2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Jul 18, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Degrees & Associated Majors

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Degree Definitions

Associate Degree

Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees are typically two-year transfer degrees. Within the Regental system, these degrees are often complementary to existing four-year bachelor’s degrees in closely aligned academic fields. Universities award an associate degree to a student for satisfactory completion of a prescribed course of study. Associate degree programs require a minimum of sixty (60) credits. The curricular structure of an associate’s degree program includes a system general education core curriculum, support courses, major courses, and electives.

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

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

Bachelor’s Degree

The bachelor’s degree is awarded to a student for satisfactory completion of a prescribed course of study. Bachelor’s degree programs shall require a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) credit hours. 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, 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.)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)

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 first category, the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees, provides 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.) or Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). Although 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 Engineering (M.Eng.)
  • Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
  • Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.)

Professional Doctoral Degree

The professional doctoral degree requires 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 M.D., Pharm.D., J.D., DVM, Ed.D., Au.D., and DPT degrees.

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

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)
  • Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)

Doctor of Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program prepares 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 develops the ability to understand and critically evaluate 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 doctoral 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 in-depth inquiry into a discipline or a professional field of study. Majors consist of a specific set of goals and objectives achieved through a 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 areas 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 is interdisciplinary or encompasses a professional field of study 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. Credits required for the major combine with general education core and electives to meet the total degree requirement.


An academic minor enables a student to make an inquiry into a discipline or field of study beyond the major or to investigate a particular content theme. Minors provide a broad introduction to a subject and therefore develop only limited competency. Minors consist of a specific set of objectives achieved through a series of courses. Course offerings occur in a specific department or may draw from several departments (as in the case of a topical or thematic focus). In some cases, all coursework within a minor is proscribed; in others cases, a few courses may form the basis for a wide range of choices. Regental undergraduate minors typically consist of 18 credit hours.

Minors are only awarded in conjunction with completion of a degree program and the awarding of a bachelor’s degree. Completion of the minor shall be indicated on the student’s transcript.


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. Specializations contain courses within the discipline(s) of the existing program. Specializations appear in the institutional catalog and on the student’s 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. Completion of a certificate appears on the student’s transcripts.


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.

Programs Sorted Alphabetically


Programs Sorted by College


Programs Sorted by Department


Programs Sorted by General Degree Type


Programs offered Online & at Off-Campus Locations