According to October 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Carolina holds a record-low 2.6% unemployment rate. This figure is a boon for job-seekers. With so few unemployed people, employers tend to raise salaries and expand benefits to attract both recent college graduates and talented, established professionals.
Some of South Carolina's largest career fields include office and administrative support, healthcare, education, and management. Many of the careers in these fields -- especially managerial-level positions -- boast excellent salaries; however, the best careers at any level usually require some sort of postsecondary education.
Top 10 Community Colleges in South Carolina
- Spartanburg Community College - Spartanburg, SC
- Central Carolina Technical College - Sumter, SC
- Horry-Georgetown Technical College - Conway, SC
- Aiken Technical College - Graniteville, SC
- Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College - Orangeburg, SC
- Trident Technical College - Charleston, SC
- Northeastern Technical College - Cheraw, SC
- University of South Carolina - Sumter, SC
- Piedmont Technical College - Greenwood, SC
- Technical College of the Lowcountry - Beaufort, SC
To advance your education and career, consider attending a South Carolina community college. These colleges offer affordable tuition rates that can be thousands of dollars less than comparable four-year schools. Both on-campus and online community college students receive excellent student support services. These institutions award associate degrees and certificates, and many partner with four-year schools to allow degree-seekers to transfer to a bachelor's completion program.
To help you find a South Carolina community college that matches your academic interests and career goals, we curated a ranking of the state's top 15 schools. The following colleges offer dozens of degrees and certificates, online and hybrid learning options, and multiple opportunities for academic and personal enrichment. Follow the links to learn more about these schools and what they might offer you.
As you review these colleges, keep in mind that although they boast many excellent qualities, they may not meet your needs exactly. If this ranking does not contain the right school for you, you can still use the following information to gain a better understanding of what you want and need in a program. You can take advantage of this knowledge to make a more informed decision about which school to attend.
2020 Best Accredited Community Colleges in South Carolina
Spartanburg Community College
|Spartanburg, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
SCC's seven schools award university transfer degrees as well as degrees and certificates in advanced manufacturing, business, health sciences, and other subjects. Transfer programs feature AA and AS options; SCC boasts transfer agreements with colleges and universities throughout South Carolina. Online degree-seekers use SC TechConnect to access course content. Distance learners can select from four degrees and one certificate.
Academic advising plays an essential role in student success at this South Carolina community college. Advising services include career exploration, course selection, and orientation. SCC requires that students meet with an advisor at least once each semester. Degree-seekers can also receive tutoring services at the school's learning center.
Like all South Carolina community colleges on this ranking, SCC accepts individuals who hold a GED certificate. Additionally, high school students can take courses through the school's dual-enrollment program. In-state learners save approximately 60% on tuition compared to out-of-state learners. Incoming students interested in financial aid can apply for an SCC Foundation Scholarship between January 2 and April 15.
Central Carolina Technical College
|Sumter, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
CCTC offers more than 50 degrees and certificates, making this South Carolina community college an excellent choice for prospective students undecided on a major. In addition to three transfer degrees, popular programs include nursing, paralegal, and early care and education. Additionally, the college's advanced certificate programs train aspiring HVAC professionals, medical coders, and pipe welders.
Outside of class, learners can participate in career-orientated clubs such as the Criminal Justice Organization, Biology Club, and the school's chapter of the National Student Nurses' Association. Like many colleges on this ranking, CCTC also hosts a chapter of Phi Theta Kappa -- the nation's top honors society for students attending a two-year college.
High school students ages 16-18 may apply as long as they submit a permission letter from their high school principal. Unlike other South Carolina community colleges that use an open-door admission policy, CCTC requires applicants to possess a minimum ACT or SAT score of 19 or 930, respectively. The CCTC Foundation Scholarship awards funding to both full- and part-time students who maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Horry-Georgetown Technical College
|Conway, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Many academic programs at HGTC boast a special Fast Forward option that allows academically ambitious students to complete a traditional 16-week course in only 5-7 weeks. Learners at this South Carolina community college can choose to enter the school's arts, sciences, or university transfer departments. Students pick from many degree and certificate, such as tracks in general technology, advanced manufacturing, and business administration.
HGTC's Distance Learning Institute boasts both hybrid and entirely online options. Online courses use Desire2Learn software, and some online programs may require students to participate in field trips or other on-site activities. Online degree-seekers also benefit from the same student services that on-campus student enjoy, including academic advising and career counseling.
HGTC uses a seven-step enrollment process that includes applying for financial aid, meeting with an enrollment advisor, and attending an orientation session. Full-time students pay a flat tuition each semester. In-state degree-seekers may qualify for state-funded financial aid. HGTC awards over 30 institutional scholarships.
Aiken Technical College
|Graniteville, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 12%||
ATC offers general education and university transfer programs, as well as degrees and certificates in business and computer technology, health sciences, and technical education. Career-aligned degrees at this South Carolina community college include nuclear fundamentals, electronic technology, and dental assisting. ATC also offers an online AA that is designed to be transferred to a four-year school.
The Academic Success Center at ATC offers free resources to all learners. Students can attend tutoring sessions in biology and chemistry, among other subjects. Degree-seekers can also select from many student organizations, including the Christian Life Club and Student Government Association.
ATC accepts first-time, dual-enrollment, and transfer students. The college recommends that incoming learners submit ACT or SAT results. Learners without test scores should take the ACCUPLACER exam to determine their initial English and math course placement. Degree-seekers submit only one financial aid application to apply to all ATC scholarship opportunities.
Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College
|Orangeburg, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
OCtech's degree and certificate programs boast flexible learning schedules with courses available during the day, in the evenings, and online. The college features transferable AA and AS degrees, as well as programs in agriculture, education, and engineering technology. Online options at this community college in South Carolina include four degrees, one diploma, and nine certificates.
Academic advisors at OCtech work with students to select courses, explore careers, and find other student services like tutoring. The college participates in the federal TRIO program to provide degree-seekers from disadvantaged backgrounds with additional services. Additionally, prospective and current learners can access eight video tutorials that explain a variety of topics, including how to register for courses and view grades.
Prospective degree-seekers create a student account before applying online. OCtech requires COMPASS exam results for students who do not possess ACT or SAT scores. Health programs have additional application requirements. The college oversees dozens of institutional scholarship opportunities, which award up to $2,000.
Trident Technical College
|Charleston, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 16%||
TTC features affordable tuition rates and offers degrees and certificates in 10 areas of interest. Learners who do not complete a transferable degree can select from programs such as business, culinary and hospitality, and engineering. Online courses use asynchronous learning to accommodate degree-seekers with busy personal or professional lives. Online students can select from one transferable associate degree and three certificate programs.
On-campus learners have numerous options to participate in student life. This South Carolina community college boasts two honor societies and multiple career-orientated clubs for prospective pharmacy technicians, physical therapists, and others. TCC also boasts a study abroad program where students can complete an internship overseas.
TTC recommends that prospective degree-seekers request more information or take a campus tour before applying. South Carolina residents who graduated from high school with a minimum 3.0 GPA do not need to take placement tests. Incoming learners interested in financial aid only submit one form to apply to all institutional scholarship opportunities.
Northeastern Technical College
|Cheraw, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
NETC boasts branches in Cheraw, Pageland, Dillon, and Bennettsville, making it an attractive choice for prospective students throughout South Carolina. The college features transfer agreements with many of South Carolina's largest public colleges and universities. The school's Arts and Sciences Department confers transferable degrees. Degree-seekers preparing to pursue a career immediately after graduation select from programs in three departments: business, health, and applied technology.
This South Carolina community college offers more than 90 online courses each semester. Online courses use set meeting times, mimicking the on-campus experience. Some online courses also require degree-seekers to take proctored tests on campus.
Incoming learners who possess a minimum ACT or SAT score of 20 or 960, respectively, do not need to take placement tests. New students receive an invitation to an on-campus open registration event. More than 70% of degree-seekers receive some form of college-funded financial aid. For example, the LIFE Scholarship awards free tuition and a textbook stipend; full-time students who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA can apply for this award.
University of South Carolina-Sumter
|Sumter, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 26%||
At USC Sumter, degree-seekers planning to transfer to a four-year school can select from seven associate degrees, including organizational leadership, business administration, and early childhood education. Transfer students can also enroll in a bachelor's completion program hosted by the University of South Carolina without leaving the USC Sumter campus. For high school students, this South Carolina community college offers dual-enrollment and early-college programs, both of which confer significant college credit.
USC Sumter serves the local community by offering courses on the nearby Shaw Air Force Base. Enlisted personnel can register for courses, take placement tests, and register for courses on base. Although the college offers some courses at Shaw, most enlisted degree-seekers attend courses on campus.
First-time and dual-enrollment students should take the ACT for placement and scholarship eligibility purposes. Other application requirements include high school transcripts -- even if an applicant did not graduate. Learners can apply to over 100 scholarship opportunities by submitting only one application.
Piedmont Technical College
|Greenwood, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 19%||
PTC offers some of the most affordable degrees and certificates in the state. Not only does this community college in South Carolina charge a low per-credit tuition rate, but nearly 70% of students receive enough financial aid to cover all of their tuition and fees. In addition to university transfer tracks, other popular programs include diversified agriculture, criminal justice, and automotive technology. Some learners who complete a technical certificate can apply this credential toward a transfer degree.
Online students at PTC can select from two transfer degrees, four professional degrees, and two certificates in areas such as administrative office technology and funeral service education. Also, many on-campus programs allow students to take some courses online. All online courses feature asynchronous learning.
Admission requirements include submitting an online application and visiting a PTC campus to speak to an advisor. The college accepts credit from foreign colleges and universities. Degree-seekers with a minimum 2.5 GPA can apply for financial aid at three points throughout the year.
Technical College of the Lowcountry
|Beaufort, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 13%||
More than 90% of TCL graduates go on to work in a field that aligns with the program they completed, making the college an attractive option for prospective students interested in career-orientated degrees and certificates. Like all South Carolina community colleges on this ranking, TCL also awards some transfer degrees. Transfer options include criminal justice, the humanities, and early childhood education.
TCL boasts nine entirely online certificate and degree tracks. Many on-campus programs feature courses that learners can complete online, as well. Students use SC TechConnect to access course content and interact with professors. Degree-seekers do not pay additional fees when they take an online course.
Prospective learners take a short survey to determine their application pathway. Academic advisors work closely with undecided students to help them select a major or certificate. Degree-seekers interested in financial aid must submit their FAFSA results.
University of South Carolina-Lancaster
|Lancaster, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Many of the academic programs at USC Lancaster allow students to transfer seamlessly to bachelor's completion programs at the University of South Carolina. Participants can also pursue career-orientated AA degrees in business and criminal justice. Learners who already possess an associate degree can earn a bachelor's in one of 13 majors at this South Carolina community college. Online courses at USC Lancaster are delivered through Blackboard.
Both associate and bachelor's degree-seekers can become Magellan Scholars. This unique educational opportunity involves undergraduate research, which learners perform under a professor's guidance. Students receive up to $3,000 in funding to cover their research expenses. Prospective Magellan Scholars must possess a minimum 3.3 undergraduate GPA.
High school students applying as dual-enrolment learners need to submit a letter of recommendation from their principal, and other prospective degree-seekers submit ACT or SAT scores. The college recommends that all new students complete an on-campus orientation. USC Lancaster offers more than 130 scholarship opportunities that require only one application.
Florence-Darlington Technical College
|Florence, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 12%||
Florence, Darlington, and Marion County residents can attend FDTC to pursue associate degrees and certificates. Programs at this South Carolina community college include electronics engineering technology, human services, and respiratory care. Online learning at FDTC uses both interactive television sessions and asynchronous learning.
Academic advising at FDTC plays a significant role in students' success. Advisors specialize in 1-2 subjects, meaning that they can offer expert guidance to help students select courses, explore careers, and access additional student services. Another resource open to all learners is an assessment center where degree-seekers can take placement tests and challenge exams.
Prospective students can review syllabi before applying. Scholarship application requirements include a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Some programs also require applicants to carry out an interview with a professor or department chair.
University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie
|Allendale, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Over the past four years, 100% of each nursing cohort at USC Salkehatchie has passed the NCLEX exam, making this institution an excellent choice for aspiring nurses. This South Carolina community college also offers AA and AS tracks, as well as over a dozen bachelor's degrees in partnership with the University of South Carolina. Learners can enhance their degree by selecting a minor from over 50 options.
Students nearing graduation can visit the Career Planning Center to attend a career fair, receive a resume critique, and practice interviewing skills. Other student support services at USC Salkehatchie include one-on-one tutoring sessions, academic advising, and workshops that help incoming learners hone their academic success skills. On-campus students also enjoy access to apartment-style dormitories.
Every June, July, and August, the college hosts a new student orientation on campus. During orientation, new degree-seekers can register for courses, meet with an advisor, and apply for financial aid.
Greenville Technical College
|Greenville, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 12%||
GTC offers degrees and certificates across seven schools. The School of Health Sciences boasts the largest number of options, including tracks that prepare graduates to work as medical assistants and pharmacy technicians. Learners not pursuing a degree or certificate can engage in professional development related to healthcare, industrial manufacturing, and safety, among other subjects.
High school students ages 16 and older can apply to GTC's Early College Program. GTC holds agreements with local high schools, and homeschooled learners may also apply. Application requirements include ACT or SAT scores. The program allows students to earn up to 18 undergraduate credits while pursuing their high school diploma. The Early College Program hosts courses on GTC's four campuses.
All prospective students must submit FAFSA results. Incoming degree-seekers without ACT, SAT, or AP scores need to take the ACCUPLACER exam. GTC boasts eight scholarship opportunities, and each scholarship requires a separate application. Learners at this South Carolina community college can also participate in an on-campus work-study program.
Tri-County Technical College
|Pendleton, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 13%||
In addition to transfer programs, TCTC features career-oriented degrees and transition programs. Students earning a transfer degree can select from more than 20 majors, including biology, criminal justice, and forensic science. Additionally, certificate programs prepare future childcare providers, veterinary assistants, and nurses, among other professionals.
TCTC features many academic programs that attract learners from all backgrounds. For example, students ages 50 and older can complete the AARP Back to Work Program, which confers essential job exploration strategies and provides interview coaching. The college's Honors Experience allows degree-seekers with a minimum 3.5 high school GPA to take advanced coursework and perform original research.
High school graduates whose transcripts reflect at least a "C" in English and math do not need to take placement tests. Of all South Carolina community colleges on this ranking, TCTC boasts one of the lowest tuition rates for in-district degree-seekers. Additionally, incoming students with a minimum 3.0 high school GPA may qualify for a LIFE Scholarship, which awards up to $5,000 each year.