Minnesota’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Minnesota

One of largest public higher education institutes in the country, the University of Minnesota has main campuses in both of the Twin Cities, Saint Paul and Minneapolis. This school costs about $15,000 in tuition, and provides its students with competitive programs in fields like nursing, education, economics, and psychology. And the options don’t stop there. There are more than 20 schools in the state with religious affiliations, including larger schools like the University of St. Thomas, which campuses in both Twin Cities, and smaller schools like Oak Hills Christian College in Bemidji.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

For students striving to keep costs low in a smaller school environment, Southwest Minnesota State University offers tuition below the national average and serves about 3,500 students. Additionally, those on track to become a teacher or health care provider may be eligible for one of Minnesota’s loan forgiveness programs after graduation. Minnesota also boasts a large network of private colleges, two of which, Walden University and Capella University, primarily cater to online students.

Ever heard the phrase, There’s an app for that? Well, in Minnesota they say something similar, There’s a festival for that. This fun state doesn’t hold back when it comes to celebrating. With events like the Grumpy Old Men Festival, World Festival, and the Perham Turtle Fest, students earning their degrees at one of Minnesota’s more than 70 colleges won’t miss out on a good time.

Discover some of Minnesota’s top programs and learn how you can earn your associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree while cashing in on some of this state’s unique experiences.

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What are Minnesota’s Colleges & Universities?

Minnesota’s Best Overall

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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How do we determine Minnesota's best private colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call Concentrated Influence. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 21 private universities in Minnesota, 17 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best private universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a private, non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%.

Best Private Colleges & Universities in Minnesota

  1. #1

    Carleton College

    #432 institution's historical influence
    #78 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    Northfield, MN

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    What is Carleton College known for?

    Carleton College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Macalester College

    #678 institution's historical influence
    #72 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/31

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is Macalester College known for?

    Macalester College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    St. Olaf College

    #847 institution's historical influence
    #171 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/29

    Northfield, MN

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    What is St. Olaf College known for?

    St. Olaf College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Hamline University

    #1226 institution's historical influence
    #419 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/22

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is Hamline University known for?

    Hamline University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University

    #1661 institution's historical influence
    #1194 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1147/25

    Saint Joseph, MN

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    What is College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University known for?

    College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Gustavus Adolphus College

    #1364 institution's historical influence
    #732 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    Saint Peter, MN

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    What is Gustavus Adolphus College known for?

    Gustavus Adolphus College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    University of St. Thomas

    #1271 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/26

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is University of St. Thomas known for?

    University of St. Thomas ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Augsburg University

    #2612 institution's historical influence
    #1452 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/20

    Minneapolis, MN

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    What is Augsburg University known for?

    Augsburg University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    #2552 institution's historical influence
    #405 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1113/23

    Winona, MN

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    What is Saint Mary's University of Minnesota known for?

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Concordia College

    #2480 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1149/24

    Moorhead, MN

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    What is Concordia College known for?

    Concordia College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    Bethel University

    #2205 institution's historical influence
    #1442 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/24

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is Bethel University known for?

    Bethel University ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    St. Catherine University

    #2303 institution's historical influence
    #449 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/24

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is St. Catherine University known for?

    St. Catherine University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    Concordia University, St. Paul

    #10975 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    4K

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is Concordia University, St. Paul known for?

    Concordia University, St. Paul’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    University of Northwestern – St. Paul

    #7396 institution's historical influence
    #1120 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1220/24

    Saint Paul, MN

    View profile

    What is University of Northwestern – St. Paul known for?

    University of Northwestern – St. Paul’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    College of St. Scholastica

    #4430 institution's historical influence
    #582 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    4K

    Duluth, MN

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    What is College of St. Scholastica known for?

    College of St. Scholastica’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  16. #16

    Dunwoody College of Technology

    #8146 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    1K

    Minneapolis, MN

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    What is Dunwoody College of Technology known for?

    Dunwoody College of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #17

    Bethany Lutheran College

    #6627 institution's historical influence
    #1073 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/23

    Mankato, MN

    View profile

    What is Bethany Lutheran College known for?

    Bethany Lutheran College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

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