Best Colleges in South Dakota

South Dakota College Guide – What You Need to Know

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.

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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


NO FORMAL EDUCATION HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA ASSOCIATE DEGREE BACHELOR’S DEGREE MASTER’S DEGREE DOCTORAL DEGREE
$30,784* $38,792* $46,124* $64,896* $77,844* $96,772*

Best 2 Year Associate Degree Colleges in South Dakota


South Dakota's students can launch their academic and professional careers at some of the best colleges in the state. South Dakota's community college system provides loads of options for students seeking technical, pre-professional, or even liberal arts degrees. Since associate degrees cost less at community colleges, students can save money on their core curriculum, earn a degree, and venture off to a four-year university when they're ready.

Mitchell Technical Institute
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
1,162
Graduation Rate
73%
Net Price
$11,382
Lake Area Technical College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
2,228
Graduation Rate
72%
Net Price
$11,400
Southeast Technical Institute
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
2,380
Graduation Rate
59%
Net Price
$12,046
Western Dakota Technical Institute
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
1,214
Graduation Rate
51%
Net Price
$13,443
Sinte Gleska University
College Type
4-year, Primarily associate's, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
549
Graduation Rate
7%
Net Price
$14,107
Sisseton Wahpeton College
College Type
2-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
119
Graduation Rate
7%
Net Price
$3,413
Oglala Lakota College
College Type
4-year, Primarily associate's, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,306
Graduation Rate
4%
Net Price
$5

Best 4 Year Bachelor's Degree Colleges in South Dakota


South Dakota may be a sparsely populated state, but they still have excellent bachelor's programs. Here is a list of the best colleges in the state that support students with an academic foundation that rivals institutions nationwide. With these top-notch academic institutions providing great bachelor's degrees, South Dakota maintains high levels of education within the state.

Augustana University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
2,113
Graduation Rate
71%
Net Price
$24,481
University of Sioux Falls
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,675
Graduation Rate
64%
Net Price
$19,744
University of South Dakota
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
9,920
Graduation Rate
59%
Net Price
$17,689
Mount Marty College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,049
Graduation Rate
56%
Net Price
$19,704
South Dakota State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
11,512
Graduation Rate
56%
Net Price
$18,195
Dakota Wesleyan University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
880
Graduation Rate
54%
Net Price
$21,891
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
2,525
Graduation Rate
49%
Net Price
$19,444
Northern State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
3,427
Graduation Rate
48%
Net Price
$15,575
Dakota State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
3,268
Graduation Rate
43%
Net Price
$17,063
Black Hills State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
3,858
Graduation Rate
38%
Net Price
$15,861
Presentation College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
584
Graduation Rate
34%
Net Price
$21,798
National American University-Rapid City
College Type
4-year, Private for-Profit
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
1,855
Graduation Rate
19%
Net Price
$16,918
Sinte Gleska University
College Type
4-year, Primarily associate's, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
549
Graduation Rate
7%
Net Price
$14,107
Oglala Lakota College
College Type
4-year, Primarily associate's, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,306
Graduation Rate
4%
Net Price
$5
National American University-Ellsworth AFB Extension
College Type
4-year, Private for-Profit
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
199
Graduation Rate
NA
Net Price
NA

Best Advanced and Master's Degree Colleges in South Dakota


Once South Dakota's students complete their associate and bachelor's degrees, they can move on to a graduate program. Master’s degrees often translate into higher professional status, larger salaries, and the opportunity to achieve top certifications in many fields. Here are some of the best master's degrees in South Dakota. For those who are especially motivated or prepared to move toward their ultimate culminating degree, the list also includes the best doctoral degree programs available.

Augustana University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
295
Graduation Rate
71%
Net Price
$24,481
University of Sioux Falls
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
285
Graduation Rate
64%
Net Price
$19,744
University of South Dakota
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
2,445
Graduation Rate
59%
Net Price
$17,689
Mount Marty College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
182
Graduation Rate
56%
Net Price
$19,704
South Dakota State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
1,445
Graduation Rate
56%
Net Price
$18,195
Dakota Wesleyan University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
133
Graduation Rate
54%
Net Price
$21,891
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
323
Graduation Rate
49%
Net Price
$19,444
Northern State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
419
Graduation Rate
48%
Net Price
$15,575
Dakota State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
450
Graduation Rate
43%
Net Price
$17,063
Black Hills State University
College Type
4-year, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
174
Graduation Rate
38%
Net Price
$15,861
Presentation College
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
26
Graduation Rate
34%
Net Price
$21,798
National American University-Rapid City
College Type
4-year, Private for-Profit
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
409
Graduation Rate
19%
Net Price
$16,918
Sinte Gleska University
College Type
4-year, Primarily associate's, Public
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
65
Graduation Rate
7%
Net Price
$14,107
Oglala Lakota College
College Type
4-year, Primarily associate's, Public
Campus Housing
Yes
Student Population
26
Graduation Rate
4%
Net Price
$5
Institute of Lutheran Theology
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
0
Graduation Rate
NA
Net Price
NA
National American University-Harold D. Buckingham Graduate School
College Type
4-year, Private for-Profit
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
0
Graduation Rate
NA
Net Price
NA
Sioux Falls Seminary
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Campus Housing
No
Student Population
419
Graduation Rate
NA
Net Price
NA
Learn about MBA's in South Dakota

Best Online Degree Colleges in South Dakota (Distance Learning Only)


Since there are so many remote towns in South Dakota, online college degrees are becoming more and more prevalent. The best online colleges are a mere click away, whether they physically located in South Dakota or New York City. Online programs can include accounting, business administration, or a full range of health care opportunities. Distance learning in South Dakota is enriching minds and communities like never before..

Institute of Lutheran Theology
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-Profit
Student Population
NA
Graduation Rate
NA
Net Price
NA
Colorado Technical University
College Type
4-year, Private for-profit
Student Population
27,232
Graduation Rate
26%
Net Price
$16,260
Purdue
College Type
4-year, Public
Student Population
38,138
Graduation Rate
27%
Net Price
NA
Southern New Hampshire University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Student Population
113,514
Graduation Rate
44%
Net Price
$39,743
Western Governors University
College Type
4-year, Private not-for-profit
Student Population
136,139
Graduation Rate
21%
Net Price
$7,785
Capella University
College Type
4-year, Private for-profit
Student Population
37,859
Graduation Rate
NA
Net Price
$17,368
Walden University
College Type
4-year, Private for-profit
Student Population
48,420
Graduation Rate
33%
Net Price
NA

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.

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
  • MDSDDS
  • CTNS
  • DCSP
  • JSS
  • SDOS
  • NBSP
EMFS_logo

EMFS

Erickson Merkel Foundation Scholarships

http://www.ericksonmerkel.org/2019-scholarship/
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.

HAS_logo
MDSDDS_logo

MDSDDS

Midwest Dairy – South Dakota Division Scholarships

https://www.midwestdairy.com/for-farmers/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.

CTNS_logo

CTNS

Critical Teaching Needs Scholarship

https://www.sdbor.edu/student-information/scholarships/CTNS/Pages/default.aspx
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.

DCSP_logo

DCSP

Dakota Corps Scholarship Program

https://www.sdbor.edu/dakotacorps/Pages/How-Do-I-Apply.aspx
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
JSS_logo

JSS

Jump Start Scholarship

https://www.sdbor.edu/student-information/Pages/Jump-Start-Scholarship.aspx
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.

SDOS_logo

SDOS

South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship

https://sdos.sdbor.edu/Pages/default.aspx
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.

NBSP

Need Based Scholarship Program

https://www.sdbor.edu/student-information/scholarships/need-based-scholarship/Pages/default.aspx
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.