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South Dakota public universities seeing an increase in enrollment numbers

The fall headcount enrollment at South Dakota's six public universities touted a nearly 1% increase system-wide than in 2021.

SDSU Campus general.jpg
A general view of the South Dakota State University campus. (South Dakota State University photo)
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PIERRE — The South Dakota Board of Regents reported an optimistic trend in enrollment for the 2022-2023 academic year.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the BOR released the official numbers for the fall semester enrollment period, in which the fall headcount enrollment at South Dakota's six public universities touted a nearly 1% increase system-wide than in 2021, bringing the new total to 33,642 students.

The increase comes after a severe fall in enrollment numbers during 2016 to 2020.

During the four-year time period, system-level headcount enrollments fell 8.1%, from 36,531 in the fall of 2016 to 33,566 in the fall of 2020.

Full-time equivalent student enrollment in the university system trended similarly over the same period, falling from 26,599 in fall 2016 to 24,586 in fall 2020.


However, universities seem to be recovering, as the South Dakota Board of Regents recorded 5,259 first-year students as well, noting that the incoming '22-'23 academic class was up 6.3% for the South Dakota public university system.

"We're excited to see so many new faces on campus," said Brian Maher, Executive Director of BOR. "Having more than 5,000 incoming first-year students is encouraging for higher education in South Dakota." 

BOR also measures enrollment based on full-time equivalent students (FTE). The FTE count takes the number of credit hours and applies that figure to the overall student headcount. A full-time workload is considered 15 credit hours for undergraduates, 12 credit hours for master's and doctoral degrees, 15 credits for law students, and 19 credits for medical students.

This year’s FTE enrollment remained largely unchanged for the public university system. The difference is primarily due to increased dual credit courses offered at the high school level. 

"Our dual credit students are public university students," says Maher. "We are pleased with how that program has grown over the years, as it gives our students the chance to get ahead in their education and easily transition to the campus best suited for their needs." 

The South Dakota Board of Regents publishes enrollment numbers at the beginning of each academic year.

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Cassie Williams joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2022. To get in contact with Cassie about potential stories, feel free to email her at cwilliams@mitchellrepublic.com.
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