Best Community Colleges in North Dakota

The higher education experts at have reviewed the top community colleges in the state North Dakota. Start planning your future today.
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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 14, 2024
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Taylor Gadsden has worked as an editor for BestColleges, focusing on degree, college, and career planning resources for prospective students. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Georgia. Taylor is a former editor at Red Ventures....
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Although North Dakota is among the least populated and visited states, the Peace Garden State possesses a surprising amount of beauty, experiences all four seasons, and features some of the best online community colleges. The University of North Dakota offers one of the top rural medicine programs in the country, making it possible for community college students to complete their four-year education without leaving the state.

With several community colleges to choose from throughout the state, North Dakota's students can find small class sizes in a variety of programs. North Dakota offers a truly unique college experience.

Why Study in North Dakota?

From the educational opportunities to the gorgeous fall leaves and the delightful four-season climate, North Dakota boasts some of the best-kept secrets when it comes to education, culture, and simple living.

Educational Opportunities

Among the biggest pluses of the North Dakota community college system is the ease of admission. With no ACT or SAT scores required, a student with a high school or GED diploma will most often be admitted.

Despite this, course quality remains high, and North Dakota ranks ninth in the country for chance for success as determined by EducationWeek. Even with only a handful of community colleges and universities, North Dakota possesses an outstanding adult education track record.


The North Dakota economy is surprisingly robust, with a large energy development sector and continued development in agriculture, along with real estate and government jobs. With a strong 4.3% GDP growth rate since 2018, the state maintains a low unemployment rate. The median income continues to rise as well, largely due to improvements in education.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in North Dakota falls below the national average in nearly every category including housing, groceries, and utilities. Even in the most populated areas near Grand Fork, housing costs are well below the national average, with a median home price of only $240,200.

Cultural and Community Offerings

Arts and culture are extensive in North Dakota. The state houses theaters, art, and museums, along with casinos that provide a rich nightlife and concerts by big-name acts and local musicians alike. The state offers something for everyone to enjoy year-round. Food festivals, state fairs, art walks, and countless other activities draw locals and tourists to this rich and still developing arts and culture scene.


The climate in North Dakota varies by the geographic boundary of the Missouri River. West of the Missouri River, higher temperatures dominate the summer, but the winters tend to be milder. East of the river, North Dakota residents see long, cold winters and warm summer days.

Much of the state sees snow, fall colors, spring rains, and a typical four-season climate.

Top Degree Programs in North Dakota

Featured Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

North Dakota Employment Outlook

Employment in North Dakota increased by 5.5% from June 2020 to June 2021, and unemployment fell to 2.6% when seasonally adjusted. The top employment fields continue to be energy development, agriculture, healthcare, and hospitality.

While the demand for healthcare workers rises annually, much like other states, North Dakota experiences less growth in the tech industry. Education is booming, however, and when compared with neighboring states, the North Dakota economy thrives.

5 North Dakota Jobs in Demand


Drafters assist engineers and architects by turning their ideas into scale drawings, diagrams, and plans, usually presented digitally. Drafters generally work on computers in offices. They can work remotely, but sometimes go into the field with engineers and architects.

  • U.S. Median Annual Salary: $57,960
  • Job Growth Projection: -2%

Medical Assistant

A medical assistant usually performs administrative and clinical duties in a physician's office or hospital. The position requires an associate degree or, in some cases, a career certificate from a vocational school, along with some experience and good customer service skills.

  • U.S. Median Annual Salary: $35,850
  • Job Growth Projection: 18%

Civil Engineering Technicians

Civil engineering technicians assist civil engineers in designing and planning infrastructure projects. They often help in the building process as well. They spend most of their time in offices, but they occasionally work on construction job sites when required.

  • U.S. Median Annual Salary: $54,080
  • Job Growth Projection: 2%

Software Development

Software developers create programs or applications for computers. They usually work in offices and can sometimes work remotely. Software developer jobs usually require a relevant associate degree, but many employers want a bachelor's degree or on-the-job training.

  • U.S. Median Annual Salary: $110,140
  • Job Growth Projection: 22%

Industrial Mechanic

The duties of the industrial mechanic involve installation, maintenance, and repair of factory and other industrial machinery. Mechanical engineering is the most common associate degree for these professionals, and many industrial mechanics go on to pursue a bachelor's degree and complete on-the-job training.

  • U.S. Median Annual Salary: $54,290
  • Job Growth Projection: 19%

Popular Career Paths in North Dakota

Best Accredited Community Colleges in North Dakota

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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Best Community Colleges in North Dakota

  1. North Dakota State College of Science

    Wahpeton, ND



    At NDSCS, learners can select a degree or certificate in one of 13 academic areas, including human services, liberal arts, or information technology. The liberal arts transfer option features more than 24 majors that degree-seekers can complete in two years. This North Dakota community college offers courses on its Wahpeton and Fargo campuses as well as online.

    The Academic Services Center at NDSCS offers academic and career counseling, in addition to college-readiness courses such as effective reading and college writing. The center also boasts educational resources for English language learners. In addition, flex-time courses allow degree-seekers to learn at an individual pace; students can take up to nine months to complete a course.

    NDSCS accepts GED certificates. Applicants who possess transfer credit from a school within the North Dakota University System do not need to submit transcripts. Incoming degree-seekers with a minimum score of 22 on the ACT may qualify for college-funded scholarships. Students submit only one application to apply for all scholarship opportunities.

  2. Williston State College

    Williston, ND



    WSC's six academic pathways feature transfer programs, career-oriented degrees, and certificates. Students planning to transfer to a four-year school can earn a degree through one of four departments. For certificate-seekers, the Trades Technology Department offers programs in agriculture, petroleum production, and welding, among other in-demand fields. Student learning outcomes at this North Dakota community college include skills in communication, analytical thinking, and problem-solving.

    Besides awarding degrees and certificates, WSC provides over 100 workforce training and professional development programs. These short courses cover areas like transportation, technology, and first-aid skills. Local business owners can also take courses such as communicating for leadership success and resolving workplace conflict.

    Prospective students can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. WSC considers transfer credit from foreign colleges and universities. Incoming degree-seekers without ACT or SAT scores take placement tests. Learners interested in scholarship opportunities should apply by the May 1 deadline. Additionally, students who are part of a cultural or racial minority may qualify for a tuition waiver.

  3. Cankdeska Cikana Community College

    Fort Totten, ND



    A tribal college located in Fort Totten, CCCC serves residents living on and around the Spirit Lake Reservation. Incoming students can select from 14 academic programs, 11 of which confer an AA, AS, or AAS degree while three certificate programs prepare graduates for careers as carpenters, office technology professionals, or truck drivers.

    CCCC participates in the Federal TRIO Program to assist first-generation and low-income college students. In TRIO, learners can receive academic support services at no additional cost. This North Dakota community college also hosts a Head Start program that serves pregnant students and degree-seekers' young children.

    All incoming learners at CCCC take the ACCUPLACER test. The college accepts transfer credit that reflects a minimum C grade. Financial aid opportunities at this North Dakota community college include scholarships. The college uses both November 1 and March 1 scholarship deadlines. Tribal members qualify for additional scholarships.

  4. Lake Region State College

    Devils Lake, ND



    From its Devils Lake campus, LRSC educates over 2,000 students through numerous degree and certificate programs. Learners can select from three types of academic programs: career and technical education, liberal arts (transfer), or apprenticeship. Apprenticeship programs match learners of all ages and experience levels with in-demand career fields (e.g., information technology).

    LRSC features additional academic opportunities, including a GED-preparation course. This community college in North Dakota also boasts dozens of courses that active-duty service members can take on the nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base. Through a partnership with Mayville State University, degree-seekers can earn a bachelor's degree in early childhood education through LRSC.

    LRSC accepts the ACT and ACCUPLACER to determine initial English and math course placement. All incoming learners also submit FAFSA results. Students with a minimum score of 18 on the ACT receive a college-funded scholarship. LRSC awards a full-tuition scholarship to incoming degree-seekers with a minimum score of 28 on the ACT, 1310 on the SAT, or 175 on the GED.

  5. Dakota College at Bottineau

    Bottineau, ND



    DCB boasts a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, making this North Dakota community college an excellent choice for prospective students who want individualized instruction. The college offers AA, AS, and AAS degrees in diverse topics such as horticulture, photography, and human services. All transfer programs require 61 credits and take approximately two years to complete.

    Like other community colleges on this ranking, DCB hosts an honors program. Incoming degree-seekers with a minimum score of 21 on the ACT and at least a 3.25 high school GPA qualify. Honors students complete specialized coursework in anatomy, literature, and U.S. history, among other topics. The program's benefits include small class sizes and networking opportunities.

    DCB accepts applications throughout the year. In-state students save approximately 40% on tuition compared to out-of-state and international learners. Degree-seekers submit only one application to apply for over a dozen scholarship opportunities. Scholarships award up to $5,000 each semester and can renew if recipients maintain excellent grades.

Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in North Dakota

Are community colleges worth it?

Yes. Community colleges in North Dakota charge an average tuition of $4,270 for in-state students and $7,571 for out-of-state learners. Community colleges in North Dakota remain some of the most affordable online community colleges in the nation.

Remember to factor in other expenses when calculating your college budget, however. Textbooks, fees, technology costs, and transportation can all add up.

How many communit colleges are in North Dakota?

North Dakota is home to the following public community colleges:

  • Bismarck State College
  • Williston State College
  • Lake Region State College
  • North Dakota State College of Science
  • Dakota College at Bottineau

The state also has several tribal community colleges and private community colleges. If you're looking to transfer to a four-year college or university in North Dakota after finishing a two-year degree at a community college, you'll have several options to choose from, including University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and North Dakota State University in Fargo.

What is the cheapest college in North Dakota?

The cheapest public community college in North Dakota is Bismarck State College, with an in-state tuition rate of $4,730. However, be sure to check the most recent tuition costs at multiple schools throughout the state when making your decision, as tuition costs are frequently updated. You may also be able to find grants, scholarships, or other forms of financial aid to help cover your college costs.

Yes. Williston State College, one of the public community colleges in North Dakota, is located in Williston.

Full-time tuition for in-state learners at North Dakota State University (NDSU) is $4,476 per semester. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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