2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Jun 21, 2024  
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Degrees & Associated Majors

SDSU Morrill Hall

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Degree Definitions

Associate Degree

An Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree is typically a two-year transfer degree, which indicates the completion of a student’s lower division general education requirements and forms the foundation for baccalaureate degree programs. Up to 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level may be required. More than 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level may be required if specified by an accrediting agency.

An Associate of Science (A.S.) degree is a terminal degree. However, it is transferable when a specific degree articulation agreement exists between a given A.S. degree and a specific baccalaureate degree. (SDBOR Policy 2:26.) Up to 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level may be required. More than 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level may be required if specified by an accrediting agency.

At South Dakota State University, the associate’s degree programs are:

  •  Associate of Science (A.S.)
  •  Associate of Arts (A.A.)

Bachelor’s Degree

The bachelor’s degree is awarded to a student by a university for satisfactory completion of a prescribed course of study ranging from 120-138 credits.  It is verified by a diploma and transcript signifying a measure of achievement. The bachelor’s degree enables a student to acquire a certain amount of general learning and to also become proficient in a particular field of study or a profession. The curricular structure of a bachelor’s degree program includes a system general education core curriculum, institutional graduation requirements, support courses, major courses, and electives.

At South Dakota State University, the bachelor’s degrees offered are:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)
  • Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.)
  • Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (B.L.A.)
  • Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.E.)

Master’s Degree

In broad terms, the master’s degree indicates that the recipient has mastered a program of advanced, specialized study in a particular field. Normally, degree titles indicate one of two major categories. The Master of Arts and Master of Science are academic degrees designed to provide an introduction to scholarship activities and research. These degrees often serve the needs of individuals teaching in public schools or community colleges and/or preparation for further graduate study. The second category leads to professional master’s degrees, such as the Master of Education (M.Ed.), Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) or Master of Music (M.M.). While similar to the M.A. and M.S., these programs tend to emphasize professional practice.

At South Dakota State University, the master’s degrees offered are:

  • Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)
  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.)
  • Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.)

Professional Graduate Degree

The professional graduate degree is earned by two or more years of professional study past the baccalaureate degree. This degree prepares an individual for entry into the practice of a recognized profession. Examples of professional doctorates are the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Juris Doctor (J.D.), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degrees.

At South Dakota State University, the professional graduate degrees offered are:

  • Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)
  • Master of Engineering (M.Eng.)
  • Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Doctoral Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy program (Ph.D.) is designed to prepare a student to become a scholar, that is, to discover, integrate, and apply knowledge, as well as communicate and disseminate it. A well-prepared doctoral graduate will have developed the ability to understand and evaluate critically the literature of the field and to apply appropriate principles and procedures to the recognition, evaluation, interpretation, and understanding of issues and problems at the frontiers of knowledge. The graduate will also have an appropriate awareness of and commitment to the ethical practices appropriate to the field.

At South Dakota State University, the doctoral degrees offered are:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Plans of Study within Degrees


An academic major or primary area of study within a degree program enables students to make an in-depth inquiry into a discipline or a professional field of study. It is organized around a specific set of goals and objectives that are accomplished through an ordered series of courses, whose connections define an internal structure and whose sequence advances levels of knowledge and understanding. A major introduces students to a discipline or field of study and related area through a foundation of theory and method. A major that focuses on a specific discipline draws its courses predominantly from one department. A major that encompasses a professional field of study or is interdisciplinary usually obtains its courses from more than one department.

The number of credit hours required for a major and its organizational structure will vary, depending on whether it aims at disciplinary or professional preparation. Variations are due to the demands of accrediting agencies, certification requirements, professional competence and expectations. Undergraduate majors require both discipline specific and support courses. In the Regental system majors typically consist of 47-89 semester credit hours with the mean at 68.5 hours. Credits required for the major are supported by the general education core and electives and together meet the total degree requirement.


An academic minor within a degree program enables a student to make an inquiry into a discipline or field of study beyond the major or to investigate a particular content theme. It too should be organized around a specific set of objectives that are achieved through a series of courses. Minors are intended to provide limited competency in the subject. Course offerings in a minor may be centered in a specific department or drawn from several departments as in the case of a topical or thematic focus. Some specific requirements are included. Regental undergraduate minors typically consist of 18 semester credit hours. Flexibility typically is achieved by offering the student a choice from among a group of courses to complete the credits.


A specialization is a designated plan of study, within an existing degree program. It provides a student an alternative to the primary format of the major or it may be one of several tracks within a broad major. It is specified in the institutional catalog and is designated on the transcript.


A certificate program is a sequence, pattern, or group of courses that focus upon an area of specialized knowledge or information with defined outcomes.  In the Regental system certificates typically consist of 9-12 credit hours including prerequisites.


An emphasis is a concentration within a major and is accomplished by individual student choices within a plan of study. For example, within a major on adult health the student may focus on the older adult. An emphasis is not regarded as a separate program. It may be described in the catalog, but not detailed as a specific plan of study. It is not specified on a transcript.

Degrees & Associated Majors by College


Majors Sorted by General Degree Type


Majors, Minors, & Certificates by Department


Majors, Minors, & Certificates offered Online & at Off-Campus Locations