Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, there are eight public universities, five private non-profit colleges, and two private for-profit colleges in South Dakota.


    The cost of in-state tuition during the 2020-21 school year in South Dakota was $9,110, according to College Board.


    Students pursuing an undergraduate degree during the 2019-20 academic year were awarded an average of $14,940 in financial aid.

Our Research

Our guide includes the best colleges in South Dakota and covers bachelor’s degree programs at large universities, medium-sized schools, and small liberal arts programs. We considered factors such as the cost of tuition, the amount of credit required to receive a degree, and how academic instruction is delivered (in-person, online and hybrid).

Colleges that meet specific academic standards receive national and regional accreditation. The schools on this list are accredited regionally by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which accredits post-secondary schools in nineteen states. Accreditation is determined by self-evaluation and peer assessment.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 53 hours to write this article
  • 53 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 159 education programs we compared

The Top 12 Colleges in South Dakota

Best Colleges In South Dakota
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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in South Dakota

Considering what job opportunities will be available to you after graduation is important for choosing where you’ll go to college. You can understand the career choices available to you in South Dakota by researching the state’s biggest industries. The top five industries in South Dakota are trade, transportation and utilities; government; education and health services; goods-producing services; and retail trade.

There are many high-salaried positions available to college graduates with a bachelor’s degree in South Dakota. According to CareerOneStop, the five fastest-growing careers in South Dakota are software developers, information security analysts, athletic trainers, market research analysts, and industrial engineers.

Understanding the job market in South Dakota can help provide insight into your post-graduation job outlook. Research the largest employers in South Dakota to get an idea of what industries and sectors are based in the state. The top 50 employers in South Dakota include Sanford USD Medical Center, Avera Mckennan Hospital University Health, Regional Health, Larson Manufacturing, and Fort Meade VA Hospital.

What’s Next?

To cover the financial costs associated with higher education, consider applying for federal and state financial aid. Below are resources to assist you in applying for scholarships, grants, and work-study programs in South Dakota.

  • South Dakota Board of Regents. The South Dakota Board of Regents provides comprehensive information about the colleges and universities in South Dakota and how to apply for financial aid to cover academic-related costs.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who demonstrate financial need are eligible to receive funding allocated by the U.S. Department of Education. Over $120 billion is allocated each year to help individuals cover the costs associated with higher education. Determine your eligibility by visiting the FAFSA website and apply for free using the online FAFSA form.
  • CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop provides a comprehensive database of scholarships, grants, and fellowships available to college students. Filter options by state and degree level to find scholarships that are relevant to you. All awards include additional information such as the monetary amount awarded, eligibility requirements, and application deadlines.