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2023 Best Online Colleges in South Carolina

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 12/30/2022


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Online colleges in South Carolina offer a wide variety of distance education programs. Much like an in-person credential, an online degree can help students advance their careers and improve access to higher-paying jobs — particularly in fields such as healthcare, management, business and finance, and engineering. Our list below includes accredited online colleges in South Carolina to help students find respected online degrees that will help them achieve their goals. View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

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List Of Accredited Online Schools

School Online Enrollment Annual Tuition
Limestone University 678 678 $26,300 $26,300
University of South Carolina-Upstate 541 $23,060
Southern Wesleyan University 348 $25,516
Columbia College - SC 332 $19,890
Charleston Southern University 244 $26,000
Anderson University - SC 225 $29,230
Columbia International University 165 $24,000
North Greenville University 151 $21,120
Citadel Military College of South Carolina 130 $35,876
Coker College 104 $30,196

Limestone University

  • Annual Tuition: $26,300
  • Locations: Gaffney
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Limestone University (Limestone), a private four-year Christian college, is located in Gaffney. Students at Limestone can choose from a wide variety of online bachelor's degrees in everything from healthcare administration to computer science. Online students can apply at any time and can start their degree on one of six start dates throughout the year. Limestone serves more than 1,500 students, and 39% are enrolled fully online. Once they apply and are accepted, students will meet with an academic advisor to finish the enrollment process and sign up for classes, and will continue to get support from them throughout their program. The university also provides student services such as virtual career development resources, a student success app, and an online writing center.

University of South Carolina-Upstate

  • Annual Tuition: $23,060
  • Locations: Spartanburg
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of South Carolina - Upstate (USC-Upstate) is a public university offering online graduate and undergraduate degree programs in fields such as health informatics, political science, information management, nursing, and public relations. About one in five students at USC-Upstate are online only, and the school serves more than 5,000 students. Online courses are taught by the same faculty as campus ones and are accessed through the Blackboard learning platform. Student support resources include telehealth counseling and medical services for students living in-state, tutoring, career services, and technical support.

Southern Wesleyan University

  • Annual Tuition: $25,516
  • Locations: Central
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Southern Wesleyan University (SWU) is a small private Christian university serving around 1,000 undergraduate students, with more than 25% enrolled in fully online programs. Students can choose from eight different bachelor's programs online in fields such as early childhood and family studies, special education, human services, and religion. Online courses typically last seven weeks, and students can review course materials when it's convenient for them rather than meeting with their class at a set time. SWU is known for being a military and veteran-friendly university and offers a tuition discount for active duty military and their spouses. The university also offers online library resources, virtual office hours with professors, 24/7 technology support for the Canvas learning management system, and tutoring services.

Columbia College - SC

  • Annual Tuition: $19,890
  • Locations: Columbia
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Students at Columbia College in South Carolina can choose from 12 different online bachelor's degrees and five online minors and certificates. The college offers majors in business administration, business analytics, organizational leadership, computer science, emergency management, healthcare, and speech-language pathology, among others. Online students use the learning management platform Canvas to access readings, watch videos, and participate in discussions. Columbia College students can access services such as telehealth counseling and virtual appointments for career counseling services. Columbia College is a private four-year school with affiliations to the United Methodist Church. It serves around 1,000 undergraduate students, and 38% enroll fully online.

Charleston Southern University

  • Annual Tuition: $26,000
  • Locations: Charleston
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Charleston Southern University (CSU) is a Baptist school with a wide variety of bachelor's programs online, including degrees in applied computing, criminal justice, healthcare administration, human resources, project management, and student ministry. CSU offers accelerated seven-week online classes so students can fast-track their bachelor's degree. Classes are also asynchronous, so students can review lectures and course materials when it's convenient rather than meeting with their class at a regularly scheduled time. Student resources available to online students include career services, access to learning and writing centers, and support for military veterans. CSU serves more than 2,500 undergraduate students, and more than half enroll in both online and campus courses. The university's most popular degrees include registered nursing, business, and education.

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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.

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