Our Research

This list features some of the best online schools in South Carolina. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The online colleges on our list meet high standards for higher education programs. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) serves as the accrediting body for all of the colleges on our list. A regional accrediting body, SACSCOC works with higher education institutions in Southern states. It aims to ensure educational quality and help its member institutions improve their effectiveness.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

The Top 22 Online Colleges in South Carolina

Best Online Colleges in South Carolina Badge
01
Intelligent Pick
University of South Carolina
01
Best for Adult Learners
The Citadel
01
Best Accelerated Options
Anderson University
01
Best Christian Institution
Columbia International University
01
Best Online Community
North Greenville University
01
Best Scholarships
Southern Wesleyan University
01
Best Student Services
University of South Carolina at Upstate
01
Best Accelerated Degrees
University of South Carolina at Aiken
01
Best Graduate Degrees
Coastal Carolina University
01
Most Affordable
Lander University
01

Winthrop University
01

Clemson University
01

Charleston Southern University
01

Columbia College
01

Limestone University
01

Medical University of South Carolina
01

Francis Marion University
01

SC State University
01

Claflin University
01

University of South Carolina at Beaufort
01

Newberry College
01

Coker University

Frequently Asked Questions: Online Colleges in South Carolina

Does South Carolina have good online colleges and universities?

Yes. The state offers a wealth of online educational opportunities, such as North Greenville University’s Online Bachelor’s in Psychology and the Medical University of South Carolina’s Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Studies. After you graduate, you may want to consider staying in South Carolina to complete a master’s degree while you work in one of the state’s many growing fields, such as healthcare. South Carolina is rich in graduate school options, like Clemson University’s Online Master of Business Administration and Southern Wesleyan University’s Online Master’s in Management and Leadership.

Do online college credits in South Carolina cost more than in-person classes?

The answer to this question depends on which college you attend. Some schools offer discounted rates for online courses, whereas others charge an additional fee for online courses to help cover the cost of software licenses, technical support, etc. South Carolina became a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in 2016, which means that out-of-state students who live in a SARA-participating state can take online courses from South Carolina schools without incurring additional fees.

Why should you choose South Carolina for online higher education?

From affordable community colleges to religious institutions to top public research universities, South Carolina offers something for every online college student. One option that stands out as a particularly appealing choice is Coker University, where all online undergraduate students pay a flat rate of $425 per credit, regardless of state residency. Coker offers five online bachelor’s degrees in high-demand fields such as business management.

The Cost of Online College in South Carolina

How much does an online degree in South Carolina cost?

The cost of an online degree in South Carolina depends on which institution you attend as well as the type of degree that you decide to pursue. For example, undergraduate degrees are usually more affordable than graduate degrees. Also, you’ll probably find yourself paying more for your degree if you major in a STEM field rather than the humanities.

Regardless of the cost per credit, you should also consider that you may be able to save money on indirect expenses, such as transportation, parking, and housing, by earning your college degree online.

To give you a sense of exactly how much you should expect to pay for your online education, we’ve listed the lowest and highest rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in South Carolina below:

  • Most affordable online college in South Carolina: Columbia College – $375 per credit (in-state and out-of-state)
  • Most expensive online colleges in South Carolina: The Citadel – $665 per credit (in-state), Coastal Carolina University – $1,138 (out-of-state)

Average College Tuition Cost

Source: Education Data Initiative

How long do you have to live in South Carolina to get in-state tuition rates?

Typically, you will be eligible for in-state tuition rates after you have lived in South Carolina for 12 consecutive months. Some groups, such as military veterans, tribal members, and graduate fellows, are entitled to in-state tuition rates without meeting this one-year requirement.

Who qualifies for reduced tuition costs in South Carolina?

South Carolina has a one-of-a-kind free tuition program for senior adult learners. The state’s On Your Own Time initiative allows residents aged 60 and older to take classes at a state college or university tuition-free on a space-available basis.

Separately, in 2021, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced free tuition for all eligible state residents at South Carolina’s 16 technical colleges. The free tuition can only be used for programs in high-demand careers, like healthcare and transportation. Recipients must maintain a 2.0 GPA and complete either 100 volunteer hours, a financial literacy course, or have a job while in school.

College Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Grant Programs in South Carolina

If you don’t qualify for one of South Carolina’s free tuition programs, there are many other sources of financial support available that can help you cover the cost of college. Some of these programs are based on income, whereas others are awarded based on factors such as demographics or academic merit. We’ve reviewed a few of the most prominent scholarship options for you below.

Next Step Scholarship

Sponsored by Crumley Roberts law firm, these scholarships are awarded to community college students in South Carolina who will be transferring to an accredited four-year college or university in the coming fall. Crumley Roberts has provided over $300,000 in scholarships and technology to students since it began the scholarship program.

Who’s eligible? In addition to the requirements above, applicants must have at least a 3.2 GPA at their current school.

Contact information: [email protected] | 866-691-0607

Learn more

Horatio Alger State Scholarship - South Carolina

This national scholarship program is named after American author Horatio Alger, and the South Carolina division is funded by the Horatio Alger Endowment Fund and the Horatio Alger Association. It’s offered to students who exhibit integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity. Students may begin their studies at a two-year institution and later transfer to a four-year institution.

Who’s eligible? High school seniors who have at least a 2.0 GPA, financial need, and South Carolina residency.

Contact information: [email protected] | 844-422-4200

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Coastal Community Foundation

With just one application, students can apply for numerous scholarships that are managed by this South Carolina nonprofit. Scholarships are for college-bound high school seniors as well as current college students. Some scholarships have particular criteria that must be met, like residency from a certain county or intent to study a specific academic subject.

Who’s eligible? Most of the scholarships offered by the foundation require South Carolina residency. The application includes financial information, a transcript, letters of recommendation, and an essay.

Contact information: [email protected] | 843-723-3635

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Joye Scholarship Program

Sponsored by the South Carolina-based Joye law firm, these scholarships are open to high school seniors who plan to attend a four-year institution of higher learning. Selection is based on school activities, leadership, previous honors and awards, community involvement, academic performance, professional goals, and the creativity of the scholarship application essay.

Who’s eligible? In addition to the requirements above, you must also include your photo and the name of a teacher who inspired your creativity.

Contact information: [email protected] | 843-725-4252

Learn more

5 Fastest Growing Careers in South Carolina

If you still don’t know where you will attend college, it’s quite possible that you also don’t yet know what you will major in. In that case, one of the most important factors you should consider is which industries are growing the fastest in South Carolina — this will make it easier to find a job, and more demand should also help you earn a higher salary.

By examining South Carolina’s Statewide Industry and Occupational Employment Projections: 2018–2028, we’ve determined that the following five industries will have the highest growth rates in the Palmetto State in the immediate years to come.

Transportation and Warehousing

South Carolina is the headquarters of many major manufacturers, including Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Michelin North America, and GE Power Electronics, which means warehousing and transportation is a solid and growing industry. Jobs within this category include packagers, airline pilots, transportation inspectors, conveyer operators, locomotive engineers, and supervisors. The average salary in the transportation industry in South Carolina is $34,010.

Healthcare Support

Driving the demand for healthcare support workers in South Carolina is the state’s aging population, which is the tenth highest in the United States. Within this sector, the most common occupations are home health and personal care aides, nursing assistants, and medical assistants. Other occupations in this domain include psychiatric aides, physical therapy assistants, veterinary assistants, massage therapists, and pharmacy aides. The average statewide salary for all jobs in this industry is $29,220.

  • Growth: 21.3%
  • Degree options: Associate in Veterinary Technology, Associate in Nursing, Associate in Dental Assisting, Associate in Clinical Laboratory Technician, Bachelor’s in Health Administration, Bachelor’s in Health and Human Services, Bachelor’s in Pre-Occupational Therapy

Food Preparation and Serving

In part due to popular tourist spots like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, the hospitality industry is the largest employer in South Carolina. Specific jobs in this sector include chefs, servers, private household cooks, bartenders, school cafeteria attendants, and restaurant managers. Within South Carolina, food-related jobs pay an average salary of $23,250.

  • Growth: 20.8%
  • Degree options: Associate in Food and Beverage Studies, Bachelor’s in Food Industry Compliance, Bachelor’s in Baking and Pastry Arts, Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts, Bachelor’s in Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship, Master’s in Business Administration

Office and Administrative Support

South Carolina is the sixth-fastest growing state in the nation, which is fueling the need for more workers in the office (especially medical) and administrative support sector. Specific jobs in this industry include medical secretaries, bookkeepers, accountants, payroll clerks, human resources assistants, and data entry keyers. Within South Carolina, office and administrative support jobs pay an average salary of $37,870.

Sales and Related

An increase in jobs for real estate agents is driving the overall growth of the sales industry in South Carolina. Within the state, other popular sales occupations include supervisors, cashiers, and retail workers. All jobs in the sales industry have an average salary of $37,680 in South Carolina, with real estate agents earning an average of $45,550.