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Our Research

This list features some of the best online 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.

We helped confirm the quality of these programs by only including accredited institutions. Most of these schools have been reviewed by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an independent organization that evaluates schools in the central United States based on academic performance, integrity, and ability to improve. The HLC consists of trained professionals who use their knowledge of educational processes to evaluate schools on a voluntary basis.

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

Online College Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Top 50 Online Colleges in South Dakota

Best Online Colleges in South Dakota Badge

University of South Dakota

Dakota State University

South Dakota State University

Northern State University

Black Hills State University

National American University

Presentation College

University of Sioux Falls

Augustana University

Dakota Wesleyan University

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Frequently Asked Questions: Online Colleges in South Dakota

Does South Dakota have good online colleges and universities?

Yes. The state offers a wealth of online educational opportunities, such as South Dakota State University’s Online Associate in Agricultural Science and Black Hills State University’s Online Bachelor’s in Business Administration. After you earn an undergraduate degree, you may want to consider staying in South Dakota to complete a graduate degree while you work in one of the state’s many growing fields, such as healthcare. South Dakota is rich in online graduate school options, like Dakota Wesleyan University’s Online MBA and Augustana University’s Hybrid Doctor of Physical Therapy.

That said, there are many excellent online college programs available in other states as well. If you’re open to attending a school that’s located in another state, check out our guide to the best accredited online colleges. In addition to showing you the top 30 options in the entire United States for remote learning, this guide offers expert advice on how to choose a college and complete the application process.

Do online college credits in South Dakota cost more than in-person classes?

The answer to this question depends on which college you attend. Some schools offer discounted rates for online courses, while others charge an additional fee for online courses to help cover the cost of software licenses, technical support, etc. South Dakota became a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in 2014. This means that out-of-state students who live in a SARA-participating state can take online courses from South Dakota schools without incurring additional fees.

Why should you choose South Dakota for online higher education?

From affordable community colleges to top public research universities, South Dakota offers something for every type of online college student. One option that stands out as particularly appealing is South Dakota State University, which offers a wide variety of options for online bachelor’s degree programs, including agricultural business, concrete industry management, nursing, and medical laboratory science.

The Cost of Online College in South Dakota

How much does an online degree in South Dakota cost?

The cost of an online degree in South Dakota depends on which institution you attend as well as the type of degree you decide to pursue. For example, undergraduate degrees are usually more affordable than graduate degrees. Also, you’ll probably find yourself paying more for your degree if you major in a STEM field rather than the humanities.

Regardless of the cost per credit, you should also consider that you may be able to save money on indirect expenses such as transportation, parking, and housing by earning your college degree online.

To give you a sense of exactly how much you should expect to pay for your online education, we’ve listed the most affordable rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in South Dakota below. Note that there are currently only two schools in South Dakota that offer online bachelor’s degrees, and they both charge the same rate.

Most affordable online college in South Dakota: Black Hills State University, $355 per credit

Average College Tuition Cost

Source: Education Data Initiative

How long do you have to live in South Dakota to get in-state tuition rates?

Typically, you will be eligible for in-state tuition rates after you have lived in South Dakota for 12 consecutive months. Some groups, such as military veterans, tribal members, and graduate fellows, are entitled to in-state tuition rates without meeting this one-year requirement.

Who qualifies for reduced tuition costs in South Dakota?

The Build Dakota Scholarship covers all tuition, fees, and books of South Dakota residents entering high-need workforce programs, such as healthcare and agriculture, at one of the state’s four technical schools. Recipients commit to living and working in the state, in their field of study, for three years following graduation.

South Dakota also provides reduced tuition for enrolled members of American Indian tribes via the state’s Hagen-Harvey Scholarship. Funds can be used at any public or private accredited university, college, or technical institute within the state.

College Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grant Programs in South Dakota

If you don’t qualify for the Build Dakota or Hagen-Harvey scholarships, there are many other sources of financial support available that can help you cover the cost of college. Some of these programs are based on income, while others are awarded based on factors such as demographics or academic merit. We’ve reviewed a few of the most prominent scholarship options for you below:

Celebrate the West

Students from South Dakota are eligible to enter this annual art scholarship competition hosted by the Western Governors’ Foundation and sponsored by Americans for the Arts. The annual competition asks high school students to create original works inspired by their state.

Who’s eligible? Entrants must be enrolled in grades 9-12 and submit a digital copy of artwork that expresses a western theme. Eligible media include painting, drawing, lithography, silkscreen, mixed media, computer graphics, and collage.

Contact information: [email protected] | 303-623-9378

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Horatio Alger State Scholarship

This scholarship program, funded by Rosemarie and Dean L. Buntrock in South Dakota, is named after American author Horatio Alger. It’s offered to students who exhibit integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity. Recipients may begin their studies at a two-year institution and later transfer to a four-year institution.

Who’s eligible? High school juniors who have at least a 2.0 GPA, financial need, and South Dakota residency.

Contact information: [email protected] | 844-422-4200

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South Dakota Bankers Foundation

This professional and trade association for South Dakota’s financial services industry offers five scholarships to students attending a South Dakota college and pursuing a career in banking or finance.

Who’s eligible? Applicants must be in their junior year or entering their senior year of college and majoring in a business, finance, or banking field.

Contact information: [email protected] | 605-224-1653

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ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship

Sponsored by the Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation, this scholarship is for high school seniors from the states of Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. There is no financial need, minimum GPA, or class rank requirements necessary to apply. The scholarship recipients are randomly drawn from all eligible entries and winners can use the funds at any college/university in the nation.

Who’s eligible? In addition to the criteria above, applicants or their parents need to register for the scholarship competition online.

Contact information: [email protected] | 855-811-9849

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Top 5 Fast-Growing Industries in South Dakota

If you still don’t know where you will attend college, you may also be undecided on your major. In that case, one of the most important factors you should consider is which industries are growing the fastest in South Dakota — this will make it easier to find a job, and more demand should also help you earn a higher salary.

By consulting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Long-Term Occupational Projections (2020–2030), we’ve determined that the following five careers have some of the highest projected growth rates in South Dakota:

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts monitor and manage an organization’s computer networks and systems. Specifically, they keep an organization’s data safe. As cybersecurity and information security become increasingly important in our digital world, these security analysts are in high demand. They are also well-compensated, making an average annual salary of $97,800 in South Dakota.

Occupational Therapy Assistants

Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) support occupational therapists in their patient care, helping people regain the ability to carry out their daily activities. OTAs typically have at least an associate degree and earn an average yearly salary of $44,180 in South Dakota.

  • Growth: 40%
  • Degree options: Associate in Occupational Therapy Assistance

Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory therapists are experts in the field of breathing assistance and monitoring. They assist doctors and other health professionals with patient treatment for diseases and conditions that impact breathing, such as asthma, bronchitis, and cystic fibrosis, to name a few. In South Dakota, these professionals earn an average annual salary of $56,840.

  • Growth: 32.4%
  • Degree options: Associate in Respiratory Care, Bachelor of Health Science in Respiratory Care

Software Developers and Testers

As governments, companies, and individuals become ever more reliant on web-based technologies, it’s no surprise that the skills of software developers and testers are in high demand. Salaries in this field tend to be quite high — in South Dakota, software developers earn an average salary of $85,080, and software testers make $61,630.

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists

Market research analysts and marketing specialists use data to understand consumer preferences and tailor a company’s marketing campaigns to what will bring the greatest return on investment. In South Dakota, market research analysts and marketing specialists make an average salary of $62,560.

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