Online Colleges in South Carolina

South Carolina's tradition of higher education is at once deeply historical and distinctly modern. Its first college, College of Charleston, was founded in 1770, a full six years prior to the Declaration of Independence.

The state's pioneering spirit still thrives more than two centuries later. Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than in online schools in South Carolina. Together, online and campus-based learning make higher education more accessible in the state than ever before. This is a tremendous benefit not just for the people of South Carolina, but the state's economy as well.

To find out more about South Carolina, its school options and potential careers, explore the different sections of this guide. They include:

Snapshot: Traditional South Carolina Colleges with Online programs

The following table highlights some of the top colleges in South Carolina, per ranking agencies like U.S. News & World Report, all of which offer both campus-based and online learning options:

Main campus location

Institution type

Enrollment, 2015

Average in-state tuition, and fees, 2015-16

Online learning?

University of South Carolina






College of Charleston






Clemson University






Southern Wesleyan University






South Carolina State University






Largest College Cities in South Carolina, with Educational Attainment

Many students want the true-blue college town experience — even those who attend all or most courses online. In South Carolina, they needn't look far. According to enrollment data from the National Center of Education Statistics, the following South Carolina cities claimed the largest student populations in 2015 — not to mention some of the highest educational attainment rates in the state:


Largest College

Degree-holders, by population

Graduate degree-holders, by population


University of South Carolina

39.21 percent

11.39 percent


College of Charleston

40.15 percent

11.25 percent


Greenville Technical College

39.69 percent

11.09 percent

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey - 2013 5-Year Estimates; Enrollments, 2015, College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics

Online Education in South Carolina

Some of the major benefits of online education — convenience, for example — are universal, but there are several very good reasons to consider online colleges in South Carolina specifically. Chief among them: college accessibility. The Census Bureau reports that a full one-third of South Carolina's population was rural in 2010. For many of these residents, access to college campuses or those with their preferred major is limited, if not impossible. Online programs, on the other hand, transcend these geographical barriers. Studies suggest this accessibility improves not only graduates' earnings and employment potential, but those of all workers statewide: a more educated workforce attracts new employers to South Carolina, generating new jobs and, in turn, a sturdier economy and standard of living.

Here are some differences you might look for when deciding if online education is right for you, in any state:

Campus-based vs. Online Programs in South Carolina

Online Learning

Campus-based Learning

Instructional methods

Online course instructors in teach using media-rich learning management systems, or a virtual classrooms. Lectures can be either live-streamed or pre-recorded, but professors can supplement them with curated videos or podcasts. This allows students to review and re-review information for clarity.

Campus-based professors may deliver all instruction face-to-face in the classroom, sometimes using supplemental media like videos. Lectures are live and typically require more note-taking. Unless students record lectures, they cannot revisit information. They can, however, ask questions in real time.


Online courses are always as near as the closest internet connection, but are delivered one of two ways: synchronously, meaning students must log in at scheduled times, or asynchronously, letting students log into class whenever they can.

Campus-based programs require students to attend courses on-site and at scheduled times, though many colleges try to accommodate students' busy schedules with evening and weekend courses. Some courses use a hybrid format combining online and classroom instruction.


Online students can communicate with professors and classmates in real time by phone, video- or audio-conferencing and chat rooms. They can also use email, message boards, social media and email.

On-campus students can communicate spontaneously in the classroom or through arranged project and study groups. Some professors also use message boards, email and on-site office hours.


Online classes require just as much collaboration as campus-based courses, usually through online video-conferencing, message boards and via collaborative, cloud-based tools like Google Drive.

While on-site students may occasionally have time to work with classmates in the classroom or a lab, they must often collaborate outside of the classroom through scheduled meetings or the same tools described for online learning.

Qualities that help

Online learning is convenient — not necessarily easy. Successful students must be:

  • Self-motivated
  • Organized
  • Independent learners
  • Tech-savvy

Successful classroom based students are:

  • Punctual
  • Solid note-takers
  • Comfortable with face-to-face communication

Top Online Colleges in South Carolina

Online education segued deftly into mainstream higher education long ago, and its popularity has only grown. Institutions of all types and sizes offer online programs in South Carolina, including some of its oldest, largest and most prestigious institutions. Public community colleges are just as likely to provide online degrees as small, private liberal arts schools. The following table illuminates only some of the top online colleges in South Carolina.



What you should know…

Charleston Southern University

Private, Southern Baptist

U.S. News & World Report ranked the institution's online bachelor's programs No. 17 in the nation in 2016. Its graduate business degrees also scored high marks

Coastal Carolina University


According to Pearson, CCU embraced online learning as early as 1996, long before most U.S. Institutions

University of South Carolina


U.S. News named USC's online graduate nursing programs No. 1 in the country in 2016. It also earned top-25 ranking for its online graduate education programs and top-50 for online graduate engineering.

Top South Carolina careers, industries and degrees

South Carolina colleges and universities offer hundreds of certificate and degree programs, and fields of study can seem just as varied. While goals and passions are personal, there are a number of ways to project which degrees carry the best job prospects, particularly among students who intend to stay and work in South Carolina. Learning more about the state job market is an excellent first step.

Largest South Carolina Employers and Industries

South Carolina's manufacturing roots are still very much alive, but the industry no longer dominates the job market. Like the United States at large, the state has embraced a more innovation- and knowledge-based economy. The U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop lists the following as some of the largest employers in South Carolina in 2015:

  • Neonatology Children's Hospital
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • BMW, Inc.
  • Liberty Tax Services
  • Greenville Memorial Hospital

South Carolina largest industries by employment reflect a similar breakdown. According to the state's Department of Commerce, these are as follows:

  • Finance, Insurance and Real Estate
  • Manufacturing
  • Government
  • Professional and Business Services
  • Education and Health Services

South Carolina's Fastest-growing Careers for College Graduates

It is likely no secret that employment prospects tend to grow with educational attainment. This truthism does not account for career growth by occupation, however, especially at the state level. Here are the fastest-growing careers for South Carolina college graduates by degree attainment, as reported by CareerOneStop. Note that both campus-based and online colleges in South Carolina offer the degrees required to pursue them.

Degree Required


Projected Growth, 2014-24, S.C.


Occupational Therapy Assistant

36 percent

Physical Therapist Assistant

31 percent

Web Developer

27 percent

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

23 percent

Veterinary Technologist or Technician

20 percent


Operations Research Analyst

32 percent


26 percent

Forensic Science Technician

25 percent

Interpreter or Translator

25 percent

Computer Systems Analyst

23 percent

Master's or Doctorate


36 percent

Nurse Practitioner

32 percent


32 percent

Physician Assistant

26 percent


24 percent

Source: Top 50 Fastest-Growing Careers: 2014-24, South Carolina, CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor

High-demand Programs in South Carolina

Knowing where the jobs are — and where they're going — can help students considering both campus-based and online colleges in South Carolina make informed decisions about their futures. Here are some of the state's most promising degree programs, as suggested by the data above. This list highlights associate, bachelor's, master's and even doctoral programs. Visit the program links provided to learn more about them.


Recommended degree

Top career

Average salary, S.C., May, 2015

Computer Science


Computer systems analyst


Physical Therapy Assistance


Physical therapy assistant


Finance or Economics

Master's or MBA

Financial analyst


Business Intelligence or Statistics


Operations research analyst



Associate or Bachelor's

Ultrasound Technician


Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook, May, 2015, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Featured Online Schools in South Carolina

Looking for more top schools in South Carolina? This table highlights several colleges and some of their most notable features:


Online courses or degrees?

What it's known for

Converse College


Affordability: Converse College was named the No. 3 Best Value College in the South in 2016

The Citadel


Quality: U.S. News & World Report ranked The Citadel the No. 1 Top Public School in the country in 2016

College of Charleston


Tradition: College of Charleston is the oldest university in South Carolina.

University of South Carolina


Options: The University of South Carolina is the largest university in the state, offering a myriad of online and campus-based programs.

Charleston Southern University


Online learning: Charleston Southern's online bachelor's programs ranked. No. 17 in the nation in 2016.

How can I Enroll in an On-campus or Online School in South Carolina?

The college admissions process for online and campus-based colleges is both similar and commonly laid out clearly on their official websites. The first step toward enrolling in a college program is identifying the right school and learning format for you. There are some important considerations, however. Here are some tips:

  • Verify programs are accredited before submitting an application. Most financial aid awards and graduate schools require applicants to attend accredited colleges.
  • Find and respect all deadlines.
  • Request letters of recommendation, transcripts and any other necessary items early in the process.
  • For financial aid consideration, fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) online and submit it on time. You will need your — and maybe your parents' — tax and other financial information.
  • Select to have all schools on your prospect list receive your FAFSA.

You can check out schools and potential careers right here on our site. Determining whether you would like to attend a campus-based or online school in South Carolina requires a little research and a lot of introspection — reaching out to a college admissions advisor at a school of interest can't hurt either.

1. 2010 Urban and Rural Classification, Census Board, U.S. Deparment of Commerce, Accessed August 29, 2016, https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/ua/urban-rural-2010.html
2. Best Online Bachelor's Programs, Online Education, Education, U.S. News & World Report, Accessed August 29, 2016, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/bachelors/rankings
3. Top 50 Fastest-Growing Occupations, South Carolina, CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, Accessed August 29, 2016, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?next=oview1&Level=Overall&optstatus=&jobfam=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=45&ShowAll=
4. Industries At a Glance by Percentage of Employment, South Carolina Department of Commerce, Accessed August 28, 2016, http://sccommerce.com/sc-advantage/industries
5. State Profile: Largest Employers, South Carolina, CareerOneStop, U.S. Department of Labor, Accessed August 28, 2016, http://www.acinet.org/oview6.asp?soccode=&id=&nodeid=12&stfips=45&from=State
Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed August 28, 2016: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm; http://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm; http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm; http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm; http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physical-therapist-assistants-and-aides.htm

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