South Carolina’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges of 2021

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.

South Carolina’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges of 2021

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.

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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?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

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.

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

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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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 a total of 32 liberal arts colleges and universities in South Carolina, 22 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best liberal arts schools in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 40%.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in South Carolina

  1. #1

    Bob Jones University

    #813 institution's historical influence
    #209 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    3K

    Greenville, SC

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    What is Bob Jones University known for?

    Bob Jones University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Law
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Medical
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Erskine College

    #1966 institution's historical influence
    #1295 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/19

    Due West, SC

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    What is Erskine College known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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  3. #3

    Furman University

    #846 institution's historical influence
    #1039 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1330/30

    Greenville, SC

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    What is Furman University known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Coker University

    #6885 institution's historical influence
    #1181 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/23

    Hartsville, SC

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    What is Coker University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    The Citadel

    #1377 institution's historical influence
    #1218 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/22

    Charleston, SC

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    What is The Citadel known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Newberry College

    #3751 institution's historical influence
    #1341 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/18

    Newberry, SC

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    What is Newberry College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Wofford College

    #1825 institution's historical influence
    #908 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    Spartanburg, SC

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    What is Wofford College known for?

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

    • Business
    • History
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    College of Charleston

    #792 institution's historical influence
    #435 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    Charleston, SC

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    What is College of Charleston known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Columbia College

    #7151 institution's historical influence
    #249 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    1K

    Columbia, SC

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    What is Columbia College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Converse College

    #3192 institution's historical influence
    #1016 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/19

    Spartanburg, SC

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    What is Converse College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Coastal Carolina University

    #1760 institution's historical influence
    #613 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/21

    Conway, SC

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    What is Coastal Carolina University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Southern Wesleyan University

    #4852 institution's historical influence
    #1124 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

    Central, SC

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    What is Southern Wesleyan University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Winthrop University

    #2575 institution's historical influence
    #1174 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/21

    Rock Hill, SC

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    What is Winthrop University known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
  14. #14

    University of South Carolina Upstate

    #5916 institution's historical influence
    #1231 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/19

    Spartanburg, SC

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    What is University of South Carolina Upstate known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
  15. #15

    Francis Marion University

    #3387 institution's historical influence
    #1269 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/18

    Florence, SC

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    What is Francis Marion University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
  16. #16

    Lander University

    #3902 institution's historical influence
    #913 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/20

    Greenwood, SC

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    What is Lander University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #17

    Claflin University

    #4568 institution's historical influence
    #635 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    940/17

    Orangeburg, SC

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    What is Claflin University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #18

    University of South Carolina Aiken

    #5785 institution's historical influence
    #1008 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

    Aiken, SC

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    What is University of South Carolina Aiken known for?

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

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #19

    Presbyterian College

    #3923 institution's historical influence
    #671 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/22

    Clinton, SC

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    What is Presbyterian College known for?

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

    • History
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #20

    Columbia International University

    #3686 institution's historical influence
    #95 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $24K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/21

    Columbia, SC

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    What is Columbia International University known for?

    Columbia International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    Anderson University

    #4384 institution's historical influence
    #1264 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/23

    Anderson, SC

    View profile

    What is Anderson University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Law
    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    North Greenville University

    #5498 institution's historical influence
    #194 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $21K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/23

    Tigerville, SC

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    What is North Greenville University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

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