Attending an online college in Minnesota means you can take classes in the learning environment of your choice — whether you live in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area or up in the North Woods. And, by completing an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree program online, you can still work full- or part-time and take classes at times that are convenient for your schedule. You also don't have to worry about commuting to physical classrooms when the weather makes road conditions a challenge.

Here's a closer look at online colleges in Minnesota.

  • There are more than 70 schools in Minnesota that offer associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs online. Among the private nonprofit schools are a dozen faith-based colleges.
  • Associate degrees can be earned online at more than 50 of these Minnesota colleges, while online bachelor's degrees can be completed at 41; master's degrees can be earned at 32 Minnesota online colleges and universities.
  • The most online degree programs can be found at Rasmussen College-Minnesota, Walden University, and Capella University.
  • The University of Minnesota system has five campus locations throughout the state, each of which offers distance education programs.

MN Reconnect, a state educational initiative, is designed to assist students who are 25 years of age or older in returning to college. The program matches you with a navigator who can help with the reentry process and provide support along the way toward degree completion.

Read on to see what makes a good online college in Minnesota and what state-specific scholarships and grants may be available to help you pay for your degree program.

What Makes a Good Online College in Minnesota?

The team at OnlineColleges.com has compiled multiple rankings on the best online schools in Minnesota. Carefully selected criteria was used to select these schools, and the most important was accreditation. Each school listed on this page is accredited by an official accrediting body, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). To find out why accreditation is important, visit our page "What is College Accreditation?" In addition, check the Minnesota Department of Education to learn about accreditation specific to the state of Minnesota.

Our rankings are designed to help students decide which online college in Minnesota might be right for them. To help with this difficult decision, we provide data-based information on each school, addressing topics such as number of online programs offered, tuition rate and graduation rate. For details on why we believe these factors should be considered before selecting an online degree program in Minnesota, see the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page.

Best Online Colleges in Minnesota for 2019-20

There aren't 10,000 universities in Minnesota the way there are lakes, but it can feel like it sometimes when you're staring at a list of institutions, trying to decide which one might suit you best. To help you make your decision, try our list of the 10 best online colleges in Minnesota, right here. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and our own unique methodology (details at the bottom of this page), we found the following Minnesota institutions to be the 10 best for online learning in the entire state.

If you'd like to create your own ranking of online colleges, narrowed down by your own criteria, check out our Top Colleges Tool.

1

Rasmussen College-Minnesota

Tuition & Fees
$10,935
Distance Education Participation
94%
Number of Programs Offered
61
School Type
4-year

What is Rasmussen like?

Rasmussen College has eight campuses throughout Minnesota as well as an online campus. The school offers online degree programs focused on seven areas of study, including business, design, education, health sciences, justice studies, nursing and technology.

What online programs are at Rasmussen?

Rasmussen's claim to fame is their Flex Choice programs. Through Flex Choice, online students at Rasmussen can transfer credits, earn credit for what they already know, and move faster through competencies they already understand. These programs combine traditional coursework and credit for prior learning, online self-directed assessments, and competency-based education, helping students to complete their degree programs with less expenditure of time and money.

Online courses at Rasmussen are delivered in an asynchronous format.

What online resources does Rasmussen offer?

At Rasmussen, online students receive access to a program manager, who can assist them with applying for classes, financial aid and degree planning. In addition, they can enjoy the student portal, which is full of career resources that can help with resumes and cover letters, interviewing, portfolio creation, and networking. They can also check out articles on online learning, college life and career planning on the school's College Life blog.

2

Herzing University-Minneapolis

Tuition & Fees
$13,850
Distance Education Participation
48%
Number of Programs Offered
22
School Type
4-year

What is Herzing like?

Although Herzing University's Minnesota campus is based in St. Louis Park, the university also offers online degree programs. Herzing's online campus, which is known as the Everywhere Classroom, began in 2003 and focuses on online degree programs in healthcare, nursing and technology.

What online programs are at Herzing?

In regards to nursing, Herzing offers an RN-to-BSN program as well as an MSN program with specializations for family nurse practitioners, nursing administration and leadership, and nursing educators. Related certificate and degree programs in medical assisting, medical billing and medical coding are also available.

Online courses at Herzing are delivered in an asynchronous format.

What online resources does Herzing offer?

Online students at Herzing are assigned to an advisor who can assist with individualized support throughout their journey. Students can also benefit from test-out opportunities and receive access to 24/7 counseling and support services at no additional cost through Ulifeline, a website dedicated to college mental health.

3

Concordia University-St. Paul

Tuition & Fees
$21,750
Distance Education Participation
67%
Number of Programs Offered
53
School Type
4-year

What is Concordia like?

Founded in 1893 as a liberal arts university, Concordia University-St. Paul has a 42-acre campus in the heart of St. Paul. The school also offers online degree programs that are specifically designed to create flexible learning opportunities for working adults.

What online programs are at Concordia?

At Concordia, students can enroll in a B.A. degree program in exercise science, healthcare administration or sport management. M.A. degree programs in strategic communication management and special education are also offered.

Concordia delivers online classes asynchronously via the Blackboard learning environment.

What online resources does Concordia offer?

Online students who are transferring from another institution can benefit from the Concordia Colleague Advantage, a program that offers scholarships, academic advising, priority admission and more to transfer students.

In addition, Concordia's online students can receive research support by taking advantage of the 24/7 "chat with a librarian" feature on the library's website.

4

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Tuition & Fees
$14,417
Distance Education Participation
26%
Number of Programs Offered
34
School Type
4-year

What is UMN-Twin Cities like?

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities partners with University of Minnesota-Rochester to offer online degree programs and courses. The school offers:

  • Fully online courses, which can be completed entirely online
  • Primarily online courses, which are at least 80 percent online with a short, intensive on-campus requirement
  • Partially online courses, which require regular on-campus visits

What online programs are at UMN-Twin Cities?

Online programs at UMN-Twin Cities are delivered via the Canvas learning platform. Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in business administration, finance and K-12 technology integration are just a few of the options students can pursue.

Perhaps one of the most unique online degree programs available at UMN-Twin Cities is the online B.A. in tribal administration and governance. This program focuses on issues relating to sovereignty, tribal governance and federal law and policy as relates to Native Americans.

What online resources does UM offer?

GoldPass is the professional job, internship and volunteer database at UMN-Twin Cities, and it is available to online students. Online students can also enroll in online peer tutoring, which is offered on Sundays. Through the library's UMedia website, they can receive access to thousands of images, maps, manuscripts, video, and audio as well.

5

Bemidji State University

Tuition & Fees
$8,677
Distance Education Participation
42%
Number of Programs Offered
17
School Type
4-year

What is BSU like?

Bemidji State University was founded in 1919 as a preparatory institution for teachers on the shores of Lake Bemidji. Over time, the school has evolved to offer online degree programs through its Extended Learning department.

What online programs are at BSU?

Students who hold an associate degree or credits from another institution may enroll in an online bachelor's degree completion program at BSU, putting their previous credits to good use. While some of these programs are offered entirely online, others are delivered in a hybrid format. Potential majors include biology, elementary education, nursing and more.

Online students who are looking to complete their degree programs in an accelerated format may be interested to know that BSU has three summer sessions for courses, allowing students to complete multiple classes in a short span of time.

What online resources does BSU offer?

The A. C. Clark Library offers research assistance to online students via its chat service. Online students who are first generation college students, eligible for financial aid and/or have documented disabilities may be able to benefit from federal TRIO Student Support Services as well.

6

University of Minnesota-Crookston

Tuition & Fees
$11,814
Distance Education Participation
42%
Number of Programs Offered
16
School Type
4-year

What is UMC like?

University of Minnesota-Crookston is one of five campuses in the UM System and is known as "Laptop U" because of their Laptop Computer Program. Considering their ties to portable technology and computing, it's no surprise that UMC created the first online bachelor's degree program in the UM System.

What online programs are at UMC?

Students at UMC can earn an online bachelor's degree in a field of study like accounting, English or international business. Online minors and certificate programs in finance, agricultural business, taxation and more are also available. In addition, UMC partners with the University of North Dakota to offer an online MBA program.

Moodle is the course management system used for online courses at UMC.

What online resources does UMC offer?

Through UMC's Career Development Center, online students can participate in online workshops, which cover a variety of career-related topics such as resume writing, effective interviewing and networking. Students can also take advantage of online tutoring via Google Hangouts and request feedback for their written assignments via the Writing Center.

7

The College of Saint Scholastica

Tuition & Fees
$36,212
Distance Education Participation
38%
Number of Programs Offered
19
School Type
4-year

What is CSS like?

Founded in 1912 as a private college with Catholic Benedictine values, the College of Saint Scholastica has a campus in Duluth as well as an online campus that offers online bachelor's, master's, doctoral and certificate programs.

CSS has notably jumped up one spot from last year's ranking of the best online colleges in Minnesota, going from No.8 to No.7 on our list.

What online programs are at CSS?

Online degree programs at CSS can be completed entirely online and are offered in an accelerated format. The university offers asynchronous courses as well as synchronous virtual classrooms, which allow students to join faculty and other students via Zoom video conferencing.

There are multiple program options for online students to pursue at CSS. Students can earn an online MBA in rural healthcare or a graduate certificate in project management or literacy instruction, to name just a few possibilities.

What online resources does CSS offer?

At CSS, online students can work with a personal advisor to create an individual plan for progressing through their academic program. They can also access hireSAINTs, a website full of jobs and internships, and the Smarthinking online tutoring service, which offers 24/7 tutoring support.

8

Crown College

Tuition & Fees
$25,430
Distance Education Participation
61%
Number of Programs Offered
22
School Type
4-year

What is Crown like?

Crown College is a private Christian college with a campus in St. Bonifacius, a small town situated 30 miles west of Minneapolis. The school offers on-campus and online degree programs that focus on applying Christian perspectives to real world problems.

What online programs are at Crown?

Most online courses at Crown are delivered in an asynchronous format, and many of the available majors focus on Christianity in various contexts. Graduate and undergraduate students alike can pursue online degree programs in subjects such as Christian ministry, divinity, pastoral leadership, care ministries or ministry leadership.

For those looking to learn more secular skills, online degree programs in business, counseling, global leadership and more are also available. A handful of minors and certificate programs present further options for students to specialize their learning.

What online resources does Crown offer?

The Watne Memorial Library allows online students to search for e-books, e-videos and articles, as well as information in encyclopedias, dictionaries and guides. Online students can also participate in off-campus study programs in England, the Middle East, Northern Ireland or Israel.

9

Minnesota State University-Mankato

Tuition & Fees
$8,164
Distance Education Participation
39%
Number of Programs Offered
30
School Type
4-year

What is MSU-Mankato like?

When it was founded in 1868, Minnesota State University-Mankato had 27 students, all pursuing degrees in teaching. Time has seen the university flourish, expanding its range not only through its sprawling Mankato campus but through multiple online degree programs in various subjects.

What online programs are at MSU-Mankato?

Through the learning management system D2L Brightspace, MSU-Mankato distributes online learning in the form of degree completion programs, master's degree programs, licensure preparation programs, and a variety of graduate and undergraduate certificate programs.

Majors are primarily focused on education and teaching, though a few options in business and healthcare also make an appearance. A sprinkling of undergraduate minors in subjects such as aging studies, ethnic studies or urban studies create some specialization options for online students as well.

What online resources does MSU-Mankato offer?

The Writing, Speech & Languages Center offers online appointments through WebEx for online students who would like writing support with their papers. Online students can also utilize Handshake, a website that can connect them to job and internship opportunities.

10

University of Northwestern-St. Paul

Tuition & Fees
$30,794
Distance Education Participation
48%
Number of Programs Offered
9
School Type
4-year

What is UNW-St.Paul like?

In 1949, the University of Northwestern-St. Paul began its own Christian radio station. Over the next 70 years, this private evangelical Christian university has come to own and operate more than a dozen radio stations, which pair Christian music with preaching. The school's faith-filled airwaves are just one of the ways UNW-St.Paul helps online students feel connected to their school, even from miles away.

What online programs are at UNW-St.Paul?

The Online Learning Office at UNW-St.Paul offers online and hybrid degree programs as well as individual courses, both revolving around Christ and a Christian perspective. Online courses at UNW-St.Paul are delivered via the Moodle online learning platforms and UNW-St.Paul's online learning portal, which is called theROCK.

UNW-St.Paul students can pursue an online bachelor's degree program in general studies, business management or health psychology. There are also theological programs at various levels, including Biblical studies, divinity and theological studies.

What online resources does UNW-St.Paul offer?

Online students at UNW-St.Paul can receive tutoring services via the ALPHA Center. In addition, they can access online resources related to majors and career choices, resumes and cover letters, internships, grad school and more through the Career Development Center.

Affordable Online Colleges in Minnesota for 2019-20

Students interested in attending Minnesota schools may look at affordability as a key factor before applying. They also may want to know what kinds of programs affordable online colleges in Minnesota can offer, as well as the types of courses or degree programs that can be completed through a distance-based platform. In this section, prospective students, including veterans, single parents and career changers, will find 10 of the most affordable online schools in Minnesota, as well as details about their online programming.


Financial Aid Resources in Minnesota

For students who plan to attend college in their home state of Minnesota, there are a number of state-based financial aid programs that are designed to assist families. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education administers these programs and serves as a clearinghouse of information on all Minnesota financial aid opportunities. Savvy students can take advantage of the multiple state financial aid programs available to help offset the costs of college.

Below is a sampling of some of the financial aid programs that Minnesota offers to its college students.

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in Minnesota?

Grants and scholarships are a fantastic way to help reduce the cost of college, and students in Minnesota have ample opportunities to earn them. Whether it's for academic achievements, leadership skills, or ethnic affiliations, there could be scholarship support for Minnesota students. Here are a few examples:

1

Post-Secondary Child Care Grant

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$2,600
Application Deadline
July 1
Application Deadline
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be pursuing a non-sectarian program, meet state residency requirements, be in the first four years of a post-secondary education at a Minnesota private or public degree-granting institution or private non-profit vocational school (enrolled at least part-time), and must not be in a default on a student loan. MFIP cannot be received, eligible income guidelines must be met, and applicant must have a child 12 years or younger (or 14 or younger if disabled).

2

Minnesota Indian Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
N/A
Application Deadline
July 1
Application Deadline
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be a Minnesota resident attending an in-state college. Applicant must have at least one quarter American Indian ancestry. Financial need must be demonstrated by qualifying for either Federal Pell Grant or Minnesota State Grant.

3

Robert B. and Sophia Whiteside Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
N/A
Application Deadline
January 15
Application Deadline
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be a high school senior at a Duluth public/private high school who is in the top tenth of their graduating class.

4

Public Safety Officers Survivor Grant

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$10,488
Application Deadline
Open
Application Deadline
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be the dependent child under age 23 (or under age 30 for those honorably discharged from active duty or released to a reserve or National Guard unit) or the surviving spouse of a public safety officer who was killed in the line of duty on or after January 1, 1973. Applicant must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, meet state residency requirements, be enrolled at least half time, be in the first five years of a post-secondary education, and must not be in default on a student loan.

Learn more about how grants can help you finance your college education in our Ultimate Guide to Grants. For more information on scholarships instead, see our Ultimate Guide to Scholarships.

Student Loans in Minnesota

Although most student loans come from the federal government, some states like Minnesota also have loan programs that are specific to students who attend college in that state. Many times, these additional loans help families bridge the gap between their financial aid offers and the total cost of attendance.

Eligible students include Minnesota residents attending an in-state or out-of-state postsecondary institution, as well as non-residents attending eligible postsecondary institutions in Minnesota. SELF Loans are not subsidized by the federal or state government, and they require a co-signer.

  • Application deadline:  Must file the FAFSA (priority deadline is February 1)
  • Award amount:  Up to $20,000 per year

For more about how student loans affect the college financial aid process, read the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in Minnesota

Costs for Out-of-State Students in Minnesota

If you are thinking about heading to Minnesota for college, you may want to have a look at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education's list of school-specific scholarships that are available to students regardless of their residency or immigration status.

According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, neighboring Wisconsin and North Dakota are the most popular states for students who come to Minnesota to pursue their undergraduate studies. In fact, for the 2017 fall semester, a total of 13,433 students from Wisconsin enrolled at a Minnesota institution. This may very well be because Minnesota universities offer reciprocity for students who graduated high school in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Manitoba. In 2017, more than 5,000 students took advantage of this opportunity.

For students from non-reciprocity states, the University of Minnesota offers National Scholarships to help offset the cost of out-of-state tuition, which you can apply for with one single FAFSA application that due November 1 each year. For more insight, talk to an adviser or registrar to make your out-of-state educational experience worthwhile.

Minneapolis-St Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area

Total Population
3,526,149
Median salary for high school grads
$33,227
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$57,711
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
25.9%
Median rent
$1,001

The City of St. Paul calls its city the "Most Livable City in America," thanks to its local economy and cultural vitality. It is also home to several Fortune 500 company headquarters, not to mention a number of historical and cultural landmarks. In 2016, Forbes Magazine ranked the area among its best places for business and careers, as well as ranking it 21st for best in education.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Marketing ManagersBachelor's degree$142,4507,400
Information Security AnalystsBachelor's degree$97,2102,480
Financial ManagersBachelor's degree$141,09012,450
Sales ManagersBachelor's degree$138,7808,800
Nurse AnesthetistsMaster's degree$183,0301,440

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Duluth, MN-WI Metro Area

Total Population
279,205
Median salary for high school grads
$29,794
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$46,314
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
35.6%
Median rent
$732

Duluth is situated on Lake Superior, which is the largest freshwater lake in the world. Duluth runs along the lake's shoreline for more than 27 miles, according to the Duluth Economic Development Authority. The city has 11,000 acres of green space, 129 parks and 150 miles of unpaved hiking trails. To top it off, many of its restaurants, parks and museums are accessible by an extensive, climate-controlled skywalk downtown.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Wind Turbine Service TechniciansSome college, no degreeN/AN/A
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degree$95,520540
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$116,640320
PharmacistsDoctoral or professional degree$142,340340
Family and General PractitionersDoctoral or professional degree$227,310130

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Rochester, MN Metro Area

Total Population
214,485
Median salary for high school grads
$31,354
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$55,557
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
22.1%
Median rent
$835

Rochester is a Midwestern mecca of arts and culture thanks to its Rochester Art Center, the Rochester Symphony, Chateau Theater and more. Perhaps Rochester's best known legacy, however, is its world-famous Mayo Clinic, which not only trains and supports surgeons and physicians from all across the world, but contributes thousands of dollars each year to medical research.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$142,640N/A
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degreeN/AN/A
Registered NursesBachelor's degree$75,760N/A
Nurse AnesthetistsMaster's degreeN/AN/A
Computer and Information Systems ManagersBachelor's degreeN/AN/A

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

 
Sources
Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:

  • Level of institution is either "Four or more years" or "At least 2 but less than 4 years"
  • Data is reported for all 11 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
  • At least 1 percent of students are taking at least some of the classes via distance education
  • "Number of programs offered via distance education" was an integer greater than 0

We ranked the resulting 1,813 colleges on 11 criteria, using provisional 2017-18 data from IPEDS:

  1. Number of programs offered via distance education
  2. Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  5. Graduation rate
  6. Retention rate
  7. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
  8. Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
  9. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  10. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  11. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

NOTE: Schools' tuition amounts are based on 2017-18 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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