May 29, 2023  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Application Procedures

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General Application Information


Applicants holding baccalaureate or graduate degrees are eligible to seek admission to a program of graduate study at the University of South Dakota. Candidates seeking admission to graduate programs must display evidence of academic aptitude, achievement and motivation. Additionally, previous behaviors contrary to or in violation of ethical or professional standards of the degree program being sought may be cause for denial of admission to a program by the Graduate Dean.

Application materials may be obtained from the Graduate School, McKusick Center, 414 East Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069-2390. Prospective candidates can also reach the office of Graduate Admissions by calling 605-658-6140, emailing, or referring to the website at Once a packet containing the required materials has been submitted, it becomes property of the University of South Dakota Graduate School. Students may request to defer admission for up to one calendar year (three consecutive semesters) using the materials submitted. The Graduate School does not keep transcripts on file from prospective students who do not defer admission.

For all programs except J.D. and M.D., candidates apply to the Graduate School.

**Please refer to the program admissions pages for specific admission requirements for each program.** For most programs (exclusive of those noted above), the application requires:

  1. Complete Application. The application can be completed online at: The application must be completed and signed. A $35.00 non-refundable fee must accompany the application form. The application fee can be paid via check, money order, or credit card. Checks and money orders must be made out to the University of South Dakota. Credit cards can only be used online with the online application. The fee cannot be waived and application packets will not be processed until the University has received the $35.00 fee. The Departments of Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy (traditional program), and Physician Assistant Studies require an additional application through the Centralized Application Service (CAS) system along with the standard application.
  2. Letters of Recommendation. Some programs require letters of recommendation. Please see specific graduate program requirements for details. Recommendation forms are available on the Graduate School website at The applicant must complete the first section of the form and sign in the designated area. The person writing the recommendation may complete the form, seal it in an envelope, and write his/her name across the flap on the back of the envelope. The sealed envelope may be returned to the applicant and enclosed along with the application materials or the recommendation forms may be sent directly to the Graduate School, McKusick Center, 414 East Clark St., Vermillion, SD, 57069-2390 or via email attached to
  3. One Official Transcript. One official transcript (in English or with translation) verifying receipt of an undergraduate degree or an equivalent degree from an institution with full regional accreditation for that degree and previous graduate credit and degrees must accompany an application. Official transcript of all academic work at the undergraduate and graduate levels are required for international students. The USD Graduate School and/or academic departments retain the right to require an Educational Credential Evaluators/World Education Services (ECE/WES) evaluation for a student if such an evaluation is deemed necessary. Official transcripts must be sent directly to the Graduate School from the issuing institution(s) (see address above). A paper official transcript must bear the original seal and signature of the official in charge of records at that institution. An electronic official transcript must be transmitted directly between institutions using the electronic transcript service authorized by the sending issuing institution and acceptable to the receiving institution. A transcript delivered by the student or issued to the student is not official. For applicants who have received their baccalaureate or graduate degree from USD or from any of the South Dakota Regental institutions, transcripts will be printed by the USD Graduate School which suffices for the packet for inclusion in the application. Applicants who apply before receiving the baccalaureate degree will be required to submit their final transcript directly to the Graduate School before their graduate studies begin, thereby demonstrating that the degree has been conferred. Students will not be fully admitted until the Graduate School has received the final baccalaureate transcript.  
  4. Official Test Scores. If test scores are required by a department or degree program, standardized test scores should be sent directly to the Graduate School from the test publisher’s authorized representative.
  5. Statement of Purpose: Applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose or a general goal statement outlining why the applicant wants to attend graduate school.  Please see specific program requirements for details.  
  6. Applicants with Degrees from Other Countries: Applicants who have obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree from a regionally accredited American college or university are not required to submit an approved English proficiency exam score. There are three approved English Proficiency exams: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing Service (IELTS), and Pearson Test of English (PTE). A minimum score of 79 on the Internet-Based TOEFL (iBT) or 550 on the Paper-Based TOEFL (PBT), a minimum IELTS score of 6.0, or a minimum PTE score of 53 is required for graduate admission. Applicants from or who have obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree from these English-speaking countries (UK, Australia, Canada [except Quebec], Ireland, or New Zealand) are not required to submit an approved English proficiency exam score if their academic records indicate that English was the classroom language for the majority of their schoolwork. Some programs have additional requirements; please see the specific program admission standards for clarification.  Applicants who have passed the National Physical Therapy examination developed and administered by the Federal State Board of Physical Therapy are not required to submit an approved English proficiency exam score. Permanent residents and American citizens who do not meet the above mentioned criteria must complete one of the approved English proficiency exams for admission to the University of South Dakota.


Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy


In accordance with the South Dakota Board of Regents Policy 1:19, the institutions under the jurisdiction of the Board of Regents shall offer equal opportunities in employment and for access to and participation in educational, extension and other institutional services to all persons qualified by academic preparation, experience, and ability for the various levels of employment or academic program or other institutional service, without discrimination based on sex, race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, gender, gender identification, transgender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, genetic information or veteran status or any other status that may become protected under law against discrimination. The Board reaffirms its commitment to the objectives of affirmative action, equal opportunity and non-discrimination in accordance with state and federal law. Redress for alleged violations of those laws may be pursued at law or through the procedures established by the provisions of 1:18 of this policy. For additional information, please contact the Director, Equal Opportunity and Chief Title IX Coordinator, Room 205 - Slagle, Vermillion, SD 57069. Phone: 605-677-5651 E-Mail:

Admission decisions are made without regard to disabilities. All prospective students are expected to present academic credentials at or above the minimum standards for admission and meet any technical standards that may be required for admission to a specific program. If you are a prospective student with a disability and need assistance or accommodations during the admission/application process, please contact the Director of Disability Services, 119B Service Center North, USD, Vermillion, SD 57069. Phone: 605-677-6389 Fax: 605-677-3172 E-Mail: 

Federal Law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2009. The University has designated Ms. Roberta Ambur, Vice President of Administration & ITS, as the Coordinator to monitor compliance with these statutes. This obligates USD and Ms. Ambur to provide equal access for all persons with disabilities.

Additional Information for International Students


F-1 and J-1 non-immigrant resident students can only study at the Vermillion or the University Center (Sioux Falls) campuses.

After an admission decision has been made, the Graduate School will notify the student by email to the address provided on the application. Once the student has been accepted to USD, financial ability must be proven to receive the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 Form). The Financial Ability Form, available at, and certified bank statement or sponsor’s letter showing that student is financially self-supported are required before the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 Form) can be issued. Applicants are strongly advised to submit the Financial Ability Form and bank statements at the same time as other application materials to avoid delays. If the student has been admitted into the Graduate School and has provided all proper financial documents, the P/DSO will send the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 Form), and other information to the student who will use these materials to obtain a visa.

An international student should not depart from home to attend the University of South Dakota until notification of admission has been received and the Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 Form) has been issued to the student. All non-United States citizens must report to the Center for Academic and Global Engagement, Academics Commons, Room 103, upon initial arrival to the campus. Additional information can be found at You can also reach the Center for Academic and Global Engagement by emailing or by calling 605-677-6338.   

Admission Test Information


Some departments require that all graduate students seeking a degree must submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination, the Graduate Management Admission Test, Miller Analogies Test, or a comparable examination. Such test scores may be required to determine admission to the Graduate School or to specific degree programs. Each program determines the manner in which graduate test requirements, if any, are to be met by applicants. See the descriptive narrative of the specific degree programs for more explicit information concerning these admission tests.

Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

The GMAT is scheduled throughout the United States and in many foreign countries. This information may be obtained from the Graduate Management Admissions Council, P.O. Box 2969, Reston, VA 20195. Candidates can register for the exam at GMAT score reports may be requested for tests up to 10 years old, provided that you have not taken the GMAT exam within the past five years. They may require additional processing time and a fee. If you have tested within the past five years and have a valid score, GMAT will not report older scores, as they are outdated and can present interpretation problems. If your only scores are more than five years old, a program may require you to take the GMAT again.

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)

Students wishing to take the general GRE may register directly with the Educational Testing Service at Applicants who are required to submit GRE scores, but who have not yet completed the test, should indicate that they are arranging for the test on their application for admission to the Graduate School, and should ensure that scores are available to meet specified departmental deadlines.

The University of South Dakota adheres to guidelines established by the Educational Testing Service regarding the fair use of test results. In accordance with those guidelines, GRE test scores older than five years are not considered to be valid for admissions purposes.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

IELTS scores are valid for two years. Information pertaining to this test may be obtained at

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The LSAT is required for admission into the School of Law. Students wishing to earn joint graduate degrees along with a law degree are required to complete the LSAT and have the scores sent to the USD Law School.  For more information about this test, contact the USD Law School, or visit the LSAT website at

Miller Analogies Test (MAT)

This test is accepted by some programs in the School of Education in lieu of the GRE. For registration and test date information, contact the Office of Certification and Placement at the School of Education 605-677-5611. MAT scores may be requested for up to 5 years from your testing date.

Pearson Test of English (PTE)

This test integrates all four skills (Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing) and focuses on assessing the ability of communicating in English, rather than test taking skills. Information pertaining to this test may be obtained by calling 1-800-901-0229 (from US or Canada), emailing, or visit the website at

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

TOEFL scores are valid for two years. Information pertaining to this test may be obtained at

Testing Services

The Division of Continuing & Distance Education offers various graduate examinations: GRE (Graduate Record Examination), Praxis exam, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam, LSAT (Law School Admission Test), and MPRE (Multi-state Professional Responsibility Examination).