2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST COLLEGES IN MINNESOTA


An Overview of the Best Colleges in Minnesota

There are nearly 200 post-secondary institutions in Minnesota. The largest of the MN colleges on this ranking is the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus, and it’s one of the largest colleges in America based on enrollment size.

Top 6 Best Colleges in Minnesota

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Colleges in Minnesota

Colleges in Minnesota that are part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System also include 31 public universities and colleges, but this doesn’t include the U of M.

There are four U of M campuses, including Duluth, which is featured on this ranking, as well as Crookston, Morris, and Rochester.

The University of St. Thomas is the largest of the private Minnesota colleges, and it’s located in St. Paul.

This ranking of Minnesota colleges covers the best colleges in MN, including private colleges in Minnesota and Minnesota state colleges, and provides a bit of information about each.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Colleges in Minnesota

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that college or university):


Top 6 Best Colleges in Minnesota | Brief Comparison

Top Colleges in Minnesota

Location

Key Benefit

Concordia College

Moorhead, Minnesota

Offers students a globally-driven liberal arts education

Minnesota State University, Mankato

Mankato, Minnesota

Offers more than 130 courses of study and an active student life

St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud, Minnesota

One of the largest MN state colleges

University of Minnesota-Duluth

Duluth, Minnesota

Students can take advantage of the banded tuition program to graduate earlier and lower their education costs

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota

Ranked as a Public Ivy and top research university in the world

The University of St. Thomas

St. Paul and Minneapolis

Minnesota’s largest private non-profit university

Table: Top 6 Best Minnesota Colleges | Above list is sorted alphabetically



Should You Choose One of the Large Minnesota Colleges or a Small School?

When students are considering the top colleges in Minnesota, whether it’s private colleges in Minnesota or Minnesota state colleges, they have to decide between a large or a small school. How do you know which is right for you?

There are a few things to think about when you’re making the decision to attend one of the small colleges in Minnesota, versus one of the extremely large MN colleges.

First, what kind of experience do you want?

Best Colleges in Minnesota

Image Source: Pexels

Some students want that small, individualized campus experience, while others crave to break out of their high school experience and instead be on a big campus. Choosing one of the top colleges in Minnesota with a large campus size can provide access to some of the best libraries and on-campus resources, a wide selection of courses and majors, top research facilities, and also some of the best sports programs.

At the same time, you might opt for one of the small colleges Minnesota if you want a smaller faculty-to-student ratio and a mentorship relationship with a lot of your professors and teachers.

If you opt for one of the large colleges in MN, classes may have hundreds of people, and you may not ever speak with your professors personally for a lot of those classes.

There also tends to be a lot of administrative red tape at larger Minnesota colleges.

These are just a few of the many considerations to weigh if you’re thinking about the benefits of small colleges in MN versus top colleges in Minnesota with huge populations.



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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Colleges in Minnesota

Below, please find the detailed review of each of the top colleges in Minnesota. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these best colleges in MN to score so well in our selection ranking.



Concordia College Review


Concordia College is one of the best colleges in MN, located in Moorhead, Minnesota. It’s a private college associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Key Features That Led to Its Ranking as One of the Best Colleges in Minnesota

Below are unique features of Concordia College leading to its ranking as one of the leading colleges in Minnesota.

Globally-Focused Curriculum

At Concordia, one of the top colleges in Minnesota, the curriculum is global-centric. It integrates academic offerings with abundant study abroad options, which paves the way for students of this school to have an understanding of history, culture, and language, with the ultimate objective of preparing them to be a responsible global citizen.

According to Concordia, their global-centric curriculum begins in the classroom, and they offer nine languages and two global-focused majors. Along with study away programs, students at Concordia can also participate in worldwide internships and volunteer opportunities.

Liberal Arts

Concordia, one of the top colleges in Minnesota on this ranking of the top 6 colleges in Minnesota, offers students a strong liberal arts education. There is a student-faculty ratio of only 11:1 and classes are very small, so students can work closely with their teachers and develop mentorship relationships.

Students can also choose from more than 50 majors and 12 preprofessional programs, and they’re all based on an experiential learning process with not only global experiences but also research and internships.

Campus Life

Along with a strong liberal arts education, students at Concordia also have the opportunity to enjoy a robust student life when they attend this school, one of the best colleges in MN. There are more than 2,100 students at Concordia, and the school has 19 music ensembles that tour the country and the world.

They have 22 NCAA Division III athletic teams, an active theater program, student government, and more than 100 student organizations.

The campus is also located in the Fargo-Moorhead area, which is home to tens of thousands of college students.

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Minnesota State University, Mankato Review


Minnesota State University, Mankato is one of the top 6 colleges in Minnesota and is the flagship university of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.

Key Features of This Selection for One of the Best Colleges in MN

Some of the reasons Minnesota State University is included in this ranking of the best colleges in Minnesota are detailed below.

Flexible Learning

Minnesota State offers something called University Extended Education programs, designed to provide flexibility and learning opportunities for working professionals and adults who want to get an education. They feature flexible evening and weekend classes available online or at the Edina and Twin Cities partner locations.

Academics

This leader among Minnesota state colleges offers some of the most robust and extensive academic offerings. There are undergraduate, graduate, online and off-campus programs available. This pick for one of the top colleges in MN has more than 130 undergraduate programs of study available, and these include 13 pre-professional programs and more than 75 graduate programs.

They’re offered through six academic colleges, which include Allied Health and Nursing, Arts and Humanities, Business, Education, Science, Engineering and Technology, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Academic excellence programs and resources include the Honors Program, the University Fellowship Office, the Undergraduate Research Center and the Kearney International Center.

Minnesota Colleges

Image Source: MNSU

Student Life

As one of the largest colleges in Minnesota, MNSU offers many student organizations and groups that make for an active and thriving student life. There are more than 200 groups on campus that include academic groups, intramural sports, leadership organizations and religious groups.

There is also an active Greek Life Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council, and Minnesota State University has the second-oldest LGBT resource center for students in the U.S.



St. Cloud State University Review


St. Cloud State University is one of the leading MN colleges, located in St. Cloud on the Mississippi River.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Colleges in MN

In terms of Minnesota colleges, including private colleges in Minnesota and public colleges in Minnesota, below are specifics of why St. Cloud is ranked as one of the top 6 colleges in Minnesota.

Size

For any student searching for large MN colleges, St. Cloud is one of the biggest Minnesota colleges. St. Cloud State has a 100-acre campus located between downtown St. Cloud and the Beaver Islands. The school offers more than 200 academic programs and 60 graduate degrees. They also feature study abroad options on six continents.

Several colleges and schools are part of this university, including the College of Liberal Ats, College of Science & Engineering, Herberger Business School, School of Education, School of Health & Human Services, and the School of Public Affairs.

Residential Communities

Undergraduate students who are exploring MN state colleges will find that St. Cloud is unique because there are eight residential communities incoming students can choose from, and each has its own distinct personality. These range from independent apartment-style living to traditional residence halls.

The campus also includes an active Greek life, recreation at places like the Underground, and the Atwood Theatre.  

Research and Facilities

St. Cloud has abundant research options and advanced facilities students can take advantage of. This pick for one of the top colleges in Minnesota features a $45 million Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility for interdisciplinary research teams, as well as a wide variety of academic research programs funded by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Specific top research facilities at St. Cloud include the Center for Information Assurance, the Center for Microscopic Imaging and Analysis, and the Center for Aquatic Toxicology.

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University of Minnesota-Duluth Review


The University of Minnesota-Duluth is a regional campus that’s part of the University of Minnesota System, located in Duluth. UMD is one of the top public Minnesota state colleges.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Colleges in Minnesota

When comparing the best colleges in MN, including private colleges in Minnesota and public MN colleges, the following are key reason UMD is on this ranking of the top 6 colleges in Minnesota.

Campus

Among colleges in MN and top colleges in Minnesota, UMD has a great campus with a lot of resources available to students. The campus of this pick for one of the best colleges in MN includes more than 50 buildings set on 244 acres on Lake Superior.

The campus of this selection for one of the leading Minnesota colleges is home to the Tweed Museum of Art, the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium, the Weber Music Hall, and the Marshall Performing Arts Center.

The campus also includes the James I. Swenson Science Building and the Labovitz School of Business and Economics.

Banded Tuition

At UMD, one of the leaders among Minnesota colleges and particularly MN state colleges, has something called Banded Tuition. This is a program designed to keep costs affordable for students.

At this school, one of the leading colleges Minnesota offers, every credit a student takes after 13 credits is free. This is designed to keep costs down and encourage students to graduate in four years.

Midwest Student Exchange Program

UMD, ranked as one of the best colleges in MN, participates in something called the Midwest Student Exchange Program. This means that residents of certain Midwest states qualify for tuition that is only slightly higher than in-state tuition. These states include Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Nebraska.

UMD, as one of the best colleges in MN, also has reciprocity agreements with North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Manitoba.



The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Review


Among the best colleges in MN, including private colleges in Minnesota and public Minnesota colleges, The University of Minnesota Twin Cities excels in many ways.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Top Colleges in Minnesota

Particular reasons the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is on this list of the top 6 colleges in Minnesota are below.

Top Colleges in Minnesota

Image Source: University of Minnesota

Size

The University of Minnesota is one of the largest colleges in Minnesota and the country, making it a great option for a student who wants a big campus. The University of Minnesota is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the campuses are about three miles apart from one another.

This is the largest and oldest school in the University of Minnesota system. It also has the sixth-largest main campus student body in the U.S.

The University is the flagship of the University of Minnesota system.

Rankings and Recognition

The University of Minnesota is the only name on this list of the best colleges in MN that is a Public Ivy. This refers to the fact that it’s not just one of the top public colleges in MN, but also the entire country.

It is categorized as an R1 Doctoral University with the highest level of research activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, and it’s a member of the Association of American Universities.

This pick for one of the leading MN colleges is also ranked 14th in the country regarding research activity.

Academics

This pick for one of the best colleges in Minnesota (and the only colleges Minnesota has that are part of the Public Ivy rankings) excels in terms of academics. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is a member of the Association of American Universities. This is an organization of only the top research universities in the U.S. and Canada.

The University has 19 colleges and schools, and there are six University-wide interdisciplinary centers and institutes.

It’s also ranked as one of the top universities in the world by U.S. News and World Report, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

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The University of St. Thomas Review


Many of the names on this ranking of the best colleges in Minnesota are public, but The University of St. Thomas is unique in that it’s one of the top private colleges in MN. St. Thomas, one of the premier MN colleges, is located in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Key Factors That Led to Our Ranking of This as One of the Best Colleges in Minnesota

Specific factors leading to the inclusion of the University of St. Thomas as one of the top 6 colleges in Minnesota and one of the best colleges Minnesota has to offer are below.

Hiring After Graduation

A big focus of a lot of top colleges in Minnesota right now is hiring after graduation. According to the University of St. Thomas, 95% of their ’15 and ’16 alumni report having a job, starting graduate school, or enlisting in the military or volunteer service within a year after graduating.

Also, 65% of the class of ’15 reported having an internship during their time at the University of St. Thomas.

Size and Offerings

Despite being among the private colleges in Minnesota, St. Thomas is a large school with a lot of different offerings — yet the student-faculty ratio remains low at 14:1. The average class size for undergraduates is 21.

Despite the feel of being a small school, this leader among MN colleges still has more than 90 majors and 60 minors available to students, and there are more than 60 graduate degree options.

Rankings

The University of St. Thomas is frequently recognized not just as one of the best colleges in MN, but as a top school nationally. For example, it has been well-ranked in the America’s Best College survey from U.S. News & World Report, and the graduate programs have also been top-ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

The Undergraduate Programs at the St. Thomas Opus School of Business have been top-ranked by the Bloomberg Business Week listing of Business Schools, and it’s consistently recognized for its sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives.

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Conclusion — Top 6 Best Colleges in Minnesota

Minnesota is a Midwestern state that’s home to unique colleges and universities, ranging from public to private. Colleges Minnesota is known for include the large Public Ivy, the University of Minnesota, as well as private schools like the University of St. Thomas.

This ranking of the top 6 colleges in Minnesota includes MN state colleges as well as private colleges in Minnesota.

Despite the differences between each of these MN colleges, they all excel regarding their academic offerings, diversity of their student body, and overall reputation.



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