Top South Carolina Online Colleges

There are several excellent online colleges in South Carolina. Let's take a look at what they have to offer prospective students and what individuals should consider when choosing an online program.

South Carolina's Best Online Colleges

South Carolina offers a wide variety of certificate and degree options that can be completed in an online format. Some of these programs can be completed in as little as 12 months.

1. Clemson University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Clemson, SC$15,37493%

Coming in first place is Clemson University, which offers many blended and fully online programs and certificates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some online programs include an undergraduate RN to BSN degree and graduate degrees in biological sciences, construction science management, data science and analytics, human resource development, industrial engineering, business administration, transportation safety and administration, teaching and learning, and wildlife and fisheries resources. To support online students, Clemson has an app called Canvas, several assessment tools and web conferencing applications, as well as Cloud storage, instructional video tools, and various group collaboration tools.

2. Bob Jones University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Greenville, SC$18,150100%

Bob Jones University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of subject areas and ranks second in this list. There are undergraduate programs in professional studies and nursing as well as graduate programs in biblical counseling, biblical studies, educational leadership, teaching and learning, divinity, sports administration and coaching, and music education. This school has an academic resource center that assists students who may need help with writing research papers, academic accommodations, and program advisement. It also offers academic coaching to help with study skills such as note-taking, test-taking, and time management.

3. University of South Carolina-Columbia

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Columbia, SC$12,61891%

The University of South Carolina-Columbia offers a variety of online degree completion, undergraduate, and graduate programs. In the schools of arts and sciences, engineering, education, library and information science, public health, and nursing there are over 10 degree completion programs and almost 50 graduate programs. Some of these programs are offered fully online, while others have residency, internship, or other face-to-face requirements in addition to completing coursework online.

4. Columbia College

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Columbia, SC$19,50099%

With 13 online undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs, Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina, ranks fourth in this list. The degrees, some of which can be completed in as little as 12 months, are in the areas of education, business, health and sciences, social sciences, and math and computer science. For online students in some programs, Columbia College offers three 5-week sub-terms each semester, which allows students to take a maximum of two courses each sub-term. Other online students may have two 8-week sub-terms each semester.

5. Anderson University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
Anderson, SC$28,000100%

Fifth-ranked Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina, offers 16 online undergraduate and 14 graduate programs. The areas of study include business, Christian studies, allied health, arts and sciences, criminal justice, physical therapy, music, and nursing. In addition, students can participate in online professional development courses or receive reduced tuition and other perks if they are employed by partner organizations. Finally, every student at Anderson University has an academic success advisor to answer questions, help with the transition into being an Anderson University student, assist with course registration, and many other important activities.

RankSchool NameLocationTuition & Fees (in-state)% Receiving Financial Aid
6Coastal Carolina UniversityConway, SC$11,71699%
7North Greenville UniversityTigerville, SC$19,75099%
8University of South Carolina-UpstateSpartanburg, SC$11,85297%
9Converse CollegeSpartanburg, SC$18,34099%
10Charleston Southern UniversityCharleston, SC$25,540100%
11Francis Marion UniversityFlorence, SC$11,976100%
12Claflin UniversityOrangeburg, SC$16,854100%
13Southern Wesleyan UniversityCentral, SC$25,47699%
14Columbia International UniversityColumbia, SC$23,690100%
15Limestone CollegeGaffney, SC$25,02599%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year.'s school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

What Should I Consider When Choosing an Online School?

When looking at schools that offer online programs, it's important to consider things like transfer credits, accreditation, the type of school, and financial aid. Let's take a look at these topics in more detail.

Transfer Credits

Most colleges and universities accept some transfer credits from other accredited schools, but they may not accept all of the credits earned. In degree completion programs such as the RN to BSN programs offered by Clemson University and Bob Jones University, credit is often given for having an associate's degree, for example. To find out whether credits will transfer from a previous school, submit an official transcript, and it will be reviewed for potential transfer credit.


Basically, accreditation means that a school and its processes have been reviewed by an outside organization based upon established criteria. Accreditation is not required, but it is an indication that a school has undergone scrutiny and has met certain standards. It is important to note that students taking courses from a school that is not accredited do not qualify for federal financial aid.

There are two general types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic or specialized. Usually, schools pursue institutional accreditation first. The process includes an application to an accrediting agency, a self-study, a site visit by the accrediting agency, and a determination as to the accrediting status of the school. The U.S. has six regional accrediting agencies and numerous national accrediting agencies. Usually, universities and colleges, both public and private, often non-profit, tend to be regionally accredited, such as Bob Jones University, Columbia College, and Anderson University, whereas for-profit colleges and universities and schools that focus on specific training for various trades are often nationally accredited. Some schools like Bob Jones University are both nationally and regionally accredited.

Programmatic or specialized accreditation is often important to demonstrate that a program not only meets the standards set forth by the institutional accrediting agency but also meets the specific standards set by professional organizations and agencies. Programmatic accreditation is commonly seen in programs such as nursing and social work. Anderson University, for example, has programmatic accreditation in the areas of music, art and design, and teaching.

Type of School

There are many types of schools that offer online programs, and there are many types of online programs. As seen above, there are public and private colleges and universities that offer degrees, certifications, and professional development. There are also for-profit schools that offer degrees and certifications. Some schools focus very narrowly on a specific skill or trade, such as welding, electrical, plumbing, cosmetology, or massage therapy. As for online programs, some are offered 100% online. Others have a blended or hybrid approach so that students participate in both online and on-campus activities. There are programs that have internship or residency requirements, which is sometimes the case at the graduate level.

Financial Aid

There are multiple ways students can get the money necessary to attend college, including colleges with online programs. Here is a short list of the most common:

  • Scholarships - Scholarships are offered by schools and organizations to help students who want to attend college. In order to be considered for scholarships, students must submit an application and meet whatever standards or criteria have been established. For example, Clemson University offers five types of scholarships for incoming freshmen. Scholarships do not have to be paid back; however, if a student doesn't fulfill the requirements for receiving a scholarship, it may be revoked.
  • Grants - There are several federal grants that college-bound students may be eligible to receive. They include Pell grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants, which are offered by many schools, including Anderson University. Other career- or service-related grants include the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service grant. Grants do not have to be repaid unless the student does not fulfill the criteria established.
  • Loans - Like house or car loans, school loans consist of money borrowed from a lending institution or the federal government, such as the subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans and the Parent PLUS loan available at Columbia College. The money has to be paid back within a certain amount of time at an agreed-upon interest rate. The repayment of loans doesn't start until the student has been out of school for six months.
  • Work Study - When schools like the University of South Carolina-Columbia participate in the federal work-study program, which many do, college students at all levels are eligible to apply for part-time work-study jobs to help pay for college. Whether a student is eligible for a work-study position depends on financial need, how many work-study dollars have been awarded to the school, and when the student applies. The number of hours a student works depends on the amount of work-study funds the school has received.

Cost of Attending College Online

Because costs vary widely from college to college, it is difficult to put an exact number on the cost of attending college online. Generally, though, it's important to consider tuition, fees and other costs when evaluating colleges.


Most colleges and universities have two tuition structures: in-state and out-of-state. Undergraduate students should expect in-state tuition to cost from $12,000 to $28,000 per year for these top South Carolina schools; however, out-of-state tuition is usually much higher, such as at Clemson University where the undergraduate out-of-state tuition per year is $18,555 versus in-state tuition of $7,059. Non-residents may be eligible for tuition breaks through departmental, university, or athletic scholarships, though. Graduate students are usually charged by the credit hour, which can range from $300 to $700 per credit as demonstrated by Columbia College's graduate tuition rate of $480 per credit hour.

Typical Fees for Online Students

Some of the more common fees paid by students include technology fees, student services fees, application fees, graduation fees, and student government fees. These miscellaneous fees can amount to several hundred dollars per semester. In addition, there are programs like nursing that have fees that can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year. For example, the typical program fee at Bob Jones University is $1,600.

Other Cost Considerations for Online Students

Online students have technology costs that may not apply to other students. Their computers must be able to connect to the Internet, for example, which could mean the online student needs a newer computer or faster connection. Also, there may be specialized applications they will need to purchase for courses or communication.

Careers for Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Holders

Generally, the higher the level of educational attainment, the lower the unemployment rate and the higher the salary. For example, median usual earnings in 2018 for individuals with a bachelor's degree was $1,198 per week, and the unemployment rate was 2.2% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are significantly better than the numbers for individuals with only a high school diploma. Those individuals had weekly median usual earnings of $730 per week and an unemployment rate of 4.1% in 2018.

Let's take a look at some careers associated with popular online degree programs.

Area of StudyOccupationEntry-Level DegreeMedian Salary (2018-2028)*Job Outlook (2018-2028)*
Computer and Information TechnologyWeb DeveloperAssociate's Degree$69,43013%
Computer and Information TechnologyComputer ProgrammerBachelor's Degree$84,280-7%
Computer and Information TechnologyComputer and Information Research ScientistMaster's Degree$118,37016%
EducationPre-School TeacherAssociate's Degree$29,7807%
EducationCareer and Technical Education TeacherBachelor's Degree$56,750-1%
EducationPost-Secondary Education AdministratorMaster's Degree$94,3407%
HealthcareDiagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, including Vascular TechnologistsAssociate's Degree$67,08014%
HealthcareRegistered NurseBachelor's Degree$71,73012%
HealthcareOccupational TherapistMaster's Degree$84,27018%

'*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Careers in Computer and Information Technology

There are many careers in computer and information technology that require a college degree. Students who study in this field can learn about web, software, or database development; network design, development, and support; or analysis of computer systems to improve efficiency, to name just a few areas of study. Overall, the job outlook in computer and information technology is expected to improve 12% from 2018 to 2028.

Careers in Education

A 5% growth rate from 2018 to 2028 is expected in education, training, and library occupations. Not only are individuals with degrees in education found in P-12 and post-secondary schools as teachers, they can also be found as curriculum or instruction coordinators. Degrees in education are also useful outside of schools in museums as archivists or curators or as librarians, for example.

Careers in Healthcare

For individuals who want to enter the healthcare field, having a college degree opens many career opportunities. With 14% growth projected from 2018 to 2028, healthcare graduates can pursue opportunities in dentistry, nutrition, genetics, and medical technology, for example. This rate of growth is expected because the population is aging and will be in need of more medical services.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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