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.
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
- South Dakota State University | 11,405
- University of South Dakota | 9,459
- Black Hills State University | 3,608
- Northern State University | 3,431
- Dakota State University | 3,186
South Dakota University Rankings: What Are the Top 10 Universities in South Dakota?
|University of South Dakota
|South Dakota State University
|University of Sioux Falls
|Mount Marty University
|Dakota State University
|Northern State University
|Dakota Wesleyan University
|Black Hills State University
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.
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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
- Find an academic program you’re interested in and register for a campus visit if you can.
- Pay the application fee, which, for most universities in South Dakota, is $20.
- Request that your high school submit your final official transcript to the university’s admissions office.
- Submit your official ACT or SAT score reports if your high school doesn’t include them in your transcript.
- 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.
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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.
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.
Best Bachelor’s Degrees
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How to Pay for Chosen School Path
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Determine how much financial aid you are eligible for by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
- Ensure that you fulfill the eligibility requirements, including having a valid Social Security Number and a high school diploma or GED.
- Review the aid offer and accept it.
- Sign the master promissory note and complete entrance counseling at StudentAid.gov.
- 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.
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.
How to Get Into the Best Colleges and Universities
Best Universities in South Dakota FAQ
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.
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.
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.
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.
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