North Dakota’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 North Dakota provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

North Dakota’s Best Public 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 public colleges and universities?

Methodology

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 public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 6 public universities in North Dakota, 5 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 30%.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in North Dakota

  1. #1

    University of North Dakota

    Grand Forks , ND
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    What is University of North Dakota known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1152/23

    What is North Dakota State University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • History
    • Psychology
    REQUEST INFO
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/20

    What is Minot State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/20

    What is Dickinson State University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1019/21

    What is Valley City State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

Find the best public college in North Dakota for your interests

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