The majority of South Dakota’s 870,000 inhabitants reside near the southeastern counties in major cities like Sioux Falls. Despite these modest numbers, South Dakota’s population grew at a higher rate than the national average, contributing to the statewide growth in enrollment rates at South Dakota’s colleges and universities. The rate at which distance learners fill online courses in South Dakota follows this trend. Colleges in the state aim to expand their online and distance learning offerings to accommodate this growing interest, particularly for adult learners seeking graduate degrees.

Students living in South Dakota can take advantage of competitive tuition rates at online MBA programs in the state. Some schools offer cheaper tuition rates for distance learning credits, and others offer special rates for in-state students attending online programs. Online learning provides students with the flexibility to complete coursework anywhere at an accelerated pace. This helps them complete their degree with less hassle and in less time than a traditional, on-campus program.

Students should determine how close they live to their online school’s geographical location, as some programs include on-campus coursework. Online MBA programs in South Dakota are based in both rural and urban settings, so students should keep travel distance and costs in mind for these programs.

South Dakota online MBA programs may have varying admission requirements, including GMAT scores. Some programs offer a waiver for the GMAT, while others require that official scores be included in the application.

Percentage of Students Enrolled by Distance Education
Percentage of students enrolled at Title IV institutions in South Dakota, by distance education enrollment status, Fall 2012

MBA Concentrations for South Dakota Students

Students earning their MBA in South Dakota may want to concentrate in either agriculture or manufacturing, two of the largest industries in the state. While students in online MBA programs in South Dakota can choose any available concentration, the concentrations listed in the table below are especially attractive to South Dakota residents.


  • Operations and Supply Chain Management: Students in this concentration focus on skills in areas like logistics, waste elimination, and quality control. This concentration prepares students for jobs in industries like manufacturing and working in global markets.
  • Business Analytics: The business analytics concentration emphasizes the use and analysis of data to make businesses run efficiently. Students gain skills in science and technology, management, marketing, sales, and finance.

Accreditation in South Dakota

Accrediting agencies exist to make sure institutions of higher learning meet academic standards. South Dakota’s universities and colleges are regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Regional accreditation differs from national accreditation in terms of the transfer credits. Students who earn from one school hoping to matriculate to a different school should keep accreditation in mind. While regional accreditation fosters inter-regional matriculation and national matriculation, national accreditation is often not accepted by regional accreditors.

Students should determine which courses transfer to which institutions, keeping in mind that national accreditation tends to focus on vocational and technical studies. Generally, online MBA programs in South Dakota are optimal when they are regionally accredited.

The unemployment rate in South Dakota is currently lower than the national average. In 2016, the US Department of Commerce named South Dakota the fastest growing economy among U.S. states. While agriculture serves as the state’s largest industry, retail and manufacturing likewise contribute to the state’s economic growth. Recent MBA graduates entering South Dakota’s workforce should expect a promising economic environment.

South Dakota’s largest industries include health, retail, and manufacturing. Graduates of online MBA programs in South Dakota will have an advantage in these growing and thriving industries. Notably, the Sioux Falls metropolitan area boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the state. The table below shows South Dakota companies with the most employees.

Top Employers in South Dakota

Company Industry Headquarters City Number of Employees
Shaw Industries Manufacturing Sioux Falls 30,000
Sanford USD Medical Center Healthcare Sioux Falls 4,958

Generally speaking, earning a higher academic credential like an MBA results in a higher salary. Employees holding an MBA tend to hold management and leadership positions. Online MBA programs prepare students for roles in all kinds of businesses and industries. The table below compares the average salary for those who hold different degrees in the state of South Dakota.

Average Salary by Degree

Careers for MBAs in South Dakota


These professionals work in a similar capacity to business managers, Their primary roles include staffing, recordkeeping, and coordinating different support services. They also manage the productivity and assignments of their own staff. Employment for administrative managers is expected to grow.

Compensation and Benefit Managers

These managers arrange and maintain the compensation and benefits of employees at companies, including things like insurance plans and workman’s compensation. With a high average median salary of $118,000, this career area is expected to grow.

Financial Managers

Considering South Dakota’s financial sector growth rate, MBA graduates should consider a career in financial management. These professionals manage finances and investments for private clients and/or large corporations and businesses by establishing financial plans, goals, and strategies.

Industrial Production Managers

South Dakota’s manufacturing industry is one of the largest in the state, and the skills emphasized in online MBA programs are ideal for anyone entering the manufacturing field. These managers oversee daily processes in large factories and plants.


Advanced degree holders in business often become executives and board members within large businesses and corporations. Executives earn generous salaries and are in charge of coordinating and directing all of a company’s activities and production.

The list of online MBAs included in this page are all accredited programs offered by schools in South Dakota.

Rank School Location Cost Toggle Logo Tuition % Receiving Financial Aid Student Population School Type Description

Dakota State University

Location Madison, SD Tuition Tuition $15,984 % Receiving Financial Aid 43% Student Population 3,145 School Type Public View School Profile

Dakota Wesleyan University

Location Mitchell, SD Tuition Tuition $14,400 % Receiving Financial Aid 78% Student Population 991 School Type Private View School Profile

University of Sioux Falls

Location Sioux Falls, SD Tuition Tuition $13,680 % Receiving Financial Aid 72% Student Population 1,482 School Type Private
View School Profile

University of South Dakota

Location Vermillion, SD Tuition Tuition $12,111 % Receiving Financial Aid 57% Student Population 9,971 School Type Public
View School Profile

National American University

Location Rapid City, SD Tuition Tuition $22,530 % Receiving Financial Aid 8% Student Population 1,298 School Type Private
View School Profile

There are many important considerations to make before settling on an online MBA program in South Dakota. These include factors discussed above like cost, accreditation, and available specializations. The following list includes some key steps to follow during the program research process for MBA options in any state.

  • Compare student outcomes data

    Student outcomes include graduation rate, year-to-year retention rate, the average debt for a graduate from that school, and overall student satisfaction with their degree program. Student outcomes do not guarantee you will be satisfied with a particular program, but can be useful for pinpointing a school’s strengths and weaknesses.

  • Estimate the expected costs of your programs

    Virtually every accredited college or university posts tuition rates online. Additionally, you should research other college-related costs like living accommodations and meal plans (if you plan to live on-campus), administrative fees, and technology fees (for online students). You should also look into scholarships, grants, and other forms of institutional financial aid that can offset some of the costs.

  • Check that classes will fit in with your schedule

    Scheduling is critical for students with other important commitments, such as childcare or full-time employment. Many online programs are asynchronous, or self-paced; students in these tracks are free to complete course requirements on their own schedule. Synchronous programs, on the other hand, require weekly online meetings with teachers and fellow students.

  • Look for partnerships with local businesses

    A large number of online MBA programs include internship and/or capstone practicum requirements ― and in many cases, students are able to gain on-the-job training and real-world office experience. You should look into the school’s business partnerships, particularly in regard to the industry you plan to enter after earning your MBA.

  • Make sure the program is accredited

    Accreditation status should always be available and easily accessible on a school’s website. In addition to regional or national accreditation, some MBA pathways receive programmatic accreditation. Recognized programmatic accreditors for MBA programs include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the International Accreditation Counsel for Business Education (IACBE).

  • Talk to current students and/or recent alumni

    You should contact the alumni office at each school you are considering and ask to be connected with former students. These individuals can be good sources of information about education costs, life on- and off-campus, local business tips, and other important details for aspiring MBA students.