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Online Colleges in South Carolina

Most Affordable Online Colleges
School Interviews
Dr. Jeff Priest
- Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, University of South Carolina Aiken
"Currently we only offer two online programs. One is the BS in Business Administration through Palmetto College."
See entire interview

Introduction

The Lumina Foundation found that nearly 22 percent of South Carolina residents in 2010 had earned some college credits but never finished their degree. Online colleges, which typically allow students to work at their own pace, could bring some of these learners back into the educational fold to finally obtain their degree.

To help them along, many four-year South Carolina colleges and universities have set up online degree-completion programs for students who have earned associate degrees or completed many of the general education classes, and now are ready to declare a major. These online degree-completion programs in South Carolina are a boon for people who have work or family obligations that prevent them from traveling to a college campus to study.

South Carolina is home to 4.6 million people. Among those 18 to 24 years old, nearly 8 percent have a bachelor's degree, while 43.5 percent have an associate degree or some college credit. Among residents who are older than 25, nearly 9 percent have a graduate or professional degree, 16 percent have a bachelor's degree and nearly 9 percent have a two-year degree. One in five South Carolinians in this age group attended college without earning a diploma.

The more than 1.8 million workers in South Carolina earn an average hourly wage of $18.75. This translates to an average annual income of $38,990. Those workers who are hoping to improve their job qualifications by returning to college for a diploma or advanced degree can choose from 46 colleges that offer four-year degrees in the state.

Most Affordable Colleges in South Carolina

The following list uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics to rank the top schools in South Carolina offering online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and online classes, starting with the lowest tuition costs. Tuition information is not online specific, but includes in-state tuition when available.

1

Medical University of South Carolina

Tuition/Year
$1,487
Graduation Rate
NA
# of Online Degrees
NA
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

The MUSC College of Nursing was recently ranked the No. 1 online graduate nursing program in the nation. Current programs online include Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Ph.D. in Nursing program. In addition to the College of Nursing, the colleges of Health Administration, Medicine, Pharmacy and Dental Medicine also offer online degrees or classes.
School Website: 
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2

Tri-County Technical College

Tuition/Year
$3,744
Graduation Rate
13%
# of Online Degrees
31
Accredited
 
School Type
2-Year

About

Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton offers a wide variety of online classes in topics ranging from Art and Accounting to Web Graphics and Writing. Classes start on a monthly basis and are delivered in conjunction with Ed2go. Most classes run six to eight weeks and include 12 lessons.
School Website: 
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3

Central Carolina Technical College

Tuition/Year
$3,814
Graduation Rate
11%
# of Online Degrees
NA
Accredited
 
School Type
2-Year

About

CCTC in Sumter uses Desire2Learn to deliver many courses online. The school also uses videoconferences and hybrid courses, which combine online learning with face-to-face classes. Some of the school's online classes require students to come to campus for exams. The school also hosts orientations for students who want to become more familiar with best practices for taking an online course.
School Website: 
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4

Spartanburg Community College

Tuition/Year
$3,880
Graduation Rate
12%
# of Online Degrees
8
Accredited
 
School Type
2-Year

About

In addition to its five associate degrees and three certificate online programs, Spartenburg offers over 150 online classes. Online associate degrees are available in Arts, Science, Management, Management with Marketing and Management with Fire Service Electives. Certificates are available in Accounting Specialist, Basic Interpreting and Palmetto Professional Landscape.
School Website: 
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5

University of South Carolina-Aiken

Tuition/Year
$9,308
Graduation Rate
42%
# of Online Degrees
2
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Online degree programs at USC's Aikin campus are spearheaded by its Palmetto College. USC Aikin was ranked in the top 100 nationally for online degree programs. Palmetto offers seven online Bachelor's degree programs in which college students who have already completed their general education courses can complete their major degree requirements online. These undergraduate programs include Business Administration; Human Services; Elementary Education Organizational Leadership; Liberal Studies; Criminal Justice; and Nursing.
School Website: 
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6

Coastal Carolina University

Tuition/Year
$9,760
Graduation Rate
46%
# of Online Degrees
4
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Coastal Carolina offers three online degree programs in South Carolina and one online Master's degree. The Bachelor's degree programs are in Health Administration; Hospitality, Resort and Tourism Management; and Marketing. The Master's degree online is in Instructional Technology, which is designed to help educators to improve their professional knowledge and practices.
School Website: 
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7

Lander University

Tuition/Year
$10,100
Graduation Rate
52%
# of Online Degrees
2
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Lander University was founded in 1872, when it was located in Williamston, S.C., and called Williamston Female College. Since 1904, however, the school has been named for its founder, Samuel Lander, and has been part of the state system for more than 40 years, offering traditional liberal arts and professional programs to both men and women. It's two online degree programs in South Carolina include Bachelor's degrees in Nursing and Criminal Justice Management.
School Website: 
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8

University of South Carolina-Upstate

Tuition/Year
$10,198
Graduation Rate
40%
# of Online Degrees
9
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

At USC Upstate, administrators work with other schools and state agencies to develop online degree programs in South Carolina that reflect the demand for workers. Its distance education efforts are designed to help college students complete their degrees by offering the majority of their upper-level courses online, allowing those who have completed general education requirements to earn a diploma without having to travel to campus. The online undergraduate programs include Information Management and Systems; Health Information Management; Nursing; Criminal Justice; and Engineering Technology Management. Online Master's degrees are offered in Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education; Special Education/Visual Impairment; and Nursing.
School Website: 
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9

Virginia College-Florence

Tuition/Year
$11,883
Graduation Rate
NA
# of Online Degrees
23
Accredited
 
School Type
2-year

About

Virginia College's Florence, S.C., campus helps make Virginia College's extensive online degree programs more accessible to South Carolina students. Students have the option of taking all their courses for various Associate, Bachelor's or Master's degree programs online or through a blend of online and on-campus. Virginia's online Associate degree programs include Accounting Specialist; Business Administration; Criminal Justice; Culinary and Pastry Arts; Healthcare Reimbursement; Human Resource Management; Medical Office Administration; Network Engineering; Office Administration; and Paralegal Studies. It's online Bachelor's programs include Business Administration; Criminal Justice; Golf Course Management; Health Services Management; Human Resources Management; Management Information Systems; Network Management; and Paralegal Studies. Master's degrees offered online include Business Administration/Healthcare; Business Administration/Management; Business Administration; Criminal Justice; and Cybersecurity.
School Website: 
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10

Clemson University

Tuition/Year
$13,054
Graduation Rate
83%
# of Online Degrees
10
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

In addition to a large number of undergraduate online courses, Clemson University also offers fully online Master's degree programs in Biological Sciences; Construction Science Management; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Industrial Engineering; Human Resource Development; Public Administration; Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; and Youth Development. It also offers an online doctoral program in Healthcare Genetics and Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design.
School Website: 
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11

Bob Jones University

Tuition/Year
$13,460
Graduation Rate
61%
# of Online Degrees
5
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Bob Jones University in Greenville offers online Christian courses as well as graduate degree programs and undergraduate courses that are completely online. Its graduate online degrees are available in Biblical Studies; Biblical Counseling; Teaching and Learning; Educational Leadership Counseling; and Music Education. In addition, it offers a wide selection of undergraduate online courses on such topics as Accounting, Art, Finance and Music History.
School Website: 
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12

North Greenville University

Tuition/Year
$14,772
Graduation Rate
55%
# of Online Degrees
12
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

North Greenville is a religion-oriented university but its selection of online degree programs in South Carolina reach well beyond ministerial studies. The school also offers accelerated, 6-week courses, as well as the option of taking all classes online or mixing in night classes with online learning. Bachelor's degrees are offered online in Business Administration; Christian Ministries; Criminal Justice & Legal Studies; Psychology; Early Childhood Educational Studies; and Elementary Educational Studies. Online Master's degrees are offered in Business Administration; Education; Christian Ministry; Teaching; and Music Education. North Greenville also offers an online doctoral program in Ministry.
School Website: 
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13

Columbia International University

Tuition/Year
$18,930
Graduation Rate
65%
# of Online Degrees
8
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Certain CIU degrees can be earned online without ever setting foot on the Columbia campus. The master's degrees are offered in Intercultural Studies; Muslim Studies; Theological Studies; Education; and Educational Administration. CIU promises that its online courses are identical to its face-to-face classes, which have resulted in more than 17,000 alumni fanning out across to the globe to do Christian work in over 150 countries.
School Website: 
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14

Charleston Southern University

Tuition/Year
$22,090
Graduation Rate
36%
# of Online Degrees
8
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Charleston Southern, whose motto is "Integrating faith in learning, leading and serving," offers online bachelor's degrees in Organizational Management; Technology in Computer Systems and Information Sciences; and Nursing. Its online master's degree programs are in Organizational Leadership; Organizational Management; Business Administration; Nursing; and Criminal Justice.
School Website: 
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15

Anderson University

Tuition/Year
$26,280
Graduation Rate
41%
# of Online Degrees
20
Accredited
 
School Type
4-Year

About

Anderson has been named one of the most affordable, top-ranked universities in the country by Institutional Research and Evaluation, Inc., and that quality is reflected in the growing number of online degree programs offered by the school. Anderson offers 14 online Bachelor's degrees, five Master's degrees and one doctoral program. The Bachelor's degree programs include Business Administration; Business Administration/Healthcare Management; Christian Studies; Criminal Justice; Criminal Justice/Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness; Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement; Emergency Management Services; Emergency Management Services/Homeland Security Operations and Administration; Emergency Management Services/Whole Community; Human Services; Human Services/Behavioral Science; Liberal Studies; Organizational Leadership; and Organizational Leadership/Human Resource Administration. Anderson's online Master's degrees include Business Administration; Criminal Justice; Education; Ministry; and Music Education. It's online doctorate program is in Ministry.
School Website: 
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School Interviews

Jeff Priest

Dr. Jeff Priest, Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, University of South Carolina Aiken

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at your school?

Currently we only offer two online programs. One is the BS in Business Administration through Palmetto College. This is strictly a degree completion program that is aimed at South Carolina residents who have attended college majoring in business at some point but never completed the degree.

The other online program is the Masters of Education in Educational Technology. The Master's Degree in Educational Technology is designed to provide advanced professional studies in graduate level coursework to develop capabilities essential to the effective design, evaluation, and delivery of technology-based instruction and training (e.g., software development, multimedia development, assistive technology modifications, web-based development, and distance learning).

The program is intended (1) to prepare educators to assume leadership roles in the integration of educational technology into the school curriculum, and (2) to provide graduate-level instructional opportunities for several populations (e.g., classroom teachers, corporate trainers, educational software developers) that need to acquire both technological competencies and understanding of sound instructional design principles and techniques.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

Online programs are not for everyone. Students taking online programs must be self-motivated and somewhat tech savvy. They have to be able to read well and must be task oriented and manage their time well. Although online programs offer flexibility in scheduling, deadlines are important and if you cannot meet deadlines, you will not do well in an online program.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

I believe you will see more online learning in future years. I would expect that online pedagogies will improve as more faculty and educators teach online and learn what the best strategies are for delivering content online.


Joe Winslow

Joseph R. Winslow, Director of Office of Online Learning, Coastal Carolina University

Q. Can you tell us a little about the online programs offered at your school?

Coastal is serious about high-quality online programs and has invested significant resources to develop new offerings for students in degree completion and adult learning markets. Coastal currently offers 10 graduate and undergraduate online programs in business, education and science, and has another six in development for launch by 2016. All programs are vetted through a comprehensive, quality-evaluation process and designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate the modern demands of online learners. Programs are developed for asynchronous access primarily but may include some synchronous opportunities for real-time interaction using advanced conferencing platforms that function seamlessly on a variety of devices. Our online courses are media-rich environments developed by trained online faculty who collaborate with professional instructional designers to create learning objects that engage and inspire students to succeed.

Q. What advice would you give to students interested in an online degree program?

Although most students are very tech-savvy, there are numerous other factors that impact their potential success in an online program, the most important of which include self-motivation, disciplined study habits and a willingness to engage in online interactions with instructors and other students. Coastal publishes a readiness instrument designed to help students identify their online learning strengths and weakness, and it outputs an adaptive toolkit that prescribes specific strategies they can use to improve their online learning experiences. Other critical advice we offer to online students is to explore thoroughly the significant resources that are available on their program websites; these information hubs contain vital logistics, policy and process details they need to know. Finally, it's essential that online students develop meaningful relationships with their assigned academic advisers; we coach students to make sure they read their emails, attend their orientation webinars, and communicate with them frequently for individual guidance and assurance.

Q. How do you anticipate online learning might evolve in the coming years?

The lines that previously defined traditional and distance learning continue to blur as new instructional models "blend" or "flip" digital and classroom experiences. All future courses will be online at least partially, even for traditional campus students, and the demand for program flexibility will only increase for learners who have to work their way through school. These students, particularly adult learners, will enjoy much richer and immersive experiences as online technologies continue to improve the development of multimedia learning content that is visually and intellectually engaging. Keep an eye on the horizon for compelling applications in holographic display and motion capture interfaces; the way learners see and interact with instructional content in the future won't be flat, and it will be much more intuitive. Another notable trend, and this really arcs back to the concept of program flexibility, is the return of competency-based learning. Currently, most institutions are stuck in an antiquated term-based model to define when a student starts and finishes a course. In the professional world, success is measured by performance, not time, so look for accelerated growth in the adoption of online course-completion models that define clear expectations of success and allow students to progress at an individualized pace to earn a credential when the target performance level is reached.

Top Cities For Students In South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina

Mean Wage

$40,370

Average Cost of a House

$218,083

# of Employed People

300,000

Total Population

400,000

Avg Salary with a Bachelor's Degree

$44,906

Economics

Greenville, an urban area of just over 400,000 residents in the city proper, combines with Anderson and Maudlin to create a metropolitan area of just over 300,000 workers. These workers earn an average hourly wage of $19.41 and an average annual salary of $40,370, which is higher than the state average. The Cost of Living Index in Greenville is 89.7, and the average cost of a house is $218,083.

Demographics

The 850,965 residents of the Greenville metropolitan area provide nearly 20 percent of the total state's workforce. The residents of the city of Greenville are also slightly better educated that the state as a whole. Among the city dwellers who are 18 to 24, nearly 11 percent have a Bachelor's degree or higher, and among those older than 25, 11 percent have a graduate or professional degree and 20 percent have a Bachelor's degree.

Fun Facts

Visitors or residents or Greenville don't have to go far to enjoy the charm of this southern city. The oldest bridge in the state is right outside of downtown Greenville, and the area is surrounded by parks, historic mills, covered bridges and restored historic buildings like the Ashtabula and Woodburn historic houses.

Columbia, South Carolina

Mean Wage

$40,360

Average Cost of a House

$240,279

# of Employed People

350,000

Total Population

NA

Avg Salary with a Bachelor's Degree

$42,866

Economics

Columbia joins forces with surrounding towns to create the second largest metro area in South Carolina. Nearly 350,000 workers live in the urban area, and they earn $19.41 per hour, on average, for an annual wage of $40,360. These levels are higher than the state's overall average. The average cost of a house in Columbia is $240,279, and the Cost of Living Index is 92.6.

Demographics

In addition to providing more than 20 percent of the state's workforce, the 130,000 residents of Columbia proper -- the centerpiece of this metropolitan area -- are well educated. Of those 25 or older, an impressive 16.4 percent have a graduate or professional degree, and more than half of those 18 to 24 years old have attended some college without earning a Bachelor's degree.

Fun Facts

The city of Columbia is rich in outdoor activities and history. A favorite pastime through much of the year is getting out on the local waterways, include Lake Murray and the local rivers, which afford great rafting and kayaking. Columbia is also rich in museums, historic homes and parks.

Charleston, South Carolina

Mean Wage

$42,130

Average Cost of a House

$265,401

# of Employed People

295,210

Total Population

700,000

Avg Salary with a Bachelor's Degree

$44,399

Economics

Charleston, with more than 700,000 residents spread out through the metropolitan area that includes North Charleston, Charleston and Summerville, is home to 295,210 workers They are among the top wage earners in the state, pulling down about $42,130 a year on average, for an hourly wage of $20.25. The Cost of Living Index is 100.3, and the average price of a home is $265,401.

Demographics

The Charleston metro area provides about 17 percent of the state's entire workforce, and the city of Charleston, the centerpiece, is a major tourist destination. In addition to its wealth of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and fine restaurants, the city is also a major seaport. Fourteen percent of its adult population older than 25 has a graduate or professional degree, and one in four have a Bachelor's.

Fun Facts

There's a reason why millions flock to Charleston to vacation and that's because there is a lot to do. There are ocean beaches, golf courts, great shopping, history and a mild climate that extends the tourist season.

 
Other South Carolina Resources

The Southern Regional Education Board's Electronic Campus is a great resource for those interested in online education in South Carolina. In addition to providing a wealth of e-learning information, the site allows prospective students to search for online courses and programs offered throughout the state and surrounding region. There is a large aquarium, walking tours of the historic neighborhoods and boat tours to the famous historical Fort Sumter. It's easy to fill up a vacation day with activities.


Sources:

  1. Anderson University, http://www.andersonuniversity.edu/onlineprogram.aspx?id=6686&ekmensel=c580fa7b_295_0_6686_2
  2. Bob Jones University, http://www.bju.edu/academics/bjuonline/graduate/
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_24860.htm
  4. Central Carolina Technical College, http://www.cctech.edu/online.htm
  5. Charleston Southern University, http://csuniv.edu/online/
  6. Clemson University, http://www.clemson.edu/online/
  7. Coastal Carolina University, http://www.coastal.edu/online/programs_g.html
  8. "C2ER," The Cost of Living Index, http://www.coli.org/
  9. Columbia International University, http://onlinestudies.ciu.edu/
  10. Dr. Jeff Priest, interview with the author, April 2015
  11. Joseph R. Winslow, interview with the author, April 2015
  12. Lander University, http://www.lander.edu/Distance-Online-Learning/Overview.aspx
  13. List of Bob Jones University people, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bob_Jones_University_people
  14. Medical University of South Carolina, http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/nursing/academics/masters/
  15. North Greenville University, http://online.ngu.edu/
  16. Spartanburg Community College, https://www.sccsc.edu/online/
  17. Things to do in Charleston, http://www.charlestoncvb.com/visitors/tripplanner/what_to_see_do~3/attractions~31/
  18. Things to do in Columbia, http://www.columbiacvb.com/things-to-do/
  19. Tri-County Technical College, http://www.tctc.edu/Corporate_and_Community_Ed/Programs_and_Courses/Online_Programs_and_Courses.xml
  20. University of South Carolina Upstate, http://www.uscupstate.edu/academics/distance/default.aspx?id=2575
  21. University of South Carolina Aiken Palmetto College, http://web.usca.edu/soba/undergraduate-programs/palmetto-college/
  22. U.S. Census Bureau American Factfinder, http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF
  23. Visit Greenville, South Carolina, http://www.visitgreenvillesc.com/things-to-do/historic-sites-museums/
  24. Virginia College, http://www.vc.edu/online/online-college.cfm