Resources and Advice on Choosing from South Carolina’s Best Online Programs
Colleges and universities in South Carolina are at the forefront of career preparedness initiatives, providing cutting-edge partnerships with major corporations and tech companies that create direct employment pipelines for students after graduation. This is encouraging for aspiring college students interested in earning a college education in order to enhance career and salary potential. And with growing online learning opportunities in the state, these programs are more accessible to students nationwide than ever before. If you’re interested in earning an online degree, read on to learn more about the programs South Carolina has to offer, and get answers on common questions about tuition, transfer credits and college preparedness along the way.
For this year’s college rankings, our analysts carefully reviewed statistical data from multiple sources for more than 7,500 postsecondary institutions so that you could easily evaluate schools based on what matters most to you. For each school, we applied the eligibility criteria outlined below, then ranked schools and programs based on four ranking factors.
Eligibility Criteria for All Postsecondary Institutions:
Must be a not-for-profit institution
Must be regionally or nationally accredited
Must offer at least one online program1
Must be located in a state (schools in US territories and Washington DC were not considered)
Dozens of data points were used to calculate a weighted score for four ranking factors: quality, affordability, flexibility and program (in order of significance). To determine quality, which was the most important consideration for all AS Online rankings, the most impactful data points were acceptance and graduation rates; for affordability, tuition2 and grants; for flexibility, part-time enrollment offerings; and for program, degrees conferred in that program area.
Some of our nursing program rankings used exam pass rates from NCLEX
How to Read Our Rankings Tool:
A dash indicates IPEDS data was not available
Annual in-state tuition is displayed unless stated otherwise
1 Our Best Vocational Programs rankings included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both annual in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our Rankings Tool currently only displays annual in-state rates.
Aside from large universities that first come to mind, South Carolina also has a number of specialized schools, including ones that cater to the medical and technical fields, which offer online degree options. As you start to research, it can be helpful to know which colleges are going above and beyond for their online students—our rankings use both qualitative and quantitative analysis to determine which schools provide the best mix of online student support and quality online learning to point South Carolina students in the right direction.
How can I find which online colleges offer the degree I’m looking for in South Carolina?
Not every college or university in South Carolina offers online courses, but many of the best do. The easiest way to learn about online program offerings is to go online: colleges that offer online degrees will list the most current information on their websites.
The University of South Carolina, for instance, partners with Palmetto College to offer its classes online. Online students at the University of South Carolina enjoy similar coursework to what they would find on campus. Most online programs at USC require applicants to have at least two years of previous college credit, so students aiming to complete a USC degree online must first log some time on campus. USC’s online program is best for those going into education, criminal justice, nursing, information science, or business.
Many religious institutions in South Carolina offer online degree options, as well. One such school is Charleston Southern University, which offers online degrees in healthcare administration, hospitality and tourism, human resources, project management and computer and information sciences. This school is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and integrates faith into its coursework.
Which online schools in South Carolina will accept my transfer credits or work/life experience?
Many online schools in South Carolina offer credit for prior college courses. For example, Limestone College, a private Christian college, allows its students to transfer up to 66 credit hours from accredited two-year colleges and up to 92 hours from accredited four-year colleges. Columbia College, which is geared toward women, accepts up to 90 credit hours from an accredited university.
Newberry College attracts adult learners with its life experience credit allowance. Students can earn up to 15 semester hours of academic credit for experience such as field research, study, travel, professional or military training, internships, and other alternative educational experiences. Students can get approval for these credits by test, certificate of documented competency, or an approved portfolio. There is a portfolio approval fee of $77 for the first credit, $60 for each additional credit, or a three-credit cost of $197. The life experience must relate specifically to courses found in the Newberry College catalog. Newberry College has a Lutheran foundation but offers degrees in a variety of areas.
How Much More Do College Grads in South Carolina Make?
In South Carolina there is, on average, near a $30,000 difference in pay between jobs that require a bachelor’s degree and those that require a high school diploma. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that jobs requiring a higher minimum education pay more on average, at every level of education.
Mean Annual Salary for All Occupations in South Carolina, by Minimum Degree Level Required:
Looking at the economic marketplace in South Carolina, the unemployment rate is low, but available jobs are also in short supply. This could be beneficial for those who want to pursue a higher education—earning a college degree may help your resume stand out from your peers.
Medical and healthcare degrees are winners in South Carolina—of the jobs listed as the fastest-growing occupations in the state, half are in the medical field. These positions include home health aides, nurse practitioners, physical therapy assistants, physician assistants and physical therapists. Technology degrees are also projected to be in demand across the state, especially in web development and information systems.
The Impact of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in South Carolina
The accreditation process works to make sure schools hold their academic systems to the highest standard. Students should seek out online universities in South Carolina that hold accreditation to be sure they receive a top-notch education that employers respect. Accreditation also better enables you to transfer credits will transfer to other schools if you were to consider extending your studies.
In addition to national or regional accreditation, some schools elect to receive program-specific accreditation. The Citadel, a well-known military school, is accredited by the SACSCOC regionally, while the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education backs the school’s educational graduate degree programs, and the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business accredits The Citadel’s School of Business.
Paying for Online College in South Carolina: Tuition & Financial Aid
South Carolina students have several federal aid opportunities available to them. Online learning itself can provide a more cost-effective degree path, especially for adult students who need to take classes while working. For example, Anderson University charges $460 per credit hour for undergraduates. Students taking 15 hours at Anderson would pay $6,900 per semester through this program, significantly cheaper than the average freshman tuition on-campus of $12,570 per semester.
Read on to get more answers on frequently asked questions regarding cost for online schools in South Carolina.
What are South Carolina’s requirements to qualify for in-state university tuition?
The South Carolina Code of Laws sets residency requirements for all higher learning institutions in the state. Students can establish residency in the state if they have lived there for at least 12 continuous months before starting their first term at school. They can also claim in-state tuition if their parent, guardian, or other provider pays more than half of of their education expenses, claims the student as a dependent, and has South Carolina residency. Students who live in South Carolina for the primary purpose of attending school there do not qualify for residency, even if they meet the 12-month requirement.
Are online credits more affordable in South Carolina than other places?
While standard tuition costs do fall above the national average for public, private universities in South Carolina provide an average tuition cost that is 83 percent of the national average. But what does this mean for online tuition costs in the state? Perhaps surprisingly, compared to online costs per credit for online undergraduate students at colleges and universities in neighboring states, South Carolina’s online rates are comparable:
How can I get help paying for online college in South Carolina?
Financial assistance in the form of scholarships and grants can help students and their families. Many South Carolina scholarships are geared specifically toward on-campus learners, so students often must attend their institutions in-person to qualify for scholarship aid.
Limestone College, which has both on-campus and online options, works with students after receiving FAFSA applications to find them the assistance they need. Anderson University points out that its evening classes are already discounted, so no university-specific assistance is available to students in those classes.
North Greenville University offers a scholarship program specifically for online students. The Martin Timothy Brashier Scholars program is specifically for South Carolina residents or previous graduates who are pursuing an online degree at North Greenville. These awards equal one credit hour per course for the first 12 hours of enrollment.
Online Education & Adult Education in South Carolina
As part of a national study on adult learning, the U.S. Department of Education conducted a study of students during the 2016-17 school year. South Carolina had far more students participating in adult learning programs than many other states in the study: more than 25,000 students took advantage of the services.
Many times, adult education provides essential learning opportunities for underserved populations who may otherwise be discouraged from earning a college education. Programs can help students: