Online Colleges in South Dakota

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South Dakota is home to a number of major landmarks – from Mount Rushmore to Crazy Horse, the Black Hills to the Badlands – but it’s a destination for scholars, too.

The state has a number of top-notch colleges and universities, with robust online degree programs and affordable tuition rates. These and other factors make South Dakota an excellent place to pursue higher education.

Overview of Higher Education in South Dakota

There are 22 degree-granting institutions in South Dakota, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of those, 12 are public schools, 7 are non-profit private schools and 3 are for-profit private schools.

The NCES reports that in-state tuition at one of South Dakota’s 4–year public institutions is $8,772, well below the national average. Out-of-state students will pay around $12,465 – the lowest of any U.S. state, and less than half of the national average! – making the state an extremely affordable place to pursue higher education.

Students who choose a degree field that is not available at a South Dakota institution should first consider other western states. Thanks to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), they can enroll in degree programs at any of the 16 participating states and territories for no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate.

About Online Colleges in South Dakota

A 2018 report by the NCES found that 23% of undergraduate students in South Dakota were enrolled in a fully online degree program, and another 18.5% were participating in a hybrid program, attending some classes online and some on campus.

Those numbers continue to rise as universities focus on growing their online course offerings. According to the South Dakota Board of Regents, the number of distance education courses offered in the state rose 93.9% from 2019 to 2020! Altogether, there were over 60,000 enrollments in distance-based courses in Fall 2020, generating almost 160,000 credit hours.

One of the state’s top online programs can be found at South Dakota State University (SDSU). SDSU offers online Associate Degrees in Agricultural Science, Construction, Data Science, Sociology and General Studies; Bachelor’s Degrees in 10 subjects, including Early Education, Geography, and Nursing; and more than a dozen graduate programs, from Agricultural Education to Public Health. Students who wish to pursue an undergraduate or graduate certificate may also do so online.

Students at University of South Dakota (USD) can choose from more than 50 online programs, including a Bachelor of Business Administration and a variety of graduate level programs.

The online programs provided through the state’s six public universities – including SDSU and USD – are connected through the Electronic University Consortium (EUC) of South Dakota. The EUC acts as a single point of contact for information about and access to these top distance learning programs. Overseen by the South Dakota Board of Regents, each online course must adhere to a strict Quality Assurance Rubric.

South Dakota’s private institutions also offer excellent distance education opportunities. Dakota Wesleyan University, Augustana University and University of Sioux Falls, for example, offer a variety of online courses and degree programs.

Scholarships and Financial Aid in South Dakota

In South Dakota, in order to receive federal, state and even some private financial assistance, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA form is fairly straight-forward. You will need to answer specific questions about income, assets and other financial matters for yourself as well as your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). They will use this information to determine how much and what type of aid you qualify for.


Be sure to complete the FAFSA as early as possible. It becomes available each year on October 1st, and many funds are distributed on a first come, first served basis.

The ideal forms of aid are grants and scholarships, because they do not have to be paid back.

The state of South Dakota offers several grants and scholarships to residents, including:

Follow the link for each program to find out which schools participate, what additional requirements exist, and how to apply.

There are also private assistance programs that award students based on academic or athletic skill, financial need, field of study or even unusual hobbies or interests. Here are a few available to South Dakotans:

Scholarship Name Details

Scholarship amount

Associated General Contractors of South Dakota Highway Heavy Utilities Chapter Scholarship Must be enrolled in a 2-year program majoring in a career field directly related to the construction industry and be committed to working in South Dakota following graduation

Multiple awards

Black Hills Home Builders Association (BHHBA) Scholarship Judged based on scholastic achievement, community service, school and non-school activities and answers to essay questions; Preference given to a child/grandchild of an owner or employee of an association member or a child/grandchild of a BHHBA staff member and anyone with goals of employment in the Home Building Industry

(Up t0 11) $500-1000

Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship Must demonstrate academic success and involvement in school, community or volunteer efforts

(25) $1000

The South Dakota Solid Waste Management Association Scholarship For students pursuing a career in the protection and enhancement of our natural resources and environment, the solid waste industry and/or related fields

Varies year to year

You can find more scholarship opportunities by using search sites like, where you enter your basic information and the site matches you with aid programs for which you may be eligible.

Finally, don’t forget to check with the financial aid office at the school of your choice. They can tell you about any exclusive assistance programs they offer.

List of Online Colleges in South Dakota

Online Colleges in South Dakota Location Annual Tuition Accreditation Application Fee
South Dakota State University Brookings, South Dakota $8,172  Regional  $20
Dakota State University Madison, South Dakota  $8,927  Regional  $20
National American University Rapid City, South Dakota  $13,989  Regional  $0
University of South Dakota Vermillion, South Dakota  $8,457  Regional  $20


South Dakota has more to offer than remarkable landmarks.

With outstanding schools, an impressive list of online degree programs, some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation and exceptional financial aid opportunities, South Dakota is the perfect place to pursue your postsecondary education.

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.