Best Colleges in South Carolina

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South Carolina is home to more than 60 postsecondary schools, and the state features a variety of two-year and four-year programs through large universities and community colleges. With degree options ranging from innovative medicine and technology programs to traditional liberal arts studies, choosing from among the state’s diverse schools may seem daunting at first. To make searching for school easier, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in South Carolina, including the top four-year and two-year schools.

To provide the best rankings possible, we have factored these and several other critical elements into our internal algorithm. Key markers used in our methodology include acceptance rate, student retention, graduation rate and enrollment rates. Our lists below highlight the top two-year and four-year colleges in South Carolina.

Four-year colleges in South Carolina range from large, public universities to small schools with a specific focus. The University of South Carolina is the flagship university and boasts the largest student enrollment in the state. South Carolina colleges are nationally recognized for the quality of their research programs and the high concentration of medical and technical programs. Other four-year schools in the state feature biblical, law and military concentrations.

South Carolina residents with a bachelor’s degree earn a higher salary than those who didn’t finish college. Graduates from four-year institutions in the state typically earn significantly more than non-degree holders, with post-college salaries exceeding the average national income. South Carolina is home to a variety of programs that will interest students from all backgrounds. If you’re interested in browsing what these schools have to offer, our list of the top colleges in South Carolina can help you begin your research.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Clemson University 3/582.31%Clemson, SC

Clemson University is a public land-grant and sea-grant research university. Notable faculty members include renowned economist Robert Tollison and educator David Reinking. Clemson has varsity sports teams in football, baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, tennis, and more, as well as a variety of intramural sports.

Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research is a 250-acre automotive and motorsports research campus in Greenville offering master’s and doctoral degrees and includes an Information Technology Research Center developed by BMW. Other corporate partners in the project include Microsoft, IBM, Bosch, and Michelin.

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2University of South Carolina – Columbia 3/573%Columbia, SC

The University of South Carolina-Columbia enjoys a more than 200-year history of academic leadership. The school is ranked highly for its undergraduate international business major, international MBA, nursing online graduate program, Ph.D. program in exercise science, and social psychology graduate program.

The school is also a top producer of U.S. Fulbright students, in the top 3% in the nation for number of African American graduates, and one of just 32 universities in the nation with both Research and Community Engagement designations from the Carnegie Foundation. USC’s impressive athletics program has produced three national coaches of the year.

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3Furman University 5/584.08%Greenville, SC

Furman University is a private liberal arts school in Greenville. The school’s Engaged Learning program promotes problem-solving and project-oriented, experience-based education. The campus is close to the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic beaches, making for impressive recreational and outdoor opportunities.

Notable alumni include a Nobel Prize laureate, winners of the Newbery Medal and the Grammy Award, and U.S. Senators, U.S. Congressmen, state governors, judges, business leaders, entertainers, and athletes. Furman also has outstanding visual and performing arts programs, NCAA Division I athletics, and an internationally recognized eco-friendly, beautiful campus.

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4University of South Carolina – Aiken 2/538.64%Aiken, SC

The University of South Carolina-Aiken stands out among colleges in South Carolina. The school has consistently been ranked highly among regional colleges in the South, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 47 programs. The school is also known for its excellence in serving veteran and minority students.

USC Aiken’s chemistry program is rigorous, and USC Aiken is certified by the American Chemical Society, a national organization for chemists that sets the bar for high quality education of future chemists. The school’s athletic department competes in the NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference.

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5Presbyterian College 5/565.02%Clinton, SC

Presbyterian College boasts small class sizes, 42 majors, and 15 Division 1 athletic teams and 13 club and intramural sports. In fact, 90 percent of the campus is active in intercollegiate athletics or intramural programs. All students participate in either an internship or study abroad program.

Nearly half of PC students participate in Greek life, with 7 national fraternities and 3 national sororities on campus. Presbyterian’s outstanding faculty are another selling point; the school has had six South Carolina Professors of the Year, twice as many as any other school in the state.

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6North Greenville University 3/550.4%Tigerville, SC

North Greenville University is an excellent choice among Christian colleges in South Carolina. Founded in 1892, North Greenville originally opened as a high school for rural children in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

North Greenville now offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate degrees, including online options. The university puts forth a Christ-centered education, offering students opportunities for spiritual growth and Christian service. It is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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7Converse College 4/560.26%Spartanburg, SC

Converse College is a private university in Spartanburg that provides liberal arts undergraduate education to women and co-ed programs in graduate study. It is an excellent choice for anyone looking at colleges in South Carolina, and also offers distance learning and adult education programs.

Experiential learning is highly valued at Converse, and every student has the chance to participate in research, independent creative projects, service learning projects, internships, or study travel. The school’s Daniels Center for Leadership & Service links leadership opportunities with service-learning on and off campus, and 75% of students are involved in service projects.

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8Wofford College 5/578.07%Spartanburg, SC

Wofford College is known for its diverse selection of academic programs, high percentage of students who study abroad, and low faculty to student ratio. All courses are taught by qualified faculty or adjunct instructors, not graduate students.

Wofford’s athletic teams, known as the Terriers, include 18 SoCon NCAA D-1 teams and 30 intramural teams. The football team has made it to the FCS playoffs in four of the last six years. Wofford helps students gain the skills and experiences most desired by today’s employers at The Space, a stellar career services department.

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9Lander University 3/544.95%Greenwood, SC

Lander University offers a liberal arts education with over 60 areas of study, and is among the top South Carolina colleges. Experience Your Education (EYE) is an experiential learning program that lets students use academic knowledge to address real world challenges. The program includes internships, co-ops, service learning, course-embedded projects, and study abroad experiences.

Lander’s Nursing program, well known for its expert faculty who are also practicing nurses, gives students the chance to participate in clinical learning experiences, join the Lander Student Nurses Association, and be invited to join the Mu Zeta chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

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10College of Charleston 3/566.55%Charleston, SC

College of Charleston is nationally recognized as a leading public liberal arts and sciences university. Founded in 1770, the campus is beautiful and historic, and the school takes advantage of its location in Charleston, a city world-renowned for its history, architecture, and culture, making possible many exceptional real-world learning experiences.

The campus houses outstanding academic facilities, from residence halls and dining areas to a brand new, 15,000-square-foot fitness facility. A state-of-the-art Center for the Arts and School of Sciences and a Mathematics Building were recently built.

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11Francis Marion University 2/540.98%Florence, SC

Francis Marion University, top ranked among South Carolina colleges, provides a strong liberal arts education with a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Starting in 2016, the school will offer a Physician Assistant program. Francis Marion’s NCAA athletic program includes six sports each for men and women. Teams use the Griffin Athletic Complex (opened in 2012), which includes new baseball, softball, and soccer stadiums.

The campus is known for its beautiful landscaping, which includes 100 acres of mixed pine-hardwood and bottomland forests accessible by trails. The university’s facilities include a two-story observatory with a planetarium.

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12University of South Carolina – Upstate 3/538.42%Spartanburg, SC

The University of South Carolina-Upstate is one of just four accredited four-year public universities among colleges in South Carolina. The school offers bachelor’s degree programs in liberal arts, sciences, business administration, nursing, and teaching education and master’s degrees in education, nursing, and teaching education.

The university’s picturesque 330-acre campus is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it easy for students to get to either the beaches or mountains in just a few hours. Facilities include state-of-the-art labs, smart classrooms, athletic complexes, theater and musical performances, more than 80 student organizations, and an active Greek community.

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13Coker College 4/549.34%Hartsville, SC

Coker College is located in downtown Hartsville. The private liberal arts college’s main campus covers 15 acres and includes several Georgian-style buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Coker’s Cobras compete in 21 NCAA Division II sports. A 22-acre athletics complex with baseball, softball, soccer, and tennis facilities is located adjacent to the main campus. Notable Coker alumni include famous botanist Dr. Ruth Patrick; Dr. Bonnie Ethel Cone, founder of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; poet Terrance Hayes, winner of the National Book Award; and contemporary artist Patrick Earl Hammie.

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14Columbia College – SC 4/547.29%Columbia, SC

Columbia College, a private liberal arts college for women founded in 1854, is top-ranked among South Carolina colleges. Columbia’s Institute for Leadership and Professional Excellence helps students build a career portfolio beginning in their first year, and includes multiple real-world experiences and internships.

Columbia College professor of English and director of honors and faculty development, Dr. John Zubizarrera, was named U.S. Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation in 2011. The school has many notable alumni, as well, including actress Bettye Ackerman, artist Alicia Leeke, and Carol Devine Miller, member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.

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15Winthrop University 3/551.44%Rock Hill, SC

Winthrop University blends liberal arts, professional programs, global awareness and civic engagement. The school, founded in 1886, is located about 20 minutes from Charlotte and includes a beautiful recreational area with a lake. The campus has a rich architectural blend of neo-Georgian buildings and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Winthrop has 18 intercollegiate sports, numerous athletic facilities, and a 6,100-seat coliseum. Academic programs include both undergraduate and graduate degree options, with programs ranging from Counseling & Development to Exercise Science, Medieval Studies to Sustainability.

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16Anderson University 4/551.75%Anderson, SC

Anderson University offers 36 majors, 38 concentrations, and 25 minors, and is ranked one of the top regional colleges in South Carolina. Anderson is recognized for its rigorous academic programs and commitment to ensuring that students gain a deeper understanding of the Bible.

Special facilities include the Center of Excellence for Mobile Learning, the Center for Cancer Research, the South Carolina School of the Arts, and the Johnny Mann Center for Commercial Music. Anderson also hosts Palmetto Boys State, a program run by the American Legion as a way for young men to learn about the American system of government and politics.

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17Newberry College 4/541.08%Newberry, SC

Newberry College is a private liberal arts college of the Evangelic Lutheran Church in America. Newberry is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award Bachelor’s degrees.

The college is a member of the NCAA Division II and the South Atlantic Conference, with a variety of men’s and women’s sports, including baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling. Students can major in Sports Management or concentrate on Physical Education for their Teacher Certification.

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18Claflin University 3/549.24%Orangeburg, SC

Claflin University was founded after the Civil War by northern Methodist missionaries, and is a historically black university. Claflin prioritizes the liberal arts in its undergraduate programs, emphasizing critical thinking, independent research, and communication skills.

The school offers 35 undergraduate majors and two graduate degrees: a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Biotechnology. Claflin’s Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College gives challenging opportunities to high-achieving undergraduate students. The school also actively participates in athletics and is a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic conference of the NCAA, Division II.

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19Charleston Southern University 4/534.1%Charleston, SC

Charleston Southern University, a private, Christian liberal arts school affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, stands out among colleges in South Carolina. Its location near historic Charleston and the beautiful South Carolina beaches provides students with numerous recreational opportunities.

CSU has received recognition for its military friendliness and been named one of the best Christian colleges in the United States. The school grants bachelor’s degrees in 48 majors, as well as eight master’s degrees. An active student life outside the classroom includes participation in academic clubs, community service, intramural athletics, and campus ministries. University teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big South Conference.

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20University of South Carolina – Beaufort 2/525.89%Bluffton, SC

The University of South Carolina-Beaufort is a small public university located in the Lowcountry region. USCB is the only school in the region to offer a human services degree. USCB’s Biology program lets students get first-hand experience studying the continental shelf, and has a concentration in coastal ecology and conservation.

One of the school’s most popular programs is Hospitality Management, which partners with the nearby Hilton Head Island Resorts to provide internships. This program attracts international students. The school also hosts the Lowcountry and Resort Islands Tourism Institute, which conducts research on tourism issues.

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21South Carolina State University 2/538.24%Orangeburg, SC

South Carolina State University is the only publically-funded, historically black land-grant university in the state. SCSU’s unique programs include the state’s only Bachelor of Science programs in nuclear engineering and physics and the only Master’s programs in transportation and business administration.

South Carolina State University is one of the top ten schools for most enrolled ROTC cadets, and its Beta Gamma Sigma chapter was named an Exemplary Chapter in 2012. The school’s new 500-square-foot Engineering and Computer Science Complex cost $24.5 million and features innovative classrooms, research centers, labs, and offices.

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22Limestone College 4/528.38%Gaffney, SC

Limestone College is a non-denominational Christian school established in 1845 as a women’s college. The campus contains many beautiful historic buildings, including 10 on the National Register of Historic Places.

Limestone encourages an active student life outside the classroom, with intramural sports, student clubs, and annual campus activities such as Homecoming and Christmas on Campus. A robust community service program includes a tutoring program where Limestone students work with local elementary schools; the Empty Bowls Project, which fights hunger in the local community; and community beautification through an Adopt-A-Highway project.

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23Southern Wesleyan University 4/548.59%Central, SC

Southern Wesleyan University, a Christian college founded by what is now the Wesleyan Church, is highly ranked among the many good South Carolina colleges. The school encourages a distinctively Christian perspective in education. Spiritual life on campus includes ministry teams; university singers, a travelling vocal group that performs religious music at churches and festivals; and The Difference, a year-long program that lets members travel to lead worship at churches, festivals, and events.

Southern Wesleyan has 15 intercollegiate athletic teams, including women’s and men’s basketball teams that have won national championships. Intramural athletics are open to all students.

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24Morris College 3/530.82%Sumter, SC

Morris College, one of the best South Carolina colleges, is a historically black liberal arts college operated by the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina. Notable alumni include several politicians, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, and several Civil Rights Movement Freedom Rides participants.

The university has chapters for eight of the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations, and its athletic teams, nicknamed the Hornets, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Teams include men’s baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, tennis, and track & field and women’s basketball, cross country, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

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25Benedict College 3/531.01%Columbia, SC

Benedict College, founded in 1870 to serve recently freed blacks, ranks high among colleges in South Carolina. The school is one of the top producers of African American physics majors in the country. Approximately 50 million dollars worth of recent campus improvements include completion of an athletics complex, activities field and community park; renovation of historic Antisdel Chapel; and restoration of several residence halls.

Notable Benedict alumni include Modjeska Monteith Simkins, a leader of African American public health reform, comedian Howie Bell, and James Maxie Ponder, the first African American physician in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Many two-year programs focus on training students for technology careers in the state. Specialized programs in technology and medicine are abundant throughout South Carolina, and most schools offer degrees and certificates that can be completed in under two years. Whatever the concentration, South Carolina’s community colleges provide accelerated education options for career-minded freshman and adult learners alike.

Two-year school graduates in South Carolina often earn a higher salary than those with only a high school diploma. The service sector represents more than 80% of the state’s local economy; most of this economic sector includes health services, supported by local trade schools for medicine and healthcare services.

Additionally many jobs outside of agriculture are in manufacturing, which accounts for the abundance of technical training programs in the discipline. If you’re interested in pursuing a two-year program in the state, you can start your search by browsing our list of the top schools in South Carolina.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1University of South Carolina – Sumter 2/512.39%Sumter, SC

Students at the University of South Carolina-Sumter can complete an associate in arts (AA) or an associate of science (AS) degree in two years, or choose to continue their education and finish a bachelor’s degree. The school also offers an impressive distance education program.

USC-Sumter is recognized among the top 15% of military-friendly schools in the U.S., going above and beyond to serve active duty and veteran students. The school’s flourishing sports program includes teams playing men’s baseball, women’s softball, and men’s and women’s tennis.

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2Technical College of the Lowcountry 1/59.68%Beaufort, SC

The Technical College of the Lowcountry provides high quality, affordable academic programs leading to associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates. The college’s main campus is in Beaufort, and the school works with regional employers to develop in-demand skills that leave graduates prepared for careers.

TCL is working on a number of green initiatives to make the campus more sustainable, including an alternative energy program and a geothermal training center. The school is also working with local employers to train students for green jobs, including green building construction, computer assisted design, and civil engineering technology.

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3Spartanburg Community College 1/512.44%Spartanburg, SC

Spartanburg Community College offers more than 100 programs at an affordable price. Tuition at Spartanburg is 60% lower than tuition at a public four-year college, and classes are offered at flexible times, including evenings, weekends, and online. SCC is recognized for its high commitment to serving student veterans, and has been ranked in the top 15% of military friendly schools.

Companies with a regional presence, including BMW, Michelin, Spartanburg Regional, ESAB, Mary Black, Denny's Corporation, and others regularly hire SCC graduates from the school’s industrial & engineering, health & human services, and business & computer technology programs.

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4University of South Carolina – Lancaster 2/518.51%Lancaster, SC

The University of South Carolina-Lancaster is one of four regional USC campuses. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. USC-Lancaster offers five associate degrees in science, arts, business, nursing, and criminal justice, as well as three bachelor’s degrees.

The school has four sports teams, known as the Lancers, including a women’s soccer team and a men’s golf team. USC-Lancaster’s TRiO Programs are funded by the federal government and support first generation and low-income Americans attending college. The USC Connect Program helps students discover learning opportunities outside the classroom.

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5Midlands Technical College 1/57.81%West Columbia, SC

Midlands Technical College is one of the state’s largest two-year colleges, with six campuses and a career training center. Students choose from around 100 associate degrees, diplomas, and certificate programs, and have the option to transfer to one of the state’s four-year institutions after completing the first two years at Midlands.

Midlands graduates have gone on to attend Harvard University, work for Fortune 500 companies, and start their own businesses. The school focuses on providing education that will be useful in the real world, helping students land jobs quickly after college.

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6Horry-Georgetown Technical College 1/514.63%Conway, SC

Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway is the fourth-largest technical college in South Carolina and one of the fastest growing in the state. Ninety percent of graduates stay and work in the area.

Horry-Georgetown Technical College offers more than 90 degree and certificate programs. The interior design certificate program lasts two semesters and prepares students for positions in residential and commercial design. A brewmaster and brewery operations management associate in applied science (AAS) degree will be available starting in 2017 and will prepare graduates for careers in the expanding brewery industry.

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7York Technical College 1/59.44%Rock Hill, SC

York Technical College is among the best colleges in South Carolina. York Tech offers a variety of associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas, as well as continuing education opportunities for local residents. Academic programs are arranged by “career cluster”, so that students can easily determine what classes to take based on what types of jobs they are interested in.

Some clusters include agriculture, food and natural resources; architecture and construction; health science; manufacturing; and science, technology, engineering & mathematics, among others. York Tech’s campus life includes a variety of clubs and organizations, career resources, a library, and a bookstore.

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8W L Bonner College 2/5100%Columbia, SC

W. L. Bonner College is an excellent choice for students searching for two-year colleges with a Christian focus. The college started as a place to prepare pastors, ministers, and missionaries, and its mission is still to empower students with Christian values, although it now admits students of any denomination.

Academic programs include biblical and ministry programs designed for church leaders and laity; ministry and discipleship for women; pastoral leadership; youth evangelism and discipleship; and more. Campus organizations include student government, student prayer and missions team, literary and debate team, and Delta Epsilon Chi Honor Society.

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9University of South Carolina – Union 2/525.93%Union, SC

The University of South Carolina-Union is one of four regional USC campuses that comprise Palmetto College. The Union campus is recognized for its commitment to offering admission to most applicants, and the school is committed to fostering intellectual freedom and curiosity.

Students can complete an AA or AS degree, and can continue on with their education to earn a bachelor’s degree. The Darla Moore School of Business stands out among the school’s programs. USC-Union’s Honors College and capstone program provide a home for top students to thrive.

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10Spartanburg Methodist College 3/543.13%Spartanburg, SC

Spartanburg Methodist College is a private two-year college that provides individualized attention for each student. Since its founding, the college has been associated with the mission work of the United Methodist Church. Spartanburg is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the University Senate of the United Methodist Church.

The school offers associate degrees in arts, science, criminal Justice, religious studies, fine arts, and business. It also offers a paralegal certification program. Notable alumni include several major league baseball players, including Orlando Hudson.

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11Tri-County Technical College 1/5N/ASC

Tri-County Technical College imparts real-life skills to its students through hands-on training. Majors are arranged by career cluster, including architecture & construction, arts & AV technology, information technology, and more.

Tri-County has a variety of special programs for prospective students, including ROTC, Honors Experience, High School Connections, and Bridge to USC. The criminal justice technology associate degree prepares students to work in the criminal justice system immediately after graduation. Students can enroll in one of Tri-County’s Learning Communities, which link two or more courses together and let students get to know their classmates better.

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12Clinton College 1/565.31%Rock Hill, SC

A historically Black Christian college in Rock Hill, Clinton College stresses the importance of a liberal arts education and offers associate degrees in five areas. Three programs have been added in the last seven years: early childhood development, religion, and natural sciences.

The school began in 1894 as a boarding school providing education to descendants of slaves who did not have access to higher education. A 62,000-square-foot Leed-certified “Dream Complex” houses classrooms, science labs, an auditorium, offices, gym, a music library and practice space, and a wellness center.

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13Piedmont Technical College 1/516.06%Greenwood, SC

Piedmont Technical College, founded in 1966 and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, has locations in each of the seven counties it serves, as well as an online campus that allows students greater flexibility.

The school has more than 80 academic programs, plus transfer opportunities to over 40 colleges and universities throughout South Carolina. Its unique funeral service associate degree provides the educational foundation needed to become a licensed funeral director or embalmer in South Carolina. Piedmont’s funeral service curriculum follows guidelines set by the American Board of Funeral Service Education.

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14Aiken Technical College 1/510.83%Graniteville, SC

Aiken Technical College has more than 80 academic programs to choose from, ranging from certificates to associate degrees, with the option to transfer to a four-year university. Associate degrees in education, business, health sciences, technology, and more are available.

Aiken also has a unique nuclear program, in which students can obtain an associate in applied science of nuclear quality systems or radiation protection technology. The nuclear program also offers a variety of certificate options, including in nuclear quality assurance auditing and nuclear quality engineering principles.

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15Greenville Technical College 1/510.12%Greenville, SC

Greenville Technical College has more than 100 programs that prepare students to go directly into careers or transfer to a four-year university. Greenville combines classroom instruction with hands-on skill building.

In addition to strong academic programs, Greenville Tech offers students the chance to participate in an active campus life, with numerous student organizations such as the African American Male Leadership Institute, GTC Veterans, GTC Urban Farmers, GTC Student Nurse Organization, and many more. The school also provides the opportunity for students to engage in a variety of intramural sports.

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16Trident Technical College 1/510.24%Charleston, SC

Trident Technical College is a public two-year, multi-campus community college serving Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties. The curriculum includes programs in arts and sciences, agriculture, business, computer technology, engineering technology, health sciences, industrial technology, and public service.

The dean of Trident’s Business School won a 2016 Innovator of the Year Award, which is given each year by the S.C. Technical College System Foundation. Dean Laurie Boeding won the award for her efforts to put TTC on the forefront of cybersecurity education.

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17Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College 1/511.46%Orangeburg, SC

Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College provides students job training in new and expanding industries as well as university transfer opportunities. All courses required of graduates directly relate to their majors and competencies needed for professional advancement. Orangeburg has a special job placement program as part of its Student Success Center, which helps students and alumni connect their skillsets with promising career opportunities from local and national employers.

Orangeburg’s strong computer science program offers associate degrees in programming and information technology, equipping graduates with the latest techniques in computer repair and information processing, network management, and information security.

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18Northeastern Technical College 1/511.93%Cheraw, SC

Northeastern Technical College is an excellent choice for anyone looking at South Carolina colleges. Twenty-one degree programs offered by Northeastern range from business to computer technology, nursing to criminal justice.

Northeastern’s apprenticeship program for students earning an associate degree in machine tool technology lets students earn money while pursuing their degree, combining classroom lessons with on-the-job training. Northeastern also has a promising internship program, in which students interested in electronic, engineering, or technology get paid work experience with Duke Energy. Upon graduation, the most promising students are often offered full-time jobs at Duke Energy.

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19Central Carolina Technical College 1/510.91%Sumter, SC

Central Carolina Technical College serves students in the Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and Kershaw areas. The school’s commitment to student choice is evident in its more than 50 programs of study, making it a competitive choice for students looking for South Carolina colleges. The college has a state-of-the-art Health Sciences Center and a renovated federal building that serves as the Legal Studies Center.

The environmental and natural resources program stands out, with options to pursue concentrations such as environmental engineering technology, natural resources management, and wastewater management. Health sciences degrees and certificates include massage therapy, medical record coding, nursing, and surgical technology.

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20University of South Carolina – Salkehatchie 2/521.69%Allendale, SC

The University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie is one of four USC regional campuses that make up Palmetto College. Its main campus is in Allendale, with a branch campus in Walterboro. The school offers the first two years of almost every degree available at the University of South Carolina.

USC-Salkehatchie emphasizes the development of the whole person and is committed to intellectual freedom. Entering freshman are eligible for a scholarship if they scored 1000 or higher on the SAT or if they are in the top 10% of their graduating class.

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21Florence-Darlington Technical College 1/57.85%Florence, SC

Florence-Darlington Technical College emphasizes workforce development and creating entrepreneurs. The college offers six campuses across the area and has 105 full-time faculty members. The school primarily serves Florence, Darlington, and Marion counties. Florence-Darlington Tech has a large health sciences center in downtown Florence for students in the healthcare field.

Students at Florence-Darlington choose from a variety of activities and organizations to participate in on campus, and there are two junior college Athletic Association teams: men’s baseball and women’s fast pitch softball.

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22Williamsburg Technical College 1/511.69%Kingstree, SC

Williamsburg Technical College is an excellent choice for students looking at two-year colleges in South Carolina. Associate degrees available include: arts, science, administrative office technology, early care and education, general business, and general technology.

The college also has a dual enrollment program with local high schools, in which students can begin taking Williamsburg classes and getting college credit while still in high school. It is free for high school students to take these classes as long as they are enrolled in six credits and meet application criteria. High school students can also take vocational technical courses.

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23Denmark Technical College 1/512.38%Denmark, SC

Denmark Technical College was originally established to educate black citizens in the trades. Located in the small town of Denmark, the school prioritizes small class size, outstanding faculty who have experience in the fields they teach, and utilizing the latest technology.

Courses are offered in a variety of fields, including: nutrition, business and secretarial sciences, building sciences, barbering and cosmetology, auto mechanics, and more. Denmark Technical College also offers a wide variety of co-curricular activities that enhance the learning and overall experiences of students. All students qualify for tutoring and mentoring support.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in South Carolina, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Palmetto State.

South Carolina has a rich history steeped in the traditions of the Deep South. Well known as the first state to secede from the union in 1860, today South Carolina is the artistic hub of the South and a destination for tourism and service-industry jobs. College programs in South Carolina are not limited by the state’s traditional conservative values; schools offer a variety of programs to accommodate a diverse student body with broad professional goals and academic interests.

South Carolina had a per-capita income of $24,222 per year as of 2014. In addition, 25.3% of South Carolinians 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher, slightly below the national average of 29.3%. Approximately 85% of residents age 25 and older had at least a high school diploma, also slightly lower than the national average of 86.3%.

Below, we’ve highlighted two of the larger regions in South Carolina:

Regional Spotlight: Northern/Central South Carolina

  • Major Cities: Columbia, Clemson, Rock Hill
  • Attractions: Sesquicentennial State Park, Harbison State Forest, Fort Hill
  • Cost of Living: Columbia’s Numbeo Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: University of South Carolina, Clemson University, York Technical College

Regional Spotlight: Southern South Carolina

  • Major Cities: Charleston, North Charleston, Conway
  • Attractions: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, South Carolina Aquarium, Nathaniel Russell House
  • Cost of Living: Charleston’s Numbeo Cost of Living
  • Popular Schools: Trident Technical College, Charleston Southern University, College of Charleston


Establishing residency allows students access to in-state tuition at public colleges in South Carolina. Students 18 or older must provide proof of state residency; minors must live with either a parent or legal guardian in South Carolina to qualify for reduced tuition.

For Minors:

If a student is a minor when they enroll, they must prove that their guardians are domiciled in the state to claim residency themselves. To establish South Carolina residency, a minor must live with a parent or guardian in a household within state borders. If the parents are divorced or separated, the minor must reside with a parent living in South Carolina. Minors must provide evidence that they lived with their parent in South Carolina before turning 18 and prove their intention to continue living with that parent until the school year begins.

For Adults:

Individuals age 18 and older who plan to claim residence must meet specific criteria, including:

  • You must physically reside in South Carolina for at least one year prior to declaring residence.
  • You must prove intent to make South Carolina your home.
  • You should be able to prove your financial independence. Adults under age 23 may have to formally claim emancipation from their guardian.

Additional Resources for South Carolina College Students

College Savings

Education Nonprofits

Higher Education News

Official State Links