Founded in 1900, Northern State University had a long road to its birth. Plans were set in 1885 by the legislature to provide a university for central South Dakota, but no funding could be settled until 1899, when Aberdeen’s increasing population (it was the fastest-growing city in the state at the time, and the third-largest today) made a higher education institution a viable need. Its first incarnation, an industrial and normal school, brought together two of the elements that would remain central to NSU’s mission throughout its life – practical career and applied science training, and market-ready professional education. Today, NSU is one of U.S. News & World Report’s top regional colleges for the Midwest for many years running, and a trusted name in the Dakotas.
Academic ProgramsNorthern State offers nearly 60 associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in a wide variety of areas, but the most popular degree programs remain education (harkening back to NSU’s origin as a normal school), music, and business. With only 3500 students, NSU has the size of a small liberal arts college, and an 18:1 student:faculty ratio helps provide students the same kind of support as well. Students have a great deal of financial security as well, with nearly two-thirds receiving NSU Foundation scholarships, and the WolfPACT scholarship standing as the largest guaranteed scholarship in the region.
NSU has made important overtures in online education for working adults, developing fourteen fully online degree programs, particularly in business, including accounting, international business, and management. In fact, NSU is quickly becoming one of the top choices in the Midwest for business, as the only Center for Excellence in International Business and Entrepreneurship in South Dakota, and recognition as an up-and-coming online educator. Northern State has also been named a best choice for veterans by U.S. News & World Report.
Student LifeNSU’s small student body of 3500 produces a close, supportive atmosphere where students are encouraged to be themselves. More than 50 student organizations and clubs run the gamut from faith-based groups to community service to intramural sports. Every year, Gypsy Days, a week-long homecoming celebration, brings alumni and friends to Aberdeen, which has been named the 2nd-favorite college town in American by USA Today. The college’s relationship with Aberdeen also gives students access to the parks, hiking trails, skiing, ice skating, and bike trails of the city, as well as live music and restaurants. It’s a big-city extension of campus.
In addition to many intramural sports, and the fitness and recreation options available on-campus and in town, many students find their place playing for, or cheering for, the Northern State Wolves, a Division II, Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference athletic program. The second-smallest school in the league, NSU has nonetheless produced championship teams and a number of professional athletes. They also have loyal fans – the Wolves basketball team has had the conference’s highest attendance record for a decade!