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Online Colleges in South Carolina

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Like many schools in the southeastern U.S., South Carolina’s institutions come with an extensive selection of online programs. The top online school in the state is its flagship public institution: the University of South Carolina. USC offers six online programs in a variety of subjects across its three campuses and in some senses serves as the model online school for the state, for reasons we’ll explore below.

But before we dive into our list of best online schools in South Carolina for 2016, let’s start with the state of higher education and online education in particular in South Carolina today.


Overview of Higher Education in South Carolina

In 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that South Carolina had 79 degree-granting institutions, broken down as follows: 33 public schools, 24 nonprofits and 22 for-profits. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the ’12-’13 school year at these schools was: 15,945 at public schools, 3,869 at private nonprofits and 233 at private for-profits.

Tuition-wise, the College Board found that, in the ’15-’16 school year, the average in-state tuition and fees for four-year public schools was $11,820, while the out-of-state average was $28,850. As of 2012, according to the SREB, there was an earnings gap of $17,794 between the state’s bachelor’s degree holders and those who held only a high school diploma.

As for the state’s financial aid efforts, the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs (NASSGAP) reported that South Carolina awarded $60.6 million in need-based grants and $298.9 million in nonneed grants for the ’13-’14 school year. Grants make up 39.6% of the state’s total fiscal support for higher education; the largest percentage amongst all states. It should be noted that South Carolina has two distinct organizations responsible for awarding grants: the state’s Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and the state’s Tuition Grants Commission (TGC). CHE is responsible for some scholarships and a small selection of need-based grants. TGC handles the state’s entire tuition grants program and is thereby exclusively focused on said grants.


State of Online Higher Education in South Carolina

The NCES estimates that at least 5.9% of students enrolled in South Carolina’s Title IV institutions are in fully online programs. Of those, 83.1% were reported to be undergraduates and 91.1% were found to be living in South Carolina.

The CHE, as mentioned before, is responsible for a portion of the state’s financial aid, but it is also the body responsible for major reports on postsecondary education in South Carolina; they are also central to the state’s higher education legislative efforts. With regards to distance learning, the CHE has established some principles or standards it holds itself to when pushing a distance learning agenda: quality instruction, equitable access, collaboration, program suitability for online learning, market demand and individual student success, just to highlight a few. Insistence on these standards indicates a level of rigor many states would do well to model. What starts with the state’s governing higher education body carries down to every online program in South Carolina, which in turn helps ensure that distance students actually get the learning experience they deserve.

South Carolina is also a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus. An initiative that lets students sift through an impressive directory of online programs throughout the southeast U.S. SREB also has strong aid initiatives. Services like the Academic Common Market/Electronic Campus and the Regional Contract Program for Health Professions let students fully enroll in a selection of out-of-state programs while paying in-state rates. While the program selection is small and the admissions criteria strict, for qualified students these are incredible opportunities.


Best Online Colleges in South Carolina

Below you will find our rankings of the best online four-year programs in South Carolina. Our profiles look at how schools approach online education and then list out their services for distance students and their popular, fully online degrees. After reviewing our best of South Carolina, explore our state resources, like a database of every college and university in South Carolina or our index of popular in-state scholarships.

Want to know what it takes to make our rankings? Check out our distinct approach.

Methodology

To determine the best online colleges in each state, we examined the factors most important to prospective students: Academic quality and reputation, online program strength, and cost and student aid. At the most basic level, we use the following formula to determine the best online colleges: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. Of course, there's more to these calculations than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about the process we use to rank schools.

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University of South Carolina

1
University of South Carolina
Columbia
$10,816
$28,528

An Online Education at University of South Carolina

The online programs at USC are designed for those who have already begun or earned an undergraduate degree. Once enrolled, students use the Blackboard learning platform to complete their studies, interact with teachers and classmates, turn in assignments and review announcements.

The school is committed to ensuring online students receive the same care and attention as their on-campus peers. USC provides online learners with access to a number of academic resources and services, including academic advising, technical support, digital library services and career counseling. Online learners are also eligible to receive the same financial aid benefits, such as grants and scholarships, offered to traditional students.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Services
  • Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership
  • RN to BSN

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education and Behavior
  • Master of Health Information Technology
  • Master of Nursing in Nursing Administration with Organizational Leadership focus
  • Master of Education in Teaching
  • Master of Education in Educational Administration

The bachelor's degree completion programs allow students to transfer up to 68 credits. Courses in the undergraduate programs are available completely online, and students are able to login to them when it best fits their schedules, though they must meet all deadlines and due dates.

Contact Information

Columbia-Campus
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7000


Acclaim for online programs

  • #3on U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs
  • #18on U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Graduate Education Programs
  • #52on U.S. News & World Report's Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs

North Greenville University

2
North Greenville University
Tigerville
$14,772

An Online Education at North Greenville University

Online undergraduate and graduate programs at NGU are offered through the College of Adult Professional studies. As such, they are designed for working adults who want to change or enhance their careers. Classes are taught in six-week blocks, allowing students to take one course at a time, focus on the subject matter and develop a rich knowledge of the materials. Online learners are able to take classes back to back, or they have the option to take six weeks off when they need.

Online courses are taught by the same faculty lecturing in on-campus classrooms, and they integrate the Christian beliefs that are part of the school's core values. The university uses the Blackboard learning platform to deliver all coursework, promote dialogue between students and faculty, post grades and share announcements. Classes are accessed asynchronously, and most of the graduate programs can be completed in two years or less with no visits to the campus required.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministries
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Leadership Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Educational Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in General Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Christian Ministry
  • Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Master of Education
  • Master of Music Education

Contact Information

7801 N. Tigerville Road
Tigerville, SC 29688-1892
(864) 977-7000

Coastal Carolina University

3
Coastal Carolina University
Conway
$9,760
$22,770

An Online Education at Coastal Carolina University

Alongside standalone classes across all academic fields, Coastal Online offers undergraduate and graduate level degree programs that can be completed exclusively online. Distance education students are supported by dedicated advising staff, online access to the Kimbel Library and textbook delivery. Technical assistance for online learners is provided by 24/7 live chat, online tutorials and software downloads.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • B.S. Marketing
  • B.S. Health Administration
  • B.S. Hospitality, Resort & Tourism Management

Professionals looking to enhance their workplace knowledge can do so with virtual certificate programs in online teaching, ESOL, and business foundations.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • M.Ed. Instructional Technology
  • M.Ed. Literacy

Moodle is used to deliver online course materials. Instructors populate the virtual classroom with digital text, videos, presentations, streaming content and interactive multimedia. Students complete assignments and collaborate with peers using email, discussion forums and real-time web conferencing. Most online study is asynchronous, but students can expect a few time-sensitive login requirements.

Contact Information

103 Tom Trout Drive
Conway, SC 29526
(843) 347-3161

Claflin University

4
Claflin University
Orangeburg
$15,010

An Online Education at Claflin University

Although Claflin only began offering online courses in the summer of 2014, it has embraced the spirit of online learning: programs are offered completely online, with no campus visits required. Students access their coursework via Moodle; online learners new to this platform can familiarize themselves with the interface by logging in as a guest, or perusing a number of online tutorials.

Technical advisors are available to help ensure students get the most out of their online educations. Other professional staff members are also on hand to help with academic advising, library access, career counseling and financial aid assistance. The school provides Panther Measure, a quiz designed to help prospective students determine if online learning is right for them.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Master of Business Administration

Contact Information

400 Magnolia Street
Orangeburg, SC 29115-4498
(803) 535-5000

Lander University

5
Lander University
Greenwood
$10,100
$19,136

An Online Education at Lander University

Lander University, formerly a women’s college serving the Greenwood area, is now a co-ed institution. It offers distance education options in many of its standalone classes, plus two undergraduate degree completion programs and one professional certificate program. These options are particularly useful for working adults with full-time employment seeking to further their careers through higher education.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)

Professionals in healthcare can take online courses to earn the Health Care Management certificate. Lander delivers its online courses with the BlackBoard educational management platform. Students in need of technical assistance can submit a help ticket or call (864) 388-8234 during business hours.

Contact Information

320 Stanley Avenue
Greenwood, SC 29649-2099
(864) 388-8000

Columbia College

6
Columbia College
Columbia
$26,800

An Online Education at Columbia College

Columbia College's online degrees are taught by professionals with real-world experience in their fields. Students and instructors use the VCamp360 learning management system to access all online materials, including assignments, discussion boards and 24/7 tech support. Students talk with "Success Coaches" to determine if an online learning environment is right for them.

Both online degrees operate in a cohort system; students learn alongside the same group throughout the entire program. Courses are taken one at a time, every five weeks, to allow for maximized absorption of materials. Online students may be eligible to transfer credits from previous college coursework, military classes and professional training in order to fulfill degree requirements.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Emergency Management

Contact Information

1301 Columbia College Dr
Columbia, SC 29203
(803) 786-3012

Anderson University

7
Anderson University
Anderson
$22,790

An Online Education at Anderson University

Anderson University is a private Christian school noted for its campus-based educational programs and innovative approach to learning. Adult and other non-traditional students can take advantage of flexible distance learning options to pursue a degree without taking time off from work.

Over 500 courses are offered either online or in a hybrid format combining class attendance with online study. Apart from standalone classes, students may choose from 14 bachelor’s degree programs.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Criminal Justice, B.S.
  • Human Services, B.A.
  • Organizational Leadership, B.O.S.
  • Business Administration, B.S.
  • Christian Studies, B.C.S.
  • Emergency Management Services, B.A.
  • Nursing, RN-to-BSN

Depending on the program, some bachelor’s degree options build on classes already completed in the course of associate degree study.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Music Education, M.Mus.
  • Ministry, M.Min., D.Min.
  • Education, M.Ed.
  • Criminal Justice, M.S.
  • Business Administration, M.B.A.

The majority of online courses are deployed via Moodle, with the application called Turnitin used for assignment submission. Classes are taught in 8-week sessions. Students in these programs have comprehensive support in the form of textbook delivery, advising, career services and full online access to the Thrift Library. Technical assistance is a phone call away at 864-231-2859.

Contact Information

316 Boulevard
Anderson, SC 29621-4035
(864) 231-2000

Charleston Southern University

8
Charleston Southern University
Charleston
$22,090

An Online Education at Charleston Southern University

Online offerings at this private Christian school reflect an awareness of working adults’ challenges in pursuing higher education without taking time off from work. CSU offers a range of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that can be earned exclusively online.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)
  • Bachelor of Technology in Computer Systems
  • Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management

For those students who aspire to further education but not an entire degree, professional certificate programs are offered in supply chain management, operations management, human resources management, organizational leadership and entrepreneurship.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Organizational Leadership, M.A.
  • Organizational Management, M.S.
  • Business Administration, M.B.A.
  • Nursing, M.S.N.
  • Criminal Justice, M.S.

Online courses are delivered via the BlackBoard learning platform. Instructors populate this virtual classroom with videos, podcasts, multimedia presentations and streaming content. Students use this classroom to complete assignments and collaborate with peers. For further study, the L. Mendel Rivers Library offers digital content, including scholarly publications and databases.

Contact Information

9200 University Blvd
Charleston, SC 29406-9121
(843) 863-7000


Acclaim for online programs

  • #34in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Program

Limestone College

9
Limestone College
Gaffney
$22,080

An Online Education at Limestone College

Limestone College is dedicated to serving adult and non-traditional learners. Born of an understanding that the need to work full-time often prohibits traditional higher education, the Extended Campus offers a number of online options to busy students. Limestone’s programs never require on-campus attendance and deliver the same quality education received by campus-bound students.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Accounting, B.S.
  • Management, B.S.
  • Information Technology, B.S.
  • Health Care Administration, B.S.
  • Social Work, B.S.W.
  • Criminal Justice, B.A.
  • Psychology, B.A.

Similar programs are also offered in hybrid options at one of 8 satellite sites in the state; upper-level courses in these hybrid programs are most likely to be conducted online.

Limestone uses the BlackBoard educational management platform to administer online classes. Coursework is asynchronous, allowing for flexibility in choosing study times. Course curricula are accelerated to allow for fast degree completion: class sessions are 8 weeks in length and available throughout the year. Participants who take 2 classes each term are considered full-time students.

The College is generous in its acceptance of transfer credits from other schools; up to 92 hours from regionally accredited institutions can be transferred toward a bachelor’s degree. Limestone is a military-friendly school and offers discounted tuition to qualified applicants. Additionally, a limited number of merit and need-based scholarships are awarded to Extended Campus students.

Contact Information

1115 College Drive
Gaffney, SC 29340-3799
(800) 795-71510


Acclaim for online programs

  • #125on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs

Southern Wesleyan University

10
Southern Wesleyan University
Central
$22,200

An Online Education at Southern Wesleyan University

Students at Southern Wesleyan have numerous options for online study at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree level. These flexible education options are designed with working adults in mind, allowing for freedom in scheduling while maintaining full-time employment.

Online Undergraduate Degrees

  • Business Administration B.S.

Online Graduate Degrees

  • Business Administration, M.B.A.
  • Business Administration: Health Care Administration, M.B.A.
  • Education, M.Ed.

Licensed educators may also earn teaching endorsements in literacy, learning disabilities, gifted and talented, and early childhood special education.

Distance education at Southern Wesleyan is deployed via the Canvas learning management system. Classes are asynchronous, meaning that students access coursework when it’s most convenient. Student Services Coordinators throughout the state deliver advising and other support to online learners. SWU is a military-friendly school and offers tuition discounts to qualified applicants.

Contact Information

907 Wesleyan Drive
Central, SC 29630-1020
(864) 644-5000


Most Affordable Online Colleges in South Carolina

Below you’ll find a second ranking of the top online schools in South Carolina, sorted by their tuition rate.

Want to know what it takes to make our rankings? Check out our distinct approach.

Methodology

Our list of the most affordable online colleges is based on in-state yearly tuition, or annual tuition rates if a school does not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. Tuition rates are based on a full course load each semester or term. All colleges on the list offer at least one bachelor's degree completion program available entirely online. Those institutions with the lowest tuition are ranked highest, providing prospective students with a true list of the most affordable online colleges in their state.

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Coastal Carolina University

1
Coastal Carolina University
Conway
$9,760
$22,770

University of South Carolina - Upstate

2
University of South Carolina - Upstate
Spartanburg
$10,068

Lander University

3
Lander University
Greenwood
$10,100
$19,136

Limestone College

4
Limestone College
Gaffney
$22,080

Charleston Southern University

5
Charleston Southern University
Charleston
$22,090

Southern Wesleyan University

6
Southern Wesleyan University
Central
$22,200

Anderson University

7
Anderson University
Anderson
$22,790


Scholarships and Financial Aid in South Carolina

Avery Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount Amount varies See Scholarship

The Avery Scholarship is designed to help first-generation, underserved, and economically disadvantaged students entering the College of Charleston. Selection is competitive, based on academic performance and financial need. A GPA of 2.75+ is required. Preference is given to South Carolina residents.

Carolina Scholars Award

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $10,000 See Scholarship

Provided by the University of South Carolina, the Carolina Scholars Award is one of the university’s most prestigious awards for South Carolina residents. Selection is based on outstanding academics, and leadership within high school and community. A personal interview is required. The award is $10,000 per year for 4 years.

Lieber Scholars Award

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $6,000 See Scholarship

The Leiber Scholarship is provided to National Merit and Achievement Finalists, and National Hispanic Recognition Scholars who select University of South Carolina as their first-choice school. The maximum award is $6,000 per year for 4 years. Out-of-state students who receive this award qualify for reduced tuition; they will be charged only in-state tuition.

McNair Scholars Award

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $15,000 See Scholarship

Provided by the University of South Carolina, the McNair Scholars program is available to out-of-state students attending USC. Selection is highly competitive, and recipients are chosen based on academic merit and leadership. The scholarship includes a $15,000 monetary award plus tuition reduction for 4 years.

Palmetto Fellows Scholarship

Deadline: December 15, 2015
Scholarship Amount $29,200 See Scholarship

The Palmetto Scholars program is provided by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education for academically talented South Carolina high school seniors who will attend college within the state. To be eligible, applicants must have a 1200+ SAT or 27+ ACT score, a GPA of 3.5+, and rank within the top 6% of their graduating class.

SC LIFE Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $4,700 See Scholarship

The South Carolina Life Scholarship is open to students attending Limestone College. To be eligible, applicants must be South Carolina residents, rank within the top 30% of their class, and have a 3.0+ GPA/ 1100+ SAT. The award amount is $4,700 plus an allowance of $300 for textbooks.

South Carolina Press Association Foundation Internship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $3,000 See Scholarship

The South Carolina Press Association provides the Press Association Foundation scholarship to South Carolina undergraduate students majoring in journalism. Applicants may be college juniors or seniors. The maximum award is $3,000 per year for 4 years, and may be used at a four-year college in South Carolina or out-of-state.

Transfer Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $9,000 See Scholarship

The Transfer Scholarship is available to transfer students entering Coker College. Recipients are selected based on academic achievement (including cumulative GPA), leadership, and financial need. The maximum award is $9,000 per year for 4 years.

Trustee Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount $1,000 See Scholarship

Freshmen entering Clemson University are eligible for the Trustee Scholarship if they rank in the top 10% of their graduating high school class and have an ACT score of 27+ or a SAT score of 1200+. The award is $1,000 per year for 4 years.

Valedictorian Scholarship

Deadline: na
Scholarship Amount Full tuition See Scholarship

The Valedictorian Scholarship is offered annually to freshmen entering University of South Carolina – Aiken. It is open to the valedictorian of each Aiken, Barnwell, Edgefield, Allendale, Richmond (GA), and Columbia County (GA) high school. The award covers full tuition for 4 years; recipients must maintain a 3.0+ GPA and full-time enrollment at USC – Aiken.


Higher Education Resources in South Carolina