25 Best Colleges in South Carolina

Advertisement CollegeChoice.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to find your fit?

We know college is expensive. And it keeps getting more expensive, year by year. This has led some people to wonder whether it’s even worth going at all.

We think it is (though we might be biased). Still, we have some data to back it up. Consider this: since the Great Recession, the economy has added 11.6 million jobs, but a full 11.5 million of those jobs have gone to people with at least some college education. So even if you’re only thinking about the issue financially, going to college is probably still worth it.

Top 10 Best Colleges in South Carolina

Rank School Location
1 Clemson University Clemson, SC
2 Presbyterian College Clinton, SC
3 University of South Carolina Columbia Columbia, SC
4 Wofford College Spartanburg, SC
5 Erskine College Due West, SC
6 Converse College Spartanburg, SC
7 Citadel Military College of South Carolina Charleston, SC
8 Claflin University Orangeburg, SC
9 Furman University Greenville, SC
10 College of Charleston Charleston, SC

mini icon
Advertisement CollegeChoice.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Colleges and Universities

And if you are considering going in South Carolina, you’ve come to the right place. We think it’s a great place to be too, and so we took a look at every institution of higher education in the state that grants 4-year degrees. And we found some interesting stuff along the way. If you’d like to be part of something historic, South Carolina has got that: it boasts one of the oldest colleges in America, and the first municipal college in the country. Looking for a big-time college experience with school spirit and a competitive football team? South Carolina has that too. Or maybe you are a quieter, more literary type, and are looking for a small liberal arts college? Or how about that, but with a religious affiliation? Check and check. In short, there are plenty of options here for just about anyone. For more information, see the Top Online Colleges in South Carolina.

Best Colleges in South Carolina Badge

What are the best colleges in South Carolina?

So how did we get our list? Well, we took that list that we mentioned up above, and looked for data on academic quality (things like test scores and student-to-faculty ratios, student body diversity, and return on investment). That statistic is a weight of total cost, including things like tuition and fees, against the expected early career income for graduates. We want you to be able to get the best education possible, but we also want you to be successful post-college as well. All of our data comes from IPEDS, the database put together by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Clemson University
    Location

    Clemson, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Clemson University was founded in 1880 in Clemson. South Carolina. The property was donated via a bequest from Thomas Green Clemson and approved by then Governor John Peter Richardson. It became a federally funded agricultural education and research institution that was initially an all-male, all-white military school. However, it become a co-ed, civilian institution in 1955. Today, it is located in Clemson, South Carolina on 1,400 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the shores of Hartwell Lake. Clemson University also has various research and economic hubs throughout South Carolina.

    Features

    As of 2016, Clemson University serves 18,599 undergraduate and 4,807 graduate students who pursue over 80 undergraduate and 110 graduate degree programs. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 16:1 and over half of the classes have less than 20 students. There are over 450 different organizations for the students to join. Club sports and Greek life are popular options. Top programs include:

    Business\ Engineering,\ Biological Biomedical Sciences\ Health Professions\

    Notables

    Clemson University is ranked #7 for the best return on your investment. It is not just the location near Hartwell Lake where students can enjoy outdoor pastimes. It also includes top technology like the university-owned supercomputer and the state of the art wind-turbine. Both these impressive technologies give students hands-on experience in bleeding edge technology.

  2. Presbyterian College
    Location

    Clinton, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Presbyterian Colleges was founded in 1880 as part of the post-Civil War community revitalization efforts. The effort started with Dr. William Plummer Jacobs in Clinton, South Carolina in a town full of bars. His first effort was an orphanage in 1875 and then turned his eyes towards establishing a college. These efforts moved the entire community into the future with hope.

    Features

    Today, Presbyterian College serves over 1025 undergraduates and nearly 300 pharmacy students. Inside the classroom, the average class size is 13 students. The Student-faculty ratio is 11 to 1. Students have the options from 42 different majors or 9 pre-professional programs. This is a very healthy campus where 90% of the students are involved in some sort of athletic team either intercollegiate or intramural. The college also has 7 national Greek organizations to join. Top Majors include:

    Business\ Biological Biomedical Sciences\ Psychology\ Social Sciences\ History\

    Notables

    There is a common lore on the Presbyterian College campus concerning, Blue Hose. The lore states that it represents the strong Scottish heritage of the college representing their fierce Scottish ancestors. The historical accounts lose its allure. In the early 1900s, the sports teams wear long blue socks or hose as part of their uniform. It was so unique that local sportswriters began to refer to the teams as Blue Stockings. By 1954, it was shortened to Blue Hose;. The college PR thought it would make the teams sound fiercer. What do you think?

  3. University of South Carolina Columbia
    Location

    Columbia, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    University of South Carolina Columbia was initiated in 1801 by Governor John Drayton to be in Columbia, South Carolina. The action had a two-prong approach. First it was to bring together the Lowcountry and the Backcountry. Second, it supported the public college movement led by Thomas Jefferson. Today, University of South Carolina Columbia is the flagship research university of the University of South Carolina System on 359 acres in downtown Columbia.

    Features

    Today, this research university sponsors over 350 programs of study at all levels. Almost 50,000 students study at one of the University of South Carolina locations. Over 33,000 students study at the location in Columbia. Even with such a large student population, the student-faculty ratio is 18 to 1. About 1/3 of the classes have less than 20 students. Of the remaining classes, only 15% have more than 50 students. Top undergraduate programs include:

    Business\ Finance\ Psychology\ Exercise Physiology\ Biology\

    Notables

    University of South Carolina Columbia has spent the last century developing their research capabilities. Today, it is one of 32 Carnegie Foundation Top Tier Researching institutions. However, reaching this level of academics strives them forward they are known as having the highest research activity but also known as an up-and-coming university. However, even with all this research, they have a deep appreciation for the arts. For example, they have the largest collection of Robert Burns, Scottish Literature and Ernest Hemingway collections.

  4. Wofford College
    Location

    Spartanburg, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Wofford College was founded in 1851 by the United Methodists and Bishop William Wightman in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Today it is known as one of the handful of pre-Civil War American colleges that continued through economic hardships to be successful today on its original campus. It is one of the few Phi Beta Kappa colleges gaining their seat in 1941. Today, this liberal arts college is located just north of downtown Spartanburg on the 170-acre Roger Milliken Arboretum complete with over 5,000 trees.

    Features

    Today, Wofford College serves 1,613 undergraduates on a 4-1-4 academic calendar. There are over 50 majors. In the classroom, over half of their classes have less than 20 students. The student-faculty ratio is 11 to 1. In addition to the numerous student organizations, 40% of the students are very active in the 14 Greek organizations. Outside of Greek life and education, you can find the students attending a NCAA Division I game. Top majors include:

    Biology Biological Sciences\ Finance\ Business\ Accounting\ English language Literature\

    Notables

    Spartanburg is known as a college town. In addition to Wofford College, there are over 6 distinct higher education institutions. Just like most college towns, you will find a local international airport, large number of businesses, shopping and outdoor adventures. This college town is located at the junction of I-85 and I-26 in upstate South Carolina.

  5. Erskine College
    Location

    Due West, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Erskine College was founded in 1839 by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church. The original property was to serve as all-male academy and seminary. By 1899, the academy transformed into Erskine College as a four-year, co-ed denominational institution. Today, Erskine College near the village of Due West, South Carolina on 90 acres.

    Features

    Erskine College is a small institution with just over 600 undergraduates. The positive aspect of such as small school is that the student-faculty ratio is 14 to 1 and nearly 78% of the classes have less than 20 students. This type of individual attention assists students moving on into that next phase of their education. Nearly 100% are accepted to their post graduate school of choice. On campus, students can join over 40 student organizations, attend an NCAA Division II sport or take a January term to focus on an internship. Top programs include:

    Biological Biomedical Sciences\ Business, Management, Marketing\ English Language Literature\ Parks, Recreation, Leisure, Fitness Studies\ Physical Sciences.\

    Notables

    The town of Due West sounds like a town in the Pacific Northwest. I can assure you that this tiny little town is within 3-hours of Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia. While the town has only 1,200 residents, the area is rich in colonial, Revolutionary War and Civil War history. If that isn;t enough, there are plenty of recreational activities and lakes that can assist with relaxing after that massive exam.

  6. Converse College
    Location

    Spartanburg, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Converse College was founded in 1889 by textile pioneer Dexter Edgar Converse and the surrounding community of Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was established as a women;s only residential undergraduate and graduate college. Today, it is the only women;s college competing in the NCCA division II sports. The 94% of the students graduate in four years or less 3Xs faster than other higher education institutions. It is recognized by the US department of Education as a top private college excelling in access and success.

    Features

    Today, Converse College has 822 undergraduate and 567 graduate students pursuing over 30 majors and 5 graduate degrees. Inside the classroom over 85% of the classes have less than 20 students. The student-faculty ratio is 12 to 1. Popular majors include:

    Visual Performing Arts\ Education\ Psychology\ Biological Biomedical Sciences\ Business\

    Notables

    Spartanburg, South Carolina is known as Hub City due to its extensive railroad history. Today, it is a college town with over 6 major higher education institutions, over 400 corporations and much more in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The rich culture, outdoor life and bustling city create a home for a talent driven workforce that find their jobs at Michelin, BMW, or General Electric. There is something for everyone at Converse College and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

  7. Citadel Military College of South Carolina
    Location

    Charleston, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Citadel Military College of South Carolina was founded in 1842 in Charleston, South Carolina. Since its inception, it was meant to be a military college. Today it is located on a 300-acre campus. The Citadel;s core values are drummed into their 5 battalions and 21 companies of cadets: Honor, Duty, Respect. Unlike some of the other military colleges and universities in the United States that specialize in only one branch of the military, The Citadel welcomes all branches of the armed forces. Nearly 30% of the graduating cadets commission into military service. The average commission between branches are Army (72%), Air Force (11%), Navy (7%), Marine Corps (8%) and Coast Guard (2%).

    Features

    There are 2,300 undergraduate students (or cadets) that attend The Citadel. There is another 1,000 students pursing graduate, profession and undergraduate evening programs through The Citadel Graduate College. Cadets and Students pursue one of 70 programs. Inside the classroom, the average undergraduate class size is 21 with a student-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. On average, 43% of classes have less than 20 students. Top majors include:

    Business\ Criminal Justice Law Enforcement\ Engineering\ Social Sciences\ Education\

    Notables

    The Citadel is near the Ashley River and a 10-minute drive to downtown Charleston. Like most military institutions, cadets will face stricter codes than those at other schools. Here are a few examples of the student;s experience on campus: 1) A cadet cannot leave campus whenever they choose they must gain permission. 2) A Cadet cannot have alcohol on campus regardless of age. 3) All day cadets must reside on campus all four years. In short, a student at The Citadel commits to live a military life for the four years they are there.

  8. Claflin University
    Location

    Orangeburg, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Claflin University was founded after the Civil War in 1869 to be the first African-American college in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Today Claflin University is in the top ten Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation. The University was named after a prominent Methodist layman and his governor son from Boston Massachusetts. Unlike other institutions in the area, the only admissions requirement was good moral character and a desire to learn regardless of race, complexion, gender or religious opinion. The goal was to provide education and prepare them for full citizenship.

    Features

    Today, Claflin University serves 2,000 students on its 46-acre campus. . It has 36 undergraduate degrees, 4 graduate degrees and 6 online degrees. In the classroom, most classes have less than 20 students. Student-faculty ratio is 13 to 1. While they are part of the NCAA Division II sports, they do not have a football program now. Students are encouraged to engage with student organizations, volunteering in the community and to pursue their dreams. Top programs include:

    Criminal Justice\ Biology\ Political Science\ Communication\ Organizational Behavior Studies\

    Notables

    Orangeburg, South Carolina, is located about 40 miles southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. There are plenty of historical gardens and centers in the area to visit. As well as a I. P. Stanback Museum Planetarium.

  9. Furman University
    Location

    Greenville, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Furman University was founded in 1826 as a private institution for educating men for business and seminary in Greenville, South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is named after Baptist Clergyman Richard Furman. However, overtime, the men;s academy and the seminary parted ways. Today, Furman University is located on 750 acres that includes a 40-acre lake and is next to Paris Mountain State Park.

    Features

    Today, the campus is five miles away from downtown Greenville. The campus is so important it has its own stop on the bus route. That would make sense to support the 2,700 undergraduates pursuing over 60 areas of study. Inside the classroom, the average class has about 20 students and the student-faculty ratio is 11 to 1. Outside the classroom, there are 200 clubs, NCAA Division I sports, 12 Greek organizations and cultural life programs. Top majors include:

    Health Professions\ Clinical Sciences\ Business\ Biology\

    Notables

    The campus does sound large at 750 acres. However, they have made a definite impact with the property. In addition to the 40-acre lake, they have built an Asian Garden, a replica of Henry David Thoreau;s cabin, the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability, a Florentine bell tower, a spring-fed lake, 13 miles of paved trails through the woodlands for hiking and biking and an 18-hole golf course. With that much to do on campus and the bus-route access, a Furman University students has everything at their fingertips.

  10. College of Charleston
    Location

    Charleston, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The College of Charleston was founded in 1770 6 years before the Declaration of Independence. With tensions mounting between Britain and the new Colonies, wealthy colonial families were tied of sending their sons abroad to finish their education. Thus, the Lieutenant Governor William Bull petitioned the general assembly to create the College of Charleston. While the American Revolution caused the opening to be pushed back, the College of Charleston is the 13th higher educational institution in the United States and the first educational institution south of Virginia.

    Features

    Today, it is a public, 52-acre sea-grant and space grant university that inspires over 10,000 undergraduates and almost 1,000 graduate students to pursue their educational dreams. Inside the classroom, most classes have less than 30 students and the student-faculty ratio is 15 to 1. Outside the classroom, students can join 100s of student groups, volunteer organizations or attend NCAA Division I or intramural sporting events. Top programs include:

    Business\ Biological biomedical Sciences\ Visual Performing Arts\ Social Sciences\

    Notables

    Graduation at the College of Charleston is very different than other institutions. After reading about the tradition, I think it is a hold-over from the American Revolution throwing off the shackles of tradition. But you be your own judge. At the spring graduation, female students wear white dresses and male students wear white dinner jackets. If the weather cooperates, the ceremony takes place in the Cistern Yard complete with ancient trees with Spanish Moss. At the December graduation, the ceremony is held indoors. The male students wear black tuxedos and the female students wear black dresses.

mini icon

Online College Resources

Helping you prepare and gain the most out of your educational experience.


Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online Law School Students

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Online Law School Students

November 6, 2020   |   Staff Writers

Earning a law degree opens professional doors. However, law school graduates owe an average of over . Scholarships and other forms of financial aid can help law school students obtain...

College Preparation Checklist

College Preparation Checklist

October 19, 2020   |   Staff Writers

Preparing for college before the first day sets up new students for success. Beginning college can be overwhelming, even for learners who have taken college-level classes in the past. Knowing...

Advertisement CollegeChoice.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Search schools to find the program that is right for you.