Online schools in South Carolina

Plenty of U.S. states have a culture of higher education with deep historical roots, but not many can claim a college that was founded before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Dozens upon dozens more traditional and online schools in South Carolina have opened in the hundreds of years since the state's first college founding, and students today can choose to earn their degrees in a greater variety of ways than ever before.

Whether you prefer to attend a brick-and-mortar classroom or take digital coursework from one of the online colleges in South Carolina, living near a concentrated student population can help you stay motivated all the way to the end of your degree path. The five cities in South Carolina where the largest numbers of students live, according to 2015 enrollment figures provided by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), are Columbia, Charleston, Greenville, Clemson and Spartanburg.

Students in South Carolina also have plenty to do and see in their time away from class. Between nature trails in the deep forest, footpaths along the sand of the Carolina coast, nightclubs in Charleston and a host of other regional recreations, South Carolina students are only ever a short trip away from a place where they can unwind.

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

• Online education in South Carolina
• In-demand degrees & industries
• Colleges in South Carolina

Online colleges in South Carolina

Digital degree plans all across the country are making it possible for students find space in their lives for continued education, thanks to their generally flexible coursework schedules and typically lower overall cost of tuition, and the upside can be even greater for students at online schools in South Carolina. Housing costs are often one of the biggest expenditures that college students face, for example, and the Council for Community and Economic Research reports that South Carolina is home to one of the 12 most affordable housing markets in the nation.

It's also the case that South Carolina jobs requiring a college degree tend to pay considerably more than those available to candidates with no higher education in their background, particularly at the entry level. Earning a degree from one of the campus-based or online colleges in South Carolina can help you get your foot in the door for a career in health care, IT, education, business and other growing South Carolina industries.

If you're interested, start exploring what online degrees might be offered near you by checking out this map, which shows the location of all colleges in South Carolina based on 2013 data from the NCES. (Mobile users will need to visit the full Schools.com site to use the map.)

Chart-topping traditional and online schools in South Carolina

Many of the traditional and online colleges in South Carolina were honored when U.S. News and World Report released its comprehensive list of university rankings for 2015. The University of South Carolina won a particularly prestigious accolade — the Columbia institution beat out such academic heavyweights as NYU, Penn, Harvard and UC Berkeley to be named No. 1 in the country for degrees in international business.

The University of South Carolina won a particularly prestigious accolade when U.S. News and World Report published its 2015 rankings — the Columbia institution beat out such academic heavyweights as NYU, Penn, Harvard and UC Berkeley to be named No. 1 in the country for degrees in international business.

South Carolina is also home to the number-one public school in the South, according to U.S. News. Known in some circles as the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel took top regional honors on the 2015 list. Among smaller schools in the South region, Anderson University took the No. 1 spot for its undergraduate teacher education degree and was named at the top of the "up-and-coming schools" list among institutions its size.

A few programs available online at schools in South Carolina topped the charts as well, especially in terms of graduate degrees in nursing. Not only did the Medical University of South Carolina take home a No. 1 ranking in the category for 2015, but the University of South Carolina pulled into a tie with none other than Johns Hopkins University at No. 3 on the same list.

What's more, students who choose to earn a degree in the virtual classroom are often free to look well beyond the boundaries of their immediate area when selecting the right program for you. South Carolina online students have the option of enrolling in executive business courses at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School, for example, or applying to earn an online MBA from Carnegie Mellon University or the University of Florida.

Best industries & degrees to get in South Carolina

The economy of South Carolina is expected to grow to the tune of about 11.5 percent year over year between 2012 and 2022, according to the state's Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). Some occupations are projected to grow quite a bit faster than that, however, and enterprising students can prepare to meet the requirements of these growing fields by focusing their time and energy in the right way during their time in school:

  • Among the ten fastest-growing South Carolina careers for graduates with degrees at the associate level, fully 80 percent require training in health sciences disciplines. From physical or occupational therapy assisting (38 percent projected job growth) to medical and clinical laboratory technology (29 percent projected job growth) and dental hygienics (35 percent projected job growth), several in-demand specializations in the health sciences offered mean annual salaries greater than $50,000 in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Careers in IT and information services are hot all over the country, and BLS figures show that South Carolina is among the hottest spots for information security occupations. The DEW projects growth of about 40 percent among information security analysts in South Carolina between 2012 and 2022, placing the field among the 10 fastest growing statewide, and the BLS reports a 2014 mean annual salary of $68,410 for in-state IT security positions. A bachelor's degree in computer science is often required to break into the field, although positions of high responsibility may prefer candidates with a graduate education in business information systems or a similarly specialized sub-field.

Hospitals and health care systems are big business in South Carolina — three of the state's five largest employers in 2015 came from the health care industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Hospitals and health care systems are big business in South Carolina — three of the state's five largest employers in 2015 came from the health care industry — and physician assistant training is emerging as one of the more important professional degrees of the 21st century. Average annual pay for physician assistants in South Carolina was $84,350, according to the BLS, and the South Carolina DEW reports that the expected 39 percent job growth between 2012 and 2022 should lead to around 300 new positions in the field. The degree typically requires at least two years of full-time graduate study after the completion of a related bachelor's degree, and successful candidates have often had a fair amount of work experience in a health care setting.
  • If you want to get started on a career in health care without spending as many years in school as a degree in physician assisting or other advanced field may require, nursing might be the right choice for you. Careers are on the rise for nursing assistants (22 percent projected job growth; mean salary of $23,140 in 2014), licensed practical nurses (24 percent projected job growth; mean salary of $39,070 in 2014) and registered nurses (19 percent projected job growth; mean salary of $59,670 in 2014), with the amount of formal training required for employment at each level increasing proportionately to the average pay.
  • The age of Big Data is changing the way companies target their services and advertising, and operatives trained in modern approaches to marketing can help them make sense of all the information that comes their way. Market research analysts and marketing specialists are projected to see a 35 percent upswing in workforce demand by 2022, according to DEW figures, and the state's yearly salary for non-managerial marketing positions averaged to $56,330 in 2014. Most employers expect candidates to have at least a bachelor's degree, although some may prefer to hire analysts with degrees in statistics or mathematics for certain positions and specialists with English or mass communications degrees.

Of course, there's no individual degree that serves as a guarantee of employment after graduation, regardless of regional workforce conditions. Make sure to take advantage of student organizations, advisement and career services to help you apply your degree effectively in the working world.

South Carolina colleges

Some degrees, particularly popular ones at the undergraduate level, are offered at numerous campus-based and online colleges in South Carolina. Here's some detail on several South Carolina institutions and a few notable degree programs available at each one:

Institution name Online degrees? Top programs
University of South Carolina Yes International business, graduate nursing (online), social psychology, graduate education (online), library and information studies, criminology, law, public health, economics, English, graduate engineering, chemistry, political science, social work, speech-language pathology
Clemson University Yes Business, graduate education, graduate engineering (online), computer science, economics, part-time MBA, graduate nursing, chemistry, math, physics, fine arts, psychology
Medical University of South Carolina Yes Graduate nursing (online), health care management, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, chemistry, biological sciences, primary care medicine, medical research, physician assisting, statistics
Winthrop University No (some online courses available) Business, fine arts, social work, nutrition, management, school counseling (certificate), teacher education
College of Charleston No (some online courses available) Public affairs, undergraduate business, exercise science, Biology, elementary education, arts management
Francis Marion University No Business, graduate education, English, pre-law, pre-dental, pre-veterinary
Anderson University Yes Undergraduate teacher education, fine arts, criminal justice, business, nursing, interior design

Whether you're interested in taking a class online or earning your entire degree without stepping foot on campus, there may be a program that meets your needs. Take a closer look at online schools in South Carolina and request additional information below to learn more today.

1. College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed May 8, 2015, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=SC&ic=1+2&en=700
2. A Brief History of the College, College of Charleston, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.cofc.edu/about/historyandtraditions/briefhistory.php
3. Cost of Living Data Series, 2014 Annual Average, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/index.stm
4-10. Overall Rankings, U.S. News and World Report, accessed May 8, 2015: University of South Carolina, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-south-carolina-columbia-218663/overall-rankings; Medical University of South Carolina, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/medical-university-of-south-carolina-218335/overall-rankings; Clemson University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/clemson-university-217882/overall-rankings; Anderson University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/anderson-university-217633/overall-rankings; Winthrop University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/winthrop-university-218964/overall-rankings; College of Charleston, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/college-of-charleston-217819/overall-rankings; Francis Marion University, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/francis-marion-university-218061/overall-rankings;
11. Best International Business Graduate Programs, U.S. News and World Report, accessed May 8, 2015, http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/international-business-rankings
12. International Business Rankings, U.S. News and World Report, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-international
13. Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/nursing/rankings
14. Best Online MBA Programs, U.S. News and World Report, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/mba/rankings
15. Wharton Executive Education, University of Pennsylvania, http://executiveeducation.wharton.upenn.edu/
16. Fastest Growing Occupations, Career InfoNet, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.careerinfonet.org/oview1.asp?printer=&next=oview1&level=Overall&optstatus=&id=1&nodeid=3&soccode=&stfips=45&jobfam=&group=1&showall=yes
17. The 20 Fastest Growing Jobs in South Carolina for 2022, South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, http://lmi.dew.sc.gov/lmi%20site/Documents/20FastestGrowingJobsSC2022.pdf
18. May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, South Carolina, Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_sc.htm
19-22. Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed May 8, 2015: Information Security Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm; Market Research Analysts, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm; Physician Assistants, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Physician-assistants.htm; Registered Nurses, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm;
23. "Top 5 Employers in South Carolina: Which Conpanies Have the Most Jobs?," Cindy Hicks, Newsmax, accessed May 8, 2015, http://www.newsmax.com/FastFeatures/employers-in-south-carolina-companies-jobs/2015/04/13/id/637753/
24. College of Charleston, http://www.cofc.edu/
25. Other Academic Programs, Francis Marion University, http://www.fmarion.edu/academics/otheracademicprograms
26. Graduate Degree Programs, Winthrop University, http://www.winthrop.edu/graduateschool/programs/
27. Colleges & Schools, Anderson University, http://andersonuniversity.edu/colleges-schools

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