colleges in minnesotaFor this Top 20 Best Online Colleges ranking, we have scored each school located in Minnesota that offers a selection of online academic programs for distance-learning students. We scored these online colleges on a scale from 0 to 200 total points which were awarded based on the combination of two different percentage rates that acted as our scoring criteria. These two standards are the school’s Freshman Retention Rate (what percentage of the school’s freshman students returned for their sophomore year) and their overall Graduation Rate (what percentage of the school’s students receive their degree in an acceptable amount of time). The goal of this Top 20 Best Online Colleges in Minnesota ranking is to help equip students with the information they need to understand what the various options are for obtaining a degree in a flexible, online format from a reputable Minnesota school.

The state of Minnesota is one that many Americans tend to forget about; they know that the Mall of America is there, but what else? Minnesota is actually the birthplace of many ingenious inventions that are still widely used and simplify people’s lives every day, like Scotch tape, the stapler, and the first supercomputer. The state also has more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined, a total of 90,000 miles.

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is the most extensive urban sculpture garden in America. Also, Minnesota is where the world-renowned Mayo Clinic is located. The clinic is recognized globally for its incredible expert staff and innovative medical techniques. The first open heart surgery and the first bone marrow transplant in the United States were completed at our top-ranked school, the University of Minnesota! Whether you want to join the cutting edge of the medical field or your passion is in business, or law, there is a school in Minnesota that will suit those goals.

We’ve created this ranking to help prospective students like yourself learn about the best schools in Minnesota, and to help you make your final selection as you take the first step in embarking on one of the biggest things that you will ever accomplish. All the schools were ranked according to the following.


All of the data used to generate the initial pool of colleges in Minnesota and subsequently rank them came from a variety of reputable sources. The school websites were used whenever possible, the databases of U.S. News & World Report and the National Center for Education Statistics were consulted. We also referred to our previous ranking, the Top 100 Best Online Colleges, in the creation of this piece.

Schools that met the following criteria were eligible for consideration in this ranking:

  • It is an accredited college or university.
  • It has at least one campus in the state of Minnesota.
  • It offers at least one distance-learning option that is available to students regardless of residency and;
  • It is not a for-profit institution.

After the list of schools that met all of those standards was gathered, each college was then scored out of a possible 200 points. The score was generated by determining the sum of the Freshman Retention Rate and Graduation Rate. Both of those factors are among the most concrete indicators of student satisfaction, which we hold in the utmost importance when it comes to comparing schools for prospective students. Each ranking is created to help you to not only find an online degree program from a school that suits your needs, but one that will provide you with a rigorous and engaging academic experience that is worth every penny.


20 Best Online Colleges in Minnesota


20. Southwest Minnesota State University

Southwest Minnesota State University

Southwest Minnesota State UniversitySouthwest Minnesota State University is a public university that is in Marshall, Minnesota. It is one of 37 institutions that make up the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. It was founded in 1964 under the name Southwest Minnesota State College; the first students began their classes in the Fall semester of 1967. It updated its name to reflect its university status fairly quickly, becoming Southwest State University in 1975. It didn’t get rechristened again until 2003, which is when it settled on its current name. Most students and faculty regularly refer to the university just as SMSU. SMSU was first accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in 1972, and it remains accredited through the same agency today.

There are 7,495 students that are enrolled into one of the many programs that SMSU has to offer. There are around 50 different programs from which students can choose, as the certificate, Associates, Bachelors, and Masters levels. The majority of their degrees are provided at the undergraduate level. Part-time students represent 71% of the students who are seeking a degree at the undergraduate level. On 16% of them take advantage of the distance-learning opportunities that SMSU has to offer. Through the Office of Extended Learning and Academic Outreach, several programs are provided that have solid transfer agreements with area schools, and expert faculty that teaches the face-to-face versions of the courses you will be taking. Of the degrees offered, a customizable Bachelor of Applied Science, a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN), a Bachelor of Science in Education Studies, and an Associate to Bachelor Degree Program in Early Childhood Education are available to online students.

SMSU Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 69%
Graduation Rate: 50%
Final Score: 119/200

19. Minnesota State University-Mankato

Minnesota State University-Mankato

Minnesota State University-MankatoMinnesota State University-Mankato is a public university in Mankato, Minnesota. The university is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, one of just seven schools in that system. It was established in 1868, which makes it the second oldest member in the system, it is also the second largest and overall the most comprehensive. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission as well as eight other agencies that endorse programs in specific fields. There are 15,165 students presently enrolled and more than 100,000 alumni all over the world. Among them, more than 37 Fulbright Scholars over the past three decades, 12 professional athletes, and a myriad of respected politicians and decorated veterans. Traditional courses are offered at the main campus in Mankato, and two satellites in Edina and Owatonna. MNSU also operates the College of Extended Learning, with a learning center in Bloomington and many online options.

In addition to the College of Extended Learning, there are seven other colleges and eleven research centers. Thousands of degrees are awarded every year by MNSU. There are 13 professional certificate programs, 120 undergraduate programs, and 75 graduate programs from which students can choose. 52 programs, including highly desirable degrees like a RN to BSN degree program, a Public Health Education Certificate program, and Masters degrees in Early Childhood Special Education, Accounting, and Information Security and Risk Management among so many others.

MNSU Mankato Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 73%
Graduation Rate: 51%
Final Score: 124/200

18. Concordia University St. Paul

Concordia University St. Paul

Concordia University St. PaulThe Concordia University System is comprised of ten different universities all over America that are operated by the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Concordia University St. Paul was founded in 1863 as a high school where students could be in a Christian learning environment. Over the course of the next decade, it gradually added more years of high school, and then began to add college years as well. It was first accredited as a college in 1921. Currently, it is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. There are 43 degree programs and four professional certification programs that are offered by Concordia. The majority of those programs are also online. Of their 4,582 students, 43% of the undergraduate students are pursuing their degree solely online, and 86% of graduate students don’t attend campus either.

Concordia has an incredible distance-learning division. The Associate of Arts in General Studies and Early Childhood Education are both accelerated, and only take 7 weeks to complete. The self-paced Bachelors degrees available online cover areas such as Business, Exercise Science, Health Care Administration, Human Resource Management, Information and Technology Management, Marketing, and so many more. Some online courses are not self-paced, but there is no on-campus visits required for any of the online degree programs at this university. All of the online undergraduate programs feature 7-week courses, and average around 40 credit-hours total. 92% of graduates were employed or continuing their studies within a year of graduation.

Concordia Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 72%
Graduation Rate: 52%
Final Score: 124/200

17. University of Minnesota Crookston

University of Minnesota Crookston

University of Minnesota CrookstonThe University of Minnesota Crookston is a public university in Crookston, Minnesota. It is one-fifth of the University of Minnesota System. It was founded in 1966 as a two-year college. It became a baccalaureate degree-granting institution in 1993. Today, it is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and grants a selection of professional certificates, and bachelors degrees. 2,676 people make up the student body at UMC. Over half of them are considered part-time, and 36% of them are pursuing one of the fully online asynchronous degrees or certificates that are available. A further 6% are enrolled in hybrid or blended programs. These are all part of the university’s Center for Adult Learning, and they were created with busy professionals in mind. Coursework is accessible to students 24 hours a day, and there are no set login times or mandatory digital lectures.

UMC was the first University of Minnesota to offer online Bachelors degrees. They also feature a very generous transfer policy, and thanks to their accreditation, most of the credits earned through any of their programs, whether on-campus or on screen, will transfer to most other colleges and universities. Another demonstration of their commitment to the success of their students, as long as you take 6 credits or more in a single semester, you’re eligible for financial aid. Students that participate in the hybrid programs, in which they take a class or a few classes on the physical campus will receive a laptop from the school. There are several certificates and minors that can be pursued online, but the programs that will actually lead to a degree are all bachelors degrees. The following fields-of-study are offered: Accounting, Applied Health, Applied Studies, Communication, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Health Management, Information Technology Management, International Business, Management, Manufacturing Management, < a href=””>Marketing, < a href=””>Quality Management, and < a href=””>Sport & Recreation Management.

UMN Crookston Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 76%
Graduation Rate: 54%
Final Score: 130/200

16. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Saint Mary's University of MinnesotaSaint Mary’s University of Minnesota, or just SMU, is a private Roman Catholic-affiliated university with a number of locations in Minnesota. There are additional locations in Wisconsin, Jamaica, Nairobi, and Kenya. SMU was founded as Saint Mary’s College in 1912. For the first 70 years, the majority of expansion that took place was campus expansion. More degree programs were first added in 1985, and then the name changed to reflect the curricular developments ten years later. There are 5,640 enrolled students now, who are working towards certificates, and degrees at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels through more than 100 different programs.

SMU offers courses to students online at the undergraduate level, but they are certificate and completion programs. They are geared towards non-traditional students who may be adults, or dual-enrolled, that completed a partial degree in the past and are seeking to finish it at Saint Mary’s. For that reason, only 2% of the undergraduate degree-seekers are doing so at a distance. However, the online graduate programs are designed to bolster the careers of busy professionals. There are 13 online Masters degrees in the areas of Business and Technology, Education, and Health and Human Services. 34% of graduate students are distance-learners. Online students will have access to all of the same resources as their traditional counterparts, and they’re even eligible for financial aid as long as they’re pursuing their degree at least ‘half-time.’ SMU is also very affordable in general, and 99% of their students receive financial aid. The highest cost per credit is the in accelerated Masters of Business Administration, or MBA, at $650 per credit-hour. That particular instructor-led program can be taken 100% online, and only takes 18 months or less depending on the amount of time that you have at your disposal to invest.

SMU Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 70%
Graduation Rate: 61%
Final Score: 131/200

15. Alexandria Technical & Community College

Alexandria Technical & Community College

Alexandria Technical & Community CollegeAlexandria Technical & Community College is a small two-year technical college that is located in Alexandria, Minnesota. It was founded as Alexandria Area Vocational Technical School in 1961, and at the time it only offered three different programs: Carpentry, Farm Equipment Mechanics, and Machine Shop. The name changed many times over the course of its history, but it has grown into quite the reputable institution. It is considered a state college, and it is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and it was the first two-year college in the state of Minnesota to receive the endorsement, and that was in the year 1980. The school has struck a unique balance because the focus remains on technical programs that have immediate applications, but the school is also incredibly comprehensive.

There are just shy of 3,000 students that go to ATCC, which can also be called Alex Tech. The school has an open enrollment policy, which means that any student that submits an application will be accepted, and there is usually no application fee. Alex Tech is recognized for its high placement rate of 90% over the past several decades, and because of it’s excellent transfer programs. They have an entire transfer curriculum detailed on the website. The degree programs that they offer entirely online are an Associate in Science that lays the foundation for a degree in business, and associates degrees in Computer Information Systems, Human Services Practitioner, Legal Administration Assistant, Medical Administrative Specialist, Paralegal Studies, and Speech-Language Pathology. There is also one diploma available this way, the Medical Coding Specialist program.

Alex Tech Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 71%
Graduation Rate: 61%
Final Score: 132/200

14. Augsburg University

Augsburg University

Augsburg UniversityAugsburg University just became Augsburg University! The name was Augsburg College until the first of September in 2017. It had been Augsburg College since 1963. The school itself was established as a seminary in 1869. Some of its other titles during its development are The Norwegian Danish Evangelical Lutheran Augsburg Seminary, Augsburg Seminary,
And Augsburg College and Theological Seminary. Augsburg University today is a private liberal arts college in Minneapolis, Minnesota that enrolls 3,014 students. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Augsburg offers degrees at the Bachelors and Masters levels. There are more than 50 different degree programs that students can choose from to reach their goals.

Augsburg University offers distance-learning opportunities to adults that are starting school after the traditional window has passed or those who began to pursue a degree and didn’t finish. They have ten different adult undergraduate programs that were specifically designed to fit into the busy life of professionals and parents alike. While no degree program is advertised as being entirely online, students can make course selections that make it completely possible. Business Administration, Education, Nursing, and Psychology are the fields available in this format. There are also opportunities in interdisciplinary studies, and Augsburg offers a Student-Designed Major program so that all the courses you take are directly relevant to the education you need to enter the career you want.

Augsburg Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 56%
Final Score: 135/200

13. Winona State University

Winona State University

Winona State UniversityWinona State University is a public university in Winona, Minnesota. It’s the oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, having been founded in 1858. Like many other colleges and universities across America, it began as a normal school, and it was the first one to exist west of the Mississippi River. Classes started in 1860, but the school closed briefly between then and 1864 because the majority of the male students and staff had to leave to serve in the American Civil War. The first graduating class was in 1866. The institution expanded steadily, outgrowing its campus and adding new programs. By 1921, it was granting bachelors degrees.

The school received its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission the same year it officially became Winona State University, 1975. A handful of the programs offered also have individual accreditation through the corresponding bodies. There are degree programs at the Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate levels. Some certificates are also available! WSU is comprised of five different academic colleges. These are the College of Business; the College of Education; the College of Liberal Arts; the College of Nursing & Health Sciences and; the College of Science and Engineering. Each of them features a wide array of quality programs that their 8,139 students can participate. WSU also provides opportunities for adult education and continuing education, which is what a majority of their online programs center around. Students that are enrolled in traditional or blended format degree programs also receive a laptop during their attendance.

WSU Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 77%
Graduation Rate: 59%
Final Score: 136/200

12. University of Minnesota Duluth

University of Minnesota Duluth

University of Minnesota DuluthThe University of Minnesota Duluth is a branch of the University of Minnesota System that is located in Duluth, Minnesota. The university, often called UMD, was established in law in 1895 but the university as it was intended, and as it exists today, didn’t exist until 1947. Before, it was the Duluth Normal School and the Duluth State Teachers college which focused on providing post-secondary education to high school students so that they could go on and be teachers; it was the way until 1921 when Bachelors degrees were added to the curriculum. Now there are 13 bachelors degree programs with 74 majors available, graduate programs in almost 30 different fields, and there is a small selection of other programs including certificates, and one doctorate.

UMD is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and all of the programs are offered through any one of the eight colleges and schools that comprise the university. These are the College of Education and Human Service Professions; the College of Liberal Arts; the College of Pharmacy, Duluth; the Graduate School; the Labovitz School of Business and Economics; the School of Medicine; the School of Fine Arts and; Swenson College of Science and Engineering. The selection of online degrees offered is incredible. There are 21 different undergraduate certificate and degree programs, and another 15 at the graduate level that are fully online. They also feature several hybrid programs. Some of the programs include highly desirable fields such as Psychology, Accounting, and Information Technology, but there are also unique opportunities in Tribal Administration and Governance or Human Sexuality.

UMN Duluth Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 78%
Graduation Rate: 59%
Final Score: 137/200

11. Hamline University

Hamline University

Hamline UniversityHamline University is a private college that is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It’s located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was founded in 1854 as the first ever institution of higher education to open in the state of Minnesota; the University of Minnesota was chartered first but wouldn’t open for almost another twenty years. Hamline is committed to uplifting its 3,852 students by providing them with an education that is directly relevant to their career goals, and instilling in them the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and personal growth. In their mission, the words of the father of Methodism John Wesley are included. He said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” That embodies much of what Hamline is about.

It is the only United Methodist university in Minnesota, and has been recognized in publications such as Forbes, Princeton Review, and U.S. News & World Report. 91% of their faculty hold the highest degree in their fields! Those experienced teachers are responsible for teaching the online versions of the courses that Hamline offers. There is a significant variety of courses, and they run synchronously. In terms of online degree programs, all of the ones currently offered are at the graduate level, like a Masters in the Study of Law, and a Master of Arts in English as a Second Language. Almost half of the school’s graduate students are pursuing a degree online, and most of them are doing so part-time. Hamline University offers rigorous and high-quality education with amazing flexibility.

Hamline Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 59%
Final Score: 138/200

10. St. Catherine University

St. Catherine University

St. Catherine UniversitySt. Catherine University is usually called St. Kate’s. It’s a private Roman Catholic university that has two campuses in Minnesota, in St. Paul and Minneapolis. It was initially created as the College of St. Catherine in 1905 as a school for women, among the first in the region. Now the school has co-ed programs at the associates and graduate levels. Bachelors programs are still women’s-only, and though the school allows men to enroll, the student body of 4,786 is 96% women. Despite the traditionalism usually associated with private Catholic schools, St. Kate’s has a history of pushing the limits in pursuit of their mission to educate and empower. In 1927, it was absolutely unheard of for a women’s college to have a building dedicated strictly to science, but the first president Antonia McHugh secured a substantial Rockefeller Grant to build Mendel Hall.

The Weekend College at St. Catherine University was the second program of its kind in the country. The university wanted to create a way that working adults and students who didn’t live near the existing campuses could still obtain a degree. In its first ten years, it expanded to serve hundreds of students. It is now the College for Adults. Through the College for Adults, there are many distance-learning degree programs available. Whether your calling is Occupational Therapy, Early Childhood Education, or Business Management, St. Kate’s has an option for you to meet those goals entirely online, and some of them allow for you to do so in an accelerated format.

St. Kate’s Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 81%
Graduation Rate: 59%
Final Score: 140/200

9. University of Minnesota Morris

University of Minnesota Morris

University of Minnesota MorrisThe University of Minnesota Morris is located in Morris, Minnesota. It’s a member of the University of Minnesota System, as well as the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. It was founded in 1960. The University of Minnesota used to operate a boarding school called the West Central School of Agriculture; when they started the process to get rid of this school in 1950, the residents of Morris fought back. Because of the community’s desire for an institution in that area, UMM opened in the fall of 1960. It obtained accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission 10 years later. UMM offers some licensure and pre-professional programs, but primarily grants bachelors degrees. There are about 40 majors to choose from, and there are 1,771 students pursuing their degrees right now. The university also allows students to customize their course loads to design their own major.

Alumni of the school have gone on to a variety of exciting careers. In example, Dennis Koslowski of the class of 1981 is the team chiropractor for the Minnesota Vikings; two of their alumni, Joseph Ruud and Sara McMann both wrestle professionally. The university has been recognized by a number of publications big and small because of its academic quality and value; most notably, Forbes magazine have ranked them as one of the Top Ten Public Liberal Arts Colleges 15 times! Morris Online Learning allows students at Morris, and people who want to take non-credit courses to take classes online. Students at other members of the University of Minnesota System can take classes as well. There is a consortium agreement among the five campuses, which allows students the opportunity to take courses from any of the schools. This also means that students of UMM get the opportunity to utilize UMN Online, which offers a broad selection of certificates and degrees in blended and entirely-online formats.

UMN Morris Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 78%
Graduation Rate: 64%
Final Score: 142/200

8. The College of Saint Scholastica

The College of Saint Scholastica

The College of Saint ScholasticaThe College of Saint Scholastica is a private Catholic Benedictine university that is located in Duluth, Minnesota. Mother Scholastica Kerst relocated to Duluth in 1892 with a dream “that someday there will rise upon these grounds fine buildings like the great Benedictine abbeys. They will be built of stone: within their walls, higher education will flourish.” CSS was the result of that dream. It began as a high school that was called Sacred Heart Institute, and in 1912 the curriculum expanded to include the first two-year degrees. That year, it took on its current name. The first bachelors degrees followed shortly after in 1926. By the 70’s, CSS was a fully coeducational institution that was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Students today can get certificates and degrees from the bachelors to doctoral levels in over 50 programs.

The College of Saint Scholastica is made up of six main academic divisions including the School of Arts and Letters; the School of Business and Technology; the School of Education; the School of Health Sciences; the School of Nursing and; the School of Sciences. There are currently 4,351 total students at CSS. 23% of the undergraduate students are pursuing a degree solely online, and 47% of the graduate students are doing so as well. There are 13 unique online undergraduate degree programs, eight graduate degree programs, and 12 certification programs in which you can enroll through what CSS calls the Extended Campus. The most popular are the RN to BSN and Health Information Management programs.

CSS Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 81%
Graduation Rate: 66%
Final Score: 147/200

7. Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis College of Art and DesignMinneapolis College of Art and Design was founded in 1886, and it held its first classes of just 28 people in a downtown Minneapolis apartment. Now it shares its campus with the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Children’s Theater Company in the Whittier area, and it serves 803 students. It is a private college, and it is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation. MCAD offers bachelors and masters degrees, as well as some post-baccalaureate certificate and continuing education programs. It is one of very few influential art schools that have a major in comic art. Tania del Rio of Archie Comics and Dan Jurgens who worked on two different Superman comics are both graduates of MCAD.

Other alumni include Grammy winner Gregory Euclide, F. Keogh Gleason, who has been MGM’s resident set decorator for nearly fifty years, and the illustrator of the US printing of the Harry Potter series, Mary GrandPré. Many other graduates are successful and influential in the world of art as well. At the undergraduate level, MCAD only offers hybrid programs for students who wish to learn online. However, 44% of those pursuing a graduate degree from the college are doing so entirely online. Currently available is a Master of Art in Sustainable Design and a Master of Art in Graphics and Web Design. Both of those options are 100% online, and they’re deliverable asynchronously so that students can learn at a pace and according to a schedule that fits their needs.

MCAD Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 83%
Graduation Rate: 65%
Final Score: 148/200

6. Concordia College at Moorhead

Concordia College at Moorhead

Concordia College at MoorheadConcordia College is a private college in Moorhead, Minnesota that is not related to The Concordia University System or Concordia University St. Paul. Instead, this school is associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It was founded on Halloween in 1891 by Norwegian settlers. At that time, there were only three faculty and 12 students. Their academic staff is now approaching 200 people, and there are 2,132 students. The college offers bachelors and masters degrees in over 50 different majors. The college also has agreements with Minnesota State University Moorhead and North Dakota State University that serves to diversify the opportunities available to their students further, allowing them to study at either university for credit while enrolled at Concordia.

The curriculum is firmly centered on Christianity, and all undergraduate students are required to take courses in religion. They are also expected to take classes in the subjects of health, communication, and culture to fulfill the liberal arts requirement. Concordia boasts a very highly respected study abroad program, has four global education programs, and has courses in 9 different languages. Also, even though the majority of their students are Minnesota natives, there are students from 28 foreign countries in attendance. Their commitment to global engagement is so that students can “live in a global society and are passionate about making a difference in their communities.” There are a wide variety of online courses available at this school, 100% of the students seeking a graduate degree are enrolled in at least one online course.

Concordia Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 84%
Graduation Rate: 73%
Final Score: 157/200

5. Martin Luther College

Martin Luther College

Martin Luther CollegeMartin Luther College is a private college that serves entirely as the college of ministry operated by the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The campus is located in New Ulm, Minnesota. The college is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Minnesota Board of Teaching. This school was established in 1995 by the merging of Northwestern College and Dr. Martin Luther College. The sole purpose of Martin Luther College is to train students that have a calling to public ministry. The college offers bachelors and masters degrees in the field of education from early childhood education to educational administration. There are also a number of certificate programs available, and degree programs that will lead to a career as a pastor or minister.

According to the MLC mission, all courses and programs are created “according to the gospel” and “with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” Despite the laser-focus on Christianity and education, students still have a variety of opportunities. Majors are offered in almost every core subject, even in music education, and special education. Minors are offered in subjects such as Chinese language, music, and more, in order to allow students to prepare themselves to lead and teach students according to their own goals. The degree programs preparing students for ministry include subjects like evangelism, vocal music, and psychology. While MLC has a strict goal, the college strives to truly educate its students in a well-rounded way. Online programs are offered through the Continuing Education department and include many different certificate programs and a degree track in Early Childhood Education.

MLC Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 87%
Graduation Rate: 73%
Final Score: 160/200

4. University of St. Thomas

University of St. Thomas

University of St. ThomasThe University of St. Thomas, or just St. Thomas is a private Roman Catholic-affiliated university. Named after the patron saint of students, St. Thomas began as a Catholic seminary in 1885. It has two campuses in Minnesota, in St. Paul and Minneapolis. It is considered the ‘brother university’ of the University of St. Catherine because of their historical affiliation. St. Thomas was a men’s-only institution until 1977 and St. Kate’s was a women’s-only institution as well; students could take courses at either school if their particular area of study required a specific class. The first academic degrees were awarded in 1915, and now the university awards more than 2,000 a year. There are 9,920 students enrolled which makes the university the largest of its kind in the USA. Students have a choice of almost 100 majors and five different bachelors degrees at the undergraduate level, and more than 60 graduate degree programs in several different areas of study.

There are eight different academic divisions of St. Thomas. These are the College of Arts & Sciences; the Opus College of Business; the College of Education, Leadership, and Counseling; the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity; the School of Engineering; the School of Law; the School of Social Work and; the Dougherty Family College. The Dougherty Family College offers the only Associate of Arts degree program at St. Thomas. Only a very small percentage of students pursue their degrees online at St. Thomas, but the university offers online graduate degree programs in a number of subjects, like Social Work, Business Administration, and a Master of Arts in Educational Studies with 5 different specializations. St. Thomas plans to introduce distance-learning options to undergraduate students in summer of 2018.

St. Thomas Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 88%
Graduation Rate: 76%
Final Score: 164/200

3. Bethel University

Bethel University

Bethel UniversityBethel University is a private Christian college in Arden Hills, Minnesota. The university is not affiliated with and not to be confused with the school of the same name in Tennessee. Bethel, as the school is often referred, is affiliated with the Baptist Organization, Converge. However, their 4,016 students represent almost 70 different denominations and come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and cities around the world. Bethel is one of the 13 member institutions of the Christian College Consortium and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, among which it ranks in the top five. It was founded in 1871 as a Baptist Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. In 1914 the seminary merged with Bethel Academy in St. Paul. A little over a decade later, the academy introduced a four-year liberal arts program and became Bethel College and Seminary. It began operating at the current campus in 1972 and adopted the title of Bethel University in 2004.

The university is made up of four different schools, through which it offers over 100 different degree programs. Bethel University awards licenses, certificates, and degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The College of Arts & Sciences has 11 pre-professional programs. The other academic divisions are Bethel Seminary, the College of Adult & Professional Studies, and the Graduate School. There are a total of 56 different specific concentrations that Bethel provides to distance-learners, 53 of which can be completed 100% online. Some of the more popular degrees include their MBA program with three different specialization options, the RN to BSN program, and the Bachelor of Science in Finance. Because so many of their programs require students to have at least an Associates degree to enroll, Bethel has made their Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees available entirely online as well.

Bethel Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 88%
Graduation Rate: 76%
Final Score: 164/200

2. Saint John’s University

Saint John's University

Saint John's UniversityThe College of Saint Benedict is a women’s-only college in St. Joseph, Minnesota and Saint John’s University is a men’s-only college in Collegeville, Minnesota. They are both private Catholic Benedictine institutions, and through their coordinate relationship, they share their curriculum and resources. Saint John’s University was founded in 1857, and the College of Saint Benedict was created in 1913. They partnered in 1961, and now they provide the same academic programs, have a joint faculty, and together serve almost 4,000 students. The schools are usually referred to as CSBSJU collectively. The institution is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has the overall mission to uphold Benedictine values and to be a place that prepares men and women to engage the world.

CSBSJU is one of few religious-affiliated institutions of higher learning that features an inclusive and encouraging code of student conduct. They do not prohibit the use of alcohol or tobacco on campus, and they have stringent policies in place that prohibit discrimination on any basis. They are one of the only Catholic schools in the country to have a student organization for LGBTQ+ students. The school is currently working to expand their distance-learning programs. Now, the school offers an online version of most of their classes, and through strategic planning with a counselor, students can earn the majority of their degree online. Of Saint John’s University’s graduate degree-seeking students, 17% of them are currently taking their classes online, 12% are entirely online.

SJU Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 89%
Graduation Rate: 79%
Final Score: 168/200

1. University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota

University of MinnesotaThe University of Minnesota’s main campus is the Twin Cities branch. There is a campus in St. Paul, and in Minneapolis, and the two are only 3 miles apart. The university is commonly abbreviated to UMN or even just Minnesota. UMN is the flagship university of the University of Minnesota System, and is a member of the Association of American Universities and is ranked #14 out of 60 in their research efforts. UMN is considered a Public Ivy, which is a rare distinction signifying that the quality of the education they can provide is on par with that of an Ivy League school. In the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, UMN has the highest research activity classification. The university is the home of an astounding 25 Nobel Prize winners and 3 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Faculty, students, alumni, and researchers associated with the university have been credited with the discovery, development, and invention of a variety of things such as photosynthesis, atomic bombs, open-heart surgery, the pacemaker, and so much more. The academic divisions of the university that the university is divided into are the Center for Allied Health Programs; the College of Biological Sciences; the College of Continuing Education; the School of Dentistry; the College of Design; the College of Education and Human Development; the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; the Graduate School; the Law School; the College of Liberal Arts; the Carlson School of Management; the Medical School; the School of Nursing; the College of Pharmacy; the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs; the School of Public Health; the College of Science and Engineering and; the College of Veterinary Medicine.

There are 51,579 students at UMN. Former vice presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale are both alumni, as is Deke Slayton. Deke Slayton was a NASA Mercury Seven astronaut, and he also served as the first Chief of the Astronaut Office and the Director of Flight Crew Operations. UMN has almost 4,000 instructors. Among them are members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and several other select organizations. They are winners of Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Fellowships and more. This dedicated and highly educated group of people are committed to fostering the same excellence in their students, and they are responsible for the instruction of the online courses available at UMN.

There is only a small percentage of students that participate in distance-learning opportunities at the university. 29% of the undergraduate students, and 14% of the graduate students. There are 38 different programs that can be taken 100% online, including certificates and degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Many of them offer the same tuition rate to students regardless of the residency. The most popular online degree that they offer is their MBA program, with their IT Management bachelors degree being a close second. Some of their most affordable online degrees are the Bachelor of Science in Accounting and the Bachelor of Science in Marketing.

UM Website:
Freshman Retention Rate: 93%
Graduation Rate: 78%
Final Score: 171/200

Related Rankings: