South Dakota’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges of 2021

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in South Dakota offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

South Dakota’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges of 2021

Colleges and Universities in South Dakota

Almost 20 higher education institutions award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the state, and only two schools exceed 5,000 in student population. The average college tuition in the state is $8,450, which is under the national average. Of the 11 public institutions, South Dakota State University is the largest with just over 10,000 students, and it has a tuition of $9,000.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

With a comparable tuition, the University of South Dakota is the second largest and located in Vermillion. Students can earn degrees in areas such as earth science, physics, and engineering. Eight private schools offer degrees ranging in tuition from $3,000 to $33,000. Many of these universities are religiously affiliated, Augustana University being the largest and most expensive. This Lutheran university is located in Sioux Falls and offers programs in economics, psychology, and biology. The most affordable colleges, Oglala Lakota College and Sinte Gleska University, are both tribal institutions charging $3,000 in fees.

Two monuments are carved into the rock of the Black Hills: Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. In addition to its majestic mountains, South Dakota’s lands are some of the richest in fossils. Badlands National Park is home to unique rock formations as well as the fossils of saber-toothed cats, three-toed horses, and ancient marine animals. With vast plains and unique mountains, South Dakota offers a stunning setting for students looking to earn their degree in The Mount Rushmore State.

Find out more about the top programs and higher education opportunities available in South Dakota.


What are South Dakota’s Colleges & Universities?

South Dakota’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

South Dakota's Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities 2021 badge
Download Badge

How do we determine South Dakota's best colleges and universities?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified a total of 8 liberal arts colleges and universities in South Dakota, 7 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best liberal arts schools in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in South Dakota

  1. Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    What is Northern State University known for?

    Northern State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Augustana University

    Sioux Falls , SD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/26

    What is Augustana University known for?

    Augustana University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Physics
    REQUEST INFO
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/21

    What is Black Hills State University known for?

    Black Hills State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Communications
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/21

    What is Dakota Wesleyan University known for?

    Dakota Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    University of Sioux Falls

    Sioux Falls , SD

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/22

    What is University of Sioux Falls known for?

    University of Sioux Falls’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1137/22

    What is Dakota State University known for?

    Dakota State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    REQUEST INFO
  7. Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    930/21

    What is Mount Marty University known for?

    Mount Marty University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

Find the Best Schools in South Dakota for your Major

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By: Benjamin Victor - Benjamin Victor, CC0