Colleges & Universities
Image by Patrick O'Leary. Courtesy of Regents of the University of Minnesota
Find a comprehensive list of Twin Cities colleges and universities on MinnesotaMonthly.com
Minnesota is home to many of the nation's finest post-secondary institutions
With dozens of colleges, universities and unique opportunities to achieve advanced degrees, higher education is one of the Twin Cities’ greatest assets.
The University of Minnesota is one of our most notable higher education organizations, with its Twin Cities campuses. Divided by the Mississippi River, the Minneapolis campus has two distinct portions, East Bank and West Bank. East Bank is the quintessential university landscape, complete with a beautiful mall surrounded by grand educational buildings containing lecture halls. And across the river on West Bank you’ll find additional classrooms, a library and a residence hall. Students describe the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota as a public school with a private college feel, and it’s only a few short miles from the Minneapolis campus.
There are hundreds of areas to study at the U of M, and the university focuses on inclusivity and diversity on its campuses. The school has a metropolitan feel and places students within minutes of vibrant downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. Undergraduate admissions at the Twin Cities campus have reached nearly 35,000—that’s in addition to the university’s other campus schools, including the many nationally recognized graduate programs such as Carlson School of Management, the Medical School and the Law School that boasts one of the highest bar passage rates in the nation and is among the top 20 law schools in the country according to U.S. News & World Report. The U of M was also named the No. 13 public school in the country in 2017 by Business First. The report assessed about 500 schools throughout the nation in areas such as cost, career advancement, diversity and resources. The school also ranks among the top public research universities in the country. The university’s remaining campuses are located throughout Minnesota in Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) is a statewide system of 30 colleges and seven universities, comprising a total of 54 campuses throughout Minnesota. Serving 400,000 students, MnSCU is the fourth largest system of two- and four-year higher education programs. Schools under MnSCU’s umbrella in the Twin Cities include Metropolitan State University (with two campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Normandale Community College, Saint Paul College and more.
Additionally, the Minnesota Private College Council represents 17 liberal arts colleges and universities, several of which are located right here in the Twin Cities. Some 40,000 students were enrolled in private, liberal arts colleges as of the 2016 fall semester, and these schools boast the No. 1 graduation rate in the Midwest.
Minnesota’s first university is located in St. Paul. Founded in 1852, Hamline University earned the No. 12 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 ranking of regional universities and attracts a diverse student body of 4,469 undergraduate and graduate students. Besides its well-regarded graduate programs in management, education and law, the university offers bachelor’s degrees in 57 major areas of study. Ranked behind Hamline at No. 15 is nearby St. Catherine University, serving 5,055 students. Locally known as St. Kate’s, the school has historically served a majority-female population.
In 2016, the School of Law at the University of St. Thomas earned two top 10 honors from The Princeton Review for Best Professors (No. 7) and best quality of life (No. 3). The school serves upwards of 10,000 students on its Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. The Catholic-affiliated university was founded in 1885 and offers 90 undergraduate areas of study and 60 graduate programs. There is also ample opportunity for students to study abroad, and more than half do so—the school has nearly 160 study abroad programs in more than 45 countries.
There are also higher education programs specifically designed for professionals looking to finish a degree or further their education. Metropolitan State University offers flexibility for working adults with evening and weekend courses at its campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as two additional sites. Offering close to 60 undergraduate majors, 17 graduate degree programs and two doctorates, Metro State serves more than 11,000 students each year. It is one of the most ethnically diverse colleges in the state, offering certificates, diplomas and two-year associate degrees.
Students with talents in specific areas of study may choose from many specialized programs or technical schools. The Minneapolis College of Art and Design is a small, four-year private college that provides a rigorous program. Most students are enrolled in design, media arts or fine arts, with popular majors including graphic design, photography, illustration, animation and painting. For students interested in music production, recording and music business McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul equips learners with the necessary skills and knowledge, as well as builds on their unique talents.