South Dakota Criminal Justice Schools

South Dakota is home to many criminal justice programs, including associate's and bachelor's degree programs as well as professional certificates. Criminal justice-related specialties that you can study in South Dakota include forensic science, wildlife law enforcement, and military science. The University of South Dakota also offers an online criminal justice degree. On this page, you'll learn more about the criminal justice programs available in South Dakota so that you can make an informed decision.

Quick Facts

  • There are 9 schools offering criminal justice degrees in South Dakota (see below).1
  • 7 colleges and universities offer associate's degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 6 colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • No colleges or universities offer master's or doctoral degrees in criminal justice.*1
  • 2 colleges and universities offer criminal justice degree programs online.*1
  • No schools ranked in Kiplinger's Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018.2
  • 1 school ranked in College Factual's Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges in 2018.3
  • No schools ranked in Criminal Justice Degree Schools Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2018.4
  • No schools ranked in US News Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs in 2018.5

*For not-for-profit colleges and universities with criminal justice degree programs.

Criminal Justice Degree Programs in South Dakota

Schools in South Dakota offer opportunities to earn criminal justice degrees on campus, online, or through a combination of both with hybrid study. Many criminal justice jobs in South Dakota require only a high school degree to qualify, but graduates with a college degree are typically preferred. In some cases, earning a degree is an entry-level requirement. For example, Rapid City's police department requires an associate's degree or at least four years of law enforcement experience for police department applicants. Many federal government jobs require a bachelor's degree if candidates do not have significant prior experience. As a result, earning your criminal justice degree in South Dakota can lead to increased salary potential and expanded career opportunities.

Top-Ranked Schools with Criminal Justice Programs in South Dakota

College Factual's Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges 2018

  • University of South Dakota (#196)

Profiles of Well-Known Schools in South Dakota

University of South Dakota: The Department of Criminal Justice at the University of South Dakota offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice as well as a Master of Public Administration with a Criminal Justice Emphasis. Students also have the option to double major in Criminal Justice with Sociology or Political Science. The department has several affiliates including the Civic Leadership Studies/ Farber Center (an interdisciplinary center focused on public leadership) and the Chiesman Fund (supports projects that promote democracy). For majors needing some financial assistance, there are over a dozen different scholarships and awards that they can apply for through the Criminal Justice office.

University of Sioux Falls: The University if Sioux Falls has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice offered through the Criminal Justice Department. This is an interdisciplinary program in which students enroll in psychology, sociology, philosophy, political science, and social work courses. The Criminal Justice Department provides numerous internship opportunities with local and state agencies, as well as potential travel for students who wish to attend conferences and seminars throughout the country. Five full-time faculty and one adjunct teach courses like Juvenile Justice, Rules of Evidence and Corrections and Operations Issues.

Notable Alumni from South Dakota Universities

  • Pennington County, SD Sheriff Kevin Thom – Minot State University, University of South Dakota
  • Rapid City, SD Police Chief Steve Allender – National American University
  • Codington County, SD Sheriff Toby Wishard – University of South Dakota
  • Douglas County, SD Sheriff Jon Coler – University of South Dakota
Police Quote: “Don't park your patrol car on the successes of today. There are plenty of other bad guys out there that need to go to jail.” -Steve Conner, Homicide Investigator

South Dakota Criminal Justice Careers

With double-digit population growth in its two largest cities over the past decade and a growing senior population, the government of South Dakota is actively investing in programs to attract and retain qualified workers. With no state income tax, a significantly lower cost of living than the national average, and the second lowest crime rate in the nation, there are many advantages to pursuing a career in criminal justice in South Dakota.

South Dakota offers a wide range of possibilities including career paths in traditional law enforcement, emergency and fire services, games, fish, and parks law enforcement, corrections, paralegal, criminal investigation, law enforcement education, and many others. South Dakota graduates of criminal justice programs can also pursue jobs with the federal government. The FBI and US Marshals are among the federal agencies that employ criminal justice professionals in the state.

The criminal justice job market in South Dakota features several careers that offer attractive pay and benefits. The average salary for police officers in South Dakota is $44,070 and the average salary increases to $70,060 for those who are promoted to first-line supervisor.6,8 Correctional officers earn an average of $35,560 while those working as detectives or criminal investigators earn an average salary of $69,380.5,7 Those working in the legal field as a paralegal or legal assistant in South Dakota earn an average of $42,730 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.9

South Dakota Criminal Justice Salary and Jobs

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Correctional Officers and Jailers 1,360 $35,560
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives 140 $70,060
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 210 $69,380
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 1,740 $44,070

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.5,6,7,8

South Dakota's Criminal Justice Employment Outlook

As of May 2016 the unemployment rate for South Dakota was 2.5%, well below the national average of 4.7% and the state's previous 10-year low in March 2008, at 2.7%.10 Government-related employment is a good proxy for criminal justice employment in South Dakota. Projections Central includes the following criminal justice job projections for the state:
  • Police and Sheriff Patrol: 70 annual openings; 46% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 24% holding an associate's degree.11,12
  • Correctional Officers: 50 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 15% holding a post-secondary certificate.11,13
  • Detectives and Criminal Investigators: 10 annual openings; 37% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 21% holding an associate's degree.11,14
  • Security Guards: 20 annual openings; 4% in these positions report completing at least some college.11,15
  • Paralegals and Legal Assistants: 20 annual openings; 86% in these positions report completing at least some college, with 30% holding an associate's degree and 44% holding a bachelor's degree.11,16

Open positions are estimated from opportunities due to both jobs growth and replacements.

The Mercatus Center, a conservative think tank, rated and analyzed the long-term solvency of each state government. South Dakota ranked 5th in the nation.17 This shows sound employment practices, and new employees can be relatively confident in the state's ability to fulfill its employee pension obligations.

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Directory of Not-for-Profit South Dakota Universities Offering Campus-based and Online Criminal Justice Degrees

If you live in South Dakota and are interested in pursuing an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in the growing field of criminal justice, we recommend finding an accredited campus-based or online criminal justice program.

Tip: If you don't live near a campus-based school that offers a program of interest, consider an online degree or a university in an adjacent state (Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, or Nebraska).

Schools with Online and On-Campus Criminal Justice Programs

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

Lake Area Technical Institute (Watertown)
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement (hybrid online)

University of South Dakota (Vermillion)
Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice (online or on-campus)
Minor | Criminal Justice
Minor | Military Science

Student Review: “During my experience with the Criminal Justice program at the University of South Dakota, I was extremely pleased. The professors brought in years of experience both in teaching and within their respective criminal justice fields. I also felt like they were all involved in making the class as successful as possible for students. There were multiple opportunities to learn from industry professionals who were brought in to the classroom too. I was able to gain a lot of useful knowledge that I have transferred into my IT job for the federal government within the criminal justice realm. I would highly recommend this program to anyone seeking a degree in criminal justice.” – Student at University of South Dakota

Schools with On-Campus Criminal Justice Programs Only

Dakota Wesleyan University (Mitchell)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Wildlife Law Enforcement
Minor | Criminal Justice

Kilian Community College (Sioux Falls)
Associate of Science | Justice Studies

Mount Marty College (Yankton)
Associate of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Bachelor of Science | Forensic Science
Minor | Criminal Justice

Presentation College (Aberdeen)
Bachelor of Science | Criminal Justice

Sinte Gleska University (Mission)
Associate of Arts | Human Services
Bachelor of Arts | Human Services

Southeast Technical Institute (Sioux Falls)
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Science

University of Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls)
Bachelor of Arts | Criminal Justice
Minor | Criminal Justice

Western Dakota Tech (Rapid City)
Associate of Applied Science | Criminal Justice
Associate of Applied Science | Law Enforcement Technology

1. National Center for Education Statistics:
2. Kiplinger's Best Values in Public Colleges:
3. College Factual Best Criminal Justice & Corrections Colleges:
4. US News Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs:
5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Correctional Officers and Jailers
6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives:
7. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Detectives and Criminal Investigators:
8. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers:
9. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages, Paralegals and Legal Assistants:
10. Y Charts 10 Year Unemployment Chart: http://
11. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections:
12. O*Net OnLine, Police Patrol Officers:
13. O*Net OnLine, Correctional Officers and Jailers:
14. O*Net OnLine, Police Detectives:
15. O*Net OnLine, Security Guards:
16. O*Net OnLine, Paralegals and Legal Assistants:
17. Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2016 Edition:

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