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Minnesota West awarded $100,000 implementation grant for new Z-degree

Minnesota West Community & Technical College has been awarded a $100,000 grant to implement Z-degree offerings at the college.

A Z-degree has no cost for any textbooks, lab manuals or educational resources that are required for any of the courses. These zero-cost degrees are possible by utilizing open educational resources (OERs), which are online textbooks and electronic resources that take place of the traditional printed textbooks. By utilizing the open educational resources students can access resources that are recent and up to date -- as well as free.

The new implementation grant allows Minnesota West to provide the time and resources necessary to implement a Z-degree program. The instructors will research the most reliable open educational resources that will provide high quality, affordable materials for all students. Offering Z-degrees at Minnesota West Community & Technical College will create opportunities for all students to access higher education at an affordable rate by potentially saving them thousands of dollars in textbooks and lab manual costs over a two-year period.

“Finding ways to make college more affordable for students is critical,” Minnesota West Dean of Liberal Arts and K-12 Partnerships Dr. Kayla Westra said. “This grant funding supports the tremendous work of our faculty who are participating in this effort. Their willingness to review and adopt materials that align with the system-wide goals of the Z-Degree project is commendable. We are able to undertake this initiative because of our faculty’s dedication to their students, teaching and learning.”

The $100,000 implementation grant is one grant in a series of grants that were provided to Minnesota State through a bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature to explore, implement and pilot a series of Z-degree programs throughout the system.

"This grant is a result of the great work Minnesota West faculty have engaged in pertaining to Open Education Resources and will significantly help reduce financial burdens for students going forward,” Minnesota West Director of Library and Academic Resources Kip Thorson added.

For more information about Minnesota West Community & Technical College, visit or call 1-800-658-2330.

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