© 2023
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

North Dakota Colleges Go Online

Ways To Subscribe

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been normal for people from kindergarten through college to take their classes online. However, North Dakota has a long history of providing internet education. On this date in 1999, the Bismarck Tribune announced the news that Bismarck State College had over 300 students taking classes online. This was incredible considering the college had only had a website for four years.

BSC offered its first online classes during fall semester of 1998. The six classes included courses in psychology, sociology, Native American studies, computers, English, and farm management. Unlike COVID-19 era classes, these online courses did not yet have the technology to include web cameras or microphones, and students had to rely on dial-up internet.

Despite the internet being in its infancy, and many students not having a lot of experience with it, the online classes proved to be popular, especially for students who worked full time and not being able to attend class in person. Some of the students even lived out of state.

Members of the Distance Education Committee at the college were thrilled with how well these new classes were going. Instructors were also pleased with how well the classes went and how dedicated the students were. The original plan was to offer online education by the year 2000, but they were able to start in 1998 due to a grant from the BSC Foundation.

While Bismarck State College was not the first college in the state to offer online classes, it proved to be a leader in this new education endeavor. The flexibility even allowed a professor to teach from India.

Students as far away as California were interested in the courses. By spring 2000, students could obtain an associate’s degree from the school completely online.

Dakota Datebook by Trista Raezer-Stursa


Associated Press, “‘Virtual Degrees’ to Complement Online Classes,” The Bismarck Tribune, May 28, 2000, pg. 26.

Author Unknown, “Bismarck Sate College Offers Online Classes,” The Bismarck Tribune, August 21, 1998, pg. 3C.

Hanson, Mark, “Classes Fairly New for State College System,” The Bismarck Tribune, February 15, 1999, pg. 1A.

Hanson, Mark, “Online Courses Grow in Popularity,” The Bismarck Tribune, February 15, 1999, pg. 1A.

Hanson, Mark, “School Jumps Into the ‘Net,” The Bismarck Tribune, October 6, 1997, pg. 11.

Hanson, Mark,” BSC’s Online Classes Grow,” The Bismarck Tribune, September 9, 1999, pg. B1.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Related Content