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South Dakota Universities Ranked: The Best Colleges and Universities in South Dakota

Jose Salgado - July 05, 2022


The best universities in South Dakota offer great academic programs across a wide range of fields of study including science, health, business, and fine arts. The best South Dakota universities ranked among the top schools in the US for online master’s degree programs in nursing, education, and psychology.

The best colleges in South Dakota have cutting-edge labs and research facilities, exciting athletic teams, excellent career services, beautiful performing arts centers, and vibrant student communities. In this article, we go over the top 10 universities in South Dakota, their best undergraduate and graduate programs, and the resources you can use to help pay for them.

What Are the Best Universities in South Dakota?

The best universities in South Dakota include Augustana University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, the University of Sioux Falls, and Mount Marty University. These universities are the best in South Dakota because of the quality of their programs, their job placement rate, and their campus life.

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Some other top universities in South Dakota include Dakota State University, Presentation College, and Northern State University. These universities also offer online undergraduate and graduate programs. Whether you want to enroll at a liberal arts college, in a school of medicine, or in certificate programs, there’s a university in South Dakota for you.

How Many Universities Are in South Dakota?

There are 18 universities in South Dakota. Six are state and public universities, six are tribal colleges and universities, and six are private colleges and universities. South Dakota’s 18 institutions offer undergraduate and graduate programs, with some ranking among the best in the US.

What Are the Biggest Universities in South Dakota?

The biggest universities in South Dakota are South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, and Black Hills State University. These universities have small residence halls, multiple student organizations, and a balanced on-campus atmosphere, all of which contribute to their student success and academic excellence.

Largest South Dakota Universities by Enrollment

  1. South Dakota State University | 11,405
  2. University of South Dakota | 9,459
  3. Black Hills State University | 3,608
  4. Northern State University | 3,431
  5. Dakota State University | 3,186

South Dakota University Rankings: What Are the Top 10 Universities in South Dakota?

Ranking School City Graduation Rate
1 Augustana University Sioux Falls 71%
2 University of South Dakota Vermillion 60%
3 South Dakota State University Brookings 60%
4 University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls 58%
5 Mount Marty University Yankton 53%
6 Dakota State University Madison 47%
7 Presentation College Aberdeen 47%
8 Northern State University Aberdeen 45%
9 Dakota Wesleyan University Mitchell 44%
10 Black Hills State University Spearfish 39%

How We Defined South Dakota University Rankings

Our ranking of the 10 best South Dakota universities is based on the graduation rates of top schools in the state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). In coming up with our list of 10 South Dakota universities, we also consulted rankings conducted by US News & World Report and Times Higher Education, which you can reference in the expanded list below.

The Best Colleges and Universities in South Dakota, Explained

In this section, we give you a detailed look at the top-ranking universities in South Dakota by graduation rate and their best undergraduate and graduate programs. All of them offer a job placement rate of almost 100 percent within six months of graduation. All information about the programs is sourced directly from its parent university’s official website and is publicly available.

1

Augustana University

Grad Rate: 71%

Located in the city of Sioux Falls, Augustana University has 2,100 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. The school has the highest graduation rate for universities in South Dakota. Its most popular programs are its nursing and biochemistry undergraduate majors, and with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, Augustana University’s small average class size is a big plus.

Augustana University Overview

  • Campus Location: Sioux Falls
  • Student Population: 2,019
  • Acceptance Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $50,137
  • US News Regional Ranking: #10
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #401-#500

Best Augustana University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Graduates of this program can take the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Licensing Examination to become licensed registered nurses. By earning this nursing degree , graduates can apply for entry-level positions across the health care system.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. Augustana College’s business school integrates its strong liberal arts heritage into its business classes, giving students an advantage in the job market by making them more well-rounded graduates.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. This undergraduate teaching degree combines the education practices of indigenous Native American culture with Western educational principles. This program’s graduates are equipped with the skills necessary to nurture the personal development and emotional intelligence of future generations.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education. This program’s strong campus curriculum provides its students with relevant field experience. Its students develop professional competencies based on the Interstate New Teachers Assessment and Support Consortium’s (INTASC) principles.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Special Education. This Bachelor of Arts program focuses on teaching future educators how to work with students with autism and behavioral disorders. Its graduates are equipped to communicate with students affected by autism, ADHD, and speech and motor disabilities and help them with their learning.

3

University of South Dakota

Grad Rate: 60%

The University of South Dakota ’s (USD) campus is located in Vermilion and is the state’s flagship university. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs in health, science, and technology. Students from its audiology and nursing programs benefit from the USD Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic.

University of South Dakota Overview

  • Campus Location: Vermillion
  • Student Population: 9,459
  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $46,600
  • US News National Ranking: #239
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: >#600

Best University of South Dakota Programs

  • Online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling and Prevention. This 33-credit online graduate degree trains its students in addiction counseling and prevention of alcohol, drugs, and gambling addiction. This is a great program for students wanting a career path that allows them to give back to their community.
  • Online Master of Science in Technology for Education and Training. This is a 36-credit, fully online graduate degree program. This affordable program for working teachers has an extremely flexible class schedule, allowing them to learn about instructional, tech-based learning environments.
  • Online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling and Prevention (Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder). This extended graduate degree requires the completion of 45 credits. In it, students learn to treat and prevent addiction among the general population, including individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. This 90-credit PhD program is a great option for academic coordinators in schools, universities, and education departments looking to improve students' experiential learning across the country.
  • Doctor of Audiology. This doctorate program takes about four years to complete, as it includes 115 to 121 required credits. Students with a bachelor’s degree can apply to the program. Students in their final year work full time at the USD Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic.

3

University of South Dakota

Grad Rate: 60%

The University of South Dakota ’s (USD) campus is located in Vermilion and is the state’s flagship university. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs in health, science, and technology. Students from its audiology and nursing programs benefit from the USD Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic.

University of South Dakota Overview

  • Campus Location: Vermillion
  • Student Population: 9,459
  • Acceptance Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $46,600
  • US News National Ranking: #239
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: >#600

Best University of South Dakota Programs

  • Online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling and Prevention. This 33-credit online graduate degree trains its students in addiction counseling and prevention of alcohol, drugs, and gambling addiction. This is a great program for students wanting a career path that allows them to give back to their community.
  • Online Master of Science in Technology for Education and Training. This is a 36-credit, fully online graduate degree program. This affordable program for working teachers has an extremely flexible class schedule, allowing them to learn about instructional, tech-based learning environments.
  • Online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling and Prevention (Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder). This extended graduate degree requires the completion of 45 credits. In it, students learn to treat and prevent addiction among the general population, including individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. This 90-credit PhD program is a great option for academic coordinators in schools, universities, and education departments looking to improve students' experiential learning across the country.
  • Doctor of Audiology. This doctorate program takes about four years to complete, as it includes 115 to 121 required credits. Students with a bachelor’s degree can apply to the program. Students in their final year work full time at the USD Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic.

4

South Dakota State University

Grad Rate: 60%

South Dakota State University offers a wide catalog of in-person and online undergraduate and graduate programs. Its online nursing programs are recognized among the best in the US, and the job placement rate for its undergraduate students is close to 100 percent.

South Dakota State University Overview

  • Campus Location: Brookings
  • Student Population: 11,405
  • Acceptance Rate: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $49,845
  • US News National Ranking: #288
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #501-#600

Best South Dakota State University Programs

  • Online Bachelor of Science in Psychology. This program has two post-graduation paths, one to prepare for graduate school and the second to enter the workforce directly. This program ranks number 41 among the best online Bachelors of Science in Psychology.
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (for RN) . This online program is designed for candidates who are already registered nurses. The campus curriculum allows them to gain their bachelor’s degree in just seven weeks, making it extremely affordable.
  • Online Masters of Science in Nursing. Graduates of this program can become clinical nurse leaders, nurse administrators, nurse educators, or family nurse practitioners. This program requires applicants to have at least 1,500 hours of practice prior to enrollment.
  • Online Family Financial Planning Master in Science. This online master’s program teaches students how to design and communicate a financial plan for clients looking to maintain their family’s financial state.
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing. This is one of the few online PhDs in Nursing in the country that integrates online, hybrid and on-site courses. Graduates acquire the valuable research skills they’ll need to work in the highest positions in the nursing industry.

5

University of Sioux Falls

Grad Rate: 58%

The University of Sioux Falls (USF) was founded in 1872 and has over 90 undergraduate and graduate programs. The school boasts that 99 percent of its graduates get a job in their area of interest within six months of graduation. It also offers a wide range of housing, food, and athletic facilities.

University of Sioux Falls Overview

  • Campus Locations: Sioux Falls (two campuses)
  • Student Population: 1,628
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $47,803
  • US News Regional Ranking: #82
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: >#800

Best University of Sioux Falls Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology. Graduates from this bachelor’s degree program have earned the skills and knowledge needed to become researchers, ecology consultants, physicians, or pharmacists. The school has advanced bio-labs that students get to use during their studies.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music. Students in this program receive a personalized education from the music department at USF and graduate ready to work as professional instrumental or vocal performers.
  • Bachelor of Science in Exercise. This program teaches students how to help people reach their health and fitness goals, help patients recover from major surgeries, and apply the principles of physiology and kinesiology to optimize athletic performance.
  • Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology. Students in this program get to take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) Certification Examination at the end of their program, allowing them to work at radiology units right after graduation.
  • Associate of Arts in Radiologic Technology. This degree serves as a point of entry for the Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology. Students must complete 32 semester hours of residence at the university to earn this degree.

6

Mount Marty University

Grad Rate: 53%

Mount Marty University , based in Yankton, is a private institution offering undergraduate and graduate education programs in science, medicine, and religious studies, among others. The school claims that 96 percent of its students find a job in their field of choice or enter a graduate program within six months of graduating.

Mount Marty University Overview

  • Campus Locations: Yankton, Waterton, and Sioux Falls
  • Student Population: 1,167
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $42,407
  • US News Regional Ranking: #108
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: >#800

Best Mount Marty University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology. Students in this program learn to perform diagnostic imaging and radiation treatment to assist physicians and radiologists. Graduates can specialize as x-ray technicians or radiographers.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies. The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies at Mount Marty College includes courses covering topics such as Benedictine traditions, the Synoptic Gospels, critical thinking , and ethical leadership.
  • Master of Science in Nursing (For Mental Health Nurse Practitioners). This program prepares students with professional experience to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification examination and gain licensure as psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners.
  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Students in this program can either work on a thesis or develop a portfolio, depending on their chosen track. The program’s classwork teaches its students how to design curricula for high schools and universities.
  • Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. This program, which is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA), allows nurses with bachelor's degrees to advance their practice in safe preoperative anesthetic management.

7

Dakota State University

Grad Rate: 47%

Dakota State University was founded in 1881 and is a tech-oriented school with advanced science labs. The school’s Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences conducts research in machine learning, human-computer interaction, and cyber security.

Dakota State University Overview

  • Campus Location: Madison
  • Student Population: 3,186
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $44,019
  • US News Regional Ranking: #82
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: N/A

Best Dakota State University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. This program combines studies from mathematics, computer science, and physical science to prepare students to work or pursue advanced studies in computer-aided mathematical modeling and simulation.
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Game Design. This degree prepares students to work in video game design, development, and production through interdisciplinary coursework covering topics in digital arts and software design.
  • Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations. Students in this program develop a strong background in computing and networking and graduate ready to work as computer security analysts, web security managers, and networking analysts.
  • Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence in Organizations. Students in this program learn to use the fundamental concepts, methods, and tools of artificial intelligence to study complex organizational problems and identify solutions.
  • Associate of Science in Web Development. This program prepares students to work in high-demand entry-level positions such as an applications developer, network engineer, and systems support expert or to transfer to a Bachelor of Science program after graduating.

8

Presentation College

Grad Rate: 47%

Presentation College is a small private institution with just over 600 students that is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school offers a selection of undergraduate and graduate programs, with the most popular being its online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Presentation College Overview

  • Campus Location: Aberdeen
  • Student Population: 625
  • Acceptance Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $39,800
  • US News National Ranking: N/A
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: N/A

Best Presentation College Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology. Graduates from this hands-on program can work as radiology technicians or pursue careers in radiologic engineering or forensic radiology.
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Science. This program prepares students for technical jobs within the healthcare industry. It is a good option for associate degree holders wanting to access a larger pool of entry-level positions in hospitals and clinics.
  • Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This online four-year program combines courses in science and technology with extensive research in nursing. After earning their degrees, students from this program are eligible to take the National Examination for Licensure as a Registered Nurse (NCLEX).

9

Northern State University

Grad Rate: 45%

Northern State University is one of the most affordable colleges in the US. It has brand-new residence halls, an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a catalog of over 50 academic programs across the fields of fine arts, science, business, education, and more. Some of its most popular programs are offered completely online.

Northern State University Overview

  • Campus Location(s): Aberdeen
  • Student Population: 3,431
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $43,429
  • US News Regional Ranking: #79
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: N/A

Best Northern State University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Students in this program are equipped with the skills needed to become Certified Bookkeepers (CB), Certified Management Accountants (CMA), Certified Internal Auditors (CIA), or Certified Information Systems Auditors (CISA). The program is available online or in person.
  • Online Master of Science in Education in Art Education. This is an online program for educators already teaching art in K12. Students gain a deeper understanding of art pedagogy and get the opportunity to develop a wider professional network.
  • Online Master of Science in Banking and Financial Services. This program is for business bachelor’s degree holders who want to expand their knowledge and specialize in functions related to banking and financial services.

10

Dakota Wesleyan University

Grad Rate: 44%

The Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) is a private institution with programs in science, business, and arts. DWU is considered to be one of the best private schools in the state due to its two centers of excellence, namely the Kelly Center for Entrepreneurship and the McGovern Center for Leadership and Public Service. Its nursing program grads also have a reported 100 percent job placement rate.

Dakota Wesleyan University Overview

  • Campus Location: Mitchell
  • Student Population: 933
  • Acceptance Rate: 64%
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $45,864
  • US News Regional Ranking: #22
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: N/A

Best Dakota Wesleyan University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics. This program focuses on the common financial problems of small and mid-size organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, with the goal of turning students into leaders that can innovate and offer responsible management of businesses.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. This program prepares students for careers in criminal justice , law enforcement, court services, and security operations. DWU also offers an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice to help students more easily gain admission into the bachelor’s program.
  • B achelor of Arts in Music. The school’s music department gets students ready to launch their careers in music performance and music production or as private studio teachers. Music majors have access to the grand pianos, studio upright pianos, organs, and a large inventory of band instruments at DWU.

11

Black Hills State University

Grad Rate: 39%

Black Hills State University is a public university with approximately 3,600 students that offers a larger number of graduate and undergraduate programs. Located in the small city of Spearfish, Black Hills State has a broad program catalog that includes programs in the fields of mathematics, humanities, and behavioral sciences.

Black Hills State University Overview

  • Campus Location: Spearfish
  • Student Population: 3,608
  • Acceptance Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $39,963
  • US News Regional Ranking: #119-#157
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: >#800

Best Black Hills State University Programs

  • Master of Science in Integrative Genomics. This interdisciplinary graduate program combines the study of genomics, ecology, and evolution to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of organisms in the wild. Students are required to complete a thesis or an internship at a biotech company, depending on their chosen track.
  • Master of Arts in Teaching in Special Education. This program is designed to lead to the initial certification of K12 special education teachers. People with an undergraduate degree in a non-teachable subject who want to pursue a career in special education are who the program is meant for.
  • Online Master of Education in Reading. Graduates from this program acquire the skills and training needed to meet the South Dakota and Wyoming requirements for advanced-level certification as reading specialists. This allows them to work as literacy coaches or reading coordinators.

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South Dakota University Admission Requirements

The admission requirements to attend a university in South Dakota are typically a GPA of 2.6 or a GED with a total score of 580, and coursework or equivalent test scores in English, advanced mathematics, laboratory science, social science, fine arts, and computer science. Most schools also require you to have taken the ACT or SAT and will ask that you submit your scores.

Students who don’t meet the specified requirements can still be admitted but only under probation or through exception policies. You can contact a school’s Office of Admissions to discuss the options that are available for you. The admission requirements for some private universities can vary from the requirements for public or state universities.

Admission Requirements for Universities in South Dakota

  • High school graduates need to have a cumulative GPA of 2.6 or above, an ACT composite score of 18 or above, or an SAT total score of 950 or above.
  • Non-high school graduates need to be 18 years old or older and have completed the GED High School Equivalency Certificate with a total score of 580 or above, as well as have a score of at least 145 on each individual subject.
  • Four years of English coursework completed during high school or an AP English score of 3.0 or higher.
  • Three years of advanced mathematics, laboratory science, and social science coursework completed during high school or a score of 3.0 or higher in AP Calculus, AP Science, AP Social Studies, and AP Fine Arts.
  • A basic understanding of computer word processing applications, spreadsheet programs, Internet use, and keyboarding skills.

How to Apply to South Dakota Universities

To apply to South Dakota universities, you need to pay the application fee for the program of your choice and submit all required documents, including your high school transcript and ACT or SAT score reports. If you are not a high school graduate, submit your GED instead of your high school transcript.

South Dakota Universities Admissions Process

  1. Find an academic program you’re interested in and register for a campus visit if you can.
  2. Pay the application fee, which, for most universities in South Dakota, is $20.
  3. Request that your high school submit your final official transcript to the university’s admissions office.
  4. Submit your official ACT or SAT score reports if your high school doesn’t include them in your transcript.
  5. Submit any postsecondary transcripts if you’ve enrolled in high school dual credit classes.

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Why Study in South Dakota?

You should study in South Dakota because its universities are located around seven of the most beautiful natural parks in the US. Their small campuses and residence halls offer a balanced student life, and their job placement rates are incredibly high across the board, with most reporting 95 to 99 percent of their students getting a job in their field within six months.

Wildlife

The seven natural parks found in South Dakota attract over 14 million tourists each year. University students in South Dakota study surrounded by beautiful landscapes and unwind by visiting sites like Mount Rushmore, the Badlands National Park, and Wind Cave. South Dakota is also home to over two million acres of forest land, glacial lakes, and rivers.

Campus Life

The best universities in South Dakota have state-of-the-art facilities used for engineering and science lab work, business summits, and liberal arts workshops. South Dakota universities contribute to vibrant college life through clubs and organizations where students can create new friendships and develop enduring professional networks.

Job Placement Rate

The job placement rate for graduates from the best universities in South Dakota is close to 100 percent within six months of graduating, meaning that their programs are highly effective in teaching students the skills they need to succeed. South Dakota universities also have a very high acceptance rate for graduate programs in the STEM field.

More South Dakota University Rankings: What Other Universities Are the Best in South Dakota?

The following South Dakota university rankings are organized according to institution type, including state, public, and private universities, followed by our rankings of the three best online universities and the three best universities for international students in South Dakota.

1

Best South Dakota State Universities

  1. South Dakota State University. SDSU was ranked 59th in Pharmacy, 80th in Rehabilitation Counseling, and 96th in Statistics by US News & World Report. SDSU is a public institution and is home to the top nursing graduate school in South Dakota.
  2. Dakota State University. Dakota State University is a public institution that ranks high in cyber science programs. Its strongest programs are in digital arts, cyber security tools , and game programming.
  3. Northern State University. This public institution offers over 50 majors and is recognized as one of the best public colleges in the Midwest by US News & World Report.

2

Best Public Universities in South Dakota

  1. University of South Dakota. This public institution was ranked 118th among the Top Public Schools by US News & World Report. With almost 10,000 students, the University of South Dakota is one of the biggest universities in the state.
  2. South Dakota State University. SDSU is a public institution with undergraduate students from all over the state. The school is well known for its great college life and strong athletic program.
  3. Dakota State University. DSU is another public institution with a great learning environment for digital sciences. It has a strong campus culture and brand-new athletic facilities.

3

Best Private Universities in South Dakota

  1. Augustana University. Augustana University is the private institution with the highest graduation rate in South Dakota. This university has a 99 percent placement rate for graduates employed in their major or chosen field.
  2. University of Sioux Falls. USF is one of the best private schools in South Dakota. It is a member of the NCAA Division II and has a beautiful campus located in Sioux Falls. Ninety-nine percent of the school’s graduates secure employment in their field within six months of graduation.
  3. Mount Marty University. This private institution is the only university in South Dakota offering both master’s and doctoral programs in nurse anesthesia. Mount Marty has a comprehensive athletic program with several athletic teams, including a basketball team, competing at the national level.

4

Best Online Universities in South Dakota

  1. University of South Dakota. This excellent school, which ranked 239th among the Best National Universities by US News & World Report, has a catalog of 39 online undergraduate and graduate programs, including online PhDs in Health Sciences.
  2. South Dakota State University. South Dakota State has a wide selection of online academic programs, including online doctoral degrees. Students can also take individual online courses without having to enroll in an entire program.
  3. Presentation College. This small university offers seven different online health science programs, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Healthcare Administration, and Health Science. This is a great school for registered nurses who want to quickly earn their bachelor’s degree.

5

Best Universities in South Dakota for International Students

  1. Augustana University. This university has an International Programs Office, which directly helps international students with their application process. Its website easily processes international student housing deposits and fees using Flywire.
  2. University of South Dakota. The University of South Dakota charges less than 50 percent of the national average for out-of-state tuition. In fact, the cost per credit for international students is only $654.
  3. South Dakota State University. This excellent school offers the lowest rates in the US for international students, with a cost per credit of only $376. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, SDSU’s class sizes are optimal for learners whose native language isn’t English.

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Top South Dakota Universities by Major

In this section, we break down the top South Dakota universities for different majors, including computer science, nursing, engineering, business, and arts. These universities have the labs, faculty, and facilities to deliver their academic programs with the highest standards of quality possible.

1

Best Computer Science Universities in South Dakota

  1. Dakota State University. DSU is a public institution with one of the most advanced cyber sciences programs in the US. In fact, in March of 2022, DSU was selected by the US Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) to join its Academic Engagement Network.
  2. South Dakota State University. Thanks to SDSU’s computer science programs, students acquire the skills needed to work as computer hardware engineers, computer system analysts, or computer and information systems managers.
  3. University of South Dakota. The University of South Dakota’s College of Arts & Sciences offers undergraduate and graduate computer science programs that can prepare you for a career working in national laboratories, federal agencies, or high-tech companies.

2

Best Nursing Universities in South Dakota

  1. South Dakota State University. SDSU’s College of Nursing offers some of the best undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in the US. Its accelerated bachelor’s degree program for registered nurses is very popular.
  2. Augustana University. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Augustana University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and is approved by the South Dakota Board of Nursing. Many of the school’s undergraduate and graduate nursing programs are available online.
  3. University of South Dakota. The University of South Dakota’s Department of Nursing offers an undergraduate nursing program and a nurse anesthesia practice doctoral program.

3

Best Engineering Universities in South Dakota

  1. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is the flagship public institution for students who want to work in the state’s forestry and mining industries. The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has an incredibly knowledgeable and experienced engineering faculty.
  2. South Dakota State University. SDSU is a major engineering university in South Dakota with extraordinary engineering programs, including aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, and robotics. Its knowledgeable teachers are highly-respected industry professionals.
  3. Augustana University. This private institution offers a versatile engineering physics program that gives students the foundational scientific knowledge and practical experience needed to solve common problems in modern engineering.

4

Best Business Universities in South Dakota

  1. Black Hills State University. Black Hills State University is a public institution with a great business program. Its comprehensive business classes allow its students to easily launch careers in accounting , economics, or business management.
  2. University of South Dakota. This public institution is ranked 212th among the best business schools in the country by US News & World Report. Its business school offers an accelerated business administration program.
  3. Augustana University. This private institution has multiple business programs, including a BS and a BA in Entrepreneurial Studies, Business Economics, and Agricultural Business. Experienced faculty teach its top-notch business classes.

5

Best Fine and Studio Arts Universities in South Dakota

  1. South Dakota State University. SDSU has a School of Performing Arts where it offers a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Music Education.
  2. Augustana University. Augustana University offers a music and a theater major under the faculty of liberal arts as well as a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing or in Painting.
  3. Northern State University. The School of Fine Arts of Northern State University offers courses in art education, graphic design, and fine arts. It also offers an online Master’s Degree in Art Education.

Tuition Costs for South Dakota Universities

The tuition costs for South Dakota universities are $8,978 for public universities and $25,353 for private universities. The average cost for room and board is around $8,300 per year for both public and private universities. In total, the average yearly cost for attending a public university in South Dakota is $17,298 and $33,606 for a private university.

Most Affordable Universities in South Dakota

  1. Northern State University | Tuition: $253/Credit. Full-time students can expect to pay $7,615 for tuition, $4,892 for a room, and $3,942 for a meal plan per year.
  2. Black Hills State University | Tuition: $253/Credit. Resident students pay $8,763 in tuition and fees, $1,200 in books and supplies, $3,680 for a room, and $3,622 for their meal plan. The estimated total yearly cost is $17,265 for resident students.
  3. Dakota State University | Tuition: $294/Credit. The estimated total cost per year for full-time students at Dakota State University who are living on campus is $17,096, including housing and food services.
  4. University of South Dakota | Tuition: $340/Credit. The estimated total yearly cost for a full-time student at the University of South Dakota is $18,856, including tuition, fees, books, housing, and food services.
  5. University of Sioux Falls | Tuition: $390/Credit. The full-time tuition and fees for an undergraduate student at the University of Sioux Falls are $20,290 a year. Using the cheaper food and housing plan, the total yearly cost is $28,380 for both residents and non-residents of South Dakota.

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Financial Aid Options for the Best Universities in South Dakota

Students in South Dakota can afford a college education through scholarships, grants, loans, and internship programs. The best universities in South Dakota have financial aid departments that will help students find the best way to finance their education.

Financial Aid for South Dakota Universities: A Summary

  • Scholarships. Some organizations, like the US Military, offer scholarships for service members and their families. Private companies and local governments also often offer scholarships, most of which are merit-based.
  • Grants. There are private and public foundations that offer to partially or fully cover the tuition costs and living expenses of students who achieve exceptional academic results. Grants are given based on a student’s merit and previous academic achievements.
  • USDE loan. You can apply for financial aid in the form of a loan from the US Department of Education. Some undergraduate students are eligible for partially subsidized loans, meaning they don’t have to pay back the entire amount or interest.
  • Internships. Some students finance their education while gathering work experience through internship programs. They can work as teaching assistants or supporting medical personnel at clinics and hospitals, depending on their field of study.

South Dakota University Eligibility Requirements: Who Qualifies for Financial Aid at South Dakota Universities?

  • The student must be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen with permanent residence in the US
  • The student may not be in default on a federal student loan
  • The student must maintain satisfactory academic progress, as defined by the university
  • The student must be admitted to a qualified degree program on an at least part-time basis

Private South Dakota Universities With Good Financial Aid

  1. Augustana University. The university offers annual scholarships based on GPA or ACT scores. Undergraduate students with a GPA of 3.0 can earn a $17,000 scholarship or $23,000 with a GPA of 3.9.
  2. University of Sioux Falls. Every first-time freshman at the University of Sioux Falls receives financial aid. Thousands of USF undergraduate students receive yearly financial aid in the form of endowed, academic, and performance scholarships.
  3. Mount Marty University. MMU is a private institution that gives each student a financial aid offer. The typical financial aid packages from Mount Marty University include scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs.

Universities in South Dakota That Provide Financial Aid to Out-of-State Students

  1. University of South Dakota. The University of South Dakota charges only $12,942 for out-of-state undergraduate students, while the national average out-of-state tuition is $27,028. The cost per credit for out-of-state undergraduate students is $654.
  2. South Dakota State University. South Dakota State University offers one of the lowest rates in the US for non-residents of South Dakota, including international undergraduate students. Their out-of-state cost per credit is $376.
  3. University of Sioux Falls. Out-of-state tuition is the same as in-state tuition at the University of Sioux Falls. The cost per credit for out-of-state undergraduate students is $390.

How to Apply For Financial Aid and Scholarships for South Dakota State Universities

  1. Determine how much financial aid you are eligible for by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
  2. Ensure that you fulfill the eligibility requirements, including having a valid Social Security Number and a high school diploma or GED.
  3. Review the aid offer and accept it.
  4. Sign the master promissory note and complete entrance counseling at StudentAid.gov.
  5. Review your tuition bill before the start of the semester and subtract the amount of the financial aid that you will receive to calculate your out-of-pocket costs.

Demographics of Universities in South Dakota

The demographics of universities in South Dakota show there are more women than men enrolled in college programs. In terms of enrollment by race , the majority are white students, followed by American Indian students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. South Dakota has the fifth-highest American Indian student enrollment in the country.

Diversity Statistics for Universities in South Dakota

  • White: 83%
  • Black: 3.4%
  • Hispanic: 3.8%
  • Asian: 1.4%
  • Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • American Indian: 5.5%
  • Two or More Races: 2.7%

South Dakota Employment Outlook for University Students

Information services, education, and health care are the major industries offering job opportunities for South Dakota university students. Tourism is becoming increasingly important in South Dakota, making the leisure and hospitality industry an equally important source of new jobs.

The unemployment rate for South Dakota in April 2022 was 2.3 percent which is lower than the national rate of 3.6 percent. The labor force has continued to increase as it has recovered from the negative effects of the pandemic on labor. Mining and logging continue to be major economic drivers in South Dakota.

5 In-Demand South Dakota Jobs

In-demand South Dakota jobs include nurse anesthetists, information security analysts, addiction counselors, audiologists, and radiologic technologists. Students attending university programs for these occupations can easily accumulate work experience through internships and earn their licensures before graduation.

1

Nurse Anesthetist

Average Salary: $197,710

Nurse anesthetists manage the safety of the preoperative anesthetic procedures. They assist anesthesiologists to ensure proper preoperative practices. Graduates from Mount Marty University are accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA).

  • Average Salary in South Dakota: $197,710
  • Employment in South Dakota: 400
  • Overall Job Growth: 45%
  • Best South Dakota University Program: Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice, Mount Marty University

2

Information Security Analyst

Average Salary: $99,040

Graduates from the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations at Dakota State University learn how to prevent data breaches and secure information systems. Information security analysts conduct penetration tests and deploy updated network security protocols to keep sensitive data protected and the systems functional.

  • Average Salary in South Dakota: $99,040
  • Employment in South Dakota: 480
  • Overall Job Growth: 33%
  • Best South Dakota University Program: Bachelor of Science in Cyber Operations, Dakota State University

3

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

Average Salary: $45,410

Addiction counselors for individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders design substance abuse prevention strategies. They reduce risk factors and increase protective factors. Students at the University of South Dakota’s program learn how to support their clients to prevent relapses and reduce hospitalizations.

  • Average Salary in South Dakota: $45,410
  • Employment in South Dakota: 1,420
  • Overall Job Growth: 23%
  • Best South Dakota University Program: Online Master of Arts in Addiction Counseling and Prevention in Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders, University of South Dakota

4

Audiologist

Average Salary: $84,120

Audiologists diagnose hearing problems and identify their causes. They provide clients with assistive technology and strategies for harm reduction and recovery. Audiology students at the University of South Dakota learn how to use the different diagnostic machines to get accurate measurements.

  • Average Salary in South Dakota: $84,120
  • Employment in South Dakota: 60
  • Overall Job Growth: 16%
  • Best South Dakota University Program: Doctor of Audiology, University of South Dakota

5

Radiologic Technologist and Technician

Average Salary: $56,170

Radiologic technologists use radiation for diagnostic imaging. They assist physicians and radiologists to improve interpretation accuracy. Graduates from the University of Sioux Falls’ Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology can earn their American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification.

  • Average Salary in South Dakota: $56,170
  • Employment in South Dakota: 990
  • Overall Job Growth: 9 %
  • Best South Dakota University Program: Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology, University of Sioux Falls

Is a University in South Dakota Right for You?

Yes, a university in South Dakota is right for you as it can offer undergraduate and graduate programs in science, business, and the fine arts. The best universities in South Dakota have a close to 100 percent job placement rate within six months of graduation and are small schools with affordable residence halls, sports facilities for competitive athletics, and spaces for artistic performance.

The best colleges in South Dakota have state-of-the-art labs for life sciences, radiology, and chemistry, as well as many academic support services. With an average enrollment of fewer than 10,000 students, each university in South Dakota offers a balanced campus life where students can develop a strong professional network and graduate with work experience from their internship programs.

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Best Universities in South Dakota FAQ

What is South Dakota most known for?

South Dakota is most known for its national parks, including Mount Rushmore, Badlands, and Wind Cave, as well as its sprawling prairies, glacial lakes, and fertile farmlands. Its beautiful landscapes attract over 14 million tourists every year.

Where does South Dakota rank in education?

South Dakota ranks 19th out of 50 in education, and 8th out of 50 in higher education, according to US News & World Report. It has a high school graduation rate of 84 percent and scores above the national average in math.

What are the best colleges in South Dakota?

The University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, and Augustana University are the best colleges in South Dakota and are also among the best in the Midwest region. They are small institutions with fewer than 12,000 students and a mix of private and public funding.

How is life in South Dakota?

Life in South Dakota is high in quality and affordable. South Dakota is a business-friendly state that doesn’t tax personal property or income. Electricity, natural gas prices, and rent are among the lowest in the nation. The crime rate is also lower than the national average.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Jose Salgado

About the author: Jose is an experienced content writer and online tutor. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Oceanography and a Master’s Degree in Technology Applied to Education, both from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Mexico. As well, he holds many certificates and certifications, such as the Content Marketing Certification from Hubspot Academy.

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