Before an aspiring teacher can earn a South Dakota teacher license in the state, an appropriate degree program must be completed. According to the South Dakota Department of Education, this means completion of a teacher preparation program through an accredited institution, offered by teaching schools in South Dakota or through institutions in other states. Currently, South Dakota has an agreement with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which ensures high quality teacher preparation through regular assessment of many of the institutions of higher education throughout the state.
The four largest schools offering South Dakota teacher education include South Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, Northern State University, and Dakota State University. All of these schools are a part of the NCATE agreement with the state, ensuring high quality instructional standards. All of these schools have also made the national rankings of top universities by U.S. News & World Report.
South Dakota State University currently boasts a student population of more than 12,000 students and 175 fields of study. Admissions requirements state that students entering the school must have a minimum GPA of 2.6 and an ACT score of 18 or higher. The College of Education and Human Sciences at South Dakota State University offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in education and related studies to help students prepare for a South Dakota teaching license. Approximately 2,200 students are involved in the education programs every year. The College of Education and Human Sciences offers an impressive job placement rate of 88% for students ready to enter the workforce. The school also has more graduate students enrolled than any other college in the state.
The University of South Dakota currently has nearly 10,000 students that call this school home. There are also around 420 total faculty members, offering a 17:1 student-to-teacher ratio in most classes on campus. The School of Education offers degree programs in both elementary and secondary education, with the ability to specialize in specific subjects for aspiring secondary school teachers in pursuit of South Dakota teacher certification. The school also provides training for special education teachers and school counselors. Those who wish to enter the School of Education at the University of South Dakota must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.6 and have completed at least 45 hours of undergraduate work.
Northern State University, located in Aberdeen, offers a smaller campus setting with a total population of just 3,500 students. The school features 41 bachelor’s degree programs, including those found in the college’s School of Education. The education program at Northern State has an excellent reputation throughout South Dakota, as the premier school to train future teachers. The School of Education offers programs in elementary and secondary education, special education, and physical education. It also provides degree programs in counseling and psychology. Students at Northern State University begin to accumulate actual classroom experience much earlier than students from other schools in the state, giving them an advantage in the workforce after graduation.
Dakota State University was founded in 1881, and currently boasts a population of around 2,800 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1, ensuring students at the school get the personalized instruction they need to succeed. The college offers a number of education degree programs, including elementary education, secondary education, and exercise science for those that want to teach physical education. The school offers in-depth field experiences to ensure students have a sufficient resume after graduation. Dakota State University also offers integrated technology training within its education degree programs, as well as networking opportunities through professional organizations in the state.