Discover the 7 Largest College Campuses in South Carolina

Written by Justin Sexton
Published: November 28, 2023
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South Carolina is a southern state that’s rich in American history. The state is home to celebrities such as James Brown and Jesse Jackson. It is also the home of Myrtle Beach, which draws in over 11 million tourists annually. South Carolina itself is thirty-two thousand square miles. In 2021, South Carolina has a population of 5.1 million. It’s the 40th largest state and the 23rd most populated state in the United States. The state is also home to a secret Monkey Island in America.

Charleston south Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, USA, in the French Quarter.

©SeanPavonePhoto/iStock via Getty Images

Yet, South Carolina is famous for its sixty-one colleges. These colleges are renowned for their collegiate athletics and rich educational history. There are 8 HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and 29 four-year private institutions in that total count of 61 universities. Keep on reading to see some of the largest college campuses in South Carolina.

Clemson University


The Clemson University Football Field

©Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons - License

The largest college campus in South Carolina belongs to Clemson University. It has a sprawling size of 1,400 acres. It is a public land-grant research institution at Clemson, South Carolina. Clemson has the second largest student body in South Carolina, aside from the University of South Carolina. The university is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has an average student body of 20,000 undergrads and 5,000 graduate students. Clemson is near the Clemson Experimental Forest. The Clemson Experimental Forest comprises 17,500 acres of woodlands that the institution manages.

Clemson University is home to 19 NCAA Division 1 teams. Their popular sports teams are football, basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, and baseball. The university was founded in 1889 and began as an agricultural college. It was initially formed as an all-military and all-white school. It wasn’t until 1955 that Clemson became a coeducational civilian institution. Now, it’s a university that offers many different programs for its graduate and undergraduate students.

The university has a transit bus system that takes people from the university to different parts of Clemson. It also takes people to nearby cities such as Anderson, Seneca, Central, and Pendleton. Clemson also offers help for students to get to nearby airports such as the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. People also can get to the university via Amtrak train.

Some of the famous alumni from Clemson University are Horace Grant, Nikki Haley, Dwight Clark, DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Nance, Jeff Baker, and Jane Robelot.

University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina

©Ken Wolter/

The University of South Carolina takes up 444 acres of land. This university is one of the largest college campuses in South Carolina. It has the largest student body in South Carolina, with an undergrad enrollment of 27,343 students as of Fall 2022. In total, the university has over 35,000 students. The university is based in Columbia, South Carolina. It was founded in 1801 and underwent many changes throughout the Civil War and the Southern Industrialization post-Civil War.

It is a famous college for first-year and business students. In 2022, the university retained its number one spot for the best college for first-year undergraduate students. The university also jumped from 39th to 26th in the best business undergraduate program rankings. USC, no, not the California one, is one of the top global institutions for research. Their research enterprise garnered 237 million dollars in sponsored awards through research and community activities. The university’s athletics are also famous, especially their football, softball, and baseball teams.

The University of South Carolina is a small campus that people can walk around easily. Cars aren’t as needed as Clemson University, but it’s still a relatively large college campus. There is a bus transit system that takes people around campus. Some bikes and e-scooters help students get around campus to attend classes on time.

The university is also near the Congaree National Park. It is a 25-minute drive southeast of the college campus. The University of Southern California has several other locations outside its primary Columbia location. They have small campuses in Lancaster, Beaufort, Aiken, Sumter, and Salkehatchie.

Some of the famous alumni from Southern California University are Alex English, Lillian Garcia, Sterling Sharpe, Jadeveon Clowney, Toro y Moi, Deebo Samuel, and Bryan Harper.

South Carolina State University

Aerial View of a large public State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Aerial View Of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina

©Jacob Boomsma/

South Carolina State University is an institution that’s been around since 1896. It is a small university with a fall 2022 undergraduate body of 2,374 students. The university covers 160 acres of land.

South Carolina State University is the only HBCU in the nation to offer a bachelor’s in Nuclear Engineering. Their main academic focuses are in science, mathematics, and engineering. The Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET sponsors their nuclear engineering program. Currently, the program is operated through a strategic partnership with North Carolina State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The campus life revolves around the different historical black fraternities and sororities, along with its military influence. South Carolina State University is very walkable because it is 160 acres. It has a bus system to help people get from one part of campus to another. However, the small campus helps to bring a closer sense of community within the student life. The university is also around different museums and historical sites.

South Carolina State University is a charter member of the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference) and plays in NCAA Division I football. The university has sports teams in basketball, soccer, volleyball, cross country, track and field, and football. Their football team has won 18 MEAC championships, the most out of any other college in the MEAC division.

Some famous South Carolina State University alumni are Joe Thomas, Willie Atkins, Benjamin Mays, Jim Clyburn, Armstrong Williams, Kára McCullough, and Gene Richards.

Claflin University

Tingley Hall, Claflin University, Orangeburg, South Carolina, April 26, 2015 Public domain image

Tingley Hall, Claflin University, Orangeburg, South Carolina, April 26, 2015. Public domain image.

©Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons - License

Claflin University is another university based in Orangeburg, South Carolina. This historic university covers 50 acres of land 40 miles south of Columbia. The university was established in 1869. It has a history with South Carolina State University as they were once part of the same South Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical Institute. Claflin University was named after a Boston philosopher, Lee Claflin.

It has a student body of 1,742 students as of Fall 2022. This university is the oldest HBCU in South Carolina’s history. It’s straightforward for students to get across campus. The area has different modes of transportation, from biking to skating to using scooters. The college athletics are in a Division II ranking. Claflin University is miles from South Carolina State University, as both are in Orangesburg.

Lander University

Lander University

Lander College Old Main Building.

©Bill Fitzpatrick, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons - License

Lander College is an institution that covers 190 acres of land. The university is in Greenwood, South Carolina. Lander initially was a college for women. It was founded in 1872. Eventually, the university started accepting male college students in 1943. Lander was recognized as an accredited university in 1992. It is a friendly university for veterans as it has great programs for veterans and military students.

Lander’s climate can get hot and humid in the summer and bone-chilling in the winter. The city gets more rain than the United States average. Greenwood receives an average of 45 inches of rain annually compared to America’s average of 38 inches. It is near major cities like Atlanta, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Charlotte.

The university has over 90 different studies and over 60 clubs and organizations. Getting into their medical school can be challenging as 90 percent of acceptees are approved by the Lander University faculty. Lander works hand in hand with another one of the largest college campuses in South Carolina, Clemson University, for a successful dual engineering program.

Furman University

Florentine Bell Tower on Furman University campus in Greenville, South Carolina

Florentine Bell Tower on Furman University campus in Greenville, South Carolina.

©Todd Kuhns/

Furman University covers 800 acres of land and is one of the largest college campuses in South Carolina. It is a private institution that was founded in 1826. The campus environment is suburban and has rich forests and bodies of water people can go to and clear their minds. Furman University is in Greensville. It is 35 minutes from Spartansburg. Aside from hot and humid summers, the weather is fair for most of the year.

They offer shuttles, golf cart rentals, a trolley, and more for transportation in and out of the city. Greensville, South Carolina, was once ranked the best place to live in America.

The Place of Peace is the first Japanese temple that was dismantled in Japan and rebuilt in America. It was first built in 1984 in Japan and donated to the university in 2004. It is at the adjoining Asian Garden at Furman. Furman specializes in exercise science, psychology, kinesiology, business administration, and speech and rhetoric.

College of Charleston

Charleston south Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina, USA, in the French Quarter.

©SeanPavonePhoto/iStock via Getty Images

The College of Charleston is a college that covers 95 acres of land. It is in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s a relatively small college founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785. The university is the oldest in South Carolina, the 13th oldest institution in the United States, and the oldest municipal college in America. Their fall 2022 student body had over 11,000 total students, comprising 10,000 undergrad and 1,000 graduate students.

The College of Charleston’s campus is in downtown Charleston. It comprises 156 modern and historical buildings built between 1790 and 2009. The average age for a building at the university’s campus is 100 years. Thanks to the history of the campus, the downtown campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was once called “America’s Most Beautiful College Campus” by Travel+Leisure in 2017.

The College of Charleston has the Mace Brown Museum of National History on its downtown campus. It has more than 30,000 invertebrae and vertebrae fossils. Their collection focuses on North American mammals and the South Carolina Lowcountry. The campus location helps people feel like the college is part of a town rather than a college being the town. For example, Virginia Tech is in Blacksburg, Virginia, but Blacksburg doesn’t have much of an identity outside of the city. Meanwhile, the College of Charleston students can feel like they live more in Charleston than on a college campus.

The university specializes in different categories such as business, education, art, architecture, education, government, languages, and humanities. They have 19 collegiate teams that play in the NCAA Division I athletics. For their sports, they play at different venues in and out of Charleston at indoor arenas and outdoor fields..

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Calvin Beale / CC0 – License / Original

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About the Author

Justin is an A-Z Animals Writer that loves to cover places, unique natural disasters, and travel. He has eight years of experience as a writer in the medical and media fields. He wrote for the likes of VCU Health, theMSQshop, PayDay LA, and Comic Book Resources under the penname Jay Guevara. Although he's a full time writer, Justin graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2019 with a Bachelors in Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science with a background in Community Engagement. After spending over two decades in Richmond, Virginia, Justin now resides in the suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga, California. He's a dedicated gymrat. He's also a two-time poetry author who's influenced by rappers Joe Budden and IDK along with Dante Alighieri.

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