Guide to School Choice in North Dakota

By: National School Choice Week Team

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

 If you live in North Dakota and are making a decision about K-12 education for your child, this post is for you. Where you send your child to school impacts whether they are inspired, happy, and equipped for success! While North Dakota offers fewer options than most states, there are still choices. You can choose from traditional public schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

While North Dakota does not currently have public charter schools and public magnet schools, these are options in most states. 

a group of students celebrate school choice in North Dakota

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North Dakota Traditional Public Schools

Most North Dakota families choose traditional public schools. Operated by school districts, these are free to attend, open to all students, and funded by taxpayers. On average, North Dakota spends $14,381 per public school student each year. 

In North Dakota, the state allows each district decides to set its own open enrollment policies. Open enrollment refers to whether parents can send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. North Dakota parents wanting to transfer their child to a different public school than the one they are assigned should contact their local school district to see if this is an option. This is an important form of public school choice, widening parents options and ensuring that their zip code isn’t the sole determiner of their education.

North Dakota Charter Schools

North Dakota is one of only five states that have not yet passed laws allowing public charter schools. Charter schools are public schools that are allowed the freedom to innovate while being held accountable for student achievement. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are allowed the freedom to innovate while being held accountable for student achievement. The school’s charter describes what unique community need the school seeks to fill, and the school may be authorized by a governing body, a college, or a school board. 

While North Dakota families cannot yet choose public charters, this may be an option in the future. 

North Dakota Magnet Schools

Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as an International Baccalaureate program or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. North Dakota does not currently have any magnet schools, but this may be an option in the future. 

North Dakota Private Schools

Families in North Dakota can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. Alaska’s private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in North Dakota at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.

North Dakota Online Learning

Don’t overlook online learning, which offers a uniquely flexible learning environment that meets a variety of family needs. Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try. While there is not currently a free full-time option for North Dakota students, elementary through high school students may enroll in courses through the North Dakota Center for Distance Education for a fee. Other providers may be available as well.

North Dakota Homeschooling

Homeschooling is another school choice in North Dakota. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home; all 50 states allow it. If you are looking for a highly customizable and flexible education for your child and think homeschooling could fit the bill, check here for resources about homeschooling specific to North Dakota. 

a child in a scarf celebrates school choice in North Dakota

Education Resources for North Dakota Parents 

For additional information about school choice in North Dakota, visit these resources: 

School Choice Celebrations in North Dakota

National School Choice Week 2020 will take place January 26 – February 1, 2020. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information! 

North Dakota will celebrate National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 68 events and activities across the state. Learn more about some of these celebrations at


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