Online Degrees In South Dakota (SD)
South Dakota is home to some of the nation’s most breathtakingly beautiful scenery, from the Black Hills and Badlands, which are home to Mount Rushmore, to buffalo roaming across plains, glacial lakes and picturesque towns.
But despite its picture-postcard image and sparse population, it’s also home to booming, economically robust cities where important academic research is taking place and skilled workers are in high demand.
No matter where you live in South Dakota, whether it’s a rural farming community or in the heart of South Dakota’s largest city, Sioux Falls, online degrees in South Dakota offer numerous advantages over traditional on-campus programs, including access to a wider number of programs and courses, potential for accelerated study, flexible scheduling and more.
Keep reading to discover why South Dakota colleges that offer online degree programs are a great idea.
Why Earn an Online Degree in South Dakota?
Though South Dakota’s urban areas have high rates of college attainment, more than half of the state’s population lives in rural areas, where attainment rates are far lower. Combined, only 43 percent of South Dakotans possess some sort of college credential. Meanwhile, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) reports that 65 percent of South Dakota’s jobs by 2020 will require some level of postsecondary education. Currently, demand for college-educated adults exceeds supply.
Earning an online education in South Dakota makes great sense. Only six of the state’s 29 higher education institutions are located in rural-designated areas, so for about half of residents, proximity to a campus is a challenge. Online colleges open up access to anyone with an internet connection, regardless of location. Plus, because students don’t have to worry about selecting programs that are nearby or offered at convenient times, earning a degree online means that students have more programs and courses to choose from. Many programs are accelerated, so you could even use your degree at work sooner than those stepping through traditional programs.
Finally, as if employer demand and increased access to programs weren’t enough incentive to look at online degree programs in South Dakota, consider this: South Dakota residents who earn college credentials have higher earnings, lower unemployment and even better health outcomes than their high-school-diploma-only counterparts, according to the MHEC.
Top 10 South Dakota Colleges that Offer Online Degree Programs
Maybe you’re a high school graduate who’s concerned about affording college. Maybe you’re a returning adult who’s been away from school for years and are focused on student services that can make the transition to college easier. Whatever your criteria for online degrees in South Dakota, we can help. Using a unique methodology that considers such factors as tuition, graduation rates, student services and more, we’ve developed the following list of the top 10 South Dakota colleges that offer online degree programs.
|Average in-state tuition||$7,626|
|No. of online programs||7|
|% of students in distance education||50|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,904|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,299|
|No. of online programs||32|
|% of students in distance education||65|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,395|
|Average in-state tuition||$2,784|
|No. of online programs||16|
|% of students in distance education||32|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,952|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,712|
|No. of online programs||8|
|% of students in distance education||27|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$6,258|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,299|
|No. of online programs||12|
|% of students in distance education||55|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,515|
|Average in-state tuition||$19,995|
|No. of online programs||10|
|% of students in distance education||68|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$8,341|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,451|
|No. of online programs||36|
|% of students in distance education||38|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,847|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,016|
|No. of online programs||11|
|% of students in distance education||38|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$4,269|
|Average in-state tuition||$7,451|
|No. of online programs||35|
|% of students in distance education||46|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,302|
|Average in-state tuition||$3,451|
|No. of online programs||9|
|% of students in distance education||30|
|Avg. amount of Aid||$5,537|
Top Online Degree Programs in South Dakota
Using information provided by the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) regarding number of online programs (both fully and partially online), we’ve devised this list of the top online degree programs in South Dakota.
Quality of Online Education in South Dakota
Of course, knowing that you’re earning a quality degree online is crucial. Fortunately, South Dakota’s higher education leaders are concerned with this too, and they’ve taken a number of steps to assure students of quality.
South Dakota is one of the 12 members of the MHEC, a legislatively created entity among Midwestern states intended to provide greater higher education opportunities and services in the region. Its activities include leveraging the region’s resources and experts to develop best practices for higher education, including technology solutions, expanded learning opportunities and open educational resources that not only help students save money but assure consistent quality among programs.
South Dakota also is a participating member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), which establishes a voluntary, state-level reciprocity process that helps assure consistent quality of online programs across state lines.
The South Dakota Board of Regents also has established a set of online course quality assurance guidelines, with a rubric for evaluating teacher and course quality on a regular basis. Many schools in the state, such as Black Hills State University (BHSU), adhere to these guidelines. Some schools take other measures. South Dakota State University (SDSU), for example, is a member of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA), a partnership of 20 public universities that provide access to high-quality distance education opportunities that are collaboratively developed and delivered.
Check with your prospective school to learn about steps it has taken to assure quality.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in South Dakota
The first thing you must know before even considering an online program is whether it’s accredited. Accreditation is a measure of baseline quality; it means the school as voluntarily undertaken a third-party review of its rigor and processes by a regional or national educational association. Accreditation is required for federal financial aid, transfer of credits and more.
Beyond that, there are a few factors you should consider as you assess online degrees in South Dakota:
Is the program a good fit? Does it lead to the degree, certification and skills you need for the career you want? Does its style and amount of online course delivery suit your lifestyle? Will it provide the level of interaction with professors and peers that you seek? Is it self-paced or deadline-oriented, and which are you looking for?
What are the technical requirements? Check to see what the school requires in terms of hardware, software, apps and system requirements. Do you have what’s needed, and are you prepared to use the technology frequently?
Will its services help you succeed? What services does the school offer to ensure your successful completion of the program? For example, does it offer advisement, career development, writing and math assistance, tutoring, counseling or other services?
Top Occupations in South Dakota
The following list of top occupations was developed with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Before you embark on a degree program, it may help to know what occupations are most in demand in the state.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||959,700||$38,720|
|Sales and Related Occupations||13,120,320||$ 45,750|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||11,262,850||$ 27,650|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||448,900||$34,080|
|Production Occupations||8,519,410||$ 41,760|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||8,579,180||$ 85,900|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||8,446,910||$ 59,810|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||296,300||$48,610|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||8,387,490||$ 80,680|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||5,486,930||$ 52,360|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||4,090,370||$ 32,760|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||6,440,880||$ 32,250|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||3,450,120||$ 24,540|
Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2019-29 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.
Top Metropolitan Areas in South Dakota
South Dakota is a largely agrarian state, with about 22 percent of its jobs being in agriculture and related industries. But despite its $32.5 billion economic impact, agriculture jobs are declining while education and health jobs are seeing the biggest gains statewide; these represented about one quarter of the state’s job growth in 2017. Retail jobs were a distant second, followed by leisure/hospitality, manufacturing, professional/business services and financial activities.
The greatest population and job growth is taking place in the state’s two largest urban areas, Sioux Falls and Rapid City.
Sioux Falls: South Dakota’s largest city added the most jobs in 2017, with a growth rate of 1.5 percent. And the Argus Leader reported in 2018 that the city’s population increased by 4,700 people year over year. Driving its growth was the city’s appeal to college graduates. It has one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates and an increasingly busy construction industry. As home to Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota and the South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy, not to mention companies including CIGNA, MedVantx, Inc. and SAB Biotherapeutics, Sioux Falls is a growing biomedical industry hub. And its central location — with two interstate highways, railway, air service and the state’s only Port of Entry and Foreign Trade Zone — means that transportation and logistics are important sectors as well. The BLS says that healthcare and transportation and material moving occupations are among the largest occupational groups in the city.
Rapid City: Rapid City fell just behind Sioux Falls for job growth in 2017, at 1.4 percent. The nearest urban area to Mount Rushmore and the gateway to the Black Hills, Rapid City is, naturally, a tourist and service economy, primarily. Its top-employing industries, according to the BLS, are office and administrative support, sales, food preparation and service. It also benefits from companies such as VRC Metal Systems (a specialty manufacturing firm that contracts with the air force) its proximity to Ellsworth Air Force Base and Sanford Underground Research Facility, which help make Rapid City a growing hub for advanced manufacturing and scientific research.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in South Dakota
As part of the state’s effort to increase college attainment rates, the Select Dakota website was formed to answer students’ questions about public institutions in South Dakota. The website features one page that lists institutional scholarships, including eligibility requirements and admission deadlines. It also features a list of college costs and options for financial aid.
State residents may qualify for several scholarships offered by the state, including:
South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship: Established by the state board of regents, this academic-merit-based scholarship provides up to $6,500 over four years to qualifying students who attend eligible higher education institutions in South Dakota.
Dakota Corps Scholarship: This program was designed to encourage South Dakota high school graduates to obtain postsecondary education in South Dakota and remain in the state after graduation to work in high-need occupations (teacher, accountant/auditor/engineer, information technology and registered nurse). Recipients pay no tuition or fees while attending school, and in exchange they commit to working in designated occupations in the state for the sum of the number of years they received the scholarship plus one year.
The state currently offers no grant aid, but students should consult individual South Dakota colleges that offer online degree programs to learn about other financial aid offerings.
Tests You May Need to Take
Every school in South Dakota has its own admission requirements. There’s no single exam score required by every school. For example, the University of South Dakota and BHSU require that students submit either an ACT or an SAT score with their admissions packets, while SDSU wants an ACT score only and Western Dakota Technical Institution has an open admissions policy with no exam scores required. Consult with your prospective school to learn about specific admission requirements.
To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
- College Navigator: South Dakota, Institute for Education Studies, National Center for Education, accessed August 15, 2019, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=SD&pg=2
- “South Dakota,” Rural Health Information Hub, November 9, 2018, https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/states/south-dakota
- May 2018 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm
- May 2018 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: South Dakota, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2, 2019, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sd.htm#00-0000
- Patrick Anderson, “Sioux Falls population: City grows 4,700 to reach 183,200,” Argus Leader, Feb. 6, 2018, https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/business-journal/2018/02/06/sioux-falls-population-city-grows-4-700-reach-183-200/310728002/
- Ronald Wirtz, “South Dakota economy seeing slower growth, but not everywhere,” Federal Reserve Back of Minneapolis, Dec. 18, 2018, https://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications/fedgazette/south-dakota-economy-seeing-slower-growth-but-not-everywhere
- Higher Education in Focus 2017: Selected Performance Indicators: South Dakota, Midwestern Higher Education Compact, accessed August 15, 2019, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=17&ved=2ahUKEwiJ6tKXp4PkAhWJup4KHW0bBTA4ChAWMAZ6BAgHEAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mhec.org%2Fresources%2Fhigher-education-focus-2017-south-dakota&usg=AOvVaw1ga0vbIv8Vcn-64UbRqdDu
- Online Degree Programs, Black Hills State University, accessed August 15, 2019, https://www.bhsu.edu/Academics/Online-Degree-Programs
- Course Design, BHSU, accessed August 15, 2019, http://www.bhsu.edu/Academics/Academic-Affairs/Instructional-Design/Course-Design-Quality-Assurance
- SD-SARA, Dakota State University, accessed August 15, 2019, https://public-info.dsu.edu/sd-sara/
- USD Online, University of South Dakota, accessed August 15, 2019, https://www.usd.edu/usd-online
- Continuing and Distance Education, South Dakota State University, August 15, 2019, https://www.sdstate.edu/continuing-distance-education
- Employment in South Dakota, South Dakota Dashboard, Black Hills Knowledge Network, accessed August 15, 2019, https://www.southdakotadashboard.org/economy/jobs
- Select Dakota, South Dakota Board of Regents, accessed August 15, 2019, https://selectdakota.org/
- “Labor Market Report Demonstrates Need for Diversified Economic Development,” South Dakota Dashboard, South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation, March 26, 2019, https://www.southdakotadashboard.org/labor-market-report-demonstrates-need-for-diversified-economic-development
- South Dakota’s progress toward the goal, A Stronger Nation, Lumina Foundation, February 2019, http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2019/#state/SD
- Information Technology, MHEC, accessed August 15, 2019, https://www.mhec.org/convening/information-technology
- Travel South Dakota, South Dakota Department of Tourism, accessed August 15, 2019, https://www.travelsouthdakota.com/
- Sioux Falls Development Foundation website, accessed August 15, 2019, http://www.siouxfallsdevelopment.com/
- South Dakota Agriculture, South Dakota Department of Agriculture, accessed August 15, 2019, https://sdda.sd.gov/office-of-the-secretary/agriculture-industry/
- Rapid City – Work & Economy, Black Hills Knowledge Network, accessed August 15, 2019, https://www.blackhillsknowledgenetwork.org/community-profiles/cities-of-the-black-hills/rapid-city/rapid-city-work-economy/#.XVXkv3t7mM9
- South Dakota Student Loans and Financial Aid Programs, The College Investor, accessed August 15, 2019, https://thecollegeinvestor.com/student-loan-financial-aid-by-state/south-dakota/#tab-con-1