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2024’s Top Online Master’s Programs in South Dakota (SD)

Author: Kyra Sutherland

Editor: Staff Editor

If you’re a South Dakota native who’s ready to earn a graduate degree, you might be concerned about how you will keep the life you’ve worked hard to build while balancing your education. We’ve got good news — online master’s programs in South Dakota can help you achieve your goals.

Search hundreds of schools for the master’s YOU want……

With online degree programs, what once required you to quit your job(or at least reduce your hours) now allows you to squeeze in the extra learning on your schedule. No more sacrificing precious time with friends and family, risking your career, and commuting to campus.

Online learning is so convenient in rural states like ND that the National Center for Education Statistics found that over half of enrolled postsecondary students in the Plains states (including South Dakota) were enrolled in one or more distance education courses, with a quarter of all postsecondary students attending entirely online in 2021.

So if you’re ready to open the doors to a brighter future from the comfort of your home in South Dakota, keep reading to learn more about the best online master’s degrees in SD.

South Dakota’s Best Online Master’s Degree Programs

You know that every program and every school is different. However, there are some things that are similar no matter what subject you choose to study or what school you attend. For example, across the 5+ colleges that offer online master’s programs in South Dakota, online programs typically have assignments available online for students to work on at a time that’s convenient for them.

To help you get started, below we’ve highlighted some of 2024’s most affordable and flexible online master’s degrees in SD. These spotlights will help you gauge the cost of an online master’s degree, discover the graduate programs that are most often offered in an online format, and determine program quality when researching other schools.

The University of Sioux Falls is a private, Christian college that has one of the more affordable graduate schools in South Dakota, with each credit priced at $410. Not only that, but it offers students several accredited graduate degree programs that are available entirely online. Students can pursue an online MBA in Organizational Leadership, Healthcare, Business Innovation & Marketing, and Management, which has been accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).

Other online graduate options include an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, Administration/Adult Higher Education, Technology & Personalized Learning, Teaching and Reading. Two other M.Ed. degrees and two education specialist endorsements are available on campus with possible online components. Their distinctly Christian approach to education helps students integrate their faith into their master’s degree program.

The University of South Dakota encourages students to pursue one of their 41 master’s degrees or 23 graduate certificates that range in subjects from sculpting to artificial intelligence. Students looking for the flexibility of online programs will find that 18 graduate degrees and 18 graduate certificate programs are available in a 100% online format.

Online courses are typically offered in an asynchronous format and utilize recorded lectures, weekly office hours, interactive technologies, video and audio content, interactive discussions, and group activities. However, these online programs are not self-paced and typically work off a week-to-week schedule.

The online curriculum is the same as the on-campus curriculum, with the same professors teaching both the on-campus and online versions of their courses. Additionally, all online courses are checked against standards put forth by Quality Matters before being offered.

South Dakota State University provides students with 23 different online master’s degrees that can be completed from anywhere. Subjects range from agricultural education to pharmaceutical sciences. All options have been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) or other similar accrediting bodies and are distributed through the D2L learning management system. For students unfamiliar with online courses, SDSU provides a self-assessment and online course demonstration to help students know what to expect.

SDSU also offers additional support services to online students including student support advisers, online tutoring, career services, technical support, and step-by-step instructions on how to register for classes, confirm financial aid, and view their individual accounts. All master’s courses are $470 per credit.

Online Degree Program Formats Offered in SD

With the advancement of technology, your master’s degree no longer must be earned through classes at a brick-and-mortar university in South Dakota. Students like you have more options now when it comes to their education’s format. Whether you prefer an entirely online degree or enjoy a mix of online and on-campus classes to collaborate with other South Dakota graduate students, we’ll detail each format below so you’re fully prepared.

Full-time Online Master’s Programs in South Dakota

Full-time online master’s programs are not common in South Dakota; the few that exist are mainly offered on-campus with set schedules (with a few hybrid options). Few, if any, entirely online master’s degrees in SD require full-time study, though each student still has that option.

Two examples of these hybrid master’s degrees include the Master of Music in Music Education from the University of South Dakota and the Master of Science in Data Science from South Dakota State University.

Part-time Online Master’s Programs in South Dakota

Part-time graduate degrees are much more common in South Dakota these days since they are tailored around working professionals. It is more likely that a part-time graduate program would be available online or have alternate weekend or evening formats. In South Dakota, you can find examples of part-time programs just about anywhere.

Two examples we’ll highlight here include the Master of Science in Community Development from South Dakota State University and the Master of Science in Technology for Education and Training from the University of South Dakota.

No-GRE Online Master’s Programs in South Dakota

The GRE is a graduate school entrance exam that, depending on the school, influences admissions decisions. In more recent years due to the coronavirus pandemic, many schools have been waiving their GRE requirements, and some colleges have eliminated this admission requirement altogether. Two programs that don’t require GRE scores to be admitted include the Master of Science in Agricultural Education from South Dakota State University and the Master of Science in Nursing from Augustana University.

Accelerated Online Master’s Programs in South Dakota

Another type of graduate degree you’ll find in South Dakota is the accelerated master’s program. These programs can be a combination of an undergraduate and master’s degree, or, due to a student’s prior education or experience, can be a master’s degree that takes less time than what is considered standard. A couple of examples of these include the accelerated Master of Social Work from the University of South Dakota and the accelerated Master of Science in Economics from South Dakota State University.

Fields of Study for South Dakota Master Students

Business Administration

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a degree for career-employed professionals who are seeking promotion or expanding their employment opportunities. Throughout the program, students will learn about accounting and finance, organizational behavior, ethics in a business environment, marketing, and leadership. Furthermore, it’s estimated that an average of 230,000 jobs requiring skills learned throughout an online MBA program will open up each year in the United States, and some of those in South Dakota, through the year 2030.

Quality Examples of Online MBA Programs


A Master of Engineering degree is for experienced professionals who hold an undergraduate degree in a field related to applied science, engineering, or technology that want to become a manager in a technology-driven organization. An M.Eng. also allows professionals to earn a higher salary, have more career advancement opportunities, learn specialized skills, create a professional network, and learn the soft skills required to be in a position of leadership.

Quality Example of an Online Engineering Program

Educational Administration

The Master of Education (MEd) or MA in Educational Administration is designed for school district superintendents, elementary and secondary principals, special education directors, curriculum directors, adult educators, and higher education administrators and classroom instructors. This would be appealing to educators who are looking for additional ways to specialize and cultivate change for the future.

Quality Examples of Online Education Programs


A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a great option for nurses who want to enter advanced practice nursing or nurse leadership roles. Earning an MSN allows nurses to earn a higher salary, specialize in a certain area of healthcare, fill a need in the face of physician and nurse shortages, and teach others. Additionally, working as a nurse with an MSN in South Dakota almost guarantees you a job since the state has been experiencing a nursing shortage for nearly a decade.

Quality Examples of Online MSN Programs

Mass Communication

An online Master of Communication is a program designed for professionals already working, or students aspiring to work, in journalism, advertising, public relations, marketing, business, or higher education. This degree will help students understand how media impacts society and how they can use it to help shape society. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of communications, particularly public relations-related jobs, is projected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Quality Example of an Online Communications Program

How Much Will I Pay for an Online SD Master’s Degree?

Rather than rushing blindly toward a master’s degree, it’s important to learn more about the cost. Tuition is only a part of the equation. You’ll need to factor in school and program fees, the opportunity cost if you stop working to pursue your studies, and housing and transportation.

How will you pay for it all? Will you work and pay as you go, or will you need to commit to a student loan? On the flip side, you should also research financial aid opportunities to help minimize costs Learn more below.

School/Program No. of Credits Resident Cost/Credit Est. Tuition

36 – 60


$16,936.2 – $28,227

30 – 36


$14,113.5 – $28,227




South Dakota Financial Aid Options

Just like undergraduate students, graduate students can fill out the government’s FAFSA form to apply for federal financial student aid. In fact, many institutions will use this form to determine if a student is eligible for financial aid. The major difference between an undergraduate and graduate application is that graduate students are considered independent and therefore don’t need to provide their parents’ financial information.

Federal student aid could come in the form of grants (though grad students don’t typically qualify for Pell grants), unsubsidized loans, or work-study programs. Other financial aid opportunities can come from the student’s state, such as South Dakota’s statewide scholarships bulletin, graduate fellowships, and graduate research assistantships.

Career Options for South Dakota Master’s Students

If you live in South Dakota and want to increase your take-home pay, what’s a common thing that society recommends? Going back to get more education. But is it worth pursuing online master’s programs in South Dakota?

Whether or not it’s “worth it” could be determined by a number of factors, the overriding one being the potential increase in pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those with a master’s degree in the United States earn an average of $200 more per week, or over $10,000 more per year, than those with a bachelor’s degree. Below we’ll discuss several careers (and their median salaries) that you could choose in South Dakota that either require or highly recommend getting a master’s degree.


Students interested in a statistics career should plan to work toward a master’s degree. Certain companies looking to hire a statistician might prefer applicants to hold a master’s degree in applied statistics or math. They may also look for candidates with a background in a specific industry like finance, biochemistry, or computer engineering.

SD Median Salary National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$59,500 30% MS in Mathematics or Statistics

Source: Salary.com, 2023; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Speech and Language Pathologist

Speech and language pathology master’s students have the opportunity to dive deeper into the many health conditions that can interfere with a person’s ability to swallow, communicate, or eat, including ailments that primarily affect children and diseases that are common among seniors. Their graduate program will also include lessons about how people who are unable to talk can express themselves via various alternative and augmentative communication devices.

SD Median Salary National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$80,649 19% MS in Speech Language Pathology

Source: Salary.com, 2023; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Nurse Anesthetist

Becoming a nurse anesthetist requires additional education past a Master of Science in Nursing degree. However, obtaining an MSN is an important step that must be taken before students can enter an MSN to CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) or DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program.

SD Median Salary National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$122,111 38% Master of Science in Nursing

Source: Salary.com, 2023; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021)


After receiving a bachelor’s degree in a related field and some epidemiology-related experience, students will need to go back to school since epidemiology-related professions often have a minimum requirement of a master’s degree. Students can pursue a range of online master’s degrees in SD that would qualify, though a master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology is most common.

SD Median Salary National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$94,166 27% Master of Public Health

Source: Salary.com, 2023; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021)


Once students earn their bachelor’s degree in a related field (data analytics, accounting, business management, etc.), they can enter the field and spend a couple of years getting work experience. The next step is pursuing a master’s degree or Ph.D. in Economics. In nearly every workplace environment, economists are expected to have this level of education.

SD Median Salary National Job Outlook Related Master’s Degree
$94,952 6% MS in Economics

Source: Indeed.com, 2023; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022