South Dakota’s Best Research Universities of 2021

Interested in attending a STEM school in South Dakota? Our ranking of top research universities for bachelor’s degrees displays schools that will best prepare you for STEM careers.

South Dakota’s Best Research Universities 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.

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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

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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.

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. There are 2 research universities in South Dakota, both satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best research universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a fully accredited university.
  2. It must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
  3. It must report high levels of research activity based upon the number of research and/or practice doctorates awarded each year.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%.

Best Research Colleges & Universities in South Dakota for Undergraduates

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    What is University of South Dakota known for?

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

    • Law
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
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  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/22

    What is South Dakota State University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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