South Dakota Colleges & Universities

Colleges in South Dakota feature a rare blend of academics, affordability, and pristine natural surroundings.

South Dakota Schools Make Great Education Affordable: From the grasslands to the Badlands, South Dakota spans a stretch of the American Midwest that offers abundant and varied natural beauty rarely glimpsed in the coastally-focused media. If you're seeking a college experience that blends solid academics, affordable tuition, and incredible outlets for outdoor enthusiasm, take a good look at the schools in South Dakota.

A Few South Dakota Colleges of Note: South Dakota schools include a good mix of public and private educational institutions, including 14 four-year universities. Four of the most prominent among these are profiled below.

  • University of South Dakota (public): The University of South Dakota is widely regarded as one of the best institutions for higher learning in the Midwest, and features the state's only accredited business, law, and medical schools. Its Greek system is extensive, and its paper, the Volante, is award-winning. 7,098 students make up the undergraduate class. Tuition at the University of South Dakota costs $6,762 for residents and $8,259 for out-of-state students.
  • South Dakota State University (public): This school is South Dakota's largest, educating 10,794 undergraduates, and is located in the rural town of Brookings. An NCAA Division I contender, South Dakota State University offers top-notch athletics as well as a multitude of academic accreditations. Agriculture, engineering, and health professions are especially prominent majors. Tuitions costs $6,444 for in-state students, and $7,941 for residents elsewhere.
  • Augustana College (private): A private liberal arts college located in beautiful Sioux Falls, Augustana College consistently receives top rankings in annual college review publications. Its undergraduate class numbers 1,771 students, and popular courses of study include education, health professions, and business/marketing. With a tuition of $25,104, Augustana is one of America's more affordable private schools.
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (public): Boasting a 1,913 undergraduate population that scored higher than students of any other South Dakota college on both SAT math and verbal tests, Mines, as it is commonly known, offers great academic prowess, urban opportunities, and proximity to South Dakota's famed Black Hills. Nearly a quarter of Mines' student body majors in some type of engineering. Tuition costs $7,302 for the South Dakota native, $8,799 for the out-of-state student.

Graduates of South Dakota Schools Flourish in a Thriving Economy: South Dakota's hardy economy has weathered the recession exceptionally well, reporting a low unemployment rate of 4.4% in July of 2010. The industries of retail, finance, tourism, and healthcare dominate the current economy in South Dakota, with the state's traditionally money-maker, agriculture, still contributing significantly. Ellsworth Air Force Base is a major employer, illustrating the importance of government spending to South Dakota's economy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals employed in some of South Dakota's healthcare professions figure among the best-paid workers in those specialties. Internists, for example, make a mean annual wage of $217,520; obstetricians and gynecologists, approximately $166,400 (or greater); and psychiatrists, $202,210.

If you're a student looking for great value and ample opportunities for recreation, consider attending one of the fine schools in South Dakota.

The writer Karin Hansen holds a degree in English from San Francisco State University.

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