Online Colleges in South Carolina

Scroll down to see the top not-for-profit colleges and universities in South Carolina offering online degree programs.

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Advertisement This search widget accesses a list of schools that help sponsor this site by paying a small fee for student inquiries. They are all accredited not-for-profit institutions. Some may be included in our rankings but it is not related to their participation as an advertiser. In general, evaluating as many schools as possible will help you find the best fit.

Deciding to study online in South Carolina is step 1. Step 2 is picking a school. To help you decide, we’ve created this short guide. We’ll explain where to search for online degrees, push you toward free college credits and explore out-of-state discounts. Then, we’ll rank the most affordable online colleges in South Carolina as well as note schools with accreditation issues. Finally, we’ll leave you with a list of resources.

Online Degrees in South Carolina: What to Know

1. Discover Online Programs in South Carolina

In coordination with over a hundred universities across 15 states in the South, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Electronic Campus maintains an online program & course catalog. Though not comprehensive, it lists dozens of degree program and even more individual courses. If the program carries the “E” label, it means tuition is set at the Electronic Rate, which is the same for residents and nonresidents.

Institutions participating in the Electronic Campus include University of South Carolina campuses (Aiken, Columbia and Upstate), state technical colleges (Aiken, Horry-Georgetown, Piedmont and Trident), other state universities (Clemson University and Medical University of South Carolina), and private colleges (Converse College and Limestone College).

2. Get Cheaper Tuition for Out-of-State Degrees

One advantage of studying online is you can go anywhere, right? Well, nonresident tuition rates at state schools often put a damper on that idea. But with SREB’s Academic Common Market-Electronic Campus (ACM-EC), you can still pay in-state tuition for out-of-state programs if South Carolina doesn’t have the degree you want.

Fifteen states participate in the ACM-EC, but your degree must be on the list of approved ACM-EC programs to qualify for discount tuition. Apply for admission to the university and get certified as a South Carolina resident. The website will walk you through the process.

3. Palmetto College Houses Online Degree Completion Programs

The University of South Carolina system has done something interesting. It’s created a separate school called Palmetto College to handle two components of its education offerings: two-year degrees and online bachelor’s degree completion. Palmetto College is really just a name. In actuality, courses are taught by professors from each of the USC system’s instructors, and your degree will come from a specific USC campus.

Palmetto College is particularly useful for transfer students. Since it includes the four 2-year degree schools within the USC system (Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union), going to one of those schools for an associate degree means you can effortlessly transfer your degree into one of Palmetto’s online bachelor’s degree completion programs. You’ll apply through Palmetto College and pay the Palmetto College rate, but your degree will be issued by whichever campus administers the program.

4. Start Studying Online in High School

The South Carolina Department of Education has set up VirtualSC to make supplementary online classes available to 7th through 12th graders at South Carolina schools. All courses in the catalog are asynchronously delivered, maximizing student flexibility. Take as many as you want, but we recommend focusing on VirtualSC’s 10 Advanced Placement (AP) courses as you get closer to college. That’s because AP course syllabi prepare you for AP exams. Score at least a 3 or a 4, and you’ll likely get college credit (depends on the college you attend). Because VirtualSC is free, all you’ll have paid is the registration price for the AP exam.

Affordable Online Schools in South Carolina

There are many good online colleges in South Carolina. There are also many affordable ones. But to get on our list, you have to be both. We’ve looked at criteria such as transfer flexibility, net price, and graduation rates and converted them into a CAG Score that you can see next to each school’s profile in our ranking. After reading through, you may end up stuck deciding between a few schools. If so, use the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard to get more geeky stats.

  • Anderson University

    AU Online provides undergraduates and graduates with a “Christ-centered environment” in all its degree programs. Because it’s a private university, there’s no distinction between South Carolinians and nonresidents when it comes to tuition. Residency does matter for financial aid determinations, however, with only undergraduate residents eligible for state-derived funds. (Nonresidents and online graduate students still qualify for federal financial aid.)

    Anderson makes a concerted effort to welcome adult and nontraditional learners, providing plenty of hybrid options so people can study for a master’s degree or doctorate at night and online. Anderson also gives all adult and online students a “journey coach” from the moment they apply. The coach helps them transfer credits, register and obtain financial aid so they have a smooth transition into college.

  • Citadel Military College of South Carolina

    The Citadel is a public university best known for its military structure. However, the Citadel Graduate College exists outside of that structure, so anyone can partake in its online graduate and baccalaureate completion programs. Although The Citadel is public, it charges residents and nonresidents the same tuition if they pursue full-time online status. Further, the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships can work with all online students.

  • Coastal Carolina University

    Coastal Online is CCU’s gateway to undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates. Go to the Office of Student Accounts for tuition and fee info. While you might be bummed out to learn there’s no discount for studying online, CCU has developed a program to make it up to you. The Degree-in-Three initiative lets undergrads get a degree in three years by adding a summer semester. This saves you money in two ways. First, its gets you out into the working world quicker. Second, online summer sessions cost less, including for nonresidents. You don’t have to be a full-time online student to take advantage — all students can enroll in online courses. Visit the Office of Financial Aid for further scholarship, grant and loan help.

  • Francis Marion University

    FMU has limited online offerings — the RN to BSN program, certain graduate-level courses within the education department, and hybrid courses in the business department. For nurses, tuition is the same whether you’re coming from South Carolina or another state. Look to the Financial Assistance Office for, well, financial assistance.

  • Lander University

    Most of Lander’s distance and online learning opportunities come in the form of individual courses rather than full programs. Lander is a public university, so you’ll be charged lower tuition if you’re a South Carolina resident. But the Office of Financial Aid is there to help, no matter your residency status.

  • University of South Carolina-Beaufort

    USCB offers three bachelor’s degree completion programs online. That is to say, the school is behind three Palmetto College programs. For tuition purposes, you’ll pay the Palmetto College rate, but for financial aid, you’ll go through USCB’s Office of Financial Aid.

Online Schools in South Carolina with Accreditation & Quality Concerns

In most cases, a degree from an unaccredited institution is worthless, so make sure your chosen college is accredited. National accreditation qualifies you for federal financial aid, while regional accreditation does that plus makes it easier to transfer credits.

We’ve done a preliminary sweep of schools who have recently received negative actions from their accreditor. We’ve also rounded up several downright fake colleges:

  • Art Institute of Charleston

    It can be difficult to research the accreditation status of proprietary school chains holding SACS accreditation because SACS only lists the main campus in the directory — not the many branches. That’s the case with the Art Institute of Charleston, a branch of the Atlanta campus. In December 2016 SACS placed the institute and its branches on probation due to concerns about financial stability. The institute remains accredited while on probation and has one year to address SACS’ concerns. That may be difficult, as its parent company, Education Management Corporation, is experiencing major financial struggles, prompting it to close other Art Institute campuses.

  • Carolina International University

    Before you get too invested in a Carolina International University education, look closer at the homepage. It states that the school isn’t an American university and does not offer any courses. In other words, it’s a degree mill and won’t appear in the CHEA database or on College Scorecard.

  • Cathedral Bible College

    Cathedral Bible College‘s founder went to jail for fraud in 2014 for luring international students to the school under false pretenses. When they got there, instead of learning, he forced them to work for substandard (or no) wages under threat of deportation. All of this came to light after several Cathedral students informed the Department of Homeland Security that their classes weren’t real.

  • South University

    When proprietary school chains attain SACS accreditation, SACS only lists the main campus, so you might not be aware of Georgia-based South University, which has a campus in Columbia. In December 2016 SACS placed South University on probation due to concerns about its financial stability. The university remains accredited while on probation and has one year to address SACS’ concerns. That may be difficult because South University’s parent company, Education Management Corporation, is experiencing major financial struggles.

  • Tabernacle Baptist College

    Tabernacle Baptist College in Greenville has an “external studies program.” What it does not have is accreditation. Therefore, it won’t appear in the CHEA database or on College Scorecard

South Carolina Online Education Resources

Accreditation

Distance Learning Resources

  • South Carolina Transfer and Articulation Center (SC TRAC): At some point, you may want to switch schools. SC TRAC will guide you through the process at any of South Carolina’s public colleges or universities so you can see how prior coursework will be applied toward a new degree. (Toward your major? As an elective? Not at all?) It’ll be really easy if there’s a transfer agreement between schools, which you can determine here. It’ll take a bit longer if you have to search for course equivalencies.

Online Degree & Course Catalogs

  • Palmetto College: All of the University of South Carolina’s degree completion programs are in one place — Palmetto College. Get connected to financial aid and apply for admission directly through the Palmetto College portal.
  • Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Electronic Campus: Explore online degree programs or courses provided by SREB institutions. Plus, get answers on credit transfers, financial aid policies and net pricing.
  • VirtualSC: Check out free online courses you can take for credit in junior high and high school.

School Rankings

1

Clemson University

Clemson University offers online undergraduate courses in fields like accounting, art, astronomy, biology public speaking, communications, construction management, counseling, education and many more. In addition to offering online courses for undergraduate students, Clemson University offers several graduate programs that can be completed entirely online. These programs include master's degrees in biological sciences, construction science management, public administration, youth development, human resource development and parks, recreation and tourism management. Clemson also offers a graduate-level engineering certificate and degree online and was ranked 53rd in U.S. News & World Report's 2015 list of "Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs."

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

2

University of South Carolina-Aiken

The University of South Carolina Aiken has two degree-completion programs and one master's program that students can complete through online coursework. The Master of Education in Educational Technology is open to teachers, corporate trainers, educational software developers, and others who want to learn about instructional design. Candidates who already have South Carolina teacher licensure can earn the add-on endorsement in online teaching by completing this degree. Applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and should submit MAT or GRE scores. Adult students who have at least 60 undergraduate credits, primarily in general education coursework, can apply for the business degree-completion program, which leads to a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a management concentration. This program is only open to residents of South Carolina, and students can start in the fall or spring semester. Working nurses who have an associate degree or diploma in nursing can earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing through the BSN degree-completion program at the University of South Carolina Aiken. Students start the program in August and can complete the degree in about one year.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

3

Columbia International University

Columbia International University, which was founded as Columbia Bible School in 1923, offers a variety of master's degree programs completely online. Coursework for these classes is presented in an asynchronous format, so students can log on when and where they want to look at course content. Occasionally, students may be required to attend a webchat at a specific time, but the course syllabus will outline when this might occur. Online students never have to go to the CIU campus in South Carolina. Applicants to all the online master's programs must have an undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least 2.5, and they must submit a recommendation from a pastor who has known them personally for at least two years. Master of Arts programs offered online lead to a degree in intercultural studies, Muslim studies, theological studies, or Bible exposition. Students in the online Master of Education program can concentrate in educational administration or instruction and learning. The Master of Divinity program offers a choice of four concentrations: Bible exposition, global studies, ministry studies, or Muslim studies.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

4

Southern Wesleyan University

Southern Wesleyan University's online programs allow working adults to earn a college degree, with degrees available at all levels from associate to master's. Most of the programs are focused on business or education topics. Students who have little to no college background can begin with the Associate of Arts in General Studies degree, which will allow them to complete the necessary general studies requirements for one of the bachelor's degree programs. The online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration allows students to concentrate in management, human resource management, or supply chain management. The Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood and Family Studies is an interdisciplinary program that does not lead to teacher certification. The School of Business offers three online master's programs: MBA, MBA with a concentration in health care administration, and Master of Science in Management and Leadership. The School of Education has an online Master of Education in Classroom Leadership with content area electives in literacy, learning disabilities, gifted and talented, and early childhood special education. The M.Ed. program is open to certified teachers with at least one year of experience. Members of the Palmetto State Teachers Association in the M.Ed. program receive a 10 percent tuition scholarship.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

5

Francis Marion University

Students accepted to the RN-BSN program offered by the School of Health Sciences at Francis Marion University have the option of earning the degree online. The required 30 credit hours can be completed in just 11 months if students pursue a full-time plan of study. The Family Nurse Practitioner track of the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program follows a hybrid delivery system. Classes are available online or face-to-face on campus every Wednesday. Students who begin the program in the spring semester can expect to earn their degree in two years. It will take slightly longer for students who begin the program in the fall. The Nurse Educator track of the MSN program can be completed entirely online. This program of study was developed collaboratively with the Graduate School of Education to prepare graduates for careers as nurse educators in either an academic setting or in a clinical practice field. Students who complete the program are eligible to apply for national certification. The university's School of Education now offers online courses for three of its graduate degree programs: Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Instructional Accommodation, M.Ed. in Learning Disabilities, and Master of Arts in Teaching - Learning Disabilities.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,944 Students

6

North Greenville University

North Greenville University offers six online undergraduate degrees for adult students, who must be at least 22 years old to apply. Applicants may be first-time freshmen or they may transfer credits from another college or university. Each degree program offers students the opportunity to perform an internship or otherwise gain hands-on practice in the field, often in their own community. Additionally, several of the online programs grant students academic credit for previous work experience. Students in the online business degree program follow the curriculum for the concentration in leadership and management, and they can also choose a minor in marketing. Students in the Christian ministries program must perform two ministry practica, which can be done at their local church or through an overseas mission or nonprofit organization. Criminal justice students work an internship for credit. Elementary education majors may take part in field placements where they observe, interact with and teach children. Students in the general studies program may earn academic credit by taking a mission trip that lasts for at least seven days. Online psychology majors may be able to work an internship in their senior year.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

7

Anderson University

Students who enter an online program at Anderson University are assigned a mentor, or journey coach, to help them navigate the entire college process, from transferring previous credits to registering for classes and applying for financial aid. AU Online offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees designed for working adults. Most of the degree programs are in the fields of business, criminal justice, allied health, and Christian studies. AU recently added an online MBA that can be completed in 20 months. MBA courses are delivered in a six-week format and are taught in a Christian framework. Undergraduate degrees offered include business administration, with options to specialize in applied computer or health care management; criminal justice with concentrations in homeland security, emergency preparedness, and law enforcement; emergency services management; human resource management; Christian studies; liberal studies; and an RN to BSN program. In addition to the MBA, graduate programs available include Doctor of Ministry, Master of Education, Master of Ministry, and Master of Music in Music Education. Students seeking an online bachelor's or graduate degree are eligible for federal financial aid. All online students pay a reduced tuition which makes them ineligible for scholarships the university awards.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

CAG Score 92.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,112 Students

8

Lander University

Lander University offers two online degree programs and one online certificate program. The school's online Bachelor of Science in Nursing is designed for registered nurses pursuing their bachelor's degree, and the online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management is designed for criminal justice professionals with at least two years of experience who have already earned an associate's degree. The Health Care Management Certificate Program is a completely online four-course program that can be completed in one to two years. LU also offers many individual courses online in subjects like art, education, emergency management, English, history, math, mass media, political science, psychology and theatre.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

CAG Score 95.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,787 Students

9

Citadel Military College of South Carolina

The Citadel currently offers two online degree completion programs: Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Applicants to either program must show the completion of a minimum of 24 transferrable college credit hours. Upon admission, students can earn their degree entirely online. On the graduate level, the Citadel offers the following Master of Arts (MA) degrees online: MA in Intelligence and Security Studies, MA in International Politics and Military Affairs, and MA in Social Science. Students admitted to the MA in Intelligence and Security Studies program have the option of concentrating in the field of cybersecurity. There are three additional graduate-level degrees that are available online from the Citadel: Master of Business Administration, Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Interdisciplinary STEM Education, and Master of Science in Leadership. The M.Ed. in Interdisciplinary STEM Education degree does not lead to certification; instead, the program is designed to improve and advance teacher effectiveness in the field of STEM education. At the current time, online graduate certificates are offered in leadership and in military leadership. The Graduate Certificate in Leadership can be earned as a stand-alone certificate or as part of an MA or MS degree program.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

CAG Score 94.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,592 Students

10

University of South Carolina-Columbia

The university offers undergraduates the choice of pursuing the following bachelor's degrees online: B.A. Elementary Education, B.A. Liberal Studies and B.A. Organizational Leadership. These online programs are offered through Palmetto College, which is the online bachelor's completion program of the University of South Carolina system. USC also has the following graduate degree programs available online: M.Ed Teaching, M.Ed. Educational Administration, Master of Health Information Technology, Master in Public Health, and a Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction. In addition, USC has several individual courses available online, some of which are accessible on demand, while others follow the regular class schedules during each semester.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

11

Coker College

The Master of Science (MS) in College Athletic Administration degree at Coker College is offered 100 percent online. The program consists of 30 semester hours of graduate-level coursework and follows a cohort model of education. Students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA in order to earn the degree. The curriculum covers specialized areas such as sport law, NCAA compliance regulations, and sport business management and marketing. The college also offers an online MS in Applied Criminology degree. Students accepted to the program can expect to earn the degree after 15 months of continuous enrollment. Courses are delivered in 10 six-week terms. On the undergraduate level, there is a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Business Management degree available online. The program is offered through the Adult Degree Program of the college and is designed for adult learners. Coker College offers online summer courses for students who are enrolled in other institutions. Students who are interested in this opportunity must submit a completed Transient Student form from their home school. Students can take a maximum of 12 semester hours under this program. Courses are delivered asynchronously, giving students 24/7 access to all study materials and course lectures.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

12

Converse College

Converse College offers four graduate degrees for education majors that can be earned completely or almost completely online. Additionally, students seeking a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing can enroll in a low-residency program that requires students to attend four nine-day sessions, which are offered each summer and January at the college. Converse has online programs leading to a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Advanced Studies, M.Ed. in Art Education, and M.Ed. in Gifted Education. An Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Literacy is also available online. Students in the advanced studies program, which is 100 percent online, can concentrate in English, social studies, math, science, literacy, or gifted education. The art education program requires students to attend two summer residencies, each two weeks long, in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The gifted education program and education specialist degree are available 100 percent online. Applicants to the M.Ed. programs must have an undergraduate GPA of a least 2.75, and applicants to the Ed.S. program must have earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher in their master's program. In 2014, Converse announced it would start an online degree-completion program, but it has since postponed those plans.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

13

Coastal Carolina University

Coastal Carolina University offers online classes in the following academic areas: arts and humanities, business, education, math and science, interdisciplinary studies and library studies. Three undergraduate degrees can be completed entirely online, including bachelor's degrees in health administration; hospital, resort and tourism management; and marketing. An undergraduate certificate is also available in geospatial technologies. Online graduate programs at CCU include degrees in instructional technology and literacy, as well as graduate certificates in business foundations, English for speakers of other languages and online teaching and training. The university delivers online classes using the online learning management system Moodle.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

CAG Score 94.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

9,976 Students

14

University of South Carolina-Beaufort

Students who have finished about two years of undergraduate studies can complete work toward a bachelor's degree online through the University of South Carolina Beaufort and Palmetto College. Three majors are available, and applicants should have at least 45 to 60 college credits. The Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion is open to students who have prerequisite courses in anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, developmental psychology, and statistics. The program can lead to careers in areas such as exercise and fitness, tobacco use counseling, or nutrition. The Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management allows students to select a concentration area such as hotels, food service, or tourism. The Bachelor of Science in Human Services is an interdisciplinary program that features elements of sociology and psychology. Students pursuing this major are required to complete three internships in which the student works in a supervised human services setting. All three of USCB's online degree programs, which are offered through Palmetto College, allow students to enter the program in the spring, summer, or fall.

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

CAG Score 93.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,794 Students

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