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Study in South Dakota

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South Dakota is perhaps best known for that most American of landmarks, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

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Depicting four US presidents who were central to shaping the first 130 years of US history (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt), the gargantuan rock carving attracts nearly three million visitors a year.

Other than the Memorial, this large but sparsely populated state is also known for its rugged natural beauty. The Black Hills, the low mountain range in which Mount Rushmore is located, the dramatic Badlands National Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument – one of the longest cave networks in the world, are some examples.

Most of the state, however, is characterized by miles upon miles of isolated and epic plains – if you really want to get away from it all, there are few better places to do so than South Dakota.

The state maintains a strong rural character, with much of its economy is still founded around agriculture. If you’re looking for large urban centers, therefore, you might be advised to look elsewhere.

Around a quarter of state’s population live in Sioux Falls, which despite only being home to around 200,000 people is the state’s biggest city by far, and home to many of the its universities. However, many of South Dakota’s public universities are located in even smaller cities which will make Sioux Falls seem like Los Angeles in comparison.

South Dakota: Fast facts

•    South Dakota’s population of 824,000 is the fifth smallest in the US

•    South Dakotans pay among the lowest levels of tax in the country, with no personal or corporate income tax levied by the state

•    The world’s highest concentration of mammoth bones can be found at Hot Springs, South Dakota

•    Mount Rushmore was carved over 14 years by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln, who completed the carving in 1941

•    A memorial depicting the Native American warrior Crazy Horse, has been under construction since 1948 in South Dakota; it may become the world’s largest if it is completed

•    Famous South Dakotans include Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder, TV personalities Bob Barker and Mary Hart, wrestler and mixed martial artist Brock Lesnar and Native Americans Sitting Bull, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse

•    The Black Hills towards the west of the state were considered sacred by the Sioux and Cheyenne Native American tribes

•    Belle Fourche, South Dakota has been declared the center of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii)

Top universities in South Dakota

No South Dakotan universities make the 2011/12 QS World University Rankings. However, these is no shortage of provision in the state, ranging from small private liberal arts colleges like Augustana College – considered to be one of the best of its kind in the Midwest, to the larger public system, which consists of South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota as well as some smaller institutions.

The former is the larger of the two, playing host to 12,725 students. Located in the small town of Brookings, towards the east of the state, the university offers 175 fields of study, 29 Masters and 12 PhD  programs. Agricultural research is one of the university’s main focuses.

SDSU is currently working on a new five year strategic plan, which will be finalized in December 2012.

The University of South of Dakota is the state’s oldest university, having been founded in 1862. The Vermillion (population 10,000) based university offers 132 undergraduate programs and 65 graduate programs. Its mission statement is: “To be the best small, public flagship university in the nation built upon a liberal arts foundation.”

USD is home to the state’s only business, law and medical schools. In terms of research it focuses largely on health programs, but also has research centres which focus on oral history and Native American studies.

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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