Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in South Dakota?


By Rachel Schneider

Degree-seekers can explore many programs offering both on-campus and online formats. South Dakota boasts the 15th lowest tuition rates in the U.S., providing students with the opportunity to obtain quality, affordable degrees.

South Dakota ranks second in the nation for natural environment and third for fiscal stability. Additionally, the Mount Rushmore State ranks 16th for infrastructure and 18th for education. Among the state's population of 869,700, 39% earned a college education. South Dakota's key industries include agriculture, which accounts for 20% of its economy, along with oil and gas production, outdoor recreation, bioscience, and business and professional services.

South Dakota boasts an unemployment rate of 3.1%, making it the state with the 14th lowest unemployment rates in the nation. The state features 23 colleges and universities with about 19,000 student loan borrowers in the repayment process and 2,000 borrowers in default on their loans, resulting in a borrower default rate of 10.6%.

What to Expect in a South Dakota Psychology College Program

Universities in South Dakota conferred 286 psychology degrees in 2018, ranking 43rd in the nation. South Dakota students interested in psychology can explore programs at all degree levels. Earning a bachelor's degree in psychology usually includes 120 credits of coursework and takes about four years of full-time enrollment to complete. Course topics explore foundational concepts in the field to provide learners with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue advanced degrees.

Master's students pursuing degrees in psychology typically complete their degree requirements within two years of full-time study. At the master's level, learners complete between 36 and 54 credits, depending on the program they pursue. A doctoral student can earn a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in the field. Depending on the program they choose and the previous educational requirements they meet, doctoral students might take 4-7 years to complete their program.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in South Dakota?

Psychology courses in South Dakota vary. Bachelor's students explore foundational topics in the field, gaining the basic skills and knowledge to begin careers in the discipline. Master's students focus on more advanced topics, while doctoral students explore the most specialized concepts in psychology. We have compiled a list of common psychology courses below.

Cognitive Foundations of Human Behavior

Students review emotion and cognition in psychological behaviors and experiences. Throughout the course, learners observe the influences of attention, learning, perception, contextual appraisals, memory, and biases. Enrollees also explore neuropsychoanalysis as it relates to cognitive experiences.

History and Systems of Psychology

Degree-seekers study the evolution of mind-body approaches and consciousness in the foundational development of psychology. Coursework allows learners to review phenomenology, existentialism, liberation approaches, and Jungian/analytic psychology.

Legal, Ethical, and Professional Practice

Students examine scientific and clinical psychology, emphasizing the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA) and exploring concepts of social justice and feminism. Learners discuss core issues in research, professional practice, and academic work.

Biological Foundations of Human Behavior

This course explores the theoretical constructs and concepts of the phylogenetic origins related to human behavior, experience, and the processes of change. During the course, degree-seekers review concepts in dreaming, foundations of consciousness, cognition, motivation, sensory-motor systems, and memory.

Principles of Psychopharmacology

Students explore the impact of medications of psychotherapy, along with learning how to prescribe medicine and understanding the effects of common psychoactive medications.

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Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in South Dakota

The educational requirements involved with becoming a psychologist in South Dakota can often take individuals nearly a decade to complete. First, learners must earn a bachelor's degree in psychology or another field. A student who completes a bachelor's degree in a field other than psychology can earn a master's in psychology as long as they complete the necessary prerequisite coursework before enrolling. Bachelor's programs typically comprise 120 credits of coursework and take learners about four years to complete.

After earning a bachelor's degree, each aspiring psychologist can pursue a master's degree. Master's programs vary in terms of credits but usually take full-time students about two years to complete. To become a psychologist in the state, a learner must complete a doctoral program, which typically takes 4-7 years, depending on their educational background and the specific requirements of their chosen program.

Doctoral degrees must be earned from regionally accredited colleges or universities and feature APA accreditation. Doctoral curricula should incorporate three academic years of full-time graduate coursework with at least two years of doctoral-level courses and one year of full-time residency.

South Dakota Licensing for Psychologists

Individuals interested in becoming psychologists in South Dakota must become licensed through the state's psychology board. The licensing process mandates that individuals must meet specific requirements for education and supervised experience hours. Additionally, to obtain a license in the state, professionals must pass both a national and a state exam.

Why Get Licensed in South Dakota?

To take advantage of psychologist career opportunities, professionals in South Dakota must earn their psychology licenses. An aspiring professional must earn a bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree in the field, complete experience requirements, and pass a national and state exam. Professionals who hold psychology licenses from other states can apply for licensure in South Dakota through endorsement, beginning practice in South Dakota for up to six months while the board considers their licensing application for approval.

Licensing Criteria for South Dakota

The first step to becoming a licensed psychologist in South Dakota is earning a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in psychology. Learners can earn BA or BS degrees in psychology or focus their studies on other disciplines, as long as they complete specific prerequisite coursework before enrolling in a master's program.

Earning a stand-alone master's degree is not a requirement for licensure in South Dakota. Learners can choose to pursue doctoral programs in psychology that feature a master's degree as part of the doctoral thesis requirement. Professionals must also earn a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in psychology and complete supervised practicums or internships. Once professionals meet their educational requirements, they can complete the process to become licensed and apply to receive an official license.

How to Get Licensed in South Dakota

After completing the educational requirements, potential psychologists in South Dakota can submit an application for licensure to the South Dakota Board of Examiners of Psychologists and pay the $300 application fee. Along with their application, individuals must include a sheet documenting the content and focus of their doctoral coursework. After applying for licensure, individuals must pass the psychology licensing exams, including the examination for professional practice in psychology and an oral examination.

Once the board reviews the application, assesses the oral exam scores, and students have completed their predoctoral supervised psychology internship requirements, individuals can request their limited provisional license. The provisional license allows them to complete one year of supervised postdoctoral psychology practice required for licensure in the state. After completing the experience component, professionals can receive their official licenses from the board.

License Renewal in South Dakota

Professionals must renew their licenses each year by July 1 by submitting an application and the required $300 application fee. The psychology license renewal process for most states involves satisfying a specific number of continuing education units, but South Dakota does not include this requirement. Psychologists in South Dakota can still complete continuing education hours and report them as part of their re-licensure applications to bolster their knowledge of the field.

South Dakota Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends

Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in South Dakota experienced a significant decline in annual mean wages between 2016 and 2017. Nationally, the occupation slightly increased in terms of annual mean wage, reporting a wage of $78,690 for 2016 and $81,330 for 2017. All other psychologists in South Dakota saw an increase in annual mean wage amounts between 2016 and 2017, increasing to $86,640 in 2017 from the 2016 mean wage of $78,690. Nationally, all other psychologists reported an annual mean of $94,650 and a mean wage of $93,440 for 2017.

In 2018, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in South Dakota earned an annual mean wage of $73,900, making the state the fifth-highest paying for the occupation among surrounding states. All other psychologists in South Dakota experienced an annual mean wage of $84,200 in 2018, which was the second-highest paying state for the profession when compared to its surrounding states.

Between 2016 and 2026, psychologists in clinical, counseling, and school specialties in South Dakota can anticipate a projected job growth rate of 11.4%, compared to the expected national rate of 14.2%.

Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
  2016 2017
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in South Dakota $93,760 $74,900
Psychologists, All Other in South Dakota $82,580 $86,640
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Nationally $78,690 $81,330
Psychologists, All Other Nationally $94,650 $93,440

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Mean Wage For Psychologists In South Dakota and Nearby States (2018)

  • Nationally

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $85,340

    Psychologists, All Other: $95,610

  • South Dakota

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $73,900

    Psychologists, All Other: $84,200

  • Minnesota

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $85,860

    Psychologists, All Other: $93,310

  • Iowa

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $85,260

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Nebraska

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $66,510

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Wyoming

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $78,360

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

  • Montana

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $63,720

    Psychologists, All Other: $69,870

  • North Dakota

    Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists: $87,090

    Psychologists, All Other: N/A

Source: BLS

Projected Job Growth for Psychologists (2016-2026)
  Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Psychologists, All Other
Nationally 14.2% 10.3%
South Dakota 11.4% N/A
Minnesota 11.9% 7.1%
Iowa 16.2% 4.2%
Nebraska 11.3% 11.1%
Wyoming 8.0% 33.3%
Montana 12.5% 16.7%
North Dakota 17.2% N/A

Source: Projections Central

Psychology Programs and Licensing in South Dakota Frequently Asked Questions

What Field of Psychology Makes the Most Money?

Graduates can pursue many high-paying career opportunities in the psychology field. Typically, the highest paying careers include industrial-organizational psychologists, neuropsychologists, engineering psychologists, and psychology teachers in postsecondary education.

Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?

This choice depends on the type of coursework students focus on during their bachelor's programs. Psychology students earning BAs often take courses related to social, cognitive, and behavioral psychology. Learners pursuing a BS in psychology explore clinical psychology, neuroscience, and statistical analysis. Both degrees fulfill the fundamental bachelor degree requirement on the path to becoming a psychologist.

What Is a Good Specialty for Psychology?

Across degree levels, psychology students enjoy opportunities to pursue specializations. Specializations enable degree-seekers to tailor their program to fit their career goals and personal interests. Common specialization options include addiction psychology, counseling psychology, educational psychology, health psychology, and media psychology.

What Is the Difference Between a Psy.D. and Ph.D. in Psychology?

At the doctoral level, psychology students can pursue a Psy.D. or a Ph.D. in psychology, with the Ph.D. path as the most common option. A Ph.D. in psychology best fits students who want to grow their knowledge of psychology through scientific research. A Psy.D. in psychology teaches students how to apply scientific knowledge of psychology to deliver high-quality service to groups, individuals, and organizations.

What Happens If I Don't Renew My License?

In South Dakota, psychologists must renew their licenses each year by July 1. Psychologists who do not renew their licenses on time will not be permitted to practice psychology professionally. Individuals receive renewal notifications each year by mail, reminding them to complete their requirements.

Psychology Resources for South Dakota


  • South Dakota Psychological Association As a professional organization for psychologists in South Dakota, this association advocates for psychologists and provides members with continuing education and networking opportunities.
  • South Dakota Association of School Psychologists Functioning as a professional organization for school psychologists and related professionals in South Dakota, SDASP strives to provide resources for members and help them deliver the highest quality of service.
  • South Dakota Counseling Association The South Dakota Counseling Association operates as the state's branch of the American Counseling Association. The association works to represent professional counselors in the state by expanding their skills in their disciplines and advocating for their profession.
  • South Dakota Board of Examiners of Psychologists In charge of overseeing and issuing psychology licenses in South Dakota, the South Dakota Board of Examiners of Psychologists regulates licensure for psychologists in the state to ensure that they practice to a specific set of standards.
  • South Dakota Codified State Statutes Psychologists in South Dakota can refer to the South Dakota Codified State Statutes to understand all of the state laws related to psychology licensure regulations.