Mines News

Release Date Friday, September 27, 2019

SD Mines Sees Positive Trends Despite Enrollment Drop

Aditi David, a Ph.D. student in chemical and biological engineering at SD Mines is shown here working in a lab. The university is seeing an increase in both the number of graduate degrees awarded each year and in the number of female students. 


South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is seeing a slight increase in the number of first-year students, students from South Dakota, and an increase in the overall number of female students.

Traditionally women and people of color have been underrepresented in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and SD Mines is working to meet industry demand for increased diversity. The university also welcomes many students who come from rural areas of the state. The hands-on knowledge of students with a background in farming or ranching is invaluable in science and engineering disciplines. Mines is also seeing an increase in the number of graduate degrees awarded each year. The number has steadily climbed from 57 in 2010 to 131 so far in 2019.

The university is seeing an overall decrease in the number of full-time equivalent students of 1.87%. There was also a decrease in the headcount of students on campus of 4.71%. These decreases were expected as the large freshmen class of 2014 is moving out of college and into their careers. The South Dakota Board of Regents, the governing body for state universities in South Dakota, reports that the headcount is down across all state schools. Nationwide, there is a drop in the number of students attending college. The National Center for Education Statistics reports an enrollment decrease of 7% nationwide between 2010 and 2017 (from 18.1 million to 16.8 million students in the US).

While there is a small drop in the number of students on campus this year, university leaders believe a bright future is ahead for the university. There is a high demand for STEM majors and Mines graduates enjoy an average starting salary of $63,350. This makes the university an excellent return on investment. SD Mines is also a central part of tech-based economic growth underway in the Black Hills region. The university is working alongside those at Elevate Rapid City, the Sanford Underground Research Facility, and Ellsworth Air Force Base to build an economic ecosystem that increases the number of high-paying STEM jobs in the area.

The expansion of the tech-based economy in Rapid City adds to the need for continued workforce development in science and engineering fields. To maintain enrollment growth, SD Mines is working to stay competitive with a level of scholarship funding that attracts high caliber students from around the United States who will excel in STEM fields.

But many challenges remain. The South Dakota Boards of Regents’ executive director and CEO Paul B. Beran points out, “South Dakota lacks a stable source of state-level, need-based financial aid. In our work with the Governor and state legislators, we’ll continue to stress that such support is critical to make higher education a reality for more students.” 

To reduce the cost of college and increase the number of students who can afford to attend SD Mines, the university is currently implementing a new strategic enrollment plan. This includes a four-year scholarship guaranteed to any student who achieves an ACT score of 24 or higher. 

“We hope that support from state government can be combined with our own foundation’s private fundraising to provide competitive scholarship funding that will increase the number of STEM students and meet today’s work force needs,” says Mines President Jim Rankin. “Investing in our students will pay itself back many times. This is because our graduates are building the kinds of high-tech businesses that will diversify our economy and help it flourish in the decades to come.” 


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,418 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $68,685. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

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