South Carolina’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in South Carolina.

South Carolina’s Best Private Colleges & Universities 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.


What are South Carolina’s Colleges & Universities?

South Carolina’s Best Overall

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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How do we determine South Carolina's best private 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.

This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 22 private universities in South Carolina, 14 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best private universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a private, 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 Private Colleges & Universities in South Carolina

  1. #1

    Bob Jones University

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

    Tuition + fees

    $21K

    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
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Erskine College

    #1900 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

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

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    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
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Coker University

    #8235 institution's historical influence
    #1181 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Newberry College

    #4531 institution's historical influence
    #1341 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Wofford College

    #1852 institution's historical influence
    #908 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    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
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
  7. #7

    Columbia College

    #7492 institution's historical influence
    #249 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    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
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Converse University

    #5636 institution's historical influence
    #1016 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $21K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/19

    Spartanburg, SC

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    What is Converse University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Southern Wesleyan University

    #4759 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
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Claflin University

    #4277 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

  11. #11

    Presbyterian College

    #3799 institution's historical influence
    #671 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    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
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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  12. #12

    Columbia International University

    #3545 institution's historical influence
    #95 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    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
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Anderson University

    #4334 institution's historical influence
    #1264 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/23

    Anderson, SC

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    What is Anderson University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    North Greenville University

    #5717 institution's historical influence
    #194 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    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
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • History
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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Photo By: John Foxe - Photograph by John Foxe, Public Domain