The Best Online Colleges in South Dakota
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South Dakota offers many affordable, accredited online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels.
South Dakota colleges are best known for their affordable tuition rates: The state's four-year public and private universities charge below-average tuition rates compared to the national average. Colleges in South Dakota offer degrees in high-demand fields like business, healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, with many offered through online programs.
Rural students benefit from the accessibility of online learning, and many of the state's educational institutions offer tuition discounts for South Dakota residents. Online degrees also appeal to working students and busy adults who must balance school with other responsibilities.
This list of online colleges in South Dakota only includes regionally accredited institutions. Regional accreditation is the highest standard for educating students and granting degrees. Credits earned at accredited schools easily transfer to other institutions, and only accredited schools distribute federal student aid to their undergraduate and graduate students. An accredited degree also meets requirements for professional licenses and certifications.
Prospective students use this list to find the best programs for their career goals. This article also offers employment data for South Dakota and information about online associate and graduate degrees.
|#1||Dakota State University Madison, SD|
|#2||South Dakota State University Brookings, SD|
|#3||University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD|
|#4||Northern State University Aberdeen, SD|
|#5||Black Hills State University Spearfish, SD|
|#6||Presentation College Aberdeen, SD|
|#7||Dakota Wesleyan University Mitchell, SD|
|#8||South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Rapid City, SD|
|#9||University of Sioux Falls Sioux Falls, SD|
|#10||Lake Area Technical Institute Watertown, SD|
Featured Online Schools
The Best Online Colleges in South Dakota
Online Colleges in South Dakota Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.
Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.
Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.
In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.
If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.
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Employment in South Dakota
South Dakotans with college degrees benefit from the state's low unemployment rate and cost of living. Compared to the national average cost of living index, which is set at 100, South Dakota's cost of living index is only 88.3. Similarly, South Dakota's 2.9% unemployment rate is much lower than the 6.2% national unemployment rate, as of February 2021.
South Dakota's top industries include healthcare, manufacturing, educational services, and public administration. Bioscience, value-added agriculture, and cybersecurity are also key industries in the state. Many careers in these fields require a bachelor-level education, though fewer than 29% of South Dakota residents hold a bachelor's degree. As a result, professionals with college degrees face less competition in South Dakota than they would in more highly educated states.
The state's highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs, including financial manager, industrial engineer, and operations manager, all typically require a bachelor's degree. Many of these careers pay more than double the state's mean annual wage of $44,960.
The following information details some of the highest-paying roles employing more than 500 individuals in South Dakota. Salary information applies specifically to South Dakota, while job growth data pertains to the entire United States.
|Career||Annual Mean Salary (2020)||Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)||Education Required|
|General and Operations Managers||$131,890||4%||Bachelor's|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$107,850||32%||Bachelor's|
|First-Line Supervisors of Non-Retail Sales Workers||$103,230||4%||Bachelor's|
Online Associate Degrees in South Dakota
In addition to bachelor's degrees, South Dakotans can earn online associate degrees in business, agricultural science, and general studies.
South Dakota State University (SDSU) offers online associate programs in subjects like sociology, construction technology, and data science. Dakota State University (DSU) has an online associate in business management program. The online associate degree in general studies at the University of South Dakota (USD) prepares graduates to enroll in bachelor's programs.
After completing an associate degree, graduates can enter the workforce or transfer into bachelor's programs. With transfer credits, students can earn their bachelor's degrees in as little as one year.
Online Graduate Degrees in South Dakota
Many top-ranked universities in South Dakota offer online graduate degrees, too. For example, USD offers an online MBA program with concentrations in business analytics, finance, health services administration, and marketing. Graduate students can also earn master's degrees in criminal justice administration, social work, or nursing at USD.
Online graduate programs prioritize flexible scheduling, which appeals to working professionals who must balance school with professional responsibilities. Online programs also typically allow students to complete in-person requirements in their local areas. With a graduate degree, professionals can advance their current careers or move into new fields.
Frequently Asked Questions
South Dakota's popular online colleges include the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, and Dakota State University.
The state's best colleges include the University of South Dakota, which is the state's flagship public university, and South Dakota State University. The state also has private universities.
What school is the best school is different for every student, depending on their intended profession and learning style. Some of the best colleges in South Dakota include public institutions, like the University of South Dakota, and private schools, like Augustana University.
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