Is the University of Minnesota a Good School? (An IN-DEPTH Analysis)

The state of Minnesota is known for having a literate and well-educated population. And when it comes to higher education, it features a large number of institutions for people of almost any background.

In particular, the University of Minnesota has been the big name in the state for quite a long time. But is it really a good school? Let’s find out:

In short, UMN meets the criteria to be considered a good university, as it has a solid reputation in fields like Engineering, Finance, and Computer Science. Furthermore, the school registers high student satisfaction levels, and keeps going up in the national rankings.

However, there are many different factors that come into play when choosing a college. In order to determine if UMN is a good fit for you, it is important to be well informed and evaluate every important variable.

And that’s what we are about to do in this article. We’ll start off by taking a quick overview of this college. After that, we’ll analyze the key factors that may influence your decision, such as reputation, student satisfaction, class size, student expenses, and even the salaries that graduates are likely to earn.

So if that sounds interesting to you, let’s dive right in!

Overview of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

University of Minnesota

Founded in 1851, the University of Minnesota is a public research university located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It is the flagship institution of Minnesota’s public university system, and features one of the largest student bodies in the United States.

Nowadays, it offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees across 19 colleges, schools, and other academic units. Popular majors include Psychology, Biology and Computer Science programs. However, the university is also well-renowned in other areas like Finance, Economics, and Communication.

In addition, the University of Minnesota is home to over 1,000 student groups and organizations that meet regularly to host programs and events.

Studying at UMN could be especially beneficial for people interested in a scientific career. This university is one of the oldest members of the Association of American Universities, a prominent organization dedicated to maintaining a strong system of academic research.

Finally, UMN has been the alma mater of people who made outstanding contributions in different areas. In fact, innovations like the cyclotron, the hard drive and even open-heart surgery were pioneered by UMN graduates.

Notable alumni include 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as 10 Nobel laureates across all disciplines.

Prestige and Rankings.

When it comes to reputation, we can get an idea of how UMN has performed by checking out the latest college rankings, which are published on a yearly basis.

Rankings are a useful tool if you want to take a glance at a school’s prestige. And while your choice shouldn’t be based entirely on these numbers, they are still a good starting point in the decision-making process.

In the following table you can see which position UMN holds in 2022, according to the most reliable publications:

U.S. News68
Times Higher Education85

However, looking at these simple numbers is not really that helpful. They only show you the school’s performance at this moment, causing you to miss the forest for the trees.

Besides, rankings tend to vary depending on the methodology used by the company, meaning that a school that does well in one ranking may have a very different result in another one.

So in order to address this issue, we’ll take the average of the last years and visualize the historical trend. The main goal is to evaluate the school from a more unbiased point of view.

Below is a graph with the average rank for the University of Minnesota:

University of Minnesota average national rankings
Average rankings calculated with data from US News and Times Higher Education

Now you have a wider view of what’s going on. Every chart tells you a story. And what we can see here is that UMN has been climbing spots in the national rankings.

Back in 2017, UMN registered an average position of 85, and one year later it went down to spot 95.5. Nonetheless, it improved its performance during the next years and managed to reach an average rank of 76.5 in 2022, which is an increase of 19 positions over a 4-year period.

By tracking UMN’s position in the national rankings we were able to see how it has improved as the years go by. And even though U.S. News and Times Higher Education give very different ratings, we managed to get a more accurate view by plotting the average rank and analyzing it.

What we just did is a more effective approach to evaluating a school’s performance over a given period.

In the next part of the post, we’ll use a similar method to assess how satisfied students are at the University of Minnesota. So keep reading because this will be important.

Student Satisfaction.

If you’ve been doing your research for a while, chances are you’ve visited other sites to read reviews from other students. And while internet reviews may be useful at first glance, the truth is that they are often contradictory and you might end up more confused after reading many of them.

Besides, there are several disadvantages to this approach. Just to name a few:

  1. There is no way to verify that online reviews were written by actual students.
  2. Fake reviews are a common practice and they are often hard to detect.
  3. Star ratings can be easily manipulated to artificially improve or damage a school’s reputation.

The above mentioned are just some of the reasons why you should take reviews with a big grain of salt.

But don’t worry. If you’re wondering if there is a more reliable way to gauge student satisfaction, the answer is yes. We achieve that by analyzing retention rates, and that’s what we are going to do in this section!

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let me give you some context on retention rates and their importance.

Retention Rates: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

A retention rate is simply the percentage of first-time students who remained at the same school for their sophomore year. It is one of the most accurate parameters to measure student satisfaction because of the following reasons:

  1. It’s calculated with actual data from real students.
  2. The data is reported to the National Center for Education Statistics and it’s hard to manipulate. Any attempt to falsify this information could have serious consequences for the school.

Even if this is the first time you hear about this concept, there are solid arguments why you should pay close attention to it.

A student will be more encouraged to keep studying at the same university if his freshman experience was positive. Accordingly, the higher the retention rate is, the better expectations you can have for your first college year.

On the other hand, a bad first-year experience will induce more students to drop out or transfer to another college, causing the retention rate to decrease. Therefore, this is something to keep in mind before you make your final decision.

There are, of course, other factors that may lead students to drop out, such as personal problems or lack of money. However, colleges that take good care of their freshmen indeed hold high retention rates throughout the years.

Retention Rate at UMN.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the University of Minnesota has a retention rate of 93.32%.

The following chart illustrates how this variable has changed over the years at this institution. I want you to take a look at it carefully. What can you notice?

University of Minnesota retention rate line graph
Retention rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

First of all, it is a fact that this parameter has remained incredibly high. And maintaining a retention rate above 90% is not an easy task. But besides remaining at such a high level, we can see that it has seen some gradual increase in the last years.

In 2013, UMN had a 90.22% retention rate. A few years later, it reached new values above 92.45%. And now it is standing at 93.32%, which is it’s highest-ever value.

The data for 2021 has not been released yet, but it could be above 93% once again.

This is a clear and undeniable indicator that new undergraduate students are highly satisfied with their experience at the University of Minnesota. The odds of dropping out after the first year are low, and freshmen find a good environment to keep studying at this university.

Graduation Rates: What You Need to Know.

In the previous section, we analyzed how satisfied students are after their freshman year.

But now it’s time to answer an equally important question: how many undergrads actually finish their studies?

We can find the answer to that question by simply looking at the graduation rate of the school, which is the percentage of students who completed their program.

A high graduation rate is a very positive signal, as it reveals that all the time, effort, and resources you spend at this school will be probably worth it.

On the contrary, low graduation rates may suggest that students don’t get academic support along the way or they just feel disappointed over time. So this is also something that you’ll want to take into account.

Graduation Rate at UMN.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the University of Minnesota registered the following graduation rates:

TimeGraduation rate
6 years80.19
4 years65.47
Graduation rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

In the following plot you’ll visualize the 6-year graduation rate over time. In other words, the proportion of students who completed their program within 6 years after enrolling:

University of Minnesota graduation rate line graph
Graduation rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

This graph clearly illustrates how this parameter is going up over time.

Back in 2013, UMN registered a graduation rate of 70.23%. In addition, it showed consistent growth during the following years, and reached its highest value at 80.19% in 2020.

In summary, the 6-year graduation rate at this university increased by 9.96 percent points between 2013 and 2020. And it will probably remain at a similar level in 2022.

This dramatic change in a relatively short period indicates that the University of Minnesota provides the right conditions for students to advance and graduate within a reasonable time.

Outcomes 8 Years After Attending.

We can dive a little bit deeper and visualize the outcomes 8 years after attending UMN. For this purpose, take a look at the following doughnut chart:

From this chart, you can tell that within 8 years of entry, 81% of the students had already graduated, while 19% transferred out to another college.

Probably the most interesting fact is that the proportion of students who dropped out is so low that it doesn’t even show up on the graph.

Class Size / Student-to-Faculty-Ratio.

Class size is another factor that could define whether or not this school is a good fit for you. If you prioritize being able to interact with your professors regularly and receiving more personal attention, you’ll want to find a college with a low student-to-faculty ratio.

This parameter tells you how many students there are at a college for every faculty member. Thus, a lower value typically indicates that classes are more reduced and personalized.

On the other hand, a higher student-to-faculty ratio isn’t necessarily something negative. It all boils down to the type of experience you are looking for. Some people feel comfortable in larger classes, while some others don’t.

What Is the Student-to-Faculty Ratio at UMN?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the University of Minnesota has a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, meaning that there are 17 students for every faculty member.

This number has not changed at all in recent years, as shown in the following table:

CycleStudent-to-faculty Ratio
2020 – 202117:1
2019 – 202017:1
2018 – 201917:1
2017 – 201817:1
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

It is important to point out that you should not take this parameter literally. In other words, a 17:1 ratio doesn’t mean that most classes at UMN will have 17 students. In many cases it can be way higher than that, since not all faculty members are teachers.

Unfortunately, the University of Minnesota doesn’t publish its average class size. But according to U.S. News, 36% of its classes have fewer than 20 students, while 43.7% register between 20 and 49 students.

Keep in mind that class size is not set in stone, and it does vary across different courses and majors.

Estimated Student Expenses.

Paying for college is one of the main concerns that will have an impact on your final choice. So in order to make an informed decision, the first step is to get familiar with the expenses you’ll have to cover.

The following table contains the reported Cost of attendance (COA) for the University of Minnesota. The COA is a quick estimation of the amounts you would spend annually without receiving any kind of aid. This includes tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, and other expenses:

Tuition and fees$15,027$33,325
Room and board$10,358$10,358
Books and supplies$1,000$1,000
Other expenses$2,434$2,434
Total cost of attendance$28,819$47,117
Source: College Navigator. National Center for Education Statistics

This cost can be significantly lower if you are awarded financial aid. For that reason, we’ll dedicate this whole section to take an in-depth look into the questions that matter to you.

Is the school getting more expensive? What’s the average amount that students receive in grants or scholarships?

These are some of the key questions that we will respond in the next paragraphs. So stay tuned.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid.

In this part of the post, we will see how the amount of aid compares to the cost of attendance. Ideally, if the cost of attendance is going up, we want the amount of aid to be growing at the same or even at a higher rate.

But before we get in more detail, I want to make something clear:

This section is only intended to provide a general picture of how the cost and the amount of aid have performed.

All of the numbers presented here are estimates reported by the school. However, every person has a different background, and in case you are eligible for financial aid, the amount will strongly vary depending on your circumstances.

If you need a more accurate estimation based on your personal case, please refer to UMN’s net price calculator.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the chart:

University of Minnesota cost of attendance and financial aid line graph
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

As the graph shows, the cost for out-of-state students has been rapidly going up, while in-state students haven’t seen dramatic changes in the cost of attendance.

Part of the increase is already expectable, as inflation consistently drives up prices. Nonetheless, there are many factors that define the cost of attendance. Consequently, the change in price from one year to another can easily be above inflation.

During the 5-year period we are analyzing, the cost of attendance grew by 12.25% for in-state students. At the same time, it went up by 43.11% for out-of-state students.

On the other hand, the average amount of grant aid for freshmen grew at a reasonable pace over the years. In 2014-2015 it was standing at $8,645, and after five years it changed to $10,519, which is an increase of 21.67%.

However, we still need to know more details before we can draw any conclusion. And that’s the topic of our next section.

Percentage of First-Year Students Receiving Grant or Scholarship Aid.

So far, we know how the annual cost and financial aid have varied over the last years at UMN. But now it’s time to find out if there are enough freshmen receiving this benefit.

In the chart below, you’ll see the percentage of new students that have been awarded aid during the last cycles. What can you notice?

University of Minnesota percent of first-time students receiving grant or scholarship aid
Percentages calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

The graph clearly shows that the percentage of students receiving aid has remained pretty stable over the last years.

Back in the 2013-2014 cycle, 56.81% of the entering class at UMN received grant or scholarship aid. However, this percentage showed some increase and after a few years it flattened out above 61%.

As of 2019-2020, which is the last reported cycle, 61.19% of new students received grant or scholarship aid. This is an increase of 4.38 points over a 6-year period.

In general, the odds of being awarded aid as a new student are better than they were six years ago. But remember, if you need an estimation based on your situation, head over to UMN’s net price calculator.

Bottom Line.

To summarize, in this section we analyzed the environment that students face when it comes to paying for college. Our key findings are listed below:

  • The cost of attendance at the University of Minnesota has been increasing dramatically for out-of-state students.
  • In-state students are still paying a reasonable price. The cost of attendance for them has shown very smooth changes.
  • The average amount of aid has been growing as well, but not as rapidly as the price for out-of-state-students.
  • In addition, the percentage of students receiving grant or scholarship aid saw some increase in the last years, leveling off at around 61%.

Expected Salaries.

Now we are getting to the final part of our analysis. And we cannot end this post without talking about about salaries. Even though people usually find it hard to bring up this topic, it is something you are probably interested in.

Hence the next question is, how much can you expect to earn after graduation?

The answer to this question is variable, as it depends on the major you selected, as well as the job offers available when you graduate. But the good news is that the U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of the typical salaries that graduates earn in the third year after graduation.

This piece of information is highly valuable for the following reasons:

  • It is calculated using data from actual UMN graduates.
  • It corresponds to the early stage of their career. At this point, you probably care more about your starting salary than you do about your late career income.

There are other sites like Payscale or Glassdoor that upload their own estimates. And while that information may be reliable as well, it is not as in-depth as the data that the government provides.

Salary Table.

The table below contains the median annual income for UMN alumni 3 years within graduation, according to the U.S. Department of Education:

ProgramMedian earnings
Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics$70,174
Agricultural and Food Business Management$56,759
Animal Science$42,104
Biomedical Engineering$72,282
Chemical Engineering$79,071
Civil Engineering$63,809
Communication Studies$45,885
Computer Engineering$79,753
Computer Science$82,926
Construction Management$82,547
Electrical Engineering$78,938
Industrial and Systems Engineering$74,758
Materials Science and Engineering$74,282
Mathematics $67,910
Mechanical Engineering$76,677
Political Science$47,549
Statistical Science$61,211
Median salaries three years after graduation. To see the full list visit: College Scorecard. US Department of Education.

As the table shows, Computer Science and Construction Management graduates are the top earners during the first stage of their career, with median salaries of $82,926 and $82,547 respectively.

Engineers are also among the highest-payed professionals from the University of Minnesota. Their median salaries are $79,753 for Computer Engineering, $79,071 for Chemical Engineering, and $78,938 for Electrical Engineering.

Other disciplines like Finance, Accounting, Nursing, and Mathematics, have also seen competitive annual earnings.

Another interesting fact is that Statistical Science, Aerospace Engineering, and Chemistry graduates have registered median salaries above $50,000. This is especially appealing considering the fact that these majors are not so popular at this university.

If your program doesn’t appear on the list, you can visit UMN’s page on College Scorecard to check if the information is available.


So there you have it. Needless to say, this post was meant to be strongly data-driven. Rather than relying on other people’s opinions, we took a logical approach intended to provide a more accurate picture of the school.

After analyzing the most important variables, a story emerged from the data and we managed to evaluate the school’s performance from different angles.

The following are some of our key takeaways:

  • UMN has been climbing in the national rankings in recent years.
  • First-year students are highly satisfied, as we could tell by tracking the retention rate over time.
  • The university keeps improving its graduation rate. Meaning that more students are finding the right environment to advance and complete their program.
  • Less than 1% of the students drop out.
  • In-state students haven’t seen dramatic changes in the cost of attendance.
  • However, the cost of attendance for out-of-state students is increasing at a very fast rate.
  • The average amount of aid has seen a good increase, but it’s not growing as rapidly as the cost of attendance for out-of-state students.
  • The proportion of students reveiving gran or scholarship aid is leveling off above 61%.
  • Overall the University of Minnesota satisfied the criteria to be considered a good university. In addition, it is capable of maintaining a good level as the years go by.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is UMN known for?

The University of Minnesota is known for its Psychology, Computer Science, Biology, and Finance programs. It is one of the oldest members of the Association of American University, and its student body is one of the largest ones in the United States.

Is the UMN a party school?

The University of Minnesota is considered the top party school in the state. Despite that fact, it offers high-quality education in a variety of disciplines.

What are the most popular majors at the University of Minnesota?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the most popular majors by the number of graduates are Psychology (529), Computer Science (516), Biology (345), Finance (273), Journalism (249), Political Science (218), and Mechanical Engineering (200)

Is University of Minnesota an Ivy League school?

The University of Minnesota is not a member of the Ivy League. However, it is considered one of the Public Ivies, a group of publicly funded universities that offer an educational experience similar to those in the Ivy League.

How many students does UMN have?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the University of Minnesota has a population of 52,017 students, out of which 36,061 are undergrads, while 15,956 are pursuing graduate studies.

Is UMN a D1 school?

UMN is part of the Big Ten Conference in the NCAA Division I. The Minnesota Golden Gophers represent the school in a variety of sports, including baseball, basketball, football, gymnastics, hockey, swimming, tennis, and others.