South Dakota is in desperate need of nurses — so desperate that the state has one of the highest largest gaps between available nurses and job openings, with a projected sky-high demand of 13,600 registered nurses in 2030. So, if you’re motivated to make a genuine difference in the lives of others, all while helping a state in dire need, keep reading: We’ve compiled a list of the best nursing schools in South Dakota, ranking for factors like affordability, accreditation, program flexibility, curriculum quality, and student support services.
Which nursing program in South Dakota should you choose? Consider these top programs going into 2024:
|Students w/Institutional Aid
|Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry
|South Dakota State UniversityBrookings, SD
The nursing program at South Dakota State University is all about options. SDSU takes pride in offering a program for every career track. The school hosts online nursing degrees at every level including multiple BSN tracks, four MSN specialties, three doctoral programs, and five post graduate certificates. This range allows students in any track to benefit from a wide-ranging, holistic curriculum and study with educators across specialties.
RN to BSN
Popular Nursing Programs in South Dakota
Below, we’ve spotlighted an accredited nursing school in SD that offers academic excellence, engaged faculty, and program flexibility. This popular program will give you an idea of what other students look for when choosing a nursing program.
Located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Augustana University is a private institution and the only university in South Dakota to earn a Holistic Nursing Program endorsement by the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation.
The program reports pass rates on the NCLEX exam — the test nursing graduates must pass to be licensed as a registered nurse — that is consistently higher than the state average. The university also offers part-time study plans, which allow nurses to work while completing their degrees. A two-year MSN program is offered, as well as a 15-month accelerated track. Nursing students have weekly clinical experiences and learn in an advanced simulation center. One of the most distinctive offerings in Augustana’s nursing program is the ability to study abroad in Norway, Ecuador, or Greece.
Augustana University’s professional nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Types of Nursing Programs Available in South Dakota
No matter where you are in your nursing career, you’ll have accredited nursing programs available to you in South Dakota, allowing you to boost your credentials and expand your knowledge. Program options range from bachelor’s to doctoral degrees — and everything in between. Take a look at the following overview of options for nursing programs in South Dakota and the schools that offer them.
Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in South Dakota
Nursing Bridge Programs in South Dakota for Current Nurses
Advanced Nursing Programs in South Dakota
Inside Look at Online Nursing Programs in South Dakota
Perhaps you’re looking to continue working as a nurse while also advancing your career by pursuing a degree. If so, one of the many online nursing programs in South Dakota may be an option for you. These programs feature more flexible, convenient learning environments, and most are considered a hybrid format — with some classes available online and some requiring in-person attendance.
Classes can either be offered asynchronously — meaning students complete coursework at their convenience — or synchronously, meaning students are expected to log in at a scheduled time to attend class. Because of the flexibility characteristic of online learning, students typically take classes year-round without lengthy breaks like those sometimes featured in traditional on-campus programs.
Most nursing programs in South Dakota require students to complete a certain number of clinical hours. Students must typically travel to a nearby hospital or medical facility to complete their clinical requirements. This is typically done in coordination with the school and may require periodic on-campus visits.
University of South Dakota
At the University of South Dakota, students can pursue three online nursing degrees:
- RN to BSN is delivered online with two different plans of study, allowing for maximum flexibility for working professionals.
- MSN specializing in nursing informatics and e-health positions is an online option, encouraging students to use data, information systems, and healthcare technologies to improve patient outcomes.
- DNP specializing in organizational and system leadership can be earned online, a degree that develops leadership skills at the organizational and systems level. This program prepares nurses for administration, executive leadership, and academic faculty roles.
Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in South Dakota
Now that you’ve learned about the various nursing programs in South Dakota, the natural next question is: How will you afford this? The bottom line is that you can and should take advantage of all the financial aid and scholarship opportunities you have available to you.
Regarding scholarships, you’ll want to explore South Dakota’s nursing-specific grants and awards. For example, the SD Nurses Foundation offers three scholarships each year, ranging from $1,000 to $1,500, for nursing students at every educational level. National organizations like Daughters of the American Revolution also sponsor nursing scholarships between $2,500 and $5,000. To review other nursing-specific scholarships, check out this comprehensive guide.
Continue your funding search by considering employers that may offer tuition reimbursement, and browse this financial aid guide for other valuable ideas.
How to Become an RN in South Dakota: Licensing Information and Requirements
Becoming an RN in South Dakota is similar to the process for other states, but do keep in mind that each state has a unique set of licensing requirements. So be sure to check out the South Dakota Board of Nursing to better understand what goes into obtaining your RN license. South Dakota is a member of the nurse licensure compact with three of its border states: North Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. A nurse with a multistate license issued in South Dakota also has the ability to practice in other compact states remotely.
The steps below give you a high-level overview of the requirements in South Dakota.
Step #1: Complete a state-approved nursing program.
Complete an accredited and state-approved pre-RN licensure program. Ensuring that you are enrolled in an accredited school will help you avoid any potential issues once you have completed your degree. Once you’ve received the educational and clinical requirements in South Dakota, you’ll be ready to move forward with getting your RN license.
Step #2: Submit the application and required materials.
The South Dakota application process involves submitting fees and materials to three separate agencies/organizations. The application fee is $100. The examination fee is $200 and must be sent to the testing company, and the candidate must submit fingerprint cards. The cards should be sent to the Board, but make the $43.25 check payable to the South Dakota DCI.
Step #3: Take the NCLEX-RN exam.
You can schedule the exam once you receive the Authorization to Test (ATT) email. The ATT grants a 90-day window to take the NCLEX-RN exam, and you can expect NCLEX results within about 10 days. A candidate who fails the NCLEX-RN will be asked to submit a retake application along with a $100 fee. A candidate who needs to retake the exam will also receive diagnostic information to help them prepare for the next attempt.
Step #4: Keep your license current/renew as needed.
To renew your license, you must have 140 hours of practice within a 12-month period related to the practice of nursing. You can renew your license by taking an RN refresher course, which consists of 80 hours of supervised clinical practice. You must also submit proof that you have completed continuing education courses. The non-refundable fee for a renewal is $90, and you can renew your license online or in person.
Nursing Opportunities: RN Job Outlook in South Dakota
Nurses in South Dakota are projected to be in high demand over the next decade. The job growth rate is estimated at 12%, nearly on par with the national average of 12.1%. However, because of the number of nurses who will be retiring and the increasing demand for nurses in rural areas, South Dakota is ranked nationally as the No. 3 state in terms of a need for nurses by 2030. All of this translates to a hot job market for educated nurses in the state.
Employment Projections for RNs in South Dakota
Source: Projections Central
RN Pay Scale in South Dakota: How Much You Could Earn
While the nursing job market is projected to continue its climb through 2030, salaries in South Dakota do lag behind the national average. However, the cost of living is 1.11 times less expensive than the average in the United States. One way to increase your salary as an RN in South Dakota is to earn an advanced degree, which can also open your career to new opportunities. Suppose you’re a registered nurse in South Dakota. In that case, you’ll also benefit from great employment opportunities in the surrounding states due to the nurse licensure compact with North Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska.
Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in South Dakota
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021