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What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

OER are teaching, learning and research resources that make use of appropriate tools, such as open licensing, to permit their free reuse, continuous improvement, and repurposing by others for educational purposes. (UNESCO)

Minnesota State promotes textbook affordability for students at Minnesota State colleges and universities by supporting and facilitating the adoption of open, low-cost, high-quality materials. We strive to do through faculty development, adequate resources, and grants.

What can students do?

  • Join or form a student body organization to advocate for textbook affordability solutions.
  • Ask your professors if they know about or would be willing to use OER.
  • Learn more about Z-degrees available below.

Read more about OER at Minnesota State on the ASA Newsletter. 

Follow us on Twitter @MinnStateOER #MinnStateOER.

  • Textbook Cost Type: Search and Display Project - Students from colleges participating in the FY20 Z-degree Project have the ability to search for courses that offer no cost textbooks while registering for courses. Learn more: Students  |  Faculty


A Z-degree is an associate degree or bachelor degree that have zero-cost course resources. A Z-degree course exclusively uses one or more of the following: 

  • Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Open Textbooks  
  • Zero Cost Materials

The following Minnesota State campuses offer zero-textbook cost degrees (Z-degrees):

Map of Minnesota where the Z-degree campuses are located

Z-Degree Project


The State of Minnesota 91st Legislature passed Senate File 2415 in the spring 2019 session. This bill includes the following directive for the Minnesota State colleges and universities system:

"Three additional colleges must offer the opportunity to earn a Z-Degree by the academic year 2020-2021. A college's course offerings for its Z-degree program must include at least two distinct courses in each transfer curriculum goal area and at least enough credits in each transfer curriculum goal area to complete the transfer curriculum package." (SF24​15)





There are three categories of Z-degree Project funding for FY21: 

1. Exploration (funding up to $25,000) 

Campuses that received Exploration funding will prepare a foundation for Z-degree development; including faculty development, open textbook exploration and review, and building open textbook capacity in the transfer curriculum.  

  • Minnesota West Community and Technical College 
  • Saint Paul College 

2. Implementation (funding up to $100,000)

Campuses that received Implementation funding will create, finalize, and implement a new Z-degree; such as finalizing course development for a Z-degree and creating a Z-degree and offer it in fall of FY23. 

  • Hibbing Community College 
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College 
  • St. Cloud Technical and Community College 
3. Expansion (funding up to $25,000)

Campuses that received Expansion funding will increase the number and type of courses offered in an existing Z-degree; such as adding additional courses or sections, or increasing the number of faculty using zero textbook cost materials. 


Tim Anderson, Ed.D, MBA

Resources for Faculty and Staff

If required, log into SharePoint using your

  • Opendora is the digital archive for OER textbooks and materials, allowing Minnesota State faculty and librarians to load, access, and share licensed OER.​
  • OER Community Site uses SharePoint to provide Minnesota State employees interested in OER a place to start and join discussions, collaborate on files, view glossary and FAQs related to OER, locate Creative Commons licensing experts, create and manage lists of resources, find Quickstart Guides for common disciplines.
  • OER Events for faculty and staff can be found on the Network for Educational Development events calendar.

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