South Dakota, United States
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology is a 131 year old institution founded in 1885. It caters mainly to the mining industry which is the lifeline of the region where it is located. It offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs in a variety of science and engineering courses with a focus on research. It has featured in the list of America’s 100 Best College Buys for a number of years.
At the undergraduate level there are 16 different courses on offer and at the graduate level there are 23. The doctoral program covers 8 areas. They university also offers distance education for professional master’s degrees.
The university is located in Rapid City, South Dakota. This is the second largest city in South Dakota with a population of around 70,000. It is situated in the Rushmore Region with plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities in the city and surrounding Black Hills.
Transportation within the city is quite good. You can drive to Rapid City from Denver, Colorado in six hours. You also have the option of flying there directly with daily flights from Minneapolis, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Chicago or Las Vegas.
The campus is small, so it is easy to get to know everyone. A library will meet all your study and reference requirements. A number of labs on campus are engaged in applied research and exploration in various aspects of material sciences. Though the main focus is on materials and mining, there are research labs for mechanics and paleontology.
For you to work out or do sports, there are a couple of gyms, an activity room and a weight room. The main sports played on campus are American football and soccer. The dining options are good but limited.
From this year, on-campus residences are available to graduate students too. Housing is assigned on first come first serve basis, so be sure to apply soon. The housing is apartment style with each furnished unit having a living room and 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms along with 1 or 2 full bathrooms. Each unit has Wi-fi, cable TV and laundry. The housing is irrespective of gender, so keep that in mind. The residence has an equipped kitchen and parking. The rules about alcohol are pretty strict with regards to the age limit of 21 years.
You can rent an apartment off-campus. The average rent for a 2 bedroom flat in Rapid City is around $750 per month. The university’s residence website gives you options to search for off-campus housing.
The region experiences 4 separate seasons. Summer temperatures in July average 30 degrees C during the day and 15 degrees in the night. This is pleasant and you may occasionally need a jacket or pullover.
Winters are very cold with the high being around 3 degrees and night temperatures dropping to -10 or -11 degrees C in the nights. Be prepared to trudge through snow in the winter as the average snowfall is 26 inches per year. The weather is unpredictable and changes fast without warning. It is advisable to be prepared at all times.
The professors are interested in teaching and don’t pass off teaching assistants to you. They know you personally and are helpful. The study and homework load is on the higher side. There is an emphasis on research.
The administrative office may not be helpful at all times and charges fines for small things. There is a 20-year old international centre to cater to international students.
As an international student, you have to fulfil requirements of English proficiency, visa, insurance and financial documentation. Scholarship opportunities for you are limited and applications have to be submitted by January 15 of the year you are planning to start.
To apply for aid, international students have to go through the graduate education office. You need TOEFL scores of at least 560 to become a RA or TA in addition to fulfilling other requirements. Your department is in charge of graduate assistant positions, so it is best to contact them.
This is a plus point for the university with 98% of students getting placed on campus. There is a strong culture of paid internship during the summer, which has a positive effect on your starting salary. Placement fairs also take place. Top engineering companies from all over the USA hire here.
The alumni association is active and involved with the university. There are a few noteworthy names among the alumni of the university like Marty Jackley, Attorney General of South Dakota, James Abourezk, former U.S. representative and Walter Dale Miller, former Governor of South Dakota.
This is a good option if your budget is not so high and you still want to do your Masters or PhD in the USA. Though it is not in the top league of American science and engineering universities, don’t discard it immediately. On-campus, expect to mainly study with a fewer range of extra-curricular activities. If you are focused on the programs they offer and are prepared for a smaller-scale social life, apply here. You should be able to land a good job later.
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