The Best Online Colleges in South Carolina 2021

by TBS Staff
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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 North Greenville University Tigerville, SC
#2 Clemson University Clemson, SC
#3 Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston, SC
#4 University of South Carolina-Columbia Columbia, SC
#5 Lander University Greenwood, SC
#6 University of South Carolina-Upstate Spartanburg, SC
#7 Southern Wesleyan University Central, SC
#8 Anderson University Anderson, SC
#9 Coastal Carolina University Conway, SC
#10 University of South Carolina Aiken Aiken, SC

Featured Online Schools

The Best Online Colleges in South Carolina

  1. North Greenville University
    Location

    Tigerville, SC

    Affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the small, private institution currently offers over 50 degree options with class sizes around 14 students per class.

    NGU offers online bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs across six areas of study: business and leadership, Christian ministries, criminal justice, elementary educational studies, general studies, and applied psychology. Undergraduate students will submit official high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Graduate students will submit official transcripts of all institutions attended and all supporting documents as required per individual program.

  2. Clemson University
    Location

    Clemson, SC

    Tuition

    $19508

    Founded in 1889. Clemson currently serves over 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students across more than 130 offered programs of study.

    Clemson Online offers online learning programs in fully online and blended, or hybrid, formats. Blended programs consist of primarily-online coursework with scheduled synchronous online meetings, hybrid courses, independent studies, or on-campus requirements.

    Admission requirements vary by program and degree type. All students must complete an online application, pay associated application fee, and submit official transcripts and standardized test scores.

  3. Citadel Military College of South Carolina
    Location

    Charleston, SC

    Tuition

    $16396

    Founded in 1842, the South Carolina Corps of Cadets consists of about 2,300 students annually. Additionally, about 1,000 graduate students attend the civilian side of the college.

    The Citadel offers select bachelor completion programs, graduate programs, and graduate certificate programs completely online. Undergraduate in-state students pay $490 per credit while out-of-state students pay $925 per credit. Graduate online tuition costs $595 per credit for in-state students and $1020 per credit for out-of-state students.

    Admission requirements include online application, official transcripts, and supplemental documentation per individual program.

  4. University of South Carolina-Columbia
    Location

    Columbia, SC

    Tuition

    $20181

    Established in 1801, the Fighting Gamecocks of UofSC currently serve over 35,000 students across more than 300 offered academic programs.

    UofSC offers fully online bachelor's degrees, graduate degrees, bachelor completion programs, and individual courses. Graduate offerings include graduate certificates, master's degrees, specialist degrees, and doctoral degrees.

    Undergraduate admission requirements include online application, official transcripts, school report form, and at least one supplemental material. Graduate admission requirements include official transcripts showing bachelor degree completion, test scores, letters of recommendation, and program-specific requirements.

  5. Lander University
    Location

    Greenwood, SC

    Tuition

    $14929

    Founded in 1872, Lander currently hosts about 3,500 students annually at their campus in Greenwood and online.

    The College of Graduate & Online Studies offers various undergraduate, graduate, and dual enrollment online programs. Online coursework through Lander features added flexibility and convenience, balance, reduced cost, and real-world skill development.

    To apply, undergraduate students will complete an online application and submit official transcripts. Standardized test scores and recommendations remain optional for undergraduate students. Graduate students will complete an online application and submit required supplemental documentation as prescribed per desired program.

  6. University of South Carolina-Upstate
    Location

    Spartanburg, SC

    Tuition

    $15528

    USC Upstate was founded in 1967 and currently hosts more than 6,000 students across over 45 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

    USC Upstate offers 15 online undergraduate degree completion, graduate, and hybrid programs. Hybrid programs consist of 70% or more of online courses with required face-to-face or in-person courses.

    Prospective undergraduate students will complete an online application and submit official transcripts. Graduate applicants will complete an online application and submit official transcripts and specific supplemental documentation as required per desired program.

  7. Southern Wesleyan University
    Location

    Central, SC

    The private Christian university currently offers bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate programs across seven schools and divisions.

    SWU's fully online offerings include eight undergraduate programs, four graduate programs, four MBA concentrations, four management and leadership programs, and two doctoral programs. Undergraduate programs consist of three seven-week sub-terms per each 15-week term, while graduate programs utilize two seven-week sub-terms per term. Applying students will complete an online application and submit official transcripts. Some graduate programs may contain additional requirements.

  8. Anderson University
    Location

    Anderson, SC

    The small Christian liberal arts institution offers 59 major degree programs, 38 concentrations, 46 minors, 18 master's and doctoral degrees and 8 certification programs.

    AU offers a variety of online, hybrid, and flex online programs across undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs. Flex online programs utilize an accelerated 7-week flexible path format designed for working professionals.

    Applying undergraduate students will complete an online application and submit official high school transcripts or GED scores. Once graduate students complete the online application, the program will send an email with further supplemental documentation requirements.

  9. Coastal Carolina University
    Location

    Conway, SC

    Tuition

    $16368

    CCU currently serves over 10,000 students across 95 undergraduate majors and 27 graduate-level degree programs.

    CCU offers four undergraduate bachelor degree and certificate programs, five graduate degree programs, and three graduate certificate programs. Online programs at Coastal Carolina University provide the same faculty and content as in-person offerings.

    Applying undergraduate students will complete an online application and submit official transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. Applying graduate students must contact individual programs for unique application instructions and requirements.

  10. University of South Carolina Aiken
    Location

    Aiken, SC

    Tuition

    $15048

    Established in 1961, USC Aiken began offering numerous undergraduate and graduate programs completely online in 2013.

    USC Aiken's online program offerings include degree completion programs through Palmetto College, undergraduate programs through Carolina Online, an RN-to-BSN program that students can complete in as little as 12 months, a completely online MBA program with four available concentrations, and an online MEd in educational leadership program.

    Prospective students must complete an online application to the college governing each specific program and submit official transcripts. Graduate programs may require additional supplemental documentation.

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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