- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University will share courses, faculty and resources in offering a joint master’s degree in public health.

The program will focus on rural health and increasing training levels for practitioners across South Dakota. It will also cover illness prevention and data analysis.

On Wednesday the state Board of Regents approved the proposal. The program will be available this fall online.

Currently, there is no such degree in the state.

According to state officials, a 2009 survey showed only 2 percent of South Dakota workers in the field had a graduate degree in public health.

Officials say interest in health care careers is growing.

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