Minnesota’s Best Small Colleges & Universities of 2021

Small colleges in Minnesota are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical or on the liberal arts, small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.

Minnesota’s Best Small 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.


What are Minnesota’s Colleges & Universities?

Minnesota’s Best Overall


Minnesota's Best Small Colleges and Universities 2021 badge
Download Badge

How do we determine Minnesota's best small 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.

The following list of the best small colleges and universities in Minnesota is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though a handful also offer graduate programs). We’ve identified 22 small colleges in Minnesota, 19 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best small colleges in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must have a student body of 5,000 or fewer students.
  4. It must have a graduation rate greater than 50%.

Best Small Colleges & Universities in Minnesota

  1. #1

    Carleton College

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

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    Northfield, MN

    View profile

    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

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

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/31

    Saint Paul, MN

    View profile

    What is Macalester College known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
  3. #3

    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

  4. #4

    St. Olaf College

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

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/29

    Northfield, MN

    View profile

    What is St. Olaf College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Hamline University

    #1250 institution's historical influence
    #419 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/22

    Saint Paul, MN

    View profile

    What is Hamline University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University

    #1682 institution's historical influence
    #1194 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1147/25

    Saint Joseph, MN

    View profile

    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
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Gustavus Adolphus College

    #1397 institution's historical influence
    #732 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    Saint Peter, MN

    View profile

    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
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Economics
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Augsburg University

    #2510 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

    View profile

    What is Augsburg University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    #2635 institution's historical influence
    #405 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1113/23

    Winona, MN

    View profile

    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
    • Medical
    • History
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Concordia College

    #2576 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1149/24

    Moorhead, MN

    View profile

    What is Concordia College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    Bethel University

    #2189 institution's historical influence
    #1442 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/24

    Saint Paul, MN

    View profile

    What is Bethel University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    St. Catherine University

    #2290 institution's historical influence
    #449 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/24

    Saint Paul, MN

    View profile

    What is St. Catherine University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    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

  14. #14

    Concordia University, St. Paul

    #8780 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    4K

    Saint Paul, MN

    View profile

    What is Concordia University, St. Paul known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    University of Northwestern – St. Paul

    #7346 institution's historical influence
    #1120 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    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
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    College of St. Scholastica

    #4201 institution's historical influence
    #582 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    4K

    Duluth, MN

    View profile

    What is College of St. Scholastica known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #17

    Dunwoody College of Technology

    #8251 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    1K

    Minneapolis, MN

    View profile

    What is Dunwoody College of Technology known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #18

    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

  19. #19

    Bethany Lutheran College

    #6831 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

Find Minnesota’s best private school for your interest

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By: McGhiever - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0