In order to provide prospective students with the best chance at having a great education, we have compiled this list of the top universities and colleges in South Dakota. Some schools may excel at online programs while others may focus exclusively on the traditional, on-campus aspect of higher education. Regardless of the delivery format, these schools excel at providing a quality education for their students.
With a booming economy and lower unemployment rate, companies are looking for qualified candidates to join their business. Thanks to the increase, graduate and postgraduate education have risen in attendance from students in recent years. Working full-time employees and stay-at-home parents may consider continuing their studies through some of the highest-ranked online colleges in South Dakota. The highest-ranked online programs in South Dakota feature some of the best associate, bachelor, master and doctorate degrees.
South Dakota promotes many different initiatives to entice students to consider online learning. South Dakota is one of 12 states in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). Students and professionals in the MHEC have access to benefits, including the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP), a tuition exchange agreement that offers out-of-state students tuition discounts and programs unavailable in their home states. As a result, many online colleges in South Dakota are highly accessible and up-to-date. South Dakota’s demonstrated commitment to making distance learning more accessible and technologically innovative makes online college a worthwhile investment for many.
Online degrees in South Dakota provide the same level of quality as in the classroom. As part of our list of highest ranked online programs, we look at the quality of the program, graduation rate, job placement, and tuition costs. The graduation rate is the student’s ability graduate within four years of starting school. Each of these qualities helps determine how well a student will succeed by enrolling in a South Dakota online program in the U.S.
Note: Tuition costs are an average rate for the schools. Individual programs are subject to higher rates. Please check the school website to get an exact tuition rate.
Here are the Best Colleges in South Dakota
1. South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University is the highest ranked online college for its degree opportunities and excellent support the university provides for its students. Online bachelor degrees are available in areas such as chemistry, public health, and sociology. Master’s degrees in agriculture, dietetics, nursing, human sciences, and sociology are available for graduate students. SDSU online certificate programs are available for students all over the country.
South Dakota State University is a public school in Brookings, South Dakota. It is the state’s largest school and one of the oldest universities in South Dakota.
- Graduation Rate: 56%
- Number of Online Programs: 43
- Tuition Cost: $7,713
2. Mitchell Technical Institute
Founded in 1968, Mitchell Technical Institute is a technical school that offers over 20 associate degree programs and over 10 certificate programs. In 2014, MTI received a $1 million donation, making it the largest sum ever donated to any technical school in South Dakota. The school offers six online programs: Administrative Office Specialist, Advanced Medical Imaging, Medical Office Professional, Office Technology Specialist, Small Business Management, and Speech-Language Pathology Assistant.
- Graduation Rate: 68%
- Number of Online Programs: 6
- Tuition Cost: $5,072
3. Dakota State University
As the second highest ranked online program in South Dakota, Dakota State University boasts one of the most affordable and high-quality programs for students. DSU has 33 bachelor’s degree programs available entirely online. Majors include accounting, biology, management, and finance. Associate degrees and certificates are also open online. Applicants are required to have a high school diploma or GED.
DSU began in 1881 as a teacher-training school and since then has changed and now the school enrolls over 3,000 students. DSU is in the city of Madison, South Dakota.
- Graduation Rate: 42%
- Number of Online Programs: 33
- Tuition Cost: $7,506
4. University of South Dakota
The University of South Dakota has one of the widest range of online programs available to its students. With over 30 programs in bachelor, master’s, and associate degrees, USD is one of the highest ranked online programs for its very affordable tuition. Students can enroll in programs that are also partially online but would be required to go on campus for individual situations. Programs are available online such as education, business, liberal arts, and healthcare.
USD, starting in 1862, is a university located in rural Vermillion, SD. Today, the school is South Dakota’s only public liberal arts university, with a total student enrollment around 10,000 students.
- Graduation Rate: 45%
- Number of Online Programs: 32
- Tuition Cost: $8,475
5. University of Sioux Falls
The University of Sioux Falls offers several online professional certificates, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees. Those include bachelor’s degrees in accounting, business, health administration, and RN-BSN. Graduate degrees are available in management, healthcare, and education. Graduates boast a 98 percent job placement rate upon graduation.
The University of Sioux Falls is a private university. It is a Christian, liberal arts college. Founded in 1883, USF began in Sioux Falls. The school partners with the American Baptist Churches, USA.
- Graduation Rate: 48%
- Number of Online Programs: 11
- Tuition Cost: $11,170
6. Black Hills State University
Black Hills State University has hybrid and online programs for students and professionals who need or want a flexible learning schedule. The school also offers certificate, bachelor and master’s programs. Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration or general studies. Master’s degree programs include a B.S. in Strategic Leadership, curriculum and instruction, secondary education, and sustainability.
Black Hills State University is a public 4-year university. The university is in Spearfish, South Dakota. It began in 1883, and today the university has around 4,500 students. The school also has a secondary brick-and-mortar location in Rapid City, South Dakota.
- Graduation Rate: 37%
- Number of Online Programs: 15
- Tuition Cost: $8,004
7. Northern State University
Northern State University offers online degrees in many different categories. With a focus on business and finance, NSU has most of its levels available in those two areas of study. Graduate degrees are available in banking and financial services, leadership and administration, and music education. Bachelor degrees in professional accountancy, management, international business, business administration, banking and financial services, and accounting are available online.
Northern State University began in 1901 in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The institution currently enrolls around 3,500 students with a favorable student-faculty ratio of 18:1.
- Graduation Rate: 46%
- Number of Online Programs: 10
- Tuition Cost: $14,443
8. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology offers several master’s degrees in engineering. Students can select degrees from Construction Engineering and Management, to Engineering Management, and Mining Engineering and Management. The university focuses on engineering for its students.
SDSMT, often called SD Mines, began in 1885. The school is in Rapid City, South Dakota. The school is a public school that features small class sizes and quality academics.
- Graduation Rate: 55%
- Number of Online Programs: 3
- Tuition Cost: $10,400
9. Augustana College
Augustana College only offers one online degree: the online Master of Arts in Education. It is a 19 month, non-thesis program. The National Council approves this application for Accreditation of Teacher Education. They offer five concentrations: Instructional Strategies, Technology, STEM, Reading, Special Populations.
Augustana University is in Sioux Falls. The school began in 1860 by Swedish settlers. The school affiliates with ELCA Lutheran Church. Today, the campus rests on a 100-acre campus.
- Graduation Rate: 66%
- Number of Online Programs: 1
- Tuition Cost: $19,276
10. Dakota Wesleyan University
Dakota Wesleyan University has a limited number of online programs for its students. Thanks to its reasonable tuition cost and some online programs available for such a small school, it stands as one of the highest ranked online programs in South Dakota. The university offers a completion program for the bachelor of arts. Other degrees available online include the RN to Bachelor of Science, LPN-B.S. (Sioux Falls), Master of Arts in Education, and Master of Business Administration (MBA). Students can finish the MBA in one year as a full-time student, and other programs take around 14-16 months to complete.
DWU, located in Mitchell, South Dakota, began in 1885 by Methodist settlers. The school is a private university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The university is comparably small to others with only 900 students enrolled.
- Graduation Rate: 41%
- Number of Online Programs: 5
- Tuition Cost: $19,115
11. Presentation College
Presentation College offers online programs through PC Virtual distance education. Online degrees in nursing completion (LPN/RN to BSN), radiologic technology completion, family nurse practitioner (MSN), as well as health science and healthcare administration. The programs are designed for working professionals who are seeking to take the next step in their career. Online programs can take between 1 and 4 years to finish depending on previous licensure/credits.
Presentation College is in the city of Aberdeen. The college was founded in 1951 and is regionally accredited. The school is a private Catholic college, and enrolls about 600 students; 350 being online.
- Graduation Rate: 44%
- Number of Online Programs: 5
- Tuition Cost: $20,995
The list draws from the highest ranked colleges around South Dakota. The combination of graduation rate, number of online programs, tuition cost, and overall quality of program based on student feedback determines each school’s evaluation and rank. For more information visit our methodology page.
We invite schools featured on our list or not highlighted to reach out for possible inclusion in an updated version of our highest ranked colleges in South Dakota. We’re constantly looking to recognize top-tier institutions.