The Lowcountry is teeming with fantastic education options, with some of the best schools in the country. Our area includes private, public, and higher-education institutions that prepare its students to succeed.
Our private schools annually are ranked among the top in the state and our colleges, with undergraduate and graduate programs, attract students from around the country and the world.
The Beaufort County School District educates nearly 22,000 students in 40 schools, offering pre-K through Grade 12 classes. With state-of-the-art facilities and campsues, the schools also offer high-level athletic programs and extracurricular activities.
Education is a top priority in the Lowcountry. Here are some of the area’s finest institutions.
Beaufort County Public School District Type: Public Grades: Pre-K-12, Adult Ed Student population: 21,500 Website: beaufortschools.net At the Beaufort County School District, academic excellence and student success is at the forefront of everything it does. With three of its high schools ranked in South Carolina’s Top 35 by U.S. News and World Report magazine, and all six ranked in the state’s top half, the district has a proven track record of achievement. Under the leadership of Superintendent Frank Rodriguez, student literacy test scores on state assessments are the highest in the district’s history. With more than 3,000 employees, it is one of the largest employers in the county. The school district believes in fostering a collaborative environment that supports and nurtures the potential of every student. The district has a wide span of offerings, from the highest academic courses for college credit to career and technical education programming so students can earn industry certifications to support their career aspirations. Through its dual enrollment partnerships with Technical College of the Lowcountry and the University of South Carolina Beaufort, students can participate in college-level courses while still in high school. In the 2022-23 academic year, the district had more than 700 student enrollments in dual enrollment classes, preparing them for the rigors of college and beyond.
Bluffton Private Schools:
Cross Schools Type: Private Grades: Pre school-12th Website: crossschools.org Cross Schools inspires future leaders to grow spiritually and academically by “intentionally designing opportunities for inquisitive learning and active service all for the glory of God.” Small classes, rigorous academics, various enrichment courses, community service, athletics, and faith-based learning help prepare the children to grow into collaborative thinkers with moral and spiritual principles.
Hilton Head Christian Academy Type: Private Grades: Kindergarten to 12th Student Population: 630 Website: hhca.org HHCA will welcome more than 630 students to its state-of-the-art K-12 Bluffton campus with the start of the new school year — a record-high enrollment in the school’s 44-year history. HHCA’s innovative campus, which opened in Bluffton in 2021 and serves families from all over the Lowcountry, boasts a 95% retention rate. HHCA’s inquiry-based learning model focuses on outcomes that matter, a culture that empowers, teaching that engages, and technology that enables — in a distinctively Christian environment. Students have the opportunity for deeper learning through practical application, giving them real-world experience that prepares them for future success in their desired field. HHCA has a guidance team with a proven history of preparing students for college, career, and life. One hundred percent of students who apply to college are accepted, and over 90% earn merit-based scholarships. Ranked among the top private K-12 schools in South Carolina and voted the No. 1 K-12 school in Bluffton, HHCA offers award-winning fine arts programs and athletic teams.
John Paul II Catholic School Type: Private Grades: 6th to 12th grade Website: johnpaul2school.org John Paul II Catholic School educates students of all faiths in a caring, Christ-centered environment. JPII prepares students to be “scholars with a soul in accordance with the traditions of the Catholic faith” and through the intentional commitment to our core values of service, high expectations, innovation, excellence, leadership, and discipleship.
May River Montessori Type: Private Grades: Preschool to 12th grade Website: mayrivermontessori.com May River Montessori inspires a love of learning, compassion, and acceptance through an authentic Montessori community. May River Montessori opened its doors in 1987. Since then the school has continued to grow through three relocations and over seven major additions and renovations to its current home. May River Montessori has played a significant role in the social and educational environment of the growing Bluffton community.
St. Gregory the Great Catholic School Type: Private Grades: Pre school to 6th grade Website: sggcs.org Saint Gregory the Great Catholic School is dedicated to the spiritual, cultural, social, moral, and intellectual development of students of all faiths. As a preschool through 6th grade ministry of Saint Gregory the Great Parish, in collaboration with its families and faith community, it offers a challenging curriculum in a “nurturing, Christian environment, rooted in Catholic tradition.”
Hilton Head Island Private Schools:
Heritage Academy Type: Private Grades: 6th to 12th grade Website: heritageacademy.org A private, coeducational school for grades 6 to 12, Heritage Academy is fully accredited by SCISA and COGNIA. The school has students from the local community, as well as internationally, who take advantage of the school’s unique academic program and philosophy. Heritage Academy’s students actively engage in learning as accomplished scholars, artists, and athletes whether in the classroom or pursuing extracurricular activities. The academic expectations and level of instruction at Heritage Academy exceed SCISA/COGNIA guidelines, university admissions criteria and NCAA Eligibility Center standards.
Hilton Head Preparatory School Type: Private Grades: Junior Kindergarten to 12th grade Website: hhprep.org Student Population: 440 With new Head of School, Paul W. Horgan, completing his first year, exciting things are on the horizon for Hilton Head Prep. Hilton Head Prep is an accredited independent school with exemplary faculty who strive to create students of character, integrity and responsibility in a safe and welcoming environment. With small class sizes, Hilton Head Prep uses an innovative college preparatory curriculum that includes courses in liberal arts, science, technology and ethics, as well as rigorous Advanced Placement and honors courses. The school is continually ranked among the top K-12 independent schools locally, regionally and nationally, and 100% of Hilton Head Prep graduates are accepted to college. Hilton Head Prep also offers numerous opportunities for participation in athletics, the arts, after-school clubs and community service.
Island Academy Type: Private Grades: Preschool to 12th grade Website: hhiacademy.org The mission of The Island Academy of Hilton Head is to provide students with a collaborative, challenging, and creative learning environment empowering them to be contributing citizens. The school seeks to ensure that all students participate in their own education. It provides a unique learning opportunity by partnering with the community, focusing on mastery over grades, and teaching children how to become curious lifelong thinkers and doers who explore and create in and beyond the classroom.
Sea Pines Montessori Academy Type: Private Grades: 18 months to 6th grade Website: spma.com Sea Pines Montessori Academy provides high quality authentic Montessori education to children beginning at the toddler age through grade 6. SPMA celebrates 55 years in the community this school year. Founded in 1968 by the late Mary Fraser, the school has grown exponentially in the past 55 years, educating many island residents. The school serves children ages 18 months through 12 years old and will be adding a middle school classroom in the fall of 2024. The facility offers large classrooms, full library, school gardens, and a shaded playground. For more than a century, the Montessori method has been inspiring and developing capable people who not only excel academically but who are thoughtful and have a strong sense of self and their relation to the world. Through carefully designed multi-age classrooms the child can work with hands-on multisensory materials designed to ignite a love for learning. SPMA enriches the Montessori curriculum with additional music, art, Spanish, and physical education classes for children in kindergarten and up. Elementary students have music classes with instruction in Suzuki violin, fitness classes with formal lessons in tennis and golf, and opportunities to participate in Model UN.
St. Francis Catholic School Type: Private Grades: Pre-K4 to 8th Website: sfcshhi.com The school’s mission is to nurture students’ spiritual and intellectual growth in “an authentically Catholic community committed to academic excellence.” It provides each student with a solid academic background, using the best available teaching methods, materials, and technology.
University of South Carolina Beaufort Type: Public university Grades: Undergraduate and graduate programs Website: uscb.edu Student Population: 2,100 USCB offers small classes and personalized instruction in 51 areas including 19 bachelor’s degree and two master’s degree programs. Associate’s degrees and 100 percent online degrees are also offered. The graduate programs are M.S. in Computational Science and M.Ed. in Literacy. USCB specializes in experiential learning, with students participating in internships, community service projects, international programs, fieldwork and research. The Beaufort College Honors program is open to qualified students of all majors and has specific cohorts in Biology and Nursing. The Sand Sharks compete in 13 men’s and women’s sports — baseball, basketball, softball, women’s soccer, golf, cross country, indoor/outdoor track and field — in the NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference. Students from 31 states and 19 countries live in apartment-style residences on the Beaufort and Bluffton campuses. USCB’s world-renowned Hospitality Management program is based on Hilton Head Island. USCB is the lead on a $1 million National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engines Development Award to establish the Maritime Cybersecurity Institute in the Lowcountry. Collaborating with partners, USCB will conduct research to understand vulnerabilities, interdependencies and risks in the regional maritime ecosystem and develop technologies to enhance safety and security. Enhanced cybersecurity education and workforce development programs are among the program’s goals.
Technical College of the Lowcountry Type: Public Grades: Two-year, post-secondary education and workforce training. Website: tcl.edu The Technical College of the Lowcountry offers 60+ degree, certificate and diploma pathways across credit and non-credit programs. Our student body is diverse, active and engaged. Student-centered learning happens in real-world settings in and out of the classroom, in-person and online. The College offers the highest quality programs to prepare you to transfer to a four-year university or to enter a high-skilled, in-demand career.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Type: Private, nonprofit, accredited university Grades: Undergraduate and graduate studies Student Population: 16,000+ Website: scad.edu SCAD is a private, nonprofit, accredited university, offering more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degree programs across locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and online via SCADnow. SCAD enrolls more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 120 countries. The future-minded SCAD curriculum engages professional-level technology and myriad advanced learning resources, affording students opportunities for internships, professional certifications, and real-world assignments with corporate partners through SCADpro, the university’s renowned research lab and prototype generator. SCAD is No. 1 in the U.S., according to Art & Object’s 2023 Best Art Schools ranking, with additional top rankings for degree programs in interior design, architecture, film, fashion, digital media, and more. Career success is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni employment rate. For the past five years, 99% of SCAD graduates were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. SCAD provides students and alumni with ongoing career support through personal coaching, alumni programs, a professional presentation studio, and more.