8 Best Criminal Justice Schools in South Dakota

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A degree in criminal justice allows you to work in a number of positions within the field.

These include police officers, probation officers, court clerks, corrections officers, bailiffs, and highway patrol officers.

If you enjoy making a difference and helping to maintain law and order, a career in criminal justice could be right for you.

1 Dakota Wesleyan University

About School

Dakota Wesleyan University, also known as DKU, is a small school with approximately 900 undergraduate students currently enrolled.

Small class sizes and a low teacher-to-student ratio of 12:1 allow students to get the personalized learning that they need to succeed.

96% of those who graduated from DWU are employed or attending graduate school.

Program Name/Courses Offered

Dakota Wesleyan University offers an Associate and Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

You can complete an Associate degree in two years, and a Bachelor’s degree in four years.

One of the best things about DKU is the ability to focus on your specific area of interest.

Concentrate on forensic investigation, terrorism, and homeland security, wildlife law enforcement, legal studies, and juvenile services.

Once you have your degree, you can choose from potential careers including Air Marshall, Criminologist, Juvenile Counselor, Police Officer, and Conservation Officer.

Courses included in the program include Criminal Justice Ethics, Probation and Parole Procedures, Criminology, and Criminal Law.

Contact Information

2 Mount Marty University

About School

Mount Marty is known as the Catholic University of South Dakota.

You’ll find plenty of natural beauty on campus, with the college bordering the Missouri River.

The school is a private Catholic college, but 100% of students are offered financial aid, making it possible for students of all income levels to attend.

The school has about 750 students.

Mount Marty believes this is the perfect size for lots of opportunities, without being just a face in the crowd.

Program Name/Courses Offered

Mount Marty offers several criminal justice programs to choose from.

You can earn an Associate’s degree in two years.

This requires 64 credits.

You can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in four years.

This degree requires 128 credit hours.

This program prepares you for a career in law enforcement, juvenile justice, corrections, and probation and parole.

The criminal justice program can also serve as a pre-law major.

In fact, MMU has partnered with the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law.

You can complete your senior year at Mount Mary and your freshmen year of law school at the same time.

This saves you an entire year of tuition and time.

Contact Information

3 University of Sioux Falls

About School

The University of Sioux Falls, or USF, is a private Christian University that focuses on the Liberal Arts.

The school is affiliated with American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.

The classroom ratio is 17:1.

USF prides itself on small class sizes and personalized learning.

Students have an impressive 99% placement rate after graduation.

Program Name/Courses Offered

The University of Sioux Falls offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree.

The program has its foundation in social and behavioral science.

You’ll also have hands-on opportunities with internships in Sioux Falls as part of your curriculum.

The bachelor’s degree program requires 120 credit hours.

You’ll need to complete at least 39 hours of courses in criminal justice.

Some courses are core requirements, while others are electives.

This allows you to concentrate on the areas of criminal justice you are interested in.

You’ll also complete the core liberal arts requirements.

Contact Information

4 University of South Dakota

About School

The University of South Dakota is also known as USD.

The college is the most historic school in the state, founded in 1862.

They are steeped in history and tradition.

However, they are also devoted to staying up to date on today’s trends and technology.

There are around 10,000 students currently enrolled.

The school has more than 70,000 alumni.

Despite being a larger school, USD offers small class sizes of 15:1.

Program Name/Courses Offered

The University of South Dakota offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

You can choose to take courses at the Vermillion Campus, Sioux Falls campus, or online.

In addition to studying theory, you’ll get hands-on experience.

You’ll study mock crime scenes and complete an internship in the criminal justice field.

Internships include state and federal courts, law firms, law enforcement agencies, social services, nonprofits, and more.

The Farber Fund can help with expenses.

Students can receive up to $6,000 to cover both professional and personal development outside of class.

USD has alumni around the country and around the world, which can provide you with many opportunities once you graduate.

Contact Information

5 Western Dakota Technical College

About School

Western Dakota Technical College is the only technical college in Western South Dakota.

It opened in 1968.

Throughout the years, Western Dakota Tech has been committed to offering degrees in some of the fastest-growing and in-demand careers in the area.

Students have very high placement rates at 6 months after graduating.

Program Name/Courses Offered

Western Dakota Technical College offers two criminal justice programs.

You can earn your Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice, which requires 64 credits and can be completed in 18 months.

You can also choose to get an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice- Law Enforcement Emphasis.

This program requires 63 credit hours and also takes 18 months.

Associate of Applied Science degrees allow you to focus on your major, which is criminal justice in this case.

You’ll still have general education courses, but fewer than you would if you were pursuing an art or science degree.

This program is designed to prepare you for a career in criminal justice after graduation.

Courses include Criminal Investigations, Criminal Law and Procedures, and Juvenile Methods. Students taking the Law Enforcement Concentration will complete the Law Enforcement Academy.

Contact Information

6 National American University

About School

National American University is a private for-profit university that is completely online.

They offer a variety of programs, ranging from certificates to bachelor’s degrees.

They also have a generous transfer policy of 75%.

The school is devoted to providing an affordable college education.

They offer a tiered cost per credit system.

This means you’ll pay less the closer you get to completing your degree.

Program Name/Courses Offered

You’ll learn from academic professionals and active law enforcement officers and attorneys.

This allows you to get real-world examples and experience from the beginning.

You’ll learn about investigations, security, and how the justice system works.

You can choose to earn an Online Associate of Applied Arts (A.A.S.) in Criminal Justice degree from the College of Legal Studies.

This program requires 90 credits and takes about 2 years to complete.

You can also choose to earn your Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the College of Legal Studies.

This program requires 180 credit hours and takes about 4 years to complete.

Both programs are available completely online, which makes it easy for you to fit college into your busy schedule.

Contact Information

7 George S. Mickelson Center at Southeast Technical College

About School

Southeast Technical College offers nearly 70 programs ranging from Associate of Applied Science degrees to diplomas and certificates.

You can get your education and begin your new career in two years or less.

In addition to education, you’ll learn personal responsibility, civic responsibility, and career readiness.

Program Name/Courses Offered

Southeast Technical College offers a Law Enforcement Associates degree.

The degree requires 70 credit hours and can be completed in 2 years.

Once you’ve graduated, you’ll be eligible to get your law enforcement certification through the South Dakota Law Enforcement Standards and Training Commission.

You’ll learn how to perform accident investigations, constitutional and criminal law, juvenile justice, report writing, firearms training, and emergency vehicle operation.

Contact Information

8 Sitting Bull College

About School

Sitting Bull College is a tribal college.

It’s located on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, and has two sites in South Dakota as well.

The school is guided by its roots in Lakota and Dakota culture, values, and language.

Sitting Bull aims to build intellectual capital and success through career, academic, and technical education to promote economic and social development.

Program Name/Courses Offered

Sitting Bull College offers an Associate of Science degree in Criminal Justice.

This program can be completed in two years, and requires 69 credit hours.

Students will develop a knowledge of the constitution and legal foundations of American law.

They will also demonstrate an understanding of the powers and limits of Indian law based on legal precedent and federal law.

Lastly, students will learn about the various theories of deviant behavior, and what responses are suitable.

The college also offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

This program requires 121 credit hours, and typically takes 4 years to complete.

Students will learn investigative methods and techniques, criminology theories, and how to establish patterns of victimology and criminal intent.

Students will also understand tribal, state, and federal laws and jurisdictions.

Contact Information

Schools Summary Table

Rank School
#1 Dakota Wesleyan University
#2 Mount Marty University
#3 University of Sioux Falls
#4 University of South Dakota
#5 Western Dakota Technical College
#6 National American University
#7 George S. Mickelson Center at Southeast Technical College
#8 Sitting Bull College

Criminal Justice Salary Information

Criminal Justice professionals in South Dakota make an average of $37,000 to $68,000, depending on the specific job.

How much you earn will depend on your education, experience, and the aspect of criminal justice you choose to work in.

Criminalists in South Dakota make an average of $61,434, with the range being $46,089 to $67,811.

Criminal Justice specialists make an average of $44,355, with the average range being $37,747 to $54,124.

A criminalist, on the other hand, makes an average of $61,434.

The salary range for this job is $46,089 to $67,811.

Annual Salary Range:
Item Percent

Average Salary in South Dakota

City Name Salary
Sioux Falls $68,439
Rapid City $67,082
Aberdeen $63,087
Watertown $67,296
Brookings $67,296
Mitchell $67,296
Pierre $64,231
Yankton $66,396
Huron $65,192
Vermillion $65,497

Regional Salary

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Rapid City, SD70$79,110$38.04$129,750$53,730
Sioux Falls, SD50$100,430$48.28$145,480$55,440
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Detectives and Criminal Investigators, OCC Code 33-3021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Criminal Justice Schools by State

Chelsea Wilson

About Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson is the Community Relations Manager for Washington University School of Law’s distance learning LLM degree program, which provides foreign trained attorneys with the opportunity to earn a Master of Laws degree from a top-tier American university from anywhere in the world.

2 Responses to 8 Best Criminal Justice Schools in South Dakota

  1. Avatar
    Donna Russell #

    As someone looking to switch careers into law, this list provides valuable insight into the best places to pursue further education in criminal justice.

  2. Avatar
    Brett Moore #

    It’s reassuring to see such strong programs in my home state. These schools are definitely worth considering for anyone pursuing a career in criminal justice.

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