For students who wish to earn their degree from an online college or university in South Carolina, this guide covers the shape of higher education in the state, cost-efficient schools, tuition reduction programs, scholarship opportunities, and job outlook data.
But before we dive into our list of best online colleges in South Carolina, 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
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) indicate that during the 2015-2016 academic year, South Carolina granted degrees at 77 institutions of higher learning, including 33 public, 22 nonprofit, and 22 for-profit institutions. NCES data also reveals that in 2016, 246,563 students enrolled into degree-granting higher education institutions in the state.
- 33 public
- 22 non-profit
- 22 for-profit
While many postsecondary students hold state residency, the presence of inexpensive online colleges in South Carolina attracts many out-of-state students. According to College Board, residents can anticipate paying $12,950 for public four-year tuition during the 2018-2019 school year, while out-of-state tuition starts out around $15,000 annually and may reach above $30,000. In fact, at the University of South Carolina, the state’s flagship school, residents currently pay $12,616 and out-of-state students pay $33,298.
South Carolina provides noteworthy financial support to its students. According to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, South Carolina provided $350,957,952 in assistance during the 2015-2015 school year. In fact, $28,218,382 supported the South Carolina primary need-based grant, which helped nearly 30,000 students. Furthermore, a notable $317,570,848 assisted students without considering need at all, which reached over 91,000 students.
State of Online Higher Education in South Carolina
Around the country, the demand for online learning options continues to grow. In fact, nearly 30% of college students currently take at least one distance education course to satisfy their undergraduate or graduate curriculum. In 2015, at least 39% of students registered for an online course in South Carolina, and 89% of the state’s distance learners live there.
Tuition Breaks for Out-of-State Students
For the past 70 years, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has worked to improve public education by collaborating with education agency officials, influential policymakers, and legislatures to develop stronger policies that help college students complete their programs and lead to professional success. The SREB also engages in ongoing research, analyzes data, and provides public reports for current issues. Additionally, the SREB strives to pool resources across multiple states to provide students access to the best programs at affordable rates.
Out-of-state students considering a degree in South Carolina may qualify for tuition breaks through the SREB’s Academic Common Market. For more than 35 years, this program has provided access to in-state tuition rates when academic programs do not exist in a student’s home state. The SREB program limits duplicate programs due to impracticality, which reinforces existing programs for maximum efficiency. The Academic Common Market does not provide assistance for first-professional degrees including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, or law. Students must also meet academic requirements of their university, which may include additional stipulations including full-time enrollment or a higher minimum GPA requirement.
SREB member states include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
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 the best online schools in 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.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||Clemson University||Clemson||201 Sikes Hall|
Clemson, SC 29634
Clemson University offers 13 online graduate degrees and an online bachelor’s completion program in youth development studies. Clemson's online completion program requires annual three-day campus visits, including an on-campus orientation and weekly synchronous meetings. Courses are offered in an accelerated format, and students register for two courses each term to complete the 120-credit program in 10 semesters.
Applicants to the degree-completion program must have already earned 60 credits of general education requirements and have a minimum GPA of 2.5. Admission is conferred each August; priority is awarded to students who submit application materials by May 1. Other online programs include construction science management, healthcare genetics, human resource development, and athletic leadership.
Clemson's main 1400-acre campus is located on the shores of Lake Hartwell. Programs of this online school in SC are developed by instructors and provide quality learning experiences through cutting-edge technologies.
|2||University of South Carolina||Columbia||$$$$$||Columbia-Campus|
Columbia, SC 29208
USC offers a BS in information science and online BA programs in elementary education, liberal studies, and organizational leadership. Students applying to this online college in South Carolina must have completed at least 45 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.25.
Field experience in state public schools is a requirement of the elementary education program. Students pursuing the 120-credit BA in liberal studies must complete an internship and senior capstone project. The BS in information science is a 121 credit program; completion time varies based on courses required for a major concentration.
Online courses are developed and taught by the same professors who teach on campus, and online students have access to USC academic resources. Programs start in spring, summer and fall. In and out-of-state tuition rates apply; active duty military personnel may qualify for discounted fees.
|3||Anderson University||Anderson||$$$$$||316 Boulevard|
Anderson, SC 29621-4035
Anderson, founded in 1911 as a women's college, is a Christian university that offers online degrees in business administration, human services, organizational leadership, and emergency services management; 14 other programs are offered. The university's RN-BSN program accepts students on a rolling admission and offers accelerated, five-week classes. Students in the accelerated program can earn their degree in 15 months.
Applicants to Anderson, an online college in South Carolina, need a high school diploma or GED, SAT or ACT scores, and official transcripts from all attended institutions of learning. Online applicants are matched with a "journey coach," a personal academic adviser who assists students from application to graduation. Journey coaches check in monthly to address any concerns. Textbooks are mailed to online students one week before the start of classes. Online students pay the same tuition as on-campus learners; out-of-state tuition rates do not apply.
|4||Lander University||Greenwood||$$$$$||320 Stanley Avenue|
Greenwood, SC 29649-2099
Lander, one of the best online colleges in SC, was founded in 1872 as a women's college. The school is located in Greenwood and offers online graduate degrees and an online BSN completion option for registered nurses. Admission requirements for the BSN program include completed coursework in anatomy, physiology, and statistics with a minimum GPA of 2.6. Students are required to complete 32 credits at Lander; the required nursing courses satisfy 24. Most students complete their 126-credit online degree in two years. The BSN program application deadline is April 30 or October 15. Acceptance to this program is a two-part process. Students must first be accepted into Lander University, then apply to the school of nursing. An on-campus orientation, normally held one week prior to the start of classes, is required for students accepted into the program. In and out-of-state tuition rates apply; veterans assistance is available to those who qualify.
|5||Limestone College||Gaffney||$$$$$||1115 College Drive|
Gaffney, SC 29340-3799
Limestone's 11 online bachelor’s programs accept students on a continuous enrollment basis. Classes are asynchronous and are offered in eight-week sessions with six terms per year. Their online BA programs include criminal justice, liberal studies, psychology, human resource management, healthcare administration, and computer science. Bachelor degrees require a minimum of 123 credits to graduate, and online students are advised to take two courses per term. Hardware and software requirements vary from course to course. Students of this online school in SC should have a good headset with an attached microphone and a webcam to fully participate in their classes.
Limestone accepts up to 66 transfer credits from accredited two-year colleges and up to 92 credits from accredited four-year colleges. Online students pay the same tuition as those studying on campus; out-of-state tuition rates do not apply. Discounted military tuition rates are available to those who qualify.
|6||North Greenville University||Tigerville||$$$$$||7801 N. Tigerville Road|
Tigerville, SC 29688-1892
North Greenville University, affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, is a Christian school with a faculty dedicated to providing a quality education that inspires spiritual growth. NGU students can complete their coursework at the university's main campus, in Tigerville, at its sister campus in Greer, or completely online. Bachelor’s programs include business administration, Christian ministries, criminal justice, elementary educational studies, psychology, and general studies.
All students admitted to this online college in South Carolina take a three-credit general education course in e-learning to familiarize themselves with the virtual classroom. The business administration program offers four field-based internships; students with real work experience may qualify for 12 credits of internship experience. Students pursuing a BA in general studies may participate in the week-long senior service project. The flexible elementary educational studies program allows students to design their degree with courses that best meet their vocational goals.
|7||Charleston Southern University||Charleston||$$$$$||9200 University Blvd|
Charleston, SC 29406-9121
Charleston Southern is a Christian liberal arts university that offers online undergraduate programs through their College of Adult and Professional Studies. Applicants must be at least 20 years of age with work experience; having at least 24 transferable credits is recommended. Students pursuing an online BS in organizational management can choose concentrations in HR management, project management, healthcare management, and hospitality and tourism.
The school's bachelor of technology in computer science is designed for students with an associate degree in an approved technical field. Applicants must also have completed at least one traditional classroom programming course, such as Visual Basic or C++. This program is customized to meet the student's career goals.
Courses at this online college in South Carolina are offered in seven-week terms. Per residency requirements, 36 of the student's last 46 credits must be earned at CSU. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and tuition fees are the same for out-of-state students.
|8||University of South Carolina - Upstate||Spartanburg||$$$$$||800 University Way|
Spartanburg, SC 29303-4999
In association with Palmetto College, USC-Upstate offers four online programs: criminal justice, RN-BSN, health informatics, and information management and systems. Depending on the program, students need at least 45 transferable credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0 prior to applying.
Students pursuing a degree in information management and systems take courses in computer programming, database design, and business theory. The school's 120-credit bachelor’s program in criminal justice provides an academic examination of crime and the justice system. Licensed RNs in good standing who meet admission requirements—61 completed credits from an accredited program—can complete the BSN program in one year.
Upon admittance, students at this online school in SC attend a virtual orientation and have a phone appointment with an academic adviser. Course content is delivered through Blackboard or Adobe Connect. Transcripts and diplomas are issued by the University of South Carolina-Upstate.
|9||Columbia College||Columbia||$$$$$||1301 Columbia College Dr|
Columbia, SC 29203
Columbia College offers 15 online bachelor’s programs, including an RN-BSN, sociology, human services, art history, and public administration. All students are required to complete an ethics course and fulfill the six-credit foreign language requirement. Classes are asynchronous and courses are offered in accelerated eight-week sessions with six terms per year. Online students have access to 24/7 technology support, academic advising, and online library materials. Discounted tuition is available to members of the military. Online students pay the same tuition as those studying on campus; out-of-state tuition rates do not apply.
Columbia College has more than 35 campus locations around the country; 15 are on military bases, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The main Missouri campus is midway between Kansas City and St. Louis, and although affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, this online college in South Carolina is non-sectarian.
|10||University of South Carolina-Beaufort||Bluffton||1 University Boulevard|
Bluffton, SC 29909
The University of South Carolina-Beaufort offers online bachelor’s degree completion programs through Palmetto College, part of the USC system. Students spend two years on the campus of their choice, earning an associate degree and completing the carolina core courses, USC’s general education program. Students meeting admission requirements—a minimum 2.0 GPA and 45 transferable credits—may apply to a BS completion program in health promotion, hospitality management, or human services.
Full-time students of this online college in SC can earn a degree in two years, even with the three internships required for the human services program. Students in hospitality management must complete a practicum. Graduates with a BS in health promotion are eligible to sit for the national CHES certification exam. In- and out-of-state tuition rates apply; active duty military personnel may qualify for discounted fees.
Most Affordable Online Colleges in South Carolina
Below, you’ll find all of the online schools in South Carolina sorted by their tuition rates.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||School Link||Cost|
|1||Coastal Carolina University||Conway||School profile||$$$$$|
|2||University of South Carolina - Upstate||Spartanburg||School profile||$$$$$|
|3||Lander University||Greenwood||School profile||$$$$$|
|4||Limestone College||Gaffney||School profile||$$$$$|
|5||Charleston Southern University||Charleston||School profile||$$$$$|
|6||Southern Wesleyan University||Central||School profile||$$$$$|
|7||Anderson University||Anderson||School profile||$$$$$|
Job Outlook for College Graduates in South Carolina
Students planning to join the South Carolina workforce should examine the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), South Carolina professionals earn an average of $42,240 per year, and the unemployment rate rests at 3.3%. Students should also consider employment rates by industry since they vary.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in South Carolina
Archibald Rutledge Scholarship
South Carolina high school seniors focusing in creative writing, music, dance, visual arts, or theater may apply. Students must attend a college or university in the state.
Palmetto Fellows Scholarship
South Carolina high school seniors planning to attend a college or university in the state may apply. Recipients may renew this scholarship each year.
Any student attending local two or four-year universities in the state may apply. Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA.
South Carolina Hope Scholarship
Any student enrolled in a South Carolina university may apply. Students may only receive this scholarship during their freshman year.
Charleston Women in International Trade
Female South Carolina residents enrolled at a local school full-time may apply. Students must major in international trade.
Hampton Fund Scholarship
South Carolina high school seniors planning to attend a local university may apply. Acceptable majors include wildlife biology, forestry, or marine science.
James O. Thomason Scholarship
South Carolina high school seniors who plan to major in photojournalism, advertising, public relations, or mass communications at a South Carolina university may apply.
David M. Cline Scholarship
Students enrolled full time at a South Carolina university may apply. Students must major in law enforcement, criminal justice, or forensic science.
Wallace F. Pate Scholarship
South Carolina residents enrolling into a local university may apply. Acceptable majors for this one-time scholarship include biology, zoology, and environmental science.
African American Network of the Carolinas
African-American South Carolina high school seniors attending local school may apply. Acceptable majors include engineering, accounting, finance, and business administration.
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