2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Jun 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

About SDSU

View of the Weary Wil and Dirty Lil statues.

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History & Mission: The Land-Grant Heritage

A Brief History

South Dakota State University is the state’s largest, most comprehensive institution of higher education. The land-grant heritage of South Dakota State University, which began with a college founded in 1881, originates from local and national legislation dating back to 1862. The Morrill Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln in July of that year, embodied a revolutionary idea in higher education. The legislation created a new type of educational institution, one to give instruction in both liberal and practical arts to people in all parts of the country who needed to work for a living. In 1889, when South Dakota achieved statehood, Congress, acting under the Morrill Act of 1862, granted 160,000 acres of land for the use and support of the “agricultural college.” By accepting this land allocation, the State had to designate the Agricultural College as a land-grant college.

State Agriculture Experiment Stations were formed in 1887 under the Hatch Act of Congress, which provided for establishment of agricultural experiment stations in connection with Land-Grant universities and colleges. The stations were established to conduct research to address relevant agricultural and rural issues for their home states and regions.

The Cooperative Extension Service was established in 1914 to provide useful, current, research based agricultural, home, family, and youth related information to the people of the State. Federal funds are appropriated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which cooperates with state colleges of agriculture and counties in conducting planned programs of extension work.

Historically, the Land-Grant institutions have had the responsibility of training individuals to be U.S. Military officers in the event of war or military emergency, thus, alleviating the need to have a large standing army. During WWII, SDSU as a Land-Grant University served a central role in preparation of students and graduates for military service through ROTC. SDSU continues to have an exemplary ROTC program. Following the war, SDSU and other Land-Grant institutions accepted an international responsibility contributing to economic and agricultural revitalization in war devastated countries. International responsibility has continued to evolve as a part of the Land-Grant mission.

In 1917, the Smith-Hughes Act, provided for the preparation of teachers for secondary-school level instruction in agriculture, industrial arts, and home economics. By 1928 South Dakota State College had been chosen to conduct this program.

As of 1923 South Dakota State College had an instructional program organized under five divisions: Agriculture, Engineering, General Science, Home Economics, and Pharmacy. Thirty years later, General Science was renamed the Division of Science and Applied Arts. The Nursing Division was created in 1956. The following year all graduate work was organized into the Graduate Division.

Status as a university began when the South Dakota Legislature changed the name of South Dakota State College to South Dakota State University on July 1, 1964. At that time the following colleges were created: Agriculture and Biological Sciences, Arts and Science, Engineering, Home Economics, Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Graduate School.

In 1994 the Federal Government granted 29 tribal college (four in South Dakota) land-grant status. Tribal land-grant college extension programs are conducted in cooperation with the traditional (1862) land-grant institutions; therefore, SDSU has an on-going relationship with the tribal colleges through the land-grant linkage.

Today SDSU consists of the following colleges:

  • College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
  • College of Education & Human Sciences
  • College of Natural Sciences
  • College of Nursing
  • College of Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions
  • Graduate School
  • Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering
  • Van D. & Barbara B. Fishback Honors College

South Dakota State University Mission Statement

(SDBOR Policy 1.2.5)

Organizational Structure

South Dakota State University (SDSU) was granted the responsibility to serve as the State of South Dakota’s land-grant institution of higher education through the federal enabling act of statehood in 1889. With this responsibility came the expectation to collaborate and partner with other land-grant universities throughout the United States to ensure groundbreaking discoveries and technologies positively impacting society.

SDSU understands its identity and responsibility as the state’s land-grant university. This understanding extends to the tripartite mission of the 1862 Morrill Act, 1887 Hatch Act, and the 1914 Smith-Lever Act, with responsibility for teaching and learning; research, scholarship, and creative activity; and service and outreach.

SDSU has fundamental units serving the state of South Dakota:

  • Main Campus (Brookings): South Dakota State University is the states land-grant university, headquartered in Brookings, South Dakota, with extension, teaching, outreach, and other activities throughout the state. The SDSU mission statement is grounded in the tripartite mission of teaching and learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels; research, scholarship, and creative activity; and service and outreach. The research mission is one of the cornerstones of a land grant university and directly supports educational programming content. The campus serves residential students in undergraduate, professional, and graduate programs. The campus includes the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, College of Arts, Humanities, & Social Sciences, College of Education & Human Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy & Allied Health Professions, and the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering.
  • Agricultural Experiment Station (Statewide): Agriculture Experiment Station (AES) is authorized by SDCL § 13-58-11 and tightly couples with the universities research mission. SDSU’s research mission is to find solutions to current problems surrounding the environment, food production, nutrition, and economics, as well as identify opportunities for the future. The new knowledge created from our AES research enhances the quality of life in South Dakota through the beneficial use and development of human, economic and natural resources. In addition to enhancing the quality of life in our state, AES research directly supports the teaching programs offered by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, the College of Education & Human Sciences, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Natural Sciences, and the educational programs delivered by SDSU Extension.
  • Cooperative Extension (Statewide): As a cornerstone of SDSU’s land-grant university mission and authorized by SDCL § 13-54-1, SDSU Extension empowers citizens to be more competitive and successful in our growing global economy through education and technical training or assistance. Its’ purpose is to foster a learning community environment that empowers citizens to advocate for sustainable change that will strengthen agriculture, natural resources, youth, families, and the communities of South Dakota.
  • State Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory: Critical to the mission of SDSU, and authorized by SDCL § 13-58-13, is located at the main campus in Brookings, South Dakota.

Academic Curriculum & Credentials

SDSU is statutorily authorized through SDCL § 13-58.1, to offer academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences and professional education in agriculture, education, engineering, home economics, business economics, nursing, and pharmacy. SDSU has the authority to credential certificates, associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees provided formal approval by the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents may authorize academic programs outside of the statutory mission as identified by the Regents due to workforce needs, strategic needs of the state, etc. All program requests must comply with SDBOR Policy 2.3.2 and 2.3.3.

The institution is also charged with promoting excellence in teaching and learning, supporting research, scholarly and creative activities, and providing service to the State of South Dakota, the region, and beyond.

South Dakota State University facilitates the transference of knowledge through the Cooperative Extension Service with a presence in every county and through other entities, especially to serve the citizens of South Dakota.

South Dakota State University is unique within the South Dakota System of Higher Education because of its comprehensive land grant mission. The mission is implemented through integrated programs of instruction, the Cooperative Extension Service, the Agricultural Experiment Station, and numerous auxiliary and laboratory services.

Authorized Degrees

Undergraduate Degrees

  • Associate of Arts (A.A.)
  • Associate of Science (A.S.)
  • 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.)
  • Certificates in related fields

Graduate Degrees

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • 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.)
  • Certificates in related fields

Research & Economic Development

As part of its land-grant mission, SDSU has a robust research enterprise including, but not limited to, the Agricultural Experiment Station and SDSU Extension, which provides a connection for scientists and South Dakota residents, taxpayers, and producers. SDSU is strongly committed to extending the research discovery and best practices to producers and consumers across the state, nation, and world.

Public university research and innovations feed growth and resiliency in South Dakota’s economy. The state of South Dakota’s land-grant university mission drives real solutions to dynamic challenges through research-based discovery and innovation. High quality, leading-edge university research programs also develop a knowledge-based workforce. University faculty engaged in research, scholarship and creative activity best serve our students as they are current and informed in their evolving discipline resulting in a high-quality educational experience for all students. Undergraduate students participating in rigorous land-grant university research gain experiential learning that differentiates them in the marketplace. Graduate students in land-grant university research laboratories gain hands-on research experience and leadership skills they use to drive innovation in the private and public sectors. SDSU’s fundamental assets for fulfilling its land-grant research mission are stable, talented faculty and modern, reliable facilities and specialized equipment.

Strategic Plan - Imagine 2023: Aspire. Discover. Achieve.


South Dakota State University offers a rich academic experience in an environment of inclusion and access through inspired, student-centered education, creative activities and research, innovation and engagement that improve the quality of life in South Dakota, the region, the nation, and the world.


South Dakota State University will be a premier land-grant university recognized for high value, innovation, and bold impact.

Core Values

  • People-Centered: We recognize leadership is derived from service to others. We are committed to creating a culture where all thrive and are supported on their own personal and professional paths toward lifelong learning, growth, and leadership.
  • Creativity: Creativity is our cornerstone to expand knowledge, develop human understanding, and enrich quality of life. We believe that education and research/scholarship/creative activity reinforce one another and the best academic programs bring innovative teaching and rigorous research together.
  • Integrity: We act with organizational and personal integrity, through honest interactions, professionalism, transparent and accountable decision-making, and respect for others.
  • Diversity: We are committed to diversity of community and ideas. We believe in a supportive, inclusive, collaborative, and cohesive environment with a focus on access. We actively seek collaboration and we respect individuals with differing perspectives, backgrounds, and areas of expertise.
  • Excellence: Excellence is achieved through continuous improvement, assessment, and accountability. We embrace bold action and adapt to an ever-changing environment. Individually, we are experts at what we do. Collectively, our impact is even greater.

Goals & Strategies

Goal 1: Achieve Excellence Through Transformative Education

  • Attain academic excellence.
  • Affirm student success as a foundational university priority.
  • Increase recruitment, retention and graduation of professionally prepared global citizens.

Goal 2: Cultivate and Strengthen Community Engagement

  • Enhance the academic and work environments of the university by fostering a culture of service, servant leadership and inclusive excellence among faculty, staff and students.
  • Grow the university’s external engagement through extension, collaborative service, community outreach, alumni relations and public- private partnerships that enhance the quality of life in South Dakota and beyond.

Goal 3: Foster Innovation and Increase Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA)

  • Strengthen the leadership and personnel infrastructure for innovation, RSCA and economic development to serve the state, region, nation and world.
  • Increase, optimize and align the physical resources and investments for innovation, RSCA and economic development.
  • Create an institutional culture of communicating and branding SDSU RSCA and its achievements, outcomes and impacts to the full scope of stakeholder and peer communities.

Goal 4: Be a Growing, High-Performing and Healthy University

  • Infuse core values throughout all levels of the university.
  • Grow and sustain financial resources aligned with the mission of SDSU.
  • Allocate the university’s resources to achieve strategic priorities.

Research, Scholarship & Creative Activities

The University is committed to excellence in its mission of research, scholarship and creative activity.  Discovering new knowledge, ideas, and processes are fundamental Land-Grant University contributions to economic development and quality of life.  Students are afforded opportunities to enrich their intellectual experience and differentiate themselves by participating in leading-edge research, scholarship, and creative activity. 

To support research, scholarship, and creative activities, the University and its faculty actively secure sponsorship funds through grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts with other institutions, state and federal agencies, foundations, and the private sector. Student participation is encouraged as a way to begin an exciting career path and to gain unique experience. Students can often conduct research through mentorship with faculty and publish the results of their work.  An annual event highlight undergraduate student research, scholarship, and creative activity accomplishments.

South Dakota State University is classified by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as a Doctoral University: High Research Activity institution. 

For information, contact the Division of Research and Economic Development, South Dakota State University, Box 2201, Brookings, South Dakota 57007-1998, phone: 605-688-5642.