Best Online Colleges in South Dakota

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBest Collegesin South Dakota2017
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South Dakota is one of 12 states in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). Residents of participating states in this collaborative have access to several benefits, including the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP), a tuition reciprocity agreement that offers out-of-state students tuition discounts and programs unavailable in their home states.

Students in South Dakota can also take advantage of resources provided by the Electronic University Consortium (EUC), which acts as a single point of contact for distance learners who attend one of the six accredited public universities across the state. Online courses offer a variety of advantages to students, and the EUC is committed to helping working adults, part-time students, employees seeking career development, people with disabilities, and military personnel.

Administrators in South Dakota have always been at the forefront of the online learning movement, and the South Dakota Department of Education founded the South Dakota Virtual School to give middle and high school students the same advantages that college students have when it comes to distance learning: choice, flexibility, and a quality curriculum.

Thanks to the establishment of accredited online colleges in South Dakota, thousands of students who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to pursue a college education can now do so in the comfort of their own home, on their own schedule, and for a price that fits their budget.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 South Dakota State University 75.63 3/5 56% Brookings, SD

Offering all of its online courses through the Desire2Learn digital platform, SDSU gives students the opportunity to earn bachelor's degrees in geography, interdisciplinary studies, medical laboratory science, nursing, and sociology. It also has online master's programs in chemistry, educational administration, public health, and sociology, among others. These rigorous programs, combined with the exceptional support the university provides for students, making SDSU one of the best online colleges in South Dakota.

Applications for SDSU are accepted on a rolling basis. Undergraduate students are required to provide ACT scores and high school transcripts. Graduate-level students may have varying requirements based on the program, but generally they need to have obtained a bachelor's degree from an accredited postsecondary institution. SDSU is located in Brookings, a community of about 22,000 people in the eastern part of the state.

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2 Dakota State University 70.31 3/5 42% Madison, SD

With its campus located in Madison, DSU is one of the top online colleges in South Dakota. The school is stands out for its main campus’s long history, dating back to 1881. Today, DSU offers a variety of online degree programs that are both high quality and affordable, while providing the flexibility students need to continue to meet their personal and professional obligations.

In all, DSU has 32 bachelor's degree programs completely online, with available majors running the gamut from accounting and biology to management and finance. There are also online associate degree programs in business management, general studies, health information technology, network security, and respiratory care. DSU offers several online certificate programs for mid-career professionals. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED high school equivalency certificate to be eligible for admission.

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3 Northern State University 69.69 3/5 46% Aberdeen, SD

Designed for students who either want to take a single class or work towards a degree, Northern State in Aberdeen is one of the best online colleges in South Dakota. The university offers online master's degrees in banking and financial services, leadership and administration, teaching and learning, and music education. Undergraduate programs are offered in a variety of subject areas, ranging from arts to sports marketing.

Thanks to Northern State's reciprocity arrangements, in-state or discounted tuition rates are available for students who reside in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, or Minnesota. The university also has financial aid and scholarships for active military members and veterans, along with opportunities for their spouses and other family members. In most cases, students are able to complete their online bachelor's degree in four years or fewer, while most master's programs are on a two-year schedule. Students may opt to attend either part time or full time.

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4 Presentation College 63.75 4/5 44% Aberdeen, SD

Presentation College, based in Aberdeen, provides numerous opportunities for students to earn degrees completely online via its PC Virtual initiative. Known as one of the top South Dakota online colleges, it offers quality programs in medical coding, medical office administration, nursing, radiologic technology, and surgical technology. These programs have been designed for working professionals who are looking to take the next steps forward in their careers.

Tuition at Presentation College is affordable, and there are no higher rates for students from out of state. Part-time students pay on a per-credit basis, while full-time students pay a "block" rate for taking anywhere between 12 to 18 credits per semester. Most online programs can be completed within two to four years. Presentation College is an accredited and independent institution that traces its roots back to 1922.

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5 University of South Dakota 60.94 3/5 45% Vermillion, SD

Fully accredited and highly affordable, USD offers a broad range of online undergraduate and graduate degree programs across six schools and colleges. Students get the support they need to find success in their learning, with access to a writing center, library services, technology resources, and various other services. There are also services designed specifically for military veterans and their spouses attending classes at USD.

Students may pursue their degrees completely online, although some programs may require periodic face-to-face visits at the Vermilion campus. The university also aims to ensure students can move through their programs as efficiently as possible by offering as many courses as possible in both the fall and spring semesters. With all USD offers, it comes as little surprise why it has become known as one of the top online colleges in South Dakota.

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More About Online Colleges in South Dakota

Recognizing the need for far-reaching education initiatives to accommodate its sparse population, South Dakota has increased online offerings at its major colleges and universities in recent years. While tuition and fees at public, four-year South Dakota colleges have increased by 38.3% over the last five years, state funding for postsecondary education increased by only 0.4%. Given these figures, more college students in South Dakota are enrolling in online programs, where tuition costs are considerably more affordable.

South Dakota has enacted several initiatives designed to provide greater access to higher education, promote career training and build the local workforce in the state. Through its SD Wins project, for example, South Dakota Workforce Initiatives supports services ranging from college prep to career opportunities in technology and healthcare in South Dakota. Additional statewide initiatives that share a similar objective include the Civics Education Initiative, with a focus on high school education, and the 21st-Century Skills Initiative, which promotes the importance of modern technology and media skills in today’s economy.

Browse our list of the best online colleges in South Dakota for more insight into distance learning programs in this state.

NCES Report

As of fall 2012 enrollment, NCES reports indicate that 15% (6,424) of students in South Dakota’s Title IV institutions were enrolled in exclusively online programs.

  • 17.5% of students at four-year institutions studied entirely online
  • 7.5% of students at two-year institutions studied entirely online
  • 70.8% were living in South Dakota
  • 29.1% were living elsewhere in the United States

The South Dakota Department of Education has pushed forward several online education initiatives for students of all ages. Among the state’s most widely known efforts is the South Dakota Virtual School, an online consortium of distance education providers which currently serves more than 4,000 students. Additionally, SD Wins and the South Dakota Workforce Initiative offer unique career training to welders and machinists through the Technical Institute Distance Education Program, which brings relevant field training and trade courses to those unable to attend school in traditional classroom.

Best Online Colleges in South Dakota of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD
2 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD
3 Dakota State University Madison, SD
4 Black Hills State University Spearfish, SD
5 Dakota Wesleyan University Mitchell, SD
6 Northern State University Aberdeen, SD
7 University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls, SD