Best Colleges in Carolina Coastal Towns


Mar 20, 2023

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North and South Carolina boast some of the finest higher education institutions in the United States. However, they’re also home to some excellent schools near the beach. Studies come first, but students looking for fun in the sun between exams or to catch up on course readings with their toes in the sand might consider attending one of the best colleges in Carolina coastal towns.

1. University of North Carolina Wilmington

Most students are familiar with the University of North Carolina System in Charlotte or Columbus. Yet, the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) offers something the other campuses do not: Wrightsville Beach.

UNCW enrolled 17,843 students for the fall 2022 semester — over 14,000 are undergraduates. With a graduation rate of 84%, this is one of the best colleges on the North Carolina coastline. 

Many recognize the school for its nursing, business, and computer science programs. Yet, being a stone’s throw from the beach ensures its high ranking in marine science. In fact, UNCW’s marine biology department recently received a $400,000 grant to study seagrasses for coastal protection.

2. Brunswick Community College

Brunswick Community College (BCC) is located just south of Wilmington — ranked first out of 820 community colleges as the best in the nation, with a graduation and transfer rate of 82%.

As the area has undergone a population boom in recent years, BCC has watched its student body grow by 8%, with many focused on health care, business and information technology education.

At first glance, the little town of Bolivia, North Carolina, doesn’t offer much college life. However, a quick drive will take you to Brunswick County’s 50 miles of pristine coastline. With nearly 50% of college students reporting stress, a stroll on Oak Island or Ocean Isle Beach may be the best medicine.

3. College of Charleston

Academic prowess meets historic coastal town at the College of Charleston. Students who choose to attend this over-250-year-old school join 10,885 undergraduates and graduates across 67 majors.

The College of Charleston is particularly renowned for its Speech Communication and Rhetoric program, which 8% of the student body selects as their major. Business administration, psychology, biology, and public health are also exceedingly popular.

Students can take advantage of Charleston’s beautiful beaches, trendy restaurants, and a vibrant downtown area between classes.

4. Coastal Carolina University

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the South. Located just 10 miles away in Conway, Coastal Carolina University delivers a relaxing suburban backdrop near the Atlantic.

Coastal Carolina University enrolls 9,790 undergraduate students in 50 bachelor’s programs. It’s also received recognition as a college of distinction for nursing, business, education, and career development for the 2022-23 academic year.

With nearly 1 million nurses planning to quit or retire by 2030, the medical field needs well-educated nursing graduates to take over and keep medical facilities operating efficiently.

5. The Medical University of South Carolina

Speaking of nursing, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is one of the best colleges in Carolina coastal towns for students who aspire to become doctors. 

As the oldest medical institution in the South, MUSC provides a comprehensive education to 3,000 students and 850 medical residents in Charleston. In 2022, MUSC acquired $298 million in medical research funding to propel scientific discoveries for public health.

U.S. News even ranked MUSC Health-University Medical Center first in South Carolina and Charleston. Moreover, the hospital is nationally recognized for cancer research and cancer-related procedures, gynecology, and pediatric cardiology and surgery.

Study at One of the Best Colleges in Carolina Coastal Towns

Every college student can use a break to recharge their batteries — that’s why you should consider attending one of the best colleges along the Carolina coast for a healthy dose of sunshine and relaxation.

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