South Carolina – High School to College & Careers


College and Career Readiness

The South Carolina Department of Education adopted college- and career- readiness standards effective for the 2015-2016 school year. South Carolina requires that all 11th grade students take ACT WorkKeys. Further, to earn a South Carolina high school diploma, students are required to pass a high school credit course in science and United States history and four gateway courses (English, math, science and social studies) in which a state authorized end-of-course examination, aligned to the South Carolina College and Career Ready Standards, is administered. End-of-course examinations comprise 20 percent of the student’s final course grade.

College and Career Planning

High School Graduation Requirements 

Course and Diploma Requirements for Current Seniors

Subject Credits Required Courses Substitutions
English 4

English I

English II

English III

English IV

AP, IB, or dual enrollment English courses or Advanced Composition

Mathematics 4 Algebra I AP, IB, or dual enrollment math courses
Science 3

Biology I

Physical Science

AP, IB, or dual enrollment science courses

Social Studies 3

U.S. History and Constitution

U.S. Government (1/2 unit)

Economics (1/2 unit)

IB or dual enrollment social studies courses

Physical Education 1 Physical Education or Junior ROTC  
Computer Science 1  


Foreign Language or Career Education 1    
Electives 7    
TOTAL 24    

Assessment Requirements

South Carolina administers End-of-Course Examination Program (EOCEP) assessments in four subjects: English I, Algebra I/Mathematics for the Technologies II, Biology I, and U.S. history and constitution. The end-of-course assessments count as 20 percent of the final course grades. Students must pass Biology I and U.S. history and constitution courses to graduate high school.  Students in grade 11 will take both the ACT and ACT WorkKeys.

Accelerated Learning Options

Dual and Concurrent Enrollment

Juniors and seniors in high school who have nearly mastered the complete high school curriculum are eligible to enroll in college-level courses.  Principals must recommend dual enrollment students before they become eligible for dual credit opportunities. To enroll in courses at four-year institutions and two-year regional campuses of the University of South Carolina System, students must have GPAs of 3.0 or higher. To enroll in courses at technical colleges, students must meet the requirements set by the specific institution. District school boards may establish policies allowing students to take college courses. These policies may allow for cooperative agreements with one or more postsecondary institutions. The tuition and fees may be funded by local school districts or be the responsibility of the student. 

Early College High Schools

South Carolina has early college high schools throughout the state. The schools are part of the national Early College High School Initiative.

Advanced Placement

The South Carolina Department of Education funds and coordinates training courses for aspiring Advanced Placement (AP) teachers.

South Carolina state law and South Carolina Commission on Higher Education policy direct each public institution to award credit in appropriate courses for scores of three or higher on Advanced Placement examinations.

Early College Admission

South Carolina does not have a policy in place related to early college admission.

Career and Technical Education

South Carolina middle schools, high schools, and career centers offer over 300 courses across 16 career clusters.  

Postsecondary Admissions

Four-Year Institutions

The governing boards of four-year colleges and universities establish admissions standards. However, state law requires that the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education review minimum undergraduate admissions standards for in-state and out-of-state students. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education has a policy for College Preparatory Courses. These courses are minimal requirements for four-year public college admission and include:

Minimum Pre-College Curriculum Requirements

Subject Credits Course Requirements



Units in English and American Literature



Algebra I


Algebra II

“Fourth math” (Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, Calculus, Statistics, Discrete Math, senior-year Capstone)

Laboratory Science


Two of the following three:




Social Science


American History

Half units of Economics and Government strongly recommended

Foreign Language


Two units in the same language

Fine Arts



Physical Education or ROTC





Computer science is recommended but not required

TOTAL 19  

Each institution can make exceptions in admitting students who do not meet these prerequisites, limited to individual cases in which failure to meet one or more prerequisites is due to circumstances beyond reasonable control of the student.

Beginning in the 2019-20 academic year, entering college freshmen will need to complete 20 units, including an additional elective. The Fall 2019 curriculum standards also require half units of economics and American government. The standards explicitly reference reading, communication and researching in the English coursework.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

Students designated as baccalaureate-ready must meet the same admissions requirements set for students who apply to the system’s flagship. Regional campuses designate applicants who do not meet system standards as provisional admits. Provisional enrollees undergo placement testing in English and math to determine readiness for college-level courses. Failure to reach readiness benchmarks results in placement in enriched sections of entry-level courses.

While technically allowed by Commission rules, the University of South Carolina System’s Board of Trustees prohibit the delivery of standalone remediation at regional campuses.

Technical colleges operate as open admissions campuses. The State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education requires applicants to be 18 years old. Younger applicants must possess a high school diploma or its equivalent.

While board rules do not require adult applicants to hold a high school diploma, some institutions require them for enrollment in a degree or certificate program.

Postsecondary Placement

Four-Year Institutions

Individual institutions establish minimum ACT/SAT scores and class rank requirements. Developmental courses can only be offered by two-year institutions, but university students may still complete placement testing by subject through various instruments.

Two-Year and/or Technical Colleges

University of South Carolina Two-Year Regional Campus provisional students undergo placement testing in English and math to determine readiness for college-level courses.  Failure to reach readiness benchmarks results in placement in “enriched” sections of entry-level courses.

Technical colleges may offer developmental education, but the system board has not enacted policies that govern placement into college-level or developmental education courses. 

Postsecondary to High School Feedback Reports

The South Carolina Department of Education compiles a report on the numbers and percentages of South Carolina high school graduates who attend college. The report indicates the numbers of college courses that students passed or failed by subject area. The summary also includes a percentage breakdown of the postsecondary activities of high school graduates, including college enrollment, gainful employment, and military enlistment.

The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education compiles an annual report on the admission standards for first-time entering freshmen. The report includes data on applications, acceptances, and enrollment and specifies the minimum SAT score required of most applicants for admission.

State Financial Aid

South Carolina awards all financial aid based on academic merit. Students may accept only one of the following awards, even if they meet eligibility requirements for more than one.

Palmetto Fellows Scholarships provide a maximum of $6,700 to first-year students and $7,500 per year to second- through fourth-year students at an eligible South Carolina four-year institution. Students must satisfy assessment and GPA requirements. Students can satisfy eligibility requirements if they:

  • Score at least 1200 on the SAT (27 on ACT) by the June test administration of their year of graduation, earn a 3.50 GPA on the SC Uniform Grading Policy at the end of their junior year, and rank in the top six percent of their high school class in either their sophomore, junior, or senior year; or
  • Score at least 1400 on the SAT (32 on the ACT) by the June test administration of their year of graduation and earn a minimum 4.0 GPA on the SC Uniform Grading Policy.

In order to use rank as an eligibility measure, the high school or home school association must have a policy on rank which has been reviewed to verify compliance with the South Carolina Uniform Grading Policy and established regulations for the State Scholarship programs.

LIFE Scholarships are available for students at each public and independent institution in South Carolina. The scholarships provide a maximum of $5,000, including a $300 book allowance. Students must meet two of the following requirements:

  • Score 1100 on the SAT or (24 ACT)
  • Have a cumulative 3.0 GPA based on the SC Uniform Grading Policy upon high school graduation; or
  • Rank in the top 30 percent of their graduating class

LIFE Scholars must maintain a 3.0 cumulative LIFE GPA and earn an average of 30 credit hours toward graduation each academic year in order to retain their scholarships. Palmetto Fellows Scholars must maintain a 3.0 cumulative institutional GPA and earn at least 30 credit hours each academic year (not to include any AP, IB, dual enrollment, CLEP, or exempted credit hours).

Palmetto Fellows and LIFE Scholars may receive an additional $2,500 enhancement in their second, third, or fourth year if they enter certain majors, including math, computer science, engineering, nursing, pharmacy, and middle grades education. Eligibility for the enhancement must be earned in the first academic year only, and students must be enrolled in an eligible major at their home institution. Students also must meet all continuing eligibility requirements for the Palmetto Fellows and LIFE Scholarships. 

South Carolina HOPE scholarships provide a one-time maximum award of $2,800, including a $300 book allowance, to entering freshmen who had high school GPAs of at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA based on the SC Uniform Grading Policy upon high school graduation but who are not eligible for Palmetto Fellows or LIFE Scholarships. The state’s HOPE scholars who maintain a 3.0 LIFE GPA and earn an average of 30 credit hours toward graduation during their first academic year may qualify to receive the LIFE Scholarship for subsequent years.

Special Thanks

We would like to thank the staff at the following agencies for their assistance in carefully reviewing and confirming the accuracy of the policies and programs described in this document:

South Carolina Commission on Higher Education

South Carolina Department of Education


SC Can Go
SC Pathways
South Carolina Commission on Higher Education
South Carolina Department of Education
South Carolina GEAR UP
South Carolina Technical College System