The Best Nursing Schools in South Dakota

South Dakota, located in the Midwestern part of the U.S., is a state with great opportunities for the nursing profession because of the great demand for health care arising from an increasing and aging population. Currently, South Dakota has in its employ more than 11,000 registered nurses which is way below the ideal number needed by the state. The top employers of nurses in South Dakota, which include Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, Rapid City Regional Hospital, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, Sanford USD Medical Center, and Avera Saint Luke’s Hospital, are constantly in need of more nurses to fill up their needs.

High school graduates and degree holders from nun-nursing fields who want to go into the nursing profession can avail of the assistance provided by the South Dakota state government and other organizations that encourage to students to enroll in-state instead of opting schools outside of South Dakota. Scholarships and financial aids are available to students who will enroll in-state.

Students who will enter the nursing field have options to choose from different topnotch schools in South Dakota.


1.  South Dakota State University

South Dakota State University in Brookings is the largest university in the state of South Dakota.  This land-grant university has academic programs that are focused to agriculture, liberal arts, engineering, pharmacy, and nursing. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a research university with high research activity. SDSU is administered by the South Dakota Board of Regents.

SDSU started as the Dakota Agricultural College on February 21, 1881. The college’s first building was funded by the territorial legislature six years before the formation of the State of South Dakota. The college was renamed in 1904 as the South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.  To reflect its more comprehensive academic offerings, the school was changed to South Dakota State University in 1964.

SDSU established its nursing program in 1956. The College of Nursing offers a program that combines lecture and hands-on experience in preparing its students to acquire the professionalism and expertise for helping others. To this end, the college adopted a lecture curriculum that included the concepts of client, environment, health, and nursing.

The SDSU College of Nursing offers the following nursing degree programs:

Undergraduate Nursing – Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students have the following options:

  • Standard Bachelor of Science in Nursing option
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing option for students with non-nursing bachelor’s degree
  • Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing option for Registered Nurses who want to pursue the BSN degree
  • A Health Science minor

Graduate Nursing – The Department of Graduate Nursing can earn a Master of Science degree in three specializations: Family Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nursing Leadership, and Nurse Educator.

Doctoral Nursing – The College of Nursing offers the program Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with specialization in Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse.

The undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral degrees in nursing offered by the SDSU College of Nursing are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

College of Nursing classes are offered face-to-face or online in their campuses in Brookings, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls. Information about enrollment and requirements may be addressed to:

Roberta K. Olson, Dean

SNF 255, 605-688-5178 or

1-888-216-9806, Ext. 2

Box 2275, Brookings, SD 57007-0098



2.  Dakota Wesleyan University

Dakota Wesleyan University, an affiliate of the United Methodist Church, was established in Mitchell, South Dakota in 1885 after a group of Methodist settlers in the Dakota Territory chartered a college initially named Dakota University. The pioneering settlers decided to “build a college of stone while living in houses of sod” arising from their religious convictions on their children’s future and education. The institution was renamed on October 14, 1904 as the Dakota Wesleyan University.

During the Great Depression, the university enrolled students with no resources. The university and its staff banded together in providing education to students who could not afford it. Some students paid with farm produce for their tuition. The people of the town, the Methodist church members, and the faculty sustained the operation of the university in those trying days.

The university continued to be responsive to the needs of the region. A strong education program provided teachers for the region’s school children.  The university’s nursing and health programs addressed the health care needs of the prairie environment.

The Arlene Gates Department of Nursing

The Dakota Wesleyan University’s Arlene Gates Department of Nursing aims to train its students for a career in nursing that is based on religious values. The department is part of the Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center. It has simulation rooms that let students take part in real-life health care situations.

The Arlene Gates Department of Nursing offers the following academic programs:

  • Associate Degree LPN  to RN program in the Sioux Falls campus
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Mitchell
  • Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing with an online nursing component

The nursing programs at the Dakota Wesleyan University Arlene Gates Department of Nursing are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and are approved by the South Dakota Board of Nursing.

Information about the nursing program may be obtained from:

Dan Bonte

Coordinator of Undergraduate Admissions

Dakota Wesleyan University

1200 W. University Ave.

Mitchell, SD 57301

Telephone: 605-995-2654

Fax: 605-995-2699



Dakota Wesleyan University Admissions

605-995-2650 or 1-800-333-8506


3.  National American University

The National American University is owned and operated for profit by the National American University Holdings, Inc. The publicly-traded company has its headquarters in Rapid City, South Dakota. The university has multiple campuses in the country and also maintains its online division. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

National American University started as National College of Business, a secretarial school established by Clarence Jacobson in 1943 in downtown Rapid City. The school was acquired by the family of Harold D. Buckingham in 1962. The school was granted accreditation as junior college by the Accrediting Commission of the Association of Independent Colleges and Schools in 1966. It earned in 1985 an accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. National College of Business’ name was changed to National American University in 1997.

School of Nursing

The School of Nursing of the National American University in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota offers the following programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Online Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Information about the National American University School of Nursing may be obtained from:

National American University

5601 US-16

Rapid City, SD 57701

Telephone: (605) 394-4800


4.  Augustana College

Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is a liberal arts college run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is the largest South Dakota private university.  It started as The Lutheran Normal School that aimed to provide teacher education.  The merger of The Lutheran Normal School and the Augustana College of Canton produced the current Augustana College. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degrees with more than 50 majors and numerous pre-professional academic programs such as nursing.

The nursing program at Augustana College Sioux Falls belongs to the top 5 nursing schools in South Dakota and is ranked 503rd in the nation.  Being a private institution of learning, tuition at Augustana College is expensive at $30,000 a year. The college offers the following nursing programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master’s degree in Public Health and Community Nursing

Information about the nursing programs may be obtained from:

Augustana College Sioux Falls

2001 S Summit Ave

Sioux Falls, SD 57197-0001

Phone: (605) 274-0770



5.  Mount Marty College

Mount Marty College is a Catholic co-educational institute of higher learning.  It was founded along the Benedictine tradition by the Sisters of Saint Benedict of Yankton, South Dakota in 1936. It was named to commemorate Martin Marty, a missionary who came to evangelize the Indians in the Dakota Territory in 1876 and became its first Bishop.

The college initially served as junior college catering only to women. It became coeducational in 1969 and started offering degree programs in 1975. It started offering its Master of Science degree in 1983 and the Master of Arts degree in 1999.

The Mount Marty College nursing program aims to provide an integrated education based on the Benedictine liberal arts setting that promotes a holistic and practical approach to the nursing profession.

Mount Marty College offers the following nursing programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • LPN and ADN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
  • Master of Science in Nursing

The Mount Marty College nursing program is approved by the South Dakota Board of Nursing and is accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education.

Mount Marty College

1105 West 8th Street

Yankton, SD 57078-3725

Phone 🙁 605) 668-1511

Toll-Free: 855-MT-MARTY

Fax: (605) 668-1508






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