The Best Online Colleges in South Dakota

by TBS Staff

Updated October 6, 2022

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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.

Featured Online Schools

The Best Online Colleges in South Dakota

#1

Dakota State University

School Information
Location Madison, South Dakota
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 43%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Online degree-seekers should consider Dakota State University. The public institution's 37 online degree options include offerings at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school has a track record in academic success through online coursework.

Academic and career preparation services are available to all students, even those outside of the Madison, South Dakota, campus. Virtual career fairs, academic advising, and other programs invest in the long-term success of degree-seekers. Hands-on learning through internship programs helps many students prepare for work in their field. The degrees that graduates are awarded reflect the school's full accreditation.

Additional information about how to apply and what programs are available can be obtained by contacting the school directly.

Dakota State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 2,206

Online Bachelor's Programs: 13

Online Master's Programs: 6

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 63%

Admission Rate: 77%

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#2

South Dakota State University

School Information
Location Brookings, South Dakota
Admission Rate 90%
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

South Dakota State University is a fantastic choice for online learners. The public institution's 45 online degree options include offerings at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The school has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for strong academics, making it a popular choice for distance learners.

The academic and career advisors located at the Brookings campus are also available to assist online learners. Degree-seekers can participate in career-planning events like virtual job fairs by connecting with these academic advisors. Many students also gain hands-on field experience through the school's internship programs. The degrees that graduates receive are fully accredited.

More information about which programs are available online and how to apply is available by contacting the school.

South Dakota State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 4,358

Online Bachelor's Programs: 9

Online Master's Programs: 16

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 23%

Admission Rate: 90%

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#3

University of South Dakota

School Information
Location Vermillion, South Dakota
Admission Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 59%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of South Dakota offers a high-quality online college experience. Both undergraduate and graduate programs are available through this public institution, which hosts a total of 33 online degree programs. The school attracts many remote learners because of its solid reputation for academics and experience in offering online education.

All learners, including those online, can take advantage of the academic and career services professionals hosted at the school's Vermillion campus. Online offerings from academic advisors and career-planning events like virtual job fairs help degree-seekers plan for success. Students can also take advantage of internship programs to gain hands-on experience. Upon completion of all program requirements, graduates are awarded an accredited degree.

Anyone interested in learning more about available online programs and how to apply should contact the school directly.

University of South Dakota at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 4,939

Online Bachelor's Programs: 6

Online Master's Programs: 10

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 19%

Admission Rate: 86%

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#4

Northern State University

School Information
Location Aberdeen, South Dakota
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 48%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Northern State University is a fantastic choice for online learners. Remote enrollees at this public college can choose from 14 online programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Many distance learners choose to study at this school because of its track record in online education and reputation for academic quality.

The academic and career advisors located at the Aberdeen, South Dakota, campus are also available to assist online learners. Career services programs such as academic advising and virtual job fairs help degree-seekers achieve their professional goals. Students can also take advantage of internship programs to gain hands-on experience. Graduates receive an accredited degree upon completion of their program.

Potential applicants can get in touch with the school for additional details about program availability and the application process.

Northern State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,958

Online Bachelor's Programs: 7

Online Master's Programs: 4

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 20%

Admission Rate: 84%

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#5

Black Hills State University

School Information
Location Spearfish, South Dakota
Admission Rate 84%
Graduation Rate 38%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Black Hills State University offers a high-quality online college experience. Remote degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels are available to enrollees at this public school. The school's substantial track record in online education and good academic reputation attract many distance learners.

Online learners are also able to work with academic and career services professionals located at the Spearfish, South Dakota, campus. Programs like academic advising and virtual job fairs help degree-seekers plan for their academic and professional futures. Hands-on learning through internship programs helps many students prepare for work in their field. A degree with full accreditation is awarded to all enrollees upon completing their program.

Further information about the application process and specifics of online programs are available by contacting the school.

Black Hills State University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 2,249

Online Bachelor's Programs: 2

Online Master's Programs: 5

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 8%

Admission Rate: 84%

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#6

Presentation College

School Information
Location Aberdeen, South Dakota
Admission Rate 90%
Graduation Rate 34%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 78% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Presentation College is a fantastic choice for online learners. Those who enroll at the private institution remotely have eight online degree opportunities to choose from at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Distance learners often select this school because it has a proven track record in online education and a reputation for its academic strength.

Online learners not located near the Aberdeen, South Dakota, campus can still take advantage of academic and career advising services. Academic advisors help degree-seekers complete their programs, while virtual job fairs and career planning events prepare them for success after graduation. The school also facilitates internship opportunities that help students gain real-world experience. Upon completion of all program requirements, graduates are awarded an accredited degree.

Anyone with additional questions is encouraged to reach out to the school directly.

Presentation College at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 454

Online Bachelor's Programs: 3

Online Master's Programs: 2

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 22%

Admission Rate: 90%

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#7

Dakota Wesleyan University

School Information
Location Mitchell, South Dakota
Admission Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 54%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Dakota Wesleyan University's online degree offerings rank highly among similar programs. Students who enroll at the private institution can choose from 29 online offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Distance learners often choose to study at this school because of its experience with online education and reputation for academic quality.

The physical campus in Mitchell, South Dakota, employs academic and career service professionals who are also available to assist online learners. Degree-seekers can get help planning their academic and professional futures with offerings such as academic advising and virtual career fairs. The school also facilitates internship opportunities that help students gain real-world experience. Graduates of the school's programs obtain a bachelor's degree with full accreditation.

Prospective applicants can contact the school to learn more about online program options and admission requirements.

Dakota Wesleyan University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 135

Online Bachelor's Programs: 22

Online Master's Programs: 4

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 46%

Admission Rate: 67%

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#8

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

School Information
Location Rapid City, South Dakota
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 49%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology offers online programming that ranks highly among similar programs. A total of three online undergraduate and graduate programs are available through this public institution. These remote programs benefit from the school's reputation for strong academics and track record in online course offerings.

Academic and career service professionals based out of the Rapid City campus are available to help online learners. Degree-seekers connect with academic advisors and participate in virtual job fairs and career-planning events. The school also emphasizes hands-on learning through its internship programs. The degrees that graduates receive are fully accredited.

Reach out to the school with any questions about what programs are available online and how to apply to them.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 114

Online Master's Programs: 3

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 6%

Admission Rate: 77%

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#9

University of Sioux Falls

School Information
Location Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Admission Rate 91%
Graduation Rate 64%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

The University of Sioux Falls is a fantastic choice for online learners. Students who enroll at the private institution can choose from 10 online offerings at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school has a track record in academic success through online coursework.

Academic and career preparation services are available to all students, even those outside of the South Dakota campus. Programs like academic advising and virtual job fairs help degree-seekers plan for their academic and professional futures. Internship programs are also available to students, helping them gain valuable field experience. Completing their academic program grants graduates an accredited degree.

Further information about the application process and specifics of online programs are available by contacting the school.

University of Sioux Falls at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 779

Online Bachelor's Programs: 6

Online Master's Programs: 3

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 15%

Admission Rate: 91%

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#10

Lake Area Technical College

School Information
Location Watertown, South Dakota
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

For many online degree-seekers, Lake Area Technical College is an attractive choice. A total of 15 online undergraduate and graduate programs are available through this public institution. The school attracts many remote learners because of its solid reputation for academics and experience in offering online education.

From its Watertown, South Dakota, campus, the school supports online learners with academic and career services. Programs such as academic advising and virtual job fairs help degree-seekers achieve their professional goals. The internship programs that the school offers help many students prepare for their future careers. The degrees that graduates receive are fully accredited.

Prospective applicants can contact the school to learn more about online program options and admission requirements.

Lake Area Technical College at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 1,033

Percent of Programs Offered Online: 38%

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Best Online Colleges

Online Colleges in South Dakota Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

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.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

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.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

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.

Highest-Paying, Degree-Requiring Careers in South Dakota
Career Annual Mean Salary (2020) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
Financial Managers $144,980 15% Bachelor's
General and Operations Managers $131,890 4% Bachelor's
Pharmacists $121,130 -3% Doctoral
Lawyers $111,930 4% Doctoral
Physician Assistants $109,290 31% Master's
Medical and Health Services Managers $107,850 32% Bachelor's
First-Line Supervisors of Non-Retail Sales Workers $103,230 4% Bachelor's
Nurse Practitioners $103,080 45% Master's
Industrial Engineers $86,450 10% Bachelor's
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

What Is the Most Popular Online College in South Dakota?

South Dakota's popular online colleges include the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, and Dakota State University.

What Are the Best Colleges in South Dakota?

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 Is the Best School in South Dakota?

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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