South Dakota State University


South Dakota State University (SDSU) was founded in 1881 as a land-grant institution and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association Association of Colleges and Schools. It is classed as a Doctoral Research University—Intensive by the Carnegie Institute. Located in Brookings, the university is the state’s “largest, most comprehensive higher-education institution.”


Information Summary

Ranks 4th in South Dakota and 473rd overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 87.0
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $23,127
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 26 / 1260
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 16 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 76% / 38%
Enrollment Total (all students) 12,104


South Dakota State’s academic programs are offered through its nine colleges and departments, including the College of Agriculture & Biological Sciences, College of Arts & Science, College of Education & Human Sciences, Jerome J. Lohr College Engineering, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, Graduate School, University College, and Van D. & Barbara B. Fishback Honors College. SDSU also offers distance education programs for undergraduates who live far from the campus, nontraditional students, or students who are temporarily on leave. The Honors College offers outstanding students a smaller class setting, more demanding curriculum, and motivation to achieve above and beyond expectations. As a university, SDSU offers both undergraduate and graduate level academic programs.

Bachelor’s degrees are offered in a variety of fields. Degrees at the bachelor level can be received in such diverse areas as art education, dairy production, animal science, economics, landscape architecture, computer science, graphic design, microbiology, music, engineering, interior design, and nursing. A number of pre-professional programs thoroughly prepare students to move on to a professional school of their choice; examples include pre-law, pre-medicine, and pre-mortuary. Many of these fields have associated minors for students who want to broaden or augment the education they receive as part of their major.

Graduate programs are offered in more than 40 distinct fields. These include master’s level programs in agriculture, biology, English, geography, mathematics, education, engineering, operations management, nursing, and human sciences. Doctoral degrees are offered in animal science, wildlife and fisheries sciences, biological sciences, chemistry, and sociology; there is also a D. Pharm. through the College of Pharmacy. .

Most Popular Fields of Study


South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University 2

Unique Programs

The Ethel Austin Martin program, named in honor of the SDSU alumnus who originally funded it, provides for the retention and support of an outstanding faculty member in the nutrition sciences, highlighting the university’s commitment to science and discovery in the light of human improvement. As part of the program, the Martin fund also supports programs that enrich all students and faculty at SDSU.

South Dakota State features an undergraduate honors program known as the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College. Students seeking admission to the program need to meet the following requirements: an ACT score of 27 or higher and/or a class rank in the top 10%. Students not meeting these requirements, but otherwise showing great determination and ambition may also be allowed to participate. Once admitted to the program, students will enjoy smaller classes, including a first-year Honors Colloquium, be able to live on the honors floor of a residence hall, and work on an independent study project.

For the purpose of engaging with the community whose tax dollars help support its continued existence, South Dakota State manages cooperative extension programs in agricultural safety and wellness, climate, crops, family and consumer sciences, farm management/marketing, horticulture, and livestock.

Research at the university is supported at all levels; a journal of undergraduate research enables students to publish the results of their research. The Agricultural Experiment Station performs research on animal disease, offers seed and soil testing, and conducts studies of native and domesticated plants.


A successful applicant to SDSU must meet one of several academic requirements: graduate in the top 60% of his or her high school class, achieve a cumulative ACT score of 18 or above (cumulative SAT score of 870 or above), or achieve a high school grade point average of 2.6 on a 4.0 scale. In addition, an applicant must have completed four years of English; three years each of mathematics, laboratory science, and social science; and one year of fine arts. Applicants should have basic computer skills like keyboarding and use of the Internet. Any of these curricular requirements can be replaced by successful scores or credits from advanced placement.

Every new student goes through New Student Orientation, which allows students to meet others with similar interests, learn the layout of the SDSU campus, experience various disciplines of study, and become prepared for the university lifestyle. Admissions counselors from the university regularly visit high schools and high school students throughout the country in what are called “Jackrabbit Receptions.” These introductory events are an opportunity for high school students to learn about SDSU, meet with faculty, and even win scholarships.

Transfer students and international students will have varying requirements depending upon their prior educational background. Contact the Office of Admissions and/or the Office of International Affairs for more information.

Students applying to the graduate programs at South Dakota State University should consult the individual department and/or school to which they are applying for application requirements and deadlines. General requirements include the GRE or other appropriate test scores (such as the GMAT), subject GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Financial Aid

The vast majority of SDSU students receive some form of financial aid package. The university’s financial aid program provides packages that can include scholarships, federal grants or loans, federal work-study jobs, or some combination of all of these. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Financial Aid Office with any questions regarding individual circumstances. The office or its website can be consulted for an estimate of the total cost of attending SDSU, including meal plans, books, and residence hall rent.

Tuition at South Dakota State University is highly competitive with comparable institutions. Students applying from out of state and graduate students naturally incur higher costs. Students from Minnesota, or from member states in the Western Undergraduate Exchange, pay reduced out-of-state tuition.

Graduate students are eligible for financial aid in the form of teaching or research assistantships, including a stipend and a waiver of some or all of the tuition and other fees. Graduate students should consult with their individual department about what sort of assistantships or fellowships are available and about the details of the application process.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 2114th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in South Dakota.


Student life includes opportunities to participate in a diverse range of activities and organizations. In total, there are more than 200 student organizations and clubs operating at SDSU. The campus is home to fraternities and sororities, academic and professional groups, religious organizations, cultural organizations, political groups, and special interest groups such as Block and Bridle, the Civil Air Patrol, and Collegiate 4-H. A college newspaper and a campus radio station disseminate information and offer entertainment. Sports clubs include boxing, karate, and rodeo; some popular intramural sports are softball, racquetball, and flag football. Students can stay toned and healthy at the Wellness Center.

A new student’s first experience at SDSU, New Student Orientation, helps him or her ease in to university life, make connections with new friends, meet advisors, and register for classes. All students are required to live in on-campus housing during their first two years out of high school. The SDSU Student Union provides a central location for students to meet, hang out, or get information. The Union offers an Information Exchange where inquiries can be made on campus events, and where students can cash checks, get their mail, and make copies.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


The South Dakota State University Jackrabbits teams primarily compete in the NCAA Division I (Division I-AA in football). The Jackrabbit men compete in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, track & field, swimming, tennis and wrestling. The Jackrabbit women compete in basketball, cross country, equestrian, golf, track & field, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, and volleyball.


Hobo Day is perhaps the most time-honored tradition at South Dakota State. It began in 1912 when a group of students were trying to come up with an original idea for homecoming. Many different activities had been attempted in the past, but none truly united the entire campus. And so Hobo Day was born. On this day every year, students and faculty dress in their dingiest clothes, men do not shave, and women wear their hair in braids to celebrate the university’s spirit.

Local Community

South Dakota State is located in Brookings. The town’s population is approximately 19,000 and is surrounded by mostly rural farmland. Nearby attractions and events include a summer arts festival, a theater festival, the Sioux Water Festival, several museums, and a vineyard. Brookings is just minutes away from the border with Minnesota and a short drive from the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls.

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