Higher education in the state of South Dakota has long stood as a testament to the western ideal of independence. One of the least populated states in the nation, South Dakota nevertheless supports 12 public higher education institutions and 12 private institutions, including Black Hills State University in Spearfish and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City. For more information about South Dakota higher education including Black Hills State University and the School of Mines and Technology check out the 2012 Board of Regents Fact Book.
Despite recurring discussions and feasibility studies about the possibility of consolidating or closing some of the public institutions, there is widespread support to keep all of these public institutions of higher education in South Dakota, offering the public from every corner of the state the opportunity to take advantage of higher education.
In 2011, with the hope of catering to non-traditional students and offering a regional hub for higher education, the South Dakota Board of Regents opened the doors to the University Center in Rapid City where students can take satellite classes through the state’s universities. The state also runs two other university centers, one in Pierre and another in Sioux Falls. Board of Regents officials have also said they want to encourage non-traditional students who earned part of a degree, to continue and finish. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 110,000 South Dakotans are in that boat. Another 34,000 have a two-year degree. About 17,000 students took classes off-campus in the fall of 2010, according to the Board of Regents.
Rapid City is also home to National American University, a for-profit institution catering to non-traditional students. NAU is a publicly traded company with campuses located in cities throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountain region. NAU also provides distance education to students outside the United States.