Zero-Cost Textbooks Program

A Z-Degree is a pathway to a degree on which students do not have to purchase a single textbook.

At Minnesota North College, our multi-campus Open Educational Resources Committee has worked with dedicated faculty to offer a Z-Degree pathway for our Liberal Arts and Sciences (AA) degree. This AA Degree consists of at least 40 credits, with at least two courses from each of the ten goal areas of the Minnesota State Transfer Curriculum.

Through the use of openly-licensed, high-quality electronic textbooks, streaming videos, course modules and other high-quality electronic materials, known as Open Educational Resources, or OER, Minnesota North College now offers over 100 distinct zero-textbook-cost courses for the Associate of Arts program. Z-Degree courses may use these free OER or other free resources so students have the option to complete an entire two-year associate’s degree without buying textbooks.

Students who enroll in Z-Degree courses at Minnesota North College stand to save approximately $1,050 per year on textbooks, based on the average annual amount students currently spend on textbooks at our institution.

Efforts to implement the AA Z-Degree at Minnesota North College have been made possible by the hard work of a group of dedicated faculty and staff, and the support of over $250,000 in grant funding from Minnesota State.

Anyone can enroll in a Z-Degree course, though usual course pre-requisites apply. Advisors and Counselors are available to help students register for Z-Degree courses.

Z-Degree classes provide the same quality education as regular classes, minus the cost of a textbook.

Anyone can take a Z-Degree class, as long as they meet the usual pre-requisites associated with the class itself. There are no special requirements associated with a course due to its inclusion in the Z-Degree.

Z-Degree classes are available for course registration like any other course. Let your advisor or counselor know that you are interested in taking a Z-Degree class, and they can help you get started.

You can also see the available Z-Degree courses in e-services: When searching for courses, select “Expand/Collapse for Advanced Search” near the bottom of the page and “No cost for textbooks” from the Textbook Costs field.

No. Z-Degree classes are just regular AA classes that do not require students to purchase a textbook.

You may choose to take any class you wish, with the understanding that if the class is not on the list of Z-Degree classes, you may be required to purchase a textbook.

• Open Textbooks
• Open Courses
• Other Open Educational Resources (OERs)
• Zero-cost Textbook “Rentals”
• Library Resources
• Free, Copyrighted Resources under Fair Use
• Works in the Public Domain
• Faculty-developed Materials

• Materials can be viewed online at no cost
• Materials may be available for semester loans at your campus library
• Materials may be downloaded to a phone or other personal device at no cost
• Materials may be available for optional purchase in a physical format in the Hibbing Campus Store at low cost (in this case materials will still be available online at no cost)
• If at any time you have questions about how to access the zero-cost materials used in your course, please contact your instructor

No. Z-Degrees have Zero-Textbook-Costs, not zero costs. Some Z-Degree courses may require a materials fee for class supplies such as a notebook, lab kit, art kit, yoga mat, or tools.