5 Biggest Colleges in South Dakota

With a low unemployment rate and a number of affordable universities, this state may be the perfect place to get your education and start your career.

SDSU has undergone substantial growth in the past decade, completing more than $430 million worth of new facilities.

By Adam Jazairi

You may not have considered going to school in South Dakota. But believe it or not, the quiet and sparsely populated state could be on the verge of an economic breakthrough.

In October 2012, South Dakota recorded unemployment at 4.5 percent, which is well below the national average. And with the state government seeking to diversify and strengthen the economy further, opportunities could quickly appear for biomedical engineers, agricultural scientists and more.

To take advantage of these opportunities, you’ll need not just the right skill set, but also the knowledge of which school can help you reach your goals. This list of popular South Dakota colleges can help you get started.

5. Dakota State University

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 2,578

Tuition: $5,381 (in-state); $6,618 (out-of-state)

Best Program: Dakota State University’s technically advanced classrooms make for an especially strong computer information systems program.

Fun Fact: Dakota State is among the first schools to receive the NSA’s Center for Academic Excellence Cyber Operations designation. If you’re interested in a career in cyber ops, DSU could be the place for you!

4. Northern State University

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 2,578

Tuition: $5,280 (in-state); $10,674 (out-of-state)

Best Programs: Business is a popular major at Northern State University; the university offers such specializations as accounting, finance, marketing, and e-business.

Fun Fact: Northern State has a rich history of civic duty, dedicating its resources to the U.S. military during both world wars.

3. Black Hills State University

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 4,052

Tuition: $5,803 (in-state); $7,123 (out-of-state)

Best Programs: In addition to traditional academics, Black Hills State University offers programs in the skilled trades, including industrial technology and applied technical science.

Fun Fact: Outdoor recreation is one of BHSU’s best assets, due to its idyllic rural setting.

2. University of South Dakota

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 9,243

Tuition: $5,752 (in-state); $11,506 (out-of-state)

Best Programs: The majority of The University of South Dakota students choose a professional route, majoring in business, marketing or health care.

Fun Fact: USD prides itself in being the state’s only liberal arts university.

1. South Dakota State University

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 11,645

Tuition: $5,373 (in-state); $6,611 (out-of-state)

Best Programs: Most South Dakota State University students take advantage of current industry needs; about 25 percent choose nursing as their major, while nearly 15 percent opt for agricultural business.

Fun Fact: SDSU has undergone substantial growth in the past decade, completing more than $430 million worth of new facilities.

Quick Tips

  • You’ll notice that although these are all public colleges, out-of-state tuition is lower than average for some. This can be a huge benefit if you’re looking to relocate to South Dakota.
  • Many South Dakota colleges have a rolling admissions policy. The earlier you apply, the more likely you are to be accepted and receive maximum financial aid consideration.
  • If you plan to stay in South Dakota after graduation, consider a major that complements the state’s growing economy. Creative agricultural scientists, for example, will continue to be in high demand.

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