Best Online Colleges in South Carolina

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 1/10/2022
2020 Best Online Colleges in South Carolina Badge

Online colleges in South Carolina offer a wide variety of distance education programs. Much like an in-person credential, an online degree can improve access to higher paying jobs ‒ particularly in a state economy that attracts high levels of foreign investment. Our list below ranks the best online colleges in South Carolina that offer low tuition rates and lead to high alumni salaries. Ranked No. 1, Citadel Military College of South Carolina has a reported alumni median annual salary of $97,000 and offers a low tuition rate of $13,140 making it a good return on investment.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 Citadel Military College of South Carolina $13,140 $97,000
# 2 #2 University of South Carolina-Upstate $10,398 $72,700
# 3 #3 Medical University of South Carolina $20,640 $73,500
# 4 #4 South Carolina State University $9,528 $72,000
# 5 #5 Charleston Southern University $15,190 $67,500
# 6 #6 Francis Marion University $12,524 $64,800
# 7 #7 Southern Wesleyan University $12,900 $62,400
# 8 #8 University of South Carolina-Aiken $4,896 $61,100
# 9 #9 Coastal Carolina University $27,394 $62,600
# 10 #10 Anderson University - SC $13,500 $58,000
# 11 #11 Newberry College $25,000 $56,000
# 12 #12 Coker College $12,750 $51,700
# 13 #13 Columbia International University $11,700 $51,000
# 14 #14 North Greenville University $11,050 $45,100
# 15 #15 Claflin University $6,744 $43,300
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

Online Colleges in South Carolina Ranking Details

For each school, we conducted manual research to provide prospective students with more details about the schools' online programs. Explore online degrees offered and accreditation information below.

#1 Citadel Military College of South Carolina

  • Annual Tuition: $13,140
  • Median Salary: $97,000
  • Locations: Charleston
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Citadel Military College of South Carolina offers online certificate, graduate, and undergraduate degree programs in many academic areas, including business administration, criminal justice, education, intelligence and security studies, instructional systems design and performance improvement, international politics and military affairs, leadership, military history, tactical performance and resiliency, and social science. The college hosts its own learning management system, CitLearn, which is powered by the Blackboard Learn 9.1 system. Online learning may include lectures, discussion boards, videos, web conferencing, and more. Although students will access the material at their convenience. most courses include regular collaboration and communication with classmates. A non-credit leadership seminar, required for degree-seeking students, is provided at no cost to give students the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills and learn more about The Citadel core values.

#2 University of South Carolina-Upstate

  • Annual Tuition: $10,398
  • Median Salary: $72,700
  • Locations: Spartanburg
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of South Carolina-Upstate offers several online graduate and undergraduate degree programs across various academic areas, including nursing, criminal justice, information management and systems, and health informatics. Additionally, most degree programs at USC Upstate contain courses that are offered online or in a hybrid format. Online courses are accessed through the Blackboard learning platform. USC-Upstate’s Starfish web portal helps distance learners connect with academic advisors, faculty, and other students. Other student support resources include tutoring, academic advising, career services, and technical support. Distance learners are offered reduced fees for on on-campus services.

#3 Medical University of South Carolina

  • Annual Tuition: $20,640
  • Median Salary: $73,500
  • Locations: Charleston
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Medical University of South Carolina offers several online graduate and undergraduate degree programs across seven academic areas: healthcare studies, health administration, health informatics, cardiovascular perfusion, occupational therapy, and nursing. Courses are accessed through the Blackboard Open online learning platform. Distance learners have access to the same benefits that on-campus students receive. Student support resources include individual and group tutoring, and financial aid services. Online students may be required to visit campus once a semester.

#4 South Carolina State University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,528
  • Median Salary: $72,000
  • Locations: Orangeburg
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

South Carolina State University offers an online bachelor's degree program in political science- public administration. All 103 courses are accessed through the Blackboard online learning platform. Student support resources include 24/7 online tutoring available through the Smarthinking service, access to the university library, academic advising, financial aid planning, and technical support. Before applying, students are encouraged to take an online assessment to determine if distance learning is right for them.

#5 Charleston Southern University

  • Annual Tuition: $15,190
  • Median Salary: $67,500
  • Locations: Charleston
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Charleston Southern University offers over 30 online graduate and undergraduate degree programs across a variety of academic areas including analytics, business, computer science, criminal justice, finance, healthcare, hospitality and tourism, human resources, leadership, management, nursing, project management, supply chain management, and technology. Courses are accessed through the Blackboard online learning platform. The university’s MyCSU web portal gives distance learners access to grades, transcripts, and other services. Additional student resources include career services, access to the learning and writing centers, and support for military veterans.

#6 Francis Marion University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,524
  • Median Salary: $64,800
  • Locations: Florence
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Francis Marion University offers online graduate and undergraduate degree programs in nursing and education. Among the program offerings are an RN to BSN and a master's degree in teaching and learning. Courses are accessed through the Blackboard online learning platform. The university’s Swampfox web portal gives distance learners access to registration, grades, transcripts, and other services. Additional student support resources include access to the school’s library, tutoring, academic counseling, financial aid planning, and technical support.

#7 Southern Wesleyan University

  • Annual Tuition: $12,900
  • Median Salary: $62,400
  • Locations: Central
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Southern Wesleyan University offers a variety of online graduate, undergraduate, and certificate programs. Distance learners can pursue a certificate or degree across many academic areas including general studies, business, early childhood and family studies, education, human services, and nursing. Courses are accessed through the Canvas and Moodle online learning platforms. The university’s mySWU web portal gives distance learners access to institutional records, like grades and transcripts. Additional student support resources include academic advising and technical support.

#8 University of South Carolina-Aiken

  • Annual Tuition: $4,896
  • Median Salary: $61,100
  • Locations: Aiken
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of South Carolina-Aiken offers online graduate and undergraduate degree programs in business administration, education, and nursing. They also offer special programs for veterans or those currently serving in the military. All online courses are delivered through the Blackboard learning platform. The myUSCA web portal gives distance learners access to grades, transcripts, and other institutional information and services. Student support resources include library services and technical support. Many classes are asynchronous so that students can learn at their own pace.

#9 Coastal Carolina University

  • Annual Tuition: $27,394
  • Median Salary: $62,600
  • Locations: Conway
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Coastal Carolina University offers online certificate, graduate, and undergraduate degree programs across eight academic areas: business, education, health administration, hospitality, resort and tourism management, geospatial technologies, information systems technology, instructional technology, and online teaching and training. Courses are accessed through the Moodle online learning platform, with access to live lectures provided through the Echo 360 video platform. Student support resources include an online orientation, academic advising, tutoring, access to the university’s library, and technical support.

#10 Anderson University - SC

  • Annual Tuition: $13,500
  • Median Salary: $58,000
  • Locations: Anderson
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Anderson University - SC offers an array of online graduate, undergraduate, and certificates programs across several academic areas, including business, Christian studies, criminal justice, health, nursing, and education. Courses are accessed through the Canvas online learning platform. AU’s web portal, Anderson Central, gives distance learners access to grades, transcripts, and other services. Additional student support resources include access to the online writing and multimedia center as well as the university library.

#11 Newberry College

  • Annual Tuition: $25,000
  • Median Salary: $56,000
  • Locations: Newberry
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Newberry College offers four online undergraduate degree programs across four academic areas: criminal justice, psychology, respiratory therapy, and nursing. The college hosts its own learning management system, which distance learners can access through its Wolf Den web portal. Student support resources include student webmail, access to the college library, and technical support. Students with previous college coursework or applicable life experience may be able to transfer credits.

#12 Coker College

  • Annual Tuition: $12,750
  • Median Salary: $51,700
  • Locations: Hartsville
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Coker College offers 11 online graduate and undergraduate degree programs across a variety of fields, including business management, criminology, college athletic administration, education, psychology, and sociology. Courses are delivered through the Blackboard online learning platform, with WebAdvisors giving distance learners access to the university’s databases. Students have their own success coaches, who will help them throughout their entire academic program. Before beginning classes, students are encouraged to take a goals questionnaire to see how prepared they are for a distance learning environment.

#13 Columbia International University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,700
  • Median Salary: $51,000
  • Locations: Columbia
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Columbia International University offers 32 online graduate and undergraduate degree programs and five certificates across several academic areas, including business, human services, ministry and biblical studies, care and counseling, chaplaincy, disaster relief and emergency management, education, global migration studies, intercultural studies, organizational leadership, and theological studies. Courses are accessed through the eCampus and Moodle online learning platforms. The university’s MyCIU web portal gives distance learners access to grades, transcripts, and other services. Additional student support resources include access to the library, academic advising, financial aid planning, and technical support. CIU also has a low student-to-faculty ratio.

#14 North Greenville University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,050
  • Median Salary: $45,100
  • Locations: Tigerville
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

North Greenville University offers online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates across academic areas including business, Christian ministries, criminal justice, elementary educational studies, general studies, divinity, and psychology. Courses are delivered through the Blackboard online learning platform. The myNGU web portal gives distance learners access to institutional records, like grades and transcripts. Students are encouraged to utilize the online library databases program, which hosts primary source materials and ebooks. Classes are asynchronous and can be completed in as little as eight weeks.

#15 Claflin University

  • Annual Tuition: $6,744
  • Median Salary: $43,300
  • Locations: Orangeburg
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Claflin University offers seven online graduate and undergraduate degree programs in several academic areas, including education, business administration, criminal justice, organizational management, psychology, and nursing. All online courses are accessed through the Moodle learning platform. Classes are eight weeks long, and there are two sessions in the fall and spring semesters and one compressed session during the summer. Most programs are asynchronous, allowing students to balance their coursework with other responsibilities. Distance learners receive support services including access to the library, book store, writing center, and on-campus services.

Online Higher Education in South Carolina

South Carolina hosts 84 higher education institutions split among 33 public, 25 private, and 24 out-of-state degree-granting universities and colleges. These institutions collectively provide associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in a variety of disciplines. Roughly 75% of higher education seekers in the Palmetto State who enrolled for the fall 2019 semester were in-state residents, and a vast majority of students attend public technical colleges and universities. Additionally, though enrollment in two-year colleges across the state is high, over 50% of the credentials awarded in 2019 were at the bachelor's level, with health-related programs accounting for most of the four-year degrees achieved.

Following a nationwide trend, distance education is on the rise in South Carolina as well, with online enrollment increasing by 12% between 2015-2019. An online education may appeal to students who want a college degree, but cannot commit to taking classes regularly. Specifically, online degree programs allow for asynchronous learning, giving students the chance to complete coursework at their own pace.



Distance education is on the rise in South Carolina, with online enrollment increasing by 12% between 2015-2019.

For certain students, pursuing a bachelor's degree online in South Carolina can help reduce the cost of college. The Commission on Higher Education offers several need- and merit-based scholarships for in-state students. Additionally, students living in one of the 15 Southern Regional Education Board states can take advantage of in-state tuition fees in South Carolina through the Academic Common Market program.

For college options in other locations, view OnlineU's best online college rankings by state or best online colleges by degree level.

The Importance of Accreditation

Accreditation ensures that universities and colleges meet national educational standards. Postsecondary institutions receive accreditation from third-party organizations that thoroughly vet their faculty, course offerings, and facilities. Enrolling in an accredited institution is often required to utilize federal, state, and some private sources of aid. Also, students are able to transfer credits between accredited institutions more easily.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits schools across the region that includes South Carolina and 10 other southern states. Professional organizations typically appraise specific degree programs. Students pursuing higher education in South Carolina should ensure the school they hope to attend has regional or national accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation also maintains a database of programmatic accreditation.

Tuition in South Carolina

The average cost of a bachelor's degree in South Carolina is $13,403, which is higher than the national average of $9,488. Online learners typically pay less than their on-campus peers, but tuition and fees may vary based on the degree program. A program that includes labs or requires students to purchase special equipment will likely cost more.


Students pursuing higher education in South Carolina have a few options to reduce the cost of their degree. For instance, online learners who meet certain residency criteria can take advantage of tuition reciprocity agreements between states in the southern region.

As mentioned above, South Carolina participates in the Academic Common Market, which qualifies residents of 15 southern states for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in the SACSCOC region. These programs allow out-of-state residents to pay in-state college rates. Additionally, eligible non-resident students interested in pursuing a healthcare degree can pay in-state tuition in South Carolina through the Southern Regional Education Board's Regional Contract Program.

Students who move to South Carolina may wonder how to establish in-state residency for college. Typically, they need to have resided in the state for 12 consecutive months prior to classes starting to qualify for in-state tuition. Students who are dependents have their residency status determined by the person who supports them financially. International students and non-permanent residents, however, are generally ineligible for in-state tuition in South Carolina.

Scholarships and Financial Aid in South Carolina

Students in South Carolina can apply for several kinds of financial assistance, including federal and state aid, private scholarships, and work-study programs. While online learners in the state may also apply for student loans, scholarships and grants are the best way to fund a degree because they don't have to be paid back. Below is a list of funding opportunities available to South Carolina residents.

South Carolina residents seeking their first bachelor's degree can receive up to $5,000 for tuition assistance under the LIFE scholarship. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0, score 1100 on the SAT, and be in the top 30% of their class to meet the academic requirements for this scholarship. They must also be U.S. citizens or permanent residents that have not received other forms of state aid.

This merit-based program awards up to $6,700 to full-time first-year students pursuing an undergraduate degree in South Carolina, with a recurring award of up to $7,500 in each of their sophomore, junior, and senior years. South Carolina residents who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents must demonstrate academic achievement to apply.

The HOPE scholarship, established under the South Carolina Educational Lottery Act, assists first-year college students with an award of $2,800. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited public or private university and have a minimum 3.0 high school GPA.

This award assists South Carolina students in financial need. Annual awards of $2,500 and $1,250 are available to full -and part-time students respectively, and applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

The Stamps Scholarship offers up to $20,000 per year and potentially more, to students attending the University of South Carolina. Considered one of the state's most prestigious awards, this scholarship is for five students who excel academically. Applicants need an average weighted GPA of 4.6 and a 1540 SAT score to meet eligibility requirements.

Careers and Employment in South Carolina

Employment opportunities in South Carolina are projected to increase by 12.8% through 2028, with the most number of jobs expected in the healthcare, professional and administrative services, and waste management sectors. The Palmetto State is also fast recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic given that its unemployment rate of 4.1% is below the national average of 4.6%.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state's average annual salary in 2020 was $46,230, which was below the nationwide average of $56,310. However, it's important to note that South Carolina is cheaper to live in than most states. A bachelor's degree, in turn, can further improve an individual's ability to live comfortably in the state by increasing their earning potential.



The Palmetto State is fast recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic given that its unemployment rate is below the national average.

A majority of South Carolinians are employed in trade and transportation, government, and professional services. These sectors typically require job seekers to have a postsecondary credential, and therefore provide the most lucrative employment opportunities in the state. Our list below highlights potential careers for bachelor's degree holders in South Carolina's most popular and fastest growing industries, along with salary and job outlook data from the BLS.

Administrative services and facilities managers
Median Annual Salary: $98,890
Job Growth Rate: 9%

Administrative services and facilities managers are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of factories, buildings, office spaces, and other similar settings. They supervise employees, overseeing daily activities such as mail collection, equipment restocking, and maintenance. These professionals also ensure that a facility meets federal and state safety regulations.

Environmental engineer
Median Annual Salary: $88,570
Job Growth Rate: 8%

Civil engineers are essential in building projects such as bridges, water systems, and highways. They work with both the public and private sectors to design these projects for efficiency and cost-effectiveness, while also ensuring they are built to be structurally sound.

Environmental scientists and specialists
Median Annual Salary: $73,230
Job Growth Rate: 8%

Environmental scientists and specialists typically work in a team to identify and report on ecological or climate-related threats. Their work involves collecting and analyzing data on challenges such as air and water pollution. Environmental scientists also work with policymakers and government officials to reduce the future impact of such threats.

Market research analysts
Median Annual Salary: $65,810
Job Growth Rate: 22%

Market research analysts work in a variety of industries, collecting information on consumers and their purchasing habits. These professionals work primarily to identify products that are in demand, or that will appeal to a particular demographic. They also typically present research findings to a non-technical audience.

Registered nurses
Median Annual Salary: $75,330
Job Growth Rate: 9%

Registered nurses carry out various responsibilities related to patient care. They work with physicians to administer medication, gather medical histories, and perform tests on patients. RNs work in multiple healthcare settings including hospitals, hospice centers, outpatient facilities, and elder care homes.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.

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