strives to provide affordable access to a high-quality education. Tuition at Mary is significantly lower than the average rate at other private universities in the country, and nearly all students receive some form of financial aid. Graduates of Catholic high schools, for instance, receive free room and board at the university. Additionally, the Impact Scholarship provides up to $1,000 in support to students enrolled in online or evening programs.

    To apply to Mary as an undergraduate, you must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Most admitted students have a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher.

  5. University of Jamestown

    Jamestown, ND



    The University of Jamestown features small, interactive classes that allow students to develop strong connections with their instructors and fellow learners. In addition, because the university does not hire graduate assistants, full- or part-time faculty members teach all courses, helping ensure students benefit from expert instruction. Likely a result of this focus on student learning, 98% of UJ graduates find a job or enroll in graduate school within six months of earning their degree.

    The university offers both graduate and undergraduate programs in fields such as leadership, education, clinical counseling, and physical therapy. Four bachelor's degrees and three master's degrees are also available online, with curricula specifically designed for distance education students.

    First-year applicants typically need a high school GPA of at least 2.5 and an ACT score of 19 or higher (or 990 or higher on the SAT). Prospective students with lower scores must submit an essay outlining their plans for college success. All undergraduate students who live on campus are guaranteed at least $8,000 per year in scholarship funding.

Click here to see the best community colleges in North Dakota.