Criminal Justice Schools in South Dakota

Criminal justice schools in South Dakota prepare criminal justice graduates for careers in the public and private sectors. Find programs and learn about

Updated May 10, 2023 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Career Paths and Academic Options for Criminal Justice Students

Criminal justice schools in South Dakota are training the next generation of crime fighters, who are needed to combat the recent upsurge in crime. According to crime statistics released by the state, there were 71,000 offenses committed in South Dakota in 2015—up nine percent from 2014—making it imperative to get more highly-skilled criminal justice graduates on the street and in the courtroom. This guide outlines what prospective criminal justice students need to know about schools in the state, such as the jobs that are commonly held by graduates, the salaries these professionals command, and how job growth in South Dakota compares to other locations. Read on to learn more about academic and professional opportunities in this field.


#1 Mount Marty College Yankton, SD
#2 Dakota Wesleyan University Mitchell, SD
#3 University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls, SD
#4 University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:

  • Accredited at the institutional level
  • Private nonprofit or public school
  • Minimum of 1 bachelor's or master's degree in subject area for 4-year schools
  • Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools

Schools were then scored on factors such as:

  • Cost & Financial Aid
  • Number and variety of program offerings
  • Student-teacher ratios
  • Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
  • Placement and support services offered
  • Academic/Career counseling services
  • Employment services
  • Loan default rates

These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or "bang for your buck" of a college or degree program.

In order to begin a career on the right foot, it's important for criminal justice students to attend a reputable school. Students are able to pursue various careers in criminal justice through schools and programs throughout South Dakota. To help students know which school is best for them, we have ranked schools across the country based on important factors such as tuition cost, total enrollment, acceptance rate, and student-teacher ratio. Explore the top criminal justice schools in South Dakota for 2017 here.

2-Year Colleges

  1. Mount Marty College

    Yankton, SD

    Providing academic paths for those seeking an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, Mount Mary College is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission. As a faith-based institution, the program incorporates catholic viewpoints and values, as well as a focus on human behavior as a foundation of understanding the criminal justice field. Combining small class sizes with off-campus opportunities, the program incorporates events, internships, a senior seminar to offer myriad situations where students can apply their knowledge. The study abroad program offers an additional layer of experience for many students and provides an additional learning resource.

  2. Dakota Wesleyan University

    Mitchell, SD

    Dakota Wesleyan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award associate and bachelor's degrees in criminal justice. Learning resources include academic advisors are available to assist students in determining major declarations and career path options, while the Center for Talent Development provides guidance for internship placement with local organizations and agencies. Small class sizes allow increased student-teacher interaction, and the option to engage in a research assistant role fosters an additional knowledge acquisition opportunity. Offering a minor in forensic science and investigation paves additional career path options for students within the criminal justice major.

  3. University of Sioux Falls

    Sioux Falls, SD

    Major and minor degree options are offered in criminal justice at the University of Sioux Falls. As a faith-based university, academic programs are centered on Christian values and the university seeks to promote a mission of service. The criminal justice department offers a mentoring program in which university students mentor elementary students. The core curriculum is combined with service-based opportunities such as this, in addition to internships and the National Mediation Tournament, to foster a multifaceted academic foundation to facilitate successful careers within the criminal justice field. Programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. University of South Dakota

    Vermillion, SD

    The University of South Dakota offers undergraduate and graduate criminal justice degree options, as well as a criminal justice minor. Flexible options for completion include online course options for both undergraduate and graduate degree completion. Additional program resource and opportunities include travel to conferences, tours of federal and state agencies, college credit for internships with local organizations, research in collaboration with professors and mentors, and a mock trial team which allows for practical experience in simulated roles within all facets of the industry. The liberal arts-centered university is the oldest in the state.

4-Year Colleges

  1. Southeast Technical Institute

    Sioux Falls, SD

  2. Western Dakota Technical Institute

    Rapid City, SD


Many students attend criminal justice schools in South Dakota because they want to help people or they have an interest in law. While these are strong motivations, the viability of getting a good job is also an important factor. The table below shows how many jobs are held in specific areas of criminal justice, as well as the salaries these professionals make and the education level needed to get employment.

Police, Sheriff & Highway Patrol Officers

  • Total Employed in South Dakota1,740
  • Median Salary in South Dakota$42,330
  • Degree Level Required in South DakotaAcademy Program

Correctional Officer

  • Total Employed in South Dakota1,360
  • Median Salary in South Dakota$34,500
  • Degree Level Required in South DakotaCertification

Compliance Officer

  • Total Employed in South Dakota1,030
  • Median Salary in South Dakota$49,060
  • Degree Level Required in South DakotaBachelor's

Court, Municipal and License Clerks

  • Total Employed in South Dakota800
  • Median Salary in South Dakota$29,560
  • Degree Level Required in South DakotaVaries; up to Bachelor's

Probation Officer

  • Total Employed in South Dakota440
  • Median Salary in South Dakota$41,150
  • Degree Level Required in South DakotaBachelor's

Paralegal and Legal Assistant

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

  • Total Employed in South Dakota210
  • Median Salary in South Dakota$59,100
  • Degree Level Required in South DakotaVaries; up to Bachelor's


Can students who graduate from criminal justice schools in South Dakota make a good living? Can they expect job stability in the coming years? Based on the data below, the answer to both of those questions is yes. The tables in this section provide a look at the salaries that professionals in specific subsections of the criminal justice field earn and the amount of job growth projected. Also, South Dakota's numbers are compared to the national averages to illustrate how the state stacks up against the nation.


JobNationalSouth Dakota
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers46,00062,760
Detectives and Criminal Investigators71,40081,490
Correctional Officers and Jailers36,62046,750
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates95,080116,100
Court Reporters46,24056,940
Fish and Game Wardens42,43054,760
Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers49,57051,490
Paralegals and Legal Assistants44,56053,180

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

Job Growth

JobNationalSouth Dakota
Correctional Officers and Jailers0.0370.053
Court, Municipal, and License Clerks0.0450.049
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary0.2140.231
Detectives and Criminal Investigators-0.0120.048
Fish and Game Wardens0.0190.036
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates0.0060.011
Paralegals and Legal Assistants0.0760.121
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers0.050.056

Source: Projections Central, 2015


The potential employers that may hire criminal justice graduates are as diverse as the field itself. Review the table below to get an idea of where the jobs are for those in the protective service and legal professions. In addition to specific employers, there is information on which cities have the most job opportunities and the average salaries in those locations.

Protective Services

Potential Employers

South Dakota Department of Corrections; South Dakota Attorney General; Pennington County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division; South Dakota Game, Fish And Parks; South Dakota Department of Public Safety; Sioux Falls Police Department; Rapid City Police Department ; Aberdeen Police Department ; City of Sioux Falls Animal Control; City of Vermillion Animal Control; Executive Services Consultants; Peace Private Investigators ; Royal River Casino and Hotel; Golden Buffalo Casino; G4S; Paragon Systems Inc.; Holiday Inn Express & Suites; Sanford Health; Terry Peak Ski Area

Total Number of Employees in South Dakota: 6,470

Legal Occupations

Potential Employers

Private practice law firms; South Dakota Unified Judicial System; Pennington County Courthouse; District of South Dakota United States District Court; South Dakota Supreme Court

Total Number of Employees in South Dakota: 1,660



State of South Dakota Business

The state's official website includes information on how to own and operate a business in South Dakota—from applying for a business license to filing taxes.

South Dakota 2016 Small Business Resource

This report from the U.S. Small Business Administration includes information to help small businesses succeed in South Dakota. Topics covered include getting capital, winning government contracts, and writing a business plan.

South Dakota District Office

This is the South Dakota Branch of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Website includes information on topics such as franchising, obtaining loans, and business structures.

South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry

This webpage is dedicated to improving and growing business infrastructure in the state of South Dakota. Members can connect and take advantage of helpful resources supplied by the site.

South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development

The mission of the GOED is to retain and expand businesses and develop new businesses and job opportunities. The GOED is particularly interested in attracting the bioscience, financial services, outdoor and value-added agriculture industries.

South Dakota Secretary of State

The office of the SDSOS provides numerous business services including report filings, business entity search and more.



Those who are interested in working for the South Dakota Department of Corrections can find job listings on this page.

South Dakota Department of Corrections

Includes information about the corrections system in South Dakota, such as the programs developed by the agency, victims' services, and parole procedures.

Juvenile Corrections, South Dakota Department of Corrections

This page provides resources and information for the public about the state Juvenile Corrections System.

Parole Services, South Dakota Department of Corrections

This government page offers information about parole service offices around the state of South Dakota.


District of South Dakota - United States District Court

Includes information on the Court's opinions, docket, and rules.

South Dakota Unified Judicial System

Provides information on the different kinds of courts in the state and their functions, jury service, and State Supreme Court decisions.

South Dakota Court Reporters Association

The SDCRA provides continuing education, networking, oversight of a pro bono program and standards of ethics for court reporters in the state of South Dakota.

Sioux Falls Area CASA Program

The Sioux Falls Chapter of the national Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program serves the community by assisting children who have been abused or neglected to promote their best interests. Their ultimate goal is to place children in safe, permanent homes.


South Dakota Legislature

The legislature's website includes information about yearly legislative sessions, the work of lawmakers, and administrative rules.

South Dakota Paralegal Association

Since 1989, the South Dakota Paralegal Association (SDPA) has been committed to the growth of the state's professionals.

South Dakota Trial Lawyers Association

This organization promotes high ethical standards for trial attorneys in South Dakota. Member benefits include advocacy support, continuing education courses, and news that impacts the industry.

State Bar of South Dakota

The state bar offers resources to attorneys, such as continuing education courses. The organization also provides information for the public to help them find a qualified attorney and understand their rights.

South Dakota Attorney General

The South Dakota Attorney General's office is responsible for several legal functions, including working on missing persons' cases, testing forensic evidence, and providing training to law enforcement professionals.

Dakota Plains Legal Services

This firm provides services to low-income clients and specializes in the unique legal needs of Native American clients.


South Dakota Department of Public Safety - Enforcement: Highway Patrol

Includes information on the mission and work of the state highway patrol office.

South Dakota Peace Officers Association

Members receive training and support through this organization.

South Dakota Sheriffs' Association

Founded in 1953, the South Dakota Sheriffs' Association provides support and training to members of the law enforcement community. Also offers $500 scholarships to criminal justice and law enforcement students.

Law Enforcement Frequently Asked Questions, South Dakota Office of the Attorney General

This government page provides answers about how to become a law enforcement officer, private investigator, polygraph examiner and more in the state of South Dakota.

Law Enforcement Training Information, South Dakota Office of the Attorney General

This Attorney General page offers resources for future and current law enforcement officers.



This page has job listings for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department.

South Dakota Department of Environment & Natural Resources

Agency that is responsible for monitoring and assessing South Dakota's natural resources, and creating environmental regulations.

South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation

The South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation has been working to protect the state's natural resources since 1985.

Compliance Checks, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks

This page provides information and resources for crime prevention when it comes to South Dakota's natural resources.

South Dakota Wildlife Federation

This is the local affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation.

Fire Prevention, State of South Dakota Wildland Fire

This Department of Agriculture page provides information and resources about preventing wildland fires, as well as information about the department fire investigation team.

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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