Jul 24, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Application Procedures

Click on any of the following links for information:

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 should be sent to: grad.docs@usd.edu or Graduate Admissions, University of South Dakota, 414 East Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069-2390. Prospective candidates can also reach the office of Graduate Admissions by calling 605-658-6140, emailing gradadmissions@usd.edu or referring to the website at www.usd.edu/grad. Application materials submitted to USD become 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. 

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

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

  1. Complete Application. All graduate applications are submitted through a Centralized Application Service (CAS).  The application can be found at https://www.usd.edu/graduate-school/apply-now. Admission requirements and program deadlines are included in each CAS application. Required application materials vary by program. Applicants need to submit all required application materials and pay the $35 application fee. The application fee cannot be waived, and applications will not be processed until the $35 fee is paid. The $35 fee is included in the GradCAS application, but the specialty CAS applications listed below require the $35 fee to be paid separately from the specialty CAS application. Most programs require the standard GradCAS application; the following programs use specialized Central Application Services: Audiology (CSDCAS), Nursing (NursingCAS), Occupational Therapy (OTCAS), Physical Therapy (PTCAS), Physician Assistant Studies (CASPA), Speech-Language Pathology (CSDCAS), and Social Work (SocialWorkCAS).
  2. Letters of Recommendation. Some programs require letters of recommendation. Please see specific graduate program requirements for details. The letters of recommendation are requested in CAS and should be submitted by the reference through the CAS Evaluator Portal. 
  3. Official Transcript(s). Official transcript(s) (in English or with translation) verifying receipt of an undergraduate degree or an equivalent degree from an institution with institutional accreditation for that degree and previous graduate credit and degrees must accompany an application. Transcripts must be complete (e.g., if currently enrolled, work-in-progress coursework must be included). Foreign transcripts must include a grading scale. Applicants who apply before receiving the baccalaureate degree will be required to submit their final transcript directly to the University of South Dakota before their graduate studies begin, thereby demonstrating that the degree has been conferred. Students will not be fully admitted until USD has received the final baccalaureate official transcript(s). Applicants with degrees from other countries must have earned the equivalency of a US bachelor’s degree. 3-year undergraduate degrees often require a 3rd party credential evaluation. For questions, reach out to isrt@usd.edu. The University reserves the right to request an official external credential evaluation in order to complete an admission decision. Credential evaluations will only be accepted from organizations/agencies who are approved members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (www.naces.org) or the Association of International Credential Evaluators (www.aice-eval.org). No foreign transfer credits will be accepted without a course-by-course evaluation from World Education Services (www.wes.org) or Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (www.ece.org). Official transcript(s) must be sent directly to the University of South Dakota from the issuing institution(s) (see address above). Official transcript(s) may be sent in paper or electronic format. 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 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 are available to USD and are not required to be requested by the studentHowever, SDBOR transcripts must still be submitted for programs that utilize specialty CAS systems.
  4. Official Test Scores. If test scores are required by a department or degree program, standardized test scores should be sent directly to grad.docs@usd.edu or Graduate Admissions, University of South Dakota, from the test publisher’s authorized representative. For programs that utilize a specialty CAS, scores should be submitted to the respective CAS.
  5. Statement of Purpose. Most applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose or a general goal statement outlining why the applicant wants to attend graduate school. The statement of purpose should be completed and uploaded in the documents section in GradCAS or specialty CAS systems. Please see specific program requirements for details.  
  6. English Proficiency Requirements for Applicants with Degrees from Other Countries. USD’s approved English proficiency exams and corresponding minimum required scores are: 
  • Duolingo:
    • Score needed: 110
    • English Dept. score needed: 135
    • College of Fine Arts graduate programs score needed: 105
  • TOEFL iBT (MyBEST score accepted):
    • Score needed: 79
    • English Dept. score needed: 105
    • College of Fine Arts graduate programs score needed: 71
  • TOEFL Essentials
    • Score needed: 8.5
    • English Dept. score needed: 11
    • College of Fine Arts graduate programs score needed: 8
  • ​IELTS Academic:
    • Score needed: 6.0
    • English Dept. score needed: 7.0
    • College of Fine Arts graduate programs score needed: 6.0​​
  • PTE:
    • Score needed: 53
    • English Dept. score needed: 70
    • College of Fine Arts graduate programs score needed: 53

Successful completion of USD’s Intensive English Program (IEP) Level 3 (no longer available) also fulfills USD’s English proficiency requirement. 

Applicants who have earned a high school diploma, undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited institution in the following English-speaking countries are not required to submit an English proficiency exam score: 

Ghana Saint Helena
Antigua and Barbuda Grand Cayman Islands Saint Kitts and Nevis
Australia Grenada Saint Lucia
Bahamas Guyana Singapore
Barbados Ireland South Africa
Belize Jamaica Tanzania
Bermuda Kenya Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Botswana Liberia Trinidad and Tobago
British Virgin Islands Malawi Turks and Caicos
Canada Malta Uganda
Cook Islands Montserrat United Kingdom
Dominica New Zealand Zambia
Fiji Nigeria Zimbabwe
Gambia Pitcairn Islands  

Permanent residents and American citizens who have not obtained a high school diploma, undergraduate or graduate degree from a regionally accredited US college or university must complete one of the approved English proficiency exams for admission to the University of South Dakota. 

Some programs have unique English proficiency 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 English proficiency exam score. 


  • TOEFL ITP® Plus for China -temporary solution until iBT is available again on mainland China - is approved to use due to COVID-19 as long as needed.
    • Score needed: 585
    • English Dept. score needed: 627
    • College of Fine Arts graduate programs score needed: 543

Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy


Equal Opportunity

In accordance with the South Dakota Board of Regents Policy 1.4.4, 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 on any other status that may become protected under law against discrimination.

Non-Discrimination, Civil Rights and Affirmative Action

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 1.4.3 of this policy.

For additional information, please contact the Director, Equal Opportunity and Chief Title IX Coordinator, Jean Merkle, 205 Slagle Hall, Vermillion, SD 57069. Phone: 605-658-3665  Jean.Merkle@usd.edu​

Responsibilities of Chief Executive Officers

The chief executive officers of the respective institutions shall be responsible for assuring that the Board’s equal opportunity policies are communicated effectively to members of the institutional community and the public at large. The means for such communication may include seminars and other forms of public service or instructional programming and shall include notices to be posted or otherwise incorporated into institutional promotional materials. Such notices should clearly identify persons who are responsible for the implementation of equal opportunity policies and should advise readers or listeners of how they might contact the responsible institutional officials to obtain further information or to express their concerns about implementation of institutional policies.

Disability Services

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, Karen Gerety, The Commons, Room 116, USD, Vermillion, SD 57069. Phone: 605-658-3745 Fax: 605-677-3172 E-Mail: disabilityservices@usd.edu

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 Cheryl Tiahrt, Chief Information Officer, as the Coordinator to monitor compliance with these statutes. This obligates USD and Ms. Tiahrt 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 USD-Sioux Falls campuses.

After an admission decision is made, the Graduate School will notify the student at the email address provided on the application. Following acceptance to USD, the student must prove financial ability before the Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, or the Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status, will be issued. The Financial Ability Form, available at https://www.usd.edu/international-office/graduate-international-admission-requirements, and certified bank statement or sponsor’s letter is required to document appropriate available funds. Applicants are strongly advised to submit the Financial Ability Form and certified bank statements at the same time as other application materials to avoid delays. Once the student has been admitted into the Graduate School and has provided all proper financial documents, the Principal Designated Student Official (PDSO) will prepare the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 as a requirement for the U.S. student visa application.

All students who enter the U.S. on an F-1 or J-1 visa must report to the Gallagher International Center in the Burr House (at the corner of N University St. and E. Cherry St.), upon initial arrival to the campus. Additional information can be found at www.usd.edu/international, by emailing isso@usd.edu or by calling 605-658-6255.   

Admission Test Information


Some departments require that applicants 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 www.mba.com. GMAT scores are valid for five years, and are available for reporting for up to 10 years. Scores over 10 years old, are not available. 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 (ETS) at www.GRE.org. 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 official scores are available to meet specified departmental deadlines.

The University of South Dakota adheres to guidelines established by the ETS 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. 

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The LSAT is required for admission into the School of Law. Students wishing to earn concurrent 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 www.LSAC.org.

English Proficiency Test Information

Applicants required to certify English proficiency (see above) can find the information about the accepted exams below. 

Duolingo English Test

Duolingo English Test results are valid for two years. Information pertaining to this test may be obtained at www.englishtest.duolingo.com/applicants

International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic)

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

Pearson Test of English (PTE)

PTE scores are valid for two years. Information pertaining to this test may be obtained at www.pearsonpte.com/.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

TOEFL scores are valid for two years. TOEFL Essential and TOEFL iBT MyBest Score are accepted Information pertaining to this test may be obtained at www.ets.org/toefl/.

Testing Services


The USD Testing Center, administers various national graduate examinations: Graduate Record Examination (GRE), GRE Subject Exams (GRE-S), Praxis exam, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) exam, LSAT (Law School Admission Test), Language Testing International (LTI) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  The USD Testing Center is located in the Commons, room 107. For more information about the USD Testing Center you may visit https://www.usd.edu/About/Departments-Offices-and-Resources/Testing-Center or call 605-658-6143.