Even though South Dakota is one of the most sparsely populated states, its online colleges offer a variety of degrees in areas such as engineering, health, and general studies. Online programs — including certificates as well as associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees — are available through public and private institutions in South Dakota.
Some South Dakota schools charge online and on-campus students similar tuition, and several online programs cost the same for residents and non-residents. The state university system is also one of the least expensive for nonresidents. Those who live in neighboring states may also qualify for in-state tuition.
Online colleges in South Dakota offer numerous benefits for students. First, most deliver courses asynchronously, meaning that students can log in when it is convenient for their schedule. Second, many programs are designed for working adults, and shorter course terms allow students to complete a year’s worth of credits while only taking a few courses at a time. Third, like their on-campus counterparts, online students receive academic assistance, career services, and advising. Finally, most public and private online colleges offer financial aid for eligible students, including scholarships.
Students working through online degrees never (or rarely) need to visit campus; students working through hybrid programs may combine the convenience of online learning with hands-on teaching through short on-campus residencies. For students interested in taking on-campus classes, some online colleges in South Dakota allow students to mix and match the learning formats that suit them best.
Four reasons to find an online college in your state:
- Guaranteed in-state tuition saves you money
- Be a part of a university or college you know and love
- Get a degree from a school employers know and trust
- Be close enough to easily visit when desired
Ranking guidelines for the best online colleges in South Dakota:
We selected the online colleges and universities here based on the quality of their programs, types of courses and degrees offered, faculty strengths, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation, including a strong reputation for online degree programs.
Note: In ranking the best online colleges in South Dakota, giving attention to the variety of degree programs available at the institutions is of utmost importance. For this reason, a more prestigious school in South Dakota may offer one, or a few online degrees, but that may not be enough for that school to rank highly among the best online colleges in the state. In this ranking, we are dedicated to showing who’s leading the way in delivering quality online degree programs in South Dakota.
- Dakota State University and South Dakota State University rank among the 100 Best Online Colleges for 2018.
The Best Online Colleges in South Dakota
1. Dakota State University
Madison, South Dakota
Dakota State University, established in 1881, is a technologically-centered university. Due to this focus, all full-time undergraduates are required to have and use tablets and laptop computers in their courses and must also take two mandatory courses: introductory programming and introduction to computers.
Dakota State University’s online degree programs include associate, baccalaureate, master and doctoral degrees. Online associate’s degrees include network security and business management. Online bachelor’s degrees include computer science and marketing. Master’s degree options include analytics and health informatics. Online doctoral degree offerings include cyber security and information systems. Available online certifications include banking security and ethical hacking.
Online student resources include online tutoring in several subjects, an online job board and an online library with librarians available via email, Twitter, text message or over the phone.
Dakota State University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2. South Dakota State University
Brookings, South Dakota
South Dakota State University is a land-grant, space-grant and sun-grant university established in 1881. The university first opened its doors as a mechanical and agricultural school, meaning it leans more toward degree programs in pharmacy, agriculture, nursing and engineering. The university has more than 12,000 students in attendance and offers more than 175 programs of study.
South Dakota State University offers associate, baccalaureate, master and certificate programs online through its Department of Continuing and Distance Education. Online associate’s degrees include general studies. Online bachelor’s degrees include geography and sociology. Online master’s degrees include educational administration and chemistry. Available certifications include animal science and family financial planning.
Online student resources include an online job board, online career exploration, technical support and an online library with librarians available via live chat, email, fax or over the phone.
South Dakota State University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. University of South Dakota
Vermillion, South Dakota
The University of South Dakota was established in 1862, almost 40 years before South Dakota joined the United States. The university is home to a medical school, a business school and a law school. The university is also home to the National Music Museum, which showcases more than 15,000 musical instruments from around the world. In total, the university offers more than 200 programs of study across 7 academic colleges.
The University of South Dakota offers associate, baccalaureate, master, doctoral and certificate programs online through its World Class Online platform. Online associate’s degrees include general studies. Online bachelor’s degrees include addiction studies and nursing. Online master’s degrees include public health and social work. Online doctoral degree offerings include occupational therapy and physical therapy. Available online certifications include long-term care management.
Online student resources include 24/7 technical support, online test proctoring, online writing assistance, and an online library.
The University of South Dakota is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
4. Northern State University
Aberdeen, South Dakota
Northern State University, established in 1901, came about due to requests from area citizens for an institute of higher education. Several wealthy citizens donated both land and money toward the school’s establishment once the bill approving the school met state senate approval. The university teaches more than 3,500 students and offers more than 50 programs of study.
Northern State University offers associate, baccalaureate and master degrees online through its Office of Online and Continuing Education. Online associate’s degrees include general studies, gerontology and financial services. Online bachelor’s degree options include marketing, professional accountancy and business administration. Online master’s degree offerings include teaching, leadership and music education.
Resources available to online students include an online job board and an online library with librarians readily available via live chat, email, text message, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or over the phone.
Northern State University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
5. Black Hills State University
Spearfish, South Dakota
Black Hills State University is one of South Dakota’s largest universities with more than 4,500 students from 44 states and 29 countries in attendance. Established in 1883, the university sits on more than 120 acres. Some of the majors the university offers include subjects within the arts, humanities, social science, business, natural sciences, education and behavioral science.
Black Hills State University offers baccalaureate, master’s and certificate programs entirely online. Bachelor’s degree options include general studies and business administration. Master’s degree offerings include strategic leadership and Project SELECT. Available certifications include secondary education.
Online student resources include technical support, an online job board and an online library with librarians available via email and over the phone.
Black Hills State University is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6. Presentation College
Aberdeen, South Dakota
Presentation College is a Catholic college founded in Mitchell, South Dakota, but moved to Aberdeen in 1951. The institution also operates a campus in Fairmont, Minnesota. Known for its healthcare programs, the college offers an associate of arts degree and associate, bachelor, and master of science degrees in more than 15 academic areas.
PC’s distance education program, PC Virtual, offers online bachelor of science and completion degrees in psychology and several other health-related fields. The two BSN programs, LPN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN, are completion degrees. The radiologic technology degree is available as a completion degree or an online associate or bachelor’s degree.
PC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Additionally, the online radiological technology completion degree is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) and the online BSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
7. Dakota Wesleyan University
Mitchell, South Dakota
Dakota Wesleyan University educates nearly 1,000 students through over 40 majors and minors and several graduate programs at its campus in Mitchell. Two bachelor’s degrees, two graduate programs, and two graduate certificates are available online, delivered asynchronously through the Canvas platform in eight-week terms.
DWU is among the many online colleges in South Dakota that offer financial aid for students. The institution charges tuition per credit, with rates varying by program. Admission requirements also vary by program, though both online bachelor’s degrees — the bachelor of arts completion degree and the RN-to-BSN — require prospective students to earn an associate degree. The graduate degrees, the master of business administration and master of arts in education, require 36 credits each; students who attend full time with two courses per term can complete the MBA in 12 months and the MA in 15 months.
DWU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Additionally, the college’s business programs are accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
8. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Rapid City, South Dakota
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, founded in 1885, is a leading engineering and science university, as well as one of South Dakota’s online colleges. The Rapid City campus offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, while SD Mines Online includes three online master’s programs in engineering.
The online programs, construction engineering and management (CEM), engineering management (EM), and mining engineering and management (MEM), require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the CEM and EM programs specify minimum math and science requirements, and the MEM degree requires an undergraduate engineering degree or significant work experience. The EM and MEM degrees require 32 credits each, and the CEM program requires 33 credits. Classes are charged per credit, with the same rate charged for all online programs, and South Dakota residents are eligible for a significant tuition discount. The only other program costs are the application fee and books.
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
9. University of Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Nearly 1,500 students are enrolled at the University of Sioux Falls, which offers over 40 undergraduate majors on its Sioux Falls campus. The university boasts that, within six months of graduation, 98% of graduates are employed in their field.
One of the top online schools in South Dakota, USF offers online professional development, certificates, an online RN-to-BSN degree, and bachelor’s degree completion programs in accounting, business, and health administration. Online master’s degrees are also available in business and education. Application requirements for the degree completion programs include an associate degree or two years of transferable credit with a minimum 2.0 GPA, as well as an interview and three years of work experience.
USF is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). USF business programs are accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), education programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the bachelor’s degree in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
10. Lake Area Technical Institute
Watertown, South Dakota
Boasting over 20,000 graduates, of whom 98.56% are employed or continuing their education, Lake Area Technical Institute offers degrees in over 20 areas including agriculture, business, transportation, and health-related fields. LATI’s 12 online degrees are available in similar academic areas. The online programs are hybrid, requiring some training or clinical experiences on the campus in Watertown, though the amount varies by program.
Like some other online schools in South Dakota, application requirements include an application fee, high school transcripts, and required test scores. Most online programs do not have an application deadline, except for the online nursing program. All prospective students should think about applying early, as programs can fill and there are financial aid and scholarship deadlines. Students who earn their AAS degree at LATI can consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree through one of the many program-to-program articulation agreements the college has with public universities in South Dakota, private institutions, and public universities in other states.
Lake Area Technical Institute is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11. Mitchell Technical Institute
Mitchell, South Dakota
Though a fairly new college, founded in 1968, Mitchell Technical Institute offers 33 programs on the campus in Mitchell, as well as five online programs. The online degrees are available in areas including business and health-related fields. While MTI boasts a 99% job placement rate among graduates, several of the online programs have a 100% placement rate: administrative office specialist, small business management, advanced medical imaging, and speech-language pathology assistant. Prospective students should submit transcripts, applicable test scores, and proof of U.S. residency.
MTI is one of the online colleges in South Dakota that charges the same tuition for online and on-campus courses, and both residents and nonresidents of South Dakota pay the same rate. Several of the degrees offer both a one-year diploma and an AAS option, and most are available entirely online. MTI awards credit for previously earned college credits and experiential learning including certain exams and professional certifications.
Mitchell Technical Institute is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).