Earning an online college degree can enhance your earning potential by providing access to a wider variety of career options. Even if you struggle to find a job within your field, earning a degree helps you stand out among other applicants. A bachelor’s degree is also a great stepping stone to a master’s or doctoral degree that can lead to further career advancement.
Higher Learning Initiatives in South Dakota
20,000-Plus Students Take a Distance Education Course
According to the South Dakota Board of Regents, distance education courses continue to grow in popularity. In fact, almost 25,000 South Dakota students have enrolled in at least one distance education course in the public university system since 2015. This figure results in an education headcount rise of 46.1% in five years.
New Delivery Options Approved for Academic Programs
The board also worked to expand the reach of academic programs offered by universities, colleges, and online schools in South Dakota. In particular, in 2018, the board approved the following programs to keep up with the workforce demand: a certificate in geographic information sciences from South Dakota State University; alternative teacher certification from the University of South Dakota; a certificate in healthcare data analytics from Dakota State University. Through the coming years, the board plans to grow more online delivery courses at numerous universities, colleges, and online schools in South Dakota.
Popular Degree Programs in South Dakota
Colleges and universities continuously update their offerings in order to keep up with local, national, and global trends in employment. While core subjects remain a constant, new offerings reflect student interests, and many public colleges try to keep up with the industries most relevant within their specific state.
- Biology: In South Dakota, students earn a higher concentration of biology degrees than the national average. The state contains a variety of wildlife and open, undeveloped land, which provides plenty of opportunities for research and employment.
- Business Management and Administration: As with many states, the most widely held bachelor’s degrees in South Dakota are in business. Business degrees grow in popularity as the best paying jobs move toward white-collar careers or pair well with other fields in various industries.
Paying for College in South Dakota
Although many factors influence a student’s decision when choosing a school or program, cost weighs heavily in the debate. South Dakota’s lower tuition rates and cost of living make it an affordable option for education. Regardless of where you live, the current low unemployment rate make South Dakota a great place to work after graduation.
South Dakota tuition rates at public four-year colleges remain lower than the national average, while those at public two-year colleges prove higher. However, individual schools vary in cost. The following rates do not include housing, books, or other costs associated with schooling.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18
|Public Two Year||Public Four Year|
Source: College Board
Employment Outlook in South Dakota
The tables below reveal the kind of pay you can expect while employed in South Dakota, including the current unemployment rate. South Dakota boasts a lower unemployment rate than the national average, though the annual mean wage remains considerably lower. The state’s low cost of living plays an important part in determining salaries, as earnings go farther than in a state with a higher cost of living. This also reflects in the cost of tuition, food, and housing for South Dakota students.
Accreditation for Colleges in South Dakota
Accreditation is an essential part of higher education because it ensures that you get an education and a degree held to the highest standards. Colleges and universities can receive accreditation from several different accrediting bodies at either the regional or national level. Regional boards accredit public schools, while national boards focus on private colleges and trade schools. For online colleges in South Dakota, you want to make sure your school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission or the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Some professional organizations also accredit colleges or individual programs, known as programmatic accreditation. Programs that carry such accreditation hold themselves to the highest standards and hold great esteem in the workforce. Once you choose your course of study, look for schools with accredited programs to give yourself the advantage in the job market.
Scholarships for South Dakota Online College Students
Financial aid remains an important consideration when applying for college. Scholarships do not need to be repaid, but they are competitive and targeted at specific populations. Prospective students can apply for the following scholarships to online colleges in South Dakota to help finance their education.
- Critical Teaching Needs Scholarship
Who Can Apply: South Dakota students studying education who agree to work in a high-need education system within the state for five years after finishing their degree may qualify for this award.
- Dakota Corps Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: South Dakota high school graduates who agree to attend a public school in the state, choose an in-demand occupation, and work in the state after graduating qualify for this scholarship.
Amount: Covers tuition and fees for up to 16 credit hours per semester
- Jump Start Scholarship
Who Can Apply: South Dakota resident students who complete high school in three years or less may apply if they attend an accredited institution within the state.
- South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship
Who Can Apply: South Dakota resident high school students with an ACT score of 24 or an SAT score of 1180 may qualify for this award. Applicants need a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA with no courses below a 2.0.
Amount: Up to $6,500 over four years
- Need Based Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: This scholarship program benefits students enrolled at approved South Dakota colleges online, who can demonstrate financial need after receiving all other aid. Applicants must fill out a FAFSA.
- Ardell Bjugstad Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: North or South Dakota residents part of a federally recognized Native American tribe or nation with a reservation within one of these states qualify for this program. Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement.
- Annis Irene Fowler/Kaden Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This award benefits freshmen at an approved South Dakota college or university who hold a 3.0 cumulative high school GPA and intend to study elementary education.
- Marlin R. Scarborough Memorial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Students at public universities in South Dakota with at least junior status and a 3.5 cumulative GPA over the course of their college experience may apply for this award.
- South Dakota Retailers Association Jerry Wheeler Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: Graduates of a South Dakota high school who intend to study at an accredited college or university in the state qualify for this scholarship if they have declared interest in a retail career.
Amount: Up to $2,500
- BNSF College Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: High school seniors in South Dakota or several other states may apply if they are the dependent of a BNSF active or furloughed employee or retiree.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Resources for Students in South Dakota
- Western Undergraduate Exchange: South Dakota is one of 16 states and territories within the Western Undergraduate Exchange. This program allows students from one member state to attend schools in another state at reduced tuition rates, often saving several thousand dollars a year.
- South Dakota Board of Regents: The Board of Regents governs the operation of public higher education in South Dakota and provides a wealth of information on their website. The student resources page includes info on online applications, distance education resources, and financial aid.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid: This form allows students to apply for financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. Most states require that a student file a FAFSA in order to receive state aid, as do many college applications.
- South Dakota Department of Social Services: Among other resources, the South Dakota Department of Social Services website hosts helpful links and resources for students interested in higher education in the state. High school students planning for college may find this site especially useful.
- Minnesota Office of Higher Education South Dakota Reciprocity Info: Minnesota maintains an agreement with South Dakota that allows their residents to attend schools at more affordable prices. State reciprocity agreements can help out-of-state students pay for online colleges in South Dakota.
Online Schools in South Dakota
Black Hills State University
- Graduation Rate: 37%
- Average Net Price: $13,954
Dakota State University
- Graduation Rate: 42%
- Average Net Price: $14,366
Dakota Wesleyan University
- Graduation Rate: 41%
- Average Net Price: $16,612
- Graduation Rate: 44%
- Average Net Price: $21,355
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Rapid City, SD
- Graduation Rate: 55%
- Average Net Price: $17,397
South Dakota State University
- Graduation Rate: 56%
- Average Net Price: $15,706
University of South Dakota
- Graduation Rate: 45%
- Average Net Price: $15,727
University of Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls, SD
- Graduation Rate: 48%
- Average Net Price: $18,871