From the Hawks’ Nest: DSU’s High Rankings

“From the Hawks’ Nest” is a monthly column by Dickinson State University President Steve Easton

Steve Easton.jpg
Dickinson State University President Steve Easton, author of the monthly column “From the Hawks’ Nest”

This fall, we received the exciting news that Dickinson State was selected by U.S. News as one of the best regional colleges in the Midwest. DSU was one of only six public schools on this distinguished list.

The U.S. News Midwest region includes twelve states, from North Dakota and Minnesota at its north, Kansas and Missouri at its south, and Ohio at its east. There are probably hundreds of regional public schools in this large area. To be chosen as one of the top six is a high honor.

DSU has been recognized in other rankings, as well. We are, or have recently been, cited in the top ten for our Human Resources program, certificate programs, business bachelor’s degree programs, accounting program, and online finance program, as well as post-grad salaries. We have also been ranked in the top twenty for online affordability, business degrees (both generally and online), and online certificates. For a list of these and other DSU rankings, please see

It is wonderful to have national agencies recognizing the quality of a Dickinson State education. We are proud of the great work that our faculty, staff, and students do in and beyond the classroom. As we often say, a big part of the magic of DSU is our small class size, with faculty and staff who care about students.

Affordability is also part of the DSU magic. We work hard to keep the costs of a DSU education within reason, so our students graduate without the crushing debt facing many who attend other schools.


The cost of attendance is reflected in some national rankings, so our low cost has helped us achieve some of the high rankings noted above. But other rankings do not consider cost. That is one of the reasons why one must not overvalue any set of rankings.

Over 85% of the top regional schools listed by U.S. News are private. Though we are proud to be one of the few public schools ranked in what is often considered the most prestigious set of rankings—U.S. News—we do not agree with a system that seems to favor private schools, with their significant cost of attendance, over our fellow public schools.

Indeed, ranking colleges and universities is a precarious proposition. How does one compare a small school like DSU to the significantly larger public schools in other states? We are proud of our small class sizes, strong faculty, and numerous opportunities for our students, to be sure. And we are delighted that U.S. News has found those assets to put us among the top schools in the Midwest. But we know that comparing DSU to other Midwestern schools is difficult.

The bottom line is that we don’t take these rankings too seriously, even when they (correctly) have DSU in the top group. We don’t operate our university for rankings. Instead, we exist for our students, providing them with a great education and many other opportunities at an affordable cost.

But we’ll admit it: It’s nice to see others recognize that DSU is a mighty special place!

Of course, we are not resting on our laurels. We have several new programs, including an MBA that started its first cohort of students Oct. 18, a master’s in Elementary Education that will start in January, and a welding certification program that is already into its first year. If you are interested in these or other DSU programs, please contact us at or (701) 483-2175, or visit our webpage at

As U.S. News and many others have recognized, the Hawks are up. We’d love to have you join us.

Related Topics: DICKINSON
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