Online Schools and Colleges in South Dakota

Accredited Degree Programs, Scholarships and Resources for Top Schools

From community colleges and large universities to specialty colleges for members of the Sioux tribe, South Dakota has much to offer students looking to further their education. Career-oriented studies include agriculture, finance and high tech, mirroring some of the state’s key industries. Technology infuses the educational landscape, with online learning programs offering broad options for students seeking a variety of different degrees offered in flexible settings. Private and public universities both offer online degrees, certificates and courses, but public institutions provide more opportunities than nonprofit private colleges. Dakota State University, South Dakota State and University of South Dakota are some of the biggest public schools by enrollment, and their online programs reflect that breadth with multiple baccalaureate, graduate and certificate programs. While South Dakota offers some online learning opportunities for K-12 students, most of these students do not have a public, fully-online education available to them.

Best Online Colleges in South Dakota 2020

Best Online Schools

In South Dakota, roughly 40% of college students took at least one online course in 2015. The state offers diverse online programs, including top-level undergraduate and graduate degrees, technical training, professional development, and adult education. Online programs give students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. They also allow students to attend the top programs in the country without relocating.

This guide covers important information for students considering online schools and colleges in South Dakota, including financial aid opportunities, programs and resources for nontraditional students, and the importance of accreditation.

Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
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1 Lake Area Technical Institute Watertown, SD Tuition $2,616 # of Online Programs 12 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 67% Financial Aid 22% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes
2 Southeast Technical Institute Sioux Falls, SD Tuition $2,834 # of Online Programs 10 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 44% Financial Aid 17% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes
3 Mitchell Technical Institute Mitchell, SD Tuition $3,488 # of Online Programs 10 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 70% Financial Aid 26% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes
4 Western Dakota Technical Institute Rapid City, SD Tuition $3,317 # of Online Programs 6 Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate 33% Financial Aid 9% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes
Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
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1 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD Tuition $7,155 # of Online Programs 21 Acceptance Rate 91% Graduation Rate 60% Financial Aid 57% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Students at South Dakota State University can earn an online bachelor's degree in education, geography, general or interdisciplinary studies, health care or sociology. There are also minors available to online students. SDSU offers online master's degrees in areas such as chemistry, public health, educational administration or sociology. This college is part of Great Plains IDEA, which brings instructors from a network of 20 public universities to teach online courses. The early education undergraduate program and the graduate programs in dietetics, human sciences and sociology incorporate Great Plains IDEA. Students seeking licensure from their degrees can consult charts of state licensure requirements on SDSU's website. Transfer credits, out-of-class learning, previous opportunities and service and internships may apply towards certain online degrees.

2 Northern State University Aberdeen, SD Tuition $6,984 # of Online Programs 11 Acceptance Rate 81% Graduation Rate 48% Financial Aid 66% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Northern State University offers undergraduate degree programs in finance, business, general studies and Spanish. Earning an online bachelor's degree in professional accountancy prepares students for certification exams for careers as Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Certified Management Accountants (CMA), Certified Internal Auditors (CIA) and Certified Information Systems Auditors (CISA). NSU also provides online graduate degrees in music education, general education, leadership and administration, and banking and financial services. Online students can apply previous credit towards some degrees, and all students are eligible for scholarships and financial aid.

3 Dakota State University Madison, SD Tuition $6,984 # of Online Programs 17 Acceptance Rate 83% Graduation Rate 43% Financial Aid 61% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Dakota State University offers online degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate level that vary depending on the state where the student lives. Students can verify through DSU's website that they will be able to graduate in their state with a degree from their chosen online degree program. Transfer credits can be applied towards an online degree. Tuition is based on the number of credit hours a student takes, and online students can receive financial aid.

4 University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls, SD Tuition $27,160 # of Online Programs 4 Acceptance Rate 91% Graduation Rate 54% Financial Aid 100% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

The University of Sioux Falls is a private Christian college that offers online degree completion programs for undergraduate students in the areas of accounting, business or health administration. Current registered nurses can earn their master's in nursing through an online program, and USF also provides a master's in business administration entirely online, with focuses in health care and management. Educators can earn their master's degree in educational administration, higher education, technology or customized learning. Graduate degrees can be earned online in 2 years, and undergraduate degrees may be completed in 4 years or less, depending on how many transfer credits are accepted.

5 South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Rapid City, SD Tuition $7,340 # of Online Programs 5 Acceptance Rate 85% Graduation Rate 56% Financial Aid 67% Credit For Experience No Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Students who have a bachelor's degree in science or engineering, or professionals who have experience in a related field, can earn an online master's degree in engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Online courses are offered synchronously, but students can choose to view lectures on their own schedule. There are 3 areas of engineering in which online students can focus: construction engineering and management, engineering management, or mining engineering and management. These programs can be completed in a year of full-time study. Online students are eligible for the same financial aid opportunities as on campus students attending SDSM&T.

6 Dakota Wesleyan University Mitchell, SD Tuition $25,750 # of Online Programs 8 Acceptance Rate 73% Graduation Rate 43% Financial Aid 100% Credit For Experience Yes Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Dakota Wesleyan University offers an online Bachelor of Arts degree completion program, as well as a program for registered nurses to earn a master's in nursing. Students can also earn an online master's degree in education with a focus on education policy and administration, or a Master of Business with a focus in entrepreneurial and strategic leadership. Courses are self-directed, and online degrees can be completed in 1-2 years, with most degree programs accepting transfer credit from a student's previous college course experience. Online students can also receive financial aid through DWU.

7 Black Hills State University Spearfish, SD Tuition $6,984 # of Online Programs 9 Acceptance Rate 80% Graduation Rate 37% Financial Aid 47% Credit For Experience No Placement Service Yes Counseling Services Yes

Black Hills State University offers several Master of Science online degrees, a Master of Education, and online bachelor's degrees in business administration with a specialization in management. Online students can receive financial aid and have access to academic advising and support services, the library, computer help, and other resources. Undergraduate degrees take 4 years of full-time study to complete. Transfer students can apply previous credit towards an online degree and complete a bachelor's in general studies through BHSU's online degree program. Students must maintain a 2.0 grade-point average in order to graduate.

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How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I'm Looking for in South Dakota?

Choosing from the abundant online schools and colleges in South Dakota can feel overwhelming. Students can take advantage of resources like SelectDakota and the Electronic University Consortium of South Dakota to help narrow their choices. Students can also review all of the accredited online schools in the state through the following resource.

How Much More Do College Grads in South Dakota Make?

Typically, graduates with a college degree earn higher salaries and enjoy more career opportunities than professionals without a degree. Additionally, the following table illustrates that professionals across the country generally make more money with each level of educational attainment that they achieve.

Annual Full-Time Wage and Salary by Educational Attainment in the U.S.
Less Than a High School Diploma High School Diploma Associate Degree
$28,756 $37,960 $44,824
Bachelor's Degree Master's Degree Doctoral Degree
$62,296 $74,568 $94,900

Source: BLS

Paying for Online College in South Dakota: Tuition and Financial Aid

On average, South Dakota students pay less for their education when compared to the national average. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average undergraduate tuition for in-state students in South Dakota is $8,500, compared to the national average of about $9,000. Additionally, out-of-state students at South Dakota schools pay less than half of the national average.

Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: Public Colleges and Universities
In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition National Average
$8,540 $12,060

$9,037 (In-State)

$25,657 (Out-of-State)
Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: Private Colleges and Universities
Tuition Out-of-State Tuition National Average
$24,219 N/A $30,731

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Cost Considerations for Online Students in South Dakota

The tables above do not include education expenses beyond tuition, such as room and board and travel fees. The following list covers several common cost considerations for online students.

Technology Fees: Many schools charge distance learners technology fees to help offset the costs of online course administration.
Travel Expenses: Some online programs feature on-campus requirements, which may necessitate that students pay for airfare and room and board.
In-State Tuition Discounts: Some online programs allow all students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency, while others offer tuition discounts to in-state students.
Program-specific costs: Certain programs, such as nursing and law enforcement programs, may include certification or background check fees.
Exam proctoring: Some online programs require students to take proctored exams, which often come with a proctoring fee.

Qualifying for In-State Tuition in South Dakota

To qualify for in-state tuition, students must typically live in South Dakota for at least one year before they plan to begin classes. Students may need to submit proof of residency, such as a South Dakota driver's license, voter registration card, or vehicle registration.

However, some online programs allow all students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live. Students should research the residency requirements at each prospective school.

Paying for College in South Dakota: Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students in South Dakota can access a variety of financial aid opportunities, such as loans, scholarships, and grants. Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not require repayment. We cover several scholarship and grant opportunities for South Dakota students below.

Scholarships for South Dakota College Students

Ardell Bjugstad Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Native American South Dakota residents attending an accredited program in agriculture or a related field qualify for this opportunity. Applicants must demonstrate academic merit.

Amount: $500

Apply For Scholarship

Annis I. Fowler/Kaden Scholarship

Who Can Apply: South Dakota residents studying elementary education at an approved, in-state institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA qualify for this scholarship opportunity.

Amount: $1,000

Apply For Scholarship

Marlin R. Scarborough Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Junior students at public universities with a minimum 3.5 GPA qualify for this opportunity. Candidates must submit an essay on their career and education aspirations.

Amount: $1,500

Apply For Scholarship

Needs Based Scholarship

Who Can Apply: South Dakota residents attending an approved college or university who show academic merit and financial need qualify for this opportunity.

Amount: Varies

Apply For Scholarship

Hagen-Harvey Scholarship

Who Can Apply: These scholarships help Native American South Dakotans pay for school at in-state colleges and universities. Applicants must apply within five years of high school graduation or within a year of military service.

Amount: $6,000

Apply For Scholarship

Grants for South Dakota College Students

Build South Dakota Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Candidates must commit to working for three years in South Dakota in a qualifying field. Qualifying fields include IT, automotive, renewable energy, agriculture, building trades, engineering tech, healthcare, precision manufacturing, and welding.

Amount: All expenses paid

Apply For Grant

Critical Teaching Need Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students who commit to teaching in South Dakota for five years after graduation qualify for this opportunity. Applicants must maintain a 2.8 GPA or better in a teaching program at an approved South Dakota institution.

Amount: Varies

Apply For Grant

Dakota Corps Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: South Dakota students who commit to working in the state in one of the following fields qualify for this opportunity: nursing, IT, engineering, teaching, and accounting. The time commitment equals the years of money received plus one.

Amount: Varies

Apply For Grant

South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship

Who Can Apply: These awards help the most academically gifted South Dakotans pay for school. Candidates must be attending a school accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Amount: Up to $6,500 over four years

Apply For Grant

Soroptimist Live Your Dream Award

Who Can Apply: Female heads of household can apply these need-based grants toward their first undergraduate degree.

Amount: Varies

Apply For Grant

The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in South Dakota

Accreditation indicates that a school meets high academic standards with respect to student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and academic rigor. Attending an accredited school expands employment, education, and financial aid opportunities.

Regional and National Accreditation

Schools may receive national or regional accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions, while national accreditation applies to for-profit, vocational and technical schools. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Various regional accrediting bodies accredit schools based on where the school is located. The Higher Learning Commission accredits South Dakota schools.

Subject-Specific Accreditation

Certain programs within a school may also receive accreditation, such as business, social work, and teaching programs. Some professions require that students hold a degree from an accredited program to qualify for certification or licensure. Students should research the accreditation requirements for their intended career path.

How to Know if Your School or Program is Accredited

Most schools and programs feature their accreditation status on their websites. Students can also verify accreditation status through the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Online College and Adult Education in South Dakota

Adult learners in South Dakota can take advantage of many resources and programs to help them earn their high school diploma, finish their degree, and learn technical skills. We cover several of these opportunities in the following sections.

By the Numbers: Adult Education in South Dakota

61,000 South Dakotans do not have a high school diploma.

South Dakota and the federal government invest about $1.6 million in adult education annually.

66% of men and 34% of women in South Dakota do not have a high school education.

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Adult Education Programs for South Dakota Students

  • SelectDakota: A collective effort of South Dakota's public universities, SelectDakota offers services and resources that help students finish a high school education, select a college program, and earn a college degree.
  • Your Future: This program links South Dakotan adults with education, employment, and training opportunities. The organization's site provides access to job listings, college programs, and helpful news and information.
  • Cornerstones Career Learning: This state-funded organization offers job training and adult education opportunities to South Dakotans. Services include online GED and adult basic education classes, English courses, job development services, and workforce training.

Online College Resources for South Dakota Students

Current and prospective online students in South Dakota can take advantage of many resources to support their studies. The following resources offer information on topics like financial aid opportunities, online program availability, and career planning.

  • Electronic University Consortium of South Dakota: The consortium offers information on the state's online learning opportunities. Students can research programs, find financial aid opportunities, and receive assistance with the admissions process.
  • South Dakota Department of Education: Through this site, learners can access information on South Dakota's financial aid opportunities, mentoring programs, and career and technical education resources.
  • South Dakota Virtual School: This site offers information for students on topics like college readiness and financial aid. It also offers courses that high school students can take to prepare for college.
  • South Dakota Board of Regents: Through this resource, distance learners can learn about residency requirements, financial aid opportunities, campus alerts, and loan forgiveness programs.
  • South Dakota Website: This government website offers links to all of the state's public and private universities, tribal colleges, and technical schools. It also provides access to the state's adult higher education centers.

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