- Financial Aid Options, South Dakota Board of Regents, Accessed May 2017, http://www.selectdakota.org/resources/financialaidoptions/
- Articulation, South Dakota Board of Regents, Accessed May 2017, https://www.sdbor.edu/administrative-offices/academics/Pages/Articulation.aspx
- About NSU, Northern State University, Accessed May 2017, http://www.northern.edu/about-nsu
- Why DSU? Dakota State University, Accessed May 2017, http://dsu.edu/about-dsu/why-dsu
- USD at a Glance, University of South Dakota, Accessed May 2017, http://www.usd.edu/about-usd/usd-at-a-glance
- Mission, Values and Vision, Augustana University, Accessed May 2017, http://www.augie.edu/mission-values-and-vision
- Facts, South Dakota State University, Accessed May 2017, https://www.sdstate.edu/about-us/facts
- About BHSU, Black Hills State University, Accessed May 2017, http://www.bhsu.edu/AboutBHSU/tabid/12828/Default.aspx
- About USF, University of Sioux Falls, Accessed May 2017, https://www.usiouxfalls.edu/about-usf
- About, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Accessed May 2017, http://www.sdsmt.edu/About/
- Learn Strong, Dakota Wesleyan University, Accessed May 2017, https://www.dwu.edu/academics/learn-strong
- About Presentation College, Presentation College, Accessed May 2017, http://www.presentation.edu/about/
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
Students in South Dakota don't have to go far to get a good education. The state is home to a number of schools offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs in popular fields such as nursing, business administration and psychology.
The South Dakota Board of Regents oversees six public universities and two special schools. These include some of the best-known institutions in the state, such as the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University. There are also four technical institutes that have articulation agreements with the six public universities. These agreements allow students to begin their education at a technical school and then easily transfer credits to a four-year university.
South Dakota is also home to several tribal schools and private institutions. Some of these schools specialize in conferring online South Dakota degrees while others have traditional on-campus programs.
Best 4-Year Colleges in South Dakota
We looked at factors such as tuition costs and average net price, degree options and graduation rates to order South Dakota online schools and campus-based ones into the following top ten. Many of these schools have been serving students for more than 100 years.
The number one school in South Dakota ranks high for affordability and flexibility. Northern State University has the lowest tuition and fees of any school surveyed in the state. It ranks second for its average net price for low-income students and third for its average net price for all students.
Located in Aberdeen, NSU has almost 60 academic programs and says 60 percent of its students receive financial aid. NSU Online offers several degree completion programs for those who want to earn an online bachelor's degree in South Dakota. The school also has night and weekend classes which can make earning a degree more convenient for adult learners.
Northern State University was founded in 1901 and is one of South Dakota's public universities.
While NSU has the lowest sticker price for tuition and fees in the state, Dakota State University has the lowest average net price. That's the amount students pay out-of-pocket for tuition after financial aid has been factored. DSU, a public institution, ranks first for both its overall average net price and its average net price for low-income students.
Based in Madison and founded in 1881, Dakota State University has more than 35 undergraduate majors and notes several degree programs have a 100 percent career placement rate for graduates. In addition to bachelor's degrees, the school awards associate degrees, graduate degrees and certificates. DSU ranks second for the number of distance education programs it offers and third for the percentage of students enrolled in those programs.
The University of South Dakota, which encompasses nine colleges and schools, has solid rankings across all metrics used in this analysis. The school is the flagship institution within the state higher education system. Founded in 1862, it is the oldest public university in the state. Its campus in Vermillion has been noted for its elegance and natural beauty.
USD offers the second-greatest number of academic programs in South Dakota and is ranked third for its number of distance programs. While there are more than 200 choices at the undergraduate level, the most popular fields of study are nursing, business and health sciences. The University of South Dakota notes more than 80 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid, and the school ranks second for the low median student debt carried by graduates.
Augustana University is the oldest private institution in the state — serving students since 1860. With an enrollment of almost 1,900, Augustana is a relatively small school that does an excellent job of keeping and graduating its students. The university ranks first in South Dakota for both its retention rate and its graduation rate. While enrolled, students have access to remedial support and academic counseling services to help them be successful in their studies.
Students can choose from more than 100 majors, minors and pre-professional specializations. To make those programs more affordable, Augustana University is generous with its financial aid. The school ranks first in the state for the amount of institutional grant aid it awards as a percentage of its tuition and fees.
Augustana University is a private institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Its campus is in Sioux Falls.
With more than 12,500 students, South Dakota State University is the largest school on this top ten list. This public university also has the greatest number of academic programs in the state. Plus, it's one of the best online colleges for South Dakota and takes the number one spot for the most programs offered via distance education.
At its campus in Brookings, SDSU offers a dynamic learning environment. More than 200 student organizations are available to meet practically any student interest. Its athletic programs compete in the NCAA Division I. Upon graduation, students apparently move on to positions that allow them to meet their financial obligations, based on data reported to College Scorecard. The university ranks second in the state for the three-year student debt repayment rate of its graduates.
South Dakota State University was founded in 1881.
Black Hills State University, established in 1883, is another affordable option for South Dakota students. This public university ranks third for the sticker price of its tuition and fees. It also came in the number two spot for its average net price and number three for its average net price for low-income students.
The school's main campus is in Spearfish, and BHSU takes pride in being located in a community that offers a small town atmosphere and numerous outdoor recreation opportunities. The university also offers classes at a Rapid City location. For those who want to earn an online bachelor's degree in South Dakota, the school offers two choices in addition to online master's degree and certificate programs.
At the University of Sioux Falls, students can choose from more than 40 undergraduate majors and 100 degree options. These include almost all the state's most popular fields of study, including nursing, elementary education and accounting. USF has a 14:1 student to faculty ratio and says 98 percent of alumni are employed in their chosen field within six months of graduation.
The school ranks third for the amount of institutional grant aid it awards as a percentage of its tuition and fees. That assistance may help students minimize their education debt. The University of Sioux Falls ranks first in the state for the median debt carried by its graduates. Also notable is the university's graduation rate. USF ranks second for that metric.
Founded in 1883 and affiliated with American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., the University of Sioux Falls is a private institution.
For students interested in engineering and science, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology may be the right choice. This public school, founded in 1885, is a research-driven university that awards bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. While its 16 undergraduate degrees are focused largely on engineering and science specialties, there are also pre-law and pre-med interdisciplinary sciences degree programs available.
SD Mines has the second-best retention rate in the state. It also ranks first for the three-year student debt repayment rate of its graduates. The ability of graduates to pay their student loans may be linked to the healthy starting salaries offered by many engineering careers.
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has its campus in Rapid City.
Based in Mitchell, Dakota Wesleyan University is a small school offering more than 40 majors and minors. The student to faculty ratio is 14:1, and the school strives to provide a personalized learning environment. DWU has a Learn Strong program that helps students identify strengths and provides tools and support for a successful college and career experience.
The university also supports students by providing financial assistance to offset tuition costs. DWU ranks fourth in the state for the amount of institutional grant aid it awards as a percentage of its tuition and fees. Students who attend Dakota Wesleyan University seem to like what the school offers because the institution has the third-best retention rate in the state.
Dakota Wesleyan University is a private institution in the United Methodist tradition. It was founded in 1885.
The final college on this list is the smallest one and its 1951 founding date also identifies it as the youngest one. In 2015, Presentation College enrolled close to 800 students, making this Catholic institution a good choice for anyone seeking an intimate learning environment. It is also an option for those interested in online South Dakota degree programs. Presentation College ranks third for the number of distance education programs offered. Nearly two-thirds of its students enrolled in at least one distance education course in 2015.
Presentation College has academic programs in three divisions: health and natural science, social science and humanities, and nursing. Students have access to remedial support services and academic counseling. Upon graduation, career placement services are also available. Adult learners may be eligible to earn credit for previous work or life experience.
The school's main campus is in Aberdeen, and it has a satellite location in Fairmont.
Most Popular Degree Programs in South Dakota
The most popular degree programs in South Dakota cover a range of fields including science, health and business.
In-Demand Careers in South Dakota
The job market in every state is different. When selecting a major, you may want to consider whether it could lead to one of these fast-growing South Dakota careers.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic||36.4%||390||$38,510|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic||36.1%||80||$50,250|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||31.8%||120||$55,410|
|Industrial Machinery Mechanics||28.2%||1,230||$45,790|
|Forensic Science Technicians||26.5%||40||$51,680|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||26%||140||$29,330|
|Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary||23.1%||-||-|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||23.1%||30||$75,980|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||22.4%||260||$65,230|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||21.9%||250||$41,080|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||21.6%||150||$91,300|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||21.3%||30||$34,370|
|Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||20.9%||250||$51,440|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||20.8%||330||$51,750|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||20.1%||790||$54,270|
|Computer Systems Analysts||19.7%||730||$74,440|
|Farm Equipment Mechanics and Service Technicians||19.7%||770||$42,530|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||19.5%||330||$59,320|
|Personal Financial Advisors||19.3%||380||$83,530|
|Interpreters and Translators||17.9%||240||$36,690|
|Sociology Teachers, Postsecondary||17.6%||60||$62,220|
|Maintenance Workers, Machinery||17.3%||80||$30,600|
|Self-Enrichment Education Teachers||17.2%||260||$33,870|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in South Dakota
Students at both private and public schools in South Dakota may be eligible for state and federal financial aid. Federal assistance includes loans, grants and work-study programs. Meanwhile, the state offers the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship and a Need-Based Scholarship, among others, to eligible students. Many of the state's public universities have their own scholarship programs as well.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 2.0 GPA.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,649 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the most recent data available from government sources. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average net price for students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
- The average net price for low-income students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Average retention rate for full-time and part-time students, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan