South Dakota Nurse Practitioner Programs

Nurse Practitioners are starting to find the respect they deserve in the working world. A decade or two ago, few people had ever heard of the career and now it is one of the fastest growing careers for college graduates. There is also a huge need for recent graduates with a MSN as they are a perfect alternative to physicians for employers looking for a slightly less expensive but extremely well trained individual to handle patients. As the baby boomers enter retirement and have more need for healthcare and their children have large families, our population is booming and everyone is going to need medical care. That puts any medical profession, but uniquely NPs, in very high demand.

South Dakota is actually a bit below average for the total number of NPs working per 100,000 citizens. At 56 per, the state is just short of the national average of 58 per. While this doesn’t say a ton about the need for the career in the field, it does show that a position in high demand is underrepresented in the state. You should also note that South Dakota does require physician oversight for treatment, diagnosis and prescribing of medications. About half the states require this, so keep that in mind to make sure this is a state you are happy to work in. Many NPs prefer the oversight as it helps to ensure that two sets of eyes are on issues.

South Dakota only saw 51 medical graduates in 2011, which is well below the average, even in smaller states. This means that you will likely start getting calls before you even graduate from potential employers. The position is needed in a big way and with so few in-state graduates, you will likely get to pick your employer. South Dakota enjoys a low unemployment rate compared to the rest of the country and nurse practitioners enjoy a higher than average income sitting at just under $90,000 a year.

Sioux Falls has the highest percentage of jobs relative to population and Rapid City falls into the lowest percentage. If Rapid City seems like a good place to start job hunting, you’ll be glad to hear that it is also the area with the highest median salaries.

The South Dakota Nursing Association will also be a great place for you to join and enjoy the benefits of a unified voice in your field. They may be willing to talk with you more about your future as an NP even before you join the association and if you are already a RN you can get started with them when you are ready. This will be a great resource to help you as you run into issues or questions through your education and especially your career.


When the time for finances arises look at some of these scholarships and grants to help offset some of your educational costs:

South Dakota Nurses Foundation Scholarship

Available to nurses that are seeking master’s or doctoral degrees and have a career goal of teaching a bachelor’s degree program or providing direct care in underserved areas, you will need a 3.0 GPA or higher, be a resident of South Dakota and be a current SDNA member with a year of membership. You’ll want a letter of recommendation and should expect $500 per cycle and can attend any school in SD.

Rita H. Walsh Scholarship

Every spring $1,000 is given to a nursing student to use towards any tuition or other school expenses. You will need a 3.0 GPA or better, be a resident of the state and be enrolled in a South Dakota Nursing Institution.

Dakota Corps Scholarship Program

This program provides scholarships for qualified high school students and will provide full tuition reimbursement or funding as well as other required fees to keep students in South Dakota. Upon graduation from high school the student must meet some eligibility requirements and be seeking high education directly after graduation.

South Dakota Pell Grant

South Dakota Residents can earn a South Dakota Pell Grant which will award a yearly amount to put towards any higher education costs. You must maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher, be a citizen of the U.S. and be attending or enrolled to start online or campus based classes each cycle.

You will also find some loan programs for South Dakota residence, which your financial advisor will help you go over, which will help you cover costs of your education as long as you are in school. Upon graduation you can enter into a 2 or 4 year contract to, basically, get a credit on what you owe. You will need to work in a needy area for the length of the contract. As of the last update, a 2 year contract will cover $35,000 for physicians and $19,000 for non-physicians and the 4-year contract will cover $100,000 and $35,000 respectively. You may want to speak with a financial advisor to see if there is a tier not readily discussed for NPs.

The Best Colleges

Dakota Wesleyan University

Located in Mitchell, South Dakota, DWU is a highly respected college that offers a wide range of benefits to students. From spirituality based exploration of your own faith and others, to countless community events and a focus on challenging students, your education will include more than just understanding book based lessons, you will understand people. That is extremely important in the medical field.

Augustana College

Located in Sioux Falls, this campus focuses on a faith based set of core values to help students prepare for an ever changing world. As the only four year nursing program located in a liberal arts college you will find an education that stands out from all the rest in the field.

South Dakota State University

South Dakota State University is the largest university, and according to them, the best in the state. With over 1,000 graduate students and enrollment of over 12,000 students, you will find an environment that would seem to encourage huge classes with little one on one time. The actual numbers are about 18:1 student to faculty ratio. That means that you will find plenty of time to spend directly with instructors if you find yourself struggling or want to spend more time on specific subjects. 90% of their students receive financial aid, so you can be sure that they will do what they can to make sure that you can pay for courses. 95% of their students also move on to jobs, grad school or other internships and fellowships.