North Dakota’s population remained fairly constant until the energy industry boomed throughout the 1970s and 80s. Since then, the state’s 70,000 square miles have attracted a growing population, which recently surpassed 750,000 residents. North Dakota contains three metropolitan areas (i.e., Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks) and boasts one of the fastest growing economies in the nation; economic growth in North Dakota is three times faster than the national average. Led by the energy industry, the state’s strong economy has encouraged new growth. While most of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. are found in southern states, Fargo and Bismarck were both among the top 15 fastest growing cities in 2016.

To ensure that the state’s economy continues to grow, 21 degree-granting colleges and universities have made homes in North Dakota. The North Dakota University System contains 11 of these schools. In support of the state’s rural population, many of these institutions have introduced online programing, and lots of students have opted to pursue an online MBA in North Dakota.

Higher education in North Dakota has experienced substantial growth over the last 50 years. As the state’s economy has surged, North Dakota’s higher education system has grown to encourage individuals to remain in-state and help contribute to the region’s economic progress. In turn, higher education itself has become one of the state’s primary economic drivers. Two of these institutions are the University of North Dakota (UND) and the University of Mary. By offering business degrees in a variety of formats, including online MBA programs, these schools are working to ensure that future leaders of business and industry will be educated in the state.

North Dakota online MBA students have many options to choose from. UND is the second-largest university in the state and its online MBA program features in-state tuition, regardless of a distance learner’s state of residence. Online learning is flexible and helps students avoid travel-related expenditures. UND’s program can be completed in less than two years, and the minimum GMAT score accepted for admission is 500. The University of Mary also offers one of the best online MBA programs in North Dakota. This degree can be earned in less than 20 months and does not require applicants to submit GMAT scores initially; however, students must obtain a GMAT score of at least 550 prior to taking MBA-specific courses. While neither of these North Dakota online MBA programs requires in-person visits, local students do have the option of enrolling in a hybrid program and taking classes on campus in Grand Forks or Bismarck, respectively. Students interested in relocating to one of these cities to take advantage of the favourable economic conditions and close proximity to the schools will be happy to learn that both locations boast a cost of living that is 3% lower than the national average.

Percentage of Students Enrolled by Distance Education
Percentage of students enrolled at Title IV institutions in North Dakota by distance education enrollment status (Fall 2012)

MBA Concentrations for North Dakota Students

One of the most important decisions for students pursuing an online MBA in North Dakota is whether or not to select a specialization. Many online MBA programs provide concentration options for students, allowing them to focus on a specific field. For learners enrolled in online MBA programs in North Dakota, it is prudent to specialize in an area related to one of the major state industries, which include international business and healthcare. These concentrations provide students with a state- and industry-specific education, preparing graduates for careers in two of the most competitive and lucrative industries in North Dakota.


  • International Business: This concentration prepares graduates for careers in global business. Students learn about management, strategy, economics, marketing, and finance. Future career opportunities include positions at organizations of all sizes, from the government to multinational corporations.
  • Healthcare Industry: This concentration allows MBA students to channel their business expertise into the healthcare industry. Students learn the inner workings of the public and environmental health sectors, preparing them to lead and manage in various healthcare settings.

Accreditation in North Dakota

When choosing an institution of higher education, you should look for its accreditation status. Accreditation can be awarded by regional and national/international accreditors. Regional accrediting bodies, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), work with degree-granting institutions in specific regions throughout the United States. The HLC deals specifically with colleges and universities in the north central region of the U.S., which contains North Dakota.

The most desirable MBA programs, including the ones listed throughout this page, are internationally accredited programs offered by regionally-accredited institutions. The most common international accrediting bodies for business programs are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

North Dakota’s economy is consistently ranked as one of the strongest in the United States. Although North Dakota’s unemployment rate has risen recently, due to a drop in oil prices and a loss of jobs in the oil sector, the state’s unemployment rate remains well below the national average. The energy industry is still one of the state’s main economic contributors; between oil, coal, natural gas, and renewable energy, North Dakota’s energy industry provides jobs at every level, including general labor positions, lucrative management careers, and scientific and engineering jobs. Other major contributors to North Dakota’s economy include healthcare, which has the highest employment numbers in the state, and agriculture, which represents about 25% of the total economic output. Combined, these major industries make North Dakota one of the top states for job growth in the country.

North Dakota is often considered a rural state but its major city centers, including Grand Forks, Fargo, and Bismarck, represent some of the fastest growing cities in the country. With major energy, healthcare, educational, and agricultural businesses headquartered in these metropolitan cores, graduates from North Dakota and from around the nation are moving to these cities to start their careers and families.

Top Employers in North Dakota

Company Industry Headquarters City Number of Employees
MDU Resources Group Natural Gas Bismarck 9,598
Noridian Healthcare Solutions Healthcare Fargo 1,900

While growing industries and job creation are the major contributors to North Dakota’s economic strength, the state also offers substantial financial rewards to its workers. With an annual mean wage near $50,000 and a cost of living below the national average, North Dakota provides great opportunities for financial success.

It’s no secret that higher academic credentials typically result in greater financial rewards. In each of North Dakota’s major economy-driving industries, advanced degrees (especially those in business) are becoming requirements for the most lucrative positions. To meet this demand, nearly 13% of all North Dakota higher education students are enrolled in an advanced degree program. For students looking for management-level positions, an MBA is one of the best choices. MBA graduates qualify for some of the highest-paying careers in the nation.

Average Salary by Degree
Search Programs by Concentration

Careers for MBAs in North Dakota

Medical and Health Services Manager

The healthcare industry in North Dakota is one of its largest employers, and health services management is projected to grow by 20% over the next decade. While some management positions accept bachelor’s degrees, most require a master’s degree. In addition to excellent growth, this field has substantial earning potential with a median annual wage just below $100,000.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Many of the largest employers in North Dakota are in technological fields, and even those not directly related to IT still require highly educated information systems managers. This field is projected to grow more than twice as fast as the national average. These considerations, alongside a median annual wage of more than $135,000, make information systems management a desirable career.

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Since the educational industry is so prominent in North Dakota, MBA graduates may be interested in pursuing work as a postsecondary education administrator. This field often requires graduate-level degree but has a median annual wage of more than $90,000.

Financial Manager

Most organizations have a need for financial managers, especially large international companies. The job outlook for this profession is strong with a projected growth of 19% over the next decade. In North Dakota, the agricultural, natural gas, and energy industries all have a large role in the state’s economy; thus, financial management professionals should have ample career options for years to come.

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers are needed in every industry. With faster than average growth and a median salary above $100,000, MBA graduates should consider this career. While some organizations hire graduates with bachelor’s degrees, most large businesses require managers and trainers to have a master’s degree.

The following list is a powerful resource for students interested in pursuing an online MBA program in North Dakota. Every one of the schools mentioned below is regionally accredited and offers flexible online programming. Be sure to contact any school you’re interested in directly to see how well it fits with your academic and career goals.

Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description

University of Mary

Location Bismarck, ND Tuition Tuition $15,000 % Receiving Financial Aid 65% Student Population 2,872 School Type Private

Located in Bismark, the University of Mary offers a North Dakota online MBA with eight specializations to learners who seek managerial or leadership positions.

Concentrations in Catholic philanthropy and virtuous leadership attest to the school's Catholic mission, while specializations in fields such as healthcare, human resources, and project management demonstrate the breadth of the program. Core classes for Mary's MBA include statistics, organizational behavior, ethics, and law in the managerial environment. Students can complete one of the University of Mary's online or hybrid degrees in as few as 20 months.

Applicants to the University of Mary who do not take the GMAT must complete preparatory coursework in accounting, finance, and economics. Additionally, students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 -- or either a 2.75 during the last two years of undergraduate study or a 3.0 in major coursework. Additional application materials include a statement of goals, resume, letters of recommendation, and formal application.

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University of North Dakota

Location Grand Forks, ND Tuition Tuition $18,619 % Receiving Financial Aid 51% Student Population 14,951 School Type Public

The University of North Dakota's online MBA incorporates coursework on business strategy, financial analysis, and executive management across a 43-credit curriculum.

Designed to last approximately two years, UND's program features concentrations in business analytics, social entrepreneurship, international business, and government and business. Students can also choose a general path to acquire knowledge across business disciplines.

To apply to this North Dakota online MBA, students need either a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or a 3.25 from the last two years of undergraduate study. Students must score over 500 on the GMAT or provide GRE scores for a case-by-case assessment. Applicants must also submit a statement of goals and demonstrate competencies in business math, statistics, corporate finance, and economic fundamentals. UND's MBA degrees hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

View School Profile

There are many important considerations to make before settling on an online MBA program in North Dakota. These include the factors discussed above, like cost, accreditation, and available specializations. The following list includes some key steps to follow during the program research process for MBA options in any state.

  • Compare student outcomes data

    Student outcomes include graduation rate, year-to-year retention rate, the average debt for a graduate from that school, and overall student satisfaction with their degree program. Student outcomes do not guarantee you will be satisfied with a particular program, but can be useful for pinpointing a school’s strengths and weaknesses.

  • Estimate the expected costs of your programs

    Virtually every accredited college or university posts tuition rates online. Additionally, you should research other college-related costs like living accommodations and meal plans (if you plan to live on-campus), administrative fees, and technology fees (for online students). You should also look into scholarships, grants, and other forms of institutional financial aid that can offset some of the costs.

  • Check that classes will fit in with your schedule

    Scheduling is critical for students with other important commitments, such as childcare or full-time employment. Many online programs are asynchronous, or self-paced; students in these tracks are free to complete course requirements on their own schedule. Synchronous programs, on the other hand, require weekly online meetings with teachers and fellow students.

  • Look for partnerships with local businesses

    A large number of online MBA programs include internship and/or capstone practicum requirements ― and in many cases, students are able to gain on-the-job training and real-world office experience. You should look into the school’s business partnerships, particularly in regard to the industry you plan to enter after earning your MBA.

  • Make sure the program is accredited

    Accreditation status should always be available and easily accessible on a school’s website. In addition to regional or national accreditation, some MBA pathways receive programmatic accreditation. Recognized programmatic accreditors for MBA programs include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the International Accreditation Counsel for Business Education (IACBE).

  • Talk to current students and/or recent alumni

    You should contact the alumni office at each school you are considering and ask to be connected with former students. These individuals can be good sources of information about education costs, life on- and off-campus, local business tips, and other important details for aspiring MBA students.