Best Public Colleges in South Carolina 2022

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in South Carolina provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

Best Public Colleges in South Carolina 2022

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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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 the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, 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 bachelor’s 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. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

South Carolina's Best Public Colleges Badge
Download Badge

This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 12 public universities in South Carolina. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in South Carolina, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

How do we determine South Carolina's best public 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.

Back to Top

Best Public Colleges in South Carolina 2022

  1. #1

    University of South Carolina

    Columbia , SC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    32K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/28

    What is University of South Carolina known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Law
    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Education
    • Economics
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Clemson University

    Clemson , SC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1315/29

    What is Clemson University known for?

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

    • Economics
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    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

  4. 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

  5. #5

    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. #6

    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. #8

    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. #9

    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

    $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

  11. 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

Back to Top

South Carolina’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

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. University of South Carolina
  2. Clemson University
  3. The Citadel
  4. College of Charleston
  5. Coastal Carolina University
  6. Winthrop University
  7. University of South Carolina Upstate
  8. Francis Marion University
  9. Lander University
  10. University of South Carolina Aiken

Resources for College-Bound Students