Approval to offer courses, whether online or in person, in South Dakota
Effective July 1, 2012, no postsecondary institution may provide educational programs at physical locations in South Dakota unless issued a certificate of authorization by the South Dakota Secretary of State.
For more information regarding the certificate of authorization process, contact:
Secretary of State
500 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre SD 57501-5070
Phone: (605) 773-3537
Fax: (605) 773-6580
Office Hours: 8am to 5pm Central Time
Or visit the Secretary of State's webpage for
The South Dakota Board of Regents plays no role in supervising private institutions or out-of-state institutions that deliver postsecondary degree programs or credit-bearing courses in South Dakota. The sole legal authority of the South Dakota Board of Regents relates to control of postsecondary institutions funded by the state and to the administration of a small merit-based scholarship program established by the state. See, SDCL §§ 13-49-1 and 13-55-30.
For those institutions offering courses, whether online or in person, in South Dakota, the state of South Dakota has, since 2001, relied upon a simple prohibition backed by criminal enforcement. No institution may provide postsecondary credits or degrees “in South Dakota, or while organized under the laws of South Dakota,” unless it is:
- Accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education,
- Approved to offer its students federal financial aid, or
- Actively pursuing accreditation from a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency and offering work pursuant to an affiliation agreement with a duly accredited institution which takes responsibility for issuing credits or degrees, maintaining transcripts and, where appropriate, administering federal financial aid programs. SDCL § 13-49-27.1
As is the case with other prohibitions backed by criminal sanctions, enforcement authority resides with state’s attorneys and the Attorney General.