South Carolina’s Best Research Universities of 2021

Interested in attending a STEM school in South Carolina? Our ranking of top research universities for bachelor’s degrees displays schools that will best prepare you for STEM careers.

South Carolina’s Best Research 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

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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.

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. There are 2 research universities in South Carolina, both of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best research universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a fully accredited university.
  2. It must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
  3. It must report high levels of research activity based upon the number of research and/or practice doctorates awarded each year.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 70%.

Best Research Universities in South Carolina for Undergraduates

  1. #1

    University of South Carolina

    #282 institution's historical influence
    #1388 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    32K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/28

    Columbia, SC

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    What is University of South Carolina known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Clemson University

    #436 institution's historical influence
    #513 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1315/29

    Clemson, SC

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    What is Clemson University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the Best Research Universities in South Carolina for your Major

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Photo By: Jay Capilo - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0