Online Psychology Degree Programs in South Dakota

Mental health is an important issue in the United States. National efforts have taken shape to improve both how mental health is understood and the access to care for those who suffer from mental illness. This increased focus on mental health has led to incredible growth in careers for mental health professionals, including psychologists and counselors. Over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities for clinical, counselling, and school psychologists will grow 14%, which is double the average national rate. The positive outlook for the career has also led to steady growth in the number of psychology degrees earned, particularly advanced degrees.

In South Dakota, the career outlook is also very positive. While the BLS projects that long term growth for clinical, counselling, and school psychologists in the state is only slightly above the average national rate of 7%, certain specialized professions in the field, such as psychology teachers, are projected to grow nearly 17% in the same time period. This number in particular is due to the increase in psychology education at the postsecondary level, the state’s continued growth in degree attainment, and the state’s impressive mental health infrastructure.

Mental Health Initiatives in South Dakota

According to Mental Health America, South Dakota is the second highest-ranking state in the country in terms of mental health prevalence and the access to quality care. The reason South Dakota is ranked number two overall, number one in working with youth, and number one for it’s low prevalence of mental illness is because the state places great importance on facing mental illness. South Dakota’s mental health organizations have established several different initiatives to help promote mental and physical wellness and to educate citizens on mental illness, prevention, and care strategies.

In 2017, South Dakota’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness introduced Ending the Silence, a mental illness awareness and education program that visits schools in the state to talk about different mental health conditions. The year prior, the Mental Health Task Force formed to provide recommendations on how to improve the mental illness care in the state. There are a variety of in-state organizations dedicated to delivering and providing access to mental health services as well as promoting and advocating for an even stronger quality of mental health in South Dakota, including Behavior Management Systems, Disability Rights of South Dakota, and the South Dakota Council of Mental Centers, Inc.

How do I Become a Psychologist in South Dakota?

The process of becoming a psychologist in South Dakota is much the same as it is across the country. There are, however, some differences from state to state in terms of pricing and some of the procedures. Still, most of this information is applicable nationwide.

Choose the Path That’s Right for You: Psychology is a broad field that offers many different career options. In South Dakota, all psychologists are required to have either a doctoral degree in psychology (Psy.D) or a degree from one of the psychology Ph.D programs in South Dakota. While these degrees can both lead to a psychology career, there are some important differences between them, such as length, clinical focus, and the degree specializations available. One of the most important decisions that aspiring psychologists must make is choosing the field they wish to specialize in. A student’s choice of specialized field, such as child psychology, counseling, and marital and family therapy, will result in different learning outcomes and licensing requirements. Psychology students must consider their career interests and then seek out programs that provide concentrations in those areas.

Earn Your Degree: The next stage in the decision-making process is to choose between schools, programs, and degree type. Most doctoral programs require a master’s degree as a prerequisite, but some Psy.D programs admit graduates from bachelor’s programs (potentially requesting that the student take some graduate-level classes prior to beginning advanced coursework). Students now have the option of an online psychology degree in South Dakota as well, which gives candidates something more to consider. Though the programs differ depending on the school, Psy.D programs are typically more clinically-based, whereas Ph.D programs are more research-focused. Consequently, Ph.D degrees also typically take longer to complete, averaging between five and seven years as opposed to between four and six years for Psy.D programs.

Earn Your License: After completing a doctoral degree, psychologist candidates in South Dakota must complete one year of supervised work in the field (approximately 1,500 hours). In South Dakota, psychologists must also pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) before applying for licensure. The EPPP is designed to ensure that psychologists have met the entry-level standards for the profession, but passing the exam and earning a license does not guarantee employment. The four-hour EPPP costs $600 to take, so proper preparation is important. The American Psychological Association suggests studying for less than 300 hours, as anything more than that could have negative results.

Psychology Licensing in South Dakota

Within many of the advanced programs in psychology are various concentrations and tracks to help aspiring psychologists specialize according to their career aspirations. With so many career options to choose from, one of the most important decisions for future psychologists is which license and/or specialization to choose, a decision that can also be confusing and overwhelming. To help make things easier, the following list breaks down some of the different licensing options available.

Licensed Psychologist

Prerequisites: Doctoral degree in psychology or a related field, one year of supervised postdoctoral work, and a passing score on the EPPP

Careers Available With This License:

  • Psychologist
  • Psychology teacher

Total Fees: $300

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Prerequisites: For a social worker license, a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related degree is required. For the Certified Social Worker license, a master’s or doctoral degree in social work or a related field is necessary. For either level of the license, candidates need to pass the Association of Social Work Boards examination.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Social worker
  • Counselor
  • Child development practitioner

Total Fees: $130 – $170

Marriage & Family Therapist

Prerequisites: Master’s degree in psychology or a related field, 1,700 hours of supervised postgraduate work, and a passing score on the National Marital and Family Therapy Exam

Careers Available With This License:

  • Marriage counselor
  • Family therapist

Total Fees: $200

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Prerequisites: Master’s degree in psychology or a related field, 2,000 hours of work experience, 100 hours of supervised work, and a passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination

Careers Available With This License:

  • Mental health counselor
  • Social worker

Total Fees: $175

National Certified Counselor

Prerequisites: Master’s degree in psychology or counseling-related field, 2,000 hours of clinical work, 100 hours of directly supervised work, and a passing score on the National Counselor Examination.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Mental health counselor
  • Youth counselor
  • Social worker

Total Fees: $200

Psychology Internships and Fellowships in South Dakota

Choosing the right internship and/or fellowship can very beneficial for aspiring psychologists. While most fellowships are only available to doctoral students, internships are accessible at most levels, including those earning a master’s in psychology online in South Dakota. Other than that distinction, these two experience-related positions also differ in what the students receive in return for their work. With internships, students typically gain school credit and experience in exchange for work, while fellows receive salaries or stipends. The list below details some of the best internships and fellowships available for psychology students earning an on-campus or online psychology degree in South Dakota.

  • The University of South Dakota Fellowship: Hosted by both the Center for Disabilities and Counseling and Psychology in Education at the University of South Dakota, this postdoctoral fellowship provides graduates with diverse experiences in research, analysis, and teaching. Applicants apply directly to the department of Counseling and Psychology in Education.
  • Avera Behavioral Health Internship: Avera Behavioral Health offers a variety of internships year-round in many areas of psychology, including counseling/inpatient behavioral health, outpatient behavioral health counseling, and social work. Applicants apply directly to Avera.
  • Sanford Health Child Life Internship: This 14-week internship provides students with experience working with children in a hospital setting, particularly with those suffering from psychosocial issues related to extended periods of hospitalization. Applicants apply directly to Sanford Health.

Psychology Careers in South Dakota

Professions in psychology have a strong outlook in many states across the country because of the emphasis the nation has put on mental health awareness. The complex nature of mental illness translates into a diversified profession with various specializations available. In South Dakota, the BLS projects that the psychologist profession as a whole will grow 7% by 2024, which is the same rate as the national average. Within that field are several popular specialties, such as a child psychologist, educational psychologist, and health psychologist, which should experience similar growth.

How Much do Psychologists Make in South Dakota?

As with most careers, location, experience, and licensing play large roles on the earning potential for psychologists. In South Dakota, psychologists earn about 16% more than the national average for the profession, making the state a desirable destination for aspiring psychologists. While the cost of living in the state is 2.5% higher than the national average, for much the last decade South Dakota was one of the fastest growing states in the country due to its low unemployment rates and the high demand for qualified professionals with degrees.

  Employment Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
South Dakota 250 $45.08 $93,760
United States 122,310 $38.77 $80,640

Source: BLS

Mental Health Service Providers in South Dakota

When preparing to graduate from an on-campus or online psychology degree in South Dakota, one of the best places for aspiring psychologists to start their job search is with large mental health facilities in the area. Especially since South Dakota has such a small population compared to most states, these large facilities often have more positions available per year than smaller sites. While psychologist positions are one of the primary interests for psychology students, this list contains some of South Dakota’s largest service providers, most of which host a range of mental health positions for psychology graduates.

  • Behavioral Health Services (BHS): BHS is the largest community mental health center in western South Dakota, providing citizens with comprehensive counseling services, mental health treatment programs, and support for a number of mental illnesses and issues, including anxiety, addiction, and family relationship problems.
  • Capital Area Counseling Service (CACS): CACS is dedicated to delivering mental illness care, addiction treatment, and child welfare assistance. Currently, their services are delivered across several locations, but CACS is planning to build a large outpatient mental health and addiction treatment facility.
  • Human Service Agency (HSA): Located in Watertown, South Dakota, the HSA is committed to serving more than 2,000 people experiencing mental health conditions, including addiction, mental illness, and mood disorders. The HSA employs a variety of behavioral health experts. The agency’s New Horizons division assists patients with developmental disabilities.
  • North Eastern Mental Health Center (NEMHC): NEMHC serves patients in 10 counties in South Dakota. The available services include addiction counseling, mental healthcare, and psychological assistance. The health center’s services are spread throughout four different facilities in South Dakota.
  • Dakota Counseling Institute: Serving south central South Dakota, the Dakota Counseling Institute assists patients dealing with mental illness and addiction. The Institute employs a range of counselors, psychologists, and therapists to help support the community.

Mental Health Research Centers in South Dakota

For psychology graduates, particularly those from research-heavy psychology Ph.D programs in South Dakota, health research centers are an excellent place to start a career. Equipped with recent and relevant research experience, psychology graduates are a great asset to the research community. The following list is made up of some of the largest and best health research centers in South Dakota.

  • Sanford Research: Sanford Research is part of the largest healthcare system in the country, Sanford Health. The research division employs more than 200 researchers in many different disciplines to conduct healthcare research in a variety of research areas.
  • Avera Research Institute: From research on new products and medicine to clinical trials, Avera works to stay on the cutting edge of medicine and healthcare. Avera has been testing and developing innovations for healthcare since 1998.
  • Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH): Developed to promote collaboration between researchers, healthcare professionals, and the tribal communities of South Dakota and surrounding states, CRCAIH has created a system of research and treatments to address the various health concerns of the Native American population.

Professional Organizations for Mental Health Professionals

In nearly every field, professional organizations provide professionals, recent graduates, and students with resources and an effective support network. The following organizations offer access to industry resources, such as publications, industry rules and regulations, and networking events. Additionally, most offer career development tools, including continuing education opportunities, career services assistance, and job boards.

  • South Dakota Psychological Association (SDPA): The SDPA promotes and advocates for the psychology profession and strives for improved standards in the field. Members gain access to continuing education opportunities, industry conferences, and practice listings on the website.
  • South Dakota Counseling Association: As part of the American Counseling Association, the South Dakota Counseling Association promotes and advocates for counselors and the practice of counseling. The Association also provides members access to professional development opportunities, networking events, and professional support.
  • South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO): SDAHO supports and promotes the entire healthcare industry, from hospitals to home health agencies, creating a unified voice for the field. Members gain access to professional development and educational opportunities, networking and industry events, and industry news.

Scholarships for Online Psychology Programs in South Dakota

South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship

Designed to assist students who plan to attend a South Dakota university or college, the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship aims to keep bright South Dakotans in the state for their higher education.

  • Amount Offered: Up to $6,500
  • Scholarship Deadline: September 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be a South Dakota resident within five years of high school graduation, demonstrate academic proficiency, and attend a South Dakota postsecondary institution.

Dakota Corps Scholarship Program

The Dakota Corps Scholarship was established to help finance the education of South Dakota’s strongest students. The scholarship rewards academic excellence and aims to keep capable students working in South Dakota after graduation.

  • Amount Offered: Full tuition and fees
  • Scholarship Deadline: February 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must demonstrate academic excellence, apply within one year of graduation, plan to work in a critical needs area, and be a South Dakota resident attending a South Dakota school.

Jump Start Scholarship

The Jump Start Scholarship awarded to South Dakotan students who complete high school within three years. Students that finish early and apply to an accredited postsecondary school are automatically considered for the award.

  • Amount Offered: $1,500
  • Scholarship Deadline: September 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be South Dakota residents, have completed high school in three years, and apply to an accredited postsecondary school.

Hagen-Harvey Scholarship

The Hagen-Harvey scholarship was created to help Native American students in South Dakota attend an in-state college or university. There are up to seven awards available each year.

  • Amount Offered: $6,000 over four years
  • Scholarship Deadline: Varies
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be a member of an American Indian tribe, have graduated from a South Dakota high school within five years of applying, and attend a South Dakota postsecondary school.

Need Based Scholarship Program

The Need Based Scholarship Program was established to help fund the education of South Dakotans that demonstrate financial need. Applicants are automatically considered for the scholarship once they complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • Amount Offered: $500-$2,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: Varies by institution
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must demonstrate financial need and enroll in an eligible South Dakota school.

Fred and Marie Christopherson Scholarship

Established to honor South Dakotans Fred and Marie Christopherson, this scholarship is for all graduating South Dakota high school students.

  • Amount Offered: $2,500 (up to two years)
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be South Dakota high school students that plan to attend an in-state college or university. Students must have a 3.9 or better cumulative high school GPA and a minimum ACT score of 28.

Kimberly Rose Means – Native American Council of Tribes Scholarship

Established to honor the memory of Kimberly Rose Means, an 11-year old girl who died in a tragic car accident, this scholarship is awarded to South Dakota Native American tribal members who are involved in their community.

  • Amount Offered: $500
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be South Dakota Native American tribe members graduating from high school or returning to school. Applicants must have a GPA over 2.0 and have demonstrated school and community involvement.

Waneta Drake Miller Edmison Non-Traditional Student Scholarship

Waneta Drake Miller Edmison was an active member of the community and the mental health field of South Dakota. This scholarship aims to inspire South Dakotans to pursue lifelong learning.

  • Amount Offered: $3,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be at least 24 years old, have a minimum GPA of 3.0, and be residents of one of the following South Dakota counties: Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner, or McCook.

Coyote Commitment Scholarship Program

The Coyote Commitment Scholarship Program is awarded to incoming University of South Dakota students on the basis of academic excellence and standardized test scores.

  • Amount Offered: Up to $3,500
  • Scholarship Deadline: December 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be first-time freshmen enrolling in Fall semester at the University South Dakota.

Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in South Dakota

For students pursuing an on-campus or online psychology degree in South Dakota, accreditation is very important. Schools and programs can be accredited on the national, regional, or programmatic level. For psychology students in South Dakota, the important regional accreditation to look for is from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. This governing body overlooks the degree-granting institutions in the North Central region of the United States, ensuring that the schools and programs have met the necessary standards.

On the programmatic level, the most important accreditation to seek out for an online psychology program in South Dakota is from the American Psychological Association (APA). While this seal of approval is only awarded to doctoral degrees in the United States, it is typically considered to be highest achievement for a psychology program. While graduating from an APA-accredited program is not mandatory to become licensed in South Dakota, it does make the licensing process easier.

Program Database of Online Psychology Programs in South Dakota

While online psychology programs nationwide provide many flexible educational options for students, in-state degrees still have an advantage for many. Since it is common for online programs to have on-campus components, earning an online psychology degree in South Dakota requires students to travel less. For that reason, the following list includes every accredited online psychology program in South Dakota.