2021 Best Colleges in South Dakota by Salary Score
We ranked schools in South Dakota by Salary Score, a measure of median alumni salaries. Salary Score indicates whether alumni from one school tend to have higher salaries than alumni from the same major at other schools. We compared the median alumni salary in the first year after completing a bachelor's program at one college to the salaries for the same program at other schools, and compiled program-specific scores to create an overall Salary Score. Two schools on our list—including the top-ranked Augustana University - SD—are located in Sioux Falls. Further, the top two schools have higher salary scores than the median for all U.S. colleges.
To be considered for our state rankings, schools must offer and provide data for at least 8 bachelor's programs. This list includes all eligible schools in South Dakota. You can click on a school's name to view individual program scores. Read our methodology to learn more about how schools were ranked.
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2021 Best Colleges in South Dakota Highlights
Augustana University - SD’s top scoring field of study is political science and government, with a Salary Score of 90. Bachelor's degrees in this field have the second highest median salary, with alumni reporting an average salary of $44,380 in the year after graduation. Augustana's nursing program is the school's highest earning, with a median salary of $58,570. Two of the education programs also have high Salary Scores: teacher education and professional development has a score of 73, and health and physical education scores an 88.
Augustana University - SD is a small, private university that is affiliated with the Lutheran church. The campus is located in the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in close proximity to shops and businesses, as well as parks and bike trails. Augustana is a test-optional school, and students interested in applying can submit an application online free of charge. Merit, talent, and/or need-based financial aid is provided to all full-time students. Scholarships include the Alumni Legacy Award, Diversity Scholarship, and South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship. In 2020, 97% of Augustana graduates found employment in their chosen field.
With a Salary Score of 99, the top undergraduate field at South Dakota State University (SDSU) is animal sciences. Four additional programs also have scores in the 90s: health and physical education/fitness (98), history (94), plant sciences (94), and wildlife and wildlands science and management (94). The field with the highest median salary is electrical, electronics and communications engineering. Alumni from this program, which scores an 88, report a median salary of $80,630. With a Salary Score of 85, graduates of the business administration, management and operations program report a median salary of $52,110.
Located in Brookings, South Dakota, SDSU is the largest university in the state. It is a public institution with approximately 9,900 undergraduate students. SDSU students interested in studying abroad can participate in one of the exchange programs offered through Education Abroad. Partnerships with schools in Sweden, France, the UK, and Canada allow students to spend a semester or a full academic year at the host school of their choice. The school also offers sophomore students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills through LeadState, a semester-long program geared toward social change, service, and strengths assessment. The program includes workshops, one-on-one coaching, and a LeadState retreat.
The highest scoring bachelor’s program at Northern State University (NSU) is general biology, which has a Salary Score of 88. Health and physical education/fitness programs are tied with teacher education and professional development programs for the second highest score, at 80 points each. Accounting majors report the highest median salary of $43,430, followed closely by finance and financial management services majors with a median salary of $41,010.
With approximately 1,450 undergraduate students, NSU is a small, public institution with its campus located in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The school's WolfPACT scholarship offers award amounts up to $12,000. The scholarships are available to all first-year students and are based on ACT/SAT scores and high school GPA. The construction and opening of the Jewett Regional Science Education Center in 2019 led to a 54% increase in the number of chemistry and biology majors. The center offers students advanced equipment for educational and research purposes, including a cadaver lab, GIS lab, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, and a greenhouse.