South Dakota State University Review

South Dakota State University offers affordable graduate programs in educational administration and curriculum studies, but those are the only two online graduate education degrees you'll find from the 130-year-old public university.

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The Good

Low tuition rates

With tuition rates of only $400 per credit, the South Dakota State University (SDSU) online graduate education program ranks as the most affordable option among the nation’s best programs. In addition to low tuition rates, SDSU also has a top three overall national ranking in U.S. News and World Report’s most recent survey of online graduate education programs. While there are a handful of quality online programs that charge less than $500 per credit, no other school has the combination of affordability and reputation that South Dakota State University offers.

Experienced online faculty

If the quality of online instruction is a key factor in your search, South Dakota State University should rank high on your list of schools to consider. In fact, SDSU’s online education faculty is a big reason for the school’s strong national reputation as a quality online degree option. As a whole, the online education faculty earned a top 20 ranking from the U.S. News and World Report, which is an exceptional performance for a group of instructors that serves an online student body of fewer than 100 students. On average, SDSU graduate education instructors have eight years of experience teaching distance education courses online. Most other top online programs report teaching experience averages between two and six years.

Great student retention rates

In recent years, South Dakota State University has reported first-year student retention rates exceeding 95%, which is the best in the country. This statistic measures the rate at which first-year students return to enroll in their second year of studies. Making sure that first-year students stay on course toward a degree is a big challenge for online programs of all kinds. Programs with high student retention rates tend to be those that employ experienced instructors and produce engaging courses that challenge and excite students.

No standardized test scores required

If you dread the thought of taking a graduate admissions exam such as the GRE or the GMAT, you’ll be happy to hear that South Dakota State University is one of the few top online graduate education programs that doesn’t accept test scores for admissions purposes. Rather, SDSU relies solely on your academic record, your resume, a personal statement, and letters of professional reference, to make admissions decisions.

The Bad

Only two degree options available

South Dakota State University only offers two graduate education degrees online, though there is some subject flexibility within the degree requirements. The first degree program, in curriculum and instruction, is designed to provide professional development and instructional training to educators of all kinds. Students can choose to specialize in adult education, career and technical education, elementary education, or secondary education. There is also a program option for students who want to teach English as a second language. The second degree program, educational administration, is designed for experienced classroom teachers who want to move into administrative roles. Students can choose to specialize in either elementary or secondary education. Many graduates of this program go on to work as principals in public and private schools.

The Details

General Information

  • Academic Year Founded: 2011 - 2012
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Application Fee: $35
  • Location: SD
  • Number of Graduate Education Programs: 2
  • Region: Midwest
  • School Type: Public
  • Term Schedule: Semester

Tuition Rates (per credit)

  • In-State: $400
  • Out-of-State: $400


  • Degrees: Educational Administration (M.Ed), Curriculum & Instruction (M.Ed)


  • Certificates: N/A

Class Profile

  • Acceptance Rate: 93%
  • Average Student Age: 32
  • Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.50
  • Avg. GRE Analytical Writing: N/A
  • Avg. GRE Quantitative: N/A
  • Avg. GRE Verbal: N/A
  • Gender Ratio: 63.3% female, 36.7% male
  • Maximum Class Size: 15
  • Total Enrollment: 90


  • Average Online Teaching Experience: 8 Years
  • Full-Time Instructional Faculty: 10
  • Part-Time Instructional Faculty: 4

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2009-2010): N/A
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2010-2011): 98%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2011-2012): 98%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2012-2013): 98%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2009-2010): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2010-2011): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2011-2012): N/A
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2012-2013): N/A

U.S. News Rankings

  • Admissions Selectivity Rank: 32
  • Admissions Selectivity Score: 59/100
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Rank: 19
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Score: 87/100
  • Student Engagement Rank: 12
  • Student Engagement Score: 89/100
  • Student Services and Technology Rank: 35
  • Student Services and Technology Score: 58/100

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