A Guide to Online College in South Carolina

Updated April 26, 2022 | BestCollegeReviews.org Staff

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South Carolina is a state with an incredibly diverse terrain from swamps to mountains — there's something for everyone in this historically significant state in the South. South Carolina borders North Carolina and Georgia and rubs shoulders with the Atlantic Ocean. It's port towns are some of the most famous including Charleston and Georgetown. The architecture in many places is in the Antebellum style and exudes old southern wealth which serve as an ever-present reminder of the historic turmoil of this part of the nation. Today history is remembered through reenactment and historical preservation. For great southern food, charm and hospitality it doesn't get much better than in South Carolina.

In-state tuition is often applied to public schools offering online programs. Many online programs require some face-to-face time, or more numerous support services at their brick and mortar locations. Intensive study experiences — often on the weekends or in several week long bouts — enable many online students to accelerate their time until graduation. And students looking at online education can drastically expand their educational options if they also look to hybrid degrees (degrees where degrees can be taken partially, or mostly online). Finally, one of the most common stipulations in scholarships is that students be from a certain state or region, often more funds are available to students seeking degrees in-state.

Many of the top public schools in South Carolina offer online programs of study at the associates through doctoral level. York Technical College offers 48 programs completely online including an impressive 18 bachelor's degrees. The University of South Carolina, a top-ranked college according to US News, offers 12 online programs in a broad range of fields from the bachelor's to the doctoral level including a B.S. in Business Administration, a B.S. in Human Services, a Master of Education in Teaching or a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Citadel Military College, one of the highest ranked schools in the region, offers two master's degrees completely online. And for those looking to save money or transfer into a state university, there are a number of online community colleges that offer associate’s degrees at an affordable price including Remington College and Trident Technical College.

Featured Online Schools

Top Private Schools

There are also a number of private schools offering degrees online. Some of the private degree programs with the largest selection include schools like Limestone College which offers 24 degrees online or North Greenville University that offers 10 degrees online in areas like business administration, or a master of education music education. Charleston Southern University offers bachelor's and master's degrees in leadership, business administration, and nursing. Columbia College, one of the highest ranking school in the regions, offers two fully online degrees.

Potential Resident

For a variety of reasons, a student may look to move to the state of their online college program whether specifically required by the program or not — be it for a job, location desirability, school benefits, etc. Different states have different policies, however, and some of them can be rather demanding. South Carolina requires 12 consecutive months of in-state residency, a South Carolina Driver's License or South Carolina Identification Card. You must obtain your form of identification with in the first 90 days of your established residency. You may not possess a driver's license or vehicle registration certificate issued from another state. A resident must also have paid South Carolina income taxes — this serves as your proof of income and 12 continuous months of residency. Though there are a few qualifying exceptions to this rule including retired persons, persons on terminal leave, full-time faculty or employees of certain educational institutions, military personnel and dependents. The conditions necessary to establish in-state tuition of the University of South Caroline are found here.

In 2015-16 the average published tuition prices for South Carolina four-year universities was $7,515 for in-state tuition that’s nearly $2,000 below the national average for public schools. University of South Carolina costs an average of $11,400 per year which is slightly above the national average for public schools though is one of the top ranked public schools in the nation. Those outside of South Carolina pay over 30,000 per year for the same education — very close to the average cost of a private school. In addition, The University of South Carolina offers over 20 degrees online between their Lancaster and Columbia campuses. Limestone College, our top pick private university, costs $23,000 per year compared to $32,405 that is for average private institution’s tuitions and fees. Not to mention saving on room and board means adding another $40,000 to your pocket. There’s something to be said of staying in-state.

Charleston is located on a peninsula that and is a seaport city with distinct southern flare. The strict height restriction means that the tallest buildings you'll fine in this quaint seaport city are church spires and the Arthur Ravenel bridge. This historic town with origins as far back as 1680 is also known for its distinct American English accent and English dialect known as "Gullah" that has French, English, and West-African Influences. In addition to its unique flair culture and mix (port towns often attract a variety of people and cultures) Charleston is simply beautiful — much like New Orleans, Charleston has its own French Quarter, as well as a market with in the old shopping district where street vendors still sell their goods. Whether your taking a boat tour to Fort Sumpter, or gazing at the Ravenel Bridge, or simply strolling along Waterfront Park, Charleston is a magnificent town to call home.

Columbia is the capital city of South Carolina and situated in the center of the state. It is one of the oldest planned cities in America and located between Atlanta and Charlotte. Columbia is not only the state capital but also the most populated city in South Carolina. There is a thriving arts and culture center with Nickelodeon, home to several independent film festivals and the South Carolina State Museum. Like many states in the South, South Carolina has its own flavor of BBQ that you can enjoy through one of Columbia's food tours.

Rock Hill is the largest city in York County located just south of the beautiful Lake Wylie. Rock Hill is upstate and less than an hour from Charlotte, North Carolina and West of the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge. Rock Hill has a below average cost of living with a number of people moving in. There are equal opportunities for males and females in industries like Health Care, Administration and Wholesale Trade. The surrounding nature and amenities make Rock Hill a stable place for students and professionals. York Technical College is located in Rock Hill and offers 48 online degree programs.

Greenville has an incredible history and is one of South Carolina's great success stories. When the textile industry jobs were moving overseas to Asia, Greenville stayed one step ahead. In fact, it's booming, and those who move to Greenville tend to never leave. Located in "upstate" South Carolina, Greenville benefits from North Carolina and parts of Georgia. There textile industry roots meant European businesses like BMW were already familiar and happy to grow their businesses there. Though maybe an unlikely spot from an outsider's perspective, those who live in Greenville know that there is something special, secure and exciting about this small town. From high-end hotels to a quaint, walkable downtown, to the booming industries that surround it, Greenville is where you want to put down roots. No wonder leaving Greenville just doesn't make sense, and as the home to Clemson Universiyt, USC School of Medicine and Strayer University among several others, many student will want to call Greenville home as well.

Kansas City

Populatio: 475,378
Cost of Living: 87%
Top Industries: Federal Government, Manufacturing, Agriculture
Local Online Degrees: 2

St. Louis

Populatio: 315,685
Cost of Living: 90.1%
Top Industries: Healthcare, Manufactuing, Food Services
Local Online Degrees: 7


Populatio: 159,498
Cost of Living: 83.8%
Top Industries: Healthcare, Manufactuing
Local Online Degrees: 4


Populatio: 116,830
Cost of Living: 86.5%
Top Industries: Healthcare, Government
Local Online Degrees: 0


Populatio: 119,108
Cost of Living: 87.6%
Top Industries: Education, Healthcare, Insurance
Local Online Degrees: 5

Lee's Summit

Populatio: 91,364
Cost of Living: 87.7%
Top Industries: Government, Education
Local Online Degrees: 2


Populatio: 79,329
Cost of Living: 89.8%
Top Industries: Manufacturing
Local Online Degrees: 7

The Best Online Colleges in South Carolina

1. University of South Carolina-Columbia

Online Programs 12
Type: Public

The University of South Carolina (USC) is a public flagship university with a sea-grant and several top rankings in a number of areas including “A Best Value Public College” according to Kiplinger’s and The Princeton Review, top 3% in the nation for number of African-American graduates, a number 5 school library media and online education graduate program, and one of only 32 schools listed through the Carnegie Foundation noted for its top notch research and community engagement. USC enrolls over 33,000 students representing all 50 states and more than 120 countries who have access to over 300 degree programs ranging from a bachelor’s to a doctoral degree. Located in Columbia, students are situated in the largest city in the state with (due to its centrality) easy access to Charleston, Lake Murray, and Augusta. There are a total of 12 fully online programs that range from a bachelor’s to a doctorate degree.

2. Limestone College

Online Programs 24
Type: Private

Limestone College is a private liberal arts college located in Gaffney, South Carolina that enrolls over 3,000 students representing 33 states and 31 countries where 63 percent of the student body are male and 37 percent female. The student-to-faculty ration is 13:1. Limestone College is ranked 41st in the region according to U.S. News and there are over 35 majors to choose from in the natural sciences, arts and letters, social and behavioral sciences, professional studies and others. There is even an adaptive learning program for enrolled students with dyslexia, AD/HD etc. available at their day campus program. There are many ways Limestone addresses the educational needs of non-traditional student including transfer credit programs for military and non-military students as well as through a vast online-education program that offers 24 associate and bachelor’s degrees completely online.

3. University of South Carolina-Upstate

Online Programs 8
Type: Public

The University of South Carolina Upstate formerly Spartanburg was founded in 1967 in Spartanburg located at the top of the state hence the name “Upstate”. This is the 10th best regional school in the South as well as a number 2 top public school, and a number 4 school for veterans according to U.S. News. There are a number of bachelor’s degrees available in areas like computer information systems, art education, sociology, exercise and sport science, early childhood education, nursing and several certificates as well as pre-professional programs. Upstate’s mission is the select and offer degree programs that respond to regional need. Some of the online programming includes criminal justice, nursing, information management, early childhood education, and special education.

4. York Technical College

Online Programs 48
Type: Public

York Technical College is a two-year technical college located in Rock Hill that offers nearly 80 academic programs to students in York, Chester, and Lancaster counties. There are over 8,000 student enrolled including traditional, high school dual enrollment students, and online, non-traditional students. Fields of study include architecture and construction, arts AV technology and communication, business management, education and training, finance and others. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges awards the associate degrees, diplomas and certificates. Online, programming is much more expansive as York Technical offers 48 degree programs that range from an associate’s to a doctoral degree in nursing. Other examples of online programs available include visual arts, fine arts management and operations, business administration, criminal justice, aviation management and several other exciting degrees.

5. North Greenville University

Online Programs 10
Type: Private

North Greenville University is a comprehensive private university located in Tigerville and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and schools to award more than 40 bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. According to the 2017 edition of the U.S. News and World Report North Greenville University is ranked 84th in “Regional Universities [of the] South.” 100% of students who applied for need-based scholarships got their needs fully met. Student at North Greenville have easy access to the Appalachian mountains as campus rests in a small community in the foothills as well as access to affordable education — tuition is less than $9,000 which is approximately $20,000 less than average private schools in the nation. Undergraduates have access to over 40 areas of study and graduates and non-traditional students have access to over 20 programs. There are six bachelor’s and four master’s degrees offered entirely online in areas like psychology and music education among others.

6. Trident Technical College

Online Programs 17
Type: Public

Trident Technical College is a two-year college located in North Charleston, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties. Charleston is a rich historic city known for it’s quaint colonial buildings, arts, and hospitality. 15,000 student are enrolled to participate in programs like hospitality and tourisim and culinary arts, visual arts, aeronautical science, allied health science, humanities, liberal arts and many others. This school offers credit for life experiences as well as open enrollment opportunities. In-state tuition is less than $4,000 per year. The majority of students enrolled are nontraditional (over the age of 22) and there are 17 fully online associate’s degrees available in music, supply chain management, general business (small business entrepreneurship) and many more.

7. Charleston Southern University

Online Programs 9
Type: Private

Charleston Southern University (CSU) is a private institution located in North Charleston. There are over 3,600 students enrolled representing 26 states and 21 countries in this suburban setting. In the 2017 edition, U.S. News ranked Charleston Southern University 98th for “Best Regional Universities of the South” and a “Best Online Programs” school. CSU offers comprehensive liberal arts programming and is a member of the Big South Conference. The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools awards 48 bachelor’s and 10 master’s degrees. Thirty percent of the student are non traditional students. In addition, the are 9 degrees offered completely online; 3 bachelor’s and 6 master’s degrees. Some of the programs include an M.S. in criminal justice, and nursing as well as a B.S. in organizational management. Military Friendly recognizes Charleston Southern University as a Military Friendly school for its efforts in supporting enlisted and veterans military students.

7. Remington College-Columbia Campus

Online Programs 10
Type: Private

Remington College is a non-profit group of 16 post-secondary schools located throughout the United States. The Columbia campus is the newest addition though affiliate campuses have been present since the 1940s. The mission at Remington College is to equip it students to acquire the skills necessary for career success, transition students into careers and provide guidance once there. Though perhaps one could say this is the mission for most colleges, Remington College makes this its mission; providing extremely practical services that help individuals find employment. There are a number of diplomas, associate, and bachelor’s degrees that work well for career needs in today’s market including dental assisting, pharmacy technician, cosmetology, and criminal justice. Online, there are 3 associate’s and 7 bachelor’s degrees available. Their motto is “non-profit, non-traditional,” and Remington College certainly lives up to those standards.

9. University of South Carolina-Lancaster

Online Programs 9
Type: Public

The University of South Carolina Lancaster (USCL) is located in Lancaster and is one of the five USC campuses. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits the associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Full-time students pay less than $5,000 per year for tuition. Extended programming is available through the online university that offers 9 bachelor’s degrees in areas like organizational leadership, liberal studies, human services and others.

10. Citadel Military College of South Carolina

Online Programs 2
Type: Public

The Citadel is a military college located just outside of Charleston where the students, or the core cadets, (primarily undergraduate) are military students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. There are a number of nontraditional students and civilians partaking in the graduate programs, of which there are over 20, non-cadet bachelor programs, as well as online and distance degrees. The Citadel is one of only six “Senior Military Colleges” in the United States and has several high rankings not only for veterans that include as follows: the #1 Top Public Schools, 3rd best Regional University in the South, #1 Best Value Schools as well as the #3 Best Colleges for Veterans according to U.S. News. There are two Master’s degrees available completely online including an M.Ed. in Interdisciplinary STEM Education and an M.S. in Leadership. In-state tuition and fees are $11,364 compared to their out-of-state tuition fees and fees that are $31,780 per year.

11. Columbia International University

Online Programs 5
Type: Private

Columbia International University is a private university ranked 43rd in the nation for "Best Colleges Regional Universities in the South" according to U.S. News. There are 21 undergraduate majors offered to a student body of 1100 where to student-to-faculty ratio is 17:1. Most of the classes are 20 students or fewer. In addition to ranking #2 according to Christianuniversitiesonline.org, Columbia International University is also "A Top School for Military" according to Military Advanced Education and a "Best Bang for the Buck" school according to Washington Monthly. The academic rigor ==, value and success of students are just a few of the reasons CIU ranks highly for South Carolina Schools. Online you have five master's degrees to choose from including some unique offerings in Inter-cultural studies as well as Muslim studies.

Monitoring the accreditation of a university you are interested in attending is incredibly important. Accreditation ensures your credits can transfer that you can receive Federal financial aid, and, most importantly, that certain standards of educational quality are during your schooling. The highest accreditation standard for most programs in the United States is provided by regional accreditation agencies. The regional accrediting agency for South Carolina is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, one of six regional accrediting agencies responsible for accrediting schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Making sure that a University you're hoping to attend is regionally accredited — or accredited by a real and respected accrediting agency — is one of the most important choices you can make in ensuring the quality of your education.

Three Steps for Securing Financial Aid

  • Submit your FAFSA.
  • Check to see if additional forms are needed at your university of choice.
  • Search and apply for private scholarships.

Through the previous three steps most students find themselves offered some sort of federal grant, work study, private grant, scholarship, or stipend.

Great South Carolina Higher Education Resources

The Palmetto Fellows Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship that aims to recognize, encourage and retain talented minority students who may otherwise wish to pursue education outside of the state.

This is a comprehensive list of USC presented scholarships that range from $1,000 to full-tuition. There is something for everyone including minorities, international student, and others.

The Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE) Scholarship is a merit-based program for state and independent colleges and universities in South Carolina. Here's where to head to find out how to apply and which institutions participate.

Here is the database for lottery-based scholarships in South Carolina including but not limited to the SC HOPE scholarship, National Guard scholarship and other LIFE and Palmetto enhancements.

This 60-year-old foundation has been the cornerstone for development and prosperity in the Greenville area including their current partnership with Clemson University to pioneer the Clemson Center for Visual Arts

The Coastal Community Commission is unique in that is mission is to strengthen and encourage philanthropy that will make a lasting and positive impact on the greater community of South Carolina.

When you think about South Carolina, would you consider exploring its coast? Here are some fantastic coastal towns worthy of your attention.

Whether it's charm, food, of music here are some reasons Charleston was listed "Best City in the World."

The Sassy Spoon is South Carolina's number one food blog. For those who love to cook, there are literally hundreds of recipe options here.

If eating out is more your speed, here's a restaurant recommendation for every county in South Carolina.

Indeed is a comprehensive sources for those on the job hunt. You can search by location, job type company, salary estimate as well as experience level.

For a list of part-time jobs for students head to Uloop. There's a comprehensive guide to all schools and universities in South Carolina when you scroll to the bottom of the page!

For a city escape to the outdoors check out these great recommendations.

One of the best ways to understand present culture is to understand its history. For an extensive understanding of South Carolina's history head here.

If you're having a hard time understanding the very particular English spoken in cities like Charleston, here's an extensive dictionary of the Gullah dialect.

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