The 10 Best and Most Prestigious Universities in South Carolina
South Carolina features 60 accredited public and private universities. Some of these colleges provide a quality education that ranks highly nationally, and others have world-renowned educational programs. But what are the best universities in South Carolina, and how are these South Carolina universities ranked?
This guide will break down the top 10 universities in South Carolina and highlight what sets them apart from the other 50 universities located within the state. Once you are done reading, you will be confident that you have applied to the most prestigious universities in South Carolina.
How We Defined South Carolina University Rankings
We defined South Carolina University rankings based on the academic quality they offer, range of programs, undergraduate enrollment, financial aid opportunities, and student-to-faculty ratio. We also took into account research performance, retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, graduate rate performance, and graduate indebtedness.
South Carolina Universities Ranked: Top 10 Universities in South Carolina
- Clemson University
- University of South Carolina
- Furman University
- Wofford College
- The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina
- College of Charleston
- Winthrop University
- Presbyterian College
- Bob Jones University
- Lander University
The Best Colleges and Universities in South Carolina, Explained
We have chosen the top 10 universities in South Carolina based on a wide range of factors. They provide experiential learning opportunities, beautiful campus environments, and an excellent national reputation. Below is a brief description of each school on the list. All information has been sourced from the school’s website or other reliable sources.
1. Clemson University
- US News National Ranking: #75
- Campus Location(s): Clemson, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 21,653
- Graduation Rate: 85.5%
Clemson University is a history-rich public land-grant university that was founded in 1889 and is the largest university in terms of the student population in South Carolina. The school offers over 80 majors, 90 minors, and 130 graduate degree programs. It also has online learning programs, a student-to-faculty ratio of 16 to one, and a high level of research activity in various fields of study. The Clemson University location is also smack dab in the middle of the capital of southern charm.
2. University of South Carolina
- US News National Ranking: #117
- Campus Location(s): Columbia, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 15,743
- Graduation Rate: 78%
The University of South Carolina is a public research university that was founded in 1801. It has seven satellite campuses, with the main campus in downtown Columbia. It offers bachelor’s and doctoral degree programs in over 100 areas of study and allows students to choose accelerated bachelor’s or dual degree programs .
Additionally, its committed faculty facilitate an online program and a continuing education program to make education more accessible to students with busy schedules. Even if you aren’t able to make a campus visit, you’ll see that the school spirit is strong even in the off-campus community.
3. Furman University
- US News National Ranking: #46
- Campus Location(s): Greenville, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,629
- Graduation Rate: 83%
Furman University is a private liberal arts university that was founded in 1826 and is the oldest private higher institution in South Carolina. Furman University offers a ton of minors as well as major degree programs in liberal arts and sciences.
With a total headcount of more than 2,600 students, the school has a student-to-faculty ratio of nine to one and an average class size of 14. This close-knit school also has what is called a walking campus, so you can get around even if you don’t have a car.
4. Wofford College
- US News National Ranking: #67
- Campus Location(s): Spartanburg, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,770
- Graduation Rate: 80%
Wofford College is a private liberal arts college that was founded in 1854. This college offers bachelor’s degrees and several minors, as well as a choice of concentrations and emphases in various fields. It has almost 2,000 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of 11 to one, with approximately 100 student organizations and clubs. There are always lots of school activities to participate in.
5. The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina
- US News National Ranking: #2
- Campus Location(s): Charleston, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,740
- Graduation Rate: 70.3%
The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, popularly known simply as The Citadel, is one of the six senior military colleges in the nation. It is a public senior military college that was established in 1842 and offers various programs from undergraduate majors and minors to graduate certificate and degree programs. This community of learners has both discipline and education in mind and it creates a challenging experience so you get the most out of your college career.
If a student cannot attend this college in person, they offer alternative learning methods. This extraordinary campus provides fully online programs for more convenience and flexibility for students to accomplish the completion of school projects and coursework from home.
6. College of Charleston
- US News National Ranking: #9
- Campus Location(s): Charleston, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,942
- Graduation Rate: 66%
The College of Charleston is a public liberal arts college that was established in 1770. It is the oldest college in South Carolina. As far as academic programs, it offers 146 majors and minors, four undergraduate certificates, and graduate degree programs and certificates with seven schools and colleges. It also offers online and evening programs for students, no matter what level of school they’re in.
This rigorous university also prides itself on its service and leadership opportunities . Many of the classes have community service components that allow students to give back while gaining firsthand knowledge in their field of study as practice for their future profession.
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7. Winthrop University
- US News National Ranking: #17
- Campus Location(s): Rock Hill, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,973
- Graduation Rate: 61.4%
Winthrop University is a public institution that was founded in 1886. It offers various degree programs from undergraduate to master’s degrees through online and on-campus formats. With a total student body of 5,174, Winthrop offers 46 undergraduate majors and 23 graduate certificates and programs. It also boasts a 12 to one student-to-faculty ratio, and an average class size of 18. It also has over 100 student clubs and organizations, so students can have an engaging college experience.
8. Presbyterian College
- US News National Ranking: #128
- Campus Location(s): Clinton, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 1,016
- Graduation Rate: 64%
This is a private Presbyterian liberal arts college that was founded in 1880. There is an array of degree programs offered through various majors, minors, and pre-professional programs. These include art history, computation biology, music, economics, accounting, and religion. The approach to education in this Christ-centered community is one of encouragement and ambition.
It offers challenging academics to prepare students for leadership roles in the community. It also offers various athletic programs for student athletes to choose from. Some of its more popular athletic teams include football, soccer, lacrosse, and basketball teams. You’ll spend a good chunk of time at college, and this Christian community will make sure that you get a quality Christian education while you’re there.
9. Bob Jones University
- US News National Ranking: #31
- Campus Location(s): Greenville, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,613
- Graduation Rate: 57%
Bob Jones University is a private Christian university that was established in 1927. It is a non-denominational school known for its conservative cultural and religious positions. The school is designed to equip students with academic knowledge while broadening their liberal and fine arts horizons through a biblical point of view and developing their talent and skills.
The helpful faculty at this comprehensive university help students with the wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs offered at the university’s five schools, including one seminary. This artistic community also has strong athletic programs for students and holds 15 national titles.
10. Lander University
- US News National Ranking: #39
- Campus Location(s): Greenwood, South Carolina
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 3,391
- Graduation Rate: 54%
Lander University is a public institution that was established in 1872. With approximately 3,500 students, Lander is South Carolina’s second-smallest publicly funded four-year university. Lander University offers an engaging learning experience through five colleges, a nursing school, and an honors college. It offers over 80 majors and degrees ranging from undergraduate to graduate.
Is a University in South Carolina Right for You?
South Carolina has some of the best universities in the United States, and attending any one of them will open a ton of opportunities for you in the labor market. They offer a high standard of academic quality, diverse programs in various fields of study, core knowledge in career positioning, and online programs for convenience and flexibility.
They also have higher graduation rates than many four-year institutions in the country, making them an excellent choice for those seeking a degree. Those who prefer to attend liberal arts colleges have numerous options in the state to apply to. These schools also often have high acceptance rates, which increases your chances of being admitted to them.
Best Universities in South Carolina FAQ
The number one college in South Carolina is Clemson University. It offers various programs in different fields of study, has a student-to-faculty ratio of 16 to one, and has high academic performance. You can also work on your personal life, social life, and academic life all at once in this action-packed big-city school.
The best campus at the University of South Carolina is the Columbia campus. This awesome university offers an amazing experience and exceptional education options. It also has a loving community and a high research performance that makes it stand out.
Clemson is more challenging than South Carolina based on its 2021 acceptance rates. Clemson had an admission rate of 49 percent in 2021, while South Carolina had a 68 percent admission rate. The college classes at either school are sure to give you the education you need to get the highest career earnings possible after graduation.
Yes, there are several good colleges in South Carolina, including Clemson University, University of South Carolina, Furman University, Wofford College, and The Citadel. There is also Anderson University and Charleston Southern University.