Top Minnesota Colleges and Universities

From a huge public university like the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities to a small liberal arts college like Macalester, Minnesota offers a great range of options for higher education. The top Minnesota colleges listed below vary greatly in size and mission, so I have simply listed them alphabetically rather than force them into any sort of artificial ranking. The schools were chosen based on factors such as academic reputation, curricular innovations, first-year retention rates, six-year graduation rates, selectivity, financial aid and student engagement. Carleton is the most selective college on the list.

Bethel University Commons Building
Bethel University Commons Building. Jonathunder / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 4,361 (3,411 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: Comprehensive evangelical Christian private university
  • Distinctions:  Minutes from downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis; high graduation rate; 67 majors to choose from; popular programs in business and nursing; new commons building; good financial aid; NCAA Division III athletics
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Bethel University profile
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Carleton College Skinner Chapel
Carleton College Skinner Chapel. TFDuesing / Flickr
  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 2,009 (all undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 9 to 1 student/faculty ratio; one of the nation's ten best liberal arts colleges; beautiful campus with a 880-acre arboretum; extremely high graduation and retention rates
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Carleton College profile
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College of Saint Benedict
College of Saint Benedict. Bobak / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: St. Joseph and Collegeville, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: Saint Benedict: 2,105 (all undergraduate); Saint John's: 2,021 (1,916 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: women's and men's Catholic liberal arts colleges, respectively
  • Distinctions:  The two colleges share a single curriculum; 12 to 1 student/faculty ratio; median class size of 20;  NCAA Division III athletics; strong graduation and retention rates; strong job and graduate school placement rates; Saint John's has an impressive 2,700-acre campus
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Saint John's University profile and the College of Saint Benedict profile
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College of St. Scholastica
College of St. Scholastica. 3Neus / Flickr
  • Location: Duluth, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 3,746 (2,821 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Benedictine Catholic university
  • Distinctions: 14 to 1 student/faculty ratio; average class size of 22; campus features attractive stone architecture and a view of Lake Superior; popular programs in business and the health sciences; NCAA Division III athletics 
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the College of St. Scholastica profile
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Concordia College Moorhead
Concordia College Moorhead. abbamouse / Flickr
  • Location: Moorhead, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 2,811 (2,788 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Distinctions: 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio; 78 majors and 12 preprofessional programs to choose from; popular biological and health science programs; easily cross-registration program with North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University at Moorhead; NCAA Division III athletics
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Concordia College at Moorhead profile
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Gustavus Adolphus College
Gustavus Adolphus College. Jlencion / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Saint Peter, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 2,536 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 11 to 1 student/faculty ratio; average class size of 15;  students can choose from 71 majors; good financial aid; high graduation and retention rate; NCAA Division III athletics
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Gustavus Adolphus College profile
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Hamline University
Hamline University. erin.kkr / Flickr
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 5,166 (1,921 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university affiliated with the United Methodist Church
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; strong undergraduate legal studies program; 14 to 1 student/faculty ratio; good financial aid; NCAA Division III athletics
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Hamline University profile
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Macalester College
Macalester College. Mulad / Flickr
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 1,996 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 10 to 1 student/faculty ratio; average class size of 17; diverse student population; high retention and graduation rates; one of the country's best liberal arts colleges; NCAA Division III athletics
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Macalester College profile
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St. Olaf College Old Main
St. Olaf College Old Main. Calebrw / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 3,099 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 12 to 1 student/faculty ratio; featured in Lauren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives; high graduation and retention rates; good financial aid; NCAA Division III athletics
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the St. Olaf College profile
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University of Minnesota Pillsbury Hall
University of Minnesota Pillsbury Hall. Mulad / Flickr
  • Location: Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 51,659 (33,236 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: large public research university
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; membership in the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; member of the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference; many strong academic programs, especially in economics, the sciences, and engineering; one of the country's best public universities 
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the University of Minnesota profile
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University of Minnesota Morris Recital Hall
University of Minnesota Morris Recital Hall. resedabear / Flickr
  • Location: Morris, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 1,705 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: public liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio; average class size of 16; strong student - faculty interaction; popular programs in business, English and psychology; high rate of graduate school attendance;  good financial aid
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the University of Minnesota  Morris profile
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University of St. Thomas
University of St. Thomas. Noeticsage / Wikimedia Commons
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