The College of Charleston, set in the picturesque Southern city from which it takes its name, is one of South Carolina’s leading centers of higher education. As a public college, it is a smaller institution than the state’s other universities, including Clemson and the University of South Carolina (USC).
Charleston is the 13th oldest higher education institution in the United States (and the oldest south of Virginia). Founded in 1770, nearly 250 years of history come together to provide students with a unique learning experience amidst a gorgeous, historic campus.
The college holds an accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and offers degree programs in nearly 50 majors, along with 82 minors. Graduate students have access to 18 master’s programs, as well as 10 certificate programs.
The college is divided into 8 distinct academic divisions, including the School of the Arts, School of Business and Economics, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Graduate School.
The newest addition to campus is the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs. Established in January of 2006, this academic division is responsible for language learning, as well as Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
A limited selection of online distance learning courses is also available during the summer to provide students with additional flexibility in meeting academic requirements.
Most Popular Fields of Study
One program held in high esteem is Historic Preservation and Community Planning. With so many sites of historical importance surrounding the campus, it’s not surprising that many students with interests in architecture, history, and art flock to this program. A joint master’s degree in Historic Preservation is offered in conjunction with Clemson University.
The campus is also home to the United States First Discovery Informatics program. This major teaches students to use computer technology to reap new findings from existing data. Many graduates of this unique and rigorous program have gone on to careers on the cutting edge of law enforcement, security, and national intelligence.
The deadline for early notification for the fall semester is the middle of October. Students with applications submitted by that date are notified of their admission decision by late December.
The requirement for entry are relatively straightforward:
- A GPA of between an A and a B
- Approximately an 1160 on the SAT
- 22-26 on the ACT
- A class rank in the top 15 percent
A number of scholarship opportunities are available for qualified students. These include state scholarships, institutional scholarships (designated by the college itself), and departmental scholarships. Additionally, private organizations and donors from the community deliver a substantial offering to students each year.
The college also helps students apply for federal and state grants and loans. As a public state institution of higher learning, tuition for residents is considerably lower than it is for non-residents.
Student Financial Aid Details
The majority of students live on campus in one of nine residence halls or twenty-two historic homes. Other students live nearby off-campus, with plenty of affordable student housing available within the city itself. With a little more than 10,000 undergraduates from every state in the Union (as well as nearly 70 countries), a broad geographic diversity is found in the student body. However, some might wish for more ethnic diversity, as the majority of students here are Caucasian.
Most students are traditional in the sense that they attend the College of Charleston right out of high school, though there is a sizable community of returning students and adults enrolled.
Many students list the campus itself as a major reason for their decision to attend. This is truly one of the most beautiful college campuses in America, featuring historic antebellum buildings mixed in with more modern research facilities and dormitories. The result is a well-developed, seamless campus that is a point of pride for students, faculty, and alumni.
With more than 150 student clubs and organizations, there’s something for everyone to enjoy, no matter how eclectic their taste. A broad range of campus recreational sports keep students active, including Aikido, rugby, tennis, and ultimate Frisbee. There are also numerous organizations dedicated to professional advancement, including the Nursing Club, the Club of Hospitality and Tourism, and the Future Educators Association.
There is also a vibrant campus communications scene, which includes both Cougar Television (entirely student-run) and a radio station. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the George Street Observer, available throughout campus.
Fraternities and sororities are an important part of life for many students. 25 active Greek organizations count nearly 1500 students (or 15% of the undergraduate population) as members. Examples of fraternities and sororities on campus include Alpha Epsilon Pi, Kappa Sigma, Pi Kappa Alpha, Chi Omega, Kappa Delta, and Sigma Delta Tau.
Popular Student Destinations
Students over the age of 21 have no shortage of bars to choose from when the mood strikes. King Street is popular among students, along with St. Phillip and Rutledge streets.
There are also a number of well-attended festivals held each year in the city, including the Piccolo Spoleto arts festival and the Festival of Houses and Gardens, showcasing some of the city’s finest antebellum homes.
Finally, don’t forget that Hilton Head and fantastic beaches are under an hour away. With the temperate climate providing pleasant temperatures nearly year round, the beach is always an option, even if it’s too cold to swim.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The Cougars participate in the NCAA Division 1 Southern Conference, along with schools such as Appalachian State, Davidson, and Georgia Southern University.
Athletic teams include basketball, baseball, soccer, and sailing.
The most prominent team on campus is the men’s basketball squad. The team made it to the NCAA Tournament four times in the 1990s under head coach John Kresse. The baseball team also deserves an honorable mention after winning the 2004, 2005, and 2007 Southern Conference Baseball Tournament.
The brand new Carolina First Arena is now the home court for both the men and women’s basketball teams.
The college has a number of proud traditions, some of which date back almost 250 years. Take graduation, for example: while students across the United States don cumbersome black gowns and funny looking hats, the female graduates wear white dresses, while the men sport white dinner jackets.
Students also engage in the Rites of Passage. The first day of freshman year, every student passes through the arch at Porter’s Lodge to sign “the book”. Upon graduating, students files through this same arch, symbolically heading out to start their life in the world.
Notable alumni include:
- John Charles Fremont: Anti-slave crusader and governor of Arizona
- Anthony Johnson: Professional basketball player
- Brett Gardner: Professional baseball player
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.