The Best Online Colleges in South Carolina

The Best Online Colleges in South Carolina

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South Carolina offers many options for online learners, including degree-completion programs, specialized certificates, and associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees.

With a vibrant history and enthusiastic sporting community, South Carolina is home to both public universities and small liberal arts colleges. The Citadel — a publicly funded military college in Charleston, South Carolina — enrolls about 4,000 students annually, while the University of South Carolina System offers programs at 19 campuses across the state.

Choosing from the best online colleges in South Carolina requires careful consideration of your career goals and personal aspirations, along with each school's cost and scheduling flexibility. Online undergraduate degrees can prepare students for careers like healthcare, business, and information technology. University of South Carolina (UofSC), for example, provides online degree-completion programs in nearly 20 disciplines, plus a fully online RN-to-BSN program.

Attending an online college in South Carolina can also lower educational expenses like housing, transportation, and tuition. The list below is a strong starting point from which to explore the best online colleges in South Carolina.

Top 10 Online Colleges in South Carolina 2021

#1 University of South Carolina-Columbia Columbia, SC
#2 Charleston Southern University Charleston, SC
#3 Limestone College Gaffney, SC
#4 Anderson University Anderson, SC
#5 North Greenville University Tigerville, SC
#6 Columbia International University Columbia, SC
#7 Columbia College Columbia, SC
#8 Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston, SC
#9 Southern Wesleyan University Central, SC
#10 Coastal Carolina University Conway, SC

The Best Online Colleges in South Carolina

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Anderson University 

Anderson, SC Apply Now

About this school

Anderson University, established in 1911, is a Baptist university. The university has more than 3,000 students in attendance and offer more than 60 programs of study. The university is also one of a handful authorized to train the state’s public school teachers. As part of its curriculum, the university encourages students to take part in one of its study abroad programs. These programs have more than 40 countries available to visit, including Australia, France, Lithuania, Ireland and Costa Rica.

Anderson University offers baccalaureate, master and doctoral degree programs online through its AU Online platform. Online bachelor’s degrees include criminal justice, human services, law enforcement, liberal studies and organizational leadership. Online master’s degree options include education and business administration. Online doctoral degree offerings include ministry.

Online student resources include an online job board, technical support and an online library with librarians available via email, text message, Twitter, Facebook, live chat or over the phone.


North Greenville University 

Tigerville, SC Apply Now

About this school

North Greenville University is a comprehensive Southern Baptist university established in 1891. The university originally opened as a high school and became a college in 1949. In 2006, the college grew into a university, the same year it began offering master’s degrees. Today the university has more than 2,000 students in attendance and offers degrees in a variety of fields. Available majors include topics within mathematics, sports-related professions, science, business, humanities, education, the arts and much more.

North Greenville University offers baccalaureate, master and doctoral degree programs online through its College of Adult Professional Studies. Online bachelor’s degrees include business administration and psychology. Online master’s degree options include multiple topics in education. Online doctoral degree offerings include ministry. Keep checking back as more academic programs will become available soon.

Online student resources include an online job board, technical support and an online library with librarians available via email or over the phone.


Columbia International University 

Columbia, SC Apply Now

About this school

Columbia International University embraces a biblical worldview. The school maintains a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Online undergraduate students can choose either an associate of arts or bachelor of science in business. These programs encourage learners to incorporate a biblical worldview into their business and workplace.

CIU also offers 14 online graduate degrees in fields such as intercultural studies, counseling, and education. Business students can complete the online MBA in as few as 18 months. One of the best online colleges in South Carolina for aspiring ministers, CIU offers several graduate degrees focused on religious study. Options include the master's in Bible exposition and the master of divinity.


Columbia College 

Columbia, SC Apply Now

About this school

Columbia College celebrates its 160-year history of educating women. The school continues to provide undergraduate women with a liberal arts curriculum, in addition to specialized programs for co-eds and graduate students. The school offers several fully online, asynchronous degrees for distance learners.

Undergraduates can choose from online majors in criminal justice, nursing, and respiratory care. An exclusively online degree in disaster and emergency management provides learners with the skills necessary to protect communities through preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. Graduate students can opt for the master's degree in athletics coaching or the master's degree in criminal justice. Students supplement classroom learning with mentorship programs and apprenticeships through the school's Center for Entrepreneurship. One of the best online schools in South Carolina for field experiences, Columbia College offers all students study abroad opportunities in Europe and Mexico. The school admits students in the fall, spring, and summer.


Citadel Military College of South Carolina 

Charleston, SC Apply Now

About this school

The Citadel Military College of South Carolina cultivates leaders through military-style education. The Citadel's Corps of Cadets attracts students from around the U.S. and 12 foreign countries. Students learn in classrooms with a 12-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Learners with at least 24 transferable credits can complete online bachelor's degrees in business administration, security studies, and criminal justice. The school's intelligence and security studies major focuses on skills coveted by the U.S. intelligence community.

At the graduate level, students can choose fully online master's degrees in subjects such as business administration, intelligence and security studies, and interdisciplinary STEM education. Citadel is one of the only online colleges in SC to offer online certificates in intelligence analysis and military leadership. Online students can access academic support services, an online library, and the career center.


Southern Wesleyan University 

Central, SC Apply Now

About this school

Southern Wesleyan University provides liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community. Affiliated with the Wesleyan Church, SWU sits on a 350-acre campus in Greenville. SWU's 40 areas of study include online, transfer-friendly bachelor's programs in human services, nursing, and early childhood and family studies.

The school's bachelor of science in business administration immerses students in study of business principles and ethics based on a Christian worldview. The BS also allows students to specialize in areas such as accounting, supply chain management, and economics and finance. Graduate students can complete a master's degree in business or education in as few as 20 months. The school also offers certificates and an online doctorate in education. All learners enjoy affordable tuition, small class sizes, and student support services. Unlike most online colleges in South Carolina, SWU does not require graduate applicants to submit GRE scores.


Coastal Carolina University 

Conway, SC Apply Now

About this school

Coastal Carolina University, established in 1954, is a sea-grant university. The university owns part of Waties Island, utilized as a natural research laboratory. The university also features a gifted high school, an online radio station and several sports clubs. To date, the university has more than 9,500 students enrolled and offers programs of study within education, humanities, the arts and science. Interestingly, the university is one of a handful nationwide which offers a PGA Golf Management program.

Coastal Carolina University offers online baccalaureate, master, specialist and certificate programs. Online bachelor’s degrees include health administration and hospitality. Online master’s degrees include literacy and instructional technology. Specialist degree offerings include instructional technology as well. Available certifications include online teaching and training, business foundations and ESOL.

Online student resources include online writing video tutorials, technical support and an online library with librarians available via live chat, email, text message or over the phone.


University of South Carolina-Upstate 

Spartanburg, SC Apply Now

About this school

The University of South Carolina Upstate, established in 1967, came about after the Spartanburg General Hospital discontinued its nursing degree program. The university obtained much popularity in a short amount of time; it earned the ability to grant four-year degrees by 1975, just eight years after it opened its doors. Today, the university has more than 5,000 students in attendance and offers programs of study within medicine, education, business, the arts and science.

Through its Upstate Online platform, the University of South Carolina Upstate offers upper-division degree completion programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels. Bachelor’s degree options include nursing, criminal justice, information management systems and engineering, while master’s degree offerings include multiple topics in education.

Online student resources include online writing tutoring, technical support over the phone and an online library with librarians available via live chat, text message and over the phone.


Claflin University 

Orangeburg, SC Apply Now

About this school

The state's first historically black college, Claflin University welcomes students and faculty from 43 countries. The school's catalog includes 36 undergraduate majors and six online degrees. Options include criminal justice, nursing, and education. The online bachelor's in psychology provides learners with an interdisciplinary education that includes study of general education, core research areas in psychology, and applications for real-world contexts. Psychology majors can engage in extracurricular academic and social activities through the Psychology Club and Psi Chi.

Students with at least 45 transferable credits can enroll in the bachelor of science in organizational management, a degree that covers areas such as statistics, accounting, finance, and organizational theory and behavior. Graduate students can choose a degree in curriculum design, business, or criminal justice. One of the best online colleges in South Carolina for out-of-state students, Claflin charges the same tuition rate regardless of residency status.


Lander University 

Greenwood, SC Apply Now

About this school

Lander University uses an experiential learning model that promotes student engagement. Approximately 3,000 students enroll in the school's 60 liberal arts and science programs. A leader in nursing education for 50 years, Lander is one of the top online colleges in South Carolina for BSN students. The school's RN-to-BSN focuses on community healthcare, research, and leadership. RNs fulfill the program's clinical experiences at facilities in their communities. Some nurses who complete the RN-to-BSN choose to enroll in the school's master of science in nursing.

Lander also offers online graduate degrees in teaching and emergency management. The master's in teaching and learning features specializations in instructional technology, diverse learners, or exercise and sports studies. The master of science in emergency management prepares students to assist their communities when natural or manmade disasters strike.


Newberry College 

Newberry, SC Apply Now

About this school

Students at Newberry College receive a challenging education rooted in the Lutheran liberal arts tradition. Newberry is unique among online schools in SC for its focus on mental and physical health. The school offers three online programs in nursing, respiratory therapy, and psychology.

Registered nurses with an associate degree or nursing diploma can complete the RN-to-BSN in as little as 12 months. Courses last seven-and-a-half weeks each. Newberry accepts a large number of transfer credits. The school also grants credits for prior life experiences such as training, work, or military service. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of in-state or out-of-state residency.


University of South Carolina-Beaufort 

Bluffton, SC Apply Now

About this school

The University of South Carolina Beaufort dates back to the 1700s. The school's 30 academic programs feature rigorous coursework, experiential learning opportunities, and cutting-edge technology and resources. Through USCB and Palmetto College, students with 60 or more credits can complete degrees completely online. Options include business administration and criminal justice.

The bachelor of science in health promotion prepares healthcare professionals to address issues such as chronic diseases, substance abuse, and depression. The BS in human services draws on sociology and psychology to create a dynamic degree plan that can lead to careers social services and social work. USCB boasts the most affordable tuition out of all four-year online schools in South Carolina. The school admits students in the fall, spring, and summer.


End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Colleges

Online Colleges in South Carolina Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Employment in South Carolina

Top industries in South Carolina include agribusiness, manufacturing, and aerospace technology, which each offering entry-level and middle-level positions. South Carolina has a relatively low unemployment rate; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), unemployment in October 2020 reached just over 4% — down significantly from earlier in the year.

The highest-paying careers in the state are managerial and executive roles, which require advanced degrees. Chief executives, computer and information systems managers, and agricultural and engineering managers rank among the highest-paid roles.

The cost of living in South Carolina is below the national average. Housing is the largest expense, although it also sits comfortably below the average for housing across the United States.

Below are a few of the highest-paying roles employing more than 1,000 individuals in South Carolina. Salary information applies specifically to South Carolina, while job growth data pertains to the United States as a whole.

Highest-Paying Careers
Career Annual Mean Salary (2019) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
Family Medicine Physicians $229,710 4% Doctoral degree
Chief Executives $179,530 4% Bachelor's degree
Dentists, General $177,480 3% Doctoral degree
Nurse Anesthetists $165,940 45% Master's degree
Architectural and Engineering Managers $132,510 3% Bachelor's degree
Computer and Information Systems Managers $125,110 10% Bachelor's degree
Financial Managers $125,060 15% Bachelor's degree
Source: BLS

The following data reflects the highest-paying roles employing more than 15,000 professionals in South Carolina. Salary figures apply specifically to South Carolina, while job growth data refers to the United States as a whole.

Most Common Careers in South Carolina
Career Annual Mean Salary (2019) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Education Required
General and Operations Managers $102,240 4% Bachelor's degree
Accountants and Auditors $67,740 4% Bachelor's degree
Registered Nurses $64,840 7% Bachelor's degree
Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education $53,450 4% Bachelor's degree
Maintenance and Repair Workers, General $37,630 4% High school diploma
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers $33,870 6% High school diploma
Source: BLS

Online Associate and Graduate Degrees

COVID-19 has changed online education, opening up distance learning to new fields of study. As a result, colleges and universities have increased support for online learners, providing innovative resources and media to accommodate student needs.

Junior and community colleges in South Carolina offer online associate degrees. Many associate programs, like the associate in arts at Spartanburg Community College, help graduates transition to degree-completion programs at four-year institutions in the state.

Two-year schools in South Carolina offer associate degrees in areas like criminal justice technology, management, and robotics production. Online degrees offer convenience and flexibility, making them ideal for students who have other commitments like work or family.

For more advanced students, earning an online master's or doctoral degree is also an option. For example, Columbia College offers a master's degree in criminal justice online, and Clemson University offers online master's programs in parks, recreation, and tourism management and construction science management. UofSC offers several engineering degrees online, including programs in robotics.

Coursework for online programs usually matches on-campus degrees, with some limitations for laboratory and practical requirements. On-campus students can converse directly with classmates and instructors in person, while technology enables similar exchanges with online learners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is College Free in South Carolina?

College in South Carolina is not usually free, with some exceptions. Senior citizens may receive tuition waivers at state colleges and universities, and children of veterans may also receive free tuition. Some schools, like Central Carolina Technical College, offer scholarship programs that cover the first two years of college tuition.

How Many Historically Black Colleges and Universities Are in South Carolina?

Nine institutions hold HBCU status in South Carolina. Private HBCUs include Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, Morris College, Voorhees College, and Clinton College. Friendship Junior College and Harbison Junior College are also HBCUs, along with South Carolina State University.

Is University of South Carolina an HBCU?

UofSC is not an HBCU. Founded in 1805, UofSC is a public research institution with its main campus in Columbia and seven additional campuses around the state.

Does University of South Carolina Have Online Degrees?

UofSc offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees online. Bachelor's degree options include programs in nursing, with additional degree-completion opportunities in nearly 20 disciplines. UofSC also offers online graduate certificates, doctorates, and specialist degrees.

Can You Get a Good Job With an Online Degree?

Yes, online students have the same job opportunities as traditional students, so long as they attend an accredited institution. Distance education also allows learners with full-time positions to complete coursework while maintaining employment.

Can You Go to College Completely Online?

Many schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees completely online with no on-campus requirements. Depending on the program, students may need to participate in laboratory or practical requirements in face-to-face settings.

Is South Carolina a Veteran-Friendly State?

South Carolina is a veteran-friendly state, offering free tuition for children of war veterans. Individuals must attend state-supported colleges or universities to qualify. Additional benefits for veterans include tax deductions and exemptions, employment preference, and reduced fees at state facilities.

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