Higher Education

Pickens County is home to Clemson University, ranked as the 25th best national public university by U.S. News and World Report.  Clemson is quickly earning a reputation as a top research university and also boasts a number of highly ranked graduate and undergraduate engineering programs that provide an ample source of talent to Pickens County companies.

With 2 campuses serving Pickens County, Tri-County Technical College provides local companies with the employees trained in programs like mechatronics and industrial maintenance that they need to thrive. Committed to meeting the needs of local companies, the Easley campus of Tri-County Technical College doubled the size of its industrial electronics program in 2012 in order to better meet demand.

In total, the local 10 county area in which Pickens County is located boasts 25 universities and colleges, with a combined enrollment of more than 83,000 students.

Institutions of Higher Education, 2001-2015 Enrollment

Clemson University

Clemson offers more than 70 undergraduate degree and 109 graduate degree programs through the University's five colleges: Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Architecture, Arts and Humanities; Business and Behavioral Science; Engineering and Science; and Health, Education and Human Development.

Clemson’s research is increasingly paving the way to high-paying, knowledge-based industries in the region:

  • The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville has made Upstate South Carolina a hub of the nation’s automotive and motorsports industry. There already are 200 automotive-related businesses and 114 automotive industry suppliers located in South Carolina.

  • CU-ICAR anchors a 400-acre automotive research campus in the Upstate. The campus features a new graduate engineering center that supports the state’s existing and future automotive industries. Boasting more than $200 million in commitments, CU-ICAR represents a strong public/private partnership that supports the knowledge base that is critical to the automotive industry.
  • A regional research alliance, anchored locally by Clemson, could make the Carolinas major players in photonics, an optical communications technology that melds light with electronics and is a $56 billion a year industry. Clemson is building an extended regional partnership –- including researchers, industrial partners, economic development groups and entrepreneurs –- that will help the state develop an expert work force, improve the transfer of academic innovations to new and established firms and broaden the base of entrepreneurial resources.

Clemson’s Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET) is the only university R&D lab focused on the development of new optical materials. Clemson sits in the middle of an optical-fiber production belt that stretches from Atlanta, Ga., to Wilmington, N.C., with more than 70 percent of the world's optical fiber made along this path.

COMSET is working Clemson’s Arthur M. Spiro Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership to build the infrastructure needed to turn intellectual capital into economic capital.

Other partners include UNC-Charlotte and Western Carolina University, with which Clemson formed a Carolina Micro-Optics Triangle. To develop the necessary skilled work force, Clemson is partnering with Tri-County Technical College, Greenville Technical College and Spartanburg Community College

Clemson’s emphasis areas are automotive and transportation technology, advanced materials, biotechnology and biomedical services, leadership and entrepreneurship, information and communication technology, general education, family and community living and sustainable environment.

Tri-County Technical College

Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year associate-degree awarding institution, offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in more than 65 programs of study. Tri-County also offers a wide array of business and industry training programs through its Center for Workforce Excellence in the Continuing Education Division. Programs include team-building, supervisory development, quality, safety, maintenance, related interpersonal and technical skills, and many more.

In addition, the Center for Accelerated Technology Training at Tri-County provides customized training for new and expanding industries. Part of a statewide economic development program, the Center for Accelerated Technology Training's readySC program is an internationally renowned model for workforce development. Each technical college in the State system has its own branch of the Center for Accelerated Technology Training on campus.

There are several existing/business partnerships, such as:

  • Center for Accelerated Technology and readySC
  • Partnership for Academic and Career Education/ Tech Prep/ School to Work (PACE)
  • Apprenticeship Carolina

Tri-County Tech's main fields of study and programs include:

  • Business and Human Services
  • Health Education
  • Industrial Engineering and Maintenance
  • Comprehensive Education
  • Distance Learning and Co-op/Part-time Employment

Southern Weslyan University

Southern Wesleyan University is a four-year, liberal arts institution located in Central SC in Pickens County that typically has a student enrollment of approximately 2,200. This Christ-centered institution offers a core curriculum in liberal arts and prepares students for graduate study and fields such as religion, education, music, business, medicine, law and other professions.

Its Adult and Graduate Studies (AGS) program provides accelerated learning systems for today’s working adults, with efficient curriculum plans and convenient class scheduling.


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