Graduate Schools in Charleston, SC with Program Overviews

There are four traditional public or private, not-for-profit schools within a 75-mile radius of Charleston that offer graduate programs. Read about the schools with the largest student populations, lowest net prices, highest graduation rates and lowest student-faculty ratios to find the school for you.

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Largest Student Population

In 2011, the total student populations for Charleston schools with graduate programs ranged from just under 2,000 to nearly 12,000. These three schools had the largest undergraduate and graduate enrollments that year.

1 - College of Charleston

The College of Charleston, a public four-year school, enrolled 10,461 undergraduates and 1,188 graduate students in 2011. That year, 25% of graduate students attended the school full-time, and 62% of undergraduates were female, according to figures from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Additionally, 83% of undergraduates were white, 6% were African-American, 4% were Hispanic/Latino and 2% was Asian. The College Board reported that the average student age was 21, and that 31% of all undergraduates lived in campus housing. The college received rankings in several categories among schools in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2013, including top public schools (#4), up-and-coming schools (#6) and best regional universities (#11).

2 - South Carolina State University

South Carolina State University, a four-year public institution in Orangeburg, SC, had 3,265 undergraduate and 542 graduate attendees in 2012. The NCES reported that 42% of graduate students were full-time, 54% of undergraduates were female and 96% of undergraduates were black or African-American. Other racial/ethnic groups included white (3%) and Hispanic/Latino (1%). In 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked the university #14 among historically black colleges and universities and #77 among public schools nationally. As of 2013, 60% of undergraduates lived on campus, and the average student age was 21, according to the College Board.

3 - Charleston Southern University

This private four-year university offers master's programs to graduate students in such areas as business management, education, criminal justice and nursing education. It ranks third in the area for this category with a 2011 student population of 2,779 undergraduates and 351 graduate students. Statistics from the College Board showed that the average student was 24 years old, and 47% of undergraduates lived in campus housing, as of 2013. The largest racial/ethnic groups for undergraduates that year were white (60%) and black/African-American (29%). According to the NCES, 86% of graduate students attended the university part-time, and 63% of the undergraduate student population was female.

Lowest Tuition

The NCES determines the average net cost for U.S. schools by subtracting the amount of financial assistance in the form of grants or scholarships that undergraduate students typically receive from the total cost of attendance. Although the net prices for most traditional schools in the Charleston area fall between $15,000 and $16,000, tuition and other costs can vary widely for graduate programs. The following three schools have the lowest reported graduate tuition and undergraduate net prices for 2011-2012, according to the NCES.

1 - Claflin University

Claflin University, a private four-year school in Orangeburg, had a net price of $15,558. The NCES reported that graduate students paid $9,592 in tuition and fees while undergraduate students paid $14,528 in tuition and fees and $8,040 for on-campus room and board in 2012-2013. About 96% of first-year undergraduates received grant and/or scholarship aid in the average amount of $12,171, while 94% received an average of $6,773 in student loans, according to 2011-2012 NCES figures. The College Board reported that 9% of undergraduates had their full financial need met, and that students graduated from the school with an average of $31,377 in debt, as of 2013. Also in 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked Claflin University #8 among historically black colleges and universities.

2 - College of Charleston

With a net price of $15,818, the College of Charleston has the second lowest net price among traditional schools with graduate programs. In 2012-2013, tuition and fees totaled $10,910 for graduate students and $9,918 for in-state and $25,304 for out-of-state undergraduate students; on-campus room and board costs were roughly $10,461. According to 2011-2012 NCES figures, 62% of incoming freshmen received an average of $8,767 in grant and/or scholarship aid, and 46% had $6,326, on average, in student loans. College Board statistics show that students' average debt at graduation was $26,024, as of 2013. Additionally, one-fifth of undergraduates at the college had their full financial need met.

3 - Charleston Southern University

Charleston Southern University's net price of $15,885 places it third in the area. The 2012-2013 estimated tuition and fees were $21,440 for undergraduate and graduate students, and on-campus room and board costs were approximately $8,400, the NCES stated. During 2011-2012, 99% of full-time beginning students received grant and/or scholarship aid, with an average award of $16,091, and 96% obtained student loans in the average of $5,389.

Highest Graduation Rates

The overall graduation rates reported by the NCES represent full-time students who began their studies in 2006 and graduated within 150% of their program's 'normal time' (e.g., six years for a bachelor's degree). Traditional schools in this area had graduation rates of 35%-63%, according to NCES data. The three schools listed below have the highest graduation rates among traditional schools in the area that offer graduate programs.

1 - College of Charleston

The College of Charleston had the highest overall graduation rate for traditional schools in the area at 69%, with comparable rates for white (69%), Hispanic/Latino (76%), Asian (68%) and black/African-American (60%) students in the same time frame. According to the NCES, 58% of students pursuing bachelor's degrees graduated in four years, while 25% of attendees transferred to other institutions. From 2011-2012, the NCES reported that 81% of full-time and 50% of part-time students returned to the college after their first year.

2 - Claflin University

Claflin University had an overall graduation rate of 44%. According to the NCES, 26% of bachelor's degree candidates completed their programs in four years. NCES figures also showed a first-year retention rate of 74% for full-time students who started in 2010 and returned in 2011.

3 - Charleston Southern University

Charleston Southern University had an overall graduation rate of 38%; in the same time period, the school reported rates for Asian (50%), white (45%), black/African-American (26%) and Hispanic/Latino (54%) students. Statistics from the NCES show that 22% of students pursuing bachelor's degrees graduated in four years. In 2010-2011, roughly 56% of full-time students returned to the university.

Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio

The NCES reported that Charleston-area schools with graduate programs have 14 or more students for each teacher. Students who want more personalized attention in their classes may choose colleges or universities with a lower student-faculty ratio. These three schools have the lowest ratios among traditional schools in the area.

1 - Claflin University

With a ratio of 14:1, Claflin University has the fewest students for each instructor among comparable institutions. In 2012, the school employed 121 full-time and 32 part-time instructional faculty members along with five teaching assistants. During the previous year, 1,946 students were enrolled at the school, including 63 graduate students. According to U.S. News & World Report, nearly 55% of classes had fewer than 20 students in 2011.

2 - College of Charleston

The College of Charleston has the second lowest student-faculty ratio at 16:1. The school had 519 full-time teachers, 373 part-time instructors and nine teaching assistants in 2012. Additionally, in 2011, U.S. News & World Report stated that roughly 32% of classes had 19 or fewer students.

2 - Charleston Southern University

Charleston Southern University is tied for second place with a 16:1 student-faculty ratio. The NCES reported that 172 full-time and 126 part-time instructional faculty members were employed by the school in 2012. Nearly 55% of classes enrolled fewer than 20 students in 2011, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Charleston Area Schools at a Glance

School Name Location School Type Program Levels Offered Regional Ranking
Charleston Southern University Charleston, SC Four-year, private not-for-profit Master's degrees 2nd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio (tied),
3rd Largest Student Population,
3rd Lowest Tuition,
3rd Highest Graduation Rate
Claflin University Orangeburg, SC (73.3 miles from Charleston) Four-year, private not-for-profit Master's degrees Lowest Tuition,
Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio,
2nd Highest Graduation Rate
College of Charleston Charleston, SC Four-year, public Master's degrees; post-baccalaureate and post-master's certificates Largest Student Population,
Highest Graduation Rate,
2nd Lowest Tuition,
2nd Lowest Student-Faculty Ratio (tied)
South Carolina State University Orangeburg, SC (72.5 miles from Charleston) Four-year, public Master's and doctoral degrees; post-baccalaureate and post-master's certificates 2nd Largest Student Population
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