Individuals of all backgrounds attend colleges and universities because they recognize how important earning postsecondary credentials can be for finding and advancing a career. According to projections by the National Center for Education Statistics, the total number of U.S. undergraduate students will grow from 16.8 million in 2017 to 17.2 million in 2028. By obtaining college certificates and degrees, you can access more career opportunities and higher pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that professionals with bachelor's degrees earn about $24,000 more in average annual salary than people with only high school diplomas.
Top 10 Online Colleges in South Carolina
- Columbia International University - Columbia, SC
- University of South Carolina - Columbia, SC
- Anderson University - Anderson, SC
- North Greenville University - Tigerville, SC
- Southern Wesleyan University - Central, SC
- Citadel Military College of South Carolina - Charleston, SC
- Winthrop University - Rock Hill, SC
- University of South Carolina-Upstate - Spartanburg, SC
- University of South Carolina-Aiken - Aiken, SC
- Coastal Carolina University - Conway, SC
2020 Best Online Colleges in South Carolina
Mounting tuition costs and potential debt motivate many students to pursue distance education. Remote academic programs may provide distinct scholarships and relatively affordable tuition rates that often ignore residency status. Additionally, most online programs operate asynchronous classes that enable you to communicate with peers and access course materials at your convenience. This flexibility can let you work full time while going to school. Alternatively, you may accelerate graduation to obtain a bachelor's in two years or a master's in 12 months.
The plethora of options may prove overwhelming as you look for the college that best suits your academic interests and career goals. This guide attempts to assist you by detailing the 15 best online colleges in South Carolina with regards to cost, accreditation, and student retention and graduation rates. Each school profile covers degree offerings and general admission requirements. For more information, contact admissions counselors at a school directly. These specialists can help you find scholarships and navigate the enrollment process.
By attending a South Carolina college, you stand to benefit from the state's strong economy. BLS data shows that, as of October 2019, South Carolina's unemployment rate was 2.6% -- well below the national average of 3.6%. You can find lucrative career opportunities in major industries like advanced manufacturing; agribusiness; aerospace and defense; and life sciences, particularly in pharmaceutical development.
Columbia International University
|Columbia, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Founded as a two-year school in 1923, Columbia International University now offers undergraduate and graduate programs to over 1,200 students. The institution facilitates online education through the Canvas platform and undergraduate candidates can enroll in fully remote programs for business and human services. The former option delivers a comprehensive generalist education that prepares students to work as corporate employees, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit administrators.
CIU does not maintain GPA requirements for incoming first-year students, although transfer applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA. The online graduate catalog contains master's programs in intercultural studies, educational administration, youth ministry leadership, and care and counseling. Students may also enroll in a 45-credit disaster relief and emergency management program, earning their credentials in two years. At the doctoral level, remote degrees cover fields like ministerial leadership and theological studies.
CIU also oversees a doctor of organizational leadership program that teaches candidates to apply research findings and implement change models to bolster their company's competitive advantage. Prospective graduate students need a minimum 3.2-3.7 GPA, depending on the program.
University of South Carolina-Columbia
|Columbia, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 75%||
The University of South Carolina enrolls roughly 34,000 students in 350 comprehensive academic programs. The school delivers distance education through Blackboard, allowing undergraduate candidates with previous college experience to complete their bachelor's in as few as 12 months.
Online options include a bachelor of science in nursing track for working RNs, which incorporates the hands-on practicum experiences learners need to work as interdisciplinary nurse generalists. BSN applicants need an unencumbered RN license and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional bachelor's completion programs include hospitality management, criminal justice, and information management and systems.
UofSC offers over 35 online graduate programs, with options like applied statistics, education administration, information science, and public health. The university also delivers a variety of engineering credentials. Candidates can enroll in the school's master of science in nuclear engineering track to develop skills related to predictive computer modeling and safety analysis of energy systems. Doctoral candidates may pursue a remote Ph.D. in computer engineering, which allows them to pursue careers as research scientists and college educators.
|Anderson, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
Anderson University was founded as a female seminary in 1848 but now provides coeducational academic programs to almost 3,000 students each year. In addition to campus-based academics, learners can access remote learning opportunities through the Canvas platform.
The school's undergraduate catalog contains fully online bachelor's degrees in Christian studies, homeland security/emergency management, and organizational leadership. Students may also earn a human services degree, concentrating their curriculum on behavioral health or healthcare management.
At the graduate level, online coursework covers areas like physical therapy and ministry management. AU also operates a master of business administration program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. MBA candidates can complete a 36-credit generalist degree plan or pursue one of four concentrations. Business students usually obtain their credentials in under two years. Graduate applicants usually need a 2.75 minimum GPA; depending on their program, they may also need 3-5 years of work experience.
North Greenville University
|Tigerville, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
North Greenville University first opened its doors in 1891 as a non-government high school. Today, the institution enrolls over 2,200 students in comprehensive bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. Learners can combine traditional academics with online classes powered by Blackboard to create a hybrid learning experience. Alternatively, they may earn one of the school's five fully remote bachelor's degrees. For working professionals who want to complete their college education, NGU offers a general studies program that allows candidates to design a curriculum that aligns with their career goals.
Distance learners may also obtain baccalaureate credentials in fields like criminal justice, applied psychology, Christian ministries, and business and leadership. Furthermore, NGU delivers an elementary education program that contains coursework related to child development, curriculum utilizing technology, and classroom assessment and management. Upon completion, graduates can pursue their master's degree in teaching and state certification.
To enroll as a first-year student, applicants must submit an online form, official high school transcripts, and ACT/SAT scores. Transfer candidates need at least 12 credits earned with a 2.0 GPA or higher. NGU bases its tuition prices on enrollment status.
Southern Wesleyan University
|Central, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Based in the town of Central, Southern Wesleyan University is a private higher education institution that supports about 1,600 students annually. The school provides distance education through Canvas, delivering a fully online associate of general studies program that prepares candidates for transfer opportunities.
Distance learners can also pursue baccalaureate credentials in fields like human services, early childhood and family studies, and business administration. Licensed RNs can earn their bachelor of science in nursing in as few as 20 months through a completion pathway accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Graduate candidates can pick from five online master's programs, including classroom leadership, educational administration and supervision, and e-learning and instructional design.
Business majors can extend their academic training by enrolling in an MBA program that offers concentrations in human resources and healthcare administration. Candidates may also focus their degree plan on project management, learning how to influence team dynamics and implement quality control systems. SWU does not require MBA applicants to submit GRE/GMAT scores.
Citadel Military College of South Carolina
|Charleston, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
The Citadel was established in 1842 as one of six senior military colleges in the United States. The school offers over 35 academic programs and facilitates distance education through Blackboard Learn.
Undergraduate students can enroll in bachelor's degree completion tracks in criminal justice, business administration, and intelligence and security studies. The Citadel also provides a tactical strength and conditioning program that prepares candidates to develop effective training programs for law enforcement officers, firefighters, and military personnel.
At the graduate level, online options are available in areas like social science, interdisciplinary STEM education, and higher education leadership. Students may pursue a 36-credit master of international politics and military affairs that examines how national culture affects policy issues and political action. Degree candidates develop the communication and analytical thinking skills needed to foster transnational relationships in an increasingly globalized society. To enroll in a graduate program, applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and adequate GRE/GMAT scores.
|Rock Hill, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
Located in Rock Hill, Winthrop University enrolls over 6,000 students across its five schools and colleges. The institution provides low-cost online education powered by Blackboard. Undergraduate learners can also incorporate asynchronous classes into their campus-based programs to create a hybrid learning experience. The university offers a variety of financial aid, which includes general merit scholarships and departmental awards.
Distance learners can enroll in fully online graduate programs in social work, arts administration, and special education intervention. They can also obtain a master of business administration that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
MBA candidates may design their own concentration or pick from designated tracks in strategic leadership, marketing, and sports marketing/revenue generation. The business program totals 36 credits, which most learners complete in under two years. MBA applicants need at least five years of work experience and a minimum GMAT score of 400.
University of South Carolina-Upstate
|Spartanburg, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
As one of the fastest-growing higher education institutions in the state, the University of South Carolina Upstate supports about 6,000 students and delivers comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs. Blackboard powers distance education at USC Upstate, and distance learners who want to earn a bachelor's degree can choose from five entirely online programs and two hybrid tracks. Degree options include health informatics, criminal justice, and nursing (RN-to-BSN).
Candidates can also pursue a bachelor of science in engineering technology management (ETM) if they possess a relevant associate degree. ETM students delve into topics like project cost analysis, team building and motivation, and systems decision-making strategies. The online graduate catalog contains master's programs in business informatics and applied learning and instruction.
USC Upstate also facilitates a master of science in nursing with a clinical nurse leader concentration. Fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, this 38-credit MSN program teaches candidates to provide direct patient care in complex settings. Distance learners complete clinicals in their communities. Applicants to this program must submit a current resume or CV, three recommendation letters, and a 1-2-page personal statement; however, students need not submit GRE scores.
University of South Carolina-Aiken
|Aiken, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
The University of South Carolina - Aiken enrolls about 3,300 students in over 50 comprehensive academic programs. Learners at the school may pursue an education online through Blackboard. For example, licensed RNs can enroll in a fully online bachelor of nursing track to obtain their qualifications in as few as 12 months. To enroll in this program, candidates must possess an active and unencumbered license in the state where they plan to complete preceptor work.
The university also offers degree completion programs in special education and business administration. Undergraduate applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA. Experienced educators may also earn remote master's credentials that lead to add-on certification and endorsement in areas like project-based learning, online teaching, and gifted and talented education.
USC Aiken also oversees master of business administration programs that hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. MBA candidates complete 36 credits of coursework over two years. They may pursue a generalist track or concentrate their training on areas like accounting, finance, and project management. MBA applicants need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and adequate GMAT results.
Coastal Carolina University
|Conway, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Located in Conway, Coastal Carolina University was established in 1954 as a two-year school. Today, CCU operates as a public liberal arts institution that delivers online degrees through the Moodle platform. Students can access over 1,000 individual asynchronous classes. They may also earn fully remote bachelor's degrees in areas like marketing and health administration. Furthermore, distance learners may enroll in a completionist track for hospitality, resort, and tourism management; students pursuing this degree complete a required internship with a local company.
Graduate students can pick from online master's degrees centered on business and education. Offerings include a 12-month master of business administration program that does not require GMAT scores from applicants with a minimum 3.75 GPA or at least five years of relevant career experience.
Licensed teachers can pursue credentials in literacy and special education leading to specialty endorsements. CCU also delivers a master of education in instructional technology for students who want to work as curriculum developers and corporate trainers. To enroll in an M.Ed. program, prospective students need at least a 3.0 GPA.
|Greenwood, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Lander University was founded in 1872 as a female academy but now provides affordable coeducational academics at its campus in Greenwood. The institution facilitates distance education through Blackboard. At the undergraduate level, Lander offers an entirely online bachelor of science in nursing track for licensed RNs. Coursework covers topics like community health nursing, pathophysiology, and enhanced physical assessment. This BSN program maintains specialized accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Online students who want to obtain master's degrees can pick from fields like management, clinical nurse leadership, Montessori education, and instructional technology. They can also pursue a master of science in emergency management.
The 31-credit MSEM curriculum teaches students to mitigate damage caused by natural catastrophes and anthropogenic disasters (including nuclear incidents). Designed for first responders and other working professionals, the MSEM program lets learners take two courses at a time to graduate in two years. Admission requirements for this program consist of a minimum 2.75 GPA, a two-page cover letter/writing sample, and three recommendation letters.
Charleston Southern University
|Charleston, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
As a leader in distance education, Charleston Southern University offers career-focused undergraduate and graduate degrees in 14 areas of study. Students access asynchronous coursework through Blackboard. They can enroll in fully online bachelor's programs in computer and information sciences, criminal justice, and healthcare administration. In the healthcare track, learners prepare for leadership roles in hospitals and private practices by delving into managerial statistics, business laws and ethics, and healthcare policy. Undergraduate applicants need to demonstrate adequate ACT or SAT scores.
The majority of CSU's online programs target graduate students. Options include master's degrees in project management, analytics, nursing, and human resource management. The university also offers a master of business administration accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
The business curriculum totals 33 credits and allows students to pick from seven emphasis areas, including supply chain management, finance, and management information systems. MBA candidates may earn their credentials in as few as 17 months. Application materials consist of a 300-to-500-word personal statement, a current resume, and two signed recommendation letters. Students may also be asked to submit GMAT scores.
|Columbia, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Columbia College was founded in 1854, making it one of the oldest women's colleges in the United States. Approximately 1,200 students currently attend Columbia College, many of whom pursue remote learning opportunities through the Desire2Learn platform.
Distance learners can access over 800 individual asynchronous classes. They may obtain fully online bachelor's degrees in fields like sociology, international business, human services, and nursing (RN to BSN). The college also offers a cybersecurity program that teaches students to conduct digital investigations and process evidence according to accepted industry standards.
The school's graduate catalog contains online master's degrees in educational leadership and business administration. Columbia College's MBA programs hold accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Candidates personalize their curriculum by pursuing an accounting or human resource management emphasis. Additionally, the college delivers a master of science in criminal justice that focuses on law enforcement and corrections administration. Learners also cultivate their research and policy analysis competencies.
|Orangeburg, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
Based in Orangeburg, Claflin University is a private and historically black institution that serves about 2,000 students annually. The school powers online education through Blackboard, delivering four fully remote bachelor's degrees. These options include pathways in criminal justice, psychology, and nursing (RN to BSN).
Undergraduate candidates may also obtain a bachelor of science in organizational management that prepares them to lead dynamic teams in the for-profit, nonprofit, and government sectors. Designed as a completionist pathway, the organizational management program requires applicants to hold an associate degree or at least 45 transferable credits.
Claflin provides online master's credentials in educational curriculum and instruction as well as criminal justice. Alternatively, graduate students can enroll in the school's master of business administration program, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. The flexible MBA curriculum focuses on sustainable business practices, value proposition for customers, and ethical leadership principles. Candidates typically earn their degree in 18 months. To enroll in the MBA program, applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and adequate GMAT scores.
|Gaffney, SC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Limestone College was founded in 1845 as the first women's postsecondary school in South Carolina. Today, the institution offers coeducational academic programs at its Gaffney campus and online through asynchronous courses powered by Blackboard. Distance learners can prepare for baccalaureate transfer by obtaining an associate of general studies. They may also enroll in two-year programs in information technology and computer programming.
Undergraduate students can pursue fully online bachelor's degrees in social work, psychology, criminal justice, and human resource training and development. Licensed RNs can earn their bachelor of nursing in as few as 12 months. Additionally, Limestone delivers a remote bachelor of business administration program that covers topics like ethical issues in the workplace, managerial accounting, and international policy. Business majors can pick a generalist track or pursue one of four concentrations.
Aspiring college students should submit high school transcripts and ACT/SAT scores. To enroll as a transfer student, applicants need at least 12 credits earned with a 2.0 GPA or higher. Financial aid opportunities include the merit-based Founders Scholarship. Limestone also offers a 50% tuition discount for active-duty members of the military, reserves, and National Guard personnel.