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Online Schools in South Dakota

Hybrid and Online Degree Programs: Making Education Accessible

Students interested in higher education in South Dakota have a number of colleges and universities to choose from. The South Dakota Board of Regents (selectdakota.org) illustrates that the majority of the state’s largest postsecondary institutions are located in urban areas, including Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

However, colleges are few and far between in the northern half of the state, as well as the rural areas running along the South Dakota-Nebraska border, limiting options for residents who wish to receive on-campus education. Hybrid and online degree programs enable students and working professionals to pursue higher education regardless of their location, increasing convenience and schedule flexibility.

Online Schools in South Dakota Help Meet Increased Occupational Demand

Some online schools in South Dakota offer programs that can align with growing occupations. The state’s largest postsecondary institution, South Dakota State University (sdstate.edu), offers a master of science in nursing, with a nurse educator specialization. The online program’s coursework covers health policy, disease prevention, nursing instruction and curriculum development. Coursework is intended to educate graduates about planning, implementing and evaluating nursing education programs. According to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (dlr.sd.gov), the number of nursing instructors is expected to increase 12.9 percent between 2010 and 2020. The increase is directly tied to projected future demand for registered nurses. The occupation is expected to be one of the fastest-growing in South Dakota, adding more than 1,500 positions for an estimated growth rate of 23.9 percent over the next decade.

The University of South Dakota (usd.edu) has established a master of professional accountancy program, giving students the option of completing all coursework online, or combining web-based elements with face-to-face instruction on the university’s Sioux Falls campus. Coursework covers topics such as accounting theory, tax planning, auditing and business policy. The program is designed to prepare students for a career in public accounting, meeting the 150-hour educational requirement that helps ready them for the certified public accountant exam. Successful completion of the exam, which was developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), is required for individuals to become licensed as U.S. certified public accountants. The state’s Department of Labor and Regulation (dlr.sd.gov) anticipates that the number of accountants and auditors will grow 14.9 percent between 2010 and 2020, adding approximately 700 jobs.

Distance Learning Benefits Working Professionals

Offering students flexible scheduling and the ability to complete coursework online, distance learning can help working professionals pursue their educational goals while they continue full-time employment. Designed to help teachers develop skills that may help advance their careers, Black Hills State University (bhsu.edu) offers a master of science degree in curriculum & instruction, with specializations in either math, science or technology integration. Coursework for the technology integration specialization is completely online, except for clinical practice experiences during the last semester of study. The program prepares students to utilize technology and apply it to adult learning and professional development. The math and science degree programs let students take core courses online and specialization courses in a site-based format. The program prepares graduates to fill roles as math or science teachers, department heads and school district leaders.

Largely focused on technology education, Dakota State University (dsu.edu) offers more than 20 distance learning degree programs, including a master of science in health informatics. In this master’s program, coursework is delivered entirely online, using a combination of both live and recorded videos of classes, interactive message boards, course websites and e-mail. The program aims to help prepare students to design, develop and manage health information systems in healthcare facilities, agencies and organizations. Graduates often pursue positions where they facilitate real-time healthcare delivery and support critical information management decision making. Today, health records are increasingly being converted to electronic formats, requiring skilled individuals who can manage information. The number of medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase 15.9 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (dlr.sd.gov).

Industries for Job Growth in South Dakota

South Dakota employed approximately 424,000 working professionals in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012). Trade, transportation and utilities was the state’s leading employment industry in 2012, accounting for more than 83,000 jobs. Government occupations followed close behind, making up approximately 77,000 jobs as the second-highest industry for employment in South Dakota. Education and health services employed roughly 67,000 people, ranking third among state industries.

Online colleges in South Dakota offer a number of information technology and software engineering programs. The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (dlr.sd.gov) estimates that the number of network system and data communication analysts will increase by more than 44 percent between 2010 and 2020, and anticipates a 31 percent increase in software application engineers during that timeframe.

Sources:
State of South Dakota
South Dakota Board of Regents
South Dakota State University
University of South Dakota
Black Hills State University
Dakota State University
South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation, South Dakota Industry Employment Projections 2010-2020, 2010
South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation, South Dakota Occupational Employment Projections 2010-2020, 2010
Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Dakota Economy at a Glance, 2012

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