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Best Nursing Schools in South Carolina

Thinking about a career as a nurse in South Carolina? This guide offers a look at the best nursing schools and programs, earnings potential, licensure requirements, and beyond.

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Historical downtown area of Charleston, South Carolina, USA at twilight.

Maybe you’re a high school senior and considering becoming an RN. Perhaps you’ve been licensed for a few years but want to earn a higher salary by getting your BSN degree. Or you’re a nurse who’s ready to make the jump to advanced practitioner or teaching roles. Whatever the case, there’s accredited traditional and online nursing programs in South Carolina to meet your education needs.

This guide takes a close look at some of the best nursing schools in South Carolina to help you begin your search for a quality, affordable program. We also offer important information on RN licensure requirements, nursing degree paths, earning potential, and how to find the best nursing school in SC for your needs.

Best-in-Class Nursing Schools in South Carolina

You have a lot of options for accredited nursing schools in South Carolina. The three best-in-class profiles featured below show you what to expect in a quality school and program. These South Carolina nursing schools were chosen based on their affordability, level of student support, and quality of nursing education. Read on to see which schools stand out in 2024.

Newberry College

Nursing students at Newberry College can choose from a pre-licensure BSN and an RN to BSN completion program. The pre-licensure program is for those without nursing credentials who want to prepare for RN licensure. The RN to BSN track is for students who already have associate degrees or diplomas in nursing and RN licenses. It involves 127 credits, takes four years to complete, and offers a hybrid format for more flexible scheduling for working nurses. Both programs require in-person clinical training that takes place in partnership with Lexington Medical Center. Newberry College reports a 100% NCLEX-RN exam pass rate for its nursing graduates.

Tri-County Technical College

As one of the top South Carolina nursing schools, Tri-County Technical College offers an excellent Associate Degree in Nursing with a 92.59% first-time pass rate for graduates. The program involves 68 credits and takes about two years to complete, and students must take various pre-clinical courses before taking core nursing classes. Applicants take an academic skills exam, anatomy and physiology test, and RN fundamentals exam before being admitted into the ADN program.

Tri-County also offers an LPN to ADN program and an RN to BSN program. The RN to BSN program allows for a seamless transition for ASNs working toward their BSNs through established relationships with several area universities.

Charleston Southern University

Charleston Southern University is home to one of the best nursing schools in South Carolina and boasts a 10-year NCLEX-RN pass rate average of 94%. CSU nursing students can choose from a traditional or accelerated BSN.

The traditional BSN is a 129-credit, four-year program with in-person classes and training with patient simulators to prepare for hands-on clinical experiences later in the program. The accelerated program takes 16 months to complete and only accepts students with at least 58 credit hours completed or bachelor’s degrees in outside fields.

CSU students receive stellar academic support through the school’s academic success program. Designed to help first-year nursing students start strong, the program comes with individualized assistance that includes exam prep and tutoring, stress management counseling, and personalized study plans.

Types of Nursing Programs Available in South Carolina

Whether you’re just beginning your studies in nursing or you’ve got previous schooling and work experience, South Carolina nursing schools offer a program to meet your needs. Here’s an overview of some of the most common nursing degree options in South Carolina along with examples of schools offering them.

Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs in South Carolina

ADN Programs

A two-year ADN program gives you basic nursing and critical-thinking skills while preparing you for the NCLEX-RN. ADNs work in doctors’ offices, home healthcare roles, nursing homes, outpatient facilities, and more.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with this Program

Traditional BSN Programs

A BSN is open to anyone with a high school diploma or GED. BSNs usually take four years to complete and include general education along with in-depth nursing classes. BSN programs also prepare you for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with this Program

Accelerated BSN Programs

Accelerated BSN programs are for those who have bachelor’s degrees in outside fields but want to switch to nursing. With their applicable transfer credits, they can earn the BSN without repeating many general education classes. Expect to spend 12-24 months in a BSN program.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with this Program

Nursing Bridge Programs in South Carolina for Current Nurses

LPN to RN and LPN to BSN Programs

Current LPNs can take LPN to RN and LPN to BSN programs and build upon their existing knowledge and nursing skills while preparing for the NCLEX-RN. LPN to RN programs take two years to finish while an LPN to BSN takes 2-3 years.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to BSN Programs

If you already have an ADN and RN licensure, an RN to BSN program will expand your nursing skills and critical-thinking abilities. Upon completion of this 1-2-year program, you’ll compete for nursing positions with higher pay and greater responsibility.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with this Program

RN to MSN Programs

If you have RN licensure and an ADN or BSN, you can apply to most RN to MSN programs and complete BSN and MSN coursework at the same time. These programs also develop skills in specialized areas, including family nurse practitioner or adult gerontology nurse practitioner. Expect to spend 2-3 years finishing an MSN.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with this Program

Advanced Nursing Programs in South Carolina

MSN Programs

Standard MSN tracks are for those who already have BSNs and RN licensure. These programs develop skills and prepare students for advanced nursing careers in a specialty area like nurse midwifery, nurse administrator, or nursing anesthesia.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with This Program

DNP and PhD Doctoral Programs

A DNP prepares you for nursing leadership roles and positions putting the latest nursing research into practice in healthcare facilities. A PhD is a research-focused degree that prepares you for roles in research institutions and at colleges and universities. DNP and PhD programs take 3-5 years.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with This Program

Post-Graduate Certificates

Post-graduate certificates further hone your skills in a particular area of the nursing field. Specializations include nursing leadership, mental health nurse practitioner, acute care nurse practitioner, or family nurse practitioner. Expect to spend 1-2 years completing a post-graduate nursing certificate.

Examples of South Carolina Nursing Schools with This Program

Top Online Nursing Programs in South Carolina for 2024

While enrolled in an online nursing program in South Carolina, you’ll complete your didactic coursework online and clinical training in person at an approved facility. Nursing schools in South Carolina often have partnerships with local hospitals and clinics, like Newberry College’s connection to Lexington Medical Center, for example, to help you complete practicum requirements with ease.

Online nursing schools in South Carolina still require the same amount of discipline and study time as in-person classes. Successful distance nursing students are organized self-starters who enjoy flexible schedules and complete work at their own pace. For distance learners who need structure, some South Carolina nursing schools offer synchronous classes with regularly scheduled virtual class meetings and collaborative assignments that more closely resemble traditional classroom instruction.

Ready to take the next step? Browse our list of this year’s top-ranked online nursing programs in South Carolina, plus get answers to key questions before you enroll.

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About the ranking

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Base Methodology for EduMed’s 2023 Online College Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 University of South Carolina-ColumbiaColumbia, SC Public $$$ 4

Students who attend the University of South Carolina have a multitude of online nursing programs to choose from. For example, there’s the RN to BSN program that consists of about 28 credits for upper-level nursing classes, along with general education requirements. At the master’s level, there are a number of concentrations to choose from, like the family nurse practitioner. The school also offers a doctorate of nursing practice where, depending on the specialization and prior nursing degrees, students will need to complete as few as 36 but as many as 74 credits. Many of the nursing programs, including these three, allow students to complete their classes online but require in-person clinicals, practicums, or on-campus immersions.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 28
  • Cost: $409.75/credit
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: partially online

MSN Family Nurse Practitioner

  • Credits: 47
  • Cost: $572.25/credit
  • Length: 2-4 years
  • Mode: partially online

Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Credits: 36 to 60
  • Cost: $770.25/credit (in-state), $1,438.00/credit (out-of-state)
  • Length: varies
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
2 Clemson UniversityClemson, SC Public $$$ 1

The RNBS completion track from Clemson University is tailored for current registered nurses who have an associate degree in nursing and want to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing. It’s a mostly online program where all classes can be completed online. The curriculum focuses on teaching students how to think critically and make better decisions when faced with ethical dilemmas. Even though all classes can be completed online, students must attend a one-day on-campus orientation at the start of the program and three clinical requirements which require in-person experiential learning. Full-time students can graduate in just one year, though a part-time track is available.

Program Highlights:

RNBS Completion Track

  • Credits: 29+
  • Cost: $550.00/credit
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
3 Lander UniversityGreenwood, SC Public $$$ 2

Lander University offers two online nursing programs. At the bachelor’s degree level, there’s the RN to BSN completion program. This program is designed for registered nurses who have an associate degree. At the master’s level, there’s the Master of Science in nursing – clinical nurse leader, where current nurses learn to apply their clinical experiences when making managerial decisions with groups of patients and medical care providers. Despite being at different degree levels, the MSN and RN to BSN programs are similar in that most classes are to be completed online, though students must attend in-person clinicals or practicums. To make these in-person requirements more convenient for MSN students, they can be completed at approved medical facilities closest to where the student lives or works.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Cost: $390/credit
  • Length: As little as one year
  • Mode: Partially online

MSN – Clinical Nurse Leader

  • Credits: 39
  • Cost: $545/credit
  • Length: Two years
  • Mode: Partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
4 University of South Carolina-UpstateSpartanburg, SC Public $$$ 2

The RN to BSN program from the University of South Carolina Upstate is 100% online. The online classes have no set meeting time, which allows for maximum convenience. Added flexibility comes from the fact that students can begin the program during one of five start times and on a part-time or full-time basis. The Master of Science program offers three concentrations – nursing education, nursing leadership, and clinical nurse leader. All of these offer the coursework online but have between 187 and 450 practicum hours required, which must be completed in-person.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 32
  • Cost: $433.25/credit
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: fully online

Master of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 38
  • Cost: $572.25/credit
  • Length: Two to three years
  • Mode: Partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
5 University of South Carolina AikenAiken, SC Public $$$ 1

The online RN to BSN program from the University of South Carolina Aiken is unique in that it doesn’t require its students to complete clinicals. The majority of the curriculum can be completed online, so students can learn from almost anywhere. However, in place of clinicals, students will need to attend a client-simulated lab class to practice health assessment skills. They will also complete a precepted senior class project. Students have flexibility in how fast they earn their degree. If they choose the accelerated option, they can graduate in as little as a year. If they want to attend class part-time, they can expect to take two years or more to earn their BSN.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 31
  • Cost: $306.00/credit
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
6 Bob Jones UniversityGreenville, SC Private not-for-profit $$$$ 1

Students looking to enhance their nursing credentials in a Christian academic setting will appreciate the RN to BSN program from Bob Jones University. Students can easily set the pace of their learning with classes lasting just seven weeks. Those who want to graduate in less than a year can receive transfer credits for prior work experience and academic coursework. Unlike many other RN to BSN programs, there are no in-person clinical requirements and all classes can be completed online. To help students throughout the program, the schools offers them access to a personal mentor and academic coach.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Cost: $333.00/credit
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: fully online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
12/1
AccreditationSACSCOC
7 Columbia CollegeColumbia, MO Private not-for-profit $$$ 1

Columbia College offers students who already have a current registered nursing license the CCNE-accredited RN to BSN program. It’s an online program with no campus visits. There are also no clinical or practicum courses to complete. Even though the program consists of 30 credits, students must meet general education and special elective requirements. Courses offered include topics in community and public health nursing, ethical issues in nursing, and transcultural nursing. To help students earn their BSN degree as soon as possible, Columbia College can accept up to 90 transfer credits. To apply, prospective students must already have an associate degree in nursing.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Cost: $395.00/credit
  • Length: 1-2 years
  • Mode: partially online
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
12/1
AccreditationHLC

University of South Carolina

USC offers an online RN to BSN that focuses on developing marketable skills, including leadership and critical thinking skills. For four years running, USC graduates have a 100% NCLEX-RN pass rate.

Students take asynchronous didactic courses online with no on-campus obligations. Classes require participation in online discussions, contribution to group projects and viewing recorded lectures. Nursing students also have access to dedicated academic coaches and peer tutoring services.

Applicants for USC’s RN to BSN program need ADNs or nursing diplomas from ACEN-accredited schools plus RN licensure. Competitive applications show a 3.0 or higher GPA. Incoming students with ADNs receive 38 credits toward their BSNs, while diploma-holders receive 25 credits. RN to BSN students at USC complete 123 credits for graduation.

Medical University of South Carolina

Medical University of South Carolina offers online RN to BSN, DNP, and PhD programs. MUSC’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and the school reported a 97.83% NCLEX pass rate in 2020.

Students in the RN to BSN online program follow a 12- or 24-month track. They take asynchronous classes in a cohort of students with a curriculum focused on evidence-based nursing practices, teamwork skills, nursing leadership, and care coordination. Students also complete clinical experiences in gerontology, public health, and quality management. Incoming RN to BSN students need ADNs and 60 hours of the appropriate prerequisites, including human anatomy, microbiology, and statistics.

Midlands Technical College

Midlands Technical College offers a hybrid ADN program for RN licensure-seekers with in-person classes offered at any of its six campuses in South Carolina. Required classes available online include probability and statistics, introduction to pharmacology, and general psychology. The ADN program requires 68 credits for graduation, is ACEN-accredited, and reported an 85.38% NCLEX-RN pass rate in 2019.

Prospective students must submit SAT or ACT scores for consideration. In place of test scores, MTC considers candidates with pre-nursing certificates or associate degrees with 2.75 or higher GPAs. The program costs about $12,800.

Financial Aid Opportunities for Nursing Students in South Carolina

There are many financial aid opportunities to help offset the cost of your nursing degree. Aside from internal financial awards individual schools offer, also search for local, state, and regional scholarships or grants and be sure to fill out your FAFSA every year to receive consideration for federal assistance, including scholarships and grants. Funding sources offering awards and scholarship opportunities within South Carolina include the South Carolina Nurses Foundation and the Carolina Children’s Home.

For more information on financial aid and savings opportunities for nursing students, check out our nursing scholarship list, guide to graduating from nursing school debt-free, and college financial aid guide.

How to Become an RN in South Carolina: Licensing Info and Requirements

Nursing students in South Carolina need to follow the licensure guidelines established by the South Carolina Board of Nursing. To help you understand these requirements, here’s a step-by-step guide to the RN licensure process in the state.

Step 1

Complete a State-Approved RN Degree

Your first step is to complete a South Carolina-approved RN program that readies you for the NCLEX-RN. You’ll complete your state-approved program before taking the licensure exam.

Step 2

Submit an Application for Licensure to the State

Submit a South Carolina application for licensure by examination before submitting your exam application. You’ll need a signed and dated 2×2″ photograph, a copy of your birth certificate or valid passport, and a copy of your social security card or permanent resident card. South Carolina also requires a certificate of endorsement sent directly from your nursing school and a $90 application fee.

Step 3

Submit an NCLEX-RN Exam Application

All South Carolina licensure applicants must register with NCLEX by following the instructions in the candidate bulletin. The exam fee is $200. After completing the online registration steps, you’ll receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) email letting you know you can schedule the exam.

Step 4

Pass the NCLEX-RN

The NCLEX-RN tests your knowledge in foundational areas and skills like safety and infection control, psychosocial integrity, health promotion and maintenance, and reduction of risk potential. This pass-fail, computer-administered exam allows up to six hours to complete the 75 to 265 questions.

Step 5

Complete Continued Competence Requirements

After obtaining your RN licensure, you’ll need to renew it every two years by April 30th. The South Carolina Board of Nursing requires that you choose from one of four renewal options, including the completion of 30 contact hours from a board-recognized continuing education provider. Each renewal is $75.

Job Outlook for RNs in South Carolina

The job outlook for registered nurses in South Carolina through 2028 looks good, although it’s slightly below the national average. RNs in the state can expect a 9.4% growth with about 2,930 new job openings per year.

As of 2018, 41,572 RNs were working in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Office for Healthcare Workforce, 67% of those attended South Carolina nursing schools. Additionally, the demand for RNs in the state has significantly increased due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Employment Projections for RNs in South Carolina

New Jobs
(2018-2028)
Job Growth Rate
(2018-2028)
Average Annual Openings
(2018-2028)
South Carolina 4,210 9.4% 2,930
United States 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

Nursing Salaries in South Carolina: How Much You Could Make as an RN

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses in South Carolina make a good living of about $66,050 per year. Workers with the highest median earnings in South Carolina live in the Spartanburg area. The highest 10% of earners in the state, though, work in Charleston-North Charleston and make about $90,830 per year.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in South Carolina


10th Percentile Median Earnings 90th Percentile
South Carolina $47,240 $66,050 $86,150
United States $53,410 $75,330 $116,230
Charleston-North Charleston, SC $51,420 $69,130 $90,830
Columbia, SC $49,820 $66,100 $84,700
Florence, SC $42,500 $66,240 $83,610
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC $49,000 $64,480 $84,870
Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC $44,470 $67,450 $83,140
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC $40,840 $64,090 $81,810
Spartanburg, SC $45,060 $69,260 $87,350
Sumter, SC $52,250 $63,170 $80,420

Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2020