Best Small Colleges in South Dakota 2024

Badge for BEST IN SOUTH DAKOTA SMALL COLLEGES

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 2024

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  1. Augustana University
  2. National American University
  3. Black Hills State University
  4. Dakota State University
  5. Northern State University
  6. University of Sioux Falls
  7. Dakota Wesleyan University
  8. Mount Marty University
  1. Black Hills State University
  2. National American University
  3. Dakota Wesleyan University
  4. University of Sioux Falls
  5. Northern State University
  6. Augustana University
  7. Dakota State University
  8. Mount Marty University
  1. Black Hills State University 97%
  2. Dakota State University 86%
  3. Northern State University 80%
  4. University of Sioux Falls 77%
  5. Dakota Wesleyan University 76%
  6. Augustana University 72%
  7. Mount Marty University 67%
  1. Dakota State University 18 to 1
  2. Northern State University 18 to 1
  3. University of Sioux Falls 17 to 1
  4. Black Hills State University 16 to 1
  5. Dakota Wesleyan University 12 to 1
  6. Augustana University 12 to 1
  7. Mount Marty University 12 to 1
  8. National American University 7 to 1
  1. Augustana University $35,914
  2. Dakota Wesleyan University $30,880
  3. Mount Marty University $29,980
  4. University of Sioux Falls $19,900
  5. National American University $15,660
  6. Black Hills State University $7,616
  7. Dakota State University $7,616
  8. Northern State University $7,616
  1. Augustana University $35,716
  2. Dakota Wesleyan University $15,300
  3. National American University $15,000
  4. Mount Marty University $8,375
  5. Black Hills State University $7,998
  6. University of Sioux Falls $7,110
  7. Dakota State University $5,999
  8. Northern State University $5,999
  1. Mount Marty University
  2. Dakota Wesleyan University
  3. University of Sioux Falls
  4. Northern State University
  5. Dakota State University
  6. Black Hills State University
  7. National American University
  8. Augustana University
  1. Mount Marty University
  2. Dakota State University
  3. Augustana University
  4. Northern State University
  5. University of Sioux Falls
  6. Dakota Wesleyan University
  7. National American University
  8. Black Hills State University
  1. Mount Marty University 67%
  2. Augustana University 72%
  3. Dakota Wesleyan University 76%
  4. University of Sioux Falls 77%
  5. Northern State University 80%
  6. Dakota State University 86%
  7. Black Hills State University 97%
  1. National American University 7 to 1
  2. Dakota Wesleyan University 12 to 1
  3. Augustana University 12 to 1
  4. Mount Marty University 12 to 1
  5. Black Hills State University 16 to 1
  6. University of Sioux Falls 17 to 1
  7. Dakota State University 18 to 1
  8. Northern State University 18 to 1
  1. Black Hills State University $7,616
  2. Dakota State University $7,616
  3. Northern State University $7,616
  4. National American University $15,660
  5. University of Sioux Falls $19,900
  6. Mount Marty University $29,980
  7. Dakota Wesleyan University $30,880
  8. Augustana University $35,914
  1. Dakota State University $5,999
  2. Northern State University $5,999
  3. University of Sioux Falls $7,110
  4. Black Hills State University $7,998
  5. Mount Marty University $8,375
  6. National American University $15,000
  7. Dakota Wesleyan University $15,300
  8. Augustana University $35,716

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

South Dakota's Best Small Colleges and Universities Badge
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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.

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Best Small Colleges in South Dakota 2023

  1. #1

    Augustana University

    Sioux Falls , SD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1222/25

    Career Outlook for degree at Augustana University

    Cost of Degree: $37,342
    Expenses: $16,048
    Starting Salary: $43,363
    Salary after 4 years: $51,181
    Cost Recoup Time: 16 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Augustana University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Graduation

    11%

    Student body

    1K

    Career Outlook for degree at National American University

    Cost of Degree: $16,065
    Expenses: $15,987
    Starting Salary: $46,141
    Cost Recoup Time: 14 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is National American University known for?

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

    National American University’s Online Degrees

    BS in Management
    • Required Credits: 180
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Paralegal Studies
    • Required Credits: 180.5
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Professional Legal Studies
    • Required Credits: 180
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/21

    Career Outlook for degree at Black Hills State University

    Cost of Degree: $8,916
    Expenses: $13,228
    Starting Salary: $39,388
    Salary after 4 years: $40,867
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Black Hills State University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/22

    Career Outlook for degree at Northern State University

    Cost of Degree: $8,845
    Expenses: $14,950
    Starting Salary: $40,452
    Salary after 4 years: $48,683
    Cost Recoup Time: 10 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Northern State University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #6

    University of Sioux Falls

    Sioux Falls , SD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    2K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Sioux Falls

    Cost of Degree: $20,290
    Expenses: $13,040
    Starting Salary: $44,071
    Salary after 4 years: $50,862
    Cost Recoup Time: 12 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Sioux Falls known for?

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

  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1030/20

    Career Outlook for degree at Dakota Wesleyan University

    Cost of Degree: $31,890
    Expenses: $10,800
    Starting Salary: $67,135
    Cost Recoup Time: 16 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Dakota Wesleyan University known for?

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    <1K

    Career Outlook for degree at Mount Marty University

    Cost of Degree: $31,500
    Expenses: $14,532
    Starting Salary: $82,741
    Salary after 4 years: $84,435
    Cost Recoup Time: 11 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is Mount Marty University known for?

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

    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 utilized 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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