Originally founded in 1939, Bismarck State College was an experiment during the Great Depression era, being the first two-year city college in North Dakota. The school was first known as Bismarck Junior College, but after many location changes and increases in enrollment, it adopted its current name in the 1980s, after joining the higher education system of North Dakota a few years prior. With an enrollment of approximately 4,000 undergrad students, the school is now the fourth largest in the university system of North Dakota
Focusing on transfer courses and technical programs, the college provides the majority of its students with the initial two years of a bachelor’s degree education in over 20 different fields. Therefore, the school provides numerous associate degrees in both arts and sciences. Additionally, there are over 35 technical programs available to prepare any student for an entry-level position within their specific study area.
The school also offers over 150 courses within their distance-learning program, allowing students to study and learn over the Internet and through the North Dakota Interactive Video Network. Continuing education and workforce training are available for many business and industries in the southwest area of North Dakota. In fact, around 16,000 students annually participate in the school’s continuing education section.
Moreover, the school offers educational programs directed at members of the military, allowing them to achieve an associates or bachelor’s degree while serving the United States. Actually, G.I. Jobs named the college in the top 15 percentile for military friendly schools.
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Admission requirements include the submission of a high school transcript or GED, a completed application, a $35 non-refundable application fee and the submission of ACT or SAT results. If standardized test results are not available or the applicant is 25 years or older, the COMPASS placement exam must be taken and its scores need to be submitted. The ACCUPLACER assessment test for math and English can also be taken.
The application deadline for the fall semester is normally in June while the spring semester application deadline is in November.
The school also provides dual credit programs, allowing junior and senior high school students to take classes that satisfy credit requirements for both high school and college. In order to participate, students need to fill out and submit the North Dakota University System Dual Credit Enrollment Application.
The financial aid office offers a variety of aid options as well as individual counselorsto help any students who may have issues or questions pertaining to the loan or grant process. For most students, a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be filled out and submitted before the middle of March to be considered for specific financial aid programs such as the North Dakota State Grant, the Federal Perkins Loan and the Federal Work Study program.
Besides grants and federal loans, the school provides a variety of scholarship options. The North Dakota Scholars Program is one of the more known merit-based scholarships, which provides 40 – 45 new, in-state freshmen money to help pay for tuition and other school expenses. Another notable one is the North Dakota Indian Scholarship, which focuses on assisting Native American students at the higher education level, providing between $700 and $2000 per year in aid.
Playing within the NJCAA region 13 division, the Mystics always manage to draw a local crowd to home and away games. With such sports as soccer, volleyball, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball, all enrolled students can dawn the green and white colors and participate in the athletic offerings.
When it comes to matches, the basketball games between the Mystics and the United Tribes are not to be missed. As one of the biggest cross town rivalries, almost everyone in the area comes out to show their support, especially if the game is held at the Bismarck State Armory.
Besides graduating with an associate’s degree or transferring to another university to finish up the last two years of a baccalaureate degree, alumni are offered the chance to join up with the Alumni Association, where a small membership fee includes many discounts and benefits with such companies as Best Western and Alamo Car Rental.
Alumni may join the 1939 Society, a unique program that commemorates and recognizes the schools historical past and upcoming future. After a one-time, tax deductable donation of $1,939, alumni will become life-long members of the society and will not only receive all alumni organization benefits, but also will receive a certificate of appreciation.
Bismarck has been accredited since 1966 and is currently receives its accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.