Top Nursing Schools in South Dakota

Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Program count Graduation Rate
1 South Dakota State University 97.50 $$$$$ 17:1 1 57%
2 Mount Marty College 96.75 $$$$$ 10:1 2 54%
3 University of South Dakota 96.50 $$$$$ 17:1 3 56%
4 Oglala Lakota College 96.25 $$$$$ 7:1 6 13%
5 Presentation College 96.00 $$$$$ 10:1 3 41%
6 Dakota Wesleyan University 96.00 $$$$$ 9:1 3 44%
7 University of Sioux Falls 94.50 $$$$$ 14:1 6 53%

Browse Nursing Programs in South Dakota

In Fall 2014, nursing schools in South Dakota prepared 2,166 undergraduate and graduate students for the profession, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. An additional 154 students earned degrees to become APRNs. Those looking to following suit can use the search tool below to find, filter, and compare nursing schools in South Dakota.

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Steps to Earning a Nursing License in South Dakota

All nurses must hold a valid and active license to legally work in the state. The practice of nursing is governed by the South Dakota Board of Nursing, which has established guidelines and requirements for registered nurses and APRNs. Learn more about the steps required for first-time applicants seeking a registered nursing license in South Dakota.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Submit an online application for licensure by examination along with a $100 fee
  • Graduate from an approved and accredited nursing program, either locally or out-of-state. In-state graduates must submit a certification of nursing education, while those who gained their degree or diploma from outside state lines must have their school’s registrar submit official transcripts directly to the Board
  • Register for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) with Pearson VUE and submit $200 testing fee
  • Receive Authorization to Test (ATT) from Pearson VUE and schedule a date for testing
  • Submit to a criminal background check

Renewing a South Dakota Nursing License

Nursing licenses in South Dakota are valid for two years. Although the state does not have continuing education requirements, a minimum practice requirement is needed to renew a nursing license. After receiving a renewal postcard, licensees will need to complete a form, which requires their social security number, RN license number, and employment verification. Employment verification ensures applicants have met the minimum practice requirements of 140 hours of work in any 12-month period or at least 480 hours in the preceding six years. The $90 renewal fee is due when the application is submitted.

Being an Advanced Practice RN in SD

The South Dakota State Board of Nursing maintains additional licensing requirements for individuals in advanced practice registered nursing roles. Whether working as a certified nurse midwife, certified nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or certified registered nurse anesthetist, these professionals must fulfill RN licensing requirements and a few additional steps. Below is a list of the eligibility and licensing mandates for all advanced practice nurses in South Dakota.

  • Submit application and pay $100 fee for licensure
  • Possess an active and valid South Dakota nursing license or temporary permit
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Submit an official transcript from an approved graduate-level program of study
  • Submit education verification form to the Board of Nursing

Those in specialized roles must also complete and submit a verification form showing successful passage of the certification examination to practice in that area. These include:

  • Certified Nurse Midwife: American Midwifery Certification Board
  • Certified Nurse Practitioner: American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American Nurses Credentialing Center, National Certification Corporation, or Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist: American Nurses Credentialing Center or American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist: National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists

Visit the South Dakota Board of Nursing for more information on advanced practice nursing and licensure procedures in South Dakota.

Occupational Outlook for South Dakota RNs

Elevating the practice of nursing and producing additional qualified registered nurses is a critical goal for the State Board of Nursing and groups such as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The AACN reports the state has 67 medically underserved regions and 83 areas facing a health professional shortage. Because of a continually increasing demand, opportunities for nurses are projected to remain strong well into the future. Learn more about the occupational outlook and earning potential of South Dakota’s nursing industry below.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in South Dakota

Area Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Rapid City $27.11 $56,390
Western South Dakota nonmetropolitan area $26.97 $56,090
Sioux Falls $24.96 $51,910
Central South Dakota nonmetropolitan area $24.08 $50,090
Eastern South Dakota nonmetropolitan area $23.68 $49,240

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

South Dakota vs. National Numbers

  • South Dakota
  • National
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Total Employment (2014)
2022 occupational outlook
Avg. annual openings (2012 – 2022)

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

RN South Dakota Resources

South Dakota Center for Nursing Workforce

The SDCNW is dedicated to recruitment, development and advancement of nurses in in South Dakota. Through local partnerships, continuing education and nursing leadership programs, the center helps nurses better meet health care needs in the state.

South Dakota Nurses Association

This professional organization is a member of the American Nurses Association and serves to centralize the voices of its members through legislative action. It also provides access to scholarships, conferences, networking events, and professional development opportunities.

South Dakota Organization of Nurse Executives

The South Dakota Organization of Nurse Executives is a membership-based organization for nurses working in health care management, administration and strategic performance. Through scholarships, professional networking events and continuing education programs, SDONE endeavors to advance the work of nursing administrators in the state.

South Dakota State Board of Nursing

Serving as the regulatory body that oversees the practice of nursing in the state, the Board of Nursing establishes licensing requirements, manages licensing and renewal processes, and handles disciplinary issues for practicing nurses in South Dakota.

South Dakota Student Nursing Association

This association is a state chapter of the National Student Nurses Association. It is a pre-professional association that supports student nurses via scholarship programs, conference opportunities, leadership development, and mentoring.

South Dakota Nursing Action Coalition

The South Dakota Nursing Action Coalition is the state-level affiliate of the national Future of Nursing Campaign for Action, a research and advocacy group funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the AARP.