Best Online Colleges in Minnesota

Explore the top colleges in Minnesota with graduate and undergraduate online programs. Learn how to choose the right school as well as how to find financial aid to fund your program.

Best Minnesota Colleges for Online Programs

To determine the best colleges in Minnesota for an online program, you should consider factors such as flexibility, cost, accreditation and admissions requirements. The top 20 Minnesota colleges with online programs are listed below.

1. Concordia University-Saint Paul

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Saint Paul $22,275 99%

Concordia University at Saint Paul offers more than 40 online programs, including those in sport management, psychology, education, business and health care administration. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and focuses on a supportive and enthusiastic learning environment. Founded in 1893, Concordia University is one of the few colleges associated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, providing an all-inclusive Christian educational experience. Undergraduate students have a tuition rate of $420 per credit hour and graduate tuition ranges from $395 to $875 per credit, depending on the program.

2. Herzing University-Minneapolis

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
St. Louis Park $14,000 97%

Herzing University is a career focused college, providing students with career coaches from their first day of class. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers more than 30 programs online. Students can select from programs such as criminal justice, data analytics, nursing, cybersecurity, paralegal studies, healthcare administration and business. Tuition rates vary by program, but can cost around $585 for undergraduate students and $675 for graduate students (these specific rates apply to business programs).

3. Minnesota State University-Mankato

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Mankato $8,184 89%

Minnesota State University at Mankato is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and emphasizes positive change in local and global communities. The school took its name in 1998, but has been providing college programs since 1921. Students can pursue more than 30 programs online, including those in nursing, leadership and education, as well as several programs that combine campus and online components. All undergraduate online students have tuition rates of $326 to $470 per credit hour and graduate students have a tuition rate of $463 to $725 per credit hour.

4. University of Northwestern-St Paul

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Saint Paul $31,540 100%

The University of Northwestern at Saint Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers more than a dozen programs online. The school started in 1902 as a Bible school and currently offers a liberal arts college experience with a focus on Christ. Online program options include business management, education, divinity, human services and health psychology. Online undergraduate students have a tuition rate of $440 per credit while graduate students have a tuition rate of $499 per credit hour.

5. Martin Luther College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
New Ulm $15,410 92%

Martin Luther College began educating students in 1995 and is also known as the WELS College of Ministry. The school focuses on training leaders of ministry but offers various programs, including three online graduate degree programs, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Students can earn a master's degree in education, theological studies or educational administration online. Graduate students in online program shave a tuition rate of $325 per credit.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6 Winona State University Winona $9,425 89%
7 Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Winona $35,110 100%
8 Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud $8,265 86%
9 Bethel University Saint Paul $37,300 100%
10 Bethany Global University Bloomington $14,270 100%
11 Minnesota State University Moorhead Moorhead $8,496 92%
12 The College of Saint Scholastica Duluth $37,212 100%
13 Bemidji State University Bemidji $8,696 94%
14 University of Minnesota-Crookston Crookston $11,822 95%
15 Crown College Saint Bonifacius $26,200 97%
16 University of Minnesota-Duluth Duluth $13,366 90%
17 University of St Thomas Saint Paul $42,736 98%
18 University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis $14,760 81%
19 North Central University Minneapolis $24,240 100%
20 Metropolitan State University Saint Paul $7,879 94%

All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition represents the 2018-2019 undergraduate school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

How to Choose a Minnesota College for an Online Program

There are several factors to consider when choosing a Minnesota college for your online program, including cost, flexibility and transfer credits.

Cost

Online program costs in Minnesota vary, and most programs qualify for financial aid. You should ask each of your school choices for a comprehensive list of applicable costs in order to determine the total costs for your program at each school. Ask each of your candidate schools about any cost savings (such as flat-rate tuition).

Flexibility

Many online programs in Minnesota offer flexibility, allowing you to study full-time, part-time, or a combination of the two. However, some programs are only offered as one of these options, possibly running in a specific schedule. Ask your admissions advisors about the flexibility of the programs you're considering to review if they will work with your schedule.

Transfer Credits

If you have completed any college coursework in the past, ask each school to review your transcripts. Most undergraduate programs, and some graduate programs, will allow you to transfer qualifying prior coursework into your program. Transferring credits into your online program saves you both time and money.

Residency Requirements

While many online programs do not require any face-to-face components, some programs can require you to attend practicum experiences or on-campus learning sessions. Some programs (such as nursing) require hands-on practice and other on-site experiences, but many programs (such as those in business) don't typically require you to physically attend any assemblies.

Faculty

Review the faculty for your program at each of your school choices to see what level of experience they have in the field and in teaching. In addition, ask your admissions advisor what the school policy is for faculty response time. Some faculty may respond within hours while other faculty may not respond for several days.

Accreditation for Online Programs in Minnesota

There are over a dozen organizations that can accredit schools and several more agencies that can separately accredit programs.

Institutional Accreditation

In order to become accredited, schools have to meet specific quality standards that are set by an accrediting organization. These standards can be regarding things such as graduation and retention rates, faculty and curriculum. Schools can earn one of two types of accreditation: regional or national.

  • Regional Accreditation - Regional accreditation only affects schools within specific geographic regions and is considered the highest standard because it requires schools to meet higher quality criteria. The regional accrediting agency for Minnesota-based schools is the Higher Learning Commission.
  • National Accreditation - National accreditation affects schools across the United States, usually focusing on schools with specific programs or values (such as Bible schools). Because national accreditation applies to a broader variety of schools, the standards are not as strict as those of regional accreditation.

What's the Difference?

Students can experience a quality program at a school with either type of accreditation, but there are a few key differences that should be considered. Firstly, credits earned at schools with regional accreditation can be transferred to schools with either type of accreditation, whereas credits earned at schools with national accreditation can only be transferred to other nationally accredited schools. Secondly, students interested in corporate tuition reimbursement may prefer to attend a regionally accredited school because nationally accredited schools do not always qualify.

Program Accreditation

Accreditation of programs is obtained in the same way as institutional accreditation. Not all programs have specific accreditation, but many programs leading to licensed positions and other technical careers do. For example, students interested in teaching often need to graduate from an accredited program in order to qualify for licensure.

Cost of Online Programs in Minnesota

Online programs in Minnesota usually have tuition and other fees, totaling costs as little as $15,000 or more than $50,000. The main component of overall program expense is tuition, which is usually charged per credit hour. Schools will either have a flat tuition rate for all students in a program, regardless of where they reside, or have a separate tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students.

In addition to tuition, students usually have several fees associated with their online program. These fees vary by school, but can include things such as registration fees, online learning fees and course materials fees. Some fees are charged per course or per credit hour but many of these fees are charged per semester. Depending on the school and fees, students could have $200 to $1,000 or more each semester in addition to the cost of tuition

Ways to Save

There are a few ways that students can decrease the overall cost of their online programs in Minnesota, including flat-rate options, transferring credits and earning credits for experience.

  • Flat-Rate Tuition - Some schools offer flat-rate discounts to full-time students. Although these rates vary, students taking 12 to 18 credit hours can often have a flat-rate tuition equal to that of 12 credits.
  • Transfer Credits - Students who have completed coursework previously can often have it transferred into their online program. While transfer rules vary, students may be able to transfer in more than half of an undergraduate program and up to half of a master's degree program.
  • Credits for Experience - While not available at all schools, students can obtain credits towards their online program if they meet two requirements: have qualifying experience (such as work in the field) and demonstrate their understanding (via knowledge assessments or other methods).

Financial Aid for Online Programs in Minnesota

Students of online programs in Minnesota can qualify for a variety of financial aid options, including loans, grants, work study and scholarships. The first thing that students should do in their financial aid search is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a free online application that shows students which types of federal aid that they can qualify for. Students can also add schools to their application to have the results sent directly to those schools upon completion.

Financial aid options can be found through a variety of sources, including the FAFSA website. Some of the additional sources for financial aid are:

  • Career One Stop - Provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, this site offers a search tool for financial aid, including scholarships, grants and fellowships.
  • Minnesota Office of Higher Education - The OHE provides detailed information about several types of financial aid, including loans, grants and scholarships.
  • Schools - Students can also find various types of aid through their school's financial aid office and website.

Grants

Grants are a type of financial aid that do not have to be paid back. They are available from federal and state levels of government, private organizations and other sources. Some of the grants that are available to online students in Minnesota are listed below.

  • Federal Pell Grant - Undergraduate students with financial need can qualify for a renewable Pell Grant, which ranges from $626 to $5,775.
  • Postsecondary Child Care Grant - Minnesota students with a child of 12 or less years can qualify for up to $5,200; available to graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Minnesota State Grant - Awarded to students with financial need, undergraduate full-time students at eligible schools can receive $100 to $12,345.
  • Minnesota Teacher Candidate Grant - This grant is available to Minnesota students enrolled in a teacher preparation program who are completing student teaching requirements. Up to $7,500 is awarded, available to graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant - This grant awards a maximum of $4,000 and is awarded by schools to students with financial need.

Work Study

Work study consists of part-time employment while students are in school in exchange for program aid. Work study is offered by both the federal and state government through colleges. Students work with their school to find a fitting position, often in their field of study (if available). When possible, students may be able to complete their work study as an internship, gaining applicable experience while still earning aid for their program.

Student Loans

Students can obtain loans for their online programs through both private and government lenders. Government loans have fixed interest rates and offer flexible repayment plans. Students may qualify for a variety of loans, including Federal Stafford, Federal Perkins and Minnesota SELF loans.

Scholarships

There are countless scholarships available to online students in Minnesota, which can be awarded based on factors such as field of study, academic performance and financial need. Some of the scholarships available to Minnesota online students are listed below.

  • Carol E. Macpherson Memorial Scholarship - $1,000 to $6,000 is awarded to qualifying women-identified students with a five-year gap in their college education.
  • The Bascom Hill Society Scholarship - Undergraduate students in any field of study with outstanding community service and academic performance may qualify.
  • Minnesota Association of Public Accountant Scholarship - This scholarship is available to undergraduate accounting students who are Minnesota residents.
  • Minnesota Indian Scholarship - This scholarship is available to Minnesota students who are at least 25% Indian; up to $4,000 for undergraduate programs and $6,000 for graduate programs.
  • Minnesota Reconnect - This scholarship awards up to $1,000 per semester to adult students pursuing a 2-year degree who are at least 25 years old and have previously earned at least 15 college credits.

In-Demand Careers for Minnesota Online Graduates

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development both publish career salaries, descriptions and estimated outlooks. It is projected that all careers in Minnesota will grow by nearly 6% from 2016 to 2026, with many careers growing significantly more. The table below shows several careers that are available to graduates of online programs in Minnesota.

Job Title Estimated Job Growth (2016-2026, MN) Median Annual Salary (2018, MN) Typical Education for Entry
Nurse Practitioners 28% $112,780 Master's degree
Information Security Analysts 24% $95,611 Bachelor's degree
Software Developers, Applications 24% $90,828 Bachelor's degree
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists 20% $65,908 Bachelor's degree
Medical and Health Services Managers 19% $99,437 Bachelor's degree
Personal Financial Advisors 17% $88,318 Bachelor's degree
Financial Managers 17% $120,928 Bachelor's degree
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 13% $54,759 Associate's degree

All salary and outlook data provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

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