Originally established in 1883, Black Hills State University is a public, four-year institution located in Spearfish. Accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, BHSU is the third largest university in the state, serving just fewer than 5,000 students. Online degree programs are also available for students looking for more flexibility in their course schedules. Areas of study include business, education, general studies, leadership, and sociology, to name a few. Both undergraduate and graduate-level online courses are offered through the school’s distance learning division. U.S. News & World Report ranked BHSU’s online education programs No. 27 for student engagement and accreditation and No. 56 for student services and technology in 2011.
Located in Brookings and accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, South Dakota State University is a public, land-grant institution originally established in 1881. With an enrollment of nearly 13,000 students, the school is the largest institution of higher learning in South Dakota. Students interested in enrolling in online classes will also find a number of options through South Dakota State University Online. Programs are available in chemistry, education, economics, general studies, journalism, nursing, psychology, religion, and sociology. The online graduate-level education programs at SDSU were ranked among the top 50 schools for student engagement and accreditation by U.S. News & World Report.
Founded in 1862 in Vermillion, the University of South Dakota is the oldest public university in the state. Today, the school serves more than 10,000 students and is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In an effort to serve the diverse needs of their student body, the school has also expanded their online degree offerings in recent years. The University of South Dakota Online offers programs in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, education, general studies, non-profit management, nursing, public administration, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology. The school’s online business degree programs were ranked No. 31 for admissions selectivity and No. 71 for faculty credentials and training, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2011 rankings.
A number of colleges and universities in South Dakota are utilizing advancing e-learning technology to provide curricula that better suit working adults and non-traditional students. Online programs are usually asynchronous in format. This means students make their own schedules, logging in to the virtual class room at whatever time and from whatever location works best with their personal and professional responsibilities. Cutting edge electronic learning platforms make it easy for students to access their assignments, complete activities, participate in discussion boards, and receive instructor feedback at a personalized pace. Please note, though, that some schools may still require a limited number of on-campus or field work components as part of their online programs. It is best to contact the specific school for more details on all the requirements online students must meet.
Agriculture, retail, finance, tourism, and health care are several of South Dakota’s key economic industries. Top employers in the state include IBP Hog Market, Rapid City Regional Hospital, Citibank, John Morrell and Company, and Tyson. In addition, the U.S. military also employs a large number of residents in the state. Given the region’s job opportunities, students who graduate with degrees in agriculture, business, finance, engineering, or health care are likely to have the best career prospects with top local employers.