Accounting Schools in South Dakota

This summary of graduate-level accounting programs in South Dakota provides prospective students with information on professional and academic opportunities in the state. As there are only a couple of schools that offer master’s in accounting degrees in South Dakota, students may wish to look at online and distance education programs from around the country, as well as programs in nearby states like North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, and Iowa. Keep reading to learn more about accounting programs in South Dakota, how to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state, and salary and employment information for South Dakota accountants.

Quick Facts

  • There are 12 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in South Dakota.1
  • 3 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
  • No schools were ranked in Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019.2
  • No schools were ranked in the Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors 2020.3
  • No schools were ranked in Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019.4
  • No schools were ranked in US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2020.5
  • 1 school had a 2018 CPA exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
  • 1 university is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.7
  • 1 school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).8
  • No schools are accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).9

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

Table of Contents

Steps to Become a CPA in South Dakota

The South Dakota Board of Accountancy (the Board) oversees licensed accountants and regulates the process for becoming a CPA in the state. There are seven main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license in South Dakota.

  1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education 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. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
  6. Apply for the CPA Certificate.
  7. Receive a CPA Certificate.

1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.

The Board requires CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college education that includes the award of a bachelor’s or graduate degree in accounting or a substantial equivalent. All candidates must complete at least 24 semester hours of accounting courses, including a course in elementary principles of accounting.

At least one course in each of the following subjects is also required:

  • Auditing
  • Cost accounting
  • Intermediate or advanced accounting
  • Taxation

In addition to accounting courses, 24 semester hours in business courses are also required.

2. Submit the Uniform CPA Initial Examination Application.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Uniform CPA Exam is a requirement for CPA licensure in all 50 states and is administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Once the 150 hours of college education has been completed, candidates must submit the Uniform CPA Initial Examination Application to the Board. Candidates who have not completed the 150 hours of college education may apply within 100 days of their anticipated completion. Official transcripts from each school attended must accompany the application. The Board will forward eligibility determination to the NASBA National Candidate Database.

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. Candidates will schedule and pay for the exam through the ProMetric website; ProMetric will forward exam results to the Board. All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of 75 or higher within an 18-month rolling period to qualify for a license.

4. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.

The Board 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 South Dakota CPA Society’s website. Applicants must pass the ethics exam with a score of at least 90%. 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. Accumulate 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, the experience must include 375 work hours in audit, compilation, or review. For the 2,000-hour total, qualifying work includes audit, review, compilation, tax, management advisory or consulting, or academia utilizing accounting skills. 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. Apply 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. Candidates must include proof of completion of the AICPA ethics course and exam and Certificate of Experience with the application form.

7. Receive a CPA Certificate.

Once Uniform CPA Exam scores have been received and the application packet is reviewed and approved by the Board, a CPA Certificate will be issued to applicants within 90 days.

CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information

CPA licenses in South Dakota must be renewed annually between July 1 to June 30 each year. On the renewal form, continuing professional education (CPE) hours should be reported. Licensees must complete 120 hours of continuing education every three years, with a minimum of 20 CPE hours completed per year. While the 120-hour requirement does not start over every three years, it is figured on a rolling cycle. Therefore, licensees must have completed 120 hours when adding the current year and the previous two years. More information can be found on the Board’s website.

South Dakota CPA Salary and Job Outlook

Accountants in South Dakota earn an average annual salary of $67,470 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is significantly less than the national average of $79,520.10,11 Most accountants in South Dakota work in the eastern part of the state, with Sioux Falls having the highest number of people employed in this occupation; the salary here is also slightly higher than the rest of the state at $70,660 annually.11 The nonmetropolitan area of western South Dakota has a higher concentration of jobs and location quotients than any other nonmetropolitan area in the country, though the number of accountants in the area is not particularly high.11 In general, accountant and auditor positions are projected to grow by 9.8% through 2028 in South Dakota, which is significantly faster than the national average of 6.4%.12

South Dakota CPA Salary by Metro Area

Metro AreaNumber Employed10Average Annual Salary10
Rapid City680$67,540
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD490$64,590
Sioux Falls1,970$70,660
East South Dakota nonmetropolitan area1,210$64,990
West South Dakota nonmetropolitan area710$63,310

South Dakota Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison

Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit South Dakota colleges and universities offering a master’s degree in accounting. The graduation rate is for first-time undergraduates seeking a bachelor’s degree, but since it is widely considered to be an indicator of a school’s overall success, we have included it for comparison. Also please note that tuition per credit is based on in-state, on-campus tuition; per-credit rates may vary for out-of-state and online students.

School NameAccreditationCPA Exam Pass Rate6Master’s in Accounting Degree(s)Acceptance Rate13Grad Rate1Online Options?Tuition per Credit
Augustana UniversityN.Av.MPA-Master of Professional Accountancy;
3+2 Master of Professional Accountancy*
Northern State UniversityACBSPN.Av.MS-Master of Accounting AnalyticsN.Av.48%Yes$330
University of South DakotaAACSB67.4%MPA-Master of Professional Accountancy;
Joint BBA/Master of Professional Accountancy Fast-Track Option (BBA/MPA)*;
Joint Master of Professional Accountancy/Juris Doctor (MPA/JD)*

  • * indicates combined program.
  • — indicates none.
  • N.Av. indicates no data available.

Select Schools in South Dakota with Master’s in Accounting Programs

Traditional Programs

Augustana University

Augustana University (AU) offers a 30-credit hour Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA) degree program for students seeking to fulfill the 150-hour education requirement of the CPA exam. The curriculum was developed with input from employers and is designed to prepare students for the real-world challenges of the accounting and auditing industry. Students complete hands-on tasks to develop technical accounting skills and apply theory to practice. Faculty are experienced in the field of accounting and teach students effective presentation and business writing skills. Internships are encouraged and often lead to employment opportunities for graduates. The program requires foundational core prerequisite courses which must be taken if not already completed during undergraduate studies. Required coursework includes seven classes totaling 21-credit hours in accounting and business and nine credit hours of electives, such as Financial Reporting & Analysis, Accounting Beyond the Financial Statements, and Ideas that have Shaped Our World. The 3+2 Master of Professional Accountancy is a combined program through which undergraduate students can choose to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting in only five years.

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota (USD) offers a 30-credit hour Master of Professional Accountancy (MPA) degree through its AACSB-accredited 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. Foundational core prerequisite courses must be completed before beginning the program if not already satisfied during undergraduate studies. Through courses such as Cost Accounting, Contemporary Topics in Auditing, and Accounting in Government and Non-profit Organizations, graduates should be 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 combined programs for students to fast track their studies while earning two degrees. The BBA/MPA allows students to earn both degrees simultaneously, saving students time and money. USD also offers a joint MPA with the Juris Doctor (JD) program to allow students to earn their graduate degrees in accounting and law concurrently. Scholarships and graduate assistantships are available to high-performing students to offset the costs of the program.

Online and Hybrid Programs

Northern State University

Northern State University’s (NSU) School of Business offers a Master of Science (MS) in Accounting Analytics that prepares students for careers in accounting and financial services, including financial analysis and forensic accounting. The ACBSP-accredited program can be completed either in-person or online for the working student who requires a more flexible academic schedule. Graduates of the program are equipped with the knowledge needed to succeed in public accounting through the acquisition of advanced and applied knowledge of financial and ethical principles. The 30-credit hour graduate curriculum can be earned in one year provided specific foundational prerequisite course requirements have been met and includes such courses as Advanced Income Tax; Managerial Accounting and Business Intelligence; and Accounting and Strategic Business Analysis. An MS in Banking and Financial Services is also available 100% online for students interested in financial management. Students can be admitted and begin coursework in any semester.

Additional Resources

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in South Dakota

  • DeSmet and Biggs LLP: One of the largest CPA firms in western South Dakota, with offices in Rapid City.
  • Ketel Thorstenson, LLP: Established in 1936, this firm builds relationships with clients in Rapid City, Spearfish, and Custer.
  • Eide Bailly: One of the Top 25 CPA firms in the US, with over 40,000 clients supported by 1,200 professionals, this firm has offices in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls.

South Dakota Accounting Associations

  • South Dakota CPA Society (SDCPAS): This organization of CPA certificate holders provides service and support to its members through continuing education opportunities and advocacy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the educational requirements to obtain a South Dakota CPA license?

A bachelor’s or graduate degree including 150 semester hours of college education is required. Of those 150 hours, 24 hours must be in graduate-level accounting courses and another 24 hours must be in graduate-level business courses.

How much do accountants earn in South Dakota?

Accountants and auditors in South Dakota earn an average annual salary of $65,800 according to the BLS.10

What do I have to do before I can sit for the CPA exam?

To take the CPA exam, candidates must be within 100 days of holding a bachelor’s degree and have completed 150 credit hours of college education. Applicants should submit the Uniform CPA Initial Examination Application to the Board along with official transcripts from each school attended and wait to receive the Authorization to Test with directions for payment and scheduling of the exam.

Do I need to pass an ethics exam before taking the CPA exam?

No, but all candidates for licensure must take the AICPA self-study ethics course and exam to fulfill ethics requirements for CPA licensure in the state. Candidates may select to take the course and exam either before or after passing the CPA exam in South Dakota. A score of at least 90% is required and the course must be completed within one year of the date of purchase.

1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Forbes Best Business Schools 2019: https://www.forbes.com/business-schools/list/2/
3. The Princeton Review. The Best 385 Colleges, 2020 Edition. The Princeton Review, 2019.
4. Public Accounting Report 2019 Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs: https://wpcarey.asu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/par-grad-2019.pdf
5. US News & World Report Best Accounting Programs 2020: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/accounting-rankings
6. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. The NASBA Report on the CPA Exam: Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination, 2018 Edition. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, Inc., 2019.
7. Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International: https://www.aacsb.edu/about
8. Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP): https://acbsp.org/
9. International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE): https://iacbe.org/
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Dakota: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sd.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 Occupational Employment and Wages, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
12. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
13. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2020: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools