When it comes to higher education in North Dakota, students have a number of two-year and four-year institutions from which to choose. The North Dakota University System includes two research universities, four regional universities and five community colleges. Plus, there are private schools as well as online colleges for North Dakota.
Some of these schools — such as North Dakota State University — have a main campus and smaller satellite locations across the state. Other colleges are contained on a single campus. As for online North Dakota degrees, those are offered by fully online schools as well as traditional institutions with distance education divisions.
Thanks to articulation agreements, students who would like to start their education at a community college can often easily transfer credits to a four-year school. While the specifics of which credits will transfer can depend on the university, there are statewide agreements within the schools of the North Dakota University System for the fields of agriculture, nursing and early education.
Best 4-Year Colleges in North Dakota
To find the best colleges in North Dakota, we started by looking at accredited institutions in the state. Then, we analyzed them for factors such as graduation rates, degree programs and whether flexible scheduling options, such as online courses, were available. According to our calculations, this is how North Dakota colleges rank. When you're done here, check out the top North Dakota community colleges, too.
Located in Fargo, the main campus of North Dakota State University gets high marks for affordability, flexibility and a diverse degree catalog. As one of the top colleges in North Dakota, the school strives to create a student-focused learning environment with a number of support services that are designed to help those enrolled graduate on time.
NDSU is one of the two research universities in the North Dakota University System. It's highly regarded science programs cover fields such as agricultural sciences, chemistry, computer sciences, social sciences, psychology and more.
However, the school is about more than just science, and there are diverse undergraduate and graduate degree program options available. More than 14,000 students are enrolled at North Dakota State University through its nine colleges.
Founded on Benedictine traditions and values, University of Mary is a private Catholic institution. Students enrolled at the school can choose from dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs, including several doctoral degrees. Plus, there are a number of online degree programs available.
Mary, as the school is often called, makes the list of best universities in North Dakota for several reasons. Although a private institution, the school says affordable tuition is one of its hallmarks. Plus, it offers a large degree catalog and can boast of strong graduation, retention and placement rates.
While the main campus of the University of Mary is in Bismarck, the school has other locations in Arizona, Montana and Minnesota. Additionally, there are international campuses in Rome, Italy and Arequipa, Peru.
As one of two public research institutions in the state, the University of North Dakota is also the oldest and largest of the North Dakota universities. The school was founded in 1883 and enrolls around 15,000 students each year.
A diverse range of degree programs - more than 225 education options in all - is one reason UND is one of the best schools in North Dakota. The school also has a strong graduation rate and an excellent placement rate. UND notes virtually all its graduates are employed or enrolled in continuing education.
At the school's campus in Grand Forks, students can participate in hundreds of clubs and organizations. Class sizes are typically small, and generous financial aid helps keep tuition affordable. Among North Dakota colleges, the University of North Dakota is also known for its prominent athletic program.
Minot State University is another of the top schools in North Dakota. It's a regional university within the North Dakota University System. It was founded in 1913.
MSU is unique among North Dakota schools in that it extends in-state tuition rates to everyone enrolled. What's more, the university is generous with its financial assistance. Those factors, combined, make Minot State an affordable education choice.
If you're interested in online colleges, the MSU Online program hosts a number of fully online degree programs. Otherwise, students may study on the main campus in Minot or at one of its extended learning sites. There are more than a hundred undergraduate and graduate degree programs available through its six colleges and academic units.
As another of the top universities in North Dakota, Dickinson State University may be the right choice for someone seeking a small learning environment. With fewer than 1,500 students enrolled, DSU features a low student-faculty ratio along with affordable tuition and generous financial aid.
Originally founded as a teacher's college, DSU continues to offer teacher education programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. However, it also has a diverse degree catalog that covers fields from the fine arts to entrepreneurship to natural sciences. There are also numerous online courses and online degree programs offered through the DSU Online division.
In operation since 1918, Dickinson State University is a regional university within the North Dakota University System. Its location on a hilltop in Dickinson has given the school the nickname of "College on the Hill."
Rasmussen College is not only one of the best schools in North Dakota but also one of the top online colleges in the state. The college is part of a network of campus locations in six states but is best known for its online learning options. Students can choose from undergraduate and graduate degrees in seven schools. Many of its programs can also be completed at an accelerated pace.
As one of the top North Dakota schools, Rasmussen College specializes in providing career-focused degrees. It strives to connect students to area employers who are looking for qualified graduates. Many of its degree programs feature affordable tuition rates as well.
Those who prefer to study on-campus can do so at the college's Fargo location. Rasmussen College is a private institution.
Most Popular Degree Programs in North Dakota
When it comes to selecting a degree program, these are the most popular choices among students in North Dakota.
In-Demand Careers in North Dakota
Will your degree land you a job after graduation? There's no guarantee, but it could if it prepares you for one of these fast-growing North Dakota occupations.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Wind Turbine Service Technicians||100%||130||$67,520|
|Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas||65%||650||$59,550|
|Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas||60.1%||750||$66,440|
|Roustabouts, Oil and Gas||59.5%||3,220||$53,490|
|Extraction Workers, All Other||59.3%||1,230||$61,350|
|Service Unit Operators, Oil, Gas, and Mining||54.5%||2,360||$60,760|
|Mining Machine Operators, All Other||43.9%||190||-|
|Information Security Analysts||41.3%||200||$79,940|
|Pump Operators, Except Wellhead Pumpers||39%||560||$45,540|
|Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers||38%||700||$70,900|
|Hazardous Materials Removal Workers||36.8%||-||$54,940|
|Operations Research Analysts||36.7%||120||$64,580|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||36.5%||40||$45,210|
|Personal Care Aides||34.8%||6,090||$32,890|
|Software Developers, Applications||32.8%||1,120||$80,620|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||31.2%||90||$25,120|
|Audio and Video Equipment Technicians||30.5%||140||$49,370|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||29.4%||300||$35,990|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||28.9%||220||$70,950|
|Film and Video Editors||28.6%||-||-|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||28.4%||1,030||$52,870|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in North Dakota
To help students pay for college, the state of North Dakota maintains a number of scholarship and grant programs. These include academic scholarships and need-based grants. Plus, there are programs intended for specific populations, such as Native Americans or those pursing a technical education. State aid is in addition to any federal grants and loans for which a student may be eligible.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 2.0 GPA.
- North Dakota University System
- Dakota Association for College Admission Counseling
- State of North Dakota Higher Education
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/
- North Dakota University System, Accessed May 2017, http://www.ndus.edu/
- What is an Articulation Agreement? North Dakota University System, Accessed May 2017, https://www.ndus.edu/employees/articulation-transfer/articulation-agreements/
- About NDSU, North Dakota State University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.ndsu.edu/about/
- Academics at Mary, University of Mary, Accessed May 2018, https://www.umary.edu/academics/
- About UND, University of North Dakota, Accessed May 2018, https://und.edu/about/index.html
- About Us, Minot State University, Accessed May 2018, http://www.minotstateu.edu/about.shtml
- Fields of Study, Dickinson State University, Accessed May 2018, http://www.dickinsonstate.edu/academics/fields-of-study/
- Fargo Campus, Rasmussen College, Accessed May 2018, http://www.rasmussen.edu/locations/north-dakota/fargo/
- North Dakota Grants & Scholarships, North Dakota University System, Accessed May 2017, https://www.ndus.edu/students/paying-for-college/grants-scholarships/#NDAS
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
- 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/