Online Schools and Colleges in North Dakota

ASO Staff Writers
Updated June 27, 2023
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With a relatively small network of schools statewide, North Dakota students benefit from online learning in multiple ways. Increased access to digital learning platforms, for example, has created a 91 percent increase in online course enrollment across all grade levels. Not only has this helped K-12 students get ahead, but it continues to foster post-secondary education via a more flexible degree-granting network of schools. Let’s take a look at online schools at both the K-12 and college levels in further detail.

Best Online Colleges in North Dakota

North Dakota’s higher education institutions offer a variety of online programs. According to the 2017 Distance Education State Almanac, 44.1% of the state’s enrolled student body took at least one distance course that year, far outpacing the national average of 29.7%. Furthermore, North Dakota boasted some of the nation’s lowest average tuition fees during the 2019-2020 school year. These factors make the state an excellent option for distance learners looking for a high-quality, affordable education.

This guide provides a comprehensive introduction to the practical aspects of online learning in North Dakota. The following sections explore program options, funding opportunities, and tips for succeeding at online schools and colleges in North Dakota.

2-Year Colleges

University of Mary
LocationBismarck, ND

Founded on the Benedictine ethic, the University of Mary is a professionally-focused institution, offering degree programs geared toward placing students in high-demand jobs. Their online school follows the same path, only the degrees offered online are designed for working adults. Students studying online can earn their bachelor's or master's degree at their own pace, but they can potentially earn their degree in as little as 15 months, saving time and money along the way.

Minot State University
LocationMinot, ND

Minot State University is often considered one of the most affordable schools in the nation for 4-year programs. All students studying at Minot - including those that live out-of-state or that are studying online - will receive in-state tuition, keeping this online program affordable. Their online program has multiple bachelor's degrees available, some of which are degree completion programs designed for transfer students. With over 18 years of online teaching experience, the affordability and quality of this program make it stand out.

Valley City State University
LocationValley City, ND

Originally a teacher's school, Valley City State University has included other areas of study while still placing an emphasis on their school of education. Through their online school, undergraduates can study toward 1 of 6 degrees geared specifically toward education. Other online programs are also available, including 2 master's degree programs -- one in teaching and the other in education. Minors and certifications are also offered online, making this an ideal school for future educators.

North Dakota State University-Main Campus
LocationFargo, ND

North Dakota State Univeristy is among the top schools in the nation for agriculture and social sciences. While not all of their programs are available online, undergraduates can study toward 1 of 3 focuses on their way to earning a bachelor's in human development & family science. An entirely online bachelor's in sociology is also available, as are four minor options. The cost of online programs ranges depending on which state students are residents of.

University of North Dakota
LocationGrand Forks, ND

The oldest and largest school in the state, the University of North Dakota has a history of providing quality education. Their online program continues that trend, offering online tutoring and student services to all their students. There are also a wide range of degree programs available, some of which can be completed entirely online in a 4-year period. Other popular options include online degree completion programs for transfer students and accelerated bachelor's/master's programs, such as their 5-year public administration BS/MPA.

Mayville State University
LocationMayville, ND

Any online students that have previously studied through Mayville State University will notice that some things have changed. The school recently switched to the popular Blackboard Learn system, but they still offer the same 12 online programs they previously did. One benefit of studying at Mayville State is that online credits earned never expire, so students can take as long as they want to earn their degree - although many complete their education in the traditional 4-year period.

Dickinson State University
LocationDickinson, ND

An important part of southwest Dakota, Dickinson State University prepares students for careers in the region. However, the material covered through all their programs - including their online programs - can be used to begin a career anywhere. With 8 bachelor's degrees offered entirely online, Dickinson State online has options for most busy students. Also offered online is a master's in teaching which prepares students to become teachers at the secondary level.

Trinity Bible College and Graduate School
LocationEllendale, ND

Founded with Christian faith and theology in mind, the majority of the programs at Trinity Bible College and Graduate School are focused on theological studies and ministry. TCB online provides access to some of these programs. The main online program, the bachelor's degree in biblical studies, is a 4-year program that can be combined with a master's through the accelerate program. The cost for all online programs is the same per credit regardless of where students live.

4-Year Colleges

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How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I’m Looking for in North Dakota?

Many North Dakota institutions offer online learning opportunities, and prospective students may find reviewing each individual school’s website time-consuming and confusing. Aggregators and indexing websites that compile, review, and rank online programs can save you a great deal of trouble. You can click the icon below to launch your search for accredited online programs in North Dakota.


How Much More Do College Grads in North Dakota Make?

Professionals in North Dakota enjoy competitive salaries, excellent employment benefits, and access to a burgeoning job market. According to a 2019 report by the Bismarck Tribune, North Dakota has tens of thousands of job vacancies and an acute shortage of qualified candidates to fill them.

The following table illustrates how dramatically a college education improves lifetime earning potential. Additionally, North Dakota has a low cost of living, so your money goes even further here.


Source: BLS

Paying for Online College in North Dakota: Tuition and Financial Aid

North Dakota ranks among the most affordable states for college students, especially for out-of-state learners. According to the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation, public four-year North Dakota institutions charged nonresident students the nation’s second-lowest tuition rates during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Even so, students need a practical plan to cover the cost of earning a degree. The following table details how average North Dakota tuition rates compare to the national averages for public and private institutions.

$7,687$19,021$9,037 (In-State)$25,657 (Out-of-State)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Cost Considerations for Online Students in North Dakota

The figures above are statewide averages, and rates vary by institution. Additionally, online students may face additional costs, which learners should consider when formulating a financial plan. Below are some examples of costs of students attending online schools and colleges in North Dakota face.

Qualifying for In-State Tuition in North Dakota

The University of North Dakota system maintains specific requirements to qualify for in-state tuition rates. In addition to submitting a resident tuition application, prospective students must produce a valid North Dakota driver’s license issued at least a year prior to the application date. Learners must submit additional residency documentation, such as a lease agreement, mortgage statement, or utility bill that demonstrates that the applicant has lived in North Dakota for at least 12 months.

Minnesota residents and their dependents usually qualify for in-state tuition rates under reciprocity agreements. However, specific policies vary among institutions, so learners should contact individual online schools and colleges in North Dakota for details.

Paying for College in North Dakota: Scholarships and Financial Aid

Online college students in North Dakota can take advantage of scholarships and grants that make higher education more affordable. In addition to hundreds of national programs, North Dakota students can apply for the funding opportunities below.

Scholarships for North Dakota College Students

Grants for North Dakota College Students


The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in North Dakota

Accredited schools meet rigorous standards of academic quality as determined by neutral, third-party organizations. Students should only consider attending online schools and colleges in North Dakota that hold regional or national accreditation, as these qualifications ensure that employers and other institutions will recognize your academic credentials. Learners should identify the accreditation status of each prospective school, noting that colleges and universities can hold multiple types of institutional and programmatic accreditation.

Regional and National Accreditation

Online schools and colleges in North Dakota can hold national or regional accreditation. For-profit schools and institutions focused on technical, vocational, or practical training typically receive national accreditation. Prominent national accrediting agencies include the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

Regional accreditation usually applies to academically oriented schools and state-operated, nonprofit institutions. The Higher Learning Commission awards regional accreditation to North Dakota schools.

Regional accreditation usually applies to academically oriented schools and state-operated, nonprofit institutions. The Higher Learning Commission awards regional accreditation to North Dakota schools.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

Subject-specific accreditation applies to programs in a particular field. This type of accreditation demonstrates that programs meet standards of academic quality set by professional or academic organizations. For example, the University of North Dakota’s School of Law holds programmatic accreditation from the American Bar Association.

How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited

Attending an accredited school is crucial to ensuring that you will qualify for funding and employment opportunities. Accredited institutions and programs typically feature their accreditation status on their website. Learners can search the directory from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to verify the accreditation status of any school or program. Students should avoid schools with very short degree completion timelines and institutions without physical addresses.

Online College and Adult Education in North Dakota

The North Dakota state government supports many online, continuing education, and adult education initiatives. The sections below include information about programs and resources for adult learners in North Dakota.

By the Numbers: Adult Education in North Dakota

The University of North Dakota offers more than 120 fully online degree and certificate programs.

Eleven schools in the North Dakota University System offer fully online degree programs and courses.

The University of North Dakota System has offered distance education opportunities for more than 100 years.

Source: University of North DakotaNorth Dakota University System

Adult Education Programs for North Dakota Students

Online College Resources for North Dakota Students

Local businesses, organizations, and online schools and colleges in North Dakota offer a variety of resources for current and prospective students. The resources below provide information about college access and affordability in the state. You can use these tools to plan your finances, plot your degree path, and learn about the college experience in North Dakota.

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