South Dakota State University Nursing School Review


While South Dakota State University (SDSU) has been in existence since 1881, it started educating nurses in 1935. It has expanded from offering just a four-year baccalaureate nursing program to offering graduate-level nursing programs in a variety of specializations, upward mobility programs for nurses who want to earn a full baccalaureate degree, and continuing education refresher courses for nurses who wish to brush up on their nursing skills.

For prospective nurses and nurses who want to continue their education, South Dakota State University has one of the most comprehensive lists of programs in the state. Depending on the program, classes are offered on the main campus in Brookings, as well as in Rapid City, Sioux Falls, and Aberdeen. Currently, the School of Nursing at SDSU enrolls about 800 undergraduate students and about 200 graduate students. The nursing programs at SDSU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and approved by the South Dakota Board of Nursing.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Standard Option

The Standard Option of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BS in Nursing) program takes four years to complete, on a full-time basis. Students in this program spend the first three semesters as pre-nursing students, completing general education requirements and nursing prerequisites. After these are complete, they transition into five semesters of nursing coursework. In total, BS in Nursing students must earn 128 credits in order to graduate. The five-semester nursing course sequence starts each fall and each spring on the main campus in Brookings and on the satellite site in Rapid City. In Sioux Falls, SDSU offers the nursing course sequence starting in the spring only. After graduating from the BS in Nursing program, students may take the National Council Licensing Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Accelerated Option

The Accelerated Option of the BS in Nursing program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. The program is intense; like the Standard Option of the BSN program, the Accelerated Option requires five semesters of nursing courses. In the Accelerated Option, however, the semesters are compressed to ten weeks. A student on the accelerated track can complete all five terms in just twelve months of intense, full-time study. SDSU offers this BS in Nursing program option in two different locations: Sioux Falls and Aberdeen. The course sequence starts in August in Sioux Falls and January in Aberdeen.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing – RN to BS

As part of its RN Upward Mobility initiative, which is designed to accommodate working RNs who want to advance in the field of nursing, SDSU offers an online RN to BS in Nursing program. Through this program, a graduate of an associate-degree program or a diploma program can earn a full baccalaureate degree, in preparation for graduate-level nursing education and advanced certification. Before beginning the nursing course sequence, an RN must complete most of her missing general education requirements and nursing support classes. When she starts the nursing course sequence, she can have no more than seven credits of non-nursing courses to complete. SDSU will accept up to twenty credits of nursing coursework from the RN’s associate degree or diploma program. In total, she must earn 120 credits in order to graduate. The length of the program will vary, depending on how many classes she needs to complete and how many classes she takes per semester. Clinical rotations are included as part of the RN to BS program; an RN may schedule these at a location in her area.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science in Nursing – RN to MS

An RN who knows that he wishes to proceed directly from undergraduate study to graduate-level nursing classes can enroll in the RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MS in Nursing) program. Like the students in the RN to BS in Nursing program, he will complete all the requirements for the BS in Nursing degree online. The only difference is that he can substitute two graduate-level nursing classes for two of the undergraduate-level nursing classes. He must also complete a statistics course. In the last semester of his undergraduate program, he will formally apply to the graduate program in his chosen area of specialization. He then transitions into the MS in Nursing program in the next semester.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Doctor of Nursing Practice – RN to DNP

Like the RN to MS program, the RN to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program allows an RN to transition smoothly from undergraduate study to DNP classes. She can substitute two graduate nursing courses for two undergraduate nursing courses, and must complete a statistics course as part of her BS in Nursing degree. In the last semester of her BS in Nursing classes, she can apply for admission to the DNP program, on the Bachelor’s to DNP track.

Master of Science in Nursing

After completing a baccalaureate degree and working for at least 1500 hours as an RN, a nurse can return to school to complete an MS in Nursing degree. SDSU enrolls an MS in Nursing class each fall. Students in the program can complete most of the coursework online, traveling to campus occasionally for intense, short sessions. In addition to classes, all students in the MS in Nursing program must complete clinical hours. The required number of clinical hours, as well as the number of credits, varies according to the RN’s chosen specialty. SDSU offers several different areas of specialization within the MS in Nursing program. The following are the available specializations:

Clinical Nursing Leadership Specialization with Nurse Administrator Emphasis

If an RN chooses the Clinical Nursing Leadership Specialization with Nurse Administrator Emphasis, he must earn thirty-seven credits total, and complete 180 clinical hours. At the conclusion of the program, he can take the Nurse Executive – Board Certified or Nurse Executive – Advanced Board Certified exam, offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), or the Certified Nurse Manager and Leader exam or the Certified in Executive Nursing Practice exam offered by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE).

Clinical Nursing Leadership Specialization Clinical Nurse Leader Emphasis

The Clinical Nurse Leader Emphasis requires forty-three credits total, and includes 480 clinical hours. Graduates of this track in the MS in Nursing program can take the Clinical Nurse Leader certification exam offered by the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC).

Nurse Educator Specialization

A student on the Nurse Educator Specialization track must earn forty-four credits total, and complete 300 hours of hands-on teaching practice. After completing the program and teaching for at least two years, a graduate can take the Certified Nurse Educator exam offered by the National League for Nursing (NLN).

Post-master’s Nurse Educator Certificate

The Post-master’s Nurse Educator Certificate program is open to nurses who already have an MS in Nursing degree. Students on this track do not have to complete the core nursing graduate classes, although they do have to complete all the classes in the nurse educator area of focus, as well as complete a teaching practicum. After completing the program and teaching for at least two years, graduates of the certificate program can take the NLN Certified Nurse Educator exam.

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Bachelor’s to DNP

An RN with a bachelor’s degree and at least 1500 hours of work experience as a nurse may apply to the Bachelor’s to DNP program. This program requires a substantial time commitment of four-and-a-half to six years of study, depending on the area of specialization. Through this track of the DNP program, an RN can earn advanced practice certification in one of several areas of specialization, and obtain the skills and knowledge he needs to assume the highest level of clinical responsibility.  SDSU offers the program each fall in Brookings/Sioux Falls, and in Rapid City starting in even years. Students must travel to campus for at least some of the classes; the program is not available entirely online although some classes are offered via distance technology.  SDSU offers the following specializations within the Bachelor’s to DNP program:

Family Nurse Practitioner

The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) track requires eighty credits total, and includes 1560 clinical hours. Students may complete the course sequence in as little as four-and-a-half years, or they may take five-and-a-half years.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

On the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) track, an RN must earn sixty-eight credits total and complete 1260 clinical hours. As SDSU cooperates with the University of Missouri-Kansas City to offer this track, students must also commit to two short sessions in Kansas City.

Family Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

In cooperation with the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri-Columbia, SDSU offers a Family Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track. Students on this track must complete eighty-three credit hours, and 1020 clinical hours. They will travel to Columbia for short sessions several times throughout the program.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

By earning eighty-and-a-half credits and completing 1020 clinical hours, students can complete the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner track of the Bachelor’s to DNP program. As this track is offered in cooperation with the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri-Columbia, students must plan on traveling several times to Columbia throughout the course of the program.

Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

With the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri-Columbia, SDSU offers a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist track. This requires seventy-seven credits and includes 1110 clinical hours. Students must travel to Columbia several times throughout the program.

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Master’s (Advanced Practice Certification) to DNP

A nurse with advanced practice certification (as a nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, or certified nurse midwife) can complete SDSU’s DNP program in just three years. The program requires thirty-one credits hours and includes 540 clinical hours. Some courses are offered in Sioux Falls and others are offered online. The program begins in the fall, in odd years only.

Doctor of Nursing Practice – Master’s (without Advanced Practice Certification) to DNP

An RN who has a master’s degree but does not have advanced practice certification can complete the DNP program in three to five years, depending on how many classes he takes per semester and how many classes he needs to complete. Depending on his previous education, he needs to earn between fifty-six and sixty-eight credits hours. As part of the DNP program, he will complete the coursework specific to the FNP area of specialization, and take the FNP certification exam. While SDSU offers other tracks in the Bachelor’s to DNP program, students on the Master’s to DNP track can only complete the FNP courses.

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

The Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD in Nursing) program prepares nurse educators and nurse researchers; it is only open to nurses who have already earned a master’s degree. The program requires sixty credit hours, which takes three years on a full-time basis. Students also have the option of taking four or five years to complete the PhD in Nursing course sequence. In order to accommodate work schedules, SDSU offers classes that meet one weekend a month, in Sioux Falls. Some coursework is also available online.

Continuing Education – LPN Refresher Course

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) who has been out of the work force may complete the SDSU LPN Refresher Course in order to brush up her nursing skills and bring herself up to date with advances in the nursing field. The course consists of eighty hours of classroom instruction, which is offered online, and eighty hours of clinical practice, which can be completed in a location that is convenient for the student. The LPN can start at any time, and must complete the entire course within a year.

Continuing Education – RN Refresher Course

After leaving the nursing profession for a time, an RN can bring his skills up to date through the RN Refresher Course. He will complete 120 hours of classroom instruction and eighty hours of clinical practice. The classroom portion of the course is offered online, and the clinical practice can be completed in a location that is convenient for the student. An RN may enroll at any time; he has one year to complete the course.

Contact:
South Dakota State University-College of Nursing,
Brookings, SD 57007

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