PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Board of Regents (BOR) celebrates positive enrollment numbers for the upcoming academic year. This fall, the state’s public university student count is up two percent, marking the second consecutive year of enrollment growth for the system.

Fall 2023 First Time Freshmen 489 395 319 496 2,275 1,367 5,341
Percent Different
(Compared to First Time Freshmen Fall 2022)
1.7% 6.2% 6.7% -7.8% 3.8% 3.1% 2.6%
Fall 2023 Headcount 3,475 3,509 3,521 2,492 11,505 9,868 34,370
Percent Different
(Compared to Headcount Fall 2022)
1.5% 8.3% 5.3% 0.0% 1.5% 0.1% 2.0%


The latest enrollment data reveals an increase in both first-year students and returning students, reflecting a growing interest in the wide range of academic programs and opportunities offered by BOR universities.

“We are excited to see so many students choosing our universities for their higher education journey,” said BOR Executive Director Nathan Lukkes. “This year’s first-time freshmen are part of the largest incoming class in the past decade, which is great news for our schools and our state.”

The fall 2023 first-time freshmen total 5,341, a 2.6 percent increase over a strong 2022 class, which was up over 6% from the 2021 class. The overall student body for South Dakota’s public university system equals 34,370 across the six campuses, a 2.0 percent increase from the previous fall.

University leaders are pleased by the incoming enrollment trends. BOR campuses are dedicated to providing their new and continuing students with the resources and support they need to succeed, emphasizing the importance of higher education in shaping the future of South Dakota, both for individuals and the state as a whole.

“Back-to-back years of increased enrollment is a testament to the commitment of our faculty, staff, and administration to providing an exceptional educational experience,” continued Lukkes. “We look forward to helping our students achieve their academic and career goals.”

Included in the system enrollment count are BOR’s graduate schools. These continuing students make up a significant population in the overall enrollment. With nearly 6,000 students enrolled annually, graduates provide essential professional services such as rural and urban medicine, legal assistance, engineering, and computer science. This year, the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law achieved a significant milestone, welcoming its largest incoming class in over a decade.

According to the School of Law Dean Neil Fulton, “We increased class size while also increasing entering credentials, proving that we can get better and bigger at the same time.”

The Board of Regents express their appreciation to South Dakota law makers for continuing to support higher education in the state. Their support is instrumental in our ability to continue delivering quality education at an affordable price, which is critical to driving enrollment. South Dakota’s public universities are eager to welcome their growing student body and are committed to creating a productive learning environment. The new academic year always brings a level of excitement, and this fall is no different.