Fargo is the North Dakota’s largest city with population over 100,000. The city was founded in 1871 and was initially named “Centralia”. Later it was renamed “Fargo” in honor of William Fargo, a pioneer expressman, director of Northern Pacific Railway and founder of Wells Fargo Express Company. The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad gave rise to the rapid development of this region. Since that time the “Gateway to the West”, as Fargo was called, had become an economic, manufacturing, educational, cultural and health care center of southeastern North Dakota. Several large businesses, such as Microsoft, Nokia, Case New Holland and Cetero Research operate in this area. Owing to the Fargo’s low unemployment and crime rates coupled with the decent supply of affordable housing Money Magazine ranked the city near the top of the list of America’s “100 Best Places to Live” (July, 2010). Forbes has also rewarded Fargo by ranking it the 7th best small city in the nation to start a business or a career in 2009.
Higher education, along with manufacturing, technology, food processing and retail trade, is one of the most progressive sectors of Fargo’s economy. Fargo with its twin city of Moorhead is home to three four-year universities.
There are 35 K-12 schools in Fargo, including 26 public schools and 9 private schools. There are special education classes for students with special needs and advanced placement classes for high-performing high school students. The student to teacher ratio in Fargo for public schools is 15:1, which is 27.5% greater than the North Dakota student to teacher ratio and 5.6% less than the national student to teacher ratio.
North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Sciences in Fargo, founded in 1890 as North Dakota’s first land-grant university, is a public research institution with an enrollment of more than 14,000 students. Colleges within the university are Engineering and Architecture, Science and Mathematics, Human Development and Education, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Pharmacy, Nursing & Allied Sciences, Business, Agriculture, Food Systems, & Natural Resources, and University Studies. NDSU offers 102 bachelor’s, 79 minors, 66 master’s, 44 doctoral, 10 graduate certificate, 6 undergraduate certificate and 79 minor programs. The range of disciplines covers everything from architecture, pharmacy, anthropology, political science and engineering to accounting, philosophy, music, journalism and theatre arts. North Dakota State University is the largest research institution in North Dakota. The main fields of research at NDSU involve agriculture, chemistry, nanotechnology, RFID technology and polymers/coatings. NDSU was named among the top 108 research universities in the nation by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. It is the first and only university in North Dakota to achieve such prestigious status.
Tri-College University, located on the NDSU campus, is a consortium of three major Fargo-Moorhead colleges and universities: NDSU, Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead. The students may benefit from taking classes at Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead at no extra charge.
Fargo is also home to several private institutions, including Rasmussen College, a branch of the University of Mary and Masters Baptist College. Rasmussen College awards associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in various areas including business, education, technology & design, nursing, health science and justice studies. It also has an Online Division that offers online classes leading to Bachelor of Science, Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Science degrees. Distant educational opportunities in Fargo are also provided by the North Dakota Center for Distance Education, an accredited, non-profit, distance education school. ND CDE’s online courses are available to any students in grades 6-12.
Rich educational resources of Fargo result in high percentages of residents enrolled in colleges and universities. 34.4% of Fargo’s residents over age 25 have Bachelor’s or higher degree while an average index in North Dakota is only 18.7%. High educational level of the regional human resources is a powerful engine that generates the economic and social success of the city.