Cybersecurity Programs in South Dakota


Updated March 15, 2023

Earn a cybersecurity degree to help prepare for tech careers in South Dakota. Read on to discover the state's cybersecurity education and professional development opportunities. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Historic Main Street in Deadwood, South Dakota at twilight Credit: Walter Bibikow / DigitalVision / Getty Images

In addition to South Dakota's natural beauty, the state is recognized for its business-friendly climate. With South Dakota's low tax rates and high investment in new business development, technology companies can establish themselves in the state at a fraction of the cost of operating in other locations.

As a result, the cyberdefense industry in South Dakota is growing, and new cybersecurity experts can find a burgeoning professional community in the Mount Rushmore State. According to the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development, as of 2021, the state houses 1,179 cybersecurity companies, and 3,491 state residents work in the industry.

Explore this article to learn more about cybersecurity degrees, careers, and employers in South Dakota.

South Dakota at a Glance

Average Wage for Computer and Mathematical Occupations, 2021


Percentage of Workforce in Tech


Economic Impact of Tech Industry

$2 billion

Number of Higher Learning Institutions


Sources: Cyberstates™, NCES, OEWS

Why Go to In-Person or Online Colleges in South Dakota?

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 50,849 students were enrolled in postsecondary education programs across South Dakota in 2020. These learners pursue degrees at every level — from associate to doctoral programs — in diverse fields, including cybersecurity.

These schools offer valuable resources for students: For example, Dakota State University (DSU) recently added Madison Cyber Labs — a research, development, and economic opportunity hub — to their cybersecurity program. The lab allows DSU students to learn from cutting-edge researchers and developers.

Other public and private schools in South Dakota also offer robust cybersecurity education experiences at economical prices. At four-year schools, public tuition is lower than national averages for in-state and out-of-state enrollees, and private schools also charge lower-than-average tuition.

Learners from nearby states may qualify for tuition reciprocity agreements that offer lower educational costs. In-state learners can benefit from state-sponsored scholarships. The South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations maintains a list of scholarships specifically for Native American students in South Dakota.

South Dakota offers a variety of learning experiences. The state is home to public schools, faith-based institutions, and community colleges. Students can pursue degrees at schools in urban areas or in rural locations. They can take classes online or in person.

Education Statistics for South Dakota

According to NCES data, 53.2% of students in South Dakota were enrolled in at least some distance education classes in 2021. While online enrollment has trended upward in recent years, this particular data likely reflects the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education.

Higher Education Statistics South Dakota Data National Data

Four-Year Colleges



Two-Year Colleges



Students Enrolled in Distance Education



Source: NCES

Accreditation for South Dakota Schools

When exploring cybersecurity degrees in South Dakota, look for accredited schools. Accreditation means a school has submitted to a rigorous review of their academics, finances, policies, and governance. In South Dakota, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is the region's institutional accrediting agency. The HLC regularly evaluates its member schools to ensure they meet accepted standards of quality.

Some cybersecurity programs also hold programmatic accreditation with agencies like ABET. Programmatic accreditation helps assure these schools that their programs are providing relevant, industry-leading cybersecurity education. Three South Dakota institutions hold ABET accreditation.

Considerations for a Cybersecurity Degree in South Dakota

Prospective students should consider a variety of factors as they determine which schools best align with their academic and professional goals.

Is an associate or bachelor's more appropriate? Should the program focus on hands-on technological service or emphasize research and computer science theory?

Tuition is another major concern. State-supported schools provide South Dakota residents with a low baseline price. Private schools may offer financial aid packages to make their programs more affordable.

Finally, aspiring students need to decide whether to pursue an online, in-person, or hybrid program. Online education means enrollees do not have to relocate to earn a degree, but distance learning requires self-discipline and time management. Students who want face-to-face interaction with peers and professors may prefer an in-person experience.

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Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Associate Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

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Best Online Bachelor's in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs

Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity Programs

Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Top Doctoral Degree Programs in Cybersecurity

Most Diverse Cybersecurity Programs

Most Diverse Cybersecurity Programs

HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs

HBCUs With the Best Cybersecurity Programs

Cybersecurity Concentrations and Similar Degrees

South Dakota has invested in cybersecurity research by building education facilities designed to expand the state's role in the information security space. Consequently, the following concentrations or degrees may help South Dakota residents qualify for cybersecurity jobs in the state.

Computer Science

Computer science is the study of computers and how they can solve problems. The discipline also encompasses the study of algorithms and data structures, computer architecture, and software engineering.

Computer Forensics

Computer forensics is the process of uncovering and analyzing digital evidence found on electronic devices. This evidence is used in legal proceedings. A digital forensics examiner uses specialized techniques to identify, preserve, extract, and present information stored on digital media.

Computer Engineering

Computer engineering combines elements of both electrical engineering and computer science to design and maintain hardware and software systems. These systems and networks protect against unauthorized access, misuse, and disruption from malicious actors.

Paying for Your Cybersecurity Degree

Generally, South Dakota institutions charge lower-than-average tuition. Beside the affordable tuition, students in South Dakota can apply for need-based grants, scholarships, or student loans. Residents who graduated from a South Dakota high school may qualify for the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship, for example.

Individual schools also offer financial aid options for cybersecurity students. For instance, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation, Dakota State University offers the CyberCorps scholarship program for qualified students in the discipline.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

South Dakota residents can take advantage of in-state prices at public schools. Through the South Dakota Advantage Plan, some state schools even extend in-state tuition to qualifying residents of neighboring states.

As a member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, South Dakota's schools can benefit from the initiative's tuition reciprocity agreements. Participating institutions can enroll select out-of-state students from the region and charge them lower tuition.

Out-of-state students may also enjoy financial benefits at South Dakota's two-year colleges, where average tuition prices are nearly equal between residents and non-residents.

South Dakota's Cost of Living

Cost-of-living measurements help explain the state's average cost of groceries, rent, utilities, and other daily necessities. Although not tied to tuition rates, a state's cost of living impacts students' budgets.

World Population Review ranks South Dakota's cost of living at 101. This is slightly higher than the national average of 100.

Careers for Cybersecurity Graduates in South Dakota

U.S. News & World Report places South Dakota's economic climate in the middle of its ranking of state economies. Though its distance from established tech hubs may mean that South Dakota never becomes the next Silicon Valley, the digitization of operations in industries such as healthcare and agriculture lead to an increased demand for cybersecurity professionals. As a result, technology-oriented cybersecurity experts may still find careers that pay higher-than-average salaries in the state.

CompTIA's CyberStates report shows that though only 3.3% of South Dakota's workforce is employed in the technology sector, there were over 6,000 tech job openings in 2021. This reflects the state's continued investment in cybersecurity education and research.

Select Cybersecurity Careers in South Dakota

Security Engineer

Security engineers design and build the structures and systems that protect data. New engineers generally need a bachelor's degree in a related field and 1-5 years of relevant experience.

National Average Salary for Security Engineer: $97,520 as of February 2023

Security Director

Security directors manage physical and digital security teams. They usually oversee incident prevention and response as well as create budgets and strategic plans. These professionals may need a master's degree or graduate certificate.

National Average Salary for Security Directors: $97,510 as of January 2023

Computer Forensics Analyst

Computer forensics analysts unlock encrypted files or recover erased data that may be useful in criminal cases. These experts generally hold a bachelor's degree or have completed a coding bootcamp in South Dakota and earned third-party certifications.

National Average Salary for Computer Forensics Analysts: $75,260 as of February 2023

Projections Central data projects that South Dakota will add 180 new information security analyst positions between 2018 and 2028: a 41.9% increase. As detailed below, South Dakota shows a significant growth trajectory in other technology-related professions as well.

South Dakota Employment Trends

Projected Job Growth for Computer Hardware Engineers, Computer Network Architects, and Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers
Year State National

Computer Hardware Engineers

2020 Employment



2030 Projected Employment



Projected Job Growth, 2020-30



Computer Network Architects

2018 Employment



2028 Projected Employment



Projected Job Growth, 2018-28



Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers

2020 Employment



2030 Projected Employment



Projected Job Growth, 2020-30



Source: Projections Central

Salaries for Cybersecurity and Related Careers, 2021
Career South Dakota Employment South Dakota Average Annual Wage National Average Annual Wage

Computer and Information Systems Managers




Computer Hardware Engineers




Computer Network Architects




Computer Network Support Specialists




Computer Programmers




Computer Systems Analysts




Information Security Analysts




Network and Computer Systems Administrators




Software Developers




Web Developers




Source: BLS OEWS

While average salaries for South Dakota cybersecurity careers typically fall below national averages, each of these professions' average wages in South Dakota exceed the national median wage for all workers. Information security analysts and computer and information systems managers are among the highest-paying careers for South Dakota's technology professionals.

Cybersecurity Employers in South Dakota

South Dakota employers across industries need cybersecurity professionals. Some of the state's largest companies regularly recruit technology experts to help secure data, deliver services, or protect infrastructure. The employers below represent just a few of these companies.

Black Hills Energy: South Dakota's utility company provides energy solutions to residences and commercial buildings across the state. This company employs security experts to help protect customer data and power grid digital infrastructures.

Sanford Health: Sanford Health employs nearly 50,000 people to fulfill its mission of health and healing. The organization seeks cybersecurity experts to assess vulnerabilities, lead incident responses, and protect sensitive medical records.

mPulse: mPulse provides a conversational AI platform to improve digital health engagement. The company recruits cybersecurity professionals to audit its security measures and build a culture of compliance.

Professional Cybersecurity Organizations in South Dakota

  • DakotaCon: A three-day conference in Madison, South Dakota, DakotaCon offers opportunities to network, socialize, and learn with other cybersecurity professionals. The organization maintains a website with archives from previous conferences.
  • South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance: Developed in the 1980s to create protection from tort liability for municipalities, the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance remains committed to protecting local government agencies. Today, more than 400 local government entities belong to the organization. Members can take advantage of cybersecurity educational resources online.
  • South Dakota Cybersecurity: Part of the South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, this cybersecurity division provides important information to state residents. The website offers access to training and education, relevant state laws and policies, and election security information.

Schools With Cybersecurity Degrees in South Dakota

Questions About Cybersecurity in South Dakota

  • Can I study cybersecurity online at a South Dakota college?

    Yes. You can find several online options for cybersecurity programs at South Dakota colleges and universities. Learners can complete online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels while enrolled in South Dakota schools.

  • Are the best cybersecurity schools in South Dakota expensive?

    Tuition costs at cybersecurity schools in South Dakota vary by institution. Generally speaking, cybersecurity programs in South Dakota charge lower-than-average tuition. Schools may offer scholarships and other financial aid opportunities to help make attending more affordable.

  • Can I get a cybersecurity job in South Dakota after a coding bootcamp?

    Completing a coding bootcamp can help you build the skills required for cybersecurity jobs in South Dakota. Some employers may hire bootcamp graduates, while others prefer employees with a degree.

  • Does DSU have a cybersecurity program?

    Dakota State University offers an associate degree in network and security administration and a bachelor's degree in cyberoperations. At the graduate level, students can pursue a master's degree or a Ph.D. in cyberdefense. DSU also provides graduate and undergraduate cybersecurity certificates.

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