Dorchester County offers diverse childhood education opportunities, including an award-winning public school system and numerous private and parochial school options. Beyond K-12, more than two dozen college and university campuses provide easy access to a full spectrum of higher education opportunities, from chemical engineering to the culinary arts. Colleges in the region are regularly ranked among the nation's best by Peterson's, U.S. News & World Report, and other respected guides. The Charleston Region provides many excellent options for those seeking a degree or those wishing to pursue graduate and/or postgraduate studies.

K-12 Public Schools

Dorchester County is well-known and highly-praised for its award-winning public school system. Area residents enjoy diverse options in K-12 public education, with two school districts to serve Upper and Lower Dorchester County, as well as a vocational school serving students in grades 9-12.

Dorchester County Schools

Dorchester School District Two
As one of two school districts serving Dorchester County, District Two is not only an award-winning school system, but is one of the fastest growing districts in the state. District Two is the larger district, with 2015-2016 student enrollment exceeding 25,000. Serving the suburban community of Summerville, the School District consists of fifteen elementary schools, six middle schools, and three high schools. SAT and ACT test scores for 2015-2016, and historically, were well above the state average. Ending the school year, graduates in 2014 were offered more than $42.6 million in scholarships, a new district record.

District Two Data

District Two's key facts, accomplishments, and outstanding programs include:

  • District Two offers a comprehensive Adult Education program along with an alternative program for middle and high school students.
  • The District employs approximately 3,000 individuals, making District Two the largest employer in Dorchester County.
  • In 2012, a $179 million School Improvement Referendum was approved to build three new elementary schools and a new middle school of the arts. A portion of these funds will be utilized for major expansions and renovations at five elementary and three middle schools.
  • District Two is one of a few select districts in the state and nation to achieve district-wide accreditation as a quality school system by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Summerville Elementary School, the first school in the state to adopt Sean Covey's "Leader in Me" program, was named the 25th Leader in Me Lighthouse School in the world in recognition of their exemplary program.
  • The fine arts programs throughout schools in the District have achieved state and national recognition, including the Kennedy Center Creative Ticket Award on three separate occasions.
  • Since 2010, District Two has experienced enormous growth in student achievement with seventeen of its twenty-one schools receiving an absolute rating of "Excellent" on the state report cards. In 2012, 2013, and 2014 District Two overall earned an absolute rating of "Excellent" on the state report card as well.
  • Twelve schools have been named Red Carpet Schools by the State Department of Education in recognition of their family-friendly environment.
  • Eight schools in District Two have been named Carolina First Palmetto's Finest Schools, a designation awarded to the best schools in the state.
  • District Two is home to Rollings Middle School of the Arts; a school where 6th through 8th grade students can study one of six core arts areas (dance, orchestral string instruments, piano, theatre, visual arts, or vocal music) in depth.
  • Fort Dorchester High School is the only school in District Two to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program to qualifying students in an effort to provide an internationally accepted qualification for entry into higher education.

Dorchester School District Four
Comprised of six thriving schools, Dorchester School District Four serves the rising student population of Upper Dorchester County. Educating nearly 2,500 students, District Four offers a strong curriculum for all academic levels that include special, Pre-K classes in preparation for kindergarten and elementary. The middle school curriculum incorporates exploratory offerings with a strong career, decision-making focus. The secondary curriculum places emphasis on preparing students to be lifelong learners. The District also offers honors/advanced placement, college prep, tech prep, and occupational courses.

District Four Data

District Four has also attained the following achievements:

  • During the 2011-2012 school year, District Four was awarded accreditation from the AdvancED Accreditation Commission that provides a nationally-recognized mark of quality for the District and all of its schools.
  • District Four schools were given a South Carolina state rating of "Excellent" for the first time in the 2014-2015 school year, a sign of monumental improvement (2015-2016 rating not currently available).
  • Woodland High School's 4-year graduation rate is steadily improving and was 86% in 2016.
  • Williams Memorial Elementary has participated in the South Carolina Teacher and Student Advancement Program (SC TAP) for the past three years, and Harleyville-Ridgeville Middle participated for the first time during the 2012-2013 school year.
  • Four schools received recognition as part of the Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards Program during the 2012-2013 school year.

Dorchester County Public School District Statistics

Dorchester District Two

Dorchester District Four




Number of Public Schools



Number of Magnet Schools



Graduation Rate 



Teachers with Advanced Degrees



Per Pupil Expenditures



Pupil to Teacher Ratio

23.3 to 1

18.9 to 1

Average SAT Score



% of Seniors Taking Test



Source: S.C. Department of Education, 6/2017


Dorchester County Career & Technology Center
Serving as a vocational school for district high school students since 1970, the Dorchester County Career & Technology Center (DCCTC) helps to cultivate the County's future workforce by blending academic courses with career and technology education. DCCTC's unique career-training programs include Auto Collision; Auto Technology; Architectural Design; Building Construction; Carpentry; Cosmetology; Culinary Arts; Electricity; EMS Technology; Emergency and Fire Management; Health Science; Masonry; Nail Technology; and Welding. All-day academics are also offered in conjunction with both school districts.

K-12 Private Schools

Dorchester County's private and parochial schools offer an abundant array of programs designed to meet the needs of individual students and their families. With a number of different independent schools available to serve students of all ages from early childhood development through middle school to high school, Dorchester County has the resources needed for each student's academic success. A number of these schools are recognized and accredited through stringent standards and guidelines regulated by the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA). Below is a brief description of some of Dorchester County's top, private schools followed by a complete list of all private schools and the grades they serve.

Dorchester Academy
Dorchester Academy, under a Christian ideology, is a college-preparatory day school with a two-track curriculum including college dual credit and AP courses. The school is a member of the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA), and has been awarded Advanced Accreditation. Students from Dorchester, Orangeburg, and Colleton Counties attend the school.

Pinewood Preparatory School
Summerville's Pinewood Prep combines prowess on the athletic field and in the arts, and places more than 98% of its students in four-year colleges. Pinewood Prep is an independent, college-prep school dedicated to the intellectual, physical, ethical, and social development of its students, their families, faculty, and staff. International education is also offered at this learning institution to meet the educational needs of non-English speaking students to help them assimilate quickly. Pinewood offers a number of programs specifically designed for its growing European student population, ranging from kindergarten through grade 12.

Summerville Catholic School
Summerville Catholic School exists to nurture the academic, spiritual, cultural, moral, and physical growth of each student within a Catholic, Christian environment. The school is accredited by the Diocese of Charleston. Admission is open to those of all religious backgrounds.

Private/Parochial Schools


Grades Served

Bethany Child Development Center


Child Care, PK-K

Dorchester Academy

St. George


Faith Christian School



Givhans Christian Academy



Oaks Christian School



Pinewood Preparatory School



Ridge Christian Academy


Child Care, PK-12

Summerville Catholic School



Trinity Classical Academy



Vision Christian Academy



Continuing Education

The Lowcountry offers a broad range of learning opportunities for those interested in continuing education. With over 25 different colleges and universities in the area, both traditional and non-traditional students can find a program to meet their individual needs. Many of the area's higher learning institutions offer a combination of two and four-year degrees, as well as graduate and postgraduate programs. Below is a brief description of top schools in the region, followed by a comprehensive listing of all Greater Charleston MSA colleges and universities.

Charleston Southern University
Founded in 1964, Charleston Southern University, affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, is one of the state's largest accredited, independent liberal arts colleges, enrolling 3,200 students. Receiving accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the University is well-equipped to offer Bachelor's degrees in 45 majors and six Master's degrees in Business, Criminal Justice, Education, Nursing, and Organizational Management.

The Citadel
Established in 1842, The Citadel is a state-supported, co-educational military college with a total enrollment of about 3,300. The Citadel is listed as one of six colleges in the country to be recognized as a Senior Military College (SMC) that offers military Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs. Offering 19 majors and 35 minors, there are 17 academic departments divided into five schools – Engineering, Science & Mathematics, Humanities & Social Studies, Business Administration, and Education. Also available is The Citadel Graduate College that includes a variety of graduate and postgraduate programs. Less known is the college's well-regarded, part-time MBA program.

College of Charleston
Founded in 1770, the College of Charleston is a state-funded university that focuses on degree programs in Liberal Arts, Business, Education, and the Sciences. The College has a dedicated faculty of 500 distinguished teacher-scholars to accommodate a student body of nearly 10,000 undergraduates and 1,500 graduates that can choose from 56 majors and 73 minors. The College has received numerous reviews and rankings, such as a recent tout by the U.S. News & World Report that ranked the College of Charleston No. 4 among southern public regional universities in its 2013 edition of Best Colleges.

Cummins Memorial Theological Seminary
Cummins Memorial Theological Seminary is a nonprofit, private institution that offers two-year, Bachelor's, Master's, and first professional degrees. Located in Summerville, the Cummins Seminary is licensed by the Theological Commission of the Reformed Episcopal Church, and is also approved by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education for Veterans Training. Cummins Seminary offers religious degrees that include Diploma in Theology and the Master of Divinity, as well as continuing education for ministers and clergy.

Lowcountry Graduate Center
The Lowcountry Graduate Center is a partnership of the College of Charleston, The Citadel, and the Medical University of South Carolina, with participation by Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. Devoted to Master's and Doctorial-level programs, offerings are available in subjects including Education, Financial Planning, Urban Planning, Public Administration, Public Management, Engineering, Communication, Business, and Computer Science.

Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) first opened in 1824 as a small, private college for the training of physicians. It is one of the oldest continually operating schools of medicine in the United States. Since then, the school has expanded into a state research university with six colleges in Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Health Professions, and Graduate Studies. Including a medical center, the school operates as a teaching hospital that has been ranked as the #1 hospital in South Carolina, and nationally ranked in Ear, Nose & Throat; Nephrology; and Rheumatology.

Trident Technical College (TTC)
Trident Technical College (TTC) is the largest two-year technical college in the state, serving 17,000 traditional and non-traditional curriculum students with a wide variety of educational goals, from personal enrichment to career development to university transfer. To help students meet their goals, TTC offers university transfer Associate degrees and applied technical Associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates. The curriculum includes programs in Arts and Sciences, Agriculture, Business, Computer Technology, Engineering Technology, Health Sciences, Industrial Technology, and Public Service.

Webster University
Webster University, a branch of the St. Louis Missouri College, offers two locations in Charleston to provide graduate education to working professionals, especially catering to those with military careers. The Charleston Metro Campus offers six Master's degree programs and two Bachelor's degree programs, while the Charleston Air Force Base Campus offers a Master's degree program in Business and Organizational Security Management. In addition to classroom instruction, a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs are offered on-line.

Continuing Education School List

Continuing Education Schools


Type of School

American College of the Building Arts

Magazine Street, Downtown Charleston

4-Year, Private

Art Institute of Charleston

Market Street, Downtown Charleston

4-Year, Private

Centura College

8084 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston

2-Year, Private

Charleston School of Law

Mary Street, Downtown Charleston

Graduate, Private

Charleston Southern University

University Boulevard, North Charleston

4-Year, Private

The Citadel

Moultrie Street, Downtown Charleston

4-Year, Public

Clemson Architecture Center, Charleston

20 Franklin Street, Downtown Charleston

4-Year, Public

Clemson Coastal Research and Education Center

2700 Savannah Highway, Charleston

4-Year, Public

Clemson Restoration Institute

1360 Truxtun Avenue, North Charleston

4-Year, Public

The College of Charleston

George Street, Downtown Charleston

4-Year, Public

ECPI College of Technology

7410 Northside Drive, North Charleston

2-Year, Private

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Charleston Air Force Base

4-Year, Private

Limestone College

Leeds Avenue, North Charleston

Evening, Private

Lowcountry Graduate Center

5300 International Boulevard, North Charleston

Graduate, Public

Medical University of South Carolina

Ashley Avenue, Downtown Charleston

4-Year, Public

Miller-Motte Technical College

8085 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston

2-Year, Public

Park University

Charleston Air Force Base

4-Year, Public

Southern Illinois University

Charleston Air Force Base

4-Year, Public

Southern Wesleyan University

Faber Place, North Charleston

4-Year, Private

Springfield College, Charleston Campus

Belle Oaks Drive, North Charleston

Weekend, Private

Strayer University

Wetland Crossing, North Charleston

2,4-Year, Private

Thomas Edison State College

Red Bank Road, Goose Creek

2,4-Year, Public

Trident Technical College

7000 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston

2-Year, Public

Virginia College

6185 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston

2-Year, Private

Voorhees College

Northbrook Boulevard, North Charleston

4-Year, Private

Webster University

5300 International Boulevard, North Charleston; Charleston Air Force Base

2,4-Year, Private

Degree Totals

Charleston S.C. MSA Annual Degrees Awarded by Level

Type of Degree

Number Awarded









Post Bachelor's










Note: These totals are for the five largest area institutions as reported by the SC CHE (Medical University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, The Citadel, Trident Technical College, and Charleston Southern University).
Source: S.C. Commission on Higher Education, 8/2017.