Helpful Resources to Choose an Online College in Minnesota
The state of Minnesota is well-known for having an educated population—only one other state has more adults who have earned at least an associate degree in college. But more students in the state are waiting to earn their college education until later in life, in favor of working straight out of high school. For students who are ready to go back and earn their college degree in Minnesota, online programs offer flexibility to learn while also working and taking care of family commitments. This page provides helpful resources and answers commonly asked questions about online college costs in Minnesota, helps students sort through transfer credit confusion and see how much they could make by earning a college degree.
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:
Must be a not-for-profit institution
Must be regionally or nationally accredited
Must offer at least one online program1
Must be located in a state (schools in US territories and Washington DC were not considered)
Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.
Some of our nursing program rankings used exam pass rates from NCLEX
How to Read Our Rankings Tool:
A dash indicates IPEDS data was not available
Annual in-state tuition is displayed unless stated otherwise
1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
Minnesota is home to over 200 colleges and universities. As of 2016, there were over 250,000 students enrolled in the state’s public colleges plus 170,000 more enrolled in private colleges. While many Minnesota students choose to attend college close to their hometown, online learning makes physical distance less of an issue, opening up new opportunities for students in rural areas to earn the same, high-quality education as their peers in larger cities. Check out our list of the Best Online Colleges in Minnesota for insight on which campuses are providing the best mix of quality online curriculum and student support.
How can I find which online colleges offer the degree I’m looking for in Minnesota?
According to a 2016 report from the International Postsecondary Education Data System, the most common online bachelor’s degrees offered in Minnesota include: Business administration and management, healthcare administration/management, accounting and criminal justice. Students can look at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education to find a complete list of online colleges located in Minnesota including location information.
Bigger schools in Minnesota will typically offer a larger range of degree plans online, such as the University of Minnesota Online. Students interested in pursuing an online degree might also try investigating Distance Minnesota, a group of four colleges that offer a shared course catalogue and ongoing support for students.
Which online schools in Minnesota will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?
Some students may come to school with some college credits under their belt, wondering whether they will be able to transfer their prior work into a new degree program. Every college lists its own unique policies concerning which sorts of credits will transfer, and students should connect with the registrar’s office to determine whether their credits qualify. Minnesota offers a helpful resource called Minnesota Transfer, a statewide guide that helps students determine who accepts transfer credits.
If students possess military experience, they should check out the Veterans Education Transfer System (VETS), which allows some former and active service members to qualify their military training as transfer credit. Some universities also convert work experience into credits, such as Walden University, where certifications such as certified public accountant, board certified teachers, and IT certifications translate to credit.
When in doubt, contact the admissions office at your school of choice.
How Much More Do College Grads in Minnesota Make?
In Minnesota, salaries increase with jobs that have higher minimum degree requirements. Those working jobs that required a minimum of a doctoral degree earn significantly more than their neighbors who working in positions that require an associate-level degree. For average wages at all degree levels in Minnesota, see below.
The Minnesota Employment and Economic Division projects an increase of 8 percent in total jobs between 2014 and 2024. The department has also released a helpful tool for students known as the Graduate Employment Outcomes tool, which offers economic information for how recent graduates perform in the Minnesota job market. This shows two-thirds of Minnesota’s college graduates found employment a year after graduation.
College Education & Career Trends in Minnesota
Some of the fastest-growing careers in Minnesota requiring a bachelor’s degree include jobs in the information technology, software, mental health and engineering fields. These industries are projected to grow faster than the national average of 5 to 7 percent and are expected to see growth in the state between 5 and 20 percent annually.
The fastest growing industry in Minnesota by far is in software development, which has a projected growth of 23 percent annually.
The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Minnesota
Online learning enjoyed an enormous growth spurt from 2003 to 2010 and it shows no signs of slowing. Students now consider online education equal to on-campus education, and for good reason: more online colleges are accredited than ever before. Accreditation serves as a school’s way of demonstrating that they offer quality education that meets high standards, all approved by an independent, non-government agency.
Paying for Online College in Minnesota: Tuition & Financial Aid
Costs are a big concern for any student going back to school, but students who want to try online education in Minnesota are uniquely positioned to take advantage of specific programs designed to help students better afford college.
Minnesota serves as one of 12 member states which participate in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, which entitles Minnesota students to tuition reciprocity discounts with other member states.
In 2013, the Minnesota state legislature prevented significant education budget cuts and froze tuition raises for a time. Also in 2013, the state legislature passed the Minnesota Dream Act, enabling undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition and financial aid.
Students can find more financial aid tools and resources on the Minnesota Office of Higher Education website. Continue reading to get answers to a few more frequently asked questions about paying for online colleges in Minnesota:
What are Minnesota’s requirements to qualify for in-state university tuition?
To qualify for in-state tuition, students in Minnesota must demonstrate seriousness about living in the state. Requirements include:
Living in the state for a year prior to enrolling in school
Receiving a GED after living in the state for a year
Serving as a member (or spouse or dependent) of active military stationed in Minnesota
Is a spouse or dependent of a Minnesota veteran
Relocated to Minnesota or is a refugee from a disaster area who has lived in Minnesota for a year
Is a dependent of a Minnesota resident who has resided in the state for a year or more
Is eligible for the Minnesota Dream Act
Most importantly: Online students in Minnesota should look at the requirements for online degree programs to see if a student must live in the state to receive in-state tuition for online programs.
Are online credits more affordable in Minnesota than other places?
The difference in cost between online and on-campus programs differs from college to college in Minnesota. But many colleges offer tuition reductions for a variety of reasons, so it is always valuable to check with each institution individually. Here are some variations in online credit structures in the state.
Flat Online Cost Per Credit: St. Catherine University offers a flat online cost per credit rate that does not vary based on in-state residency or type of degree plan.
Online Cost Per Credit, In-State vs. Out-of-State: At the University of Minnesota, students are charged a varying per-credit rate based on residency. Additionally, students taking more than 13 credit hours per semester are only charged for 13 hours worth of coursework—an incentive for students to put overtime into their class schedules to save money.
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education’s webpage also offers a place to look for financial aid. It gives a detailed list of grants and scholarships tailored to Minnesota students offered by the state. Some grants and scholarships specifically for Minnesota students include:
Minnesota State Grant: These grants from the state go to low-income students struggling to pay for college. Students can determine if they qualify by filling out the FAFSA. Eligible institutions include state universities, public community and technical colleges, schools of nursing and related health professions, private colleges, and private career institutions.
Public Safety Officer’s Survivor Grant: This grant caters to dependent children and the surviving spouse of a public safety officer killed in the line of duty on or after January 1, 1973. Applicants must have been enrolled in an undergraduate degree or certificate program after June 30, 2011 at an eligible Minnesota institution that participates in the State Grant Program. The fee maximums reach $14,488 for students in a 4-year undergraduate or graduate program and $5,790 for students in a 2-year program.
Minnesota Teacher Candidate Grant: This grant provides postsecondary, one-term financial assistance to eligible students enrolled in Minnesota teacher preparation programs. On a funds-available basis, selected undergraduate and graduate students may receive awards of up to $7,500. To qualify, students must enroll in an eligible Minnesota college or university teacher preparation program that requires a minimum of 12 weeks of student teaching. They must also intend to teach in an identified licensed field and demonstrate financial need.
Minnesota Academic Excellence Scholarship: This scholarship caters to students who demonstrate outstanding ability, achievement and potential in: English or creative writing, fine arts, a foreign language, math, science or social science.
Especially for students who have put their college career on hold after high school, adult education programs can be the first step back to earning a college degree. In Minnesota, this means everything from basic refresher courses in math, English and writing to high school equivalency training and English as a Second Language programs. The U.S. Department of Education tracks measurable skill gains in adult education students. In 2016 to 2017, of nearly 39,000 students taking these courses statewide, nearly 40 percent saw measurable skill gains.
Adult Education programs can help Minnesota students:
Bridging the transition to earning a college degree. The Minnesota Department of Education has information on adult basic education and GED programs that can help adult learners obtain their GED and get into online college.
Transferring to a 4-year college. Minnesota State offers information to students that help students transition from a community college to a 4-year college. This program is known as the Transfer Pathways program.
Earning work experience after graduation. The Minnesota Works! program helps many recent college grads obtain the right work experience they need to move into more competitive jobs after obtaining their degree.
Continuing education and professional development. After earning a college degree, adult and continuing education programs provide opportunities to earn additional certifications and learn new industry and business skills.