The Top Nursing Schools in South Dakota

February 24, 2022 , Updated on July 13, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Planning to attend nursing school in South Dakota? This guide can help you find the best schools, explains how to get licensed, and outlines typical salaries.

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The Top Nursing Schools in South Dakota
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Nurses are in great demand in South Dakota, and nursing schools in South Dakota have an above-average National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rate.

This guide can help you choose the right nursing program in South Dakota for your goals and background, explains how to get a license, and describes job and salary prospects.

The Best Nursing Schools in South Dakota

There are three fully approved nursing schools in South Dakota that offer an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and two more with interim approval. For a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), there are seven fully accredited nursing programs in South Dakota.

Our Methodology: We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best nursing schools in South Dakota, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

#1

Lake Area Technical College

School Information
Location Watertown, South Dakota
Graduation Rate 72%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Lake Area Technical Institute runs one of the best nursing schools in South Dakota. The school offers a licensed practical nurse (LPN) program that students can complete on campus or online. Learners can enroll full time or part time. The full-time track starts each August and takes 11 months to complete. The part-time track starts in January and takes 22 months to complete.

Degree-seekers learn how to care for many patient types, including pediatric, surgical, and geriatric patients. Graduates can enroll in LATI's registered nurse program, one of the best nursing programs in South Dakota.

  • Program: LPN
  • Campus: Watertown
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $124 per credit 
  • Admission Requirements: Complete ATI TEAS exam; minimum 2.5 GPA; and complete all prerequisite courses
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 11 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: No
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.72%
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#2

Mitchell Technical Institute

School Information
Location Mitchell, South Dakota
Graduation Rate 73%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Mitchell Technical Institute's licensed practical nurse (LPN) program focuses on the art and science of nursing. Learners can complete the program in 12 months.

Enrollees learn how to care for different patient types, including obstetrical, psychiatric, and geriatric patients. MTI does not require prerequisite classes to apply. Students complete these classes after they enroll.

  • Program: LPN
  • Campus: Watertown
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $124 per credit 
  • Admission Requirements: ACT score of 18 or above in all sections or ACCUPLACER equivalent; minimum 2.5 GPA; TEAS Exam composite score of 62% or higher
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
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#3

Mount Marty College

School Information
Location Yankton, South Dakota
Admission Rate 72%
Graduation Rate 56%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Nurses who want to advance their career can consider Mount Marty University's master of science in nursing (MSN) program. Enrollees can choose a family nurse practitioner (FNP) track or an FNP postgraduate certificate program.

Degree-seekers work in rural and underserved communities to provide care to those who need it most. The programs include online and on-campus classes.

  • Program: MSN
  • Campus: Watertown
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $635 per credit 
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in nursing from a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; minimum 3.0 GPA; current RN license with at least one year (two years preferred) of professional RN practice; three recommendation letters
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 6 semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $169,590
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#4

Sinte Gleska University

School Information
Location Mission, South Dakota
Graduation Rate 7%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission

Sinte Gleska University runs one of the best nursing schools in South Dakota. Learners can choose from many options, including an associate of applied science (AAS) in licensed practical nursing and a certificate of licensed practical nursing. SGU also offers certified nursing assistant and medication aide certification.

The AAS program includes practical clinicals. Students learn how to provide patient care from a holistic and deeply cultural approach. 

  • Program: AAS
  • Campus: Mission
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $1,320 per semester 
  • Admission Requirements: ACT score of 18 or higher or complete the Accuplacer Test; completed first year LPN prerequisite classes with a "B" average; minimum 3.0 GPA; and maintain a current CNA or medication aide license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 6 semesters
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
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#5

South Dakota State University

School Information
Location Brookings, South Dakota
Admission Rate 90%
Graduation Rate 56%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Ranked among the best nursing schools in South Dakota, South Dakota State University offers four postgraduate certificates in nursing. Students can pursue a clinical nurse leader, nurse educator, family nurse practitioner (FNP), or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) certificate. All programs run online except for the FNP program, which uses a hybrid format.

The FNP and PMHNP certificates let students with a master's or doctorate in nursing qualify for certification in their respective specialty.

  • Program: Postgraduate certificates in nursing
  • Campus: Brookings
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $340 per credit for in-state learners; $648 per credit for out-of-state learners
  • Admission Requirements: Current RN license; bachelor's or master's degree in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA from an accredited institution; and 1,500 hours of documented nursing practice experience before the first clinical course
  • Minimum Time Commitment: Varies by program
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.4%
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#6

University of South Dakota

School Information
Location Vermillion, South Dakota
Admission Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 59%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 50% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Students researching nursing programs in South Dakota can explore several options at the University of South Dakota. USD offers an on-campus bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), an on-campus LPN-to-BSN, and an online RN-to-BSN. 

Enrollees benefit from an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Small classes mean students receive personalized attention, mentoring, and advising. Degree-seekers must complete at least one year at USD before applying to the nursing program.

  • Program: BSN
  • Campus: Vermillion
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $7,773 for 30 credits for in-state learners; $11,283 for 30 credits for out-of-state learners
  • Admission Requirements: Students should contact an academic advisor for specific program requirements
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 120 hours 
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.8%
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $57,690
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#7

Dakota Wesleyan University

School Information
Location Mitchell, South Dakota
Admission Rate 67%
Graduation Rate 54%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Dakota Wesleyan University offers one of the best nursing programs in South Dakota. The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program includes classes like health concepts and pharmacology for nursing care.

DWU trains nurses in a liberal arts setting. Learners complete this 124-credit program on campus. The program takes four years to complete and prepares graduates for the NCLEX exam.

  • Program: BSN
  • Campus: Mitchell
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Tuition: $1,023 per credit 
  • Admission Requirements: ACT score of 19 or above or SAT score of 900 or above; minimum 2.7 GPA; 3.0 GPA in nursing prerequisite classes
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 4 years
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $57,600
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Featured Online Programs

How to Choose a Nursing Program in South Dakota

If you plan to attend nursing school in South Dakota, consider which degree you want (ADN or BSN) and the school's cost and your financial aid options. Also, consider the program quality and reputation, the NCLEX pass rate, school size, and the acceptance and graduation rates.

If you will be attending an online or hybrid nursing school in South Dakota, make sure you can get clinical placement for online nursing students in your own community.

This guide only lists accredited nursing programs, because of the high risks in attending an unaccredited program.

Why Become a Nurse in South Dakota

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects a shortage of 1,900 registered nurses (RNs) from 2014-2030 before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and demand is even higher now. Some employers offer signing bonuses of up to $40,000 for certain specialties.

Nursing school costs in South Dakota are below average as well. The University of South Dakota has one of the nation's lowest out-of-state rates for four-year public programs at $12,940.

In addition, South Dakota is a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, so once you graduate from nursing school in South Dakota, you can apply for a multistate license valid in any of the 37 participating states. The NCLEX-RN pass rate is 92.4%, well above the national average of 86.6%.

South Dakota is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, including Mount Rushmore and the legendary Black Hills and Badlands. If you want to work with under-served populations, South Dakota is home to two of the most impoverished Native American reservations. Nurses working in these areas are eligible for loan forgiveness or scholarships.

Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses in South Dakota

The cost of living in South Dakota is slightly above average, with an index of 101. In addition, South Dakota does not have a state income tax.

The average salary for RNs in South Dakota is $60,960, compared to $82,750 nationally. The average salary for nurse practitioners (NPs) is $103,080, compared to $118,040, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The BLS projects a 13.1% job growth rate from 2018-2028 for registered nurses, higher than the national average of 12.1%. NP jobs could see a 27.3% growth in South Dakota. While below the 28.2% national average job growth for NPs, this is still considerably above most job growth rates.

Highest-Paying Cities for Nurses in South Dakota

With the rise in remote work and employees looking for cities with high quality of life and lower costs of living, South Dakota's population is growing. In 2021, SmartAsset rated Sioux Falls as the best city for young professionals, driven by low rent, unemployment rates, and a high number of entertainment options.

If you like outdoor recreation and access to stunning scenery, you can find amazing hiking in Badlands National Park and the Black Hills, both within driving distance of bigger cities.

Highest-Paying Cities
Top Paying Metropolitan Areas Median Salary for RNs
Sioux Falls $61,770
Rapid City $61,540
Sioux City $60,160
Source: BLS

Steps to Becoming a Nurse in South Dakota

All states require registered nurses to have a degree from an accredited nursing school, a passing grade on the applicable national examination, and a criminal background check. Most require continuing education to renew a license, but South Dakota is one of the few that requires active employment as a nurse instead.

RN Requirements

To earn an RN license in South Dakota, you must graduate from an ADN or a BSN program, pass the NCLEX-RN examination, and complete a criminal background check with fingerprinting.

If you attended a nursing program in South Dakota, the state board of nursing will automatically receive your transcripts. Otherwise, you must have an official copy sent. The application fee is $100, and you can pay $25 for a temporary license if you have submitted all paperwork and completed a background check.

APRN Requirements

For an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) license, you need an active and unencumbered South Dakota or multistate RN license, an accredited master of science in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice degree, board certification in your specialty, and complete a background check. The South Dakota nursing board requires NPs to have a minimum of 1,040 hours of practice as an NP or to work in collaboration with a licensed physician or NP. The fee is $100.

Other Top Nursing Programs and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in South Dakota


How much do nurses make in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, the average salary for RNs is $60,960, and for NPs it's $103,080. According to Indeed.com as of April 2022, nurses with less than one year of experience make an average of $167,380 annually. Nurses with more than 10 years of experience earn $218,760.

Are nurses in demand in South Dakota?

Nurses are in very high demand in South Dakota, and demand continues to rise. Even before COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projected a shortage of 1,900 nurses from 2014-2030. Some employers now offer high signing bonuses and employ travel nurses.

How long does it take to become an RN in South Dakota?

It takes two years to earn an ADN and four years for a BSN degree. The state board of nursing processes completed applications in about 10 working days. You can receive a temporary license once your application and criminal background check are completed.

How do I get a nursing license in South Dakota?

You must have an ADN or a BSN from an accredited nursing school in South Dakota or another state, pass the NCLEX-RN examination, and complete a criminal background check. If you have a multistate license, you are eligible to practice in South Dakota, since it is an NLC state.

Find Nursing Programs in Other States

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NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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