DCTC Receives $25,000 to Explore Z-Degrees

Grant supports workshops for DCTC faculty on OER development and use

Dakota County Technical College received $25,000 through the Minnesota Legislature and Minnesota State to explore preparing a foundation for Z-degree development. Z-degrees are complete associate or bachelor’s degree programs that exclusively use course resources that have zero-cost to students such as open educational resources (OER), open textbooks, and library-curated materials.

“This grant will support workshops for DCTC faculty on OER development and use,” said Martin Springborg, the college’s dean of liberal arts, design, and STEM. “The grant will also fund long-term, personalized support for faculty who want to develop their own OER for use in courses. Finally, the grant will allow the DCTC Library to purchase a significant number of texts that will be used as course reserves—a student resource the Minnesota State System Office includes in their overall view of OER within the Z-degree framework. The entire project will take place over the 2024–2025 academic year.”

Dean Springborg added that instructors cannot require students to purchase any course resources in a Z-degree program. Optional or supplemental resources that are a cost to students may be recommended.

Announcing new Z-degree participants¹

Supported in part by funding through the Minnesota Legislature and Minnesota State, Minnesota State announces its Z-degree Project participants for FY25–FY26. Z-degree courses for these participating campuses will be available by spring of 2026.

With these additions, 10 Minnesota State campuses offer Z-degrees and 15 are in-process of offering Z-degrees.


The following six (6) colleges and universities received up to $25,000 to explore Z-degrees on their campuses to prepare a foundation for Z-degree development, such as faculty development, open textbook exploration and review, or building open textbook capacity in the transfer curriculum.

  • Alexandria Technical and Community College
  • Dakota County Technical College
  • Minnesota State College Southeast
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Northwest Technical College
  • South Central College


The following six (6) colleges and universities received up to $100,000 to create, finalize, and implement a new Z-degree by spring of 2026.

  • Inver Hills Community College
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Minnesota State University Moorhead
  • Ridgewater College
  • Rochester Community and Technical College
  • St. Cloud State University


The following five (5) colleges and universities received up to $50,000 to increase the number and type of courses offered in an existing Z-degree, such as adding additional courses or course sections, and increasing the number of faculty using zero-cost course resources in a course already part of an existing Z-degree.

  • Century College
  • Lake Superior College
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College
  • Northland Community and Technical College
  • St. Cloud Technical and Community College
Learn more about Z-degrees and OER at Minnesota State by visiting:

Open Educational Resources

What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?²

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, called Open Educational Resources, or 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 re-purposing by others for educational purposes.

Supported by the Minnesota Legislature, Minnesota State has:

  • Launched statewide open textbook review programs
  • Funded professional development for teaching and library faculty
  • Funded local campus projects to achieve immediate savings for students
  • Developed Z-degrees at 10 colleges and universities
  • Saved students more than $3 million in course resource costs each year

Lowering the cost of course resources enhances access and success for Minnesota State students, a main focus of our Equity 2030 goal.

OER allow faculty to use resources that are low or no cost to students, racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse, locally relevant, accessible, updated frequently, accessible on the first day and beyond, and are tailored to the needs of students.


Learn more about Z-degree development at DCTC by contacting:

Martin Springborg
Dean of Liberal Arts, Design, & STEM
Dakota County Technical College

¹ SOURCE: ASA Newsletter
² SOURCE: Minnesota State