University of South Dakota


For students looking for a learning environment in a peaceful, rural setting free of big-city distractions and temptations, the University of South Dakota fits the bill. Although it’s located in small-town South Dakota, the university offers a comprehensive slate of academic offerings that give students a wide range of majors to choose and re-choose as they seek their direction in life.


Information Summary

Ranks 5th in South Dakota and 543rd overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 86.0
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $22,856
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 25 / 1260
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 15 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 77% / 50%
Enrollment Total (all students) 10,066


The University of South Dakota is the flagship university of the state, offering a solid education at a very affordable price. Commonly referred to as The U, by students, the university is also the state’s oldest university, giving the university and its programs lots of clout in academic circles. The university is second in size only to South Dakota State University in the state.

The University of South Dakota offers 132 undergraduate and 62 graduate programs, awarding degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, as well as awarding law degrees. The university’s doctoral programs are well-regarded.

The college’s programs are divided into eight colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Beacom School of Business, the School of Education, the College of Fine Arts, the School of Health Sciences, the School of Law and the Sanford School of Medicine and the Graduate School.

The most popular majors at the university induce business-related majors, education, health-related majors, psychology and social services. The University of South Dakota also has a very well-regarded media and journalism program, which operates a television and radio station, has an award-winning student newspaper and is also home to South Dakota Public Broadcasting, a network of public radio and television stations in the state.

The university also has a well-regarded political science department, and the legacy of university professor emeritus Dr. William O. Farber is evident there. Farber was known for his public service and support of students, and had several famous proteges, including Tom Brokaw, Al Neuharth, and Pat O’Brien.

The university is also the site of the state’s only law and medical schools.

The university is actively involved in research. The school pursues a broad range of research including research in the humanities and medical science. For example, the university’s Department of Physics recently received a $3 million grant to study germanium crystal growth as a means to understanding energy and matter. The medical school recently received a $700,000 grant for brain imaging and behavioral study of returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, which accredits colleges and universities in the states of Alaska, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Washington. The commission accredits more than 150 colleges and universities in this region.

U.S News and World Report ranks the university among the best national universities in the country and it is in the top 100 of the publications list of medical schools, with high marks going to its rural medicine and occupational therapy programs. The Princeton Review acknowledged the university as having one of the nation’s best business schools.

Most Popular Fields of Study


building :: University of South Dakota
campus :: University of South Dakota


The University of South Dakota has a rolling admission deadline for new students, meaning that the university accepts and reviews applications throughout the year. However, the sooner you submit an application the better for purposes of scholarship eligibility. SAT scores must be submitted by Aug. 9, however.

The university has a selective admissions policy. New students must have an ACT score of 21 or above; or score 990 or higher on the SAT score, have a 2.6 high school GPA, and have a C average or better on core academic subjects in high school and must rank in the top 50 percent of their graduating class. GED students must have satisfactory scores on their GED exam and meet other criteria specified by the university to obtain acceptance.

About 80 percent of students who apply to the university are accepted.

As of April 2011, the university had an application fee of $20.

Financial Aid

Students applying to the University of South Dakota are eligible for federal grants and student loans. There are also a number of grants and scholarships offered by the state of South Dakota, the university and other organizations that students may be eligible for.

The University annually awards about $5.3 million in scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students.

For example, the University offers a Coyote Commitment Scholarship worth up to $3,000 per year for four years. Students must keep a 3.0 GPA to retain the scholarship. Coyote Commitment scholarships of differing amounts are also available. Other key scholarships are the George S. Mickelson Scholarships and Presidential Alumni Scholarships. George S. Mickelson Scholarships are worth $40,000 over four years. Recipients must by South Dakota residents and maintain a 3.5 GPA. Presidential Alumni Scholarships are worth $28,000 over a four year period. Recipients must also maintain a 3.5 GPA.

Nearly 90 percent of students at the University of South Dakota receive financial aid of some sort.

The university’s office of financial also stands ready to help students find other grants and scholarships they may be eligible for.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 2998th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in South Dakota.


The University of South Dakota’s bucolic setting in a farming town of 10,000 probably doesn’t recommend it to students seeking an urban college experience. However, for students who like the quiet life and are serious about their studies, the university offers the lifestyle they prefer.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to do on campus, however. The $15 million wellness center recently opened includes a variety of activities, including a gym, extensive climbing wall and multiple courts for basketball and volleyball, along with a jogging track.

The university also recently opened a new student center, which houses a variety of shops, eateries and lounge areas.

Students attending the university must spend their freshman and sophomore years on campus. The small size of on-campus quarters are a frequent complaint of students. Off-campus housing is plentiful, and most upperclassmen take advantage of it.

Vermilion, South Dakota, home of the university, is also home to the National Music Museum and a very fine golf course called The Bluffs.

The nearest major urban center is Sioux Falls, about 55 miles away. Many students visit there for entertainment and cultural opportunities more readily available in larger cities.

Club sports are very popular on campus, and the college’s hockey teams are becoming increasingly popular. The University of South Dakota also offers more than 100 clubs and organizations, including traditional service, academic and professional organizations and special interest groups like the Vermilion Vegetarians.

There are nine Greek fraternities and four sororities on campus.

The university is currently undertaking a $7.6 million renovation of Slagle Auditorium. The auditorium has been the site of many concerts and other events, including a 2011 performance of Grammy-nominated group OneRepublic.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


The University of South Dakota is an NCAA Division I school (recently joined) and is a member of the Great West Conference. The university is in the process of joining the Summit League and Missouri Valley Football Conference. This is an eagerly awaited move as it will allow the resumption of the university’s rivalry with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

The university offers men’s football, basketball, swimming and diving, cross country, track and field, and golf. The university offers women’s basketball, swimming and diving, cross country, track and field, golf, softball, tennis, volleyball and soccer.

The football team reached the NCAA Division II playoffs in 2006, but has struggled in recent years since becoming a Division I school.

The university’s men’s basketball team fell short of defending their Great West Conference Championship in 2011, losing to North Dakota 77-76. The women’s basketball team has been a strong contender in the GWC.

The University of South Dakota teams are nicknamed the Coyotes. School colors are vermillion and white.


With more than 150 years of history, the university has developed several traditions unique to the school, which help students and alumni identify as part of the University of South Dakota family.

The biggest annual event on campus is Dakota Days, the homecoming event for the university which lasts about a week. Many campus events take place that week, leading up to the Saturday football game.

Fight Night is a Greek-sponsored event in which the TKE fraternity sets up a wrestling ring for athletic competition.

USDefrost is an annual week-long festival intended to liven up the winter campus. Events include a frog jump, bonfire and others. For students homesick for more temperate climes, the annual event can take a little of the misery out of the cold South Dakota winters.

University of South Dakota students typically wear red on game days and every Friday.

Additional School Information

The University was founded in 1862 by an act of the Dakota Territorial Legislature, so it actually pre-dates the state of South Dakota.

Famous alumni include former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, USA Today founder Al Neuharth, Emmy Award winner Dorothy Cooper Foote, former NFL linebacker Matt Chatham, South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard and several other former South Dakota governors, senators and state representatives.


  • The College Board College Handbook, 2010 . 47th ed. New York: College Board, 2009. Print.
  • McGrath, Anne. Ultimate college guide 2010 . 7th ed. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks Inc., 2009. Print.
  • “University of South Dakota Information, Academics, Admissions, Financial Aid, Students, Athletics, Alumni, History, Campus, Students, Faculty, Address, and Tuition – a profile.” Online University Degree Search – U.S. University

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