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Top South Carolina Colleges

11 of the Top Colleges and Universities in South Carolina

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My top picks for South Carolina include a wide range of public and private institutions.  From a large public research university like the University of South Carolina to a tiny Christian college like Erskine, South Carolina has schools to match a variety of student personalities and interests. The 11 top South Carolina colleges below are listed alphabetically to avoid the arbitrary distinctions often used to distinguish #1 from #2, and because of the impossibility of comparing a small private college with a large public institution. The schools were chosen based on their first-year retention rates, four- and six-year graduation rates, curricular innovations, value, financial aid and student engagement.

Compare South Carolina Colleges: SAT Scores | ACT Scores

Anderson University

Anderson University in South Carolina
jameskm03 / Flickr
  • Location: Anderson, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 2,279 (2,132 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Christian university (Baptist)
  • Distinctions: excellent grant aid and overall value; strong Christian identity; NCAA Division II athletics program; programs for traditional undergraduates, adults, and graduate students; 17 to 1 student / faculty ratio
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Anderson University profile

Citadel Military College (The Citadel)

The Citadel
citedelmatt / Flickr
  • Location: Charleston, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 3,339 (2,366 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public military university
  • Distinctions: high graduate rates in relation to student profile; 15 to 1 student / faculty ratio; curricular emphasis on leadership and character training; member of the NCAA Division I Southern Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Citadel profile

Clemson University

Clemson University Football Stadium
Jas&Suz / Flickr
  • Location: Clemson, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 19,111 (15,346 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: one of the country's top public universities; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; attractive campus in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along Lake Hartwell; strong business, science and engineering programs; member of the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Clemson University profile

College of Charleston

College of Charleston
lhilyer libr / Flickr
  • Location: Charleston, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 11,772 (10,147 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 13 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 21; excellent value; founded in 1770 and located in a historically rich area; member of the NCAA Division I Southern Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the College of Charleston profile

Converse College

Converse College
Converse College / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 1,720 (729 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: master's-level women's college
  • Distinctions: 10 to 1 student / faculty ratio; popular graduate education programs; programs for adult women; good grant aid; high graduation rate in relation to the student profile; home of the Petrie School of Music; NCAA Division II athletics program
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Converse College profile

Erskine College

Erskine College
Photo Courtesy of Erskine College
  • Location: Due West, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 874 (582 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Christian liberal arts college (Presbyterian)
  • Distinctions: 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio; home to the Bowie Arts Center; high placement rate for medical school, law school and other graduate programs; NCAA Division II athletics program
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Erskine College profile

Furman University

Furman University
JeffersonDavis / Flickr

Presbyterian College

Presbyterian College
Jackmjenkins / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Clinton, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 1,221 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college (Presbyterian)
  • Distinctions: 13 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 14; good value; good breadth of offerings for a small college (34 majors, 47 minors, and 50 clubs and organizations); member of the NCAA Division I Big South Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Presbyterian College profile

University of South Carolina at Columbia (USC)

University of South Carolina
Florencebballer / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Columbia, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 28,482 (20,495 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: well-regarded honors college; strong first-year student program; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; 350 bachelor, master's and doctoral programs; member of the NCAA Division I Southeastern Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the University of South Carolina profile

Winthrop University

Winthrop University
keithbsmiley / Flickr
  • Location: Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 6,241 (5,097 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: 15 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 24; home to many buildings on the National Historic Register; students from 42 states and 54 countries; more than 180 clubs and organizations; member of the NCAA Division I Big South Conference 
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Winthrop University profile

Wofford College

Wofford College Gibbs Stadium
Greenstrat / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Enrollment: 1,468 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college (Methodist)
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; campus is a National Historic District and a designated arboretum; member of the NCAA Division I Southern Conference
  • For acceptance rate, test scores, costs and other information, visit the Wofford College profile

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