More South Dakotans are getting education beyond high school.
More South Dakotans are getting education beyond high school.
South Dakota Dashboard chart
Feb 8, 2016

South Dakotans Getting More Educated

More South Dakotans have been going on to more education after high school as rates have risen steadily for those with bachelor's degrees and associate's degrees, according to federal data. Rates for those with advanced degrees and for those with some college but no degree have held roughly steady year to year.

At the same time, the proportion of South Dakotans without a high school diploma has been dropping, as has the rate of those who did not get further education beyond a high school diploma or GED. 

   Less than high school diploma  11.7%  8.3%
   High school diploma or GED   33.9%  30.6%
   Associate's degree   9.2%  11.3%
   Some college, no degree  20.3%  22%
   Bachelor's degree  17.6%  20%
   Professional/graduate degree  7.2%  7.8%

As the Rushmore State has improved its educational attainment, it continues to lag a few percentage points behind the nation as a whole. Rates have continued to increase across the United States. In 2014, 27.8 percent of South Dakotans had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 30.1 percent nationally. In 2006, those rates were 24.8 percent and 27 percent respectively.

In 2014, South Dakota ranked 29th nationally for the percentage of residents who have completed a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to No. 1 Massechusetts (41.2 percent) and No. 50 West Virginia (19.2 percent). The 29th rank is up from 34th for a rate of 26.6 percent in 2013.

When it comes to college degrees held by young adults, South Dakota has slipped behind the nation. In the years leading up to the Great Recession in 2008-2009, South Dakota exceeded the national rate for bachelor's degrees or higher among those age 25-34. Since the recession, that has reversed. In 2006, 30.3 percent of South Dakota's young adults held a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 28.8 percent nationally. In 2014, South Dakota's rate was 30.6 percent compared to 33.5 percent for the nation as a whole. 

Nationally, South Dakota again ranks 29th for the percentage of young adults holding college degrees, compared to No. 1 Massechusetts (50.1 percent) and No. 50 New Mexico (21.9). 

Metropolitan vs. Micropolitan vs. Non-metropolitan 

South Dakotans who live in a metropolitan area continue to rank 10 percentage points higher than those living in non-metropolitan areas for having earned a bachelor's degree or higher degree. Those living in micropolitan areas continue to hold these degrees at nearly but not quite the rate of those in metropolitan areas. 

For the years 2010-2014, 29.6 percent of South Dakotans in metropolitan areas held these degrees compared to 28.6 percent for micropolitan areas and 19.5 percent for non-metro areas. For the years 2005-2009, those rates were 27.5 percent, 26.9 percent and 17.5 percent respectively. In 2000, they were 24.5 percent, 24 percent and 15.1 percent respectively.

For bachelor's and advanced degrees, the Sioux Falls metro area continues to exceed the rate of the state as a whole and that of the Rapid City metro area. In 2014, the Sioux Falls metro area rate for bachelor's degree or higher was 32.6 percent compared to 27.8 percent for the state and 26.8 percent for the Rapid City metro area. 

Even higher rates are found in the Brookings and Vermillion micropolitan areas (homes to the state's two largest universities). For the years 2010-2014, the Brookings micropolitan area averaged a 41.4 percent rate for residents holding a bachelor's degree or higher, while the Vermillion micropolitan area averaged 43.1 percent. These rates are more than double the rates in the Huron and Watertown micropolitan areas. 

Educational Attainment and Demographics

In South Dakota, Asians are far more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to have earned a bachelor's degree or higher. For the years 2010-204, Asians averaged a rate of 43.5 percent on this score, compared to 28.1 percent for whites, 21.6 percent for blacks, 15.9 percent for Hispanics and 10.7 percent for Native Americans. 

Women have overtaken men for educational attainment in South Dakota, and they continued to widen the gap in 2014. In 2000, 20.8 percent of women had earned a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 22.3 percent for men. By 2006, 25.5 percent of women held college degrees compared to 24.2 percent of men. In 2014, the rate was 29.3 percent for women and 26.2 percent for men. 




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