In Minnesota, students can choose from a number of colleges and universities. These options include two-year colleges, four-year universities and technical schools. There are also a number of institutions in Minnesota that offer online degrees.
One of the largest higher education systems in the state is Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Within the system, there are seven universities and 30 colleges. Some of these schools are two-year institutions while others offer four-year degrees. Several have a flagship campus as well as satellite locations. The other main public university system is the state is the University of Minnesota which includes five institutions.
Students who choose to start their education at a community college within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities may be able to easily transfer their credits toward a bachelor's degree. That's thanks to articulation agreements between the member schools within the state system. However, even those who decide to continue their education outside the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities may find their credits are accepted by the University of Minnesota, private institutions or one of the online colleges for Minnesota.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Minnesota
In order to figure out which Minnesota schools are the best, we gathered data on tuition cost, financial aid, schedule flexibility, student success and more and ran it all through our multi-point analysis system. Tap the methodology button to see how we calculated the rankings, and take a look at our list of the ten top colleges and universities in Minnesota. When you're done, take a look at the best community colleges in Minnesota for more insight into education in the state.
The University of Minnesota's flagship campus in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul is one of the largest universities by enrollment in the country. The student body numbers more than 47,000, with roughly 31,500 undergraduates and around 16,000 graduate and professional school students.
Students who choose the University of Minnesota Twin Cities should have no trouble finding a degree that fits their career goals. Undergraduates have 170+ majors to choose from, and those who have already earned a bachelor's degree can apply to more than 200 graduate and professional programs.
U of M is also one of the best colleges and universities in Minnesota for online courses and degrees. More than 60 distance education programs are available for undergrads, graduates and professionals, including nearly 20 bachelor's degrees and a dozen master's degrees.
Bethel University is the largest member of the Christian College Consortium and one of the five largest institutions in the 106-member Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The approximately 6,000 students enrolled here have plenty of elbow room -- the Bethel campus in Arden Hills stretches across nearly 250 acres.
This private, evangelical Christian institution has placed a high priority on its Christian faith and identity since its founding in 1871. The core curriculum includes segments on Christian theology, Christian history and the Bible, and worship services are held four days a week.
Degree plans here run the gamut, from an associate degree program in general studies on up to a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in educational leadership. The Seminary at Bethel offers numerous graduate programs and provides evening and online flexibility options.
This Benedictine Catholic institution is one of the fastest growing Minnesota colleges, having nearly doubled its enrollment between 2007 and 2017. It's still a relatively small school, educating roughly 4,000 students annually, but its commitment to flexible degree programs means it's likely to continue growing in the years to come.
The College of St. Scholastica maintains satellite campuses in seven Minnesota locations -- St. Paul, Rochester, Austin, St. Cloud, Cloquet, Brainerd and Inver Grove Heights -- and provides a range of evening and weekend courses for campus-based students who need them. It's also one of the top online schools in Minnesota, offering pathways to nearly 30 online degrees and certificates.
The city of Duluth has a lot to offer prospective college students. Beaches, nature trails, ski resorts, skating rinks, museums and more complement the area's low crime rate and scenic lakeside views.
Hamline University is a private liberal arts college that holds a unique distinction among Minnesota universities. No other institution in the state has been operating in a post-secondary capacity longer than Hamline, which was founded as a university in 1854. Some other Minnesota schools have been around as long, but most were prep schools or teachers' colleges at their outset.
The student-faculty ratio at Hamline is 12:1, which is around 25 percent better than the national average and indicates that students who want individualized help from professors should be able to find it. Enrollment is relatively low here, with just over 2,000 undergraduate students counted in 2017.
Real-world experience is a big part of the educational mission at this St. Paul school. Every single student participates in internship, research, field work, apprentice teaching or service learning projects.
Minnesota State University, Mankato is a long-standing public institution and member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2018, the school prides itself on preparing graduates to apply the lessons of their education in the world beyond the academy walls.
From a total student body size of just 27 pupils at its founding in 1868, Minnesota State Mankato has grown into an institution that educates more than 15,000 students each year and boasts an international student population from more than 90 countries. More than 200 degree programs are available for undergraduates and grad students.
Minnesota State Mankato may also be one of the best schools in Minnesota for online degree programs, particularly if you already have an associate degree. Bachelor's completion programs in international business, technical communication and more are available alongside more than a dozen online graduate degrees.
More than 75 areas of undergraduate study are available at this campus in the Twin Cities suburbs of Roseville and Arden Hills. Average undergraduate class size here is 22, so chances are good that you'll be able to avoid spending too much time in massive lecture classes.
Financial aid availability can be a big draw for students, and the University of Northwestern - St. Paul has got some encouraging numbers in that department. Some type of financial aid was awarded to 100 percent of traditional undergraduates, with first-year students taking in an average of around $22,000 in gifts and loans.
Students looking to turn their passion for ministry into a broadcasting career have an extra reason to consider earning their degrees at Northwestern. The university runs 15 listener-supported Christian radio stations in eight different cities across the Midwest.
Winona State University is the oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. The school was founded in 1858 and has since grown to encompass three campuses: the main campus in Winona, a secondary West Campus down the road from the flagship and a satellite location in Rochester.
Degrees at WSU come from five academic colleges, including one devoted exclusively to nursing and health sciences. The total of more than 90 Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs features 20+ concentrations in teacher education.
With a population of right around 27,000 people, the city of Winona is a great size for a college town. What's more, Winona residents are never far from Minnesota wine country, and outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy canoeing, hiking, skiing, rock climbing, snowshoeing and more.
Located in northern Minnesota by the shores of Lake Superior, the University of Minnesota Duluth offers more than 90 bachelor's degree plans and 25 graduate programs. As a regional university, most of its student body of more than 11,000 students is composed of Minnesota residents.
UMD was founded in 1895 and joined the University of Minnesota System in 1947, one year before its current campus was built. It's also one of the top online colleges in Minnesota -- distance education students have access to the 60+ online degree programs offered by the U of M System.
If you're looking to dive into the intersecting worlds of commerce and environmental awareness, UMD can help you get started. The university's Natural Resources Research Institute provides avenues to understanding the complex task of balancing resource ecology with economic potential.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is one of just six Catholic institutions in the U.S. to be modeled on the educational tradition of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, patron saint of teachers. The Lasallian approach focuses on the liberal arts and other largely secular subjects of study, but two courses on subjects of Christian/Catholic faith are required in the university's core curriculum.
Total enrollment at this private institution came to just under 6,000 students in 2017, with the majority of students -- around 4,800 -- pursuing graduate and professional degrees. The student-faculty ratio for undergraduate programs is 13:1.
The flagship campus of Saint Mary's makes its home in Winona, about a hundred miles downriver from the Twin Cities. Other campus locations operate in Minneapolis and Rochester, and nearly 15 accredited online degrees are available for distance education students.
The largest student body among private Minnesota universities can be found at this St. Paul school. Roughly 10,000 students pursue degree programs from the eight academic colleges and schools at the University of St. Thomas.
Undergraduates here can choose from a catalog of more than 90 majors and 60 minors. Prospective graduate students can check out 60+ graduate programs in a dozen subject areas, including cutting-edge certificates in medical device development and artificial intelligence.
If you're worried about struggling through your post-college job search with a mass of student debt, St. Thomas reported a few statistics that might help set you at ease. Scholarships and other merit-based aid awards are awarded to more than 95 percent of students who are working on their degree programs, and around 93 percent of graduates either find jobs or enter grad school within six months of finishing their degrees.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Minnesota
Curious what other Minnesota students are studying? Here's a look at the most popular on-campus and online Minnesota degrees.
In-Demand Careers in Minnesota
A degree is only as good as the job it can get you. While there are no guarantees, these careers are expected to see the most growth and demand in Minnesota in the coming years.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Wind Turbine Service Technicians||100.4%||500||$59,320|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||30.7%||103,830||$28,320|
|Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists||26.2%||510||$80,840|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||26.1%||430||$67,090|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||24.9%||210||$126,150|
|Hazardous Materials Removal Workers||24.5%||590||$51,680|
|Information Security Analysts||23.8%||2,230||$102,190|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||23.8%||30,520||$104,770|
|Operations Research Analysts||22.4%||2,680||$91,820|
|Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas; and Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, and Blasters||22.3%||500||$55,100|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||22.3%||3,000||$38,980|
|Agricultural Workers, All Other||22%||-||$38,120|
|Therapists, All Other||21.8%||200||$69,140|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||20.8%||3,920||$115,460|
|Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners||20.7%||690||$49,390|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||20.5%||1,190||$81,130|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers||20.2%||1,170||$64,510|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||20.1%||15,120||$76,010|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||19.9%||1,380||$61,240|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Minnesota
Minnesota residents may be eligible for financial aid beyond what's offered by the federal government. State programs include Minnesota State Grants, Postsecondary Child Care Grants, Minnesota GI Bill and the Minnesota Indian Scholarship. The state also maintains a work-study program and offers student loans for those who have exhausted their federal loans or do not qualify for need-based financial aid.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Reapplication is required for renewal for each academic term.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
February 1 (admitted deadline); February 15 (scholarship application deadline)
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
- University of Minnesota System
- Minnesota Office of Higher Education
- Minnesota Private College Council
- Minnesota Transfer
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,383 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified. In order to be included in the ranking, schools had to report data for each of the following data points:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered on campus, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan
Note:Tuition prices are based on data for the 2016-17 academic year reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
All of the National Center for Education Statistics data came from IPEDS:
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed April 23-24, 2018: About Us, University of Minnesota, https://twin-cities.umn.edu/about-us; Facts and Figures, University of Minnesota, https://twin-cities.umn.edu/sites/twin-cities.umn.edu/files/factsfigures-list9.pdf; Academics, University of Minnesota, https://twin-cities.umn.edu/academics; Online Degrees & Certificates, University of Minnesota, https://online.umn.edu/degrees-certificates; About, Bethel University, https://www.bethel.edu/about/; Bethel at a Glance, Bethel University, https://www.bethel.edu/about/bethel-glance/; Campus Ministries, Bethel University, https://www.bethel.edu/undergrad/campus-ministries/; Faith at Bethel, Bethel University, https://www.bethel.edu/about/faith/; About, The College of St. Scholastica, http://www.css.edu/about.html; Main Campus in Duluth, MN, The College of St. Scholastica, http://www.css.edu/locations/duluth-main-campus.html; Fast Facts, The College of St. Scholastica, http://www.css.edu/about/fast-facts.html; About Duluth, The College of St. Scholastica, http://www.css.edu/about/about-duluth.html; Extended Campus, The College of St. Scholastica, http://css.edu/undergraduate/extended-campus.html; Find your program, The College of St. Scholastica, https://www2.css.edu/app/depts/academics/programFinder/index.cfm?Online=yes; About, Hamline University, https://www.hamline.edu/about/; History, Hamline University, https://www.hamline.edu/about/history.html; Fast Facts, Hamline University, https://www.hamline.edu/about/fastfacts.html; History, University of Minnesota, https://r.umn.edu/node/511; Fast Facts, Minnesota State University, Mankato, https://mankato.mnsu.edu/about-the-university/fast-facts/; Online Program Options, Minnesota State University, Mankato, http://www.mnsu.edu/ext/programs.html; About Us, University of Northwestern - St. Paul, https://unwsp.edu/about-us; At a Glance, University of Northwestern - St. Paul, https://unwsp.edu/about-us/at-a-glance; WSU Maps, Winona State University, https://www.winona.edu/maps.asp; Academic Programs, Winona State University, https://www.winona.edu/admissions/programs.asp; Winona City Map, Winona State University, https://www.winona.edu/Images/WinonaCityMap2010.pdf; UMD Facts, University of Minnesota Duluth, http://d.umn.edu/about-umd/umd-facts; Colleges and Schools, University of Minnesota Duluth, http://d.umn.edu/colleges-schools/; Majors & Minors, University of Minnesota Duluth, http://www.d.umn.edu/majors-minors/; About, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, http://www.smumn.edu/about; Quick Facts, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, http://www.smumn.edu/about/quick-facts; History and Heritage, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, http://www.smumn.edu/about/history-heritage; Learning in the Lasallian Tradition: Academic Curriculum, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, http://catalog.smumn.edu/content.php?catoid=22&navoid=1207; Online Programs, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, http://www.smumn.edu/academics/online-programs; History, University of St. Thomas, https://www.stthomas.edu/aboutust/history/; About St. Thomas, University of St. Thomas, https://www.stthomas.edu/aboutust/; Quick Facts, University of St. Thomas, https://www.stthomas.edu/aboutust/quickfacts/; Undergraduate Financial Aid, University of St. Thomas, https://www.stthomas.edu/financialaid/undergraduate/; Program Finder, Graduate Admissions, University of St. Thomas, https://www.stthomas.edu/admissions/graduate/programfinder/;
- 21 Liberal Arts Colleges With the Lowest Student-Faculty Ratios, U.S. News and World Report, Jordan Friedman, April 19, 2016, accessed April 24, 2018, https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/2016-04-19/21-liberal-arts-colleges-with-the-lowest-student-faculty-ratios
- Winona, Minnesota, QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed April 24, 2018, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/winonacityminnesota,winonacountyminnesota/PST045216
- Visit Winona, accessed April 24, 2018: Winona Outdoors, https://visitwinona.com/things-to-do/outdoor-recreation/?doing_wp_cron=1524598746.9286770820617675781250; Local Wine, https://visitwinona.com/things-to-do/winonas-wine-country/?doing_wp_cron=1524598917.3236310482025146484375
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Campuses, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Accessed May 2017, http://www.mnscu.edu/colleges/campuses.html
- Student FAQs, Minnesota Transfer, Accessed May 2017, http://www.mntransfer.org/students/basics/s_faq.php
- Aid from State Sources, Minnesota Office of Higher Education, Accessed May 2017, https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/mPg.cfm?PageID=222