Online Colleges in Minnesota
Top Online Programs
The best online colleges in Minnesota open doors to exciting, well-paying careers. The state boasts a robust job market with low unemployment, above-average salaries, and an outstanding quality of life. Minnesota ranks #15 in the U.S. in terms of highest personal income, boasts the third-lowest poverty rate, and features the fourth-highest rate of home ownership. College graduates in Minnesota can expect their investment in education to pay off in ample job opportunities and income.
Use this guide to explore the best majors in Minnesota, college costs in the state, and the job outlook for degree holders. We also provide information about financial aid and other resources that can help you turn your dream of a degree into a reality.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Minnesota
Graduates of the best online colleges in Minnesota benefit from a robust economy and a strong employment outlook. The state boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At 2.8%, Minnesota’s unemployment rate stands about one percentage point below the national average. Minnesota also ranks highly in terms of educational attainment, and a college degree gives graduates a significant advantage in the job market. Most Minnesotans (93%) hold a high school diploma, which ranks first in the nation. Additionally, more than a third (36%) hold a bachelor’s degree, which is top 10 in the nation.
According to Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), nearly two-thirds (63%) of the state’s college graduates hold employment one year after graduation. DEED also reports that degree holders earn higher wages than non-degree holders during their second year of employment, taking home an average annual wage of more than $40,000. These DEED findings suggest that degree holders possess a higher earning potential than non-degree holders. With the average cost of living for a single Minnesotan equal to $32,000 per year and an annual mean wage about $20,000 above this figure, college graduates in Minnesota can enjoy a relatively high standard of living.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
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Cost of Online Colleges in Minnesota
The best online colleges in Minnesota offer an affordable way to complete your degree. Some colleges and universities charge the same tuition rates for their online and on-campus programs. However, with greater control over spending on housing, food, and transportation, online students can cut the costs of attending college substantially. Online students can also select courses that better accommodate their work schedules. Be sure to look into required program fees -- some schools may not require distance learners to pay the same fees as on-campus students.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Minnesota
If you live outside Minnesota, you may still want to consider attending a Minnesota school. Because states subsidize their public schools with state tax revenues, they charge higher rates for out-of-state students. In some states, such as South Dakota, the out-of-state premium is minimal. In other states, such as California and Vermont, the difference can total more than $20,000 a year. As seen in the table below, students from other states pay more than twice the tuition paid by Minnesota residents. However, Minnesota’s average out-of-state tuition at a public four-year school is lower than the national average.
Note that private schools charge the same tuition to all students, regardless of their state of residency. Similarly, some online programs charge both resident and nonresident students the same tuition rates. Additionally, Minnesota benefits from tuition reciprocity agreements with some neighboring states. Students from Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota may qualify to pay in-state (or similar) rates. Students from other Midwestern states may also qualify for reduced tuition through the Midwest Student Exchange Program. You should verify the online tuition rates of schools that interest you.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Minnesota
State financial aid is granted based on financial need in Minnesota. The state gives more funding per student than the national average. To qualify for financial aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA helps determine an individual's financial need. Schools use it to determine what federal, state, and institutional aid students qualify for based on their economic circumstances.
In addition to state grants for students who demonstrate need, Minnesota offers scholarships for academic excellence. To encourage graduates to take jobs in high-need areas, Minnesota also maintains loan forgiveness programs. Online graduates may benefit from loan forgiveness programs, such as programs for rural healthcare workers. Additionally, Minnesota teachers may qualify for the state’s teacher shortage loan repayment program.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Minnesota College Students
College students typically pay for their education through a combination of earnings, savings, loans, and grants/scholarships. Grants and scholarships serve as excellent funding options for students because they need not be repaid. Minnesota college students can take advantage of many scholarship programs, including those listed below.
Who Can Apply: Minnesota offers grants to undergraduates who demonstrate financial need. Applicants must attend public two-year schools or four-year universities in the state. Interested students should contact their financial aid office for more information.
Amount: $350-$1,100 per year
Who Can Apply: This community foundation offers more than 60 scholarships to Duluth-area residents. The foundation’s website provides a scholarship application portal that enables students to apply for all relevant scholarships.
Who Can Apply: The Northern Division of the Salvation Army offers scholarships to high school seniors in Ramsey, Washington, and Dakota counties who demonstrate financial need. Current or past volunteers with the Salvation Army may apply.
Amount: $1,500 (for students attending two-year colleges) or $3,000 (for students attending four-year colleges)
Who Can Apply: Minnesota Masonic Charities provides competitive merit-based scholarships to Minnesota high school graduates enrolled in two-year or four-year programs. Students qualify for various scholarships depending on their GPAs.
Who Can Apply: Minnesota awards scholarships to high school seniors who demonstrate academic excellence. Recipients must attend a participating state or private school in Minnesota and apply during their final year of high school.
Amount: Up to full tuition and fees
Who Can Apply: Minnesota provides grants to veterans, military service members, and surviving spouses and children of veterans who enroll in Minnesota schools. Minnesota residents under the age of 62 may apply.
Amount: Up to $3,000 per year
Who Can Apply: Minnesota residents with at least one-quarter Indian heritage can apply. Applicants must complete an application for tribal education funds and the FAFSA. Recipients must also demonstrate financial need and enroll in a Minnesota institution.
Amount: $4,000 (undergraduate) or $6,000 (graduate) per year
Who Can Apply: Minnesota provides grants to residents from low- and moderate-income families. To qualify, applicants must complete the FAFSA and enroll at an eligible Minnesota school.
Who Can Apply: This foundation offers grants to Minnesota students of color. Applicants must be 18-35 years old, demonstrate financial need, and show an interest in mentoring children. Applicants must also be graduates from a Minnesota high school and attend a college in the state.
Amount: $1,000-$2,500 per year
Who Can Apply: PFund offers scholarships to LGBTQIA individuals dedicated to community leadership. Applicants must complete an online application and submit two letters of recommendation.
Best Majors for Online Students in Minnesota
Minnesota's healthcare and social assistance industry features the most job openings in the state. Registered nurses rank second in the state in terms of demand and earned a median salary of $78,352 in 2017. In addition, healthcare practitioners -- such as nurses -- can look forward to 12.4% job growth between 2016 and 2026.
According to DEED, engineering is the most lucrative field in the state; college graduates with an engineering degree earn the highest annual median wage in the second year after graduation (more than $60,000). In addition to engineering-related fields, other industries offering second-year salaries over $40,000 include computer science, business, education, healthcare, and law. Fields with high employment rates for individuals in their second-year after graduation include engineering, computer science, and business. Fortunately, many of the best online colleges in Minnesota offer degrees in all three of these high-paying fields.
Minnesota schools also offer online degrees in nursing and education, and graduates in these two fields willing to work in high-need areas may qualify for loan forgiveness programs.
EngineeringEngineering majors command the highest starting salaries in the state. Mechanical, electrical, civil, and industrial engineers represent some of the most in-demand occupations in Minnesota, all boasting 10-year growth rates of roughly 10% or above and mean annual salaries exceeding $80,000. Professionals who hold a graduate degree in these fields can earn even more.
Computer ScienceDegree holders in computer systems or computer programming earn median salaries above $80,000 in Minnesota, as do software developers. Computer systems managers can make six-figure salaries. Additionally, computer systems analysts benefit from high demand in many areas of the state, especially in northwest Minnesota.
BusinessBusiness majors enjoy many career opportunities. Minnesota ranks 10th nationwide for the number of Fortune 500 companies based in the state. In high demand, marketing specialists and management analysts earn median salaries above $65,000. With experience and/or an MBA, business majors can move into management positions and command even higher salaries.
Resources for Online College Students in Minnesota
Minnesota Office of Higher Education: This agency provides resources related to preparing for college, selecting a college, and paying for college. Students can access online applications for state programs, such as tuition reciprocity and loan repayment forms, and learn tips for lowering the overall cost of college.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: One of the largest agencies in the state, DNR offers numerous internships to college students. These paid summer positions provide students with valuable experience and may qualify for college credit.
Minnesota Transfer: This website provides information and resources for students seeking to transfer credits from one college to another. Transfer students can explore resources related to online programs, financial aid options, and the application process.
LeadMN: LeadMN supports students attending the state’s two-year colleges. LeadMN offers scholarships, leadership training, workshops, mentorship opportunities, and other resources to community college students.
MN DEED Career and Education Explorer: This tool enables users to explore careers in Minnesota, including wages, demand, job growth projections, and educational requirements for different fields. Users may customize their search by region and use the tool to find current job openings.