Students in Minnesota can choose from almost 200 public and private institutions. According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, in 2008, 48 percent of state residents had earned an associate degree or higher, ranking Minnesota third in the country.
Despite that high level of college completion, a 2007 survey from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development found that 52 percent of employers surveyed had job vacancies they couldn't fill due to the lack of necessary skills among job applicants, particularly stronger computer skills. The perceived worker shortage was greatest for skilled positions in fields such as science and engineering.
Minnesota Online Education Opportunities
Like most states, Minnesota is facing budget cuts to its higher education system. For Minnesota students, this could mean an increase in tuition, which has already steadily increased nationwide throughout the last decade, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. For the 2010-11 academic year, the cost of tuition for a two-year college was $4,919 per year; $6,895 at Minnesota state universities; and $12,288 at the University of Minnesota, according to data from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE).
Private online schools in Minnesota, on the other hand, won't face state budget cuts. The online learning model is popular with busy adults who want to earn their degrees from the comfort of their homes. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 66 percent of all higher education institutions offer some form of distance education. In 2006-07, there were approximately 11,200 college-level programs that were designed to be completed entirely online.
Online education in Minnesota eliminates the need to be physically present at a university or college. Online classes are offered at Minnesota state universities and private, for-profit institutions. Some online classes are term-based, meaning that they follow a traditional academic calendar, while others are considered "extended term," allowing students to complete the course in up to nine months. Depending on the program, students can take one class at a time or take several concurrently.
Minnesota Economic Outlook
The major industries in Minnesota are agriculture, computers and services, tourism, health care, forestry products and printing and publishing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage in Minnesota for all professions was $44,940 as of 2009. In March 2011, the unemployment rate was 6.6 per cent (compared to a national average of 8.8 percent). The state is home to plenty of major employers--according to CNN Money, 33 of the nation's top 1,000 publicly traded companies are headquartered in Minnesota.
Minnesota Jobs and Career Outlook
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MDEED) projects that more than half the total job openings in the next 10 years will require some college education. The following occupations made the list of the Top 25 Occupations in Demand compiled in 2010 by MDEED (2009 salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Licensed practical nurses (LPN). LPN training programs take about one year to complete, and the job prospects are excellent. The mean annual wage for LPNs in Minnesota was $38,840.
- Computer software engineers, applications. A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is typically required to enter this profession, and some employers prefer a master's degree. In 2009, the mean annual wage for environmental engineers in Minnesota was $87,550.
- Financial advisor. Personal financial advisors must hold a bachelor's degree, typically in finance or business administration. The mean annual wage for personal financial advisors in Minnesota was $60,330.