Jun 15, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

About USD

Welcome to the University of South Dakota’s Graduate School

Thank you for choosing the University of South Dakota (USD) for your graduate or professional education. USD is the largest provider of graduate education in South Dakota, with 84 programs and nearly half of the graduate and professional students from South Dakota public universities. Graduate and professional students play an integral role in education, research, and creative scholarship provided through USD. USD is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to offer Certificate, Masters, Specialist, and Doctoral degree programs. The University is home to the largest graduate school in South Dakota and enjoys Carnegie classification under Doctoral-granting Universities, as an institution with high research activity.


As the flagship university in the South Dakota system of public higher education, the University of South Dakota’s mission is to provide undergraduate and graduate education in the liberal arts and sciences; professional education in business, education, fine arts, law, and medicine; and research and service to the state, region, and nation. The University promotes excellence in teaching and learning, research and creative scholarship, and engagement (South Dakota Codified Law 13-57-1 and South Dakota Board of Regents Policy 1:10:1).


Per the Council of Graduate Schools, graduate education at the University of South Dakota is called to accomplish one or more of the following objectives:

  • Create a workforce for the new global economy
  • Conduct basic and applied research
  • Develop entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Prepare future college and university faculty
  • Develop leaders for business, nonprofit, and government sectors
  • Prepare K-12 teacher workforce
  • Establish new startups that create jobs
  • Strengthen communities
  • Promote public health initiatives
  • Enhance society through the arts, humanities, and social services

Policies, Procedures, and Expectations

An important function of the Graduate School is to develop and communicate expectations, policies, and procedures. This Graduate Catalog is central to that communication and describes academic policies, graduate school procedures, and degree requirements. Other important communication avenues are your academic department, the Graduate School website (www.usd.edu/grad), and periodic communications. If you seek information that is unavailable from these resources, please do not hesitate to contact our office directly at 605-658-6173 or by e-mail at grad@usd.edu.

This catalog is intended for general information only. It may not contain all regulations that relate to students. The provisions of this catalog do not constitute a contract, expressed or implied, between any applicant, student, or faculty member and the University of South Dakota. The University reserves the right to withdraw courses at any time, change fees, rules, calendar, curriculum, degree programs, degree requirements, graduation procedures, and any other requirements affecting students with appropriate student notice and timely degree completion options (teach-out arrangements) for active students. Changes become effective whenever the proper authorities so determine and may apply to both prospective students and to those already enrolled. Students are held individually responsible for complying with all requirements of the rules and regulations of the University and the South Dakota Board of Regents. It is the responsibility of the graduate student to read and comply with policies, regulations, and procedures described in this document, on the Graduate School website (www.usd.edu/grad) and communicated through the individual degree programs.

A student admitted to the Graduate School is expected to demonstrate ethical behavior, intellectual maturity and independence in the pursuit of advanced knowledge. Graduate students are expected to meet the exacting demands of advanced learning through the use of intellectual skill. Thus, a graduate degree represents more than an accumulation of hours and credits in specific competencies in a major field. The student will be judged at all stages on the aforementioned grounds and, regardless of grades in courses, may be dismissed from the graduate program if progress or behavior is found to be unsatisfactory after due processes are afforded per standard policies and procedures.


President - Sheila K. Gestring
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs - Kurt H. Hackemer
Dean of the Graduate School - Elizabeth M. Freeburg 


The Graduate Dean, in concert with the Vice President for Academic Affairs, exercises overall supervision and responsibility for administering the policies and procedures relating to graduate study. In collaboration with the Graduate Council, the Graduate Dean provides leadership in establishing standards for graduate education, developing new programs, and maintaining standards and guidelines for existing programs. Within the standards and guidelines of the Graduate Council, the responsibility for the development and implementation of the individual graduate programs resides with the graduate faculty of individual academic disciplines.

Having received its authorization from the first territorial legislature in 1862, the University of South Dakota is the oldest public institution of higher learning in the Dakotas. Nearly 10,000 students enroll each semester with the University. USD is governed by the South Dakota Board of Regents and is supported by appropriations from the state government, student fees, research grants, gifts from alumni and friends, corporations, and federal assistance. The home campus is located in the city of Vermillion in the southeastern corner of the state, a short distance from the Missouri River. Vermillion is a community with a population of about 10,000 and is reasonably close to larger cities such as Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Sioux City, Iowa, both of which are served by major airlines.

The University is divided into the following colleges and schools: College of Arts and Sciences, Beacom School of Business, Community College for Sioux Falls, School of Education, College of Fine Arts, School of Health Sciences, Graduate School, School of Law, and the Sanford School of Medicine. Off-campus courses and programs are offered through the Division of Continuing and Distance Education. The University academic year is divided into two semesters of approximately sixteen weeks each and summer sessions of various lengths. Some graduate programs may be completed by attending summer sessions and many graduate programs are available online and off-campus.