Online RN to MSN Programs in South Dakota
South Dakota State University is ready and able to offer an online RN to MSN program. We give it full coverage in our school listings, but here’s a short summary of the distance learning aspects:
- South Dakota State University: The undergraduate portion of the RN to MSN is 100% online. Non-NP specialties (e.g. administration, education & CNL) are also online, with a combination of asynchronous study and—potentially—synchronous meetings (e.g. scheduled class times for online courses). However, you may need to visit Brookings, Sioux Falls or Rapid City if you choose the thesis or project option to defend your work at the end of the degree. In addition, some electives may only be offered on-campus. The FNP is hybrid, with a mixture of online and face-to-face coursework in Rapid City or Sioux Falls (e.g. advanced health assessment). Be sure to check the South Dakota State University Authorization by State Map and talk to your state Board of Nursing (if needs be) before applying.
Searching for more variety? Our page on Online RN to MSN Programs contains a complete listing of options from every state. You’ll find opportunities for applicants with a diploma, ADN, and/or non-nursing bachelor’s degree.
South Dakota’s Healthcare Landscape
Like many rural states, South Dakota is facing a number of healthcare challenges. It tends to have a low number of primary care physicians and mental health providers—more than 1 in 4 South Dakota residents may live in a primary care shortage area. It’s been fighting a meth epidemic, especially among youth. It has high rates of suicide, diabetes, and chronic liver disease/cirrhosis. Infant mortality rates are up. And uninsured rates in rural counties are usually high.
Meth has proved just as deadly as the opioid epidemic in South Dakota. It’s led to a spike in arrests for drug-related offenses, a rise in violent crime, and exacerbated problems with mental illness and substance abuse. And that’s not even touching the issues surrounding binge drinking and fetal alcohol syndrome.
American Indian leaders are particularly concerned about healthcare on South Dakota reservations. If you look at the BCBS Health Index Map and County Health Rankings, you’ll see that counties with the lowest rankings in health outcomes & health factors often overlap with Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock & Crow Creek Reservations. To make matters worse, the Indian Health Service (IHS) is severely underfunded and understaffed. In 2019, IHS failures led the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board to enter into a self-determination contract to manage most operations at the Sioux San Hospital.
These challenges can be tackled, but they require coordinated partnerships among healthcare providers. As experienced nurses, APRNs are in a prime position to:
- Advocate for state & federal funding for addiction services, mental health clinics in rural areas, and support services (e.g. referral to treatment after the first arrest for a meth or alcohol-related offense).
- Push for public health education in South Dakota schools & job creation for recent high school graduates.
- Contribute to the state’s Primary Care Task Force and work with the SDSMA to expand NP care into rural & underserved areas.
- Support university efforts that bolster the number of American Indian nurses from South Dakota Reservations (e.g. scholarship programs, funded residencies, recruitment drives, partnered training programs, etc.).
Jobs for South Dakota RN to MSN Graduates
Career Outlook for RN to MSN Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps a close eye on job & wage data for Nurse Practitioners and Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary. We particularly like the regional & state maps on these pages, since they allow you to compare options. Hover over an area to view the data points.
- As you might expect, Sioux Falls is far and away the major job hub (e.g. 57% of NPs), with Rapid City in a distant second. In contrast, West South Dakota (i.e. the middle of the state) might only have 50 NPs for the entire area.
- In East South Dakota, you’ll also find a sizeable portion of nursing instructors (think the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and Dakota State University in Madison). Wages tend to be fairly low, but so, too, is South Dakota’s cost of living.
If you’re interested in a hospital job, check out U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the Best Hospitals in South Dakota and the ANCC’s list of Magnet Facilities. Opportunities in urban areas include:
- Sioux Falls: Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center and Sanford USD Medical Center are the two big names in town. They’re both regarded as “Best Hospitals” and they’re both Magnet Facilities. The Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital and the Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota tend to be high performing in gerontological procedures and have strong patient experience ratings.
- Rapid City: Rapid City Regional Hospital is a “Best Hospital” and large employer. Other options include the Black Hills Surgical Hospital, which has solid patient experience ratings, and the Spearfish Regional Hospital in Spearfish.
Looking for more autonomy? NPs in South Dakota have full independent practice authority, but they must complete a minimum of 1,040 practice hours under physician supervision before it will be granted. See the South Dakota Board of Nursing’s CNP section for details.
APRNs who are willing to work in underserved areas can also apply for the South Dakota Recruitment Assistance Program (RAP), which provides incentive payments in return for a 3-year, full time service commitment in an eligible rural community. South Dakota’s Office of Rural Health has more info & career advice for rural providers. You may also want to attend SDAHO’s Rural Health Leaders Conference.
Career Resources for Future APRNs
South Dakota Nursing Job Boards
- SDNA Career Center: Job listings for South Dakota nurses, including APRNs, nurse leaders, and nurse educators
- NPASD Career Center: Job listings for South Dakota NPs in northern states
South Dakota APRN Salary & Wage Data
- Annual Mean Wages for South Dakota Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: Categories can include “Nurse Practitioners,” “Nurse Midwives,” and “Nurse Anesthetists”
- Annual Mean Wages for South Dakota Nursing Instructors & Teachers, Postsecondary
- AANP National Compensation Survey: Available to AANP members
South Dakota Nursing Organizations
State Board of Nursing
South Dakota Nursing Associations & Coalitions
- Nurse Practitioner Association of South Dakota (NPASD)
- South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO)
- South Dakota Nurses Association (SDNA)
South Dakota Nursing Specialty Organizations
- Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses – South Dakota (AWHONN South Dakota)
- Minnesota-Dakota Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (MNDAKSPAN)
- Siouxland Chapter of AACN
- South Dakota Association of Nurse Anesthetists (SDANA)
- South Dakota Emergency Nurses Association (SD ENA)
- South Dakota School Nurse Association (SDSNA)
- South Dakota Student Nurses Association (SDSNA)
- South Dakota Organization of Nurse Executives (SDONE)
Nursing School Overview
SDSU is a public research university with a well-known College of Nursing (CON) - around 1/3 of newly licensed RNs in South Dakota are SDSU graduates and the university is one of the few in the area to offer graduate-level programs. Community involvement is encouraged at SDSU. The CON runs a Rural Nurse Fellow Program for BSN-level nursing students who would like to complete a preceptorship in a rural healthcare facility; it plays host to the Native American Nursing Education Center (NANEC); and practicums take place in a variety of local and regional clinical settings where SDSU has built partnerships. We also like the fact that nursing faculty are involved in relevant research projects (e.g. telehealth, e-learning in nursing, rural primary care, maternal health, etc.). According to SDSU's fast facts, the CON has an excellent APRN pass rate (e.g. 100% in 2017) and strong first-time NCLEX pass rates. And you'll usually find it in the top 110 of U.S. News & World Report rankings for Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs. Professors for those programs tend to be experienced (e.g. average of 10 years teaching online courses) and educated (e.g. over 80% of full-time faculty have a Ph.D. or terminal degree). SDSU's online graduate rates are very affordable, but keep in mind that the RN to MSN pathway can involve a large number of total credits. To avoid the debt trap, you may want to apply for any relevant SDSU nursing scholarships.
RN to MSN Admissions & Curriculum
SDSU's online RN to MSN program is a variation on its RN to BSN program. To apply, candidates should have an ADN, an unencumbered RN license in their state of practice, a 3.0-3.3 cumulative GPA, and a prerequisite in statistics (within 5 years of enrollment in the Nurse 626 course). Once accepted, you'll tackle many of the same courses as RN to BSN students. You'll need to fulfill any general education & elective credit requirements (up to 90 community/technical college credits can be transferred) and complete ~38 credits in the nursing major at SDSU. During this time, you can request approval to substitute 2 required graduate-level nursing courses as part of the curriculum. The entire undergraduate portion might take 3 semesters on a full-time basis (e.g. 3-4 courses per semester), but part-time study is available. The length of the MSN and total credits will depend on the concentration. For example, the Nurse Educator concentration includes a thesis option, project option, or coursework-only option and might take 2 years on a full-time schedule (e.g. 2-4 courses per semester) or 3 years on a part-time plan (e.g. 1-2 courses per semester). See the sample curriculum plans in each concentration for more details. All non-NP specialties are online, with practicums or clinical immersions that can be completed in your home community. The FNP track is hybrid, with a blend of online and face-to-face course delivery in Sioux Falls or Rapid City. The MSN-FNP can be finished on a 3-year plan (1-2 courses per semester, including labs and practicums) - you must take a minimum of 5 credits per semester to qualify for financial aid.