Jan 31, 2024
Is earning a doctoral degree worth it? That depends on the profession you’re in (or would like to be) and whether reaching the highest levels of that profession is important to you. After all, that’s really what having a PhD or professional doctorate is all about: advancing to the top tier of your chosen field and reaping the benefits that come with it. Before you can enjoy those benefits, however, you’ll have to earn your doctoral degree. And before that, you’ll need to find the degree program that best suits your academic and professional goals.
This guide offers a comprehensive look at the current landscape of doctoral degrees in Minnesota: what’s available, how programs are formatted, what it takes to earn one, and how you’ll benefit professionally once you have your degree in hand. Earning a doctorate is not right for everyone, but it may be for you. Keep reading to learn all about the best doctoral and PhD programs in Minnesota for 2024.
Top-Rated PhD and Doctoral Programs in Minnesota for 2024
We’ve surveyed the colleges and universities offering doctoral programs in Minnesota today and chosen what we believe to be three of the very best to spotlight below. While what makes a school “best” is different for each person, we’ve made our selections based on several program elements important to most students, including affordability, academic quality, program format (such as the availability of online and hybrid formats), and access to student support services.
Winona State University
With two campuses in southwest Minnesota, Winona State University is the oldest of the 37 postsecondary institutions that make up the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Winona currently offers a total of eight doctoral degrees through its Graduate Studies department, including one in law and education, respectively, and six in nursing (Adult Gerontology Acute Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing & Organizational Leadership, Nursing Practice & Leadership Innovations, and Psychiatric- Mental Health Nurse Practitioner). With the exception its fully on-campus Juris Doctor and fully online Doctor of Education, all of WSU’s doctoral programs are offered in a hybrid format that includes a combination of on-campus and online components. Tuition rates vary depending on the specific degree and student’s state of residency. Special rates apply to the education doctorate ($741.12/credit) and graduate nursing ($1,156.10/credit) programs. Nevertheless, you’ll find that Winona’s program costs to be among the most competitive anywhere within and outside of the state.
Bethel University is a private, Christian-affiliated university located in Saint Paul. Bethel is currently home to only two doctoral degree programs, but both are available primarily online. The Doctor of Education (EdD) in Higher Education Leadership is designed for professionals seeking leadership and administrative positions managing the day-to-day activities of colleges and universities. The Doctor of Education (EdD) in K-12 Administration prepares graduates for leadership roles as administrators in both school-specific and district-level settings. Both programs are designed with working professionals in mind. All courses are eight weeks long and students can begin their programs at any time throughout the year. Both programs also feature coursework that is accessed and completed entirely online. However, all students are required to attend one week of on-campus intensives each year. Programs can be completed in as few as three years plus the additional time required to complete a dissertation. Current estimated total tuition costs for the EdD in Higher Education Leadership and EdD in K-12 Administration are $46,665 and $47,580, respectively.
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is the flagship campus of the five-campus University of Minnesota System. Through its Graduate School, UMN Twin Cities offers over 100 professional and research-based doctorate programs across the entire spectrum of academic disciplines. The vast majority of these programs are campus-based, although you can expect some program components (such as communications with faculty and staff) to be accessible online. There are, however, 10 nursing and healthcare-related doctoral programs offered in a primarily online format. Students in these programs complete the bulk of their coursework online but are required to travel to the Twin Cities campus once each semester for a four-day (Tuesday through Friday) session that includes core and specialty courses, enhanced programming, and meetings with program advisors. There are also four doctorates (three in nursing and one in education) offered in a partially online format.
The current per-credit tuition rate for online nursing and allied healthcare-related doctoral programs is $1,053 for all students regardless of state residency status. Per-credit rates for other doctorate programs vary by program, with most falling in the low- to mid-$1,000s for Minnesota residents and mid-$1,000s to mid-$2,000s for out-of-state residents. These costs, however, can be significantly mitigated through a number of financial aid resources, including fellowships, grants, teaching and research assistantships, and student loans.
Types of PhD and Doctoral Programs Available in Minnesota
Your choice of doctoral program will, of course, depend first and foremost on your academic field. But there are lots of other very important features to consider in choosing the right program for you. Below are descriptions of some of the most common of those features, along with examples of current doctoral programs in Minnesota for each.
Popular Fields to Earn Your PhD and Doctoral Degree in Minnesota
Earning Your PhD or Professional Doctorate Online in Minnesota
Online college degree programs have become more common at an unprecedented pace that doctoral degrees has not yet matched, although that is slowly changing. More and more schools are introducing fully and partially-online doctoral programs in a number of disciplines, most notably education and nursing. This is certainly true for PhD programs in Minnesota — while their number may be small relative to campus-based programs, they are available. Check out the following school websites, as well as the program spotlights above as examples:
- College of St. Scholastica
- Concordia University Saint Paul
- Minnesota State University-Moorhead
- St. Catherine University
Be sure to contact all of the programs you’re considering to find out about the availability of online study. The components of online doctoral programs are somewhat different from program to program. Classes may be delivered in asynchronous or synchronous formats, with synchronous classes typically facilitated via live stream video. Synchronous classes are often scheduled in the evening and on weekends to best accommodate working students. Some online doctoral programs (like the Doctorate in Education at Hamline University and EdD in Educational Leadership & Learning at the University of St. Thomas) include short-term on-campus residencies but are otherwise offered remotely.
Where to Get Help Paying for Your PhD or Doctoral Degree in Minnesota
It’s entirely appropriate to think of the cost of a doctoral degree as a wise investment in your future but it can be an expensive one, nevertheless. The good news is that there are plenty of funding resources available to qualifying students that can substantially lower the number on your doctorate’s price tag. They include scholarships and grants, fellowships, work-study jobs, and research and teaching assistantships. Along with help in paying for your doctorate, some of these resources (like work-study positions and assistantships) offer the added benefit of providing you with valuable professional experience and networking opportunities.
It’s never too early to begin your financial aid search, and a good way to start is by visiting the graduate financial aid websites of the schools you’re considering. Here are a few examples:
- Minnesota State University-Mankato
- Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
- St. Cloud State University
- University of St. Thomas
- University of Minnesota
Earnings for Doctorate Holders in Minnesota
Earning potential is an important factor for anyone thinking of pursuing their doctorate to consider. And, as earnings go, the benefits of holding a doctoral degree are pretty impressive. According to figures recently taken in December of 2023, the average annual salary for PhD holders in Minnesota is $93,600. By comparison, the current average annual salaries for those with master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in the state are $63,783 and $39,293, respectively.
For a closer look at earning potential by profession, take a look at the table below, which lists the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent salary projections for jobs typically held by those with doctoral degrees. Keep in mind that these are median figures for the U.S. as a whole. What you will actually earn with your doctoral degree will depend on factors like your geographic location, level of professional experience, specific employer, and job title.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2022