NSU Catalog 2020-2021 
    May 24, 2024  
NSU Catalog 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Welcome to NSU

On behalf of all of our faculty, staff, and administrative teams, I welcome you to the Northern family.

Our ultimate goal is to help you graduate from Northern and begin the next phase of your life. During your journey at Northern, our faculty and staff members are committed to helping you succeed in the classroom as well as enjoy a full collegiate experience outside the classroom.

As a Northern student, your role is to be an engaged learner who asks for help whenever you need it. Our faculty and staff members are dedicated to your learning and development. We want to not only challenge you to improve as a learner and leader, but also support your development in order to assure your learning experiences will meet, and even exceed, your expectations. The key to your success is for you to reach out to our committed faculty and staff whenever you need help.

At Northern, we are dedicated to providing the best experience possible for our students. We’ve worked hard in recent years to enhance our campus offerings, including increased academic programs; exceptional student activities; and new facilities, such as three modern residence halls and a state-of the-art science center.

While you’re a student at Northern, you will be encouraged to learn both in and out of the classroom. Students who attend lectures and special events on campus and engage in leadership activities, clubs and organizations, fine and performing arts, or intercollegiate or club/intramural sports will enjoy a much more robust college experience. In fact, I encourage you to challenge yourself to learn and engage in activities that are new or unfamiliar to you. At Northern, we want your college experience to expand your knowledge and worldview, and learning about other cultures, countries, and languages is crucial to living, working, and succeeding in our global society.

In addition to your work in the classroom, you are encouraged to seek opportunities to work with faculty, to complete an internship related to your area(s) of study, and to focus your efforts on being well prepared for jobs and careers as well as lifelong learning opportunities. These activities will help you distinguish yourself among other new graduates entering the workforce and confirm your potential as an excellent employee, learner, and leader.

We also encourage you to explore our wonderful community and region, particularly by getting involved in volunteer opportunities. There are numerous ways to give back - some of which, like Day of Champions and Pack Gives Back, are facilitated by the university. Let us know what you’re passionate about, and we’ll try to match you with an organization that will benefit from your assistance.

As President of Northern State University I continue to be excited to serve and lead such a special campus community.  I was drawn to Northern because this university and community genuinely cares for the success of its students, and it’s important to me that you know if you work hard and ask for assistance when you need it, our faculty and staff members will do everything they can to help you have a positive collegiate experience.

I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you into a community that strives to make your experience at Northern outstanding and life-changing.  Our collective efforts on campus have led to many successes and an unprecedented momentum towards an even more positive future for Northern.

We sincerely hope you enjoy your experiences at Northern!


Dr. Tim Downs

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a premier residential institution characterized by outstanding instruction, extraordinary community relations, and unparalleled extracurricular opportunities.

Since 2007 NSU has been consistently named by US News and World Report as one of the best undergraduate public institutions in the Midwest. For more information about NSU, visit our web site at www.northern.edu.

Mission Statement


To comply with provision of Board Policy 1:10 regarding the Northern State University mission statement to include the legislatively established purpose of the institution and the programs authorized by the Board to implement that purpose.


  1. Statutory Mission:  The institutional mission defined under South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL).


  1. Statutory Mission

The legislature established the statutory mission of Northern State University under 13-59-1 as:

The primary purpose of Northern State University, at Aberdeen in Brown County … is the preparation of elementary and secondary teachers and a secondary purpose is to offer preprofessional, one-year and two-year terminal and junior college programs.  Four-year degrees other than in education and graduate work may be authorized by the Board of Regents.

  1. Board of Regents Implementation of Statutory Mission

The Board recognizes Northern State University’s mission as:

NSU will be a nationally-recognized student-centered institution committed to academic and extracurricular excellence, and global learning opportunities in a beautiful Midwestern setting.

The institution is also charged with promoting excellence in teaching and learning, supporting research, scholarly and creative activities, and providing service to the State of South Dakota, the region, and beyond.

The Board approved a special emphasis on E-learning in the university curriculum and service.  Northern State University is a member of the South Dakota System of Higher Education.

Northern State University is approved to offer programs and courses online through the Internet.

3.  Curriculum

The following curriculum is approved for the university:

3.1   Undergraduate Major Level Curriculum

Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Exercise Science, Fine and Performing Arts, General Studies, Humanities, Information Systems (in accords with SDCL 13-59-2.2), Liberal Arts, Mathematics, Physical/Biological/Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences, and Sport Media and Administration.

3.2  Master’s Level Curriculum

Banking and Financial Services, Counseling, E-learning, and Education.

  1. Authorized Degrees

4.1  Undergraduate Degrees

Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.), Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.). Certificates in related fields.

4.2  Graduate Degrees

Master of Arts (M.A.), Master Music Education (M.M.E.), Master of Science (M.S.), and Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.).  Certificates in related fields.

Campus of Distinction

A Framework for Strategic Action



Northern State University will provide diverse academic, civic, social and cultural opportunities that prepare students through the liberal arts and professional education for their future endeavors, while also enriching the local and regional community.


Northern State University will be regionally recognized as a student-centered, diverse community dedicated to excellence in teaching and learning, creativity and global awareness.


Northern State University’s students, faculty, and staff are committed to the following values:


  • Building a culture of inclusion, belonging and collegiality that respects diversity in knowledge, culture and world view.


  • Pursuing rigor and excellence in education, inquiry and engagement for the benefit of our students, state and region.


  • Adhering to the highest standards of honesty, fairness and transparency with a commitment to responsible stewardship of resources.

Pillars of Excellence

Distinctive Learning

Active, innovative, interdisciplinary and relevant

Distinctive Experience

Diverse, engaged, inclusive and welcoming

Distinctive Partnerships

Collaborative, entrepreneurial, supportive and sustainable

Distinctive Leadership

Accountable, ethical, responsive and transparent

Academic Freedom and Responsibility

  1. Academic freedom is guaranteed to faculty members subject only to accepted standards of professional responsibility including, but not limited to, those herein set forth:
    1. The importance of academic freedom to teaching and learning is recognized and accepted. Academic freedom includes the right to study, discuss, investigate, teach and publish. Academic freedom applies to both teaching and research. Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth. Academic freedom in its teaching aspect is fundamental for the protection of the rights of the teacher in teaching and of students to freedom in learning. It includes the freedom to perform one’s professional duties and to present differing and sometimes controversial points of view, free from reprisal. The faculty member is entitled to freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the performing of other assigned academic duties.
    2. Faculty members are entitled to freedom in the classroom in the discussion of their subject. They have the freedom to include the presentation of various scholarly views.
    3. The concept of freedom should be accompanied by an equally demanding concept of responsibility. The faculty members are members of a learned profession. When they speak or write as citizens, they must be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As learned people and as educators, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence, they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others and should indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.
  2. To secure student freedom in learning, faculty members in the classroom and in seminar should encourage free and orderly discussion, inquiry and expression of the course subject matter. Student performance may be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards.
    1. Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled.
    2. Each institution shall establish an academic appeals procedure to permit review of student allegations that an academic evaluation was tainted by prejudiced or capricious consideration of student opinions or conduct unrelated to academic standards. These procedures shall prohibit retaliation against persons who initiate appeals or who participate in the review of appeals.
    3. Students are responsible for maintaining standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled.


Northern State University is an accredited institutional member of

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
11520 West 119th Street
Overland Park, KS 66213

Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs
1001 North Fairfax Street, Suite 510
Alexandria, VA 22314

National Association of Schools of Art and Design
11250 Roger Bacon Drive Suite 21
Reston, VA 20190-5248

National Association of Schools of Music
11250 Roger Bacon Drive Suite 21
Reston, VA 20190

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
2010 Massachusetts Avenue NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036-1023

Higher Learning Commission
Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
30 North LaSalle Street Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60602

South Dakota Department of Education
800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501

Member of
Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programs
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
American Association of State Colleges and Universities
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers
American Council of Learned Societies
American Council on Education
Association for Institutional Research
College and University Personnel Association
Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences
National Association College Admissions Counselors
National Association of College and University Business Officers
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
National Association of Student Personnel Administrators
National Association of Schools of Art and Design
National Association of Schools of Music
National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Upper Midwest Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers

Disclosure Statements are located on our website.