Best Small Colleges in South Dakota 2022

Small colleges in South Dakota are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical or on the liberal arts, small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.

Best Small Colleges in South Dakota 2022

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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The following list of the best small colleges and universities in South Dakota is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though a handful also offer graduate programs). We’ve identified 8 small colleges in South Dakota. The list below of the best small colleges in South Dakota. To be included schools must fully accredited, and must have student body populations below 5,000 students.

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

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! 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 in their fields of study.

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

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

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Best Small Colleges in South Dakota 2022

  1. #1

    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
    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    National American University

    Rapid City , SD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    1K

    What is National American University known for?

    National American University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Black Hills State University

    Spearfish , SD
    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Dakota State University

    Madison , SD
    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
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Northern State University

    Aberdeen , SD
    Other Rankings

    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:

    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    University of Sioux Falls

    Sioux Falls , SD
    Other Rankings

    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:

    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Dakota Wesleyan University

    Mitchell , SD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    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:

    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Mount Marty University

    Yankton , SD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    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
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • History
    • Medical
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

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South Dakota’s Best Small College in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Northern State University
  2. Augustana University
  3. Black Hills State University
  4. Dakota Wesleyan University
  5. University of Sioux Falls
  6. Dakota State University
  7. Mount Marty University

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