Accounting Degree Overview for South Dakota

Updated September 26, 2022 · 6 Min Read

Explore accounting degrees offered by schools in South Dakota. Find the right online accounting program for you.

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Known for its pristine countryside, fascinating landscapes, and large number of glacial freshwater lakes, South Dakota's robust economy continues to evolve beyond its traditional reliance on agriculture. It also benefits from thriving energy and mining sectors, which tend to propel the state's economy into periodic boom cycles. 

These features speak to an acute, ongoing need for capable accounting professionals in South Dakota. According to data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2019, South Dakota was one of just a small handful of states employing more than 10 accountants per every 1,000 employed workforce members.

The state's long-term job projections for accountants and auditors also looks particularly strong. According to Projections Central, jobs for these professionals in North Dakota should grow at more than 1.5 times the national rate from 2018-28. Students pursuing accounting degrees in South Dakota can expect solid demand in the coming years.

South Dakota at a Glance

Per Capita Income$29,953
Fortune 500 Companies0
Number of Higher Learning Institutions25
ClimateAverage Annual Temperature: 45.2°F 

Annual Precipitation: 20.1 inches
Major Sports TeamsN/A
Accountants in South Dakota4,740

Top South Dakota Schools for Accounting

  • Augustana University
  • Dakota Wesleyan University
  • Mount Marty College
  • Black Hills State University
  • University of South Dakota

Why Go to College for Accounting in South Dakota?

South Dakota's public higher education system includes six beautiful campuses. Each of them offers unique features: close proximity to amazing outdoor recreation opportunities, innovative high-tech research labs, and nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate programs. In 2018, South Dakota technical college students posted a very impressive 98% graduation rate for a strong endorsement of the system's elite educational quality.

The state's postsecondary institutions maintain very affordable tuition rates compared to nationwide norms. This remains true for both public and private four-year colleges, which charge fees that fall 5.8% and 26.5% below national averages, respectively. Thus, studying in South Dakota can help degree-seekers avoid heavy debt loads. 

The state is also an advantageous destination for those considering a South Dakota online accounting degree. As of 2018, South Dakota college students engaged with online learning at rates that exceeded the U.S. average by almost 20%. This trend gave South Dakota schools a healthy head start when COVID-19 prompted a nationwide explosion in online learning, equipping the state's instructors with valuable extra experience.

Education Statistics for South Dakota

Several key trends point to the benefits of pursuing accounting degrees in South Dakota. The state hosts a large number of accredited postsecondary institutions relative to its population, and it commits 6.9% more tax revenues to higher education than the typical U.S. state. 

South Dakota's undergraduate educational attainment rates also compare favorably to nationwide averages, speaking to the value the state places on postsecondary learning. Its students enthusiastically embrace distance education, making online accounting degrees in South Dakota an excellent alternate option.

Higher Education in South Dakota

South Dakota DataNational Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges193,004
Number of Two-Year Colleges61,579
Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education41.5%34.7%
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student$6,397$8,196 
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education6.2%5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree11.5%8.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree 19.8%19.4%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher8.6%12.1%
Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau - American Community Survey

Accreditation for South Dakota Schools

All the best accounting schools in South Dakota hold accreditation credentials from nationally recognized agencies. Accreditation functions as an important form of quality control, delivering endorsements that signify an institution meets rigorous educational standards.

Two main types of accreditation apply to U.S. schools: national and regional. Most nationally accredited schools operate for-profit, or primarily provide vocational, religious, or technical education. Regional accreditation normally applies to nonprofit public or private institutions, and to schools mainly concerned with traditional forms of academic scholarship.

Most observers consider regional accreditation preferable. Regional accrediting bodies usually hold candidate institutions to more demanding standards, and more colleges and universities recognize transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. The Higher Learning Commission is the main regional body with accrediting authority in South Dakota. Look for its endorsement when considering schools.

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Considerations for an Accounting Degree in South Dakota

Deciding which college to attend is one of the most important decisions a student makes. Choosing correctly requires candidates to take a long list of factors into account, and the following sections can help you decide whether South Dakota makes a good match for you.

One thing to keep in mind: South Dakota offers some of the most affordable out-of-state tuition rates of any jurisdiction in the U.S. This makes accounting degrees in South Dakota especially appealing to learners who do not qualify for reduced local tuition rates yet wish to study there. 

Accounting Degree Levels

Some schools cater specifically to learners seeking degrees at particular levels. For example, certain colleges specialize in the short undergraduate programs that lead to associate degrees, while others dedicate more of their focus and resources to graduate students seeking advanced credentials. Thus, the level of accounting degree you plan to attain may guide or even dictate your choice of schools.

Accounting degrees in South Dakota come in four distinct levels:

Associate Degree in Accounting

This entry-level credential leads to careers in bookkeeping and other specialized support roles. Most learners complete an associate degree in 2-3 years of full-time study.

Learn More About Associate Degrees in Accounting

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting

A bachelor's degree gives students the flexibility to pursue a broader set of career paths, including popular professional designations like certified public accountant (CPA).

Learn More About Bachelor's Degrees in Accounting

Master's Degree in Accounting

A master's in accounting in South Dakota equips graduates for well-paid and high-ranking professional specializations. Earning potential often maxes out at this degree level.

Learn More About Master's Degrees in Accounting

Ph.D. in Accounting

Some practicing professionals attain doctorates, but this terminal designation more commonly leads to careers in higher education and advanced research.

Learn More About Ph.D.s in Accounting

Accounting Concentration Options

Accounting concentrations deliver competitive advantages to job-seekers. They signal advanced proficiency in key areas of specialization, and employers looking to fill roles that require targeted, specific skills tend to look favorably on candidates with matching academic backgrounds.

Many accounting careers in South Dakota demand concentrated accounting specializations. The state's schools offer a full list of options, but certain concentrations hold more relevance to the South Dakota economy and job market. These include:

Environmental AccountingSouth Dakota hosts a great deal of mining and energy development. Environmental accounting specialists help employers anticipate and mitigate the ecological impact of these types of commercial activities.
Auditing Businesses and organizations in the public and private sectors employ auditors to monitor and review financial reporting practices. The versatility of this important specialization makes it well worth considering.

Explore More Accounting Concentrations

On-Campus Versus Online Program Options

Even before COVID-19 forced thousands of schools to move primarily or exclusively online, distance learning was growing rapidly in South Dakota. The following subsections profile various learning formats with an emphasis on online and blended options.


Some people thrive under the highly structured learning experience attained through traditional campus attendance. On-campus programs often support more student-instructor interactions and cohort networking opportunities, giving them broad appeal to learners seeking to benefit from the social aspects of college.

Online Programs

South Dakota online accounting degrees mirror their traditional classroom-based counterparts in terms of course content, skills development, and specialized knowledge. At the same time, they offer significant convenience and flexibility advantages, as students can schedule their own virtual attendance for lectures and class sessions.

In general, independent learners and students seeking to balance their studies with outside commitments make the best matches for fully online programs. 

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs, also called blended programs, combine campus-based and online learning. Students in these programs receive some or most of their core education online, supplementing it with limited campus residencies or practical in-person learning opportunities like internships and work-study placements.

Percentage of Students Enrolled in Distance Education

Enrolled Exclusively in Distance Education CoursesEnrolled in Some but Not All Distance Education CoursesNot Enrolled in Any Distance Education Courses
South Dakota Students23.0%18.5%58.5%
United States Students16.3%18.4%65.3%
Source: NCES

Paying for Your Accounting Degree

South Dakota's tuition rates remain relatively low, empowering students to attain valuable educational credentials while limiting their exposure to debt and financial risk.

Even so, many students still need help covering the costs of their scholastic endeavors. Financial aid counselors generally recommend first seeking forms of first aid that do not require repayment, such as scholarships, bursaries, grants, and fellowships. Consider repayable government-issued or private loans only after exhausting these options.

The links below guide students considering South Dakota as their educational destination to further resources and information on scholarships and other financial aid options.

Average Cost of College Tuition and Fees in South Dakota, 2017-2018

South DakotaNational
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$8,540$9,037
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Four-Year)$12,060$25,657
Average Tuition and Fees (Private Four-Year)$24,219$30,731
Average In-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$6,026$3,243
Average Out-of-State Tuition and Fees (Public Two-Year)$5,853$7,971
Source: NCES

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Differing tuition rates based on residency remain common in South Dakota. Nonprofit, regionally accredited public colleges and universities tend to implement in-state and out-of-state tuition policies, charging local learners less to attend while requiring higher fees for those coming from outside the state.

The underlying reasoning holds that South Dakota residents directly contribute to funding higher education in the state through their taxes, and thus should benefit through preferred tuition rates. However, reciprocity agreements allow residents of certain other jurisdictions to pay in-state rates at South Dakota institutions. 

Many South Dakota schools participate in the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, a 12-member reciprocity arrangement that also includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  

South Dakota's Cost of Living

Cost of living considerations exert a strong influence on budgeting, particularly for students who plan to attend traditional campus-based classes. Thus, students should also consider local pricing trends for essentials like housing, food, and transportation.

According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the cost of living in South Dakota aligns almost perfectly with the national average. Using 100 as the nationwide standard, South Dakota scored 99.7 for its overall cost of living in the first financial quarter of 2020.

Other School Selection Criteria

Beyond considerations like tuition fees and the local cost of living, students weigh many other factors when choosing a school. Personal preferences come into play in this regard, as individuals have different priorities, needs, and objectives.

For instance, a school's reputation and prestige tends to influence applicant interest. Colleges known to produce capable, skilled, and knowledgeable graduates earn favor among employers, while those with large, extensive alumni networks enable degree-holders to leverage their school affiliations.

Other students look more closely at admission standards, with some preferring more selective colleges and others seeking programs that admit applicants more readily. Competitive admissions processes usually signal exclusivity and prestige. More inclusive schools seek to remove barriers to entry and attract capable learners whose academic transcripts and test scores fail to paint an accurate picture of their scholastic and professional potential.

Program completion rates and post-graduation placement rates also merit careful attention. These metrics act as strong indicators of student satisfaction, program quality, and future career success. In a business-oriented field like accounting, such considerations carry a great deal of weight.

Other important factors include the school's size, its student-to-teacher ratio, faculty credentials, campus diversity, and the availability of career services and campus resources. Degree-seekers interested in accelerated or decelerated learning opportunities can also conduct targeted searches for suitable programs.

Explore Our Rankings For the Best Accounting Programs at Each Level

Careers for Accounting Graduates in South Dakota

According to a recent U.S. News & World Report survey, South Dakota's economy ranks in the top half of the nation for both employment (12th out of 50 states) and growth projection (23rd). These encouraging signs augur strong future job opportunities for professionals with accounting, auditing, and bookkeeping expertise, as businesses in all industries and sectors employ them.

The South Dakota government predicts a surge in labor force demand for people who deliver "professional, scientific, and technical services." This employment sector includes accountants and auditors. According to the South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation, job growth rates for members of this sector will rise by 13.2% between 2016 and 2024.

Consult the subsections below for further information on South Dakota employment trends and accounting career paths to consider.

Select Accounting Careers in South Dakota

Payroll Clerk

Payroll clerks track and monitor employee attendance. They also calculate employee earnings and compute variable forms of compensation such as tips and commissions. An associate degree suffices to secure an entry-level payroll clerk position.

Tax Examiner

Tax examiners and collectors work with state or federal revenue authorities to determine tax liabilities and monitor remittances. They require a deep and thorough understanding of all applicable tax codes and statutes, which they obtain by earning at least a bachelor's degree in tax accounting.

Financial Manager

Financial managers work for both businesses and individual clients, typically those with high net worth. They prepare high-level and detailed reports regarding finances, assets, and holdings, and play leading roles in identifying and acting on investment opportunities.

South Dakota Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Accountants

5,000 Employees2018
5,490 Employees2028
South Dakota 9.8% increase
1,424,000 Employees2018
1,514,700 Employees2028
National 6.4% increase
Source: Projections Central

Curious about other accounting jobs? Explore more here

Employment figures remain particularly strong for generalists with broadly applicable skill sets and for licensed CPAs. Cost estimators also benefit from robust South Dakota job numbers, making this specialization well worth considering.

Those working toward master's degrees may want to seriously consider becoming a financial manager if they plan to stay in South Dakota. In addition to strong employment figures, these professionals enjoy handsome average earnings in the Mount Rushmore State. BLS data shows that they make 7.5% more per year in South Dakota than the typical U.S. state, with mean annual salaries close to the $140,000 mark.    

South Dakota Requirements for Certified Public Accountants

Like all states, South Dakota maintains its own unique requirements for earning the CPA designation. If a career as a CPA appeals to you and you plan to study and/or apply for your license in South Dakota, familiarize yourself with the state-specific requirements as early in your learning process as possible.

South Dakota's general CPA licensing requirements include the following:

  • Age Minimum: None
  • Citizenship Requirement: None
  • Residency Requirement: None
  • Social Security Number Requirement: Yes
  • Minimum Education Requirement: 150 hours of study, including at least a bachelor's degree
  • Minimum Number of Study Hours in Accounting: 24 undergraduate or graduate semester hours in accounting covering general accounting principles, auditing, cost accounting, taxation, and intermediate or advanced accounting; 24 additional semester hours in other business courses
  • Professional Experience Requirement: Minimum of one year (must be verified by a licensed CPA)
  • Candidates must also earn a passing score on the AICPA Professional Ethics Exam to fully qualify.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Accounting in South Dakota

    Is accounting a good career in South Dakota?

    Yes. South Dakota features an unusually dense concentration of accountant and auditor employment, as the state features one of the country's highest location quotient ratings for these professions. This indicates strong, ongoing needs for professionals with accounting specializations.

    How much do accountants earn in South Dakota?

    Accountants and auditors in South Dakota earn an average annual salary of $67,470, according to the BLS. This significantly outpaces the statewide average for all occupations.

    What accounting jobs are there in South Dakota?

    South Dakota businesses employ large numbers of accounting professionals in support roles, such as bookkeepers and accounting clerks. Accountants, auditors, cost estimators, and financial managers also benefit from strong South Dakota job growth figures.

    Can I get an accounting degree in South Dakota?

    Yes. Learners can pursue both in-class and online accounting degrees in South Dakota. Public and private institutions offer accredited study opportunities at all degree levels, from associate to doctorate.

    Does South Dakota have online accounting programs?

    Yes. South Dakota students pursue online learning at rates that significantly outpace national averages. This trend carries over to business-oriented schooling, including all levels of accounting degrees.

    South Dakota Accounting and Education Organizations

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