Why This Matters


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


    The cost of in-state tuition during the 2021-22 school year in South Dakota was $9,300, according to College Board.


    Students pursuing an undergraduate degree during the 2020-21 academic year were awarded an average of $14,800 in financial aid.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar schools in South Dakota. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The colleges on our list are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a reputable organization that examines the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of education programs in the central United States.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for on-campus students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

The Top 50 Colleges in South Dakota

Best Colleges In South Dakota
Intelligent Pick
University of South Dakota
Best Christian Institution
Augustana University
Best for International Students
South Dakota State University
Most Customizable Program
Dakota State University
Most Affordable
Northern State University
Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Mount Marty University
Best Job Placement Rate
Dakota Wesleyan University
Best Fieldwork Experience
University of Sioux Falls
Most Sustainable Campus
Black Hills State University
Best Student Support Services
Sinte Gleska University

Oglala Lakota College

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


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; 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 for this education level are information security analysts, middle school career/technical education teachers, data scientists, software developers, and architects.

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 150 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.