Colleges and Universities in North Dakota

Graduate schools in North Dakota offer students the unique opportunity to pursue their passion in a supportive program, in a tight-knit community, while surrounded by the stark beauty of the Peace Garden State.

The fourth most sparsely populated state in the country, North Dakota is known for its rural landscape, quality of life, and natural resources. This especially includes the oil extraction industry, which plays a large role in the economic growth of the region.

Colleges in North Dakota may offer a range of graduate programs. These include:

  • The North Dakota University System (with 11 member colleges, 6 of which offer graduate study)
  • The University of Jamestown
  • Rasmussen College
  • Trinity Bible College
  • University of Mary

Discover Top North Dakota Cities for a Graduate Program

PopulationMedian Household IncomeMedian Gross Rent% of person having a bachelor’s degree or higher
Grand Forksiii52,838$43,436$68534.9%

Cities in North Dakota

While the majority of North Dakota is rural, most people tend to live in and around the cities—which is where you’d probably end up. That said, with the state’s comparably low population, depending on where you come from and where you end up, what’s considered a “city” here might feel more like a small town. The three largest cities in North Dakota are Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks, each of which is described below.


THE BASICS: As the largest city in North Dakota, Fargo is home to almost 16% of the total population of the state. The city is twinned with nearby Moorhead, Minnesota, which sits across the Red River of the North. It’s a regional center of industry, culture, and education, and has a perennially low unemployment rate. Fargo colleges and universities include North Dakota State University, Rasmussen, and a branch of the University of Mary.

OPPORTUNITIES: While historically Fargo had an agricultural economy, today it’s somewhat more diverse. Some of the largest industries by employment in Fargo include healthcare and social assistance, education services, finance and insurance, retail, and professional, scientific, and technical services.iv

CULTURE: Partially because of the presence of several universities, Fargo is an arts and cultural center for the region. The city has several theatre companies, an opera, symphony orchestra, youth symphony, and ballet company. The largest art museum in North Dakota can also be found in Fargo, along with several local sports leagues.


HISTORY: Bismarck is the capital and second largest city in North Dakota. It’s located in South-Central North Dakota, along the Missouri River. The city grew out of a settlement originally called the Missouri Crossing, named for the Lewis and Clark Expedition having crossed the Missouri there. Historically, the region was home to the Mandan tribe, prior to European arrival.

OPPORTUNITIES: Bismarck’s local economy tends to center around energy, including mining, oil and gas extraction, and utilities. That said, healthcare and social assistance is responsible for the largest share of employment at about 20%. Graduate students focused on areas like science, engineering, and healthcare, may find unique opportunities to gain experience in these industries.v

FUN: Outdoors enthusiasts may love Bismarck’s extensive park system, which includes park land, exercise trails, swimming pools, golf courses, bike trails, and more. The Fort Abraham State Park is also nearby, which offers guided tours of the 7th Cavalry headquarters just before the Battle of Little Bighorn, as well as the reproduction of a historic Mandan village. Outdoor sports like hunting and fishing are particularly popular.

Did You Know?

Bismarck is in the Guinness Book of World Record for the most snow angels made simultaneously in one place, in 2007! (They made 8,962.)

Grand Forks

THE BASICS: Grand Forks, North Dakota is the third largest city in the state. It’s north of Fargo, along the Red River of the North, and twinned with East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The city was established in 1870, and was named for its location—where the Red Lake River forks from the Red River.

Prior to its founding, Grand Forks—then called Les Grandes Fourches—acted as an important trading post for French fur trappers. Today, it’s the home of the Grand Forks Air Force Base, as well as the University of North Dakota, which offers the only medicine and law schools in the state.

OPPORTUNITIES: Like much of North Dakota, Grand Forks has historically had a primarily agricultural economy. Today, it’s considerably more diverse, with industries like education, defense, healthcare, as well as military. In fact, Grand Forks has a substantial military veterans population—most of whom served in the Gulf

FUN: Grand Forks is home UND’s NCAA Division I North Dakota Fighting Hawks ice hockey team—meaning that during hockey season, there’s tons of potential fun for the college sports fan. If you’re not so much into hockey, catch a touring Broadway musical at the Chester Fritz Auditorium, or a performance of the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra. In the warmer months, take advantage of the city’s expansive park system. The Greater Grand Forks Greenway, for example, includes festival grounds, walking and biking paths, wildflower gardens, and more.

Why North Dakota?

North Dakota has been experiencing a small population boom in recent years, driven in part by opportunities created by the oil and natural gas industries, along with overall quality of life, low cost of living, and natural beauty.

A Vibrant ND Culture

Despite its relative population growth, North Dakota remains one of the least populous states. However, the communities that do live there enjoy a unique culture, informed by diverse cultural heritage and local traditions.

For example, North Dakota has ranked in the top 5 for the percentage of population that identify as American Indian alone or in combination.vii Historically, tribal nations in the region have included the Lakota and Dakota, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Chippewa, and Mandan nations. Today, many still embrace that cultural heritage and continue to uphold those traditions. In fact, one of the largest annual Powwows in the United States happens every year in Bismarck.

North Dakota is also home to historic attractions that honor both Native American history and culture, and Old West culture and exploration. This includes the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Lewis & Clark Trail, the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, and more.

Norwegian and Icelandic traditions also have a strong presence in North Dakota, particularly in the Northeastern region. This can be seen through architecture, local cultural festivals, and folk arts.

Quality of Life in North Dakota

On US News & World Report’s Best States report, North Dakota ranked a staggering #1 for quality of life. Some of the factors that informed this achievement include:

  • #3 for Community Engagement
  • #2 for Natural Environment
  • #5 for Urban Air Quality
  • #9 for Voter Participation
  • #10 for Social Support

A lot went into those rankings, but some key factors include:viii

  • The median household income is higher than the national average.
  • The rate of poverty is lower than the national average.
  • The average commute time is lower than the national average.

Of course, those are far from the only reasons someone might enjoy living and studying in North Dakota. There’s also the stunning landscapes and natural resources, including the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In North Dakota, the avid hiker could take in natural beauty you won’t find anywhere else. One example: because of its location, climate, and sparse population, North Dakota is known for its beautiful sun dogs that can be seen in the winter.

Graduate Programs Offered at Colleges in North Dakota

People come from all over to study at colleges in North Dakota, in a range of fields as diverse as the students themselves and the opportunities they could find. Below are three examples of the types of graduate programs offered by colleges in North Dakota that students like you may be interested in.


With the thriving energy and natural resources industries, it’s no wonder that the scientifically-minded could feel at home in North Dakota. Grad students interested in STEM majors like environmental engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and more, may be drawn not just to the rigorous academics in North Dakota, but also the chance to get involved and build their resumes.

Science, mathematics, and engineering graduate programs in North Dakota include:

  • North Dakota State University Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program
  • University of North Dakota Environmental Engineering Program
  • UND Masters in Mechanical Engineering (MS or M.Eng)
  • NDSU PhD in Physics Program

Psychology & Social Sciences

Grad students interested in understanding people and helping others may be interested in social services and psychology graduate programs in North Dakota. Often practice-oriented, these programs help aspiring and established counselors, social workers, and administrators learn to help their communities more effectively.

In many programs, you may have the opportunity to work within your North Dakota community, helping your neighbors to overcome challenges and bolstering your studies. That said, research-oriented programs may also be available.

Psychology other social sciences graduate programs in North Dakota include:

  • University of North Dakota Master of Social Work (MSW) for Non-BSW Students
  • UND MA in Counseling with K-12 School Emphasis
  • North Dakota State University Masters in Clinical and General Experimental Psychology
  • NDSU Public Health Program


Studying business in North Dakota could help you prepare to be a leader in one of the many thriving industries here, helping you position yourself for the career you want in one of many growing fields. Business graduate programs—many, but not all, offering MBAs—often focus in specific areas of need within organizations, meaning you could choose one that aligns with your level of experience, goals and interests.

Business Graduate Programs in North Dakota include:

  • University of Mary Master of Project Management
  • Central Michigan University (Minot Air Force Base) Graduate Certificate in Leadership
  • University of Mary MS in Strategic Leadership
  • Central Michigan University Online Public Administration Program

Find Colleges in North Dakota

Search for graduate schools in North Dakota right here! Review the sponsored program listings, or use the menu to select your preferred degree level and area of study. Click on the names of any programs you want to know more about to request information. Then schedule a meeting or visit or start your application!

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  • Wake Forest University

  • Colorado State University Global

  • California Southern University, a member of the American InterContinental University System

  • Grand Canyon University

  • The University of Arizona Global Campus

  • Western Governors University

  • University of North Dakota

  • North Dakota State University

  • Central Michigan University

  • University of Mary

  • Valley City State University

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