2022 Top Private Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

Private colleges and universities frequently top the lists of the best schools in the U.S. These institutions offer rigorous academic programs for students looking for a personalized college experience.

Private colleges and universities generally cost more than their public counterparts, but students often receive the benefits of smaller class sizes, strong alumni networks, and generous financial aid opportunities.

Unlike public universities, private institutions do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state tuition. This means students from anywhere can enroll in South Carolina's private colleges and universities without paying higher out-of-state rates.

2022 Best Private Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

  1. #1

    Wofford College

    Spartanburg, SC

    Graduation Rate

    85%

    Enrollment

    1,720

    Format

    In person

    A private institution located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Wofford College educates students through multiple programs. Students leave the school with experience and credentials that prepare them for the workforce. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school's programs appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Learners at the institution choose from academic and technical programs. Based on their major, students take essential courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. #2

    Furman University

    Greenville, SC

    Graduation Rate

    83%

    Enrollment

    2,828

    Format

    In person

    A private institution, Furman University grants degrees from its campus in Greenville, South Carolina. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that allows students to bolster their knowledge. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. This makes it easier to enroll. The school supports learners with academic help and career services. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school can pay for their educational costs with federal student aid programs. Furman University has received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. #3

    Aiken School of Cosmetology and Barbering

    Aiken, SC

    Graduation Rate

    64%

    Enrollment

    57

    Format

    In person

    Aiken School of Cosmetology and Barbering offers 4 certificate programs from its campus in South Carolina. The rigorous curriculum prepares learners to succeed in careers and further studies. Degree-seekers gain skills necessary to launch their career or pursue promotions. Enrollees apply their knowledge in real-world contexts. The institution undergoes regular evaluations to maintain its accreditation status. Data on the school's average cost per credit is unavailable. Enrollees at the accredited postsecondary institution can receive federal financial aid. The school's website provides information about each program's requirements. The postsecondary institution is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.

  4. #4

    Paul Mitchell the School-Charleston

    North Charleston, SC

    Graduation Rate

    85%

    Enrollment

    209

    Format

    In person

    Paul Mitchell the School-Charleston is a private school based in South Carolina. Learners interested in a quicker course of study can select from 2 certificate programs at the school. Students receive specialized training and take core courses. The rigorous curricula prepare students for the workforce. Graduates seek jobs in related fields after finishing a certificate. The amount of students awarded financial aid to pay for school is 96%. As an accredited school, students can receive federal financial aid. Students should contact the school's admissions department for information about the application process. The school has been accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences.

  5. #5

    Southern Wesleyan University

    Central, SC

    Graduation Rate

    54%

    Enrollment

    1,430

    Format

    Online, In person

    Southern Wesleyan University, located in Central, South Carolina, often ranks as one of the best colleges. Learners choose from a variety of degree-granting programs. With academic and technical tracks, the school offers programs for students with a variety of professional goals. Typically, it takes students two years to complete an associate degree, four years to earn a bachelor's degree, 1-2 years for a master's degree, or 3-7 years for a doctoral degree. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit standardized test scores. These policies make it easier to enroll. The admissions department provides more information about the application process. Financial aid helps enrollees cover their educational expenses. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

  6. #6

    Southeastern Institute-Columbia

    Columbia, SC

    Graduation Rate

    76%

    Enrollment

    196

    Format

    In person

    Located in Columbia, South Carolina, Southeastern Institute-Columbia often ranks among the best schools. The institution's faculty brings expertise in multiple fields. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help learners reach a variety of career goals. Academic programs can take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete, depending on degree or certificate type. Applicants may qualify for a test score waiver. Students may find it easier to apply without a test score requirement. Admission advisors can provide more information on the application process. Learners also use financial aid to pay for their college degree or certificate. Southeastern Institute-Columbia holds accreditation from the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, an independent accrediting body.

  7. #7

    Columbia International University

    Columbia, SC

    Graduation Rate

    51%

    Enrollment

    1,649

    Format

    Online, In person

    From its campus in Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia International University enrolls learners in 56 programs. Students enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. The school holds a student-to-faculty ratio of 14-to-1. According to the school, 100% of students receive some form of financial aid. The school reports a 51% graduation rate for bachelor's programs. Experiential learning opportunities help graduates on the job market. As a result, the institution offers internships, research opportunities, and other forms of experiential learning. Prospective learners can expect admission rates of 48%. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores.

  8. #8

    American College of the Building Arts

    Charleston, SC

    Graduation Rate

    67%

    Enrollment

    94

    Format

    In person

    From its campus in Charleston, South Carolina, American College of the Building Arts educates students as a private institution. Graduates leave the school perpared for the workforce. The institution offers affordable programs that do not sacrifice academic rigor. Many of the school's degrees make national rankings. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. The institution offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their major, learners complete fundamentals courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school's accreditation status is currently unavailable.

  9. #9

    Southeastern Esthetics Institute

    Columbia, SC

    Graduation Rate

    85%

    Enrollment

    147

    Format

    In person

    Southeastern Esthetics Institute is a South Carolina-based private school that hosts an assortment of professional training programs The school offers courses in person in Columbia or online. Enrollees can enroll in 1 certificate programs. Students in the programs build specialized skills in a specific subject area. These credentials eliminate general education requirements, enabling candidates to graduate faster. Diplomas and certificates can help students increase their professional opportunities. Graduates can earn a significant return on investment, including increased career opportunities and higher pay. Many graduates also enroll in associate or bachelor's programs. Some schools let students transfer credits from a diploma or certificate toward another degree.

  10. #10

    Bob Jones University

    Greenville, SC

    Graduation Rate

    66%

    Enrollment

    3,008

    Format

    Online, In person

    A private institution located in Greenville, South Carolina, Bob Jones University offers a variety of programs. The school's accredited programs prepare graduates for the workforce. The institution provides academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. The cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Bob Jones University holds accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.

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Why Choose a Private College or University in South Carolina?

Each year, over 35,000 students enroll in private colleges and universities in South Carolina — about one-third of the state's four-year college student population. Students can choose from 25 nonprofit four-year private institutions in the state compared to the 14 public four-year colleges in South Carolina.

Many students find private colleges and universities in South Carolina offer rigorous academic programs and a more personal college experience. Private colleges and universities in South Carolina reported student enrollments of 400-4,000 students in 2021, ensuring students enjoy small class sizes and lots of faculty interaction. Furman University in Greenville reports an 81% graduation rate.

While private institutions often have a higher sticker price than their public university counterparts, these institutions also offer generous financial aid packages. They also do not charge out-of-state tuition.

Are you considering attending a private college or university in South Carolina? Be sure to consider academic offerings, cost, and campus activities to select the best private schools in South Carolina.

Pros and Cons of Attending a Private College or University in South Carolina

Pros

Private universities and colleges provide a close-knit community for students.Private institutions offer smaller classes and more opportunities to interact with faculty and peers.Private colleges and universities may offer robust financial aid packages, making them more affordable.Students can choose private colleges or universities that align with their values or religious affiliations.

Cons

Student extracurricular activities may be limited due to the smaller number of students and resources available compared to larger public universities/Private institutions do not receive state funds and rely on tuition payments and donations.Private colleges and universities may offer limited academic programs or degree opportunities.Private colleges and universities may require students to adhere to a code of conduct not required of students at public universities.

Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Universities in South Carolina

Nonprofit private colleges in South Carolina operate without tax-funded revenue. They rely on student tuition payments and donor contributions for operating expenses and campus improvements. Most public universities receive government funding, but they also are nonprofit institutions.

Nonprofit universities reinvest excess revenue into their academic and student financial support programs. They often answer to a board of trustees to ensure the school's financial health.

For-profit universities also do not receive money from the state. However, these schools are operated by businesses or investors who receive a share of any profits. The schools may focus on specific career tracks or specialize in distance education for nontraditional students. The U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard helps identify for-profit universities.

Before choosing any college, you should research their academic offerings, cost, graduation rate, and accreditation status. Attending a school that does not hold accreditation from a recognized organization could make it difficult to transfer credits, enroll in graduate school, or qualify for professional licensing.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Private College or University in South Carolina?

Students attending private institutions in South Carolina paid an average of $26,270 in tuition and fees in 2019-2020. That's lower than the national average for 4-year private universities, $32,769.

Among the most expensive private colleges and universities in South Carolina is Furman University, which charged $53,372 in the 2021-22 academic year. After considering financial aid, the average student cost was $30,861. The least expensive private institution in South Carolina, Converse College, charged an average annual cost of $12,685 per year. Many private institutions in South Carolina offer robust student aid programs.

While tuition often accounts for the most considerable education expense, students should consider other college costs. These include room and board — your housing and food costs — as well as travel, transportation, textbooks, and school supplies. Private school students paid an average of $9,965 in room and board at private colleges and universities in South Carolina in 2020. Books and supplies add another $1,061, on average, for private school students.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Private Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

How many private universities are there in South Carolina?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 25 nonprofit, private four-year universities operate in South Carolina. These private four-year colleges range from small liberal arts schools serving a few hundred students to medium colleges with just under 4,000 students.

Several of the private universities in South Carolina hold religious affiliations, such as Bob Jones University, Presbyterian College, and Southern Wesleyan University. Over two dozen private schools focus on career-specific training, such as schools of cosmetology, allied healthcare, transportation, or skilled trades.

What is the most expensive private college or university in South Carolina?

The most expensive private institution in South Carolina, Furman University, charges $67,070 in tuition, fees, room, and board. The U.S. Department of Education reports that students pay an average of $30,861.

Founded in 1826, Furman offers a rigorous academic program with more than 70 areas of study. The 2,600 students enjoy a 9-to-1 student-faculty ratio. The school's alumni include 52 Fulbright scholars and six Rhodes Scholars, and 94% of graduates report they find employment or enter graduate school within six months of leaving the school.

What is the least expensive private college or university in South Carolina?

Converse College in Spartanburg ranks as the least expensive private institution in South Carolina. The women-only college charges $31,798 in tuition, fees, room, and board each year but offers generous financial aid to reduce out-of-pocket costs. The school reports that 93% of students receive need-based or merit-based financial aid, bringing the average student cost to $12,685.

The liberal arts school offers more than 40 majors with programs in the arts, education, business, science, and the humanities. The school guarantees undergraduate students complete their degrees in four years and will find employment within six months.

Is a private college or university right for me?

Many students enjoy the opportunities available at private colleges and universities. The smaller class sizes and smaller student-faculty ratios allow students to build relationships with their academic mentors.

Many schools offer internships or service-learning experiences. In many cases, the institutional financial support offered makes private institutions in South Carolina just as affordable as public institutions.

Choosing a college requires a lot of thought and consideration. While private colleges and universities in South Carolina offer many academic paths, some students may find that public universities offer more diverse programs that align with their interests and goals.

Other students may prefer a larger campus environment or a more urban locale. Consider your options to choose the best college for your future.

Can I get more scholarship money at a private university?

Scholarships and grants can reduce your out-of-pocket educational costs, helping you pay for tuition, room and board, or other college costs. Many nonprofit universities offer institutional grants to help offset their higher tuition costs. Nationally, 83% of students attending private nonprofit four-year institutions receive institutional grants.

All students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form determines your eligibility for federal financial aid programs, like the Pell Grant. Many schools use this information to determine eligibility for need-based institutional grants.

You can also seek out other scholarship opportunities through local or national foundations, clubs, or organizations.