8 Best Nursing Schools in South Carolina – 2024 Rankings

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

South Carolina ranks in the bottom 10 states in the U.S. where health care is concerned according to research published by the United Health Foundation. A significant contributor to this problem is the nursing shortage in the Palmetto State and particularly the dearth of primary care nurses and nurse practitioners. By 2028, state agencies estimate South Carolina will be short 6,400 nurses. There are many reasons why this nursing shortage is projected. South Carolina’s nursing salaries are significantly less than the national mean, which leads to retainment issues. More than one-third of South Carolina’s registered nurses are older than 50 and will be contemplating retirement soon. There are diversity issues as well: Just 11 percent of the South Carolina’s nursing workforce is African American even though African Americans represent nearly 28 percent of the state’s population. The upshot is that graduates of accredited nursing schools in South Carolina who are willing to take on these challenges should have no trouble finding employment.



(After closely assessing all nursing schools approved by the South Carolina State Board of Nursing, based on our Ranking Methodology, the following are the best accredited nursing schools in South Carolina offering BSN programs.)

1. University of South Carolina - Columbia, Columbia

About University of South Carolina College of Nursing: Among the many innovative projects spearheaded by the College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina is a program called Rural Remodel; this program is designed to increase access to simulation educational resources among nurses in five rural counties in the Palmetto State. Projects like this one are part of the reason why this nursing school in SC is a leader in nursing education and in research. If you’re interested in improving accessibility to high-quality health care in South Carolina, the U.S. and the world, you’d be wise to investigate the programs this college of nursing has to offer.

The college is affiliated with several dynamic research initiatives such as the Center for Nursing Leadership and the Cancer Survivorship Center. Its simulation lab is one of the most advanced in the state and offers immersive virtual teaching modules that allow students to practice the scenarios they’re likely to encounter when they begin practicing professionally. Clinical rotations take place at acute care hospitals, ambulatory clinics and community health settings throughout Columbia and the surrounding communities.

Financial Aid: The College of Nursing administers 16 scholarship opportunities that are specifically designed to meet the educational needs of nursing majors. Students must be enrolled full-time in the college to qualify for scholarship support. Students may also be eligible for federal and state aid if the information they submit in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms indicates financial need.

2. Clemson University, Clemson

About Clemson University School of Nursing: Clemson University’s School of Nursing is not only one of the few nursing schools in South Carolina but just one of the16 throughout the U.S. to be honored by the National League for Nursing as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education; Clemson has held this distinction since 2014. The school is known for its rigorous academic coursework and the many opportunities nursing students have for participating in faculty research initiatives. Clemson also offers a unique global health certificate program that prepares nursing students to work professionally in low-resource countries outside the United States.

In 2018, the nursing school unveiled its new 78,000-square-foot, $31.5-million nursing building, which has greatly increased the number of nursing students the university can admit into each class. This building contains a simulation lab space that’s designed to resemble a virtual hospital environment where nursing students have the chance to learn fundamental bedside techniques and assessment skills by practicing on nursing manikins that mimic physiological responses in realistic ways. Once students are confident in their clinical abilities, they are assigned rotations in medical centers, regional hospitals and other community health care settings throughout Clemson, Greenville, Spartanburg and the surrounding area.

Financial Aid: Though Clemson University doesn’t earmark any scholarships specifically for nursing students, its Office of Student Financial Aid maintains a comprehensive list of external nursing scholarships. Students are also encouraged to apply to any of the university’s institutional scholarships for which they may qualify. Clemson University participates in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, so students may be eligible for federal aid and State of South Carolina grants and loans on the basis of information submitted with their FAFSA forms.

3. Charleston Southern University, Charleston

About College of Nursing @ Charleston Southern University: In keeping with its affiliation with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, Charleston Southern University integrates Christian perspectives into its educational offerings. Though its nursing programs accept applicants from all religious backgrounds, nursing at this university is viewed as both a profession and a calling. In addition to nursing education, the college also offers coursework in kinesiology, athletic training and health promotion, so nursing students experience the benefits of collaborating with colleagues in allied health professions from a very early stage in their training.

The university is in the process of building a new Health Sciences Building. When complete, the building will contain classrooms and clinical labs for the university’s nursing programs as well as for the university’s newly launched physician assistant programs. The existing 16,100-square foot School of Nursing building contains four sophisticated simulation labs where students can participate in scenarios designed to hone their clinical skills before embarking upon clinical rotations in hospitals, clinics and community agencies throughout the Greater Charleston metropolitan region.

Financial Aid: Nursing students at Charleston Southern University may apply for any of the merit-based institutional scholarships awarded by the university. There are no scholarships specifically designated for the needs of nursing students, however. Depending upon the types of information submitted in their FAFSA forms, nursing students may also be eligible for federal Pell Grants and various South Carolina State grants and scholarships.

4. Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston

About MUSC College of Nursing: Except for a break during the Civil War, the Medical University of South Carolina has been educating health professionals in the Palmetto State continuously for nearly 200 years. The university was founded as a medical college in 1823; a nearby hospital training program for nurses, founded in 1884, was assimilated into the university in 1919. MUSC’s College of Nursing is rated highly by “U.S. News & World Report.” The college is renowned for its research: It is the highest ranked among all nursing programs in South Carolina as a recipient of federal research funding: In 2017, it secured more than $11 million from the National Institutes of Health and other sources.

Nursing students share learning opportunities at the Health Care Simulation Center with colleagues from MUSC’s medical, dental and pharmacy schools. This state-of-the-art facility occupies 11,000 square feet and consists of 12 virtual hospital units equipped with 30 high-fidelity manikins that are programmed to respond to stimuli in realistic ways. The nursing college partners with some of Charleston’s finest hospitals, offering clinical rotations at MUSC Health’s University Hospital, Ashley River Tower, Children’s Hospital, Institute of Psychiatry, the Ralph H. Johnson Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and other prestigious facilities.

Financial Aid: The College of Nursing administers a number of scholarships endowed by members of its alumni organization; students who wish to apply for these will need to fill out a College of Nursing Scholarship application annually as well as a FAFSA form. Students may also qualify for other scholarships offered through the university as well as for external nursing scholarships. Financial aid from federal and state sources may also be obtainable, depending upon the information included in your FAFSA form.

5. University of South Carolina - Upstate, Spartanburg

About Mary Black School of Nursing: You might say the only reason University of South Carolina Upstate exists is because Spartanburg General Hospital ended its degree program for nurses in 1967, and local politicians decided to establish another post-secondary institution of education to take up the slack. Nursing was the very first-degree option this new college offered. Today, the Mary Black School of Nursing is known for the quality of its teaching and for the high caliber of its nursing graduates.

The nursing school is housed in the Health Education Complex on the main Spartanburg Campus. The Simulation Center for Teaching Excellence utilizes high-tech tools to teach nursing students manual skills such as IV insertion and blood draw, and mental skills such as critical thinking and decision making. Student nurses will have the opportunity to participate in clinical rotations at The Mary Black Hospital, Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, Greenville Hospital University Medical Center, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital and other medical facilities throughout the Greater Spartanburg region.

Financial Aid: When you apply to USC Upstate, you’re automatically reviewed for scholarship eligibility. While the university doesn’t earmark any scholarship opportunities specifically for nursing majors, you will be considered for any university or foundation award whose criteria you fit. Additionally, by filling out a FAFSA form, you may be able to qualify for various forms of state and federal financial assistance.

6. Anderson University, Anderson

About Anderson University School of Nursing: Anderson University is another one of the nursing schools in South Carolina that’s associated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. While the university admits all students regardless of faith, its motto remains “Humanitatem per crucem alere” (“Serve mankind through the cross”). Nursing here isn’t just a job but a ministry. The School of Nursing is part of the College of Health Professions, which also offers programs in physical therapy, kinesiology and human services. The university’s Mobile Learning Initiative, launched in 2011, has led to it being honored by Apple Inc. as an Apple Distinguished School.

The Center for Medical Simulations is a 26,500-square-foot virtual hospital space where you’ll be able to perfect your practical skills by practicing on human-scale manikins programmed to simulate a variety of clinical scenarios such as asthma attacks, congestive heart failure and seizures. Clinical rotations take place at an assortment of hospitals, clinics and public health care agencies throughout northern South Carolina.

Financial Aid: Though Anderson offers no nursing-specific scholarships, nursing majors may apply for any of the university’s other institutional scholarships. Nursing students may also qualify for federal financial aid and South Carolina State scholarship programs as determined by the information they submit on their FAFSA form.

7. Lander University, Greenwood

About William Preston Turner School of Nursing: If you are looking for nursing schools in South Carolina that offer personalized nursing education with low-class sizes and plenty of opportunities for faculty mentorship, then you must check out Lander University’s William Preston School of Nursing, which is one of the smallest baccalaureate institutions in the Palmetto State. If you see nursing as an art as well as a science, this set of nursing degrees in SC have a lot to offer you. Lander students get to participate in learning projects helmed by staff from a variety of community agencies throughout Greenwood. The university also sponsors medical mission trips to international destinations, which will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of global health issues.

Since 1988, the nursing school has been housed in Barratt Hall; the university is currently pursuing funding that will allow it to expand those facilities. The current Simulation Learning Center in Barratt features four rooms for high-fidelity simulation, two debriefing rooms and a task-training room where students can acquire nursing fundamentals in a safe environment without jeopardizing patient welfare. Clinical rotations are scheduled in medical, surgical, maternal-child and mental health units at hospitals throughout Greenwood and adjoining communities as well as in less acute settings like schools, senior centers and other community facilities.

Financial Aid: The William Preston Turner School of Nursing awards more than 40 nursing-specific scholarships to nursing students. Nursing majors may also qualify for other institutional scholarships from Lander University as well as for federal and state grants, loans and scholarships as determined by the information contained on their FAFSA forms.

8. Francis Marion University, Florence

About FMU Nursing Program: Francis Marion University is a publicly funded institution, and its nursing program is very much focused on helping to solve the nursing shortage in South Carolina, which is projected to be the fourth-worst in the nation by the year 2030. If you’re the type of student who learns best in an environment where classes are small, and teachers pay extra attention to your educational needs, FMU’s nursing program may well be the right one for you.

The nursing program occupies two buildings: Undergraduates will take classes at the Frank B. Lee Nursing Building on the main campus while graduate students have the run of the Carter Center for Health Sciences in downtown Florence. Both buildings contain simulation labs that are designed to enable students to rehearse the types of clinical scenarios they are likely to encounter once they begin their professional nurse practice. Students will continue perfecting their clinical skills by participating in clinical rotations at hospitals, out-patient, long-term care and community facilities throughout Florence and the surrounding areas.

Financial Aid: The School of Health Sciences, which administers the university’s nursing program, oversees several scholarships that are reserved for nursing students. Nursing majors may also apply for any of the university’s institutional scholarships. Submitting a FAFSA form may also make students eligible for federal and state funding.


Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.

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