The Best Online Colleges in North Dakota

by TBS Staff

Updated September 8, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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North Dakota's online colleges offer programs that prepare students for some of the highest-paying careers in medicine, architecture, and criminal justice.

Many of North Dakota's top-paying industries require a college degree. Professionals in business, advanced manufacturing, natural resources management, and healthcare benefit from earning an online degree. Online colleges in North Dakota grant associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees at affordable tuition rates.

Online colleges offer a flexible route to a college degree. Learners can choose between asynchronous, accelerated, and self-paced programs. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many colleges to move to an online-only system. The necessity of providing online education increased the amount of resources institutions devoted to their distance learning programs.

North Dakota's colleges stand out for their diverse programs and affordability. In the 2018-2019 school year, public universities in the U.S. charged an average tuition rate of $9,200 per year. In contrast, North Dakota's public universities cost around $8,000.

This page ranks the best online colleges in North Dakota. Prospective applicants can use this ranking to find the right fit for their unique needs and career goals.

The Best Online Colleges in North Dakota

  1. University of North Dakota

    Grand Forks, ND

    The University of North Dakota, founded just six years before North Dakota became a state, is among the state’s oldest and largest universities. It has the only school of law and the only school of medicine in the state, but is renowned for its School of Aerospace Sciences. This space–grant university is also the first to offer a degree in unmanned aircraft operations. The university offers more than 220 degree programs and has over 14,000 students in attendance.

    The University of North Dakota offers online bachelor’s, master, doctoral and certificate programs. Online bachelor’s degrees include communication and engineering. Online master’s degrees include aviation and business administration. Online doctoral degrees include nursing and aerospace science. Available online certifications include health administration and psychiatric nursing.

    Online student resources include career services via Skype, an online job board, live online technical support, writing assistance over the phone, an online mental health screening and an online library.

  2. North Dakota State University

    Fargo, ND

    North Dakota State University, a land–grant university, has over 14,000 students and more than 300 degree programs. Established in 1890, the university is home to seven libraries, nine academic colleges and sits on over 250 acres of land.

    North Dakota State University offers bachelor’s, master and certificate programs fully online through its Distance and Continuing Education department. Online bachelor’s degrees include nursing and sociology. Online master’s degrees include dietetics and software engineering. Available online certifications include food protection and gerontology.

    Online student resources include academic advising, online tutoring in a wide range of subjects, technical support via email or over the phone and an online library with access to a plethora of online databases and academic journals as well as several librarians available over the phone.

  3. Valley City State University

    Valley City, ND

    Valley City State University, a land–grant university, established in 1890, has well over 1,000 students in attendance and offers a diverse array of more than 80 programs of study. The scenic main campus is part of the National Register of Historic Places.

    Valley City State University offers online bachelor’s, master’s and certificate programs. Bachelor’s degree options include business process integration management and technical education. Master’s degree offerings include several topics in education, including technology education. Available certifications include customer relationship management and enterprise applications.

    Online student resources include an online job board and an online library with librarians available over the phone, via email and on several social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

  4. Dickinson State University

    Dickinson, ND

    Dickinson State University, founded in 1918, originally trained teachers to help fill the need in one of North Dakota’s rural areas. The university also trained students who wished to join the navy during World War II, one of over 100 universities nationwide providing the training. The university offers more than 70 degree programs to its 2,500+ students.

    Dickinson State University offers online associate, bachelor’s and certificate programs. Online associate degrees include equine training and the arts. Online bachelor’s degrees include accounting and business administration. Available online certificates include human resources.

    Resources available to online students include online test proctoring, online tutoring in a wide range of subjects, an online job board, technical support and an online library.

  5. Mayville State University

    Mayville, ND

    Mayville State University, founded in 1889, is a member of the North Dakota University System. The university obtained its current name in 1987 after approval from the North Dakota legislature. The university has roughly 800 students in attendance.

    Mayville State University offers associate and bachelor’s degrees online through MSU Online. Associate degree options include business management and early childhood education, while bachelor’s degree offerings include mathematics and nursing.

    Resources available to online students include academic advising, online tutoring, online writing assistance via email or Skype, disability services and an online library with access to a wide variety of academic databases as well as librarians available via email or over the phone.

  6. Minot State University

    Minot, ND

    Minot State University, founded in 1913 as a normal school, is one of the largest universities in North Dakota. The university has over 2,500 students in attendance and offers 70 programs of study.

    Minot State University offers associate, bachelor’s, master and certification programs via Minot State University Online. Associate degrees include human services. Bachelor’s degree options include management and nursing. Master’s degree offerings include information systems and special education. Available certifications include CCAF and knowledge management.

    Online student resources include online tutoring in several subjects, academic advising, online test proctoring, an online job board and an online library with several librarians available via email or over the phone.

  7. Bismarck State College

    Bismarck, ND

    Bismarck State College is one of the largest colleges in the state with over 4,000 students in attendance and more than 20 undergraduate degree programs. The college is notable for its unique renewable energy, nuclear power technology, ethanol training and electric power technology degrees.

    Some of the associate degrees that Bismarck State College offers, including electric power technology, power plant technology and instrumentation and control technology, can be used by students to fulfill certification requirements. The college also offers a bachelor’s degree in energy management that offers the same option.

    Online student resources include technical support, an online job board and an online library with librarians available via email or over the phone.

  8. University of Mary

    Bismarck, ND

    The University of Mary established in 1959 is a Catholic university. Originally, a women’s college, the university opened its doors to male students in the 1960s. It obtained its university status in 1986 and has since established several satellite campuses in multiple states, including Arizona, Wyoming, Minnesota, Kansas and Missouri. The main campus has more than 3,000 students in attendance.

    The University of Mary offers online bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Online bachelor’s degrees include accounting, nursing, healthcare administration and information technology. Online master’s degrees include emergency management, energy management, bioethics and several topic in education.

    Resources available to online students include an online job board and an online library with access to over 40,000 full text academic journals, 125,000 eBooks, and more than 3,000 videos, pictures, music and more. Librarians are available via email or over the phone.

Best Online Colleges

Online Colleges in North Dakota Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Featured Online Programs

Employment in North Dakota

The employment outlook in North Dakota remains strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state's unemployment rate remained at a below-average 4% in June 2021, compared to the national unemployment rate of 5.9%. In May 2020, the mean annual wage in North Dakota was $52,450. North Dakotans also benefit from a low cost of living. Compared to the national cost of living index of 100, North Dakota reports an 89.9.

North Dakota's major industries include energy, advanced manufacturing, and information technology. Careers in these fields typically require a college degree. According to July 2019 census data, 30% of North Dakotans hold a bachelor's degree or higher, slightly below the national average of 32.1%.

North Dakotans with a college degree stand out in the job market. The state's colleges charge below-average tuition rates, making earning a degree in North Dakota a smart investment.

The following information compares the highest-paying roles that employ more than 1,000 individuals in North Dakota. Salary information applies specifically to North Dakota, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.

Highest-Paying Careers in North Dakota
Career Annual Median Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
Physicians, All Other; and Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric $212,990 4% Medical degree
Financial Managers $140,740 15% Bachelor's degree
Lawyers $113,480 4% Law degree
Construction Managers $110,190 8% Bachelor's degree
Pharmacists $103,440 -3% Doctorate degree (Pharm.D)
Source: BLS
Most Common Careers in North Dakota
Career Annual Median Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
Office Clerks $43,540 -5% High school diploma
Retail Salespersons $34,080 0% No formal education
Fast Food and Counter Workers $26,400 10% No formal education
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers $54,550 2% High school diploma
Registered Nurses $69,630 7% Associate degree
Source: BLS

Online Associate Degrees

An associate degree provides basic training for the workforce. The degree also helps students who are seeking an affordable route to a bachelor's degree.

Many North Dakota community colleges offer online associate degrees in academic and vocational subjects. At Bismarck State College, students can pursue business administration, cybersecurity, criminal justice, and management programs.

The college's vocational programs include options for administrative assistants, electronics technicians, and information processing specialists. North Dakota State College of Science offers associate degrees for restaurant managers, web developers, and pharmacy technicians.

Online Graduate Degrees

Online colleges in North Dakota offer graduate degrees with flexible enrollment options. A master's degree in business, education, or computer science helps professionals increase their earning potential and move into leadership roles. The pandemic increased North Dakota's online degree options, allowing more students to earn their degrees remotely.

At the University of North Dakota, graduate students can pursue degrees in accounting, counseling, data science, and nursing. UND also offers an online MBA program. The University of Mary offers online programs in high-demand areas like business, education, and nursing. When considering an online degree, a prospective applicant should consider class enrollment options and transfer credit policies.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges in North Dakota

Is Online College Cheaper in North Dakota?

Yes. North Dakota colleges charge below-average tuition rates. For example, while four-year public colleges charge over $9,200 per year on average in tuition and fees, North Dakota public colleges cost around $8,000, according to 2018-2019 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Degree in North Dakota?

Earning an online bachelor's degree in North Dakota typically takes four years. Most associate programs take two years, as do most master's programs.

What Is the Most Popular Degree in North Dakota?

Students in North Dakota pursue degrees in business, healthcare, education, and technology. These degrees prepare graduates for in-demand career paths.

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