Dakota Wesleyan University - Colleges of Distinction - Colleges of Distinction
Dakota Wesleyan University
Dakota Wesleyan University guides dedicated students in the discovery of their individual talents by...

Dakota Wesleyan University

Mitchell, South Dakota

Dakota Wesleyan University is the model of the 21st century small university. The school offers three undergraduate colleges – the Donna Starr Christen College of Healthcare, Fitness and Sciences, the College of Leadership and Public Service, and the College of Arts and Humanities – each of which are designed to strengthen connections between programs of study, graduate schools, and professional success. The university also unveiled the College of Online and Adult Learning the summer of 2015 to better serve the growing number of students who are finishing undergraduate degrees online, completing the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree, or pursuing one of two master’s degrees: a Master of Arts in Education and a Master of Business Administration.


In addition to the three colleges, DWU’s Center for Talent Development guides students on the path of self-discovery, while the individualized study program can help design a personalized major that is unique to each student.

Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
905 undergraduate students
77% of undergrad students are full time
43% male — 57% female
28% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
53 full-time faculty
82 part-time faculty
10 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Students who live on campus at Dakota Wesleyan University are members of a close-knit community. Throughout the residence halls you will find students challenging each other intellectually through discussion and study, creating lasting memories while relaxing and participating in recreational activities. Housing options include traditional dorms, pod-style living and apartments.

School Location

Dakota Wesleyan University is in Mitchell, S.D., located on Interstate 90 in the southern part of the state. Mitchell is a one-hour drive from Sioux Falls, S.D., just under four hours from Omaha, five hours from Minneapolis, six hours from Kansas City, and 10 hours from Denver. Mitchell is a community of about 15,000 and is internationally known as home to World’s Only Corn Palace!

Retention Fall 2015

71% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full-time, first-time freshmen)

6-Year Graduation Rate 2015

42% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 2%
Hispanic/Latino 3%
Black or African American 1%
White 90%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1%
Asian 0%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 3%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 0%


The DWU Tigers are NAIA Division II in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

There are 15 varsity sports:
Men: baseball, football, wrestling, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, track and field
Women: basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, track and field, softball, volleyball

Mascot: Tiger
Colors: Royal Blue and White

Other Information

Dakota Wesleyan University is a four-year, liberal arts school founded in 1885 and proudly affiliated with the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Academic Programs

Dakota Wesleyan University offers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees. Accounting, Allied Health*, Athletic Training, Behavioral Sciences, Biochemistry, Biology, Biology Education, Business Administration, Chemistry*, Christian Leadership, Coaching*, Communication, Creative Writing*, Criminal Justice, Digital Media and Design, Economics*, Education – Elementary and Secondary, English, English Literature*, Entrepreneurial Leadership, Family Studies*, Finance, Forensic Science and Investigation*, General Science, Graphic Design, History, History Education, Human Services, International Business and Development*, Management, Marketing, Mathematics, Mathematics Education, Music, Music Education, Nonprofit Administration, Nursing, Political Science*, Psychology, Religious Studies, Special Education, Spanish*, Sport, Exercise and Wellness, Sports Management, Theatre, Web Design, Wildlife Management
*Available only as a minor

More Distinctions

  • Dakota Wesleyan University is was named a Strengths Leader Campus by the Gallup Organization.

  • DWU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association continuously since 1916. The university is also accredited or approved by: South Dakota Department of Education, South Dakota Board of Nursing, National League for Nursing, United Methodist University Senate, and Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

  • DWU has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

  • DWU was named a “Great College to Work For ®” by The Chronicle of Higher Education for 2014-15

There are many places and ways to learn. At DWU, students are not just expected to listen and take notes in a classroom; they learn through internships, special projects, undergraduate research, and service opportunities.

Service in Action

A service-minded accounting student proposed to the administration the use of empty lab space to house the space-challenged Weekend Snack Pack Program, a local nonprofit that delivers food to elementary school children with food insecurity issues. Thanks to his work, the nonprofit is now housed on campus where it can store more food.

Members of a Dakota Wesleyan University service-learning team recently spent two weeks in Uganda and Rwanda to volunteer, gift livestock, and provide other services like agricultural advising and workshops for teachers. They talked to locals about their needs, built a church, and established a library with the assistance of the campus-based church community.

Real-World Immersion

Dakota Wesleyan students are guaranteed phenomenal access to immersive opportunities. With the help of the University, they apply their interests of study to real-world or replicated situations. One biochemistry/psychology student has spent the past two years working with her professor researching environmental causes of brain cell death. Her passion for research is leading her to a neuropharmacology career. The criminal justice department’s forensics classroom is a crime scene, specially constructed by local law enforcement officers and replicating a real crime.The presence of an elementary school on the Dakota Wesleyan campus means that education students have the opportunity to work in classroom settings from the very beginning of their college coursework. In short, every student is aptly prepared for their fields.

Additional Study Opportunities

Every student has the opportunity to do an internship or practicum, conduct research, or do some kind of capstone project. They not only learn in the classroom, but they have out-of-class experiences that truly let them rise to the top. For example, students in the DWU theatre program can study theater production in Great Britain during a special May term seminar that takes them onto Shakespeare’s stage and into London’s theatre district.

At Dakota Wesleyan, students find professors who are both engaged and engaging.

Bringing the World to Students

Professors are determined to bring the best study opportunities possible to their students. The Kelley Center for Entrepreneurship has an Entrepreneur in Residence program that brings students face-to-face with entrepreneurs who can talk about their challenges, successes, and lessons learned.

The Esperance Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help under-educated adults acquire occupational skills and career assistance through short-term, educational classes. Brian Patrick, DWU’s own “Spiderman,” researched with students to discover two new species of spiders in the Fort Pierre National Grasslands in South Dakota. Students in Dr. Darryl Green’s sports management classes are hands-on as well, working in conjunction with an ownership group in Canada to create a business plan for a national basketball league.

Students are consistently getting the exposure they need to be able to take on the world in their own careers. Thanks to their driven faculty, they are taken out into the field.

New Facilities for Innovation

Learning opportunities for students in the healthcare, fitness, and science areas have been transformed with the addition of the new four-story Corrigan Health Sciences Center. In addition to new physics, biology and chemistry labs, the new nursing simulation labs allow students to have nearly real-life experiences with simulation manikins while being observed and recorded for classroom discussion.

Esteemed Faculty

Although the first priority of our faculty members is teaching, they are experts in their fields: they are published authors on topics ranging from Jewish legends to military history; they display their photographic work and publish poetry; they are quoted as experts by the media in the region and across the country.

No matter what major a student chooses, opportunities for unique learning experiences are only as far away as the professor at the front of the room. Their goal is to steer students toward meaningful, creative and transformative experiences.

Student Activities

Because of its small size, DWU students are able to participate in intercollegiate or intramural athletics, music, theatre, student senate, political organizations, or all of the above. Nearly every major offers a corresponding student organization or academic society, so there is sure to be something for everyone.

Events for Growth

A collaborative effort of campus groups and organizations host an annual Conference for Leadership, Innovation, and Social Change, which aims to spark positive change around the world. Recent speakers at events like these have included Bob Goff, Shane Claiborne, Donald Miller, and Immaculée Ilibagiza.

Additionally, successful DWU alumni are invited to campus each year to present the Opperman Lecture, an opportunity for them to share stories of their journeys with current students.


Each spring, the campus community comes together for a day of service to the Mitchell community. More than 1,000 hours are logged in service to local schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, and city departments. All student organizations and athletic teams commit to at least one service activity each semester.

Spiritual Life

Fusion is a local United Methodist Church that grew out of a monthly Sunday worship service on campus. It currently has about 150 people from on and off campus in attendance each weekend.

Study Abroad

International experiences have included visits to Tanzania, Mexico, Ireland, Netherlands, Peru, and China.


Every student at Dakota Wesleyan University creates their own professional electronic portfolio. In the portfolio, coursework, campus leadership, and service activities are compiled to help students stand out with prospective employers and graduate schools. Perhaps more importantly, the portfolio allows students to reflect on their four-year experiences of personal growth.

Gallup StrengthsFinder

One of the tools DWU uses with each student is the Gallup StrengthsFinder. The StrengthsFinder does not tell students what career they should pursue, nor does it tell them how to fix their weaknesses. Rather, it offers insight about where each person’s gifts lie. Having this kind of self-awareness leads to fulfilling lives and career.

Alumni Achievements

DWU has impressive numbers. 95 percent of recent applicants were accepted into medical, optometry, physician’s assistant, and psychology graduate schools across the country. 100 percent of recent athletic training graduates passed their boards on the first attempt. All of them are either employed in their field or were accepted to graduate programs. Additionally, students graduating with degrees in nursing, elementary education, and math education have consistently had 100 percent job placement rates.

DWU theatre majors find success in various theatre-related jobs and educational opportunities. One was accepted into the New York Film Academy; another is serving as the executive director of a community theatre organization; another is the master technician for a traveling Broadway musical.

All DWU students are prepared for the very best, because they are trained to be the very best. Success spans across all of Dakota Wesleyan’s fields of study.



644 Total Applicants 
479 Total Admissions 
178 Total Freshman Enrollment

74.38% of applicants admitted

Freshman Profile Fall 2015

  25th Percentile 75th Percentile
SAT Critical Reading 353 521
SAT Math 423 508
SAT Writing 368 502
ACT Composite 18 24
ACT Math 17 23
ACT English 15 23
ACT Writing    


Net Price Calculator



Tuition $24,550
Fees $250
Total $24,800
Room and Board (on campus) $7,200
Room Only $3,200
Board Only $4,000
Estimated Total On Campus $32,000


Financial Aid Breakdown 2014-2015

99% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
89% of full-time, first-time undergraduates awarded student loan aid

$14,920 Average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid awarded
$7,251 Average amount of student loan aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduates

Academic Scholarships

Students who apply and are accepted for admission will be considered for academic scholarship based on their high school GPA and ACT or SAT scores. All scholarships are renewable for four years.

There are several competitive scholarships available at Dakota Wesleyan University.

Scholarship Day, Feb. 6 and Feb. 20, 2015
Students must attend to compete for the Randall Scholarship and McGovern Legacy Scholarship.

Randall Scholarship

Randall Scholarships, the highest academic award at Dakota Wesleyan University, have been awarded for more than 25 years.  Randall Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to academically successful high school seniors who display a strong talent for leadership and service. Students must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and 24 ACT or 1090 SAT to compete.

McGovern Legacy Scholarship

George McGovern graduated from DWU in 1946, and he was the university’s most famous alumnus.  The McGovern Legacy Scholarship is a prestigious and competitive scholarship awarded to an outstanding high school senior who demonstrates exemplary leadership and service to her/his local, regional or global communities. Students must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and 24 ACT or 1090 SAT to compete.

Presidential Leadership Scholarship

Presidential Leadership Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to academically successful high school seniors who display a strong talent for leadership and service, have a minimum 3.0 GPA and 21 ACT or 980 SAT score. 

Bishop Leadership Award

An award of $14,000 is available to a high school senior United Methodist student who demonstrates strong commitment to youth leadership in their local church and pledges to be active in student ministry at DWU. The applicant must be a member of a United Methodist Church and have a 3.0 GPA and 21 ACT.  

For additional admissions and financial aid information, visit www.dwu.edu/admissions.