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School Rankings

The 10 Best and Most Prestigious Universities in Minnesota

Simone Du Toit - March 08, 2022


If you are living in or relocating to Minnesota for college, you’re probably wondering what the best universities in Minnesota are. In this article, we have ranked the top 10 universities in Minnesota to help you with your college search.

We have included information on public and private universities of various sizes, student success rates, liberal arts programs, student to faculty ratios, number of majors, academic diversity, and access to professors. Read on to see how these Minnesota universities ranked.

How We Defined Minnesota University Rankings

To rank the best universities in Minnesota, we looked at graduate students’ success rates, US News and World Report rankings, academic program variety, and enrollment numbers. When two or more schools were tied, we sorted them by affordability. Based on these categories, the list below are the ten best universities in Minnesota.

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Minnesota Universities Ranked: Top 10 Universities in Minnesota

  1. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  2. Winona State University
  3. Gustavus Adolphus College
  4. Concordia College
  5. Saint John’s University
  6. College of Saint Benedict
  7. University of St. Thomas
  8. Carleton College
  9. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
  10. Macalester College

The Best Colleges and Universities in Minnesota, Explained

Proud man smiling wearing graduation gown, holding a board, class of 2021. Best Universities In Minnesota
Minnesota has some of the best colleges and universities for your higher education.

Minnesota has many public and private universities for you to choose from. Several of these top universities have multiple campuses, competitive educational programs, dozens of majors, online and hybrid-learning options, and financial aid options.

1. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

  • US News Ranking: #68 in National Universities
  • Campus Location(s): Minneapolis and Saint Paul
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 30,734
  • Graduation Rate: 71%

The University of Minnesota’s (UMN) tradition of education dates back to 1851. Today it is one of the most prestigious public research universities in the US. You can choose from over 150 undergraduate majors and minors, enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to on, and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities. The University of Minnesota system also has smaller campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester.

2. Winona State University

  • US News Ranking: #41 in Regional Universities Midwest
  • Campus Location(s): Winona and Rochester
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,602
  • Graduation Rate: 43%

Winona State University (WSU) was founded in 1858 and is the oldest member of the Minnesota State system. In fact, it was the first teacher training school west of the Mississippi. With campuses in Winona and Rochester, it offers over 80 majors and programs. WSU also offers online programs and boasts of 98 percent of students finding employment in fields related to their degrees.

3. Gustavus Adolphus College

  • US News Ranking: #79 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Campus Location(s): Saint Peter
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,250
  • Graduation Rate: 75%

Gustavus Adolphus College is a liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, though it welcomes students of all faiths. It offers 72 undergraduate majors and 15 pre-professional programs, including programs for non-degree-seeking students. Gustavus Adolphus has student support services and many extracurricular activities for undergraduate students to participate in on campus.

4. Concordia College

  • US News Ranking: #141 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Campus Location(s): Moorhead
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,800
  • Graduation Rate: 63%

Located in Moorhead, MN, Concordia College is a small, liberal arts school with 78 undergraduate majors. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, though students of all faiths are welcome. In addition, 83 percent of classes have an average class size of fewer than 30 students. There are 12 pre-professional programs, including public health and engineering programs.

5. Saint John’s University

  • US News Ranking: #105 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Campus Location(s): Collegeville
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,906
  • Graduation Rate: 69%

Saint John’s University (SJU) is an all-male, Catholic institution and brother school to the College of Saint Benedict. SJU offers a liberal arts curriculum with over 60 programs, 37 majors, 40 minor programs, and a beautiful campus with forests, prairies, and lakes. 95 percent of students receive some form of financial aid to cover tuition costs.

6. College of Saint Benedict

  • US News Ranking: #92 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Campus Location(s): St. Joseph
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,032
  • Graduation Rate: 80%

The College of Saint Benedict (CSB) is the sister school to SJU, though the two schools have separate campuses. This all-female, Catholic school is located just a few miles away in St. Joseph, MN. CSB was founded in 1913 and offers the same undergraduate programs as SJU. Ninety to 95 percent of students live in accommodations for students on campus.

7. University of St. Thomas

  • US News Ranking: #136 in National Universities
  • Campus Location(s): Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Rome, Italy
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 5,935
  • Graduation Rate: 70%

The University of St. Thomas is the largest private university in Minnesota and is connected with the Catholic church. The University of St. Thomas offers over 150 undergraduate majors and minors. In addition, 95 percent of students are employed or enrolled in a graduate program within one year of graduating from University of St. Thomas.

8. Carleton College

  • US News Ranking: #9 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Campus Location(s): Northfield
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,046
  • Graduation Rate: 88%

Carleton College traces back to 1966 and is one of Minnesota’s private colleges. It offers 33 majors and 37 minors, and has been recognized by US News & World Report for the best undergraduate teaching . Many Carleton College graduates go on to graduate school. Since 2007, it has ranked first for baccalaureate colleges with alumni who go on to earn a doctoral degree.

9. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

  • US News Ranking: #34 in Regional Universities Midwest
  • Campus Location(s): Winona, Minneapolis Twin Cities, and Rochester
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,089
  • Graduation Rate: 59%

Saint Mary’s was founded in 1912 and offers classes at four separate campuses, in addition to online learning. Saint Mary’s is a private, Catholic university offering over 120 programs, some of which are tailored specifically for nontraditional students. Regardless of the academic program you are interested in, you are sure to get a quality education here.

10. Macalester College

  • US News Ranking: #27 in National Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Campus Location(s): Saint Paul
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,049
  • Graduation Rate: 88%

Macalester College is a small, liberal arts college focused on undergraduate education. Macalaster offers more than 60 courses within 17 departments and partners with businesses in Twins Cities as part of the undergraduate programs. 61 percent of students participate in study abroad and represent 98 different countries.

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Is a University in Minnesota Right for You?

Yes, if you don’t mind cold winters, you should get a quality education at one of Minnesota’s private or public universities. Earning a degree from any of these undergraduate programs can help you find employment with a high-paying salary.

The National Center for Education Statistics shows the national average cost for post-secondary education is $24,623 , and we know this is out of reach for many prospective students. If attending a university isn’t an option for you, you might want to consider a tech certificate program from a bootcamp . Bootcamps can provide affordable, valuable education and training in just a few weeks or months.

Best Universities in Minnesota FAQ

Which are the best universities in Minnesota for international students?

Carleton College, Macalester College, and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities are the top three best schools for international students in Minnesota, based on the number of international students and international student services.

Which are the best public universities in Minnesota?

The best public universities in Minnesota are the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities, University of Minnesota satellite campuses, and Winona State University. Public universities often have lower tuition costs than private universities, especially for in-state students.

Which universities in Minnesota have the best professors?

According to Niche, Carleton College, Macalester College, and University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, have the best professors in Minnesota.

Which are the best universities in Minnesota for engineering?

The best universities in Minnesota for engineering are University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, University of St. Thomas, and University of Minnesota Duluth.

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Simone Du Toit

About the author: Simone has worked in management for over 20 years and uses her experience hiring, coaching, and supporting others to help Career Karma readers thrive in their new careers. Along with her managerial experience, Simone has taught English as a second language to students in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. She holds certificates in Retail Leadership Development and Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

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