North Dakota’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 North Dakota.

North Dakota’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in North Dakota

The majority of the higher learning institutes in North Dakota are public schools and almost all of the schools could be considered small schools, serving less than 5,000 students. The state’s two largest schools, however, the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and North Dakota State University in Fargo, each have a student population around 12,000 students. Tuition at both of these schools comes in just below the national average at $9,000.

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At UND and NDSU, students can study fields such as engineering, chemistry, law, and education. Additionally, students can attend one of the state’s five private schools, three of which have religious affiliations. Students who attend these schools can pursue degrees in fields like nursing, religious studies, education, and earth sciences. North Dakota also offers a private tribal college, United Tribes Technical College, located in the state’s capital, Bismarck, where students can expect to pay around $4,000 in tuition fees.

As the country’s number one producer of honey and sunflowers, and home to part of the international Peace Garden, North Dakota’s landscape is a thing of natural beauty. This magnificent state also has its fair share of one-of-a-kind attractions, including the Badlands Dinosaur Museum, which features world-class minerals and fossils, and the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center, which gives an inside look at this Native American tribe’s unique culture and traditions. The state also boasts 19 colleges and universities for students hoping to earn a higher education degree.

Discover more about earning your degree in North Dakota by exploring some of the state’s top programs.

What are North Dakota’s Colleges & Universities?

North Dakota’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 North Dakota's best private 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.

This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 2 private universities in North Dakota, both 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 North Dakota

  1. #2

    University of Mary

    Bismarck , ND
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees






    Student body


    Median SAT/ACT


    What is University of Mary known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

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