Due to a geographic luxury of the time, Aberdeen, South Dakota saw a boom in population due to their proximity to a railroad. As a result of the clamor for higher education, a teacher college was set up in 1901 (the Northern Normal and Industrial School… in South Dakota). Though it remained dedicated to teacher education for much of its history, its title as Northern State University (since 1989) today shows its expansion, as it now offers accredited degrees in many fields at both the undergrad and graduate level.
Occupying 72 acres in the third largest city in South Dakota, NSU offers around 40 majors of study for Bachelor degrees (with a number of minor options), as well as associate degrees, pre-professional certificates, and 10 Master degree programs (all 10 education related). Popular majors at NSU are no surprise, with the majority of undergrads studying in education, but also with a large business pool. With a liberal arts core, NSU’s core vision as a “regional university integrating education and technology” is utilized in everything from web advising to distance learning in the hopes of delivering as much educational opportunity to as large a population of South Dakota (and beyond) as possible.
The online course list at Northern State is extensive, with courses ranging from Business Law to Music Appreciation. These online courses are available to “anyone who has a computer”, whether degree seeking or just intellectually curious, and are all “part of the NSU curriculum”, meaning their credit count is the same as traditional, on campus alternatives. The school also offers connections to the state’s Desire2Learn portal, with updates on grades, syllabus changes, and course materials. Though there are a number of flexible options for learning at NSU, there is no completely online degree program offered.
However, they do offer Master’s degree programs in E-learning, an MS and an MS in Education. These programs prepare teachers to deliver, design, and utilize online tools to enhance in class work and provide the same dynamic experience for those who need more flexibility, or can’t meet on campus. The MS actually requires some distance learning electives to be taken from other schools.
Northern State’s 2700 student body is offered at great 18:1 student faculty ratio it is ranked in the top 50 of tier 1 Mid-West schools in US News and World Report for its dedication to its roots, a fine education. Students are taught by primarily PhDs, given opportunities for hands on work both in class and in their community (NSU maintains strong ties with their surroundings, offering many internships through the school). In addition, research opportunities and study abroad programs (from faculty led workshops in Canada to partnered exchanges with foreign countries) are offered.
NSU has stayed true to its roots, marrying education to technology through the years to teach the educators of tomorrow, as well as continue to turn out the leaders and businessmen.