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