Zero Cost Resources and OER Projects

Z-Degree Project

A Z-degree is a complete associate or bachelor's degree program that exclusively use course resources that are no cost to students, such as: 

  • open educational resources (OER)
  • open textbooks  
  • library-curated materials


To be considered a Z-degree course, the instructor cannot require students to purchase any course resources. Optional or supplemental resources that are a cost to students may be recommended.

Students at a campus that offers Z-degrees can use the Advanced Search option to find courses that have "no cost" course materials.

The following 15 Minnesota State colleges and universities are in process of developing Z-degree courses:

  • Alexandria Technical and Community College
  • Bemidji State University
  • Dakota County Technical College
  • Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
  • Inver Hills Community College
  • Minnesota State College Southeast
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Minnesota State University Moorhead
  • Normandale Community College
  • Northwest Technical College
  • Ridgewater College
  • Rochester Community and Technical College
  • Saint Paul College
  • South Central College
  • St. Cloud State University

 Opening Opportunities for Teacher Education

Open Textbooks Pilot (OTP) Project,  Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education.

The United States Department of Education awarded Minnesota State a three-year grant totaling $978,332 to help increase the diversity of the teacher education pipeline across Minnesota. The project runs September 1, 2021 through August 30, 2024.


The OTP project will create open textbooks and open educational resources (OER) for core teacher education courses that will provide significant savings for students while maintaining or improving student learning outcomes.

  • Create high quality OER for five high-enrolled courses that have limited or no OER available.
  • Provide professional development around the integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion in OER and curriculum.
  • Share all processes and procedures around OER development and DEI to the national Hispanic-Serving Institution and beyond.

Campuses and Courses

The following institutions are collaborating to convert these teacher education courses to utilize open textbooks and open resources:


  • Southwest Minnesota State University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • Century College
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Normandale Community College
  • St. Cloud Technical and Community College


  • Introduction to Education
  • Foundations of Instruction
  • Educational Technology
  • Introduction to Literacy
  • Special Education 


Michael Olesen
Interim System Director for Student Success and Technologies