Best Liberal Arts Colleges in South Carolina 2022

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in South Carolina 2022

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in South Carolina offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

The 31 public schools range in tuition from $5,000 to $17,000. The largest institution, the University of South Carolina (U of SC), is right in the middle, totaling $11,000 for fees. Located in Columbia, U of SC has over 30,000 students in attendance and offers over 300 degree options. Aside from the technical and community colleges in the state, there are four universities under $10,000. At $17,000, the Medical University of South Carolina is the most expensive public school in the state.

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In addition, over 25 private schools, 17 with religious affiliations, offer academic settings with small student populations, none exceeding 3,500. Though it is the most expensive at $50,000, Furman University boasts an 84% graduation rate. With Methodist connections, Wofford College charges a tuition of $44,000, and it bears noting that the campus is situated on a national arboretum. The University of South Carolina School of Law is one of the nation’s oldest law schools and the state’s only nonprofit law school. Graduates of the school have the opportunity to receive financial assistance from the Public Interest Law Loan Forgiveness Fund if they are employed in the field of public interest law.

Along the 60-mile stretch of beaches in South Carolina is iconic Myrtle Beach, home to one of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels. Cypress swamps, military museums, and tea gardens add to the southern charm of this state. And with over 50 higher education institutions, students have plenty of options for where to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.

Check out the top programs available, and earn your degree in The Palmetto State.


What are South Carolina’s Colleges & Universities?

South Carolina’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine South Carolina's best colleges and universities?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence in their fields of study.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 31 liberal arts colleges in South Carolina. To be ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in South Carolina, schools must fully accredited institutions.

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges in South Carolina 2022

  1. #1

    College of Charleston

    Charleston , SC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    What is College of Charleston known for?

    College of Charleston’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • History
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Furman University

    Greenville , SC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1330/30

    What is Furman University known for?

    Furman University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/21

    What is Coastal Carolina University known for?

    Coastal Carolina University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Education
    • Anthropology
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Wofford College

    Spartanburg , SC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    What is Wofford College known for?

    Wofford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #6

    The Citadel

    Charleston , SC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/22

    What is The Citadel known for?

    The Citadel’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • History
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #7

    Lander University

    Greenwood , SC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    What is Lander University known for?

    Lander University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Communications
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #9

    Winthrop University

    Rock Hill , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/21

    What is Winthrop University known for?

    Winthrop University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #10

    Francis Marion University

    Florence , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/18

    What is Francis Marion University known for?

    Francis Marion University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Medical
    • History
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

    What is University of South Carolina Aiken known for?

    University of South Carolina Aiken’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Education
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/23

    What is Anderson University, South Carolina known for?

    Anderson University, South Carolina’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #13

    Erskine College

    Due West , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/19

    What is Erskine College known for?

    Erskine College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #14

    Allen University

    Columbia , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Allen University known for?

    Allen University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #15

    Benedict College

    Columbia , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    925/17

    What is Benedict College known for?

    Benedict College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Economics
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #16

    Presbyterian College

    Clinton , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/22

    What is Presbyterian College known for?

    Presbyterian College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #17

    Converse University

    Spartanburg , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/19

    What is Converse University known for?

    Converse University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/19

    What is University of South Carolina Upstate known for?

    University of South Carolina Upstate’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #19

    Newberry College

    Newberry , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/18

    What is Newberry College known for?

    Newberry College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Sociology
    • Law
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #20

    North Greenville University

    Tigerville , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/23

    What is North Greenville University known for?

    North Greenville University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/19

    What is University of South Carolina Beaufort known for?

    University of South Carolina Beaufort’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #22

    Claflin University

    Orangeburg , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    940/17

    What is Claflin University known for?

    Claflin University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • History
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #23

    Charleston Southern University

    Charleston , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/25

    What is Charleston Southern University known for?

    Charleston Southern University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #24

    Southern Wesleyan University

    Central , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

    What is Southern Wesleyan University known for?

    Southern Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • History
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #25

    Morris College

    Sumter , SC

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Graduation

    26%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Morris College known for?

    Morris College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
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South Carolina’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Your Area of Interest

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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Resources for College-Bound Students

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Bob Jones University
  2. Erskine College
  3. Furman University
  4. Coker University
  5. The Citadel
  6. Newberry College
  7. Wofford College
  8. College of Charleston
  9. Columbia College
  10. Converse University
  11. Coastal Carolina University
  12. Southern Wesleyan University
  13. Winthrop University
  14. University of South Carolina Upstate
  15. Francis Marion University
  16. Lander University
  17. Claflin University
  18. University of South Carolina Aiken
  19. Presbyterian College
  20. Columbia International University
  21. Anderson University, South Carolina
  22. North Greenville University