North Dakota’s Educational Legacy
Though North Dakota is the 4th least populated and 4th least densely populated state in the U.S., recent years have seen an acceleration of job and population growth, as well as general trends of low unemployment and rising prosperity. Becoming the 39th state upon its admission to the Union in 1889, North Dakota’s small town of Rugby is the answer to the infrequently-asked trivia question, “what is the geographical center of the North American continent?”.
Though North Dakota would not become a state until six years hence, 1883 would truly be a landmark year for the Midwestern territory. It was at this time that the state established its first public and private universities, the first of 15 and six respectively. North Dakota is also a unique case insofar as its first school in each category also remains its most highly regarded to date.
North Dakota’s private educational sector began when the University of Jamestown opened its doors under Presbyterian sponsorship. Known as Jamestown College from founding up until 2013, the four year liberal arts school is home to a shade under 1000 students, all of whom enter with guaranteed access to all the courses needed to graduate in four years. Considering the rising cost of education, this is an extremely valuable guarantee!
The state’s public school system is equally notable for its affordability. The state’s flagship public school, the University of North Dakota, will run in-state residents roughly $3,500 a year. In fact, event out-of-state enrollees pay the downright reasonable sum of $8,800 a year. These numbers, as well as the school’s Top 100 ranking among U.S. News & World Report's best public universities, draw roughly 15,000 students to the town of Grand Forks every year. In addition to being one of only 50 schools in the country to offer both accredited medial and law schools, The University of North Dakota is home to the world-renowned John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, which specializes in pilot and air-traffic control training.
Given the numbers above, it probably comes as no surprise that North Dakota falls below the national average of $8,070 for in-state annual tuition by roughly $1500. North Dakota also demonstrates a uniquely high level of success in passing students through two-year schools, with its community college graduation rate of 38.8% far exceeding the national average of 20.4%.