Why Earn An Online Degree In South Carolina?
The government of South Carolina is working hard to build its industries and provide opportunities for employment throughout the state. Robust economic development has led to new businesses being established and the expansion of old ones.
By 2020, 62 percent of jobs in South Carolina will require a postsecondary education, according to projections by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, so it's a good thing that South Carolina is home to many top colleges and universities. According to South Carolina's Department of Employment and Workforce, there appears to be a significant need for graduates at the bachelor's level in the following fields:
- Computer and information science
- Civil engineering
- Mechanical engineering
Higher-paying jobs may be found in fields such as:
- Diversified manufacturing
- Health care
- Business and information technology services
- Wholesale trade
The report also suggests a growing need for qualified STEM majors in the state. Although students of STEM show the fastest median annual wage growth one to five years post-graduation, students of trades and business and communication are not far behind.
A 2017 report, "Employment Outcomes for South Carolina Post-Secondary Graduates," shows that those who earned a graduate degree enjoyed the highest median earnings while those who earned less than an associate-level degree had the lowest earnings. Students who completed a bachelor's degree had higher median earnings in 9 out of 12 majors one year post-graduation than those completing an associate degree within the same majors. Five years after graduation, the number increased to 10 out of 12 majors.
Top Online Colleges in South Carolina
Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we created a multi-point ranking methodology to determine which colleges do the best job of serving students who want to pursue an online degree program. We factored in metrics such as graduation rate, the amount of financial aid awarded, placement services and the percentage of students participating in distance education to come up with our list.
Top Online Degree Programs in South Carolina
So which online degree programs in South Carolina are the most popular? The list below shows the 10 most widely available in the state. If you're exploring one of these programs (or any program), don't forget to check whether the program at your target school(s) is accredited. While accredited programs do not guarantee quality, they do indicate that there is oversight regarding the instruction and the school’s authority to issue degrees.
Quality of Online Education in South Carolina
The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education oversees the state's public postsecondary institutions. It is involved in managing the academic quality of educational programs, helps in funding its schools and in supplying financial aid.
The Commission also oversees distance education programs and has established certain principles to ensure the quality of online degree programs in South Carolina. While the main goal is to make higher education accessible to more students other important principles include:
- Meeting rigorous academic standards for online education in South Carolina that are comparable to coursework offered by an on-campus program
- Ongoing accountability that meets the satisfaction of faculty, students, employers and the general public
- Compatibility of technology to provide the best possible mode of delivery for the type of program offered
- The individual success of the student
To help execute these principles, the Commission has delineated responsibilities to itself and to the state's colleges and universities. The Commission collaboratively works with colleges and universities to build a progressive educational policy that meets the demands of an ever-changing educational environment.
What To Look For in Online Degree Programs in South Carolina
Jane C. Owen, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at Midwestern State University states, "One of the most promising advances regarding online education is the possibility for truly implementing differentiated instruction — tailoring instruction to meet individual needs, learning styles, and information gaps for each student," she says. "Advances in delivery methods will allow the best of face-to-face instruction to blend with the ease and convenience of asynchronous instruction."
Students should always be sure that the educational path they choose will truly meet their needs upon graduation. Owen recommends students ask the following questions before enrolling:
- Is the school credible?
- Is the program accredited by a recognized accrediting body?
- Is the school recognized by the education agency in your state?
- Will credits earned in the online school transfer to a traditional university?
- Is the curriculum for the program aligned to the national standards for the program area?
- If you are pursuing a professional degree such as teaching, does the online school have the authority to recommend you to sit for the state certification test in the state in which you intend to practice?
Other factors students might want to consider are academic support services, technological competence, qualifications of teaching faculty and accessibility of teaching professors.
When you're looking at online degree programs in South Carolina, be aware that campus-based schools may offer online programs under a separate name. For example, the University of South Carolina offers Palmetto College, an online-only option that features more than a dozen bachelor's degree programs. And Clemson University lists all available online graduate programs in the Clemson Online section of their website.
Top Occupations in South Carolina
South Carolina is not just a great place to live, but a great place to work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these jobs are thriving in the Palmetto State.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||276,980||$36,750|
|Sales and Related Occupations||228,040||$36,110|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||216,890||$22,610|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||191,820||$33,080|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||128,110||$73,000|
|Educational Instruction and Library Occupations||111,850||$49,080|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||95,290||$45,540|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||84,910||$43,550|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||82,210||$66,740|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||76,040||$28,060|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||73,730||$19,500|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||70,280||$26,190|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in South Carolina
Students who qualify can find financial aid through federal, state, institutional and private funds. This aid may come in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study programs. Knowing where to find financial aid can help lower college costs.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students at 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions awarded financial aid is between 80 to 90 percent for public, for-profit and nonprofit institutes.
- Pell grants: This is one of the largest federal grant programs that can be available to undergraduate students based on need.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). This program can provide need-based grants to lower income students with exceptional financial need.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program: This grant can be applied to by students who want to become teachers in a high-need field in a low-income area.
Federal financial aid is only available to students who attend accredited schools.
- Palmetto Fellows Scholarship: This scholarship recognizes high school seniors with the highest academic talent. It is designed to encourage high school graduates to attend college.
- LIFE Scholarship: The Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE) Scholarship may cover the cost of attending a college for the first 8 terms in a program leading to the first baccalaureate or professional degree.
- South Carolina HOPE Scholarship: Don't qualify for the LIFE and Palmetto Fellows scholarships? If you're a freshman in a 4-year program, you can still apply for the HOPE.
- South Carolina Need-Based Grants: This grant can help provide aid for needy students.
Here are some institution-specific scholarships and grants that can be available to students in South Carolina who qualify:
- Harry Hampton Fund Scholarship
- National Association of Women in Construction, Columbia Chapter #113
- South Carolina Farm Bureau Foundation Scholarships
- South Carolina Wildlife Federation
You can find more detailed information on the above scholarship and grants on the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education website.
Tests You May Need to Take
Depending on the degree and college you choose, you may be required to take one or more entry-level tests. A few of the common tests are listed below:
SAT: This exam tests your skills in reading, writing, language and mathematics (with a calculator) and math (without a calculator).
ACT: This is a multiple-choice exam that tests your knowledge of English, mathematics, reading, and science.
AP: Held in May each year, a good score in this exam could entail college credit and advanced placement in college.
CLEP: Get a qualifying score on any of the 33 examinations and earn credit for subject matter you already know through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).
Praxis I Test: This test is for those entering a teacher’s program or for those who desire license to teach. It is a basic skills proficiency assessment in reading, writing and mathematics. Students who have already qualified on SAT or ACT are exempt.
GED: The General Equivalency Development or General Equivalency Diploma (GED) is for those who have not completed their high school. The test measures proficiency in science, mathematics, social studies, reading and writing. A high school diploma is an entry-level requirement for any 4-year degree program. A GED is equivalent to a high school diploma for most colleges.
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
- Cumulative Estimates of the Resident Population Change for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016 (NST-EST2016-02)
- Employment Outcomes for South Carolina Postsecondary Graduates, Erica M. Von Nessen, Ph.D. October 2017, http://www.che.sc.gov/CHE_Docs/executivedirector/mailouts/post-secondary-workforce-evaluation-10-12-17.pdf
- Guiding Principles for Distance Education in South Carolina, South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, http://www.che.sc.gov/InstitutionsEducators/AcademicPolicies,Programs/AcademicPolicies/DistanceEducation.aspx, accessed November 2017
- How These 4 East Coast Cities Are Attracting Millennials, Inc.com, October 2017, https://www.inc.com/jeff-barrett/how-these-4-east-coast-cities-are-attracting-millennials.html
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2013-14, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed October, 2017, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Most S.C. college graduates see earnings rise five years after graduating, South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, November 2017, https://www.dew.sc.gov/news-details-page/2017/11/03/most-s.c.-college-graduates-see-earnings-rise-five-years-after-graduating
- Public Higher Education Affordability in the South: Regional Profile 2017, Southern Region Education Board, https://www.sreb.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/2017regional_profile.pdf, accessed November 2017
- Scholarships & Grants for SC Residents, South Carolina Commission for Higher Education, http://www.che.sc.gov/Students,FamiliesMilitary/PayingForCollege/FinancialAssistanceAvailable/ScholarshipsGrantsforSCResidents/SCNeed-basedGrantProgram.aspx, accessed November 2017
- Sources of Financial Aid, National Center for Education Statistics, Last Updated April 2017, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cuc.asp
- South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, October 2017, https://dew.sc.gov/docs/default-source/default-document-library/post-secondary-workforce-evaluation-10-12-17.pdf
- USA TODAY calls Charleston “Millennial Magnet” Charleston Regional Development Alliance, http://www.crda.org/news/usa-today-calls-charleston-millennial-magnet/, accessed November 2017