Masters in Public Administration Programs in the State of South Dakota

Cole Neder

Cole Neder

Updated & Fact Checked: 05.16.2024


When considering South Dakota for pursuing an MPA degree, the city of Vermillion offers several advantages for students. South Dakota is known for its low cost of living. Compared to many other states, housing, transportation, and other expenses are relatively affordable in South Dakota. This can be especially appealing for graduate students who are looking to minimize their expenses and focus on their studies.

South Dakota offers a high quality of life. The state is known for its safe communities, excellent schools, and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities. Vermillion, in particular, offers a welcoming and close-knit community, creating a supportive environment for students.

Fifthly, South Dakota’s strategic location in the Midwest provides students with opportunities for networking and professional development. The state’s central location makes it a convenient base for exploring other parts of the country and attending conferences and events.

MPA Programs in South Dakota

Vermillion is home to the University of South Dakota (USD), which offers a reputable MPA program. The program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in public administration roles, with a focus on leadership, policy analysis, and ethical decision-making:

NASPAA-accredited MPA Programs

NASPAA-accredited programs often have strong connections to government agencies, non-profit organizations, and other institutions. This can provide students with valuable networking opportunities and access to internships, job placements, and other professional development opportunities. South Dakota’s only MPA program is accredited by NASPAA, shown here:

University of South Dakota

  • Vermillion, SD
  • Campus

Accreditation: NASPAA, NCACSHLC

Modality: On-Campus

Credit Hours: 39

GRE: Not required

Resident Tuition: $340 (PCH)

Non-Resident Tuition: $654 (PCH)

Program Overview:
The University of South Dakota’s public administration program graduates work in various government and nonprofit roles, offering flexibility and leadership skills. The program combines core administrative studies with electives for organizational change. The on-campus MPA provides theoretical and practical experience in leading, managing, policy, analysis, critical thinking, problem-solving, public service, and communication. The MPA has been NASPAA accredited since 1983. USD also offers an Executive Master of Public Administration online.

More Details

Online MPA Programs

While South Dakota does not currently have online-only Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs, many schools across the country have been transitioning to online or hybrid formats. Online programs can be more flexible in terms of scheduling, allowing students to continue working while pursuing their degree, which can further reduce financial strain.

Accelerated MPA Programs

Accelerated MPA programs often maintain the same high academic standards as traditional programs, ensuring that students receive a quality education. The curriculum is typically intensive, focusing on key concepts and skills necessary for leadership roles in public administration. Students can expect to study topics such as policy analysis, public finance, organizational management, and ethics, among others, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of the field.

The M.P.A. Fast Track option allows a USD undergraduate Political Science, Criminal Justice, International Studies, or Legal Studies major to take up to twelve hours of core courses in the Master of Public Administration program during his or her senior year, that is, after the completion of at least 90 credits of undergraduate coursework.

Affordable MPA Programs

In South Dakota, MPA tuition affordability is another positive aspect for prospective students. The University of South Dakota, for example, offers competitive tuition rates for its MPA program ($340 per credit hour for in-state students and $654 per credit hour for out-of-state students). The state’s low cost of living and affordable housing options further contribute to the overall affordability of pursuing an MPA degree in South Dakota.

All MPA Programs in South Dakota

School NameDegree Program NameStateCityNASPAA AccreditedOnline DegreeProgram Link
The University of South DakotaExecutive Master of Public AdministrationSouth DakotaVermillionNoNo
The University of South DakotaMaster Of Public AdministrationSouth DakotaVermillionNoYes

What Types of Careers Can I Pursue With an MPA Degree in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, MPA graduates can pursue unique career paths that align with the state’s specific needs and challenges. These roles highlight the diverse and impactful career paths available to MPA graduates in South Dakota:

  • Tribal Liaison Officer: South Dakota is home to several Native American tribes, including the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. MPA graduates can work as tribal liaison officers, facilitating communication and collaboration between tribal governments and state agencies on issues such as healthcare, education, and economic development.
  • State Parks and Recreation Manager: South Dakota is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, including the iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial. MPA graduates can work as state parks and recreation managers, overseeing the management and development of state parks and recreational facilities.
  • Agricultural Policy Analyst: Agriculture is a major industry in South Dakota, with the state ranking among the top producers of crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat. MPA graduates can work as agricultural policy analysts, researching and analyzing policies related to agriculture, rural development, and food security.
  • Rural Health Coordinator: South Dakota has many rural and remote communities that face challenges in accessing healthcare services. MPA graduates can work as rural health coordinators, helping to develop and implement programs that improve access to healthcare in these communities.
  • Community Development Specialist: South Dakota’s rural communities often struggle with economic development and infrastructure challenges. MPA graduates can work as community development specialists, assisting communities in developing and implementing strategies for economic growth and revitalization.
  • Tribal Court Administrator: South Dakota has several tribal courts that operate independently of the state court system. MPA graduates can work as tribal court administrators, overseeing the administration of tribal court systems and ensuring the fair and efficient delivery of justice.

MPA Programs in Other States