Best South Dakota MBA Schools and Programs

Your Guide to an South Dakota MBA Career, Curriculum and Education

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What Can You Do With an MBA in South Dakota


No matter where you are in your career, a master’s in business administration (MBA) can be a boon to your job prospects and your slary. Attending one of the MBA programs South Dakota offers will raise your status in the business community in ways that you won’t believe. More importantly, your skills and decision-making abilities will show in terms of your work and the improvement of your firm’s bottom line.

You might even decide to branch out on your own as an entrepreneur, set on bringing new life and ideas into the South Dakota economy. You could also remain independent and provide consulting services to your South Dakota colleagues once you become an alumni. Either way, the skills you’ll master and connections you’ll gain in your advanced classes will serve you well for the duration of your tenure as a business professional, no matter what jobs you hold.

Why Consider an Online MBA?


There are many reasons to consider an MBA from a business school in South Dakota. The main reason is that an online MBA from a South Dakota university will take your employment to the next level, just as it will take you far beyond your general undergraduate degree. Your depth of knowledge and your decision-making skills will be enriched, providing noticeable benefits for your employer. If you are looking for new job options, or to change careers, an MBA will show to employers that you’ve got what it takes to bring their operation to new highs.

If you’re looking into online MBA programs, you might wonder why it’s important to pursue a program in South Dakota. After all, an online program can be offered from virtually anywhere and requires no particular residency or even time zone. However, if you complete an online MBA in or near South Dakota, that will impress prospective colleagues and hiring managers in the region. That is, your degree will show that you are dedicated to your state and that you’re prepared to help your home territory grow and thrive in the 21st century.

Another reason to search for an MBA in South Dakota is that you may wish to visit campus at some point. Though this may seem contrary to the idea of gaining admission to an online MBA, some programs offer on-campus lectures, seminars, and other social events for their online students throughout the year. Whether attendance on site is required by your program or not, you will want these opportunities to be as accessible as possible. After all, your fellow students will soon be your colleagues and it would be unfortunate if you had to miss any networking opportunities.

Percentage of Students Enrolled By Distance Education


Typical MBA Concentrations


When you study for a South Dakota online MBA, you’ll likely need to choose a concentration for your studies. This concentration is similar to your college major and the progression of your coursework will be similar, too. You’ll work through the core curriculum first. These courses will sharpen your existing skills, or perhaps will introduce you to new areas you hadn’t previously considered. Once you’ve completed the core curriculum, you’ll move on to your specialization. This will be a series of courses with content designed to center on one specific area of business. Some options include business analytics, strategic planning, organizational development, project management, human resources, operations management, public policy, and more. Adding a complex concentration can increase your time spent in school to three years if you take classes part-time rather than full-time. Here is an overview of a few popular MBA concentrations featured in South Dakota schools.

  • Finance

    A concentration in finance will enable you to work with your firm’s equity and debt to maximize the bottom line. As a finance expert, you might manage the firm’s equity portfolio as your primary function. Alternately, you might specialize in debt or in seeking credit for your firm’s future investments or expansions. Still other financial experts work with individuals, helping them in making decisions to manage their personal wealth and financial growth.

    Another popular route for a finance concentration is investment banking. Your expertise will be highly valued in the world of mergers, acquisitions, and private equity among other specialty areas in the field.

  • Entrepreneurship/Innovation

    If you’re a dynamic, creative person who’s constantly thinking outside of the box, you might consider this concentration. During your core curriculum, you can explore all the nuts and bolts of business, but this concentration will help you discover how to make your dreams a reality.

    For instance, you might learn how to recognize the best opportunities, seek private equity, and perform your market research so that you know your idea will flourish. Other courses might focus on team-building and leadership. Once you’ve completed your online MBA, you’ll be prepared for the dynamic South Dakota business environment.

  • Marketing
    Every firm needs someone who knows how to bring products to market. As you study, you’ll learn how to analyze market data with a more keen discernment than you thought possible. You’ll learn more about advertising and how to apply what you’ve learned by studying demographics and market trends. Once you’re on the job, your firm will never need to worry about attracting customers for new products and services.
  • Data Science / Analytics

    The field of big data has emerged from an environment of data mining and an increased focus on statistics and quantifiable analysis. This concentration might appeal to those who were mathematics or computer science majors in undergrad.

    The demand for data scientists is going through the roof, so if this is an appealing concentration, you should seriously consider pursuing it. When you graduate, you might be immediately snapped up by a data science startup, a consultancy, or a Fortune 100 company who is eager to maintain their position in the market.

  • Communications

    Business is a series of relationships that are maintained not only by financial ties but through interpersonal bonds. Those relationships are held together through effective communication. So, while finance, supply chain management, and data science all factor in to how well your organization operates, it all hinges on the quality of communication between individual players in any given scenario.

    Your communication concentration will help you craft messages to smooth over various crises or to broadcast success. Your ability to hone internal memos, conduct interviews, and create the company newsletter will bolster morale and raise the bottom line. After all, a company’s quantifiable features are important, but they are also built and supported by less tangible elements, such as clear communication.

Accreditation in South Dakota


When you start seeking an online MBA in South Dakota, you’ll first want to find those programs that are nationally or regionally accredited. If your company offers tuition reimbursement, this might be all the more important. Some companies have specific requirements for the specific accreditations they will accept. They may even offer a specific list of MBA programs, so consult with your HR department if this applies to you.

Accreditation is also important to make sure you don’t cost yourself a lot of time and money. If a school isn’t accredited, you won’t be able to transfer credit hours to another school, or be able to access federal financial aid.

Here are three major accreditations to seek out:

  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business–
    The AACSB is one of the oldest national accrediting agencies for business schools, including master’s programs. Founded in 1916 to establish a set of standards for business excellence, this accreditation is now considered the gold standard for MBA accreditations. Their standards are high but focus on strictly academic metrics. That is, they seek out schools with a strong research backing, whose faculty regularly publish papers or whose books are game-changers in their field. If you attend an AACSB-accredited program, you are sure to work with some of the top business academics in the field.
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs-
    The ACBSP was formed in the 1980’s in response to the expansion of MBA programs nationwide. They seem to have responded to the fact that more and more students were mid-career professionals, intent on returning to work after their schoolwork was done. Thus, they decided to focus on pedagogy and student experiences/outcomes rather than whether or not faculty were publishing papers. This student focused approach fuels this program accreditation and might be exactly what you are looking for.
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA)
    This regional accrediting body is likely to provide regional recognition of your degree. That is, your credits should be recognized by schools throughout the NCA’s territory, which includes Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, among nineteen total states. Regional employers will also look for students from schools with regional accreditation.

Career and Job Outlook for MBA Graduates


South Dakota is a rather sparsely populated state. However, that does not mean that their economy is limited. In fact, you will find that it provides a business environment ripe for expansion and diversification.

Top Employers in the State by Number of Employees


Company Industry Headquarters City Number of Employees
Sanford Health Healthcare Sioux Falls 26,000
Ellsworth Air Force Base Military Black Hills 8,300
Tyson Foods, Inc Food Processing Springdale, AZ 41,000
Avera Health Services Healthcare Sioux Falls 14,845
Citibank Financial Services Sioux Falls 2,900

Careers and Salaries for MBA Graduates in South Dakota


Once you graduate with your MBA, you’ll be hirable by the top firms in South Dakota. Whether you join an existing company and help take them to new heights, or if you create the next disrupting startup, South Dakota will support your ambition.

Careers for South Dakota MBA Grads


Though your possibilities will be nearly endless upon graduation, here is a brief list of MBA careers to consider:

  • Healthcare Administration
    Whether you make healthcare administration your concentration or not, the skills you hone in your MBA courses will come in handy in the booming healthcare industry. Health systems have a perpetual, and growing, need for financial experts, managerial leaders, effective communicators, and marketing geniuses.
  • Finance
    Wherever business thrives, there is a need for a finance professional. With your South Dakota MBA, you could soon be managing corporate or personal portfolios. You might also help companies grow through a series of smart, well-structured mergers and acquisitions. Whether you specialize in debt or equity, your Finance MBA will help you fashion a brilliant career.
  • Communications
    Every organization needs a communications professional to help hone its message or to manage internal relations. Business communications professionals know how to keep everyone on message and even how to handle various PR crises. Some communications professionals work along with the marketing departments to manage the messages their advertising sends and even to craft publications that strengthen the organization's brand in the public eye.
  • Human Resources
    This field goes far beyond hiring and firing employees. Your work in HR will help resolve inter-company disputes, manage benefits packages, and even structure corporate compensation. Many HR experts begin in a company but then move on to join a consultancy, either to recruit new talent for clients or to help young companies handle other administrative features associated with employing top talent.
  • Logistics
    If your concentration is supply-chain management, you might already be headed into a position in logistics. Given our increasingly global business community, you could consider doing some coursework in international supply-chain management. Even companies in the Black Hills of South Dakota rely on raw materials from overseas, and some outsource their manufacturing to businesses abroad in order to bring affordable products to the market.
  • Accounting
    Many future Certified Public Accountants complete their academic credentials in graduate school. When you make accounting your MBA focus, employers will see you as a double or triple threat. That is, you'll have the all-important CPA exam under your belt, but you'll also have the MBA core to add depth and breadth to your resume. As you grow inside your company, your ability to converse with the marketing department, IT professionals, and others will make you an even more highly desired asset to the team.

Best MBA Programs in South Dakota


University of South Dakota Location
Vermillion, SD
MBA Concentrations
  • Business Analytics
  • Health Services Administration
  • Marketing
  • Operations & Supply Chain Management
Tuition In-State
$6,062
Tuition Out-of-State
$11,656
Retention %
78%
Graduation %
60%
Average Salary
$78,500
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
15:1
Augustana University Location
Sioux Falls, SD
MBA Concentrations
  • Accounting
  • Sports Administration and Leadership
Tuition In-State
$35,530
Tuition Out-of-State
$35,530
Retention %
82%
Graduation %
72%
Average Salary
$69,976
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
12:1
Dakota State University Location
Madison, SD
MBA Concentrations
  • General Management
Tuition In-State
$5,939
Tuition Out-of-State
$11,088
Retention %
66%
Graduation %
49%
Average Salary
$65,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
19:1
National American University-Rapid City Location
Rapid City, SD
MBA Concentrations
  • Accounting
  • Advanced Incident and Consequence Management
  • Advanced Security Management
  • E-Marketing
  • Health Care Administration
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information Technology Management
  • Management
  • Operations and Configuration Management
  • Project and Process Management
  • Strategic Security Management
Tuition In-State
$15,000
Tuition Out-of-State
$15,000
Retention %
82%
Graduation %
19%
Average Salary
$76,000
Hybrid
NA
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
7:1
Dakota Wesleyan University Location
Mitchell, SD
MBA Concentrations
No
Tuition In-State
$15,300
Tuition Out-of-State
$15,300
Retention %
65%
Graduation %
44%
Average Salary
$54,315
Hybrid
Yes
Part-Time
NA
Student-to-faculty
12:1

How to Choose & FAQ's


Online education is flourishing, and you can achieve nearly any degree with only a laptop and a wifi signal, that includes your MBA. Online students are finding that they can achieve the same levels of excellence as their on-campus cohorts. Given the inherent flexibility of online education, the electronic medium might even be superior.

However, it’s important to select your online MBA program with care. In fact, though there may seem to be many similarities between MBA programs, there are often hidden differences that you’ll uncover with a bit of research.

Below are five tips for choosing your online MBA program in South Dakota:

  • Investigate Concentrations
    Not only do you want to find a program that offers your desired concentration, but it’s vital to determine whether that concentration is exactly what you expect or desire. For instance, a finance concentration could focus on corporate finance and prepare you for a Wall Street firm, or it could focus on personal financial management. This is a vital distinction and you need to determine where your program places more weight. If the program’s concentrations are more broad-based, take a close look because you might find that a course that is off your intended path could make all the difference.
  • Course Scheduling
    The online medium offers a lot of flexibility. In fact, the ability to maintain your job and family obligations while simultaneously attending graduate school is one of the chief reasons for choosing an online MBA over an on-campus program. However, some online courses may have scheduled events such lectures or chatroom discussions. If you know you’ll have courses with synchronized class events, check with your employer to ensure that they are flexible enough to let you attend. Many schools recognize that you can’t always log-in for these things, so they may let you download vital materials later.
  • Campus Visits
    Though you might desire a fully-online graduate school experience, you may also desire to visit campus someday. In fact, these days, there is a growing group of hybrid MBA programs that insist that you appear in person for periodic seminars or lectures. These on-campus events can offer you the opportunity to meet the students you virtually see online all the time. When you’re able to meet in person, you can form stronger bonds that will persist as you progress up the ladder of business success. Naturally, if you live too far away from the campus to make such visits feasible, you might want to consider a program closer to home.
  • Faculty Focus
    Education inherently depends on great instructors. For that reason, you’ll want to find out who your professors will be. That’s because some instructors come to teaching from a long history in business, while others have a strictly academic background. You can also look to see if the professors in your program are more intent on publishing or on teaching. If your future instructors have published many papers or books, you can read up to see what their research has found and discover if you’d like to work more closely with them as a student.
  • Technology

    It’s easy to assume that your existing technology will be adequate for any online learning experience. However, you might be surprised. Some programs have strict requirements for specific spreadsheet or word processing programs, for instance. You might find that your close-enough programs aren’t sufficient. For instance, open source office software will work for most things, but if you are collaborating on a PowerPoint presentation, your system might reformat the document just enough to throw everybody off.

    On the other hand, you might find that the program offers a great deal of flexibility and will allow you to access your course materials on your iPad or Android tablet. Ultimately, make sure you investigate the technological requirements of your program. You don’t want to be caught blindsided by some technology expenses that you weren’t prepared for.

    The life of an MBA graduate is full of challenges and ever-greater successes. If you are ready to take that next step, apply to your favorite program today!

MBA Degrees, Career Paths & Resources