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.

The Top 50 Online Colleges in South Dakota

Best Online Colleges in South Dakota Badge
Intelligent Pick
South Dakota State University
Best Public School
University of South Dakota
Best Job Placement
Dakota State University
Best for Study Abroad
Northern State University
Best for Veterans
Black Hills State University
Best Private School
Presentation College
Best Faculty
Dakota Wesleyan University
Most Flexible
South Dakota Mines
Most Customizable
University of Sioux Falls
Best Master's Degrees
Augustana University

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 Dakota State University’s Online Associate in Health Information Technology and Black Hills State University’s Online Bachelor’s in Corporate Communication. After you graduate, you may want to consider staying in South Dakota to complete a master’s degree while you work in one of the state’s many growing fields, such as healthcare. South Dakota is rich in graduate school options, like Augustana University’s Online Master of Education and Dakota Wesleyan University’s Online MBA.

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 flat rate of $354.75 per undergraduate credit for all online students regardless of state residency. The university offers 10 undergraduate programs, including early education and nursing.

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 lowest and highest rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in South Dakota below:

  • Most affordable online college in South Dakota: University of South Dakota, $354.75 per credit
  • Most expensive online college in South Dakota: University of Sioux Falls, $390 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, currently in its seventh year, asks high school students to create original works inspired by their state.

Who’s eligible? In addition to being South Dakota residents, 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

Learn more

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 seniors who have at least a 2.0 GPA, financial need, and South Dakota residency.

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

Learn more

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

Learn more

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

Learn more

5 Fastest 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 examining the state’s official Industry Employment Projections 2018-2028, we’ve determined that the following five industries will have the highest growth rates in South Dakota in the immediate years to come:


South Dakota is the 10th fastest-growing state in the nation, contributing to its need for employees in almost every job sector as well as people to manage them. Management jobs that employ the most people in South Dakota are general managers, operating managers, and property managers. Other jobs within the management sector are chief executives, school administrators, marketing managers, and mail superintendents. The average statewide salary for all jobs in the management industry is $109,890.

  • Growth: 15.4%
  • Degree options: Associate in Business, Bachelor’s in Management, Bachelor’s in Human Resources, Bachelor’s in Industrial Psychology, Bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership, Master’s in Education Administration, Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations

With its generous student loan repayment programs for dentists, physicians, and other medical professionals, South Dakota is an attractive state for healthcare providers. Within this sector, the most common occupations are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and physicians. Other occupations in this domain include dental hygienists, pharmacy technicians, speech-language pathologists, and athletic trainers. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $73,010.

  • Growth: 10.7%
  • Degree options: Associate in Veterinary Medicine, Bachelor’s in Nursing, Bachelor’s in Recreational Therapy, Bachelor’s in Audiology, Master’s in Genetic Counseling, Master’s in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Doctor of Medicine

Transportation and Material Moving

South Dakota is a large manufacturer of food items, light machinery, electronics, computers, and wood products, which means transportation is a solid industry. Jobs within this category include packagers, airline pilots, transportation inspectors, conveyer operators, and locomotive engineers and supervisors. The average annual salary in the transportation industry in South Dakota is $35,810.

Construction and Extraction

South Dakota’s recent population growth is driving the increase in construction occupations in the state. Within this sector, the most common occupations are construction laborers, operating engineers, and electricians, who have an average salary of $42,630 in South Dakota. Other occupations include miners, plumbers, steelworkers, roustabouts, and rotary drill operators.

  • Growth: 8.8%
  • Degree options: Associate in Construction Technology, Bachelor’s in Construction Management, Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering Technology, Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering, Master’s in Construction Administration, Ph.D. in Building Construction

Food Preparation and Serving

Due to the state’s growing population, there’s a heavy need for workers in South Dakota’s food preparation and service industry. The most common occupations in this sector are fast-food workers and cooks. Other jobs include chefs, private household cooks, bartenders, school cafeteria attendants, and restaurant managers. Jobs in food preparation and serving in South Dakota pay an average salary of $24,440.

  • Growth: 8.7%
  • Degree options: Associate in Food and Beverage Studies, Bachelor’s in Food Industry Compliance, Bachelor’s in Baking and Pastry Arts, Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts, Bachelor’s in Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship, Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)