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% 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 2016-17 data from IPEDS:
- Number of programs offered via distance education
- Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
- Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
- Graduation rate
- Retention rate
- The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
- Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
- Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- 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.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Bismarck State College, http://energy.bismarckstate.edu/programs/enrg/
- Bismarck State College people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bismarck_State_College
- Cankdeska Cikana Community College, http://www.littlehoop.edu/content/index.php/about
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?
- Dakota College at Bottineau people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakota_College_at_Bottineau#Notable_alumni
- Lake Region State College, http://www.lrsc.edu/academics/lrsc-online-campus
- Dakota College At Bottineau, http://www.dakotacollege.edu/online/online-programs-classes/online-associate-degree-programs/
- Mayville State University, http://www.mayvillestate.edu/msu-online/msu-online/programs/
- Dickinson State University people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dickinson_State_University#Notable_alumn
- Minot State University people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minot,_North_Dakota
- North Dakota State College of Science, https://www.ndscs.edu/academics/things-to-know-academics/academic-clusters-departments/#location:Online|view:all
- Rasmussen College, http://www.rasmussen.edu/locations/online-campus/degrees/
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ga.htm
- U S. Census Bureau, The America Community Survey, http://www.census.gov/acs/www/
- U.S. Census Bureau, American Fact Finder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_S1501&prodType=table
- University of North Dakota people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_University_of_North_Dakota_people
- Valley City State University people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_City_State_University#Notable_alumni
- North Dakota University System - North Dakota Grants & Scholarships, Accessed April 2017, http://www.ndus.nodak.edu/students/paying-for-college/grants-scholarships/
- United Tribes Technical College, accessed April 25, 2018, http://www.uttc.edu/
- North Dakota State College of Science, accessed April 25, 2018, https://www.ndscs.edu/
Since North Dakota is mostly rural with long distances between cities, attending an online college in the state may make sense for you. It can give you the chance to earn an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree online at your home or any other convenient location. You can select from more than a dozen online colleges in North Dakota. Here's an overview of available options:
- Of the 16 online colleges in North Dakota, 11 are public and 5 are private, including two faith-based colleges and one tribal college.
- Online associate and bachelor's degree programs are available at 12 colleges, while master's degrees can be earned at 7 of them.
- Rasmussen College-North Dakota has the most online degree programs available, and across the North Dakota University System (NDUS), more than 1,000 courses are available online.
- Students who choose an online college in North Dakota can choose from a plethora of majors such as business management, accounting, marketing, early childhood education, nursing, and human services.
If you've already earned some college credits either in North Dakota or in another state and you're looking to go back to school, a number of state initiatives in North Dakota can help you transfer those credits.
To find the 10 best online colleges in North Dakota and see why we think those colleges are top-notch choices, keep reading. Scroll down to also learn more about financial aid options that may be available, such as North Dakota-specific grants and scholarships.
Best Online Colleges in North Dakota for 2018-19
If you're curious about online learning in the state of North Dakota, your best first step is researching programs and schools. To help with your search, we used data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to see how the online colleges of North Dakota stack up to one another, looking at factors such as accessibility, graduation rate and net cost. The unique methodology we used for this ranking can also help you make your own rankings with our Top Colleges Tool; for more details on that methodology, see the bottom of this page.
University of Mary
Valley City State University
University of North Dakota
Mayville State University
Minot State University
Dickinson State University
Lake Region State College
North Dakota State University-Main Campus
United Tribes Technical College
North Dakota State College of Science
Affordable Online Colleges in North Dakota for 2018-19
The following list describes schools in North Dakota that offer online degrees at the lowest tuition costs -- a factor that is important to prospective students. The tuition data cited is what the schools reported to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a branch of the National Center for Education Statistics. To see how schools in North Dakota ranked on a variety of other factors, visit the Top Colleges tool.
- School Type - 2 Years
- School Type - 4 Years
COLLEGE NAME TUITION & FEES/YEARTuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. DISTANCE EDUCATION PARTICIPATIONDistance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. NUMBER OF ONLINE PROGRAMS OFFEREDNumber of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.. SCHOOL TYPE Lake Region State College $4,203 88% 5 2-year Dakota College at Bottineau $4,281 72% 23 2-year North Dakota State College of Science $4,697 64% 10 2-year Williston State College $5,027 83% 6 2-year COLLEGE NAME TUITION & FEES/YEARTuition and fees per year refers to the average in-state tuition and required fees for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. DISTANCE EDUCATION PARTICIPATIONDistance Education Participation refers to the percentage of students taking either some or all of the courses via distance education, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. NUMBER OF ONLINE PROGRAMS OFFEREDNumber of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.. SCHOOL TYPE Turtle Mountain Community College $2,250 33% 4 4-year Bismarck State College $3,659 61% 36 4-year United Tribes Technical College $5,757 100% 7 4-year Mayville State University $6,254 59% 12 4-year Dickinson State University $6,348 44% 24 4-year
College Accreditation in North Dakota
Colleges in North Dakota don't have to be accredited, but many reputable schools choose to do so. Accreditation demonstrates the quality of a college or university and also makes it possible for students to receive federal financial aid.
However, not all accreditations may be created equal. The state's regional accrediting body is:
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Other national accreditations from organizations such as the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing are also well-respected. Ultimately, students should make sure any accreditation listed is recognized and legitimate. Check the Council on Higher Education Accreditation website for a complete list of accrediting agencies.
Financial Aid Resources in North Dakota
North Dakota Loans
North Dakota does not provide any state-based education loans, preferring to focus their efforts on offering a multitude of scholarships and grants instead. There are, however, two state programs that can help to reduce loan indebtedness for college graduates who work in teaching or STEM-related fields identified as having shortages. You should look into any and all scholarship and grant opportunities for which you are eligible, and pursue federal or private loans as a secondary source of funding. If you do seek federal financial assistance for your degree, keep in mind that you will need to fill out the FAFSA with details about your family's financial situation in order to apply. Private lenders have their own application process.
Learn more about student loans in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.
Additional Resources for Financial Aid in North Dakota
- North Dakota University System details all of North Dakota's state-based scholarships and grants, as well as the state's loan forgiveness programs and information on possible tuition and fee reductions for applicable students.
Costs for Out-of-State Students in North Dakota
North Dakota is a member of the 16-state Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), through which out-of-state students pay no more than 150 percent of in-state tuition at participating intuitions. For instance, if you are from California -- a state with a generally high cost of living -- looking to attend school in the Midwest, this could be a great program to take advantage of.
Several North Dakota universities have a variety of special programs available to make more affordable tuition fees a reality for out-of-state students. For instance, the University of North Dakota offers the following:
- Reciprocity with Minnesota to be eligible for a special rate that's lower than the normal out-of-state rate
- Midwest Student Exchange Program (for residents of Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin)
- Contiguous residency for students from several Canadian provinces
If you want to become a resident, North Dakota certainly won't make it difficult for you, especially the University of North Dakota, which only requires you to reside in the state 30 days prior to the first class day of the semester. Talk to you admissions counselor about the many ways you can get resident tuition or almost-resident tuition at North Dakota universities.
Featured Cities in North Dakota
Data for these featured metropolitan areas is sourced from the 2015 American Community Survey (census.gov).
Fargo, ND-MN Metro Area
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
The city of Fargo boasts several cultural benefits as a location, thanks in part to the three universities located in the city. The Plains Art Museum in Fargo is the largest museum in the state, and there is an opera and orchestra in the city as well. Fargo is also known for its long, snowy winters and warm, thunderstorm-punctuated summers.
Bismarck, ND Metro Area
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Bismarck is the state capital of North Dakota, and is the seventh fastest-growing small city in the country. The state capitol is the tallest building in North Dakota, and there are five colleges and a university located there. Despite the long, cold winters, outdoor recreation is popular here; the parks system is extensive and includes many miles of exercise trails.