Dakota State University (also known as Dakota State and DSU) is a public state university in Madison, South Dakota. Although founded as a teacher’s college, the institution is focused on technology and now requires full-time undergraduates to use tablets and laptops in core courses. Computer usage courses and an intro to computer programming are also required.
The university has been ranked as one of the best four-year colleges in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report on multiple occasions.
The institution was founded in 1881 as the Madison Normal School, the first teacher education school in the Dakota Territory. Historically, the school has been identified as a teacher preparation institution yet over the past two decades, DSU has taken on the role of preparing leaders for the new “information age.” The university has been applauded for its use of technology in and out of the classrooms as well as its tech-driven curriculum.
After multiple name changes since its founding, DSU was granted university status and received its current name in 1989. The school is governed by the South Dakota Board of Regents and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Its mission statement defines it as “an institution specializing in programs in computer management, computer information systems, and other related graduate and undergraduate programs,” with an emphasis on preparing teachers with “the use of computer technology and information processing.” DSU is classified as a Baccalaureate College—General by the Carnegie Institute.
Dakota State places heavy emphasis on its teacher preparation and information technology programs. The university offers numerous associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in addition to various certificate programs.
The Bachelor of Science degree can be earned in education, business administration, computer science, accountancy, respiratory care, and English for information systems. Due to the school’s heavy emphasis on technology and its use in various disciplines, undergraduate programs are not offered in liberal arts, humanities, social sciences, performing arts, or languages. Associate of science degrees are available in several fields, and an Associate of Arts degree is awarded in general studies. Master’s degrees are offered in information systems, in information assurance, and in educational technology.
DSU is comprised of the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Information Systems, and the College of Education.
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The Center for Excellence in Computer Information Systems (CECIS) encourages students to increase their potential to become leaders through membership with CECIS. The Center is a direct result of Dakota State’s mandate to become the region’s leading educational body for information systems technology and leadership related to that field. CECIS prepares its members to become leaders in any arena: private, governmental, or educational.
The university has an E-Education Program for distance and online learning. Online courses are offered in fields such as computer systems and programming languages, health information, English, and family systems/professional collaboration.
All baccalaureate applicants must demonstrate a composite score of 18 or higher on the ACT or earn SAT Math and Critical Reading scores totaling 870 or above; have a cumulative GPA of 2.6 on a 4.0 scale for all high school classes taken; or graduate in the upper 60% of their class in order to be accepted into the University.
Applicants must also have completed four years of English; three years each of mathematics, laboratory science, and social science; and at least one year of fine arts. If a student meets the entrance requirements but does not complete the necessary course requirements, they can be accepted into a two-year program for cursory performance observation and evaluation of their potential as a college student. Once the student has successfully completed the 24 credit hours required in those two years, they are allowed to enter a full, four-year program. Some options are available for students who do not meet these fundamental entrance requirements, which can be explained by the admissions office.
DSU has an open admissions deadline. Applications and the application fee can be submitted online. Students who are enrolled in high school at the time of application must have their official final high school transcripts sent after graduation to the admissions department.
Those wishing to transfer to DSU from another college or university and international students will have varying requirements, depending upon their prior educational background. Students should consult the admissions office for full information.
Students applying to the graduate programs at Dakota State University should consult the individual department and/or school to which they are applying for specific requirements and application deadlines. General requirements include GRE scores, a bachelor’s degree with a 2.75 GPA or higher, and three letters of recommendation.
Financial aid is available for eligible students in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and work study programs. Students who are interested in receiving aid will need to fill out the Federal Student Financial Aid Form (FAFSA) each year.
Dakota State offers a variety of scholarship opportunities, including four fairly prestigious awards in varying amounts: Presidential Scholarship, Merit Champion Scholarship, Achievement Champion Scholarship, and the DSU Foundation General Scholarship. Assistantships and fellowships are available to qualified students, as are scholarships in specific disciplines such as music.
Graduate students may be able to receive 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 department about available programs and the application process.
The DSU financial aid office can also assist students in securing on-campus or off-campus employment.
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Student life at Dakota State University includes opportunities in a diverse range of activities and organizations. There are honor societies, clubs organized around academic groups, cultural groups, religious groups, sports and recreation clubs, and performing groups. Students can take part in intramural sports or write for the Trojan Times.
DSU is home to nearly 40 student clubs and organizations, including an online newspaper, college Republican and Democrat clubs, various academic organizations, and clubs catering to students from specific ethnic groups. The DSU campus is home to four different student residences, furnished with television lounges, computer labs, laundry and kitchen facilities, local telephone and cable service, and LAN computer access.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The Dakota State Trojans became a charter member of the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) in the 2013-14 school year. Sports include men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, and track and field. There are also men’s baseball and football teams as well as women’s soccer and volleyball teams. The Trojans are supported by a a cheerleading squad.
Athletic facilities at Dakota State include a Community Center, a swimming pool, a weight room, a fieldhouse, a track, a stadium, a baseball park, a softball park, and a football field.
The university has had numerous athletes win All-Conference honors, and there have been a number of All-Americans and Academic All-Americans for both women and men.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.