Accredited Schools & Colleges in South Dakota

South Dakota College Guide – What You Need to Know

Best Colleges & Universities in South Dakota

South Dakota may be a relatively sparsely populated state, but it is full of great educational opportunities. The state has terrific, traditional colleges and universities, and the online opportunities expand your degree possibilities beyond your wildest imagination. Which are the best colleges and universities in South Dakota? That’s up to you but hopefully we can help you decide.

Education has more to do with how students engage with their professors and the material than any objective measure can show. That is why there is virtually no difference in student outcomes between online and traditional courses. If you buckle down, study the material, and engage with your instructors, your education and career will reflect the effort. In fact, smaller schools and even online universities might have an edge over some of their larger, traditional counterparts.

Read More

What are the most popular bachelor's degrees offered in South Dakota?

South Dakota's colleges and universities have spent decades, if not centuries, preparing students for the career world. Over that span of time, they have developed faculties who are dedicated to providing the very best education. While trends come and go, South Dakota bachelor's degrees have remained strong. These days the most popular bachelor's degrees in South Dakota probably resemble those from decades ago, but contemporary professors are primed to support students through rigorous programs that create leaders. Look over the list of most popular bachelor's degrees. One might appeal to you, but perhaps not; these are only the most common degrees in SD, you can feel free to create your own path. Nonetheless, keep reading to discover more about your degree and career options in South Dakota.

The top degrees in South Dakota include:

How Much More Can You Make by Having a Degree in South Dakota

$27,040* $37,024* $43,472* $60,996* $72,852* $90,636*

Cost of South Dakota College Education & Salaries

College degrees are not cheap. For that reason, every student should think through their reasons before they start researching a degree program. First, you should decide what field you wish to study. What appeals to you the most? If you were a strong math and science student in high school, you might look into a degree in the sciences, math, or accounting. If you loved your humanities courses, such as literature, history, and social studies, you could pursue a degree that plays to those strengths.

Once you know what you want, determine how to get the degree for the lowest cost without sacrificing value. One way to ensure lower educational costs is to attend a public college or university. As a South Dakotan, you have the option of attending a school in your state, but you can also pay in-state tuition at any public college or university in a state that is part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange. Those states include Colorado, California, Washington, and Oregon, among others.

Keep in mind that public universities can also be quite expensive. You might consider taking your core curriculum through a community college. Community college credits should transfer to your eventual four-year institution and their classes are typically smaller. You may even find that your excitement for academics increases in a community college, which means your GPA is likely to rise, too.

Finally, another way to reduce the cost of your South Dakota degree is to apply for scholarships and grants. There are so many out there that if you make a practice of applying for several every term you are sure to win at least a few. You can also list all of your scholarships as achievements on your resume. Future employers will be impressed.

Cost Analysis and Maximizing Your Earning Potential South Dakota vs National

Average South Dakota Tuition & Fees at 4 Year Public School

In-State Tuition - 8,700

National – $16,757

Out-of-State – $12,000

National – $26,290

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid

South Dakotans are highly likely to receive financial aid for higher education. This means that you will have little trouble finding funding for your education. Interestingly, they also receive less per student. However, universities in South Dakota tend to be a bit more affordable than those in other states, so the effect of this shouldn’t be too strong.

Financial Aid South Dakota Nationally
Received Federal Grants 72% 37.7%
Average $ per Recipient $9,414 $10,927

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.
* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Cost of South Dakota College Education & Salaries

Helping You Maximize Your Education Earnings

South Dakota Colleges Tuition & Fees In State Tuition & Fees Out Of State Books & Supplies Room & Board Campus Room & Board Off Campus Graduation Rate Undergrads Median Salary
South Dakota State University $8,800 $12,100 $1,500 $8,600 $8,600 54% $44,400
University of South Dakota $9,100 $12,425 $1,200 $8,200 $8,400 54% $42,000
University of Sioux Falls $18,300 $18,300 $1,000 $7,400 $8,900 54% $40,100
Dakota State University $9,276 $12,200 $1,200 $6,900 $7,000 39% $38,700
Black Hills State University $8,700 $11,800 $1,200 $7,000 $7,000 38% $35,900
Northern State University $8,500 $11,500 $1,200 $8,000 $9,000 45% $35,300
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology $10,600 $14,800 $2,000 $8,000 $9,000 49% $56,500
Augustana University $33,000 $33,000 $1,000 8,000 $6,700 73% $43,700
Mitchell Technical Institute $6,700 $6,700 $1,100 n/a $6,000 70% $39,700
Southeast Technical Institute $6,200 $6,200 $1,700 $8,200 $8,200 44% $38,200

**Salary after attending is a median salary, your degree and field can affect your median salary.

Best Scholarships for South Dakota

Scholarships and Grants are a great way to help pay for your college education. Since they will never need to be repaid, they never accrue interest. You might find that there are many scholarships that pay a small amount, such as $500. That might pay for one term's worth of supplies, but the real value comes later. Be sure to add every scholarship award to your resume. Future employers will take note, especially if you win a scholarship in an industry or occupation specific area.

  • EMFS
  • CTNS
  • DCSP
  • JSS
  • SDOS
  • NBSP


Erickson Merkel Foundation Scholarships
Amount: $500-$1,500
Deadline: March 31
This scholarship fund awards students between $500 and $1,500. To qualify, you should be a resident of South Dakota, among other Midwestern states. Your application should include an essay that discusses your efforts to reduce your college loan debt and how you intend to benefit your community.



Midwest Dairy – South Dakota Division Scholarships
Amount: $3,500 (2 Awards – Juniors & Seniors); $1,000 (3 Awards – Freshmen)
Deadline: March 15
If you intend on majoring in Dairy Science at South Dakota State University in Brookings, this is a great scholarship to pursue. Midwest Dairy awards a total of five scholarships to Dairy students – two $3,500 scholarships for upper class students (Juniors and Seniors) and then three $1,000 scholarships for incoming first year students. When you apply be sure to demonstrate financial need, upstanding character, leadership qualities, and academic achievement.



Critical Teaching Needs Scholarship
Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies
The South Dakota Board of Regents administers this scholarship for budding educators. If you love children and want to help create tomorrow's leaders, this scholarship is for you. You will need to verify in writing that you will work as a South Dakota teacher for a minimum of five years. Qualifying students must be entering their Junior year and must also show a minimum of a 2.8 GPA. You must reapply to qualify for funds to cover your senior year. Before you apply, be certain to check with the Board of Regents to ascertain what teaching areas are currently considered critical. As a rule of thumb, school districts frequently need science and math teachers, but they may need other areas, too.



Dakota Corps Scholarship Program
Amount: Varies
Deadline: February 1
This is a scholarship awarded by the state of South Dakota as an effort to retain the state's top talent. To apply, you must have a minimum GPA of 2.8, composite ACT scores of 27 (or the SAT equivalent), and agree to remain in the state and work in a critical need occupation. Qualifying occupations include:

  • High School Math Teacher
  • High School Science Teacher
  • Accountants and Auditors
  • Engineer (except mining)
  • Information Technology
  • Registered Nurse


Jump Start Scholarship
Amount: $1,500
Deadline: Varies
If you are in a hurry to get out of high school and graduate in three or fewer years you can apply to this scholarship fund. The South Dakota legislature instituted this scholarship to replay students for saving the state money in the public-school system. The award is $1,500 and will be distributed evenly between your first two terms of a college located in South Dakota.



South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship
Amount: $1,300 (1st, 2nd, & 3rd year of attendance); $2,600 (4th year of attendance)
Deadline: Varies
This scholarship awards $6,500 over the course of four years to a top South Dakota student. Each year, students receive their award disbursed in two equal payments. You must complete your education in eight consecutive fall and spring semesters. You should attend a South Dakota institution such as: Black Hills State University, University of South Dakota, or South Dakota State University, among others.


Need Based Scholarship Program
Amount: $500-$2,000
Deadline: N/A
This scholarship fund is for students who can demonstrate significant financial need. The program is administered by the South Dakota Needs Based Grant Program (SDNBGP) which has been endowed with a one-time payment of $1.5 million. There is no need to apply for this scholarship, as students will be selected based on the standard FAFSA form. University administrators will determine which students receive aid and amounts range between $500 and $2,000. You must attend a South Dakota institution such as: Mount Marty College, Dakota Wesleyan University, or Augustana University, among others.