Accounting Schools in South Dakota

Numerous colleges and universities offer programs in accounting in North Dakota. This guide to accounting schools in North Dakota will help you find the information you need to make a choice on the right school for you based on your educational and career needs and interests. In addition to traditional on-campus programs, online and distance education programs may also be able to provide the opportunities you are looking for from an accounting school.

Quick Facts

  • There are 12 not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in South Dakota.1
  • 2 not-for-profit schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
  • Highest graduation rate*: Augustana University, 71%1
  • Highest transfer-out rate*: Dakota State University, 41%1
  • Highest net price per year*: Dakota Wesleyan University, $20,9481
  • Lowest net price per year*: Northern State University, $14,4891
  • No schools ranked in Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2017.
  • No schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018.
  • No schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2019 (top 100).

*For four-year not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.

Continue reading to find profiles of popular schools and programs and information about possible career tracks for graduates from accounting schools in South Dakota.

Schools with the Highest 2015 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree

  1. University of South Dakota (77.8%)

There was one school with first-time CPA candidates in South Dakota (with an advanced degree) in 2015. The 77.8% pass rate was higher than the national pass rate of 48.4% for all candidates in 2015 (with a bachelor’s or advanced degree). When weighing options for accounting programs, the CPA exam pass rate can be a helpful metric but the numbers can be misleading for schools with a small number of candidates. For a comprehensive breakdown of CPA exam statistics see the 2015 NASBA Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report provided by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in South Dakota

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Dakota State University (Madison, SD)

Dakota State University offers a master’s program that can prepare students to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam and meet state-level qualifications for CPA licensure with its Master of Business Administration (MBA) in General Management. In addition to flexible full- or part-time scheduling, students can attend classes on campus or online. Accounting-related courses in the program include Accounting for Managers, Advanced Business Finance, and Principles of Information Assurance. A capstone course in Strategic Management and Decision Making draws together materials learned across the curriculum and culminates in a comprehensive exam. Graduates are prepared to apply professional skills and knowledge in accounting, finance, and complimentary subject areas to professional leadership roles. Graduate assistantships and other financial aid packages are available to assist with the cost of tuition. US News ranks Dakota State University #118 (tie) in Regional Universities (Midwest). Dakota State University is a public school with a relatively small student body despite its competitively priced tuition, for which students receive a quality education.

Northern State University (Aberdeen, SD)

Northern State University offers a Master of Science (MS) in Banking and Financial Services through its College of Business that can prepare students for careers in accounting and financial services, including internal auditing and compliance and regulation. Students learn the knowledge needed to succeed in public accounting through the acquisition of advanced and applied knowledge of financial and ethical principles. The graduate curriculum, developed in partnership with financial services industry professionals, may include such courses as International Finance, Accounting for Entrepreneurs, Quantitative Procedures for Business, and Investments. The program is designed to allow students to complete all degree requirements within two years. The Banking and Financial Services Department at Northern State University also offers certificates in Intermediate and Executive Banking. Various student associations in accounting and business offer extracurricular learning opportunities. Northern State University is ranked #101 (tie) in Regional Colleges (Midwest) by US News. Located in the small community of Aberdeen, Northern State is a scenic Midwest college that offers a superior education.

University of South Dakota (Vermillion, SD)

University of South Dakota offers a Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA) degree through its Beacom School of Business that aims to contribute value to the practice of accounting through engendering thought and cultivating ideas in students and scholars. Courses may be taken on campus, online, or through a hybrid combination for personalized learning. Students may take up to seven years from starting the program to complete the degree. Through courses such as Seminar in Cost Accounting, Contemporary Topics in Auditing, Accounting in Government and Non-profit Organizations, and Seminar in Tax, students are thoroughly prepared for successful careers in public or private accounting practice. Three completion options, thesis, non-thesis, and internship, are offered. The Beacom School of Business also offers a joint MPA with Juris Doctor (JD) program to allow students to earn their graduate degrees in accounting and law concurrently and is the only fully Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)-accredited business school in South Dakota. US News ranks University of South Dakota #226 (tie) National Universities.

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in South Dakota

DeSmet and Biggs LLP is one of the largest certified public accounting firms in western South Dakota, with offices in Rapid City. The firm is always open to reviewing resumes from qualified applicants. Ketel Thorstenson, LLP is another of South Dakota’s largest accounting firms, and the firm continues to grow, with offices in Rapid City, Spearfish, and Custer. Ketel Thorstenson’s employee benefits are competitive and include generous paid time off. Eide Bailly is one of the Top 25 CPA firms in the US, with over 40,000 clients supported by 1,200 professionals. Its offices in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls are great potential places for new grads to start a career.

How to Become a CPA in South Dakota

The South Dakota Board of Accountancy oversees the process for becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the state. There are six main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license.

  1. Complete a 150-semester hour or 225-quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.
  2. Submit the Uniform CPA Initial Examination Application.
  3. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
  4. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
  5. Earn the required hours of experience.
  6. Submit the Application for the CPA Certificate.

1. Complete a 150-semester hour or 225-quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.

The South Dakota Board of Accountancy requires CPA candidates to complete a 150-semester hour program of college study that includes a bachelor’s or graduate degree in accounting or a substantial equivalent. All candidates must complete at least 24 semester hours of accounting courses as well as 24 semester hours in business courses aside from accounting.

2. Submit the Uniform CPA Initial Examination Application.

Once the 150-hour program of education has been completed, candidates should submit the Uniform CPA Initial Examination Application to the South Dakota Board of Accountancy. Official transcripts from each school attended must accompany the application.

3. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

Once an Initial Examination Application is approved, the candidate will receive an Authorization to Test for the Uniform CPA Exam. This exam is a requirement for CPA licensure in all 50 states. Candidates will schedule and pay for the exam through ProMetric. Prometric will forward exam results to the South Dakota Board of Accountancy. All four sections of the exam must be passed within an 18-month rolling period to qualify for a license.

4. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.

The South Dakota Board of Accountancy has adopted the AICPA Professional Ethics course to fulfill its pre-licensure ethics requirement. The course and accompanying exam are self-study and can be ordered through the AICPA website. Note that candidates do not have to achieve a passing score on the Uniform CPA Exam prior to taking and passing the ethics exam.

5. Earn the required hours of experience.

Prospective South Dakota CPAs must earn at least one year (2,000 hours) of experience in accounting prior to becoming licensed. To work in attest services after licensure, experience must include 375 work hours in audit, compilation, or review. For the 2,000-hour total, work that involves audit, review, compilation, tax, management advisory or consulting, or academia utilizing accounting skills qualifies. The experience must be verified by the candidate’s supervisor/employer and a licensed CPA. Note that candidates working for a licensed CPA firm must obtain a CPA certificate within 90 days of meeting the experience requirement.

6. Submit the Application for the CPA Certificate.

The Application for the CPA Certificate may be submitted to apply for a license once all licensing requirements are met. Candidates do not need to re-submit transcripts unless requested. However, candidates must be sure to include the Certificate of Experience with the application form.

To renew the CPA license, licensees must complete 120 hours of continuing education every three years, with a minimum of 20 continuing education hours completed per year. You can find additional information at the South Dakota Board of Accountancy website.

South Dakota Accountant Salary and Job Outlook

Projected Job Growth


Accountants and Auditors in South Dakota from 2016-20262

Accountants in South Dakota make an average annual salary of $65,460 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.3 Most accountants in South Dakota work in the eastern part of the state, where Sioux Falls provides the most employment opportunities, although Rapid City also has a high concentration of positions.3 The average salary in Sioux Falls is slightly higher than the rest of the state, at $67,790 annually.3 In general, accountant and auditor positions are projected to grow by 9.8% through 2026 in South Dakota, providing career opportunities for new graduates.2

1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026): https://projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017, 13-2011 Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm