5 Best ADN Programs in South Dakota – (2-Year RN Programs)

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

Two-year ADN programs in South Dakota can launch your nursing career with significantly less time and financial investment than a four-year bachelor’s program. You’ll find numerous job options and competitive salaries once you graduate, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and attain your RN licensure in the Mount Rushmore State. In South Dakota, RNs with associate degrees in nursing earn $64,500 on average, and their employment opportunities are anticipated to rise by 12 percent in just 10 years. Want to get started on this dynamic career track? The guide below to the 5 best ADN programs in South Dakota will tell you how.


Based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the 5 best nursing schools for ADN programs in South Dakota. You can complete most of these programs in 2 years.

1. Southeast Technical College - Sioux Falls

Program Details: Southeast Technical College’s ADN program in South Dakota is only open to licensed practical nurses with at least 750 hours of LPN work experience. You can begin the 42-credit program in the summer, fall, or spring; the degree will take you 12 or 18 months to complete, depending upon how many courses you want to take each semester. Lecture courses are delivered online, but you must attend skills labs and clinical experiences in person. The program is offered through the college’s two campuses in Sioux Falls and Huron.

The ”RN Role” course will orient you to the registered nurse’s expanded scope of care. Other classes include “Nursing Across the Lifespan I, II, & III” and “Advanced Medical/Surgical Nursing.” The program consists of five full days of skills labs and 18 full days of clinical experiences.

If you live close to Southeast Technical College’s campus in Sioux Falls, you’ll attend skills labs at the college’s Healthcare Simulation Center, a state-of-the-art facility that offers students access to virtual healthcare settings; otherwise, your skills training will be scheduled for a designated site closer to where you live. Clinical experiences will take place at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities in Sioux Falls and nearby communities.

Why Choose This Program

• Southeast Tech has articulation agreements with the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University, which allow ADN graduates to seamlessly transfer credits towards a BSN at these schools.
• Since the program aims to help alleviate the local nursing shortage and the college is located in a rural part of South Dakota, much of the curriculum focuses on the challenges confronting rural RNs.
• 100 percent of Southeast Tech’s associate nursing degree graduates found jobs as registered nurses within one year of graduating from this program.

2. Lake Area Technical College - Watertown

Program Details: Lake Area Technical College’s RN track is another one of the ADN programs in South Dakota that is designed to help LPNs transition to registered nursing. The 41-credit program takes three semesters over 11 months to complete. You can take the program online or on campus, but all lab and clinical experiences must be completed in person. You’ll enroll in courses like “Nursing Care of the Child and Family,” “Nursing in the Community,” and “Pharmacology for the Registered Nurse.” Lecture courses are offered Mondays through Fridays, but clinical rotations can be scheduled for any day of the week.

Lake Area Tech’s simulation center is located in the Prairie Lakes Healthcare Center of Learning and includes manikins, hospital equipment, and replicas of patient rooms where students can safely learn patient care skills. Students will also participate in clinical rotations through Avera Medical Group, Avera Dells Area Hospital, and other hospitals and clinics in Codington and Minnehaha Counties.

Why Choose This Program

• Lake Area Technical College has articulation agreements in place with Mount Marty University, Western Governors University, South Dakota State University, and the University of South Dakota that will make it easy to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree should you wish to continue your nursing education once you graduate.
• Online ADN students have the option of enrolling part-time or full-time.
• More than 90 percent of the students who enroll in this program complete it.

3. Dakota Wesleyan University - Mitchell

Program Details: Dakota Wesleyan University’s 72-credit ADN program may be one of the best in South Dakota because it includes clinical opportunities at prestigious healthcare facilities across the state and boasts no fewer than four high-tech simulation labs. Clinical learning experiences and supervised rotations frequently involve some travel because they take place at healthcare facilities like Huron Regional Medical Center, the Sioux Falls Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Avera Queen of Peace Hospital that are scattered across sparsely-populated South Dakota.

The curriculum taught at this 2-year RN program in South Dakota is designed to support the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ core competencies. It includes courses like “Fundamental Nursing Concepts I, II, & III,” “Basic Patient Care,” and “Transition to Professional Practice”—a special introduction to the RN scope of practice.

Why Choose This Program

• Dakota Wesleyan University also offers an RN-to-BSN program that takes just 14 months to complete if you’re enrolled full-time. It’s offered online, which makes it a convenient choice for working students.
• Additionally, DWU offers an LPN-to-BSN program from which you can graduate in 28 months.
• DWU’s ADN program is the newest of the 2-year RN programs in South Dakota, so its classrooms and skills labs are equipped with brand-new equipment and cutting-edge technology.

4. Oglala Lakota College - Kyle

Program Details: Oglala Lakota College’s 71-credit ADN program in South Dakota is deeply rooted in the philosophy of holistic nursing. Among the courses you will take are “Foundations of Holistic Nursing,” “Maternal Child Nursing,” and “Holistic Adult Nursing 1 & II.” Each course is paired with a clinical class counterpart, so you’ll take “Foundations of Holistic Nursing” and “Foundations of Holistic Nursing Clinical” at the same time. The 2-year nursing program in South Dakota is only open to students of Native American heritage.

Classes are offered at the college’s district college center in Pine Ridge Village. You’ll participate in skills training exercises and other experiential learning activities at the nearby Professional Development Center associated with Monument Health Medical System.

Why Choose This Program

• Oglala Lakota College’s RN nursing program focuses on the healthcare challenges faced by South Dakota’s Native American communities.
• The college offers paid nursing internships in conjunction with its partner, Ascendium Education.

5. Western Dakota Technical College - Rapid City

Program Details: Western Dakota Technical College’s ADN program in South Dakota is designed to help LPNs with at least 750 hours of professional experience transition into the registered nursing role. Courses like “Medical Surgical Nursing Across the Lifespan,” “Mental Health Nursing Across the Lifespan,” and “Pharmacology for Registered Nurses” will introduce you to the RN’s expanded scope of practice. This program has start dates in the fall and spring, and you’ll need to meet benchmark scores on the required exit exam before being allowed to graduate.

The college’s Medical Simulation Lab, where you’ll learn hands-on skills, can be programmed to replicate a variety of healthcare practice settings. You’ll participate in clinical experiences at hospitals, clinics, and community agencies throughout Rapid City and other parts of Pennington County.

Why Choose This Program

• Western Dakota Technical College offers a two-part “Transition to Registered Nursing” course to prepare students for the challenges they’ll face in their new professional nursing role.
• Nursing students enrolling in Western Dakota Technical College’s ADN program may be eligible for Build Dakota Scholarships, awarded to students entering high-need workforce programs.
• Western Dakota Technical College collaborates with South Dakota State University to allow ADN graduates who want to further their nursing education to transfer 46 credits toward SDSU’s RN-to-BSN program.


Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.

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