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Founded in 1885 to provide instruction in the region’s primary industry, mining, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (or “Mines,” for short) is a thriving science and engineering research university today, boasting sixteen academic departments. Located in Rapid City, South Dakota, Mines offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. For the 2014-2015 academic year, the university enrolled 2,798 students from 45 states and 39 foreign countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average early-career salary for graduates is $65,600 with a 98 percent placement rate.   The beautiful 118-acre campus has 23 buildings, which surround the historic arch on the campus quad. Future expansion and growth are reflected in the 30-year Campus Master Plan. The plan details recommendations to meet the intended growth in enrollment, faculty, and research as described in Mines’ strategic plan: The Pursuit of Excellence.   Research at the university focuses on four topics: Energy and Environment, Materials and Manufacturing, Underground Science and Engineering, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education.   With more than 80 student organizations, opportunities abound in academia, Greek life, professional development, hands-on design, community service, multicultural clubs, student government, music, Army ROTC, and more.  The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology offers a full array of intercollegiate sports and is both an NCAA Division II institution and member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

Brief History of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology was originally established in 1885 by the Dakota Territorial Legislature as the Dakota School of Mines to provide instruction in mining engineering at a location where mining was the primary industry. The School of Mines opened for instruction on February 17, 1887. Dr. Franklin R. Carpenter, a graduate of Ohio University, was appointed president and dean of the faculty. Degrees were initially offered in mining engineering and metallurgical engineering. When North and South Dakota were granted statehood in 1889, the school was re-designated as the South Dakota School of Mines.

During the presidency of Dr. Robert Slagle (1896-1905), field geology was introduced, and a large collection of Badlands fossils and minerals was added to the geological museum. During that period, the third building was constructed on campus, and the first School of Mines magazine was published. Faculty size and student enrollment reached a peak in 1905 that was not to be exceeded until 1920.

The university's reputation as a diversified science and engineering school was established following World War I with the rapid increase of engineering students and the termination of college preparatory courses. In 1943, the state legislature changed the name of the institution to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, in recognition of the school's expanded role in new areas of science and technology. Since that time, the university has expanded its curriculum to increase the number of science and engineering baccalaureate degrees and graduate programs leading to the Master of Science and master’s and doctorate degrees. As the bounds of technology continue to expand, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology continues to meet the challenge of preparing students for highly technical careers in engineering and science.

Why Study at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Since 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has been a national leader in preparing world-class engineers and scientists. Award-winning undergraduate education is enhanced by graduate education and research and development in areas of critical need to South Dakota, the nation, and the world. Our graduates design, construct, and operate the most modern technology to meet today's complex challenges and are held in the highest regard by their fellow leaders in industry, consulting, government, health, research, and education.

Below are just a few of the great reasons to choose the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology for your advanced-level education:

Superior Early-Career Salary: $65,600

Each year, the SD Mines Career Center calculates average starting salary for past graduates.  For the class of 2013-14, the average starting salary was $62,040.  SD Mines made headlines in 2012 when it was first established that their graduates out earned Harvard graduates, on average, when entering the workforce.

Other institutions also calculate this number. Average early-career salary for graduates is $65,600 with a 98% placement rate, as determined by the 2014-2015 Payscale College Salary Report.  

Exceptional Return on Investment

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is

  • Ranked #19 nationally by PayScale’s 2014 College ROI Report with a 20-year net return on investment at $664,400 for in-state tuition.   
  •  Designated a 2015 STEM Jobs Approved College by Victory Media, the first of its kind to rate universities, colleges, community colleges and trade schools on their responsiveness and relevance to high-demand, high-growth science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations.   
  • The Huffington Post places the School of Mines as fourth in the country for “The Public Schools that Pay Off the Most.” 

A Consistent 'Best College Buy'

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has been named one of America’s 100 Best College Buys for the 17th consecutive year. This year’s America’s 100 Best College Buys is the 18th list published by Institutional Research & Evaluation, an independent research and consulting organization that specializes in the recruiting and retention of students. Each year the organization identifies the 100 colleges and universities in the U.S. that provide students with the highest quality education at the lowest cost. To be considered for the America’s 100 Best College Buys designation, institutions must offer four-year undergraduate degree programs and have an entering freshman class with an average high school grade point average or college entrance exam score equal to or above the national average. This year, 1,069 accredited U.S. colleges and universities participated in the survey.

Placement (98%), Advanced Studies, and Internships (79%)

At the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology:

  • The average starting salary for graduates is $62,400 with a 98 percent placement rate.  
  • 22% of graduates go on to graduate schools.
  • More than 79 percent of graduates had internships, co-ops, or research experiences in 2013. Students worked for 165 employers in 34 states, Canada and Germany, earning an average of $17.01 per hour.

Military and Veteran Friendly

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is ranked among the top 15 percent of the most military friendly schools nationwide by G.I. Jobs magazine for 2015, their sixth consecutive year in these rankings.

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology has ranked in the top ten "Best for Vets: Colleges" for five consecutive years. The list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to recruit and support America's veterans.  

Outstanding Faculty

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology has:

  • Five Faculty members that have been named US Carnegie Professor of the Year for the state of South Dakota, a prestigious award for educators. They are:
    • James Feiszli, D.M.A., 2013 (Music)
    • Jon Kellar, Ph.D., 2008 (Materials & Metallurgical Engineering)
    • Daniel Dolan, Ph.D., 2009 (C.A.M.P., Mechanical Engineering)
    • Stuart Kellogg, Ph.D., 2003 (Industrial Engineering)
    • Alfred Boysen, Ph.D., 1998 (Humanities)
  • The university was named a 2012 Fulbright Top Producing Institution.

Community Service

  • During the 2012-2013 academic school year, Hardrocker (the school’s nickname) athletes volunteered 3,714 hours, exceeding their goal of 2,500.
  • This summer on a single day of service, more than 400 new students volunteered more than 1,000 service hours to make an impact on campus and in the community.

How “CAMP” Sets the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Apart

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology’s exceptional Center of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing and Production (CAMP) is a competitive, nationally-recognized program that brings together students, faculty, and industry leaders to partner on real-world projects.  Teams compete nationally on projects like building alternative fuel vehicles, a concrete canoe, an unmanned aerial vehicle, or a mini Indy or Baja car, or working on projects involving robotics or hydrogen fuel cells.

The Area: Rapid City and the Black Hills

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is fortunate to be set in a community that offers students many activities and diversions, and in a part of the country rich in natural resources and scenic beauty. 

Rapid City

"Ideal." That describes this location in a city that is the region's economic and cultural center and is in the heart of the Upper Midwest's foremost wilderness area. From shopping, restaurants and entertainment to snowboarding and solitude, the School of Mines location provides you with an exceptional range of out-of-class opportunities. There's a great American spirit here and endless things to do.  A few miles away, the Sanford Underground Research Facility provides collaborations on cutting-edge science projects.  The Black Hills, themselves, provide an unparalleled "lab" for geology and mining students.

The Black Hills of South Dakota

One of the most historic and beautiful places in the Midwest, the million-plus-acre Black Hills National Forest and surrounding area is far more than Mount Rushmore and outlaw legends. The Black Hills boasts some of the best hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking in the country, fabulous caves, remote canyons, abundant wildlife, forests, and other natural attractions. All close to campus and a part of the School of Mines experience. Students love outdoor recreation opportunities like snowboarding, kayaking, mountain biking, powwows, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, boating, hunting, and lots more.

All Programs Available:
  • Computing
    • Information Technology
  • Engineering
    • Engineering Science
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Industrial Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Civil Engineering
  • Sciences
    • Environmental Studies
    • Physics
    • Geology
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
Language of instruction


Type of school

Public University




501 E Saint Joseph Street, Rapid City, South Dakota, The United States, 57701


The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the recognized accrediting agency for the north central states. In addition, the curriculum in Chemistry is accredited by the American Chemical Society. All engineering programs with the exception of the Environmental Engineering, which is a new program, are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, a special accreditation body recognized by the Council on Post-Secondary Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. The computer science program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.