Online colleges in South Dakota allow you to attend one of your chosen SD schools regardless of where you live.
While South Dakota is home to a number of major landmarks it is also 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.
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These and other factors make South Dakota an excellent place to pursue higher education.
Online Colleges in South Dakota
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) states that 30.6% of undergraduate students in South Dakota were enrolled in a fully online degree program, and another 22.6% were participating in a hybrid program, attending some classes online and some on campus.
Hybrid options give you the ability to cater your learning experience to your needs. FOr example, you may learn math better in person but are comfortable taking English online. Those numbers continue to rise as universities focus on growing their course offerings at accredited online colleges.
Some of the state’s online programs offer online associate degrees in agricultural science, construction, data Science, sociology, and general studies. While bachelor’s degrees include various subjects like early education, geography, and nursing. You can even earn your graduate degree online in certain fields.
The online programs provided through the state’s universities are overseen by the South Dakota Board of Regents, and each online course must adhere to a strict quality assurance rubric. South Dakota’s private institutions also offer excellent distance education opportunities with a variety of online courses and degree programs.
South Dakota offers you the ability to attend one of its schools from any location, even the comfort of your own home, making higher education possible for working adults, caregivers, and more.
Common Online Degrees in South Dakota
Although many different South Dakota online university programs exist, some South Dakota online degrees are more common than others. You’ll find five common degrees discussed below:
- Accounting: Students who choose this degree will learn how to keep accurate financial records and assess a business’s financial efficiency and health while learning how to design account systems, analyze data, and prepare financial forecasts.
- Business Administration: Those undertaking this degree learn how to manage small and large businesses by fine-tuning their accounting, marketing, communication, technology, and management skills.
- Marketing: This degree is designed to teach individuals how to develop a marketing plan for organizations and products, utilize social media, negotiate ad contracts, design marketing materials, and assess competitors.
- Human Resource Management: Students enrolled in this degree will learn more about human resource planning, benefits and payroll, selection, recruitment, and development to become an asset to businesses.
- Computer Programming: Those studying for this degree will develop skills to rewrite code to enhance or fix performance issues and test new programs and applications while learning various programming languages.
To learn more about a few other online degrees offered in South Dakota, it’s best to speak with a career advisor or the schools themselves.
Overview of Higher Education in South Dakota
There are 21 degree-granting institutions in South Dakota, according to the NCES. Of those, 13 are public schools, 5 are non-profit private schools and 2 are for-profit private schools.
The NCES reports that in-state cost at one of South Dakota’s 4–year public institutions is $13,780, well below the national average. Out-of-state students will pay around $21,720, which is lower than the national average. These numbers make 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.
Employment Outlook for College Graduates in South Dakota
In 65 counties, the average wage of South Dakota employees is less than that of other US employees nationwide. However, the other counties in South Dakota saw increases in annual wages.
The BLS projected that employment in the state would increase by 7.7% over the next decade, with employment growth sitting at 11.4%. Yet the average wage for employees in this state is $34,390 annually, a significant contrast to the national average of $42,871.
Despite the lower-than-average annual income, these growth statistics point toward South Dakota having a positive employment outlook in terms of available jobs at present and in the near future. In addition, the unemployment rate is currently sitting at 1.9%, indicating there are many job opportunities for graduates.
Careers & Salaries in South Dakota
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the trade, transportation, and utilities industries employ the most people in South Dakota.
Other industries with high employment rates in this state include manufacturing, finance, government, education, and health services. To give individuals a better understanding of the different career paths in this state and how much one can earn, we’ve listed a few professions across industries below. These are only some of the careers one could seek employment in.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||$150,920|
|Architectural and Engineering Managers||$134,120|
|Personal Financial Advisors||$125,090|
Above are a few of the highest-earning job titles in the state. To learn more about the career you’re interested in and the salary details, you can look at the BLS website.
SD Online Universities Admissions Requirements
South Dakota universities will have varying admission requirements based on the type of degree selected. However, there are some common admission requirements you can note for online bachelor’s degree studies:
- SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)
- >A completed application
- Letters of recommendation
Admission requirements will also depend on the level of education selected. For example, bachelor’s degree admission requirements will differ from master’s degree requirements.
Online Colleges in SD Accreditation
Most individuals who choose to study online in South Dakota do so at a school that has received regional accreditation. An academic institution can receive either national or regional accreditation. In most instances, national accreditation applies to for-profit technical and vocational schools, while regional accreditation applies to non-profit degree-granting schools.
Out of the two, regional accreditation is widely considered more prestigious and offers more benefits to students. For example, studying at a regionally accredited institution could present more financial assistance opportunities. In addition, students can determine whether or not a school has regional accreditation by looking for the accreditation status of programs on a school’s website.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
To receive federal, state, and even some private financial assistance for SD online college degree programs, consider completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other types of aid include grants and scholarships. These do not have to be paid back.
The state of South Dakota offers several grants and scholarships to residents, including:
- Need-Based Grant Program: This program is based on FAFSA information and is a need-based program.
- Build Dakota Scholarships: This program offers a full ride for students entering high-need workforce programs at South Dakota’s technical institutes. You must commit to living and working in the state for three years following graduation.
- Critical Teaching Needs Scholarship: You must commit to work in a critical teaching need occupation in South Dakota for five years following graduation to receive this award.
- South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship: This program is merit-based and awards up to $6,500 over 4years.
- Ardell Bjugstad Scholarship: This program is intended for freshman Native American students pursuing Agribusiness, Agricultural Production, Agricultural Sciences, or a Natural Resources degree.
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 wishing to attend South Dakota colleges with online degrees:
- Associated General Contractors of South Dakota Highway Heavy Utilities Chapter Scholarship: Multiple awards
- Black Hills Home Builders Association (BHHBA) Scholarship: (Up t0 11) $500-1,000
- Insuring a Brighter Tomorrow Scholarship: (25) $1,000
- The South Dakota Solid Waste Management Association Scholarship: Varies from year to year
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.
South Dakota Online Education Resources
To learn more about how you can prepare for college life, you should have a look at the resources listed below:
- South Dakota Department of Education: This site can help students access information on mentoring programs, financial aid, and technical and career education resources in South Dakota.
- South Dakota Board of Regents: This site helps distance learners learn about loan forgiveness programs, residency requirements, campus alerts, and financial aid opportunities.
- South Dakota Virtual School: This site offers high school students courses they can take to better prepare for college.
These are only a few of the resources one can find when looking for assistance with online colleges in South Dakota. 
How Much Does It Cost to Go to an Online College in South Dakota?
When compared to the national average, it’s been determined that South Dakota students pay less for post-secondary education.
For example, the national average is about $9,375, while undergraduate in-state tuition is estimated to cost $9,012 at public institutions. In addition, out-of-state students in this state pay around less than half of the national average in the US.
Additionally, if a student wants to pay in-state tuition in South Dakota, they will need to prove that they have lived in this state for at least one year before their studies commence.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
Nearly all universities and colleges charge out-of-state students tuition rates that are higher, which is where tuition breaks come into effect.
Like many other states, South Dakota participates in a few reciprocity agreements and interstate compacts that provide lower tuition rates to certain out-of-state students, which are tuition breaks. One of the programs South Dakota belongs to is the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program (WICHE). This program allows certain state students to enjoy reduced out-of-state tuition rates.
Qualifying students need only pay 150% of in-state tuition costs. This is significant, considering out-of-state tuition often costs about 300% of in-state tuition. Yet, students should note that certain agreements and tuition breaks might not apply to schools that offer the same tuition rates to each of their online students.
What Jobs Are in High Demand in South Dakota?
According to the South Dakota Dept. of Labor and Regulation, there are quite a few jobs in high demand in this state. The below jobs are in demand because of their employment growth in recent years:
- General and Operations Managers
- Financial Managers
- Food Service Managers
- Medical and Health Services Managers
- Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
You can look at data on the South Dakota Dept. of Labor and Regulation website to learn more about the jobs in demand in this state. Learning more about the jobs in demand can help you determine your career path.
What Are the Highest Paying Jobs in South Dakota?
Each state has its highest-earning jobs, which differ based on numerous factors like geographic location, population, work experience, education, and job applicant pool.
Even though South Dakota is one of the lowest-earning states in terms of annual wages, there are many high-paying professions. For example, obstetricians and gynecologists earn $336,300, general internal medicine physicians earn $308,160, and architectural and engineering managers earn $147,930 annually in this state.
Yet, students need to note that there isn’t any guarantee that earning a degree online in South Dakota will secure a high-paying job or employment.
List of Online Colleges in South Dakota
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Augustana University offers several undergraduate programs in a hybrid format for a teaching degree or for licensed teachers needing continuing education. It also offers an online program for a Master of Education program designed for already licensed teachers. The M.Ed. program typically does not require a thesis and may be finished in 14 to 16 months.
Augustana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Black Hills State University offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs online typically with no residency requirements. Popular programs include strategic leadership, special education, business administration, and general studies. Courses usually follow a regular semester schedule, and there are commonly start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
Black Hills State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dakota State University offers over 40 online programs, from associate’s to doctoral degrees. Most courses are taught in an asynchronous format. Potential programs include cyber defense, business administration, and elementary education. Courses tend to follow a regular semester schedule. Best Schools ranked Dakota State University the best online school in South Dakota.
Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dakota Wesleyan University offers programs for a bachelor’s or master’s degree online. Though classes are usually taught virtually, some may require asynchronous attendance at live chats. Common programs include education, business administration, and nursing. Courses tend to be 7 weeks long, and there are often several start dates throughout the year.
Dakota Wesleyan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
National American University offers a number of online undergraduate and graduate programs aimed to help advance careers. Potential programs include criminal justice, human resources management, and terrorism and counterterrorism studies. Between 70 and 75 percent of required program credits may be transferred in. Courses tend to be between 8 and 11 weeks long.
National American University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Northern State University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs online with options to also take some on-campus classes. Potential programs include art education, banking and financial services, criminal justice, and business administration. The university also offers an option to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a 4+1 dual program.
Northern State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
South Dakota Mines offers 3 online master’s degree programs in engineering with concentrations in Construction Engineering and Management, Engineering Management, and Mining Engineering and Management. A bachelor’s degree in a related field is required for admission. Courses typically begin in the fall, spring, and summer.
South Dakota Mines is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
South Dakota State University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs fully online or through a mix of online classes and in-person classes at learning centers across the state. Common programs include agricultural business, geographic information sciences, psychology, and public health. Courses tend to either follow a semester schedule or may be taken in half terms.
SDSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Sioux Falls offers associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs online. Potential programs include organizational leadership, health studies, and business innovation and marketing. Courses are commonly taught through a Christian worldview and are usually offered in the fall, spring, and summer.
The University of Sioux Falls is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of South Dakota offers over 50 programs for undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates online. Potential programs include adult and higher education, artificial intelligence, digital marketing, music, nursing, and sociology. Courses tend to follow a regular semester schedule and are commonly taught in an asynchronous format but with weekly due dates.
The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Online Degree in South Dakota
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 can be a great place to pursue your postsecondary education.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your journey, consider researching accredited South Dakota colleges with online degree programs that fit your goals.