Nursing License Requirements in SD: Become a Nurse in South Dakota!

The South Dakota Board of Nursing licenses registered and practical nurses. Currently, South Dakota has 18,055 nurses: 15,494 RNs and 2,561 PNs.

South Dakota is a member of the nurse licensure compact as are three of its border states (North Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska). A nurse with a multistate license issued in South Dakota also has the privilege of practicing in other compact states through electronic/ remote means.

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The state’s nurses are licensed by endorsement or examination. The Board notes that NCLEX review is available from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Nursing Scholarships in South Dakota

South Dakota considers registered nursing to be an area of critical need. As such, it is one of the fields where scholarships are offered through the Dakota Corps Scholarship Program ( This is a program for outstanding high school graduates who are ready to make a commitment ( The South Dakota Nurses Foundation offers graduate level scholarships as well as scholarships for current nurses wanting to complete baccalaureate degrees (

LPN Requirements in South Dakota


Generally speaking, an LPN should enroll in an approved LPN program in South Dakota.

South Dakota also licenses practical nurses by equivalency. The Board does note that this method is not universally accepted, and the LPN will not be eligible for licensure in all jurisdictions. The candidate must submit transcripts verifying both theory and clinical work in the following areas: adult nursing, geriatric nursing, and maternal-child nursing. The candidate will need to demonstrate at least 570 hours of clinical work; lab work may not comprise more than 20% of the clinical total. If the candidate did work in a South Dakota program, the candidate should also submit course descriptions verifying content in the mandated concept areas, for example, cultural competency and nutrition therapy (

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Applying for Licensure

An applicant vying for licensure by equivalency should also request a packet from the Board that includes individual study on the role of South Dakota LPNs. Coursework must be returned to the Board office; a score of at least 85% is required.

LPN applications are available on the Board site ( The Board notes that the application process involves submitting three separate fees to three separate agencies or organizations. The application fee is $100. The examination fee is $200 and must be remitted to the testing company (, not to the South Dakota Board. The candidate must also submit fingerprint cards; the candidate will send the cards to the Board, but make the $43.25 check payable to the South Dakota DCI. (The candidate should request that fingerprinting materials be sent to them.)

A candidate who has completed the traditional LPN coursework may apply to work under a temporary permit pending NCLEX examination. This status is for graduates who have positions lined up; the permit is issued for a particular healthcare facility. There is a separate (very short) application and a $25 fee. In order to be granted the permit, the candidate must also have turned in the application and fingerprint cards and had education verified. The temporary permit does not grant multi-state privilege. The permit holder must work under the supervision of an RN who is on-site and able to offer consultation.

The candidate will schedule the exam once the candidate receives the ATT. The ATT grants a 90 day window.

The candidate can expect official NCLEX results within about 10 days. A candidate who fails the NCLEX-PN must submit a retake application along with a $100 fee. The retake application is included in the examination packet. A candidate who needs to retake will also receive diagnostic information to help the prepare for the next attempt.

Out of State LPNs

A practical nurse licensed in another state may apply by endorsement. The candidate will need to submit official license verification, but may be granted a temporary permit with a photocopy of a current license. The candidate will need to have fingerprints done before the candidate can be granted this status. The candidate may request cards by calling (605) 362-2760. There is also an email address available in the application packet that can be used to request fingerprinting materials (

The nurse should also request official transcripts. The candidate will submit a $100 application fee to the South Dakota Board ($125 if the candidate wants to begin work under a temporary permit).

RN License Requirements in South Dakota


A prospective RN should enroll in a state approved professional nursing program (RN programs in South Dakota). It may confer a diploma, associate degree, or baccalaureate degree.

Click Here for a list of approved LPN programs.

Applying for Licensure

Later the candidate will need to have a criminal background check done. The candidate will apply to the South Dakota Board ( and also register with Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX-RN exam ( If the candidate attended an in-state program, the candidate will have the director certify education; if the candidate attended school in another state, the candidate will have an official transcript sent.

The application requires a $100 fee. Exam registration requires an additional $200.

A candidate who submits an additional $25 may work under a temporary permit while waiting to take the NCLEX-RN. The candidate must work under the direct supervision of a registered nurse. Fingerprint cards must be submitted before the permit can be issued. The permit is issued for a particular facility and does not authorize other nursing practice.

Once eligibility has been determined, the candidate will receive an ATT. The ATT gives a 90 day window in which to schedule the exam. The Board notes that the ATT will arrive sooner if the candidate opts for email communication.

Approximately ten days after examination, the candidate will receive scores and (provided the candidate passes) a license.

If the candidate does not pass, the candidate will have the opportunity to submit a retake application. However, the candidate will lose the privilege of working under a temporary permit.

The South Dakota Nurses Association is a professional organization that offers a number of resources for professional nurses, but is not involved with licensing (

RN by Endorsement

An out-of-state RN should request fingerprint cards from the Board by calling (605) 362-2760 or going online. The candidate will request transcripts and provide license verification from the original state of licensure. The candidate will also verify employment. If the candidate does not have 480 hours in the previous six years, or 140 in one year, the candidate will need to do a refresher course. The Board asks that endorsement candidates seeking re-entry contact them about approved courses.

A candidate who appears to meet requirements may be issued a temporary permit if the candidate submits a photocopy of a current license with the application and fees. The candidate will also need to submit fingerprint cards.

International Nurses

A nurse who did their education in a Canadian province in the English language has requirements that are similar to a U.S. educated nursing graduate applying by exam ( If the candidate has been out of school more than six years, the candidate is expected to show verification of employment: 480 hours accrued at some point over the preceding six years or 140 hours during a 12 month period over the preceding six years. The applicant will need a U.S. social security number.

Other internationally educated candidates should pursue CGFNS certification before applying to the South Dakota Board for NCLEX permission. An international nurse is eligible to work under a temporary permit pending NCLEX examination.


South Dakota Board of Nursing

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