Graduate Schools in SC with Degree Program Information

There are over 30 colleges and universities offering graduate programs within South Carolina. See how four of these schools stack up against each other to find the school for you.

School Ranking Overview

The state of South Carolina is home to over 100 postsecondary institutions, including vocational schools, community colleges and universities. Several four-year schools offer graduate certificates and degrees. This article focuses on four of the largest institutions in the state that offer graduate education; the top three are ranked in these areas:

  • Program Variety
  • Tuition
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

Those ready to enter graduate school may want to receive not only advanced education in a particular field but also gain expertise in a particular specialization area within their area of study. Finding concentration areas may be more likely at colleges that have a wide range of program options. The following three schools have the most programs of those compared.

1. University of South Carolina - Columbia

The University of South Carolina in Columbia is a four-year public institution offering 168 programs. In addition to bachelor's degrees, students can earn graduate certificates, master's degrees and doctorates. Some of the graduate-level fields of study available at the university -- which happens to be the largest in the state -- include business administration, marine biology, hospitality administration, school counseling, teacher education, engineering, nursing, criminal justice, medicine, law and music, among many others.

2. Clemson University

With 134 programs available, Clemson University ranks second for the most academic options. Grad students at this Clemson-based public school study subjects such as agriculture, environmental design, accounting, construction management, economics, computer science, education, engineering, professional writing and psychology. Clemson University awards undergraduate and graduate certificates in addition to degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

3. College of Charleston

Located in Charleston, SC, the College of Charleston is a public institution with 73 program options. Bachelor's degree, master's degree and graduate certificate programs are available to students. Those entering graduate school can earn an education in subjects like business, oceanography, computer science, organizational communication, early childhood education, literature, environmental studies and public administration.


The cost of gaining a college education adds up quickly: tuition, fees, room and board, textbooks and academic supplies are regular expenses for most students. According to 2013-2014 figures from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), these three institutions have the most reasonable graduate tuition rates for full-time students.

1. Clemson University

Clemson University has an average in-state tuition rate of $7,962 for graduate students, which easily places the school at the top in this category. Out-of-state grad students can expect to pay around $16,670 per academic year. Financial aid options are typically more limited for grad students, but they do exist; securing a graduate assistantship is one way advanced students can get both work experience and financial support.

2. College of Charleston

At the College of Charleston, students in graduate programs can expect to pay an average of $11,624 a year regardless of their residency status.

3. University of South Carolina - Columbia

Ranking third is the University of South Carolina - Columbia. In-state graduate students at the institution pay $11,640 in tuition a year, while those with out-of-state residency pay $24,960. Some graduate programs, such as those in medicine, have different -- and higher -- tuition rates than those in other fields of study.

Graduation Rate

To find out about the quality of education available at a college or university, stats on graduation rates can be a good start for comparing institutions. Based on full-time undergraduates who entered programs in fall 2007 and completed them in 150% of normal time (e.g., a bachelor's programs in six years or less), the schools below have the highest graduation rates (NCES).

1. Clemson University

Clemson University has the highest overall graduation rate at 83%. In addition, the school's retention rate is also quite high at 92%; this figure is based on undergrads who entered bachelor's degree programs in fall 2012 and re-enrolled at the school in fall 2013 (NCES). Clearly, the vast majority of students seem to feel that Clemson is satisfactorily meeting their educational goals.

2. University of South Carolina - Columbia

At 73%, the University of South Carolina - Columbia has the second highest graduation rate of the compared schools. The majority of full-time students -- 87% -- pursuing bachelor's degrees in fall 2012 continued their studies at the institution in fall 2013 (NCES).

3. College of Charleston

The College of Charleston's graduation rate stands at 64%. Of the full-time students who started working towards earning a bachelor's degree in fall 2012, 83% remained at the college a year later (NCES). These stats suggest that most students have a positive view of the academic environment the College of Charleston provides.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Attending college can be overwhelming, especially when enrolled at a large university. To help students feel more connected with the learning environment, it can be helpful to take classes at a school with a low student-to-faculty ratio. Of those profiled, the following three institutions have the lowest of these ratios (NCES).

1. College of Charleston

With a student-to-faculty ratio of 16:1, the College of Charleston claims the number one spot in this ranking. The availability of opportunities for one-on-one interaction between educators and students seems to be likely at the institution. According to 2013 data from the NCES, 535 full-time and 338 adjunct faculty work at the College of Charleston.

2. Clemson University

The second lowest student-to-faculty ratio belongs to Clemson University. With 17 students for every one faculty member, it's likely that individualized attention in the classroom is the norm at the institution. Clemson has a faculty of 1,304 as of 2013, with about 87% being full-time professors (NCES). There are also nearly 1,700 graduate assistants on hand that could offer support to students (NCES).

3. Coastal Carolina University

Coastal Carolina University, a public school offering undergraduate and graduate programs in Conway, ties with Clemson in this category with a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1. However, it takes third place because it has a population that's much smaller than the student body at Clemson University. Coastal Carolina University, in 2013, had 410 full-time and 184 part-time faculty members (NCES).

South Carolina Schools: At a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Clemson University Clemson, SC Public Undergraduate and graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #2 in Program Variety, #1 in Tuition, #1 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Coastal Carolina University Conway, SC Public Graduate certificates; bachelor's and master's degrees #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
College of Charleston Charleston, SC Public Graduate certificates; bachelor's and master's degrees #3 in Program Variety, #2 in Tuition, #3 in Graduation Rate, #1 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of South Carolina - Columbia Columbia, SC Public Graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #1 in Program Variety, #3 in Tuition, #2 in Graduation Rate

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