Mention of South Dakota usually brings to mind images of Mount Rushmore and Sturgis. However, the state is about much more than stone effigies and tributes to motorcycles. South Dakota is a prairie state where the American Buffalo once ruled. It is also home to the Black Hills and the fabled Badlands. There are still remnants of its western past in places like the historic Deadwood, a well-preserved town of the old west. Today, you will find monuments to corn at the Corn Palace and a new monument to Crazy Horse.
While there may be lots to see and do in South Dakota, if you want to go to law school there, your choice is limited to the University of South Dakota School of Law.
University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law
The University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law (USD Law) is located in Vermillion, a small town on the Missouri River in the southeast section of the state. While Vermillion is home to only about 10,000 residents, it is also home to the University of South Dakota, which has an undergraduate population of about 5,000.
This population ratio gives the town a unique mixture of rural and academic flavor. A small town may be a boon for the law student as there are fewer distractions to entice you away from law books. However, there are many recreational opportunities on the shores of the Missouri River, and the largest city in South Dakota, Sioux City, is only an hour away.
USD Law is a small public school with an enrollment of about 200 full-time and 100 part-time students. The incoming class for 2022 was 87 students.
With low tuition ($11,000 a year for South Dakota residents) and high employment rates, USD Law provides a great value legal education. Tuition rates increase for Minnesota residents and students from other states, but even those rates are low — roughly $20,000 and $30,000 a year, respectively.
USD accepts both LSAT and GRE scores to fulfill the testing requirement of its admission package. The school does not offer evening or weekend courses, although it does offer a flex-time option where students can take a lower credit load and complete their J.D. in five years.
Students who are already enrolled at USD for their undergraduate degree can take advantage of the school's accelerated J.D. program. Often called a 3+3 program, accepted students can begin their law school classes during their final year of undergrad, shaving a year off the process.
J.D. students at USD Law can choose from eleven specialty course tracks to tailor their law degree to the practice area most interesting to them. USD Law also offers ten joint degree programs where students can pair their J.D. with a Master in:
- Higher Education
- Environmental Law & Policy
Tips for Law School and Beyond
After you select a school, you'll learn how to study like a law student, tackle your first exams, prepare for the bar, and more. Whether or not you decide to make your way to South Dakota, FindLaw for Law Students has articles with tips and advice to help you on your law school journey.