Christian Colleges in South Dakota

Although South Dakota is located outside the Bible Belt, the Pew Research Center finds nearly three-fourths of adults in the state identify as Christian (57% protestant and 22% Catholic). Of the individuals surveyed, 57% say religion plays a "very important" role in their lives, and 36% say they attend church on a weekly basis.

Nearly three-fourths of adults in South Dakota identify as Christian (57% protestant and 22% Catholic). Pew Research Center

Students looking to practice their faith while earning a college degree in South Dakota have a few community college and private college options, as we will review below. The benefits of studying at a Christian college or university can extend beyond what you might find at secular colleges in South Dakota: for example, being surrounded by peers, staff, and professors who share your values and beliefs; attending campus worship services; and being part of a familiar religious community away from home.

As the demands and responsibilities in the lives of today's students grow and as more non-traditional students, such as first-time or returning adults, seek enrollment in colleges and universities, online learning is becoming an increasingly popular option.

Colleges may offer online spiritual support and counseling, live streams of worship services, and forums or other online groups where students can connect to one another.

Scheduling flexibility is the most commonly advertised factor in online learning, an ideal solution for working professionals and students with obligations to their family or church. A second benefit is potential financial savings. While tuition costs are usually the same as traditional on-campus learning, students may save money by living off-campus and not having to commute. Third, completing your studies from the comfort of home is not a new concept, but delivery methods and technology are constantly being improved, making online learning even more accessible.

Students may wonder how Christian online colleges could possibly offer the same depth of religious community and faith-based learning as an on-campus college. Despite different formats, the content of on- and off-campus courses share the same curriculum. And though offerings may vary from one institution to another, colleges may offer online spiritual support and counseling, live streams of worship services, and forums or other online groups where students can connect to one another.

Online Christian colleges generally adhere to values and beliefs that practicing Christian students will appreciate. They provide worship services and close-knit religious communities. Examining each school's policies and values will help you find your ideal choice among South Dakota colleges. Other considerations students may want to take into account when selecting their potential schools are campus size, the surrounding community, and the variety of program offerings.

First, smaller campuses allow for smaller student-to-faculty ratios, which usually fosters a more interpersonal learning environment. In addition, a smaller number of enrolled students might create an even tighter-knit Christian community among peers. Finally, students should examine the program catalogs of Christian colleges in South Dakota. While some degrees might be focused solely on theology or ministry, others will be a more rounded liberal arts experience.

Determining what your own educational and spiritual goals are can be vital to making to your enrollment decision.

Seminaries vs. Bible Schools

If you're seeking a Christian education, your final career goals will help determine which Christian college in South Dakota is right for you. For example, if your interest lies in the work of clergy, missionaries, or ministry, a seminary may be a better choice than a Christian college. Seminaries are run by church organizations in order to prepare and train future ministers, pastors, and/or missionaries for religious careers. An undergraduate education at a Bible college features biblically-based material, and learning emphases may be placed on courses in areas like youth ministry, the Old and New Testaments, and other theological studies.

Accreditation for Christian Colleges

Regardless of your career goals, preferred schools, or educational priorities, one of the most important areas to research in your college search is accreditation status. Accreditation is a voluntary procedure wherein an accrediting organization or agency ensures the school has met certain educational standards. Additionally, a school's accreditation status affects the ability of students to transfer credits and, in some cases, what sort of financial aid can be accepted.

Most Christian colleges in South Dakota are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Most Christian colleges in South Dakota are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Regional accreditation is most often used by public universities and, as a rule, allows for greater flexibility of transfering credits from one school to another. National jurisdiction, which offers fewer transferrable credits, is more often used by for-profit schools and schools with specialized curricula. Other schools may seek accreditation from religious organizations or industry agencies, or simply not seek accreditation at all. If an institution does not seek accreditation, they may not be able to accept federal financial aid.

The U.S. Department of Education's database of accredited postsecondary programs and colleges is a good place to begin your accreditation research.

Employment in the state of South Dakota has been steadily rising in the last few years. With a current unemployment rate of 3.4%, lower than the national average, South Dakota's economic outlook is currently trending positively. Employers and prospective employees should expect to see continued job growth in most industries, especially in areas such as agriculture and forestry. On a wider scale, South Dakota's fastest-growing industries -- healthcare, manufacturing, and finance -- reflect the same growth that's being seen nationwide.

Workers in the state receive a median hourly wage of $15.55 and an average annual salary of $40,770.

Graduates from colleges in South Dakota should be able to expect a favorable job search, with a livable wage offered upon hiring. According to the latest data offered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the state receive a median hourly wage of $15.55 and an average annual salary of $40,770. However, as evidenced by the table below, those seeking careers in social service, community outreach, and religious service may have a some difficulty in finding immediate employment as the total number of employees in the state isn't as large as other industries.

Community and Social Service Occupations in South Dakota
Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors 490 $19.25 $40,030
Marriage and Family Therapists 90 $19.53 $40,630
Mental Health Counselors 450 $21.59 $44,920
Rehabilitation Counselors 480 $19.64 $40,860
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,620 $19.34 $40,220
Healthcare Social Workers 550 $20.02 $41,640
Social and Human Service Assistants 910 $11.82 $24,580
Clergy 170 $22.11 $45,990
Directors, Religious Activities and Education 50 $21.96 $45,670
Source: BLS, May 2017

As the demands and responsibilities in the lives of today's students grow and as more non-traditional students, such as first-time or returning adults, seek enrollment in colleges and universities, online learning is becoming an increasingly popular option.

Colleges may offer online spiritual support and counseling, live streams of worship services, and forums or other online groups where students can connect to one another.

Scheduling flexibility is the most commonly advertised factor in online learning, an ideal solution for working professionals and students with obligations to their family or church. A second benefit is potential financial savings. While tuition costs are usually the same as traditional on-campus learning, students may save money by living off-campus and not having to commute. Third, completing your studies from the comfort of home is not a new concept, but delivery methods and technology are constantly being improved, making online learning even more accessible.

Students may wonder how Christian online colleges could possibly offer the same depth of religious community and faith-based learning as an on-campus college. Despite different formats, the content of on- and off-campus courses share the same curriculum. And though offerings may vary from one institution to another, colleges may offer online spiritual support and counseling, live streams of worship services, and forums or other online groups where students can connect to one another.

Online Christian colleges generally adhere to values and beliefs that practicing Christian students will appreciate. They provide worship services and close-knit religious communities. Examining each school's policies and values will help you find your ideal choice among South Dakota colleges. Other considerations students may want to take into account when selecting their potential schools are campus size, the surrounding community, and the variety of program offerings.

First, smaller campuses allow for smaller student-to-faculty ratios, which usually fosters a more interpersonal learning environment. In addition, a smaller number of enrolled students might create an even tighter-knit Christian community among peers. Finally, students should examine the program catalogs of Christian colleges in South Dakota. While some degrees might be focused solely on theology or ministry, others will be a more rounded liberal arts experience.

Determining what your own educational and spiritual goals are can be vital to making to your enrollment decision.

Seminaries vs. Bible Schools

If you're seeking a Christian education, your final career goals will help determine which Christian college in South Dakota is right for you. For example, if your interest lies in the work of clergy, missionaries, or ministry, a seminary may be a better choice than a Christian college. Seminaries are run by church organizations in order to prepare and train future ministers, pastors, and/or missionaries for religious careers. An undergraduate education at a Bible college features biblically-based material, and learning emphases may be placed on courses in areas like youth ministry, the Old and New Testaments, and other theological studies.

Accreditation for Christian Colleges

Regardless of your career goals, preferred schools, or educational priorities, one of the most important areas to research in your college search is accreditation status. Accreditation is a voluntary procedure wherein an accrediting organization or agency ensures the school has met certain educational standards. Additionally, a school's accreditation status affects the ability of students to transfer credits and, in some cases, what sort of financial aid can be accepted.

Most Christian colleges in South Dakota are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Most Christian colleges in South Dakota are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Regional accreditation is most often used by public universities and, as a rule, allows for greater flexibility of transfering credits from one school to another. National jurisdiction, which offers fewer transferrable credits, is more often used by for-profit schools and schools with specialized curricula. Other schools may seek accreditation from religious organizations or industry agencies, or simply not seek accreditation at all. If an institution does not seek accreditation, they may not be able to accept federal financial aid.

The U.S. Department of Education's database of accredited postsecondary programs and colleges is a good place to begin your accreditation research.

Employment in the state of South Dakota has been steadily rising in the last few years. With a current unemployment rate of 3.4%, lower than the national average, South Dakota's economic outlook is currently trending positively. Employers and prospective employees should expect to see continued job growth in most industries, especially in areas such as agriculture and forestry. On a wider scale, South Dakota's fastest-growing industries -- healthcare, manufacturing, and finance -- reflect the same growth that's being seen nationwide.

Workers in the state receive a median hourly wage of $15.55 and an average annual salary of $40,770.

Graduates from colleges in South Dakota should be able to expect a favorable job search, with a livable wage offered upon hiring. According to the latest data offered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the state receive a median hourly wage of $15.55 and an average annual salary of $40,770. However, as evidenced by the table below, those seeking careers in social service, community outreach, and religious service may have a some difficulty in finding immediate employment as the total number of employees in the state isn't as large as other industries.

Community and Social Service Occupations in South Dakota
Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors 490 $19.25 $40,030
Marriage and Family Therapists 90 $19.53 $40,630
Mental Health Counselors 450 $21.59 $44,920
Rehabilitation Counselors 480 $19.64 $40,860
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,620 $19.34 $40,220
Healthcare Social Workers 550 $20.02 $41,640
Social and Human Service Assistants 910 $11.82 $24,580
Clergy 170 $22.11 $45,990
Directors, Religious Activities and Education 50 $21.96 $
Source: BLS, May 2017

Paying for college can be difficult. Even with personal savings and federal financial aid, the cost of tuition and other expenses can still exceed a student's means. Those seeking enrollment in one of the Christian colleges in South Dakota, or any of the liberal arts colleges in South Dakota, can use scholarships to help fill the financial gap.

Christian Scholarships

The Christian College Connector $2,000

Who Can Apply: This is one scholarship you don't have to spend time worrying about. There is no essay requirement or even a formal application. Winners are chosen via random drawing. Applicants must be enrolling for the first time at a Christian college, Christian university, or Bible college. View Scholarship

National Presbyterian College Scholarship Up to $2,500

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be entering their first year of college, be enrolled full-time at a Presbyterian college or university, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and regularly attend ministry or worship services. Twenty-five to thirty students receive annual awards. View Scholarship

Disciples Home Missions Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: Students who are members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and enrolled in a Master's of Divinity program at seminary or school accredited by The Association of Theological Schools may apply. View Scholarship

U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Candidate Scholarship $3,500

Who Can Apply: Students interested in joining the military as a chaplain may apply for financial assistance if they have completed an undergraduate degree and are enrolled (or planning to enrol) in a theological school or seminary for graduate work. View Scholarship

Malta Scholarship - Undergraduate $1,000

Who Can Apply: Graduating high school seniors of Eastern Orthodox faith who meet the scholarship's requirements of financial need, high school GPA, and SAT/ACT scores may apply. View Scholarship

Scholarships for South Dakota Residents

South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship Up to $6,500

Who Can Apply: Residents of South Dakota who meet the eligibility requirements, including a 3.0 cumulative GPA, high school course requirements, ACT/SAT scores, and attendance at an school accredited by the Higher Learning Commission may apply. View Scholarship

Augustana University Hatterscheidt Scholarship $2,000

Who Can Apply: South Dakota high school graduates who have been accepted to Augustana University and demonstrate significant financial need may apply for this annual scholarship. View Scholarship

Hawkinson Fund at Grace University Lutheran Church Scholarship $4,000-$5,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be residents of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, or Wisconsin, and have demonstrated a commitment to peace and justice through leadership and the completion of a project. View Scholarship

The Korean American Scholarship Foundation - Midwestern Regional Chapter Varies

Who Can Apply: Korean American high school graduates, regardless of citizenship status, who have maintained a 3.0 GPA and will be attending college in one of the Midwestern states (including South Dakota) may apply. View Scholarship

Dakota Corps Scholarship Program Varies

Who Can Apply: High school seniors who meet minimum GPA and SAT/ACT requirements and who are willing to to stay in South Dakota and work in a critical need occupation after graduation may apply. View Scholarship

Find a Church in Your Community

A church community can be an invaluable resource of support and encouragement for students enrolled in or entering college. Whether this comes in the form of a church near your future campus or at home, websites like Church Finder and USA Churches can help you find a place of worship.

Get Connected

Beyond the religious communities formed at South Dakota colleges, students can connect through Christian networking websites. These online communities can help like-minded religious individuals seek out job opportunities, form friendships, and more.

  • The Christian Business Network This website is the premier networking site for Christian business professionals around the world. Members receive exclusive resources, networking services, content management services, and more.
  • myPraize If you have ever wished for a Christian version of Facebook, ad-free myPraize may be just what you're looking for. A simple feature can be used to import your profile, media, and friends from Facebook so you can begin connecting quickly.
  • ChristianJobs.com This website seeks to connect Christian professionals by hosting job listings for ministry and clergy positions throughout the world, as well as offering resume assistance and career coaching services.

Find Christian Ministries

Students attending a public or non-religious college in South Dakota can still connect with fellow Christians through various online or campus-based organizations. Below, we've profiled several Christian organizations that students can join.

Interdenominational
  • Campus Crusade for Christ CRU is an interdenominational Christian ministry group on more than 2,300 campuses, offering spiritual guidance, resources, and programs both on- and off-campus.
  • Chi Alpha Frequently mistaken for a Greek fraternity or sorority, Chi Alpha is a ministry organization committed to transforming universities through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • International Fellowship of Evangelical Students Local, student-led chapters of IFES are found across the globe, engaging within universities, communities, and around the world through evangelism and leadership development.
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes The FCA encourages student athletes and coaches to combine their passion for athletics and faith. By ministering first to coaches and their families, the FCA engages and empowers athletes in sports and their lives.
Catholic
  • Catholic Campus Ministry Association The CCMA is a Catholic organization dedicated to connecting and equipping campus ministers with the knowledge and tools they require to promote Church values at university campuses.
Lutheran
  • Lutheran Student Movement USA LSM-USA is a student-led organization broken up into thirteen separate regions in the United States. Supported by the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), the LSM-USA promotes protestant communities on college campuses.
Presbyterian
  • Reformed University Fellowship The RUF supports the campus ministry work of student leaders as well as ordained ministers. RUF programs include large group meetings, small Bible studies, and community service opportunities.
  • UKirk Through their website of online resources, Ukirk strives to offer professional support and development for individuals engaged in campus ministry, including student ministry leaders, supporters, and advocates.
Baptist
  • Baptist Collegiate Ministry Life BCMLife is a network of on-campus student groups, community church groups, and campus churches, all working toward a common goal of developing and leading ministry efforts for university students.

Public Universities in South Dakota with Christian Ministries

  • University of South Dakota: CRU holds ministry meetings on campus at 8 PM each Thursday in Beacom 133. The campus contact at USD is Braden Green.
  • Black Hills State University: The college connection group meets for about 15 weeks each semester, Mondays at 6:30 PM in the student union.
  • Northern State University: The local CCMA chapter is located next to campus at the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, where students can attend mass and other events.
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