Minnesota’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in Minnesota provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

Minnesota’s Best Public 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.

More see more Less see less

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.

More see more Less see less
Minnesota's Best Public Colleges 2021 badge
Download Badge

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

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.

More see more Less see less

This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 11 public universities in Minnesota, 7 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best public universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must receive direct funding from the state.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It offers a broad range of bachelor’s degree programs.
  4. It must have a graduation rate greater than 50%.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Minnesota

  1. #1

    University of Minnesota

    #26 institution's historical influence
    #890 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1370/28

    Minneapolis, MN

    View profile

    What is University of Minnesota known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    University of Minnesota Morris

    #2490 institution's historical influence
    #683 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/24

    Morris, MN

    View profile

    What is University of Minnesota Morris known for?

    University of Minnesota Morris’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    University of Minnesota Duluth

    #1270 institution's historical influence
    #1158 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/23

    Duluth, MN

    View profile

    What is University of Minnesota Duluth known for?

    University of Minnesota Duluth’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Business
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Southwest Minnesota State University

    #3531 institution's historical influence
    #1240 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    997/21

    Marshall, MN

    View profile

    What is Southwest Minnesota State University known for?

    Southwest Minnesota State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Minnesota State University, Mankato

    #1861 institution's historical influence
    #1413 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    13K

    Mankato, MN

    View profile

    What is Minnesota State University, Mankato known for?

    Minnesota State University, Mankato’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Winona State University

    #2656 institution's historical influence
    #1416 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/21

    Winona, MN

    View profile

    What is Winona State University known for?

    Winona State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
  7. #7

    University of Minnesota Crookston

    #3584 institution's historical influence
    #636 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    2K

    Crookston, MN

    View profile

    What is University of Minnesota Crookston known for?

    University of Minnesota Crookston’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the best public college in Minnesota for your interests

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By: Dragne SDI - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0