The 10 Best High Schools in South Carolina

According to Private School Review, there are 404 different private schools serving nearly 70,000 students across the state of South Carolina. 

An additional 1,280 public schools serve another 766,000 or so students, making South Carolina’s school system the 29th largest of the fifty states.

Although public schools far outnumber private schools, there are many world-class schools of both kinds in South Carolina. 

Private schools in South Carolina have an average of only 11 students per teacher. On the other hand, the average student-to-teacher ratio for public schools in the state is 15:1 — about on par with the national average.

With so many great options for high schools out there, many students and their families find the process of narrowing down all of the possibilities into a carefully-considered, concise list of a handful of top schools to be daunting and stressful. 

On the bright side, if that sounds like you, we are here to help ease the stress.

Here, we have gathered some information about 10 of South Carolina’s best high schools. All of the schools in the following list were chosen from various high school ranking lists published by well-respected publications, such as US News and World Report, Niche, and others. 

Hammond School (Columbia, SC)

Hammond School, Columbia, South Carolina
Jeanmorrisf, Hammond School (Columbia, SC), CC BY-SA 4.0

The third best private high school in South Carolina, according to Niche, the Hammond School is a small, yet highly esteemed, independent school for students in pre-K through senior year of high school. 

In addition to college preparation, arts integration is one of the school’s main focuses.

The school is strongly committed to upholding the traditional ethical values associated with the Judeo-Christian church. It is important to note, however, that Hammond welcomes students of any and all religions into their school.

Hammond School is home to some of the most robust athletic programs in the state, with an overwhelming 90% majority of students at the middle and upper schools participating in at least one sport. 

On top of that, the school has had the honor of receiving the SCISA President’s Cup Award on two separate occasions.

Heathwood Hall Episcopal School (Columbia, SC) 

Open to children as young as two up through grade 12, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School is an independent private school located in Columbia, SC. 

The school has a variety of programs, such as Math Buddies, Biology Buddies, and Reading Buddies, that allow younger students and older students to benefit from various collaborative learning activities. 

Through these programs, older students can reap the rewards of teaching and mentoring others, assisting the younger students in the process. 

Through the high degree of interaction between children of different ages, Heathwood Hall creates a unique educational environment that has proven to be quite effective. 

According to Niche, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School is ranked the #2 private high school in South Carolina, as well as the #2 best private K-12 school.

Academic Magnet High School (North Charleston, SC) 

Academic Magnet High School is a public school serving students in grades nine through twelve, located in Charleston, SC. 

According to US News and World Report, Academic Magnet High School is the #2 public high school in the United States. In fact, the publication has ranked AMHS either first or second in the country every year since 2019. 

At AMHS, students are academically challenged in a variety of ways. For one, all students must complete a minimum of four AP courses before graduating from the school. 

Another unique graduation requirement is that all students complete at least 90 hours of community service during their studies. 

Through these requirements, AMHS teaches students not just about academic subjects but also about being responsible citizens of the world.

Christ Church Episcopal School (Greenville, SC)

A private school with around 1,200 students in kindergarten through senior year, Christ Church Episcopal School is an excellent choice of secondary school. 

In fact, it is ranked #1 in terms of best private high schools in South Carolina, according to a 2023 list published by Niche.

Christ Church Episcopal School is ranked first in the state in terms of best private K-12 schools and best Christian high schools

When it comes to preparing students for college, the school ranks fifth out of the 87 private high schools in the state. Looking at academic program offerings in STEM fields, the school is ranked fourth out of the 93 schools considered. 

The student-to-teacher ratio at Christ Church Episcopal School is just 10:1, and 100% of graduates go on to attend a four-year college. 

South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (Hartsville, SC)

Located in Hartsville, SC, the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics is a public boarding school serving students in eleventh and twelfth grade. 

Although the school heavily emphasizes STEM education, as indicated by the name, a full range of humanities courses are taught as well.

It is one of the only public residential schools of its kind, offering high-achieving students in the area the opportunity to receive the highest quality education without paying the cost of private school tuition.

According to Niche’s 2023 ranked list of the best public high schools in the state, the South Carolina GSSM is second to none, coming in the #1 spot. The school has a total enrollment of 261 students, with a roughly equal number in each grade. 

D.W. Daniel High School (Central, SC)

A part of the Pickens County School District, D. W. Daniel High School is a well-respected public high school that was founded in 1995. 

Open to students in ninth through twelfth grade, the school serves not only students who live in Central, but also those who reside in neighboring towns Six Mile and Clemson. 

According to Niche, D. W. Daniel is the seventh-best public high school in the state of South Carolina. The school offers a wide range of honors courses in every academic subject taught, as well as a number of AP courses in many different subjects. 

Among those who live in the Central area or surrounding districts, Daniel High School is well-known for its fiercely competitive football team. The team, known as the Daniel Lions, has claimed numerous state championship titles over the years. 

Spartanburg Day School (Spartanburg, SC)

A well-respected private school with about 440 students from kindergarten through the twelfth grade, Spartanburg Day School is home to some of the best secondary education that South Carolina has to offer.

It is ranked the #1 private high school in Spartanburg County, coming in #6 of 89 in terms of private schools in the state of South Carolina. The school boasts a student-to-teacher ratio of just 8:1, not to mention a 100% graduation rate. 

On top of that, 100% of students who graduate from Spartanburg Day School attend a four-year college or university, proving that the school is an excellent choice for college preparation.

In fact, Spartanburg also ranks sixth in the state in terms of the best college prep offered at a private school.

Charleston County School of the Arts (Charleston, SC)

Charleston County School of the Arts is a public magnet school that has provided excellent arts-focused education to middle and high school students in the Charleston area since 1995.

The school offers nine different art majors students can choose from at the high school level.

As of the 2021-22 academic year, Charleston County SOA has a total enrollment of 1,086 in sixth through twelfth grade. 

The school is home to a faculty consisting of 75 experienced, compassionate teachers, 77% of whom hold advanced degrees.

Just under 97% of students at Charleston County SOA graduate on time. In other words, for each senior class, only a tiny handful of students are not ultimately awarded degrees at the end of their fourth year of study.

Hilton Head Preparatory School 

Founded in 1986 as the result of the merging of two other schools, Hilton Head Preparatory School is a private K-12 boarding school located near Hilton Head Island. The school is home to a total of about 400 students across all grade levels. 

Hilton Head Preparatory School is the #1 boarding school in South Carolina, according to a  2023 ranked list published by Niche.

Looking at schools in Beaufort County, Hilton Head Prep ranks first in terms of best high schools for STEM, best private high schools, and best college prep at a private high school.

The school places a heavy focus on preparing students for successful college careers by providing them with a safe, supportive academic environment under the guidance of highly highly-qualified teaching faculty. 

As a result of this emphasis, Hilton has established a longstanding reputation for sending their students to top colleges after they graduate.

Spring Hill High School (Chapin, SC)

Spring Hill High School is a public magnet high school located in semi-rural Chapin, SC.

As of the 2020 academic year, the school has a total enrollment of more than 1,100 students, with between 250 and 300 students in each grade. 

Spring Hill HS is ranked sixth in South Carolina in terms of best public high schools, according to US News and World Report. 

What makes Spring Hill High School stand out are the many extracurricular clubs at the school. Activities at the school include extracurriculars as varied as the Guitar Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and the multimedia gaming club.