School:University of North Dakota

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Classified as a high research activity, doctoral/professional and engaged university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the University of North Dakota is a coeducational, state-supported institution which recorded an enrollment of 14,951 students in the fall of 2015. UND is located in Grand Forks, a city of 50,000 situated across the Red River from East Grand Forks, Minnesota, about 300 miles northwest of Minneapolis and 150 miles south of Winnipeg.

This university is characterized by a solid foundation in the liberal arts, a manageable size, high-quality students and faculty, a comprehensive curriculum, a widely recognized program of graduate education and research, law and medical schools praised for quality and innovation, rich cultural resources, and an outstanding record of alumni support.

The University’s undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in 239 fields of study through the College of Arts and Sciences (which includes a major division devoted to music, theater and art), Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, College of Business and Public Administration, College of Engineering and Mines, College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines, College of Education and Human Development, School of Law, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and School of Graduate Studies (offering the doctorate in 29 programs, the specialist’s degree in one program, and the master’s degree in 56 programs).

In the fall of 2015, 37.03 percent of UND’s students were residents of North Dakota and 34.39 percent were from Minnesota, with the remainder representing every other state, Canada, and about 50 other countries. 77.43 percent were enrolled in UND’s undergraduate programs. The University awarded 3,109 degrees in 2014-2015, including 1,948 undergraduate degrees, 747 master’s degrees, 133 doctoral degrees, 80 law degrees, 55 M.D. degrees, and 78 certificates.

The University had $99.1 million in total research and sponsored program expenditures in fiscal year 2014.

Faculty at the University number approximately 900, with a total workforce of around 3,000.

UND’s 548-acre campus, regarded as one of the most beautiful in the region, includes 243 buildings and more than 6.6 million square feet of space. Facilities include the Gorecki Alumni Center, the gateway to campus, the Wellness Center, and the Ralph Engelstad Arena, home of the University’s NCAA Division I ice hockey program. The Alerus Center, a 22,000-seat events and conference facility, joins such venues as the Fire Hall Theatre, Empire Arts Center, and North Dakota Museum of Art, as well as UND’s Chester Fritz Auditorium, Burtness Theatre, Hughes Fine Arts Center, and Hyslop Sports Center in bringing cultural, entertainment, and athletic programming to the community. New construction includes a four-story School of Medicine and Health Sciences, renovation and addition to the School of Law, the Athletic High Performance Center, the Robin Hall aerospace research facility, Wilkerson Commons, and the UND Collaborative Energy Complex with the College of Engineering & Mines.

Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The University of North Dakota was one of the first institutions in the nation to have a fully functioning School of Entrepreneurship (SoE). Within the SoE, there are 3 programs that students can major or minor in. These departments include Information Systems and Business Communications, Technology, and Entrepreneurship.


The Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Information Systems is offered through the Department of Information Systems and Business Communication. This major offers broad preparation for a variety of information systems careers in corporate, government, and small business environments. Information Systems graduates attain careers as network administrators, database developers, information systems analysts, software programmers, technology consultants, computer support specialists, and a wide variety of emerging positions within the information systems and technology field. Positions range from entry-level information management systems positions, e.g., technical support, to those in senior management, e.g., Chief Information Officer (CIO).


The Graphic Design Technology program is an innovative, multidisciplinary major that integrates courses drawn from various academic departments. The major includes a significant business component—the Entrepreneurial Studies Certificate program—which is unique in comparison to all other graphic design programs in this region and most graphic design programs nationally. The Graphic Design Technology program combines theory and practice, and application and production in a liberal arts context giving students a solid university education. It provides students majoring in Graphic Design Technology with a diverse range of learning experiences and opportunities in a flexible, technology-rich environment.

Throughout this program students learn to plan, analyze, and create solutions to visual communication problems. They consider cognitive, cultural, physical, economic, political, psychological and social factors in planning and executing graphic designs appropriate for a given context. Students use a variety of print, electronic, and photographic media and technologies during the design process. The professional Graphic Design Technology program prepares students for an array of exciting careers in business, government, industry and education.


Entrepreneurship is a multidisciplinary program within the College of Business and Public Administration. This program will prepare students to design and launch their own ventures, regardless of mission (for profit, not-for-profit or social), or effectively serve existing organizations. Entrepreneurship courses and programs are offered to both business and non-business majors.

The Entrepreneurship Major is designed to help prepare students for effective new venture creation and management. Students majoring in Entrepreneurship will pursue in-depth study of the needs of new and emerging ventures and existing businesses, using an entrepreneurial focus. Additionally, Entrepreneurship majors are challenged to pursue development of their own business ideas and opportunities. While it is not expected that all students in the Entrepreneurship major will establish new ventures immediately upon graduation, there is reason to believe that eventually, many Entrepreneurship graduates will start their own businesses. There is also a three-course Entrepreneurship Track available to business students majoring in one of the other disciplines who would like to add an entrepreneurship emphasis to their educational experience.

The College also offers a sixteen-credit Entrepreneurship Certificate program for non-majors. This program will appear on student transcripts to provide official recognition for completion of this entrepreneurship educational experience. This course sequence will provide opportunities for non-business majors to learn about business and administrative functions and to provide career enhancement. Students will better understand how the business functions will play a role in their future endeavors and how they can succeed in these efforts.

Entrepreneurship students are encouraged to immerse themselves in the practice of entrepreneurship and build a large portfolio of entrepreneur experiences while enrolled in the program. The more engaged the student becomes with the program, the more success and growth is experienced. This experiential learning includes such activities as doing class projects involving innovation and venturing, networking with successful entrepreneurs, getting involved in student groups, or participating in special events like the Department’s own Entrepreneurship Challenge Business Plan Competition.

Center for Innovation

The Center for Innovation at the University of North Dakota was among the first entrepreneur outreach centers in the nation when formed in 1984.  The Center provides assistance to innovators, entrepreneurs, and researchers to launch new ventures, commercialize new technologies, and secure access to capital from private and public sources. 

The Center manages two tech incubators in the UND Tech Park, provides SBIR outreach to the state's tech community, helping more than 40 companies secure more than $30 M in SBIR awards, the top source for seed capital for tech entrepreneurs. Since 2006, the Center for Innovation Foundation has helped 160 angel investors in launching nine angel funds in North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. These funds have invested  in 43 ventures  which--with co-investment and syndication--have resulted in over $26 million of equity investing, an average investment of $600,000 per venture.  It is also home to the only fully student managed venture fund in the nation where students make the actual investment decisions, Dakota Venture Group. The Center has fostered over 670 startups, which employs more than 6000 people and have attracted over $140 M in investment.  The Center was named  the state’s first  Center for Excellence in Economic Development in 2003 while building the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center.

The Center for Innovation's vision and mission is to maintain national leadership in entrepreneur outreach and education, and become the leader in tech entrepreneurship in rural America. Our goals are to:

  • Grow entrepreneur ventures
  • Foster Innovation
  • Secure access to entrepreneur capital
  • Provide superb entrepreneur infrastructure
  • Provide world-class entrepreneur education with the UND Entrepreneur Program 

Dakota Venture Group

The Dakota Venture Group (DVG) is a University of North Dakota student run venture capital investment fund. DVG is the first completely student run venture capital fund in the United States. DVG provides students the opportunity to conduct due diligence, make final investment decisions, and negotiate deal term structure.

DVG members represent a variety of academic disciplines and backgrounds, including accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, law, marketing, and engineering. By participating in Dakota Venture Group, UND students receive an unheard of opportunity for experiential learning in the field of venture capital and angel investing.

The investment strategy of DVG includes making investments in high-growth ventures started by entrepreneurs in the United States, with preference given to regional and student initiated ventures. All investments are made with the goal of fostering economic growth. Over the past few years more than 80 DVG student members have screened numerous companies and made multiple investments.

The Dakota Venture Group was established in September 2006 through a donation from the Dakota Foundation.

Dedicated Individuals Bettering Society

Dedicated Individuals Bettering Society (DIBS) is a student-led organization initially created by UIF members Atle Alexander Berglie Johansen, Jonathan Puhl, and Brian Porter. DIBS is challenging the current perception of students. Much like the University Innovation Fellows, its purpose is to enable students at the University of North Dakota to become leaders on their campus. DIBS provides students the environment to speak their minds, share their concerns, and collaborate on current challenges UND faces. The organization encourages students to lead events, collaborate with faculty in their respective departments, and take initiative to address issues that the university does not otherwise have a resolution for.

College of Engineering and Mines

The following undergraduate programs are offered:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Geology and Geological Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering

All programs are ABET accredited (our new Petroleum Engineering program has not yet completed the accreditation process) and supported by dedicated faculty, small class sizes and well-equipped laboratories.

Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Aside from tenure and contractual requirements, innovation and entrepreneurship is not widely promoted to faculty for personal discovery or research. There is a growing movement on campus within faculty and leadership that hopes to change the current mindset- a movement that will no doubt find immense value in the findings of the University Innovation Fellows program and the landscape canvas. This movement gained immense strength with a series of demonstrations of support, vocal and in action, by the students and staff. These projects are not university driven, but rather done on the faculty's own time. Faculty are encouraged to document and file all intellectual property they generate, some of which is forwarded to the TTO and processed.

Technology Transfer

The University expects faculty/staff to continue their professional development through active participation in research and other scholarly pursuits.

Since the University resources available for such activities are limited, the University encourages faculty/staff to solicit and obtain funds from potential sponsoring agencies, such as federal and state government, private foundation, industry and business.

This external support is generally awarded as grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements, with the University of North Dakota as the responsible fiscal agent.

A faculty or staff member is named as Principal Investigator (PI), and is responsible for conducting the instructional, research or service project in accordance with the conditions of the award.

Two offices exist to facilitate the process of obtaining extramural funding and administering awards that are received: Research Development & Compliance (RD&C) and the Grants & Contracts Administration (GCA) office.

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration

This process is handled in large by the Center for Innovation located on campus. The Center has achieved 30 years of self-sufficiency securing over $30 M in entrepreneur infrastructure, services, outreach and endowments (very rare in economic development).  In the spirit of entrepreneurship, the Center pays its own way through fees for services, contracts, incubator rents and grants from foundations, entrepreneurs and government sources.

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber identifies and serves the needs of business. We work to increase prosperity by encouraging the growth of existing businesses and fostering establishment of new ones. We provide representation in government affairs at local, state, and national levels. We develop partnerships with educational, cultural, civic and service organizations. We gather facts, provide information, and facilitate discussions on key issues that impact business, the economy and the community as a whole.

Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation

Economic development success is spurred by collaboration between public and private sectors investing in the Grand Forks Region EDC and supporting a shared vision for a vibrant regional economy.

One Million Cups Grand Forks           

1 Million Cups is a free, weekly national program designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs. Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, 1MC is based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee. Grand Forks 1MC is one of the top 5 in membership and weekly attendance in the nation. 

Startup Weekend Grand Forks        

Startup Weekend is an event powered by Google to foster entrepreneurship all over the world. Participants are given 54 hours, the necessary resources, and mentorship to develop an idea in teams over the course of one weekend. The projects are then presented to a panel of judges. Startup Weekend Grand Forks was hosted for the first time in 2015 with support from the Center for Innovation. Several of the University Innovation Fellows from the University of North Dakota serve as organizers for this event.

The 701        

The 701 is a coworking space created in the fall of 2016 by Evolve ND, an organization celebrating entrepreneurship in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The 701 is designed to house freelancers, remote employees, and independent professionals in an environment where they can collaborate, share ideas, and develop business relationships. 

Autonomous Alley     

Autonomous Alley is the first UAS/drone accelerator program in the nation to help UAS entrepreneurs access capital, provide venture development assistance, network with other UAS industry experts, and secure customers in the emerging drone industry. Through the Center for Innovation, Autonomous Alley fulfills a vision of creating new, innovative programs that help drone startups accelerate their commercialization to create new jobs and opportunities.

Related Links

University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota Student Priorities

University of North Dakota Landscape Canvas

University Innovation Fellows

Fall 2016:

Atle Alexander Berglie Johansen

Brian porter

Jonathan Robert Puhl

Spring 2016:

Daniel Daffinrud

Emily O'Brien

Fall 2015:

Benjamin Olson