Here's a brief overview of online colleges in South Carolina:

  • There are more than three dozen online colleges in South Carolina, including traditional universities, more than 10 technical schools, and at least six nonprofit, faith-based schools.
  • Students can earn associate degrees online at 20 of these schools, bachelor's degrees at 25, and master's degrees at 23.
  • The colleges with the most online degree programs include University of South Carolina-Columbia and Strayer University-South Carolina.
  • While degree offerings vary from college to college, the majority of online colleges in South Carolina allow students to focus on fields such as business administration, marketing, psychology and education.

If you've already earned some college credits and you're looking to continue your degree program at a new school, be sure to check out the South Carolina Transfer and Articulation Center to see your options.

This page can be an invaluable resource for understanding how to pursue a degree at an online college in South Carolina. In addition to a list of the top 10 online colleges in the state, you can find details about South Carolina-specific scholarships and loans to assist you in paying for your online degree program.

What Makes a Good Online College in South Carolina?

If school were a "one size fits all," then we could just declare one best online college and be done with it. However, different people need different things from their education, and to help them find it, we've created multiple rankings of the best online colleges in South Carolina. All schools displayed on this page have been accredited by a South Carolina-relevant accounting body, such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Visit our "What is College Accreditation?" page to learn why accreditation is important, and the South Carolina Department of Education for details on how it works in South Carolina.

To help students in their search for the right online college, our rankings display facts about each school, including number of online programs offered, average in-state tuition and percent of students awarded financial aid. Check out the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section on our "About Us" page to find out why we believe these factors represent the online college experience in South Carolina.


Best Online Colleges in South Carolina for 2019-20

Before choosing a college, it's crucial to do some research and make sure you're choosing the best institute for you. To help you make your decision, we compared schools and programs in order to rank them based on net costs, graduation rate, the breadth of programs offered and more. Here is our ranking of the 10 best online colleges in South Carolina, based on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and our own unique methodology.


Clemson University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is CU like?

This science- and engineering-oriented college is one of the nation's most well-known public research universities and has the second-largest student population in South Carolina. Since 2015, the university has been awarded 19 major research projects totaling more than $100 million, which have helped to drive economic development throughout the state.

What online programs are at CU?

The school offers online master's degree programs in construction science management, industrial engineering and more. Online doctoral degrees include a Ph.D. in healthcare genetics and a Ph.D. in rhetorics, communication and information design.

Distance learning classes are offered either fully online or in a blended format that requires regular online meetings or on-campus participation. CU uses the Canvas content management system for online curriculum delivery.

What online resources does CU offer?

CU supports distance learners through its academic success center, its writing center and a dedicated resource and service center for graduate students.


Columbia International University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is CIU like?

CIU is a small, private co-educational Christian college founded in 1923. Its curriculum is focused on developing Christian leaders through a biblical foundation in education, and 90 percent of students receive institutional aid through grants and scholarships. In the past few years, CIU has been recognized by several faith-based organizations for its excellence in Christian distance education offerings.

What online programs are at CIU?

Despite its small size, CIU offers a rich assortment of fully online degree programs, including online master's and doctoral programs.

What online resources does CIU offer?

Distance learners receive personalized guidance throughout their educational journey just like on-campus students. CIU's academic success center supports distance learners through tutoring, test proctoring and academic coaching, while the student career center offers a range of career assistance services, as well as graduate assistantships for full-time grad students.


University of South Carolina-Columbia

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is UofSC like?

The flagship institution of the University of South Carolina system, UofSC was founded in 1801. It has come to be known as a top regional research university. It's one of a select group of universities to earn the Carnegie top-tier designation in both research activity and community engagement.

What online programs are at UofSC?

UofSC offers more than 1,000 online courses each year in a variety of formats. The university also offers online bachelor degree completion programs through Palmetto College for students who meet certain criteria.

Key research program areas at UofSC include health sciences, advanced materials, energy and environmental sustainability. Nursing students can complete an RN to BSN program; dozens of online graduate programs, including master's and doctoral degrees, are also available.

What online resources does UofSC offer?

Distance learners at UofSC can access a range of student support services, including peer tutoring, the university's writing center and academic coaching. Additional support can be found through the UofSC Student Success Center.


Anderson University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is AU like?

AU is a private Christian university with a focus in the liberal arts, professional, and graduate disciplines. Students gain a deeper understanding of the Christian worldview through the university's academic curriculum, student life, faculty and staff.

What online programs are at AU?

AU offers many online bachelor's degree programs, including criminal justice, human services and a flex RN to BSN program. Online master's degree programs are available in education and music education, and there are multiple master's and doctoral degrees in ministry as well.

Online and continuous learning opportunities at AU are delivered through the Canvas content management system.

What online resources does AU offer?

The university's McPhillips Center supports distance learners through individualized academic support, tutoring services, student success seminars and other student success initiatives.


Trident Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is TTC like?

TTC is a public two-year community college that was founded in 1964. In addition to its multiple campus locations, TTC Online College has significantly expanded the college's reach.

What online programs are at TTC?

TTC offers a wide range of online classes, as well as several fully online degree programs, through the D2L content management system. Courses are taught in a seven-week compressed format and may be offered synchronously or asynchronously.

Students interested in transferring to a four-year college can pursue a fully online Associate in Arts degree. Other online associate degree and certificate programs include study in business technology, criminal justice and homeland security.

What online resources does TTC offer?

TTC offers many different student support services, including academic, career and personal counseling, mentoring and additional forms of academic support through its student resource center. S.C. Lottery-funded Tuition Assistance may be available.


Limestone College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is LC like?

LC is an independent, coeducational, four-year liberal arts institution. Established in 1845, the Christian non-denominational college offers online associate and bachelor's degree programs. The school is no stranger to creating flexible degree programs -- it established its Block Program in the 1970s to help nontraditional students complete bachelor's degree programs entirely through evening classes.

What online programs are at LC?

LC's asynchronous online programs are designed to accommodate working students and are based on Christian ideals and principles. Courses are offered in eight-week terms with six terms per year. Students can take two courses each term, earning 36 semester hours in a year.

The college offers several online associate degree programs, as well as online bachelor's degree programs in fields such as nursing, psychology, criminal justice and more. There is also an online accelerated MBA program.

What online resources does LC offer?

Distance learners can access the college's online writing and testing centers, as well as an array of services through the Center for Professional Development. LC's Division of Student Success also offers various resources at no additional cost.


Coastal Carolina University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is CCU like?

CCU is a public liberal arts university founded in 1954. More than 75 percent of the academic faculty holds a terminal degree in their field.‌

CCU offers bachelor's, master's and educational specialist degrees as well as doctoral programs. It also boasts a growing number of internship, research and international opportunities for students, as well as numerous online programs hosted through Coastal Online.

What online programs are at CCU?

Online bachelor's programs at CCU include hospitality, resort and tourism management, marketing, anthropology and geography and health administration. The college also offers several online master's degrees and post-bachelor's certificate programs.

The university uses the Moodle content management system to deliver its distance learning offerings. Classes are delivered either fully online or in a hybrid format that requires on-campus attendance.

What online resources does CCU offer?

CCU helps distance learners complete their educational journeys via its career services and counseling centers. Students can also access the tutoring and learning center, which assists with mathematics, writing and other subjects.


Winthrop University

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is WU like?

WU is a public, coeducational liberal arts university founded in 1886. The university prides itself on its campus community, which works to create an environment of diversity, excellence and family atmosphere.

What online programs are at WU?

WU offers several online master's pathways, including business administration, special education intervention and social work. The university uses the Blackboard content management system for online course delivery.

What online resources does WU offer?

Online students at WU are afforded the same comprehensive support services enjoyed by their on-campus peers, including enrollment and technology assistance, career services, 24-hour technical support, academic advising and library resources.


Columbia College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is CC like?

CC was founded as a two-year Christian women's college in 1851. Over a century and a half later, it offers a liberal arts education for undergraduate women, and specialized degree programs for co-ed undergrad and graduate students.

This institution is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, although it welcomes students of any religious affiliation. Over 95 percent of CC graduates are employed (or continue their education) within six months of earning their degree.

What online programs are at CC?

CC offers more than 800 undergraduate classes online, as well as online master's programs in criminal justice, educational leadership and business administration. The college uses the D2L content management system, delivering its online classes in an eight-week accelerated schedule with set start and end dates.

What online resources does CC offer?

Distance learners enrolled at CC can find a wide range of student support services, such as online undergraduate and graduate academic advising, career services, student orientation and access to the campus library.


Piedmont Technical College

Tuition & Fees
Distance Education Participation
Number of Programs Offered
School Type

What is PTC like?

Rounding out our list of best colleges in South Carolina is this comprehensive two-year technical college. Founded in 1966, PTC has locations in six central South Carolina counties, in addition to its online campus. This technical college offers career studies programs focused on practical skills for the workforce, as well as continuing education courses and a university transfer curriculum.

What online programs are at PTC?

Many core classes at PTC are offered online to accommodate the schedules of busy students. Similarly, the college offers a handful of fully online degree programs, including associate programs in the fields of science, business, arts and more. There are also hybrid programs, which blend digital instruction with regular classroom attendance.

PTC uses the D2L course management system. All online classes at PTC require at least one proctored exam.

What online resources does PTC offer?

PTC takes a holistic approach to student support with academic and professional advising services that are designed to help students reach clearly-defined goals. Distance learning students can receive academic counseling, tutoring, technical and computer assistance and electronic resources such as online library materials.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Affordable Online Colleges in South Carolina for 2019-20

Whether you live far from urban centers or are a resident of Fairbanks or Anchorage, you're probably looking for affordable and flexible degree program options. The following colleges offer students just that. This list of affordable online colleges in Alaska includes information on tuition costs as well as the number and type of online programs offered.

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics,

Financial Aid Resources in South Carolina

The average student in South Carolina graduates with a student loan debt of $29,163, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. To help offset that debt burden, as well as the cost of college in general, it is in every student's best interest to maximize the federal, state and institutional financial aid opportunities available to them.

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in South Carolina? 

Below you can browse some of South Carolina's state-based grants and scholarships.

Source: Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of CollegeXpress, a division of Carnegie Dartlet. Copyright © 2020 by CollegeXpress.

Be sure to read the Ultimate Guide to Grants for advice and strategies on finding grants, and the Ultimate Guide for Scholarships for similar advice on scholarships.

Student Loans in South Carolina

In addition to federal student loans, some families turn to private education lenders to help bridge the gap between what they are offered in their financial aid package and the total cost of attendance. Check out the following lenders that offer products specifically for students with a South Carolina connection.

Palmetto Assistance Loan (PAL)
The PAL is a low, fixed interest rate, private education loan for students or their parents. Students attending a public or not-for profit college or university on at least a half-time basis are eligible for this loan. The student may be a South Carolina resident attending an in-state school or a school elsewhere in the United States. They may also be an out-of-state student attending school in South Carolina.

  • Application deadline:  N/A
  • Award amount: $2,000 minimum
The South Carolina Teachers Loan assists qualified South Carolina students in their goal to become teachers. Funding for the program is limited and can vary, so students are encouraged to apply early. To be eligible, rising freshmen must have been in the top 40 percent of their high school graduating class and have an SAT or ACT score equal to or greater than the South Carolina average. Undergraduate and graduate students must have a GPA of 2.75.

  • Application deadline:  April 2017 for priority filing
  • Award amount:  Up to $2,500 for freshmen and sophomores; up to $5,000 for juniors, seniors and graduate students

Learn more about student loans and how they factor into financial aid in our Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in South Carolina

Costs for Out-of-State Students in South Carolina

South Carolina is part of the Academic Common Market (ACM), a long-time tuition discount program administered by the Southern Regional Education Board (SBRE) that allows students from its 15 states to attend college in all member states at in-state tuition costs. The member states are mainly in the south, such as Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana, but extend as far north as Maryland.

If you are an out-of-state student in South Carolina, you can contact an ACM coordinator to get the process started and can choose from nearly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees. If you don't hail from one of the 15 member states, you still have some options to reduce your out-of-state tuition costs. For instance, the University of South Carolina grants in-state tuition and legal resident status to members of the armed forces on active duty and their families.

If you want to put some very specific numbers on the cost of your out-of-state tuition, you might like the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education's Palmetto Calculator, which is part of the Get Smart South Carolina initiative.

Best Careers In South Carolina

Most of the time, people go to college to help them enter a career. If you're not sure what career you want to enter, it can also be very difficult to figure out what to study in college.

To help students make this important decision, let's discuss the best careers to pursue in South Carolina. It might help you narrow down which degree program and education level to pursue.

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary

Top South Carolina Industries

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data is sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Ambulatory healthcare services1,438,16012%$58,874
Pipeline transportation581,77011%$66,057
Hospitals; state, local, and private1,599,22012%$57,105
Monetary authorities-central bank394,33012%$66,403
Lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets (except copyrighted works)542,80011%$64,383
Oil and gas extraction833,63011%$62,261
Insurance carriers and related activities1,166,31010%$57,246
Broadcasting (except Internet)667,8009%$60,658
Educational services; state, local, and private1,771,52011%$55,295

According to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, students who pursue careers in nursing, accounting, industrial machinery, engineering and management can expect higher-than-average job growth.

South Carolina is home to many of the country's leading businesses in the agribusiness, manufacturing, aerospace and automotive industries. Some of the top employers in the state include Boeing, Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Trident Health System and Cummins Turbo Technologies. South Carolina is also an important hub for logistics and distribution due to its proximity to population centers -- more than 208 million people are within a two-day drive of South Carolina, according to the state's Department of Commerce.

Due to all this business and manufacturing and South Carolina's key distribution location, the largest industries in the state (as reported by the South Carolina Department of Commerce) are trade, transportation, and utilities. Pipeline transportation to convey natural resources, utilities to keep manufacturing and business facilities running, and broadcasting over radio, television and cable are all critical industries in South Carolina.

Healthcare is also vital to the state's economy. Large hospitals such as AnMed Health Medical Center in Athens, Greenville Memorial Hospital and Lexington Medical Center employ thousands of medical professionals and nurses. Students who complete online nursing degrees have a wealth of options for high demand careers in South Carolina at these facilities and others across the state.

Here's a more in-depth look at the high demand jobs in South Carolina that are most prominent in the state's three largest metropolitan areas.

Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

If you live in Greenville, engineering might be one of the best fields for you to consider. Michelin North America is the third-largest employer in the region. This area is also home to engineering and construction company Fluor Corporation, as well as GE Power. Between them, these companies have created many opportunities for students who earn engineering degrees to land high demand and high paying jobs in Greenville.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Mechanical EngineersBachelor's degree$91,3102,110
Family Medicine PhysiciansDoctoral or professional degree$235,650350
Civil EngineersBachelor's degree$92,9401,740
Industrial EngineersBachelor's degree$91,4702,320
General and Operations ManagersBachelor's degree$98,3307,330

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Columbia, SC Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

Palmetto Health -- the largest private employer in Columbia -- employs more than 15,000 people, many of them students who have earned graduate degrees in medical management and/or health services. Considering that healthcare revolves around technology and electronic records, reliable computer systems are a must for Palmetto Health, which also creates demand for computer and information systems managers who can set up and troubleshoot such systems.

Another major employer in the region is the University of South Carolina. Since Palmetto Health is such a prominent part of the community, it should come as no surprise that one of the university's main focus areas is healthcare. Health specialties professors are thus another of the most high demand jobs in Columbia.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degree$101,4001,080
General and Operations ManagersBachelor's degree$108,6306,650
Computer and Information Systems ManagersBachelor's degree$125,1401,080
Health Specialties Teachers, PostsecondaryDoctoral or professional degree$101,180400
Management AnalystsBachelor's degree$75,5502,470

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metro Area

Total Population
Median salary for high school grads
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
Median rent

Boeing's 1.2-million-square-foot manufacturing and assembly site is located in Charleston County, a major source of employment for industrial engineering graduates. Volvo, Mercedes Benz and SAIC are also major sources of engineering jobs in Charleston.

Roper St. Francis Health and Trident Health System, meanwhile, are primary employers of physician assistants, internists, medical and health services managers and other healthcare professionals. Health specialties teachers who can educate the professionals these healthcare systems need often find employment in the area through Medical University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Health Specialties Teachers, PostsecondaryDoctoral or professional degree$96,880130
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$89,400440
General Internal Medicine PhysiciansDoctoral or professional degree$258,700360
Medical and Health Services ManagersBachelor's degree$116,1401,050
Industrial EngineersBachelor's degree$88,3001,270

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.