Services to Region

Centers of Excellence
The University has three established Centers of Excellence—the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities, the Rural Crime and Justice Center, and the Center for the Applied Study of Cognition and Learning Sciences.The centers have developed from University areas of expertise and complement its research and service components.

North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities

The North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD) is a University Center of Excellence on Developmental Disabilities, Education, Research and Services. We are part of a national network of 67 similar programs at universities throughout the United States called University Centers for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDS). NDCPD’s mission is to provide service, education and research which empower communities to welcome, value and support the well-being and quality of life for people of all ages and abilities.

NDCPD serves a diverse population of people with disabilities and their families, service providers and educators, and people in the public and private sector through the following activities:

  • providing interdisciplinary training to students in multiple disciplines
  • providing evidence-based in-service training for practicing professionals and others serving people with disabilities and their families
  • providing education to individuals with disabilities, families, and support providers that will allow them to practice greater self-determination and exert greater choice and control
  • disseminating information and research findings through publications, presentations, and the internet
  • providing direct services and supports to people with disabilities to minimize disparities in health care, enhance educational opportunities, develop work skills, and other services that will ensure that communities are accessible and responsive to the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families
  • providing technical assistance to public policy makers and entities serving the disability community, and
  • conducting research, evaluation, and analysis in areas of importance to the field of disabilities.

NDCPD provides many opportunities for students to participate in its projects and activities. NDCPD offers an interdisciplinary training experience for MSU students. Working with traditional academic departments such as Communication Disorders, Psychology, Social Work, and Special Education, NDCPD faculty provide students with leadership experiences that supplement their discipline-specific coursework. NDCPD also provides training and educational programs for professionals and paraprofessionals in the disability community. Working with academic departments, NDCPD makes a variety of workshops, courses, and professional development programs available in communities throughout North Dakota. Students from all disciplines are invited to become involved in the NDCPD’s varied research, service, training, and dissemination activities. For more information, call JoLynn Webster, NDCPD’s Pre-Service Interdisciplinary Coordinator at (800) 233-1737 or (701) 858-3009; or, stop at the NDCPD offices located in Memorial Hall 203.

Center for the Applied Study of Cognition and Learning Sciences (CASCLS)

All learning occurs through the process of building, changing or reinforcing of neural networks in the mind/brain. From the moment we are born until the moment we die, people are naturally designed to take in new information through our senses as we experience situations in our environment. We process that information back and forth with what we already hold in our mind/brain, in order to make sense of those new inputs as we grow in our understanding of the world around us—and how we might be successful in that world.

The Center for the Applied Study of Cognition and Learning Sciences (CASCLS) at MSU is designed to help educators at all levels connect information on how the mind/brain functions in learning, to appropriate applications in P-12, undergraduate, graduate, and community education. Seminars and conferences, as well as the Cognitive Science Concentration within the Master of Education degree provide varied access to this information.

Participants in the CASCLS initiative have opportunity to learn, apply and test research regarding what we know about:

  • biophysical structures, functions and mechanisms brain),
  • observed individual and social behaviors, mental representations and thinking processes (mind), and
  • how human beings change over time as they develop in all quadrants: cognitive, social, emotional and physical growth (education).

The Center has all new facilities with the 2010 remodel of Minot State University’s Swain Hall. The new facilities enhance the Center’s capacity to continue existing lines of research (such as the dyslexia project) and expand its range of applied mind/brain research.

The completely retooled building houses teacher education, elementary and preschool education programs with lab classrooms, human performance programs with physical education, exercise science and athletic training labs, a technology lab, and four science labs. In addition, CASCLS has five dedicated clinical rooms adjoining its offices for individual and small group research, enhanced audio/video recording capacity, a dedicated research workroom for analysis of audio/video data, and a conference room for meetings with school and community partners.

Over 80% of those in the education profession in the U.S. are prepared in colleges of education, many with 100-200 year roots in the study of learning sciences, working interactively with P-12 teachers in schools. As the CASCLS initiative at MSU continues to grow, it represents a new mind-set in how we approach the learning sciences and prepare professional educators. This mind-set is a necessary response by the profession to the increasing complexity of teaching and learning.

Contacts: Dr. Deb Jensen,; 1 (800) 777-0750, CASCLS Director
Dr. Lisa Borden-King,, CASCLS Field Director

Institute for Rural Human Services

The Institute for Rural Human Services (IRHS) is a unique project in which various human service entities collaborate. The Institute draws together various professional disciplines and service providers to address human problems of rural families and to seek solutions through a team approach. Its three-fold mission is to provide direct clinical and outreach services, technical assistance, and conduct educational activities that assist rural families in understanding and meeting their human service needs.

Interactive Video Network

The Interactive Video Network (IVN) offers statewide videoconferencing providing distance education opportunities throughout North Dakota.

IVN utilizes Internet-based videoconferencing technology (H. 323) over the state network (STAGEnet) to significantly enhance communication and learning opportunities. Videoconferencing services extend beyond higher education and tribal colleges to include K-12 schools, NDSU Extension and Research Centers, and state government agencies. Of all distance education technologies IVN most closely replicates traditional classroom instruction. Two or more sites can be connected for each IVN event. There are over 400 sites in the state with over 65 sites in the higher education environment.

Minot State University has several video classrooms. Three large classrooms are located in the Administration Building. Criminal Justice has two dedicated rooms located in their department. NDCPD has a room in Memorial Hall.

Minot State University has the capability of both sending and receiving courses, workshops and meetings. Students from this area can enroll in a wide range of degree programs offered by a number of North Dakota University System institutions. A variety of programs are available in either two year, four year, masters or doctoral degrees.

For a complete list of classes and degree programs being offered, or for general information about IVN videoconferencing contact the Center for Extended Learning office at 1 (800) 777-0750 or the Minot State University IVN office at (701) 858-3984. Information about classes and meetings can be found on the IVN website at North Dakota IVN site.

Learn more about classes and meetings at Minot State University by accessing

Minot Symphony Orchestra

The Minot Symphony Orchestra is a joint University/community orchestra which presents five Minot concerts and a children’s educational concert each season. Membership is dependent upon needed instrumentation and is open to university students and community members through audition.

North Dakota Geographic Alliance

The North Dakota Geographic Alliance is a statewide organization of teachers, professional geographers, and other persons interested in promoting geography education within the state of North Dakota. The Alliance administrative office is located in the Midcontinent Institute Building, 1015 8th St NW, Minot. The Alliance publishes a quarterly newsletter, holds an annual meeting, summer institute, and offers other types of geography-related programs. Students are invited to join the Alliance, to submit articles for publication in the Alliance newsletter, and to participate in Alliance-sponsored programs.

Communication Disorders Clinic

Each year children and adults with disabilities come to the clinic for diagnostic services and to take advantage of sophisticated equipment and expert faculty. A unique team of professionals provides assessment and designs individual habilitative programs which are carried out at home, in the public schools through cooperative planning with teachers and parents, or in the clinic itself. Undergraduate and graduate students, under the close supervision of faculty members, work with clients. Services are free of charge to full-time MSU students and their immediate family and are reduced for part-time students. Call (701) 858-3030 for additional information.

Western Plains Opera Company

The Western Plains Opera Company is a joint University/community opera which presents a major production each year. The Opera Company performs a variety of representative works. It is open to university students and community members through audition.