820 N Washington Ave
Madison, SD 57042-1799
p. 605-256-5111
w. www.dsu.edu

Dakota State University

Dakota State University Rating: 4.2/5 (37 votes)

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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.

Most Popular Fields of Study

Unique Programs

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.


Undergraduate Students

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.

Graduate Students

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

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.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 3254th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in South Dakota.


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.

Local Community

Madison is a somewhat rural area with a population of less than 7,000. Nearby attractions include the Dakota Prairie Playhouse and the Smith Zimmerman Museum. There are also outdoor recreation areas and a nearby state park. Prairie Village is a recreation of a pioneer village.

The city was founded in 1870 and has been a thriving part of the Dakotas ever since. It is home to Lake Herman and Lake Madison, two of the most beautiful state parks in South Dakota. Madison also offers many of its own city parks. For those interested in history, Prairie Village is a grand recreation of authentic pioneer lifestyles and the Smith-Zimmerman museum chronicles the development and history of the entire Glacial Lakes region.

Information Summary

Ranks 7th in South Dakota and 824th overall
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Campus Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 Students
Aggravated assault N/A N/A
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Rape N/A N/A
Robbery N/A N/A
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 4 0.13
Larceny N/A N/A
Vehicle theft N/A N/A
Arrest N/A N/A

Local Crime Statistics

  Incidents per 100 People
Aggravated assault 5 0.08
Murder & Non-Negligent Manslaughter N/A N/A
Forcible Rape N/A N/A
Robbery N/A N/A
Arson N/A N/A
Burglary 12 0.18
Larceny 80 1.22
Vehicle theft 8 0.12

Demographics – Main Campus and Surrounding Areas

Reported area around or near Madison, SD 57042-1799
Surrounding communityDistant town (between 10 to 35 mi. away from an urban cluster)
Total Population8,465 (6,097 urban / 2,368 rural)
Households3,310 (2.35 people per house)
Median Household Income$32,826
Families2,045 (2.98 people per family)

Carnegie Foundation Classification

Master's Colleges and Universities (smaller programs)
UndergraduateProfessions plus arts & sciences, some graduate coexistence
GraduateSingle doctoral (other field)
Undergraduate PopulationMedium full-time four-year, selective, lower transfer-in
EnrollmentVery high undergraduate
Size & SettingSmall four-year, primarily residential

General Characteristics

Title IV EligibilityParticipates in Title IV federal financial aid programs
Highest offeringDoctoral degree
Calendar SystemSemester
Years of college work requiredN/A
Variable Tuition
Religious AffiliationN/A
Congressional District4600

Special Learning Opportunities

Distance LearningN/A
ROTC — Army / Navy / Air Force  —   /   / 
Study Abroad
Weekend College
Teacher Certification

Student Tuition Costs and Fees

Ranks 1880th for total cost of attendance
  In District In State Out of State
Effective as of 2014-09-19
FT Undergraduate Tuition $3,993 $3,993 $5,993
FT Undergraduate Required Fees $3,513 $3,513 $3,513
PT Undergraduate per Credit Hour $250 $250 $317
FT Graduate Tuition $5,450 $5,450 $11,537
FT Graduate Required Fees $3,162 $3,162 $3,162
PT Graduate per Credit Hour $319 $319 $544
Total Cost of Attendance — On-Campus $18,048 $18,048 $20,048
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus w/out Family $19,456 $19,456 $21,456
Total Cost of Attendance — Off-Campus with Family $12,592 $12,592 $14,592

Student Tuition Cost History and Trends

Prior year cost comparison
  In District In State Out of State
Published Tuition & Fees $6,897 $7,212 $6,897 $7,212 $8,612 $9,077
  Cost (regardless of residency)
Effective as of 2014-09-19
Books & Supplies $1,000(N/C)
On-Campus – Room & Board $5,168 $5,235
On-Campus – Other Expenses $2,950 $3,919
Off-Campus w/out Family – Room & Board $5,868 $6,009
Off-Campus w/out Family – Other Expenses $3,600 $4,683
Off-Campus with Family – Room & Board $2,918 $3,980

Admission Details

Effective as of 2014-09-19
Application Fee RequiredN/A
Undergraduate Application Fee$20
Graduate Application Fee$35
First Professional Application FeeN/A
Applicants 781 (485 male / 296 female)
Admitted 648 (405 male / 243 female)
Admission rate 83%
First-time Enrollment 318 (210 male / 108 female)
FT Enrollment 286 (194 male / 92 female)
PT Enrollment 32 (16 male / 16 female)
Total Enrollment3,129

Admission Criteria

 = Required,   = Recommended,   = Neither required nor recommended
Open Admissions
Secondary School GPA / Rank / Record  /   / 
College Prep. Completion
Formal competency demoN/A
Admission test scores
Other testsN/A

Admission Credits Accepted

Dual Credit
Life Experience
Advanced Placement (AP)

Athletics - Association Memberships

Sports / Athletic Conference Memberships NAIA

ACT Test Admission

811th for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting ACT results 92%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 16 / 23
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 18 / 25
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 19 / 24

SAT Test Admission

552nd for 75pctl scores
Applicants submitting SAT results 7%
Verbal scores (25/75 %ile) 400 / 620
Math scores (25/75 %ile) 440 / 550
Cumulative scores (25/75 %ile) 840 / 1170

Student Services

Remedial Services
Academic / Career Counseling
PT Cost-defraying Employment
Career Placement
On-Campus Day Care
Library Facility

Student Living

First-time Room / Board Required
Dorm Capacity657
Meals per Week19
Room Fee$2,992
Board Fee$2,533

Student Completion / Graduation Demographics

Total 25 8 5 3 2 332 382
Accounting 2 9 11
Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Other 5 5
Biology Teacher Education 3 3
Business Administration and Management, General 1 1 37 41
Business Teacher Education 1 1
Chemical Technology/Technician 1 1
Computer Graphics 1 25 26
Computer Programming/Programmer, General 1 3 4
Computer Teacher Education 1 1
Computer and Information Sciences, General 1 14 15
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance 4 1 2 1 1 32 42
Design and Visual Communications, General 1 1
Educational/Instructional Technology 11 11
Elementary Education and Teaching 23 23
English Language and Literature/Letters, Other 1 4 5
English/Language Arts Teacher Education 2 2
Finance, General 2 9 11
Game and Interactive Media Design 1 3 4
General Studies 3 3
Health Information/Medical Records Administration/Administrator 4 12 17
Health Information/Medical Records Technology/Technician 1 12 13
Information Science/Studies 12 1 29 42
Information Technology
Kinesiology and Exercise Science 1 18 19
Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies 11 12
Marketing/Marketing Management, General 2 4 6
Mathematics Teacher Education 1 1
Mathematics and Statistics 1 1
Medical Insurance Coding Specialist/Coder 5 5
Network and System Administration/Administrator
Physical Education Teaching and Coaching 7 7
Physical Sciences 1 1
Professional, Technical, Business, and Scientific Writing
Respiratory Care Therapy/Therapist 1 1 16 19
Special Education and Teaching, Other 11 11
System, Networking, and LAN/WAN Management/Manager 16 17
Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design 1 1

Faculty Compensation / Salaries

Ranks 1897th for the average full-time faculty salary.
Effective as of 2014-09-20
Tenure system N/A
Average FT Salary $63,651 ($65,290 male / $54,450 female)
Number of FT Faculty 98 (63 male / 35 female)
Number of PT Faculty 124
FT Faculty Ratio 0.8 : 1
Total Benefits $1,912,848

Melissa Rhone+

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.

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